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Italian

Taste the Best of Italy This Weekend

Looking for something free to do this weekend? Head to Tutti Matti, a new restaurant in Long Island City, for a free tasting of homemade pasta, pizza and original cocktails.

Details are below – see you there!

When: Saturday, April 2, 2016 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM (EDT)

Where: Tutti Matti – 47-30 Vernon Boulevard, NY 11101

RSVPhttps://tasteitalianfood.eventbrite.com

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An Italian Feast: Patrizia’s of Brooklyn

Want to have an Italian feast with a few hundred of your closest friends? Head to Patrizia’s of Brooklyn and you too can experience the party that takes place in Williamsburg.

This place is amazing and ideal for large groups. It’s a celebration all night with diners waving their napkins in the air as table after table celebrates a birthday, anniversary or just a fun night out on the town.

Come hungry. A family-style menu is available for around $55 per person that includes an all-you-can-drink feast with multiple courses of cheeses, veggies, pizzas, pastas, seafood, meats and desserts. There’s so much food that it never seems to stop – course after course after course comes out. Luckily, you have endless amounts of wine and beer to wash it all down.

I highly recommend Patrizia’s of Brooklyn. I definitely will be going back and encourage you to check them out for your next celebration!

Patrizia's Pizza and Pasta Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Olio e Piu

The interior gives off a rustic feel – the perfect decor for chef Dominick Pepe to serve up authentic, hearty and healthy Italian meals. We’re talking everything from seafood to authentic Napoli pizza to pasta to crisp autumn salads anytime of the day or night. That’s right, they’re open 24 hours.

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I’ll be honest. I devoured a ton of food at this restaurant. It was all so good! Delicious Polpette di Vitello Ripiene – veal stuffed meatballs with ricotta, arugula, parmesan and marinara sauce – came close to rivaling my mom’s secret recipe. I indulged in very rich Spaghetti alla Carbonara. The pasta was perfectly cooked al dente and once that egg broke, it blended together into a very decadent carb-loaded dish. And what’s a meal without dessert? The Tiramisu was one of my favorite dishes of the night. This dessert was so light and creamy, but at the same time satisfied my chocolate craving with a generous dusting of cocoa powder. No complaints here – it was all delicious.

With great food, a great location and service that lets you leisurely enjoy your meal while taking it all in, I can see why Olio e Piu is a neighborhood favorite. I highly recommend checking this place out. It fits the bill for everything from drinks with friends to dinner with your parents. Stop by and let me know what you think!

Olio e Piu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Olio e Piu

Pizzetteria Brunetti

Feeling nostalgic for traditional Italian Sunday dinners? Father-and-son owners, Michael and Jason Brunetti, have teamed up to bring their traditional Neapolitan Pizza to the West Village and opened Pizzetteria Brunetti.

Pizzeteria Brunetti

And now, they’ve revealed their own take on an authentic Sunday dinner and created a prefix four-course family meal, priced at $30 and offered every Sunday starting April 27. The menu starts off with the Insalata alla Pulcinella, followed by the Polpette alla Maria (Mary’s Meatball) and Neapolitan Margherita Pizza served with a glass of Brunetti wine or beer. You will also be able to enjoy an espresso and delicious orange zest Zeppole for dessert.

Pizzeteria Brunetti

I was recently was invited to give the menu a try and it was delicious! Michael and Jason Brunetti have put together a real gem. Leaving no details ignored, the restaurant has a custom-built wood-burning brick oven created on-site “brick by brick” and is one of only a handful of pizza restaurants in New York City that use a wood-burning brick oven.

Margherita Pizza

Margherita Pizza

The classic Margherita pizza has San Marzano tomatoes, house made mozzarella, basil, sea salt and is drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

San Gennaro Pizza Pizzetteria Brunetti

San Gennaro Pizza

The San Gennaro pizza has sweet Italian sausage, buttery caramelized onions, roasted red and yellow peppers, sheep’s milk ricotta, San Marzano tomatoes.

Spezie Pizza Pizzetteria Brunetti

Spezie Pizza

The Spezie pizza is a delicious mixture of sauteed broccoli rabe, broccolini, spicy Italian sausage, creamy burrata cheese, hot peppers and a spicy Calabrian pepper puree.

