Tag Archives: italian

recipe goodness :: community grains lazy sunday red flint polenta integrale

A Lazy Polenta

A Lazy Polenta

Well, by the sound of that title it sure does sound like I made something super fancy doesn’t it? Truth is Polenta integrale is the traditional Italian term for ‘whole milled’, meaning the whole corn kernel is coarse-milled together with nothing sifted out, offering a beautiful, rustic texture and hearty, full-flavor that lends itself as the perfect accompaniment to traditional ragús & savory braises, or just butter and cheese.

It just so happens that we’re selling this polenta {quite honestly the best I’ve ever had} in the Food52 Shop. Near extinct, this rare variety of corn was re-discovered in 2000 near the town of Trento in northern Italy. Lucky for us, it is currently in very limited production in the United States.  Here’s the kind of thing you can always have in your pantry and make a lazy, but outstanding Sunday supper out of just about anything you can throw in or on top of it. Polenta is your leftovers friend. And with this whole milled rustic version you’ll transport yourself to nonna’s table with a few stirs of a pot.

Rustic Polenta Integrale

Rustic Polenta Integrale

Lazy Sunday Polenta Integrale
Serves 2-3

1 cup polenta integrale
4 cups water
1 tablespoon butter {optional}
Salt to taste

Toppings or flavor inspiration: 

Rosemary, thyme or any fresh herb, chopped
Chopped red chili for a small kick
Sauteed mushrooms or grated truffles
Sauteed scallion
Leftover pasta sauce or ragu
Leftover grilled vegetables
Dollop of ricotta or goat cheese {let’s be honest, this is a must!}
Grilled or pan seared sausage
A poached egg!
Anything your heart desires

  1. Bring water and polenta to a gentle simmer in a heavy bottomed pot.
  2. Simmer on low for an hour, stirring regularly to prevent sticking on bottom of pot. Add herbs or red chili at this time, if desired. Go read a book.
  3. After an hour cover with a lid and turn heat off to allow polenta to absorb water. Go reorganize your closet.
  4. Add a pat of butter and kosher salt to taste. Stir and bring to a slow simmer to reheat. The consistency should be perfect, but if it’s too thick, add a bit of water to make it easy to stir, but still thick and hearty.
  5. Scoop into a bowl, top with cheese and anything you feel like eating.

Nonna-Worthy:
Homemade Gnocchi and Sauce: Channeling My Italian Grandmother
Homemade Ricotta
How to Cook the Perfect Poached Egg 
Braised Grass-Fed Beef Brisket and Polenta

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recipe goodness :: homemade ricotta and melted leeks — the easiest winning appetizer you MUST make

Homemade Ricotta

Homemade Ricotta

I don’t typically like to tell people what to do. But I’m going to tell you — and you’re going to listen to me — you must make this NOW. Sure, I get a little more experimental in the kitchen than most, but when I tell you this will have you channeling your inner Italian Grandmother with ease and will also have you wanting to make fresh ricotta everyday, I hope you believe me. The beauty of this recipe is 1) how easy it is, 2) how proud you will be that you made YOUR OWN ricotta, and 3) it will have your guests ooh-ing and aah-ing over this deceivingly perfect flavor combo — let’s face it, this is really just onions and milk we’re talking about. It happens to also be an extremely inexpensive way to create an impressive appetizer, so with the holidays around the corner let’s get curdling!

I’ve included a few other variations in case you want to serve this different ways at all your holiday line-ups {everything can be made ahead of time, so you can enjoy a cocktail instead of sweating over a hot oven}. Plus 1.5 lbs of ricotta will probably get you through 2-3 evenings, depending on the size of your crowd.

Homemade Ricotta 

Makes ~1 lb post-drained ricotta 

1 pint whole milk {I use Grazin’ Angus Acres}
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup cultured buttermilk
Maldon sea salt

Equipment:
Large 1 gallon+ pot {le creuset if you have one}
Cooking thermometer that reads to 200 degrees
Very fine cheesecloth or clean tea towel
String
Colander and large bowl

  1. Using a large 1 gallon+ stock pot {I use my le creuset} heat whole milk, cream, buttermilk and a few pinches of salt on medium heat until it comes to a light boil. Stir milk frequently to ensure bottom does not scorch.
  2. Boil milk for 2 minutes, stirring, then remove from the heat and let rest in the pot for 1 hour to let the curds form some more.
  3. Place a large colander over a large bowl in the sink. Line the colander with very fine cheese cloth or a clean white tea towel so edges hang over the edge of the colander.
  4. Slowly pour the curdled milk into the colander/cheesecloth, letting the whey pour through to the bowl below and keeping the curds in the cheesecloth. You can use the whey to soften the cheese later or simply discard.
  5. Lift the colander out of the bowl and grab the edges of the cheesecloth/towel together. Hold up and let drain for about 1 minute+ until the the ricotta reaches the consistency you desire.
  6. Note: I like to keep it a little creamy so it is easy to spread, but if it gets thicker than you desire, you can always pour a few tablespoons of milk {or the strained whey} back into the cheese to soften.
  7. When you’re ready to serve, season with maldon sea salt to taste and prepare any of the variations below or your own inspired pairing.
Appetizer Variations:

  • Serve with water crackers or garlic crostini {recipe below}
  • Top with warm melted leeks {recipe below}
  • Top with drizzled honey or your favorite chutney
  • Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt, a drizzle of good olive oil and fresh thyme, destemmed
p.s. you can also make this ricotta for Homemade Gnocchi and Sauce: Channeling My Italian Grandmother

Melted Leeks

1 bunch leeks
1 stick butter
Kosher salt

  1. Cut off and discard root end and half way up the firm green stems. Slice each leek in half lengthwise to expose inner layers. Add leek halves to a bowl of cold water to release dirt. Use your fingers to check and clean outer layers.
  2. Pat dry and place each leek half flat-side down on cutting board and cut into 1/4-inch thick half-circle slices.
  3. Melt butter in a large pan on low-medium heat {or the cleaned le creuset you just used for the ricotta} and add leeks.
  4. Slowly cook leeks in butter until tender, ~10-15 minutes. Turn heat down if they start to brown before they are soft. Add salt to taste.
  5. Serve immediately while warm with the ricotta on the side or place in an airtight container and reheat in the microwave for 20 seconds just before serving to soften butter.

