Girls on Food

Pizza

Take Me, I’m Yours Morgan Street Food Hall & Market in Raleigh, NC

Recently, food halls have been popping up all over the country. When I heard Raleigh was getting not one, but two, my immediate reaction was “great, a glorified mall food court” because really, when was the last time you felt cool eating at the food court, amiright? But there are a couple huge differences at play here, so put your worries aside!

First, food courts are so often chains and standard fare. Morgan Street Food Hall & Market is, for the most part, neither. Rolled ice cream anyone? Poke bowls, empanadas, and ramen were the first things to catch my eye. Cousins Maine Lobster (the only option I would consider a chain) is slightly more accessible here, and with a lot more seating options! The line is still out the door but with a beer in hand and a bustling crowd, a far cry from the hot food truck rodeo lines you’re usually waiting in! Last time I tried that, I was “red as a lobster” by the time I ordered my Connecticut lobster roll!

Raleigh Rolls rolled ice cream, which is a treat for all! (yeah, I shared with the baby!)

When you first walk into Morgan Street Food Hall, you’ll see a bustling crowd and tons of seating options, from picnic tables to couches and arm chairs, and finally, 4 top tables with chairs. There are indoor and outdoor seating options, with a couple bars to frequent as thirst arises. There are 18 dining options, ranging from southern to Mediterranean to Asian; comfort food and hangover food and on to desserts and bubble tea. For our family, this is the perfect place for all of our meals out: we have 2 picky preschoolers who think the margarita pizza at Bella’s Wood Fired Pizza and Tapas is out of this world (and less than $10, thank you!).

For me, I get the “adventurous” foods I can’t talk the whole family into – ramen and poke bowls, while hubby gets to fill up on empanadas, which he loves! We have an Italian au pair living with us this year, and she has enjoyed working her way through the options Morgan Street has at her disposal. Currently, her heart resides in Raleigh.

I’ve now eaten at Morgan Street 3 times. Hubs and I met a group of friends here one night before an Umphrey’s McGee concert downtown. There were a lot of empanadas and some curry plates, a kick ass looking pizza, a whole lot of beer, and my amazing delicious tuna poke bowl, with fresh tuna on their California bowl (from The Bowls), loaded with amazingness and topped with avocado! It was incredible, and I couldn’t wait to go back!

So the next weekend, a girlfriend and I met up there, and she got ramen and I went back to The Bowls for round 2 – this time trying their spicy tuna on the Malibu bowl, which has spicy seaweed salad in it. The biggest difference was that the tuna was chopped up instead of chunks, so I would probably go regular tuna in the future.

We also ventured over to the bar, and I tried the Deep River Brewing Company’s (out of Clayton, NC) pumpkin pie porter, which was oh, so good and also very seasonal! It was delicious after a long afternoon of shopping and enjoying the suddenly cooler temps here in NC! Finally (maybe the first finally), we waited in line at Cocoa Forte Desserts for chocolate dipped cheesecake, which we were saving for when we got home, and then I talked my friend into trying out Raleigh Rolls, the rolled ice cream place! It’s a little bit Coldstone Ceamery (you get to choose 3 flavors that go into your ice cream, and then 3 flavors for the toppings) meets a sushi roll (because in the end, they hand you a bowl with 6 rolls of ice cream). So good news – you can sub flavors – I subbed in coffee flavoring for the graham cracker in my s’mores ice cream, and it was the.best.thing.ever! Little man ate way too much but also thinks I’m the coolest mom ever for sharing my ice cream with him, ha! (Verdict on cheesecake – its on a stick, so go ahead and eat it immediately. I waited a few hours to eat mine, and it fell apart really fast. Pretty sure it was user error though).

So the next day, my hubs was still out of town (he went on Phish tour last weekend), and I needed to provide food for my little ones for the 4th day in a row. So…I started thinking about that pizza, and the fact that cow burger has hot dogs. Surely they could find something to eat…

Here’s the deal – I was nervous to bring a 5 year old and a 3 year old and a 5 month old into such a busy place. But…they loved it! My son is begging to go back, my daughter can’t stop talking about the ice cream, and the baby slept thru the thing. We also found an awesome place for our family photos in 2 weeks. So all in all, a great trip. I will send you all day every day to Bella’s pizza – it was incredible, and the kids ate every bite of that pizza. I loved the portion size of the burgers (I got the classic cheeseburger) and I’d heard great things about it, but I would definitely trust your gut on that place. First, the line took F O R E V E R which I’m not really into, and wouldn’t have waited in it but our au pair and I both wanted a burger so we stuck with it. Second, we waited F O R E V E R for our buzzer to ring. Like it took the entire time the pizza cooked to wait in the line and order. Then the kids ate the whole pizza. And I took them back over to Raleigh rolls and waited for someone to turn melted ice cream into frozen ice cream rolls, and then the buzzer sounded as I was paying for them. So the burgers were delicious, great bun to burger ratio, and overall very satisfying, but with so many faster options, I’m not sure I would wait for it again.