Riso Salad Pizzetteria Brunetti

Riso Salad

Aside from the incredible pizza, the Riso salad was one of my favorites. Black and red rice, organic kale, almonds and dried figs topped with caciocavallo cheese. A spicy chile oil gives this dish a subtle warmth – delicious!

The Verdict

I don’t know why Pizzetteria Brunetti is under the radar of many pizza lovers. With a variety of pizzas sure to please everyone, this place is well on the way to being a West Village hot spot. Delicious food with attentive and friendly service that treat you like family have me giving Pizzetteria Brunetti two thumbs up!

*This meal was provided free, courtesy of Pizzetteria Brunetti. 

Pizzetteria Brunetti on Urbanspoon

Happy New Year! Some of my Favorite Spots in 2013

Happy New Year! 2013 was a year filled with lots of delicious memories. Below are some of my favorites from the past 12 months.

If you check out any of these let me know what you think!

Food filled 2013

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana

Restaurant: Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana – 59 Federal Road, Danbury, Connecticut and Multiple Locations

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana has quite a history and is easily one of the best-known pizzerias in Connecticut. Known locally as Pepe’s, it still stands in its original location in the Wooster Square neighborhood of New Haven, CT, as well as restaurants in various cities across the state.

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana

The Danbury location has a simple, green and white interior with an open kitchen. The centerpiece of the bustling kitchen is an enormous coal-fired oven. 

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana Kitchen
Kitchen at Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana

Pies are placed table-side on an oversized tin baking sheet. From there, it’s help yourself as you dig in.

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana Sausage and Mushroom Pizza
Sausage and Mushroom Pizza

chowed down on a pizza topped with sausage and mushrooms. While Pepe’s has a rich history, I was unfortunately unimpressed by their pizza. I found the crust to be floppy and the whole pie to be tasteless. 

Slice of Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana Sausage and Mushroom Pizza
Slice of Sausage and Mushroom Pizza

Other detractors are the silverware and plates. Pepe’s skips out on providing anything more than the basics – forks, knives and plastic plates. My biggest complaint is that the plastic plates are so tiny that a slice of pizza falls off the sides. Can’t you invest in some bigger plates?

The Verdict

I was excited to give Pepe’s a try, but unfortunately I left slightly disappointed. The pizza was pretty bland and the tiny plastic plates and lack of anything more than the basics had me thinking Pepe’s is trying to do whatever it can to save money and rein in the profits. Suggestion: buy some plates that at the very least fit a slice of pizza and invest in some silverware other than forks and knives. Maybe a serving utensil for the pizza? 

Frank Pepe Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Italian in Brooklyn Heights – Sociale

Restaurant: Sociale – 72 Henry Street, Brooklyn, New York

After a recent trip walking across the Brooklyn Bridge with my aunt and Hailey, we opted to skip Grimaldi’s and try something a little bit off the beaten path in Brooklyn Heights.

Enter Sociale. Whenever you walk into an Italian restaurant and are greeted by an entire staff speaking Italian, you know you’ve made a good decision.

Spicy Margarita

Spicy Margarita

Atmosphere

Sociale has a very modern, clean feel to it. The vibrant atmosphere is surrounded by large windows that provide ample lighting and frame the white painted brick and dark wood floors and tables. Clean and sleek, but still with a somewhat old-world feel.

Food

Of course, we pigged out, ordering from across the menu.

Frittura Di Mare flash fried calamari, shrimp, eggplant, red peppers, marinara sauce

Frittura Di Mare

Fried calamari, shrimp, eggplant, red peppers and marinara sauce. How can you go wrong? The Frittura Di Mare consisted of flash fried seafood and vegetables piled high on top of each other.

Pappardelle Al Coniglio whole wheat pappardelle, rabbit ragout, black olives

Pappardelle Al Coniglio

Pappardelle Al Coniglio is made up of whole wheat pappardelle, rabbit ragout and black olives. The portion was a little small for my liking but the flavor packed a punch. This wasn’t my favorite dish. I thought it could have used a little more sauce since the noodles appeared to be somewhat dry.

Pumpkin Ravioli

Pumpkin Ravioli

The clear best dish of the night was the pumpkin ravioli! These bite-size raviolis were stuffed with delicious pumpkin filling in a butter sauce. The raviolis literally exploded inside my mouth at each bite. Deliciously buttery and full of flavor. I’d eat these all day long.