Garlic-Rubbed Crostini

1 baguette
Olive Oil for brushing
1-2 garlic cloves

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Slice baguette at a 45-degree angle, creating 1/4-inch thick slices.
  3. Place slices side by side on a baking sheet. Brush each piece with olive oil and place in oven for 10-15 minutes until toasted.
  4. Remove baking sheet and while the crostini are still hot, rub a whole garlic clove with 1-2 swipes on each piece of bread.
  5. Note: can be made ahead of time on the day you plan to serve and stored in an air-tight container or bag once cooled, until ready to serve.

1. Pour whole milk, cream and buttermilk into a large pot

2. Heat to 200 degrees F, or until it starts to boil, stirring frequently

2. Turn heat off and let rest for 1 hour

3/4. Pour ricotta into cheesecloth-lined colander over a large bowl in the sink. {Bowl shown next to the colander to show whey that runs through}

5. Gather edges of cloth and tie tightly with string, hanging to let drain ~1-2 minutes

6. Voila! Homemade Ricotta

Melted Leeks

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This Week’s food52 Wildcard Winner: Grandma DiLaura’s Ricotta Gnocchi

Grandma's Ricotta Gnocchi

Photo: Sarah Shatz

My Grandma’s Ricotta Gnocchi just won this week’s food52 wildcard prize for the best ricotta recipe. If you haven’t made it yet, it’s time to buy some fresh, creamy ricotta and give this recipe a whirl.

Homemade Gnocchi: Channeling My Italian Grandmother with Food52

Pair that with a lovely homemade loaf of bread {it’s easy, I swear!}

Breadmaking 101: How to Make Bakery Quality Bread @Home

Looking for other inspiring home-cooked meals? There are endless amazing recipes to choose from on food52. If you’re feeling really adventurous you can whip up your best recipe with horseradish this week and see if you might just take home a prize and some bragging rights. I feel an evening of killer bloody marys coming on…

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Homemade Gnocchi: Channeling My Italian Grandmother with Food52

Some of my first memories of food involve going to my Grandma’s house on Sundays for a meal with all the cousins. Sometimes it was a roast, sometimes she was cooking the handmade pasta that she dried on a rack in the basement, but on my favorite Sundays, Grandma was making her Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi.

She originally made this recipe with potatoes, which make for a heavier, denser gnocchi. In fact, we used to call them belly bombs {although I think that had more to do with the fact that she gave us very generous second and third helpings}. Eventually Grandma realized it was so much easier to make gnocchi with fresh ricotta cheese and these potato pillows and our bellies were lighter for it.

I credit my love and respect for hand-prepared food to these memories. I believe strongly that a good meal is a great meal when shared with friends and family — it’s why I started my blog and supper club in the first place. So when Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs asked me to film a recipe in the food52 kitchen, I knew Grandma’s Ricotta Gnocchi was the recipe to share. I hope you enjoy the simplicity of this traditional meal. Go on, channel your inner Italian Grandmother, and give it a try — I’d love to hear your stories, so leave me a comment if you do. Buon Appetito!

Grandma's Ricotta Gnocchi

Grandma DiLaura’s Ricotta Gnocchi

Serves 4 | Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

1 lb fresh ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra for serving
grated fresh nutmeg to taste
2 cups of flour, sifted, plus extra for rolling dough

  1. Add egg to ricotta cheese and oil and mix thoroughly.
  2. Add grated parmesan cheese to mixture and sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg to taste.
  3. Add sifted flour a little at a time and continue to mix thoroughly.
  4. Dump onto generously floured surface and work with hands to bring together into a smooth ball. Keep adding flour until dough no longer sticks to your hands as you gently knead it.
  5. Cut off slices of dough like cutting a loaf of bread and roll into ropes thumb size thick by spreading hands and fingers and rolling from center out to each edge of the rope.
  6. Line one rope parallel to another and cut 2 at a time into 1-inch pieces.
  7. Roll each gnocchi off the back of a fork to make imprints to help hold the sauce.
  8. Put gnocchi pieces on a lightly floured or non-stick baking sheet so they don’t stick together and put tray in the freezer while making the rest of batch.
  9. If not cooking immediately, let gnocchi freeze completely on baking sheet before transferring to ziplock bags or containers and keep in freezer until ready to make.
  10. When ready to prepare, bring large stockpot of generously salted water to a boil.
  11. Add gnocchi and gently stir once with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pot. As gnocchi rise to the top {a sign they are done cooking} scoop them out with a mesh strainer or a bamboo wire skimmer and immediately place in serving bowl shaking off excess water.
  12. Continuously scoop some sauce on top of each layer of gnocchi as they are placed in the bowl to eliminate the need to stir them with sauce in the end and risk damaging or smashing the pasta.Generously grate parmesan over the top and serve.

TIP: Gnocchi can be made ahead and completely frozen until dropped into water for cooking. Great for pulling a meal out mid-week without having to worry about defrosting. I always double this recipe when I make it and save some for later!

Grandma DiLaura’s Tomato and Meat Sauce

12-14 servings | 2-3 hours

1 28oz can tomato sauce
3 12oz cans of tomato paste
8 cups of water {fill each can used}
1 lb. of browned ground beef
2 teaspoons dried basil
salt & pepper taste
1 medium size yellow onion, peeled
1 teaspoon of baking soda

  1. In a large pot add the tomato sauce and paste. Fill each can used with water and add to the sauce with basil and salt & pepper and stir.
  2. Brown the ground beef, drain off the fat and set aside.
  3. Bring the pot to a boil on medium-high heat and then turn down to a slow simmer {caution: if you let the sauce boil too long it will burn}. Cook 2-3 hours until thick, stirring occasionally.
  4. After 1 hour, add browned ground beef and whole peeled onion.
  5. In last hour of cooking add 1 teaspoon baking soda to eliminate some acidity and stir.
  6. When ready to serve remove whole onion and cut in half or quarters to serve.

TIP: Sauce freezes well in small containers to pull out for mid-week dinner.

My Mom, Aunt Marilyn and Grandma DiLaura Making Gnocchi {Love the 70s!)