Also, pro tip – if you have a picky child who only eats vanilla ice cream (I know, I know, its super weird but what I’m dealing with right now), there is another small ice cream scoop place in the food hall. Don’t waste your $7 on plain vanilla with a tiny sprinkling of rainbow sprinkles. Spend that money on the whole experience and all the toppings, and get Sir Picky something from the cheaper place!

So final verdict – run, don’t walk, to the Morgan Street Food Hall if you’re in Raleigh. Bring an appetite. Check out the unusual places, especially the bowls, the broth, and curry in a hurry, and take the time to wait in line for Raleigh Rolls! I’m looking forward to heading down there again next weekend after the International Festival to try out some new places!

Allison’s Corned Beef and Cabbage Pizza For St. Patrick’s Day

That’s right. I said it. Today we’re making a corned beef and cabbage pizza.

Why? Because tradition isn’t the boss of me. Because Wolfgang Puck made himself a household name by putting duck on a pizza. And because I believe that if you aren’t willing to lose every friend you have over a friendly competition, you aren’t playing hard enough.

Last St. Patty’s Day I was invited to a corned beef and cabbage cook off, and as maturity obviously hasn’t cured me of my insatiable need to win at everything – whether or not everyone else has any idea that we are competing – I wasn’t about to show up with a crockpot full of mushy carrots, and sad, wet cabbage.

No. I was going to up my game. I was going to do something new, something fresh. As Coco Chanel once said, I was going to be the lady in red when everyone else was wearing tan.*

I was going to give the people something they’d love. Something that would enter the annals of Irish folklore, giving birth to songs and rituals that would be sung around campfires and passed down, generation to generation for time immemorial.

And what do the people love? The people love pizza.

This recipe sounds a little odd at first but if you consider the elements – crunchy, pillowy pizza dough, buttery potatoes, creamy irish cheddar, salty corned beef, the sweetness of the caramelized, roasted cabbage – it begins to make sense. This pizza was such a hit that my incredibly picky husband not only loved it, but tried to convince me to serve it at Easter brunch. The pizza ultimately lost to a bacon, cheddar and mushroom quiche, but it has worked its way into our St. Patrick’s Day traditions permanently, and if you give it a chance, I think it might just find its way into yours.

So without further ado, I present you with corned beef and cabbage pizza. Let’s get to it.

Cooks note: because I invented this recipe myself, and because of the nature of pizza, you should feel free to experiment with the amounts and toppings to find a final product that uniquely suits your palette. I like a thick crusted, crunchy, cheesy pizza with a lot of toppings. If you don’t, you’re obviously wrong, but I’ll never know, so play around and have a good time!

Like all the best recipes, it starts with butter, cheese, and carbs.

 

I’m fortunate to be able to buy amazing pizza dough right at my grocery store (Wegmans HOLLAAAA). If you can’t, see if your local pizza shop is willing to sell their dough by the pound

I use a pizza stone for homemade pizza because I’ve found it to be the best way to get that chewy, crunchy, pizza shop consistency I love so much. If you’re doing the same, toss yours in the oven at 450 or 475 (depending on your comfort zone with a wildly hot oven) and let it heat up while you slice the potatoes. A metal pizza pan or baking sheet will work just fine too.

I use a mandolin to get thin, even slices, and because fingertips aren’t really that important to me. You can use a food processor for even thinner slices, or just (carefully) use a good sharp knife.

Set the butter to melting in a large saute pan over medium heat, and then toss in the potatoes. Season very liberally with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Potatoes can take a lot of seasoning and with all these delicious toppings to compete against, they need it in this recipe.

I strongly recommend using Yukon gold potatoes on this recipe. Their waxy texture holds up well during sautéing and baking, and their buttery flavor is exactly what the salty corned beef and cheddar need.

While the potatoes are cooking through, shred your Irish cheddar using an old fashioned grater or your food processor. This is also the time to prep your cabbage. Slice the cabbage into 1/4-1/2 inch slices, then toss with the oil in brown sugar. Place on a baking sheet and set aside.