Veal Special

Veal Special

We ordered a veal entree which was one of the specials that night. This dish consisted of a thin piece of veal topped with some greens. Simple and done well.

Service

Service was exceptional. The staff was welcoming, friendly and inviting. The standout example of this was when I asked for a glass of Riesling. There weren’t any ‘by the glass’ options for Reisling, but our waiter didn’t hesitate to open a bottle anyway and pour me a glass. Great service and it clearly made an impression on me.

Value

The portions of some dishes may be a little small and Sociale isn’t the cheapest restaurant on the block. However, it’s not insanely priced. Prices range from $15-$18 for pastas and $20-$27 for entrees. The food is fresh, simple and delicious and everyone can find something that fits their budget on the menu.

The Verdict

Next time you walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, skip the line at Grimaldi’s and head to Sociale. Traditional Italian cuisine is fused with a modern flair and exceptional customer service. Check them out! 

PS – Don’t mind their website. They clearly haven’t updated it in a few months since the restaurant opened. You’ll have to visit MenuPages.com to find the menu.

Sociale on Urbanspoon

Eating My Way Around the Nation’s Capital (Part 2)

Guest post by Hailey Apter. Continued from Part 1. 

Restaurant: RedRocks Neapolitan Bistro – 1036 Park Road NW, Washington, DC

We met up with my cousin Lauren and her fiancé Kevin in Columbia Heights on Saturday night for dinner. We were in the mood for pizza, and this restaurant is a favorite neighborhood spot of theirs.

The exterior of the restaurant looked almost like a nice apartment building/house. There was outdoor seating (which was very popular) and two levels of indoor seating, featuring exposed brick walls.

RedRocks Neapolitan Bistro Roasted Eggplant Pizza
Roasted Eggplant Pizza

We started with some apps, but the highlight of the night was definitely the pizza. From the menu, we ordered:

  • Roasted Eggplant Pizza: roasted eggplant, goat cheese, pesto, grana parmesan
  • Neapolitan Pizza: tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, + caramelized onions

The wood-fired pizzas were extremely flavorful and easy to share. The crust on the roasted eggplant was a little bit too soft, likely due to the heaviness of the numerous toppings. The goat cheese really stood out and made this pizza unique and delicious.

Verdict

RedRocks had delicious pizza, a nice atmosphere and good value. While I might not visit again, it was perfect for dinner that night! For $10-$13 a pizza, the value was great. Two pizzas fed four of us. The craft cocktails were also quite tasty and ranged from $8-$10.

RedRocks Firebrick Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

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Restaurant: Founding Farmers – 1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC

Founding Farmers is located a few blocks from the White House and is the kind of restaurant that requires reservations well in advance, or you’ll be told you have a two hour wait. According to their website, this restaurant is owned by a collective of American family farmers and offers farm-inspired food and drink in a modern, casual, and eco-friendly setting. It is a LEED Gold Certified Restaurant, meaning they are certified green. Alyssa and I went for brunch on Sunday, and the restaurant was packed – for good reason!

Founding Farmers Exterior
Exterior

The inside of the restaurant is very modern and industrial. The design calls to mind farm silos, and there are also bird lamps and fake clouds throughout.

Founding Farmers Interior
Silos Decorate the Interior to Give off a Farm Feel

There were SO many choices on the menu, but we wanted to stay “healthy,” so unfortunately you won’t see a review of their red velvet pancakes or bananas foster stuffed French toast. We ordered:

  • Uncle Buck’s Beignets: with raspberry, chocolate, and caramel dipping sauces (healthy?)
  • Sausage, Mushroom, & Spinach Egg White Scramble with Shredded Leek Hash Browns: two pan scrambled eggs, sausage, mushrooms, white cheddar cheese, spinach
  • “Red Flannel” Hash: goat cheese, pan roasted red beets, shredded leek hash browns, poached eggs
  • Farmers Custom Blend Intelligentsia Coffee
Founding Farmers Uncle Buck's Beignets
Uncle Buck’s Beignets

We started with the beignets, which were deliciously greasy, yet light. The dipping sauces were amazing, especially when mixed together. The order came with six beignets. We saved a few for after the meal and were nearly too full to eat them (note, I said nearly).