Read More About 8.ate@eight’s Supper Club:
Boozy Robert Burns Night w/ The Tippling Bros. & Highland Park Scotch
A+ 8.ate@eight Back to School Nite
8.ate@eight Went Whole Hog and Hog Wild @ the Big Southern BBQ
Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink!
Silencing of the Spring Lambs was Lambtastic!

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8.ate@eight is Filming with Food52 Today

After working with food52 co-founders, Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs on whipping up lots of mean excel spreadsheets, we decided it was time to direct some of that energy to the kitchen — a place we all love to work.

For those of you who don’t know food52, the company grew out of the insight that some of the best recipes come from home cooks. Each week they host a contest focused on one ingredient, allowing talented home cooks to show their stuff. The food52 team then vets the recipes and presents the best selections for the community to vote on, choosing a winner that will be published in an annual cookbook. How brilliant is that!

So this week they’ve asked me to come by their kitchen and film a video about my favorite food: My Grandma DiLaura’s homemade gnocchi. Stay tuned for more photos, videos and the secret family recipe! In the meantime, think about adding your own favorite recipe to this week’s contest, with the potential to be published in a cookbook and win a whole slew of prizes from Williams-Sonoma, Viking, OXO and TinyPrints. And you thought Christmas was in December.

Your Best Recipe with Citrus & Olives – BOOK 2 — WEEK 24

SUBMIT BEFORE 12am ET 02/11/11

Photo: Sarah Shatz

Winter citrus is at its finest, and most welcome, right about now. And when you add salty, briny olives — well, that’s practically a dance party. For this contest, pair them in any way you like, just make sure that both co-starring ingredients shine through mightily.

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Home for the Holidays, Having Italian to Write Home About @Bucci

Bucci

There are a handful of places I love to visit when I go home to Grosse Pointe to visit my parents — one of them is Bucci, an unexpectedly good Italian bistro worthy of a New York City corner, but nestled between a barber shop and a physical therapy storefront in suburban Michigan.

Bucci, the childhood nickname of Chef and owner, Bujar Mamuslari, was established in 1999 and has been packing seats with its open kitchen concept ever since. The extensive Italian menu was inspired by Bujar’s travels throughout Italy during a summer culinary school internship. Hitching a ride from town to town, Bujar was welcomed into the kitchens (and generations of nonna’s family secrets) in homes spanning the knickers to the heal of Italy’s boot.

Sitting at Bucci’s kitchen bar this evening, we had a front row seat to witness how all those countryside learnings inspired Bujar’s own stateside venture. There was so much going on at once, it was hard to keep track of it all. As our waitress chatted with us, she uncorked our wine and shouted out our calamari order to the chef, who with a nod, relayed to the line cook to toss the squid and peppers onto a sizzling pan, all while throwing the makings of, what I counted to be, 30 take-out orders into pots and pans for expedited boiling and saucing. Down the line, the third cook was expertly lining up each of the take-out containers, filling, stacking and double checking each order before moving them aside for pick-up. All of this was over in a matter of minutes and the three behind the counter were back on point, preparing dishes for the dining room. Easy entertainment while we sipped our wine and tore at our fresh Italian bread.

Back in suburbia, entrees still come with a soup or salad (why doesn’t anyone do this in NYC?) It’s not just a small, wilted pile of mixed greens drenched in house dressing. No, at Bucci you can have any salad off the menu as a side to your entree. I went for the spinach salad with crumbled blue cheese, walnuts and dried cherries, all tossed in a lovely bright lemon dressing.

For my entree, the Veal Pizzaiola topped with fresh tomatoes, herbs, olives capers and parmigiana reggiano was calling my name. The meal itself, was a thing of beauty, but what added to the artful presentation of Italian flavors was a crafty little plate painting drawn using oils and vinegar in the shape of a flower.

Veal Pizzaiola

Generally with Christmas around the corner I would have saved room and passed on dessert, but there was mention of a homemade hazelnut semi-freddo, enrobed in a warm chocolate sauce — one order, 3 spoons please! Just as no dish before it, the dessert did not disappoint.

Hazelnut Semi-freddo

 

The Skim: Next time you find yourself in the Detroit area and looking for a hearty meal reminiscent of a trip to Italy, pay a visit to Bucci. Everything from the fresh, warm bread to anything on the actual menu will have you thinking your Italian grandmother is in the kitchen. And whether you’re chatting with Bucci, his wife or any of the friendly staff you will feel as though you have been welcomed into someone’s house for a home-cooked meal.

Map: 20217 Mack Avenue, Grosse Pointe Woods, MI
Reservations: Taken!
Phone: 313.882.1044

More From the Motor City:
Best Breakfast: The Chocolate Gallery Cafe
Detroit’s Slows Bar-B-Q is Quickly Becoming a Motor City Beacon
Going Back to the Old Country @ New Yasmeen Bakery

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recipe goodness :: grandma’s italian wedding chicken soup

Italian Wedding Soup

My grandmother used to make this soup every New Year’s day. After what seemed like weeks of eating – from Thanksgiving to holiday parties, Christmas Eve and our big Italian Christmas feast, it was nice to come together for one more meal that was both simple and light, but still delicious {as Grandma’s cooking always was}. If you’re looking for something to lighten the load after all the Thanksgiving grub, this is the recipe for you!

This soup can be made any time of the year and makes enough that you can even freeze some to easily pull out a great mid-week meal. I would even suggest replacing the chicken with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving if you’re looking for something to do with your remaining bird this week. It’s not only a great cold day dish for us adults, but kids love the tiny meatballs and mini pasta. So spend a few minutes chopping and throwing all the goods in a pot — the fresh veggies and rich flavors from the meatballs and chicken will really put any canned soup to shame!

 

Grandma’s Italian Wedding Soup
Serves 8-10 | Cook Time: ~1 hour

Soup:
4 cans {14oz ea} chicken broth
1 cup of boiling water w/ 2 tsp dissolved chicken flavored concentrate
3-4 carrots diced
3-4 celery stalks diced
1 onion diced
2 boneless & skinless chicken breasts
1-1¼ cups pasta of choice {mini pasta is best!}
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan or romano cheese
Spinach, kale or chopped parsley {optional}

Meatballs:
½ lb ground beef
¼ cup of bread crumbs
1 egg
¼ tsp nutmeg
2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce

Poach the chicken: Place chicken in a pan covered with water & bring to a boil over med. high heat, uncovered. Immediately remove from burner, cover, and let completely cool. Turn oven to 350 deg.

Prepare the meatballs: Combine all ingredients and thoroughly mix. Take a bite size sample and cook to test for taste. Adjust seasonings as desired. Form tiny marble sized meatballs. Place on cookie sheet and brown in oven ~5-10 mins. Remove and place on paper towels to drain.

Soup Broth: Meanwhile, in a large stock pot combine the chicken broth and the cup of chicken concentrate, cover and bring to a boil. Taste, add salt and pepper if required. If broth does not have a rich chicken flavor to your liking, add 1 tsp at a time of the chicken concentrate to reach the desired taste.

Dice the carrots, celery, onion and chicken into bite size pieces. When chicken broth reaches the taste desired, add vegetables, chicken, and meatballs; bring to a boil then lower to simmer for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables reach the tenderness of your liking {I prefer al dente as the vegetables will soften as they continue to absorb the broth}. Optional, when the soup is almost done add torn spinach kale or chopped parsley just for color.

While the vegetables are cooking, in a separate pot prepare the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the box.

To serve: place desired amount of pasta in soup bowl add chicken soup, and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Tip from Grandma: Keep the pasta in a separate container when you store leftovers so they don’t soak up the broth and get too soggy. Add them to the bowl and pour of hot soup when ready to serve.

More from Grandma’s Kitchen:
Secret DiLaura Family Frittata with Sweet Italian Sausage
Violet’s Lemon Cheesecake with BBQ’d Summer Berries

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recipe goodness :: secret dilaura family frittata with sweet italian sausage

I think my grandmother would be more proud than angry that I’m sharing her recipe for Frittata with Sweet Italian Sausage. Her frittata evokes memories of the holidays, so I thought it’s the perfect time to share with all of you. Every Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter morning for the past 32-ish solid-food eating years, I have walked into a kitchen smelling of roasted sausage and sweet buttered Italian panettone toast.  Inevitably the kitchen also smelled of grandma’s spaghetti sauce, slowly simmering away for the evening feast. I cannot recount a past holiday when grandma’s frittata was not the start to a day filled with family and good eating. And even now that my grandmother is no longer with us, my dad has taken over as the frittata master — beating, cooking and flipping our breakfast to perfection. Tradition is good.

Her frittata is not rocket science, but requires a little skill with the flipping of a hot pan, which could result in a dozen eggs on your shoes, if unsuccessful! But the finished product is worth the risk and makes for a beautiful breakfast presentation to share with friends and family. We’ve been making this every year with italian sausage, but you can always get creative and substitute veggies, cheese, fresh herbs, whatever!

DiLaura Family Frittata with Sweet Italian Sausage

Serves 5-6 | Prep Time: 5 mins | Cook Time: 40-50 mins. including roasting sausage

1 dozen eggs {2 per person, plus 1-2 extra for good measure}
3/4 lb sweet italian sausage {I love Grazin’ Angus Acres grass-fed beef sausage}
1 TBS olive oil
1/4 C water for thinning
salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: Roast sausage for 30-40 minutes at 375° in a baking dish. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. {Note: Sausage can be cooked a full day in advance to save time and make the breakfast prep quicker}.

Step 2: Crack eggs into a large bowl and add ~1/4 cup of water, salt and pepper generously {my dad actually uses the very precise method of putting the bowl under the faucet and turning it on for a second to add water}. Beat eggs until a light froth forms on top.

Beat eggs and cook sausage

Step 3: Cut each cooked sausage at a 45 degree angle into 1/4-inch thick pieces. Heat a medium sized non-stick omelet pan to medium heat with 1 TBS of olive oil. Place as many slices of sausage as will fit side by side in the bottom of the pan and brown lightly for ~2 minutes. Reserve any excess slices to serve on the side. Using tongs, flip each piece individually and brown the other side.

Brown sausages slices on each side

Step 4: Remove any excess oil with a spoon. Pour beaten egg mixture into pan over browned sausage slices.

Our beaten egg mixture over browned sausage slices

Step 5: Using a rubber spatula, continuously move around the side of the pan, pulling the firm egg away from the edges, allowing liquid to pour over the edges and stream to the bottom. Also use the spatula to break through the middle of the frittata creating small holes in the center where egg liquid can seep through the bottom. Be sure to also push the sausage slices into the firming egg. When almost all of the egg liquid has gotten firm, get prepared to flip.

Pull edges away with spatula to allow liquid to pour over edges

Step 6: Use a platter that is larger than the pan with angled edges. Remove pan from heat, place platter upside down on top of the pan and hold firmly in place. QUICKLY flip pan and platter, angling slightly away from you so any excess liquid won’t run onto your hands or arms {my dad prefers to do this over the sink, just in case he accidently spills, so there is no egg on the floor}.

Hold platter firmly and quickly flip frittata from the pan to the platter

Step 7: Slide upside down frittata back into the pan from the platter, so the uncooked side is now on the bottom of the pan. Cook 2 more minutes or just enough time to firm the remaining liquid egg. Rinse and dry platter while frittata finishes cooking.

Slide back into pan to firm uncooked side

Step 8: Flip the frittata back onto the platter. The last side cooked is less brown and looks better when presented facing up. Cut into equal sized pie slices and enjoy!

Last side cooked facing up

More Eggs that Are Everything They’re Cracked Up to Be:
recipe goodness :: how to cook the perfect sunny side-up egg
Greenmarket: Put Smarter, Cheaper & More Scrumptious Food on Your Table
Michael Pollan Agreed With Me, $8 Eggs Are A Good Idea
The Art of Brunching Well @ L’Artusi
A Better Brooklyn Breakfast @ Dizzy’s Finer Diner

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Rustic Space Features Really Good Wood-Burning Oven Pizza @Roberta’s

Roberta's Brooklyn

Located in a former garage in Brooklyn, down a warehouse-dense road, Roberta’s is nestled in a space that at first glance makes you question your propensity to enter. But when you do, you are warmly greeted by a brightly lit, rustic atmosphere set with reclaimed wood communal tables overlooking a piping hot wood-burning oven. Weather permitting, you can also grab a seat in the back garden and settle in for some equally delightful rustic fare.