Founding Farmers Sausage, Mushroom, & Spinach Egg White Scramble with Shredded Leek Hash Browns
Sausage, Mushroom, & Spinach Egg White Scramble with Shredded Leek Hash Browns

With egg white omelets, I sometimes feel they are lacking in flavor. This scramble was totally different and was bursting with flavor from the perfectly seasoned sausage and the melted cheese. I loved the hash browns, as the leeks really added something different and unique.

And good lord the coffee was amazing… and came with free refills, which are always appreciated.

I also want to call out the service at Founding Farmers, which was amazing. The server who seated us welcomed us and then apologized that he wouldn’t be our waiter for the rest of the meal. Our new waiter was very attentive, friendly and treated us like royalty!

Verdict

I would come back here all the time if I lived in DC. The décor was very modern and cool. The restaurant is very eco-friendly and farm-to-table, which is trendy, as well as delicious and wholesome. The cost for brunch was pretty on par with a normal brunch in New York City, and the portions were huge. I could have taken home half my meal. I would love to visit again for dinner!

Founding Farmers DC on Urbanspoon

Abbottega Ristorante – Italian in the West Village

Restaurant: Abbottega – 14 Bedford Street, Manhattan, New York

Hailey and I recently checked out Abbottega Ristorante, an Italian restaurant that opened not too long ago in the West Village. Despite being opened only a short time, Abbottega is rich in history. The owner, David Ranucci, has a number of restaurants to his name (mostly in Milan) as well as an emerging intercontinental group of the Abbottega brand in New York City, Milan and Miami.

Interior of Abbottega Ristorante
Interior

The history of Abbottega dates back to 1913 and is a living tribute to Ranucci’s grandmother, who still spends her days in the kitchen. As he describes it, “It all began in 1913 when my grandfather Giulio opened his “Osteria” in Montefiascone, a small town with an enchanting view of the lake Bolsena, just 60 miles from Rome…a territory, with a high concentration of mountains and hills. At “Abbottega” in all these years, we have proudly served our traditional meals to our guests (including Cardinals) who used to come to us by carriages, bicycles, motorcycles, antiques automobiles (with drivers always blowing their horns twice) and today, with modern cars equipped with A/C and navigation systems!”

With a life-size photo of Ranucci’s grandmother hanging from the back wall, they’re very much keeping this tradition and old fashioned experience alive here at Abbottega in Manhattan.

Atmosphere

Exposed Brick Walls Painted White at Abbottega Risorante
Exposed Brick Walls Painted White

Walking into Abbottega is like being transported from the busy streets of New York City into a quaint Italian restaurant. Exposed brick walls are painted white with solid wood tables scattered throughout the interior. A counter at the entrance features Italian wines, cured meats and cheeses, as well as an area for the chef to make fresh pasta. In fact, there are mounds of it sitting there all ready to be used that same night.

If I were to describe the atmosphere in one word, it would be community. I immediately felt at home, a feeling I’m sure Grandma Ranucci would be happy with.

Fresh Pasta at Abbottega Ristorante
Fresh Pasta is Prepared Daily

Food

Food, food and more food. We were treated to a variety of items off Abbottega’s menu. Yes, it was a lot of food.

  • Crema di Pomodoro e Gamberi: Chilled tomato soup with shrimp
  • Bresaola: Home made cured beef, arugula, shaved parmigiano and truffle oil
  • Carpaccio di Salmone MarinatoSalmon carpaccio, spinach and orange
  • Tonnarelli Cacio e PepePecorino cheese and fresh cracked black pepper
  • Salsiccia alla Brace:  Italian pork sausage, cremini mushrooms and grilled tomatoes
  • Dessert: Yogurt cake, Espresso flan, Chocolate lava cake
Arugula Spread
Arugula Spread

Before all that food was bread, accompanied by a unique spread made up of arugula, potatoes and Parmesan cheese. This was a huge hit between myself and Hailey. You could really taste the arugula and it immediately set Abbottega apart from other restaurants.