Roberta's Communal Seating

Creatively named pizzas are the feature of the menu. We had the Da Kine, a word in Hawaiian pidgin that generally refers to anything abstract. It’s also a new take on the typical Hawaiian pizza with tomato, mozzarella, ricotta, jalapenos, pineapple, prosciutto cotto. Let me tell you, it was DE-LISH-OUS! Thin slices of sweet pineapple, cut with a subtle spice from the jalapenos and topped with a delicate, almost lacy proscuitto, which I found to be so much better than the typical thick squares of ham. All washed down with a draft brew served in a Ball jam jar — doesn’t that just scream rustic dining experience?

Roberta's Da Kine Pie

The Skim: I can only speak to the stellar pizza I had, but the menu also features other creatively rustic dishes such as the Orecchiette with lamb pancetta, egg yolk, piave or the Pork Chop with fregola, guanciale, romanesco. This may look like a run-down industrial joint from the outside, but Roberta’s is serving upscale, unique dishes that will make your taste buds sing, but in a comfortable atmosphere that invites you to enjoy a low-key meal out with friends whatever the occasion.

Map: 261 Moore St Brooklyn,NY
Reservations: For Parties of 10+
Phone: 718-417-1118


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Le Grand Fooding ‘Twas A Grand Yummy Evening
Travel Bite: Puglia on a Plate


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Do This!: Eataly is Big Box Batali

 

Eataly Grocery: Jams, Honeys, Coffee, Chocolate...and More!

We may not have a Wal-Mart or SuperTarget in NYC, but we do have Eataly, a new take on Molto Mario that brings both imported and locally sourced artisanal Italian products to Manhattanites {and the droves of tourists lined up around the corner} in a very big way. Housed inside the old Toy Building, Eataly is grocery marketplace, coffee bar, food court, culinary classroom and a headache all under one roof. Don’t get me wrong, I love Eataly and everything it’s about, but if you thought making your way through the aisles of Fairway was bad, then prepare yourself for patience-testing as you navigate through awe-struck photogs, non-english speaking patrons and hour-long waiting periods for a table. I’ve been to Eataly twice since it opened and the best advice I can share: plan to cook Eataly-bought ingredients at home, or be willing to eat during the early bird special. I did both, so here’s the experience relived.

Walk in and bypass the Lavazza coffee bar, which will inevitably have a long line because it is right by the front door. Not far past that long line you will discover another very slick walk-up coffee bar with a large and shiny imported coffee machine that not only looks cool, but makes a mean cup of Giuseppe.

Walk Up Coffee Bar

What goes better with un cafe than beautifully decadent desserts?

Italian Pastries and Sweets

Puglian Style Mozzarella!

But after you’ve sampled a taste of Italy, make your way to my favorite part of the store, the salumi and formaggi section. Here, the best of Italian food craft is married with locally-sourced ingredients, to bring you fresh cuts of meat and cheeses, including handmade mozzarella, literally made before your very eyes. If you chat with Sal for a bit, he might even share some warm mozz right from the pot!

Sal, Your New Cheese Friend

Grab some fresh produce, which I thought all looked very nice and was reasonably priced. If you’re not one who wields a knife with ease, then pay a visit to the brilliant vegetable butcher, who will wash, clean and prep your veg in any way you would like. Why oh why has no one done this before?!?

Eataly's Fresh Produce

Vegetable Butcher -- Your Other New Friend

As if this isn’t impressive enough, as you walk deeper into the brightly lit concrete walls of this Italian megastore, you soon stumble upon another brilliant display of fresh pasta — cut, twirled and presented in a myriad of ways to make cooking fresh pasta at home, not only easy, but exciting. And if you want to really go over the top with your squid ink tagliatelle, then you can also buy white truffles at $3,400 / lb, or the more affordable black truffle for $420 / lb {what a steal!}

Eataly Fresh Pasta Counter

Want to stock up on some dried pasta for those cold winter nights? Eataly has at least 6 rows of pasta in various shapes and sizes.

Pasta di gragnano

Of course if you’re willing to wait, or eat lunch at 11:30 like we did, I highly recommend snagging a seat at one of the ristorantes to taste what all this Italian Artisanal goodness is really about. We opted for the pizza-pasta section, because it was hard not too after all the amazing s’ghetti we walked by. The meal did not disappoint. Neapolitan style pizza, simple spaghetti al pomodoro and the best dish of all, fusilli al ragu with a blend of veal, pork and beef bolognese. DE-LISH.

Wood Burning Pizza Ovens

Spaghetti al Pomodoro

Fusilli al Ragu

The Skim: Patience is a necessity when making an Eataly excursion, but you will be rewarded in every bite — whether you stop for a quick coffee fix, to stock up on the makings of your own homemade feast or successfully snag a seat for an in-store bite. Grocery must: At $3.80 for a ball of fresh mozzarella, it’s not only creamy goodness, but a steal! Menu must: Fusilli al Ragu is molto molto buono!

Map: 200 Fifth Ave {@5th Ave}

The Real Deal Italiano:
Del Posto Presents Murray’s Cheese & Salumi Wine Party @NYCWFF
The Art of Eating {and Drinking} Well @ L’Artusi
Aria Sings a Harmonious West Village Wine Bar
Travel Bite: Puglia on a Plate

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Del Posto Presents Murray’s Cheese & Salumi Wine Party @NYCWFF

Set inside the private room at Del Posto, Murray’s Cheese threw a Sunday soiree where wine was flowing and some of the best artisan cheese and salumi was being hand cut and shared freely with eager New York City Wine & Food Festival fans.  Here were some of my favorite slices — all of which can be cut and carried home from Murray’s Greenwich Village or Grand Central locations.

La Quercia: Rossa Heirloom Proscuitto
After talking to the owner of La Quercia, Herb Eckhouse, for awhile, I walked away with several slices of the most creamy, silky prosciutto I’ve ever had and a new appreciation for buying domestic. Made from 100% Iowa-raised Berkshire Pork, this special breed’s short muscle fibers and fat creates a smooth and buttery bite, better than any slice I’ve found elsewhere…yes, even compared to some from Italy. Find it HERE

A lot of us visit Italy and dream of bringing back a little piece of that lifestyle, but Herb and Kathy Eckhouse actually did this after living in Italy for a former job. Over a coffee at an Italian cafe and a few slices of prosciutto, a friend fleetingly said “if you make something this good, you’d make a lot of people happy.” It’s been 10 years since that comment and now this couple has mastered that delight, using the best, responsibly raised pork to highlight the bounty of Iowa and share an artisanal prosciutto product that is pure enjoyment.

Want more? You can actually buy a subscription to a whole pig and over the course of 2 years of breeding and aging, you’ll get various shipments of the best quality pork money can buy — from head to tail. Contact Kendra@laquercia.us for info.

La Quercia Prosciutto

Farms for City Kids Foundation, Spring Brook Farm: Tarentaise
Spring Brook Farm is doing something really special in cheese — they’re involving kids. 100% of the proceeds from this fresh cow’s milk Vermont cheese supports the Farms for City Kids Foundation, which brings children to the farm for a one week immersion in farm-based curriculum, giving kids a hands-on experience and understanding of microbiology, food preservation, health and nutrition. If that’s not reason enough to try this, how about the fact that they won First Place in the Best USA Cow’s Milk Cheese category at the World Championship Cheese Contest in Wisconsin!

Farms for City Kids, Spring Brook Farm Tarentaise Cheese

Vermont Butter and Cheese: Cremont, Bonne Bouche, Creamy Goat Cheese, Sea Salt Butter
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about Vermont Butter and Cheese — remember when I gushed about trying their cheeses at the Fancy Food Show?  Just because I’ve sampled their spread before, didn’t mean I wasn’t going back for seconds. That luscious Double-Cream Cremont mixed-milk cheese that I previewed at the Food Show, is only a few months on the market and is already outselling their previously most popular Bonne Bouche. It’s a beautiful thing when best gets even better. Put this is on your next cheese platter, right next to all the other extraordinary cuts I’m introducing you to. Find it HERE

2010 Best Goat Cheese in America

Creminelli Fine Meat: Casalingo, Tartufo, Barolo, Wild Boar. Americano and Della Musica Sausage
That’s a whole lotta meat. And this is why I love what I do. I snagged a slice {or maybe two} of the Wild Boar sausage. It was earthy, salty, meaty goodness. And it was made here in the fine U.S of A. I’m catching on — no suitcase or jet lag needed to enjoy the artistry of authentic handcrafted Italian salumi. Using only choice cuts from select breeds raised on small family American farms, Creminelli Fine Meats are creating a great meat eating experience. Find it HERE

Creminelli Fine Meat Wild Boar Sausage

Cellars at Jasper Hill: Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Landaff Creamery Landaff
To close out a lot of nibbling, I stopped by one last table and was glad that I did. Let me first start by saying this Cabot Clothbound Cheddar was something truly unique because it actually tasted subtly like roasted peanut butter. I’m sure that’s not the first thing you would compare a cheese too, nor is it likely the most appealing way to describe a cheddar. But for that very reason, I was stopped in my tracks and forced — yes, forced — to go back for another bite to make sure my taste buds were not deceiving me. It’s made from one herd’s milk, sold to Jasper Hill when the cheese is only 3 days old, bound in cloth and and aged for 10-14 months in their new 22,000 sq. ft., 7-vault facility in Jasper Hill, VT.  This may not be that exciting to most of you, but it excites me. No one else in the U.S. has a facility of this scale and is doing what they are — that can only mean one thing for us cheeselovers. More. Incredible. Artisanal. Cheese. Find it HERE

Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Jasper Hill, VT

So there you have it. Good American cheese and salumi that does not involve plastic-wrapped single slices. Thank you Murray’s for indulging us with some truly delightful handcrafted bites.

This Whole Post Excites Me, Tell Me More:
Summer Fancy Food Show: Full Belly and Learnings Digestion
Do This!: A Taste of What to Expect @ Artisanal Premium Cheese Class
NY Craft Beer Week, Get Your Goggles On

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The Art of Brunching Well @ L’Artusi

L'Artusi Bloody Mary

It was not long ago that I was raving about my dinner at L’Artusi, the attractive, open-kitchen Italian spot tucked down one of those non-perpendicular West Village streets.  So when they asked me to come preview their newly created Brunch menu before the public unveiling this Sunday {October 17}, I couldn’t help but spread the love again. I am an encourager of exemplary eating establishments. When I have a great meal, I want you to know about it. I want you to go. Tomorrow! So pick up the phone, make a reservation {212.255.5757} and then keep reading.

Every good brunch deserves a bloody mary. And every good bloody mary deserves some “hmpf”. What I mean by that is I want spice and all sorts of goodies in my Sunday cocktail — I want veggies, I want olives, I want lots of little bits floating around giving me that liquid-salad-with-a-kick kind of feeling. Because frankly, if I’m drinking on a Sunday morning {thank you Tippling Bros.}, I need to feel like I’m getting some sort of nutritional benefit. L’Artusi’s Mary does just that — and with a cherry, err, pancetta cube on top.

Graciously our very helpful server also suggested we start with the bread basket. This isn’t just any roll and butter basket. This is a collection of seasonal, bready goodness — a cranberry muffin, cherry scone and some dark, nutty bread that I couldn’t get enough of. All served with a side of whipped, soft, creamy butter and a lovely plum jam.

L'Artusi Bread Basket

My favorite of the two mains we ordered was the Eggs Florentine. We already know my obsession with eggs,and that I assert high expectations for any egg dish that I order at a restaurant. And this exceeded them ten-fold. Served on crispy polenta {clever Italian substitute to the ‘ole english muffin} with lovely, bright green spinach and a perfectly poached egg that oozed creamy, golden goodness, the florentine was then lovingly topped with a tomato-hollandaise, again adding a unique flavor profile and twist to the classic preparation.

L'Artusi Eggs Florentine

We were also treated to an unexpected dish that has my vote for best contender on the menu. The Polenta Amatriciana is probably best shared between two people because of its richness. A bowl of polenta {that I’m sure has no shortage of butter in it} is topped with the same amatriciana sauce that graces their bucatini on the dinner menu. This stuff is amazing — a combination of tomato, pancetta and red chilis, it is smoky and slightly spicy. What else would you want on top of a bowl of creamy polenta? An egg? Yes, I thought so — a perfect poach floats on top of this bed of delight, just waiting to be broken open so all the eggy yumminess can swim around with all the other flavors. And to really round this out, the entire dish is finished with some freshly grated parmesan cheese.