Crema di Pomodoro e Gamberi: Chilled tomato soup with shrimp
Crema di Pomodoro e Gamberi: Chilled tomato soup with shrimp

The tomato soup and shrimp was delicious. The soup is made without any cream so it’s very light and comes out ice cold – perfectly refreshing for a hot summer day. I’m not a big fan of tomato soup but I couldn’t get enough of this dish.

Bresaola: Home made cured beef, arugola, shaved parmigiano & truffle oil
Bresaola: Home made cured beef, arugula, shaved parmigiano and truffle oil

The Bresaola was served over arugula with decorative plating accented by more of the delicious arugula spread. This beef was delicious! It literally melted in our mouths and had a tremendous flavor with just the right amount of salt from the curing process.

Carpaccio di Salmone Marinato: Salmon carpaccio, spinach & orange
Carpaccio di Salmone Marinato: Salmon carpaccio, spinach and orange

The Carpaccio di Salmone Marinato consisted of thinly sliced salmon topped with spinach and candied oranges. The spinach was very heavily seasoned with salt, pepper and oil – something I wasn’t complaining about. The candied fruit on the top of this dish played an intergral part, adding a hint of sweetness to each bite – something you don’t typically get in a carpaccio dish.

Ravioli di Carciofi: Artichokes, parmigiano & crispy prosciutto
Ravioli di Carciofi: Artichokes, parmigiano and crispy prosciutto

One of my favorite dishes of the night was the Ravioli di Carciofi. A very thin ravioli was stuffed with artichoke and topped with crispy and salty prosciutto. A light cream sauce was used that was so light you almost didn’t notice it was there. This was delicious. The flavor of artichokes really shone through with the light sauce serving its purpose to accent the flavor instead of drowning the pasta.

Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe: Pecorino cheese & fresh cracked black pepper
Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe: Pecorino cheese and fresh cracked black pepper

The Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe, while simple, had a complexity to it. The pasta was cooked al dente, as it should be, and tasted like it was literally made a few minutes ago. You can’t get any fresher than that. The sauce had a slight kick to it, reminding you it was there and giving this dish a warmth.

Salsiccia alla Brace:  Italian pork sausage, cremini mushrooms & grilled tomatoes
Salsiccia alla Brace: Italian pork sausage, cremini mushrooms and grilled tomatoes

Before dessert, our final dish of the night was the Salsiccia alla Brace. Sweet Italian pork sausage was topped with cremini mushrooms and laid on top of onions and grilled cherry tomatoes. I really liked how the sausage was cooked. It had some burnt areas to it and that extra char had me reminiscing about grilling sausage in my backyard. I liked this dish, but struggled to love it. Unfortunately, the flavors just didn’t go far enough for me.

Dessert: Yogurt cake, Espresso panna cotta, Chocolate lava cake
Dessert: Yogurt cake, Espresso flan, Chocolate lava cake

Dessert consisted of three different items – yogurt cake, Espresso flan and chocolate lava cake. The yogurt cake had a hint of lemon to it and was served with a delicious dark chocolate ganache. The ganache was slightly bitter and perfectly accented the yogurt cake. The chocolate lava cake had a layer of whipped cream around it that served as a bed for the molten chocolate that flowed out of this as soon as its skin was pierced. I don’t think I’ve ever had a chocolate lava cake I didn’t like. This was no exception and the layer of whipped cream on the outside was only a plus. The most unique dessert was the espresso flan. The flan had a strong coffee flavor and was topped with a thin layer of coffee grounds. I loved the grittiness of the grounds and the overpowering coffee flavor. Definitely no need to order a cup of coffee after this dessert.

Service

The service at Abbottega was incredible. Going back to what I said about a communal feel, it really did feel like I was eating in my grandmother’s kitchen and she was serving up a feast. The team at Abbottega did everything under the sun to make sure diners were happy.

Value

Prices range from $14 for salads, $14-$15 for appetizers, $13-$16 for pasta and $20-$24 for entrees. For what you get, these prices are a huge value.

The Verdict

I’m adding Abbottega to my list of some of the best Italian food I’ve had in New York City. A communal feel, simple, yet delicious food, incredible service – this restaurant seems to have it all. There are very few places that can make you feel like you’re eating in your grandmother’s kitchen, Abbottega is one of them. I can’t wait to head back.

*This meal was provided free, courtesy of Abbottega. 

Abbottega on Urbanspoon

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