L'Artusi Polenta Amatriciana

How about the sides? You can’t go wrong with the pancetta bacon or the super crispy rosemary potatoes. I agree with the person verbally singing the praises of that pancetta bacon and if you need a little crispy, salty potato to soak up your Saturday night, well then you’ve found them!

“This the the best bacon I’ve ever eaten in my life” — overheard @ L’Artusi

The Skim: And that, my friends, was a brunch worth sharing. I expect L’Artusi’s sunday brunch will be just as popular as their dinner is, but even if you can’t manage to get a reservation, you are always welcome to walk in and eat on the really comfy stools at the bar or start with one of their creative morning cocktails or fresh juices while you wait.

Map228 west 10th {btw Hudson & Bleecker}
Reservations: Taken!
Phone: 212-255-5757


8.ate@eight Favor8
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I ♥ Eggs Too:
The Art of Eating {and Drinking} Well @ L’Artusi
A Better Brooklyn Breakfast @ Dizzy’s Finer Diner
Community Food & Juice: Fresh & Fantastic Fare
Weekend Brunch: Eat Eggs @ Edward’s
Greenmarket: Put Smarter, Cheaper & More Scrumptious Food on Your Table

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Aria Sings a Harmonious West Village Wine Bar

Chef-owner Roberto Passon {of Bocca di Bacco} opened his own venture Aria in the past few months, featuring small plates {cicchetti} and small glasses {ombre} of Italian food and fruits of the vine. Like most wine bars, it’s small, dimly lit, with exposed brick and a chalkboard menu — and lacks a full kitchen. But just because they’ve constructed a quaint atmosphere, doesn’t mean they haven’t figured out how to send out lip smacking food that you’re reluctant to share.

Aria Grilled Lamb Chops

We started with the burrata {just say the word and I’ll order it}, but followed that with the best plate of the evening — two grilled lamp chops in a balsamic vinegar sauce. They were just the right amount of salty with each sweet, juicy, herby bite. I found myself wanting more than the one I was alloted {my half of the plate} but our over-excited bartender-waiter insisted we order the gorgonzola stuffed dates. This is the type of thing that you know is probably not good for the waistline, but you enjoy every bite — dates, stuffed with gorgonzola and wrapped in prosciutto before being cooked to a crisp outer layer. It’s a rich morsel of chewy goodness. Four was too many though, so these we did happily share with our new bar stool friends perched to our left.

Aria Gorgonzola Stuffed Dates

The Skim: You don’t have to go for the food to enjoy Aria though. With a generous amount of bar space given the size of the bar {seats wrap around to the bar tending side}, it’s easy to order a few ombres of wine or house cocktails, quickly make friends with the bartender {who is all too eager to pour you a shot of Italian liquor} and have a harmonic evening. It makes for a great date destination, place to grab some vino with friends or perhaps make some new ones.

Map: 117 Perry {Btw Greenwich & Hudson}
Reservations: Not Taken
Phone: 212.242.4233

Fill Me Up:
Bocca di Bacco: I say PotaTO, You say PoTATo
Wintry Wine & Whiskey Warm-Up @ Vintry

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The Art of Eating {and Drinking} Well @ L’Artusi

La Scienza in Cucina e L’Arte di Mangiar Bene (The Science of cookery and the Art of Eating Well) is an iconic cookbook found in nearly every Italian household and is also known by the shorter name of its author, L’Artusi. I don’t know if it’s more fitting to say the NYC restaurant L’Artusi lives up to that iconic name or to say they are creating their own modern version of the Art of Eating Well through the complex, yet traditional Italian flavors that grace each plate. Either way, it was my selected destination of choice to celebrate Puglia Wine Week, and yes, we ate and drank very very well.

L’Artusi, the sister restaurant of dell’anima, partnered with Apulian wine producer Agricole Vallone to feature several of the best wines from this region and complement each pour with dishes inspired by Apulian cuisine. Agricole Vallone produces wines from three different estates located in Brindisi and Salentino, both found in the most southern region of Puglia known as Salento {the stiletto tip of the boot for those of you less familiar with Italian geography}. The region is known for its breathtaking views of the Adriatic and producing the Negroamaro grape using a traditional Pugliese tree technique. Sounds like a place I need to visit, but for now I’ll settle for an enjoyable evening of local pairings while sporting my own heels.

L'Artusi

To start, we ordered the housemade ricotta with sea salt and lemon, served with a side of raisin-mustard seed marmalade jam and homemade buttermilk crackers, as well as the scallop crudo, sliced thinly and served simply with lemon and olive oil. Our server paired this with the Vigna Flaminio Brindisi Rosato doc 2009. The creaminess of the ricotta and surprisingly light buttermilk crackers were outstanding on their own, but also worked perfectly with the deep pink rosé that exhibited sweet floral and cherry aromas.

L'Artusi Housemade Fresh Ricotta with Sea Salt, Lemon and Homemade Buttermilk Crackers

One of the reasons I love L’Artusi {and dell’anima} so much is because of their small plate, sharing approach to the menu. It’s a great way to sample new flavors and also solves the menu indecision problem that I’m often faced with {just bring a few friends and start ordering!}. The next two plates that followed were unanimously agreed around the table to be two of the best dishes of the evening. The beef carpacio with horseradish crema and rye crisps was so simple, but the crunchiness of the crispy bits and the mustardy kick of the horseradish added a unique depth. The roasted mushrooms with pancetta, fried egg and ricotta salata was my personal favorite — it was sharp, creamy and earthy and had a subtle kick from the pickled chili that was an unexpected, but welcomed surprise. Both dishes went extremely well with the Vereto Salice Salentino Riserva Rosso doc 2006, a 90% Negroamaro red with hints of pepper and chocolate.

L'Artusi Beef Carpacio with Horseradish Crema and Rye Crisps

L'Artusi Roasted Mushrooms with Pancetta, Fried Egg and Ricotta Salata

To finish off the evening we ordered two pasta dishes, but the highlight was an off-the-menu item that arrived from the kitchen and was an incredible celebration of the fall season. Butternut squash ravioli — not an uncommon menu item, but add marscapone cheese, a brown butter sauce and fresh grated parmesan and you have a perfect little package of flavors that would make any taste bud happy.

L'Artusi Special Butternut Squash with Marscapone and Ricotta

“I want to sleep in a pillow of whatever is in that ravioli”
— overheard @ L’Artusi

To pair, we closed out the meal with two reds tasted side-by-side, the Vigna Flaminio Brindisi Riserva doc 2006 and the Graticciaia Salento Rosso igt 2005. Both ruby red in color, the Graticciaia was made in an amarone-style, with 30% dry grapes and 70% fresh, which resulted in a dryer finish but opened up nicely over time and held up to the heavier pasta plates.

Agricole Vallone Wines

Table with a View - L'Artusi's Open Kitchen

The Skim: Uno) Eat at L’Artusi. With a menu featuring an artful list of crudo, veggie, pasta, fish, meat, cheeses and desserts, you won’t have a hard time eating well or creating a satisfying shared table evening. Due) Drink Apulian vino. Next time you’re looking through a wine list and perplexed by the plentiful picks, opt for a Negroamaro, Bombino Biano or Primitivo, three varietals common of the region. And for those of you who care, Puglia is the second largest producer {after Sicily} or organic wines, an indication of the important role agriculture plays in this unique Italian region. Buon Appetito and Salute!

Map: 228 west 10th {btw Hudson & Bleecker}
Reservations: Taken!
Phone: 212-255-5757


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Mangia, Mangia!

The Art of Brunching Well @ L’Artusi
Travel Bite: Puglia on a Plate
Do This!: First Ever Puglia Wine Week
Bistro Don Giovanni: Napa-Sourced & Italian-Inspired
Bocca di Bacco: I say PotaTO, You say PoTATo

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Do This!: First Ever Puglia Wine Week

Don’t let the rain keep you inside, there is so much to DO! this week. In addition to being EAT, DRINK LOCAL Week, it’s The First Ever Puglia Wine Week! You don’t have to live in NY to get excited either — the Puglia Wine restaurant roadshow is taking place in NY, L.A., San Francisco, Houston and Chicago! Find your favorite participating Italian restaurant, make a reservation and start swirling and twirling! My brother and his wife just returned from their honeymoon in Puglia and after seeing video of homemade burrata and pasta from the trip, I got very excited when I learned about a week of opportunity to explore more about this lesser known, but amazingly delicious region in Italy.

All food and wine lovers that will dine in these restaurants will have the chance to start their meals with delicious regional specialties, try wines from one of the best wineries of the region, and personally meet the producer in a casual, relaxed environment. Each sommelier of the participating restaurant will guide and educate the customers about the winery and each chef will create special recipes inspired by Apulian cuisine to exalt the wines and celebrate the occasion. During the course of the three days, restaurants will continue to propose diners pair their recipes with glass of wine from the host winery.

Find a participating restaurant HERE and get involved! Reservations can be made directly with the restaurant of choice.

Can’t make dinner? Try some tastings at participating wine stores HERE.

Discover More of Italy!:
Bistro Don Giovanni: Napa-Sourced & Italian-Inspired
Bocca di Bacco: I say PotaTO, You say PoTATo

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Bistro Don Giovanni: Napa-Sourced & Italian-Inspired

With my brother’s wedding on the weekend horizon, I didn’t have much time for Napa food and wine excursions, but we were able to schedule a small family dinner at an excellent Napa restaurant to start the week out right. Napa-sourced and Italian-inspired, Bistro Don Giovanni brings the best of food and wine to a warm Valley eatery. Whether dining al fresco or fireside, the mediterranean menu features rustic fare blending the best local ingredients with traditional homemade Italian dishes. Complementing the fresh food, an extensive wine list offers selections from the best of Napa, Italy and even two estate grown wines from the owners’ family home that are great value for money options.

The antipasti menu was so appealing we ordered one of almost everything for the table and opted to share a few entrees. The Fritto Misto was one of the highlights, adding rock shrimp, fennel, onions and green beans to the typical crispy calamari dish. When you order this make sure to get a piece of the fennel {my favorite bite} which was a surprisingly nice combination of sweet and salty. Then again, isn’t everything good fried?

Bistro Don Giovanni Fritto Misto

Another unexpected delight was the Bruschetta with Monterey Sardines, chick peas with a tomato chili vinaigrette — it is salty, crunchy and slightly sweet with a strong mediterranean flavor from the smashed chick peas and a fresh, peppery bite from the arugula. It far exceeds expectations of a typical tomato based bruschetta.

Bistro Don Giovanni Monterey Sardine Bruschetta

And it’s not very often a pizza is that spectacular that it’s worth writing about, but the simple Margherita supported the freshly crushed tomato sauce and sparse melted mozzarella cheese with a thin crust that was crispy on the bottom and chewy on the inside — just how a stellar slice should be.

Bistro Don Giovanni Pizza Margherita

Bistro Don Giovanni Orecchiette

Three of the entrees that we shared were traditional Italian dishes, but each had a unique twist that made them memorable. The Orecchiette was served with sausage, rapini {aka broccoli rabe}, chilies, tomato and reggiano. It was the spice of the chilies that gave this dish the extra heat that complemented the other simple and fresh ingredients. The Chicken Parmigiana was served over zucchini “spaghetti,” thin strands of zucchini that offered a lighter alternative to a bed of pasta, all topped off with a local heirloom tomato sauce. The table favorite {which got eaten before I could snap a picture} was the Polpette d’Agnello, lamb and ricotta meatballs served with a side of shell beans and artichokes. Now thatsa meatball!

Bistro Don Giovanni Chichen Parmigiana

The Skim: If you’re looking for an exceptional meal to soak up a day of wine tasting, be sure to make a stop at Bistro Don Giovanni. Right in the heart of Napa on St. Helena Hwy, it’s an easy stop on the way out of town, and if you’ve tapped out the wallet on previous wine purchases you can take advantage of one of their 29 wines for $29.

Map: {4110 Howard Lane, Napa, CA}
Reservations: Taken!
Phone: 707.224.3300

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