Sweaters, potatoes, booze, and cheese. This is what my people are known for. If you’ve met me, this makes perfect sense
A bit of brown sugar adds necessary sweetness to balance all the butter and salt of this dish. And also because I’m clearly trying to kill you.

Once you’ve cooked the potatoes through – you want them nice and tender – roll or stretch your pizza dough and place it on the hot stone or pizza pan. Now it’s time to top the dough with your delicious, buttery, salty potatoes.

Consider cooking up more potatoes than you need, lest you lose some to attrition
You should probably buy extra cheddar as well

Feel free to layer the potatoes thinly or to double up, as suits your preference. My Irish soul says the more potatoes the better, but this is a personal choice only you can make. Search your heart.

Now, gentle reader, it’s time to top the potatoes with that gorgeous pile of shredded cheddar. Did your pulse just speed up? Mine did too.

I feel like we could stop here and I’d still be really, really happy with this recipe

I was ready to call it a day after we topped the potatoes with the cheese, but since I’ve committed to this post, we now need to add the corned beef. This is your art. Fling that meat like you’re Jackson Pollack and that corned beef is your paint. Unless you aren’t the one who cleans the kitchen, then you should probably just place it gently on top of the cheese.

Yeah. It’s deli corned beef. If you want to spend all day braising your own corned beef just for this pizza, you can do that, but you should know that myself and every other mom at carpool is totally rolling our eyes at you

The corned beef gets topped with a generous layer of mozzarella, and then this belt buster is ready to meet the oven. Place it on the bottom rack, then place your sheet pan of cabbage on the top rack at the same time.

Once the crust has browned and the cheese is melted and golden, pull the pizza out of the oven. Let it rest for a few moments while the cabbage continues cooking. You want the cabbage to begin to caramelize and brown. Once the cabbage is done, give it a sprinkle of salt and pepper and it’s ready to meet its doughy, cheesy soulmate.

Admit it, you doubted me, but this looks pretty good, doesn’t it? Did I mention all the butter and cheese and potatoes?
You see what happens when you stick with me? Magic. Magic happens. And cabbage.

Once the pizza has cooled enough to cut, slice that baby up and top each piece with a helping of the caramelized cabbage. If you’re really extra you can make a Guinness reduction or a creamy mustard sauce to accompany it, but I’ve already moved on to the part where we drink Jameson so you’re on your own now.

Slainte, my friends! Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all!

Corned beef and Cabbage Pizza

Ingredients

1 pound fresh pizza dough (note: For best results, proof the dough in a warm place for one hour, for let it rise on your kitchen counter for 2-3 hours)

2/3 – 3/4 pound of deli corned beef, shredded

2 C Irish cheddar, shredded

1 1/2 C shredded mozzarella

4 C thinly sliced Yukon Gold potatoes

6 T butter

1 head fresh cabbage

3 T avocado or olive oil

1 1/2 T brown sugar

salt and pepper

Special equipment recommended: a mandolin and a pizza stone or metal pizza pan

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. If using a pizza stone, place the stone in the oven to preheat for at least 15 minutes.

While the oven is preheating, slice your potatoes. Melt the butter in a large skillet and toss in the potatoes. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

Next, slice the cabbage into 1/4 – 1/2 inch strips, then toss with the avocado oil and brown sugar, place on a baking sheet and set aside.

Once the potatoes are cooked through and the stone is hot, roll, press or stretch out your pizza dough and place on the hot stone. Top with the potatoes, and then all of the Irish cheddar. Next, distribute the corned beef evenly over the cheddar. Top with the mozzarella and place the pizza in the oven, on the bottom rack.

Place the cabbage on the top rack of the oven right along with the pizza. Cook the pizza for 10-12 minutes, or until the crust has browned and the cheese is melted and golden.

Let the pizza rest while the cabbage continues to cook for another 5-7 minutes, tossing once with a spatula. The cabbage is done when it is tender but not mushy, and starting to brown.

Slice the pizza, top with the cabbage, and enjoy!

*Haha, just kidding, that was actually Fran Drescher as The Nanny. But you get the point.

Brunch Like a Boss: Louie Bossi’s in South Florida

Imagine your new year’s resolution was to start the Keto Diet. (And for reference, the Keto diet is high in fat and protein, but restricts carbs to just 20 grams a day.) Now imagine you have an insane craving for pizza a week into your resolution. What’s the logical solution? Louie Bossi’s, of course.

This wonderful answer to my carb-craving prayers opened its Boca Raton location last year. It’s an Italian restaurant filled with everything from traditional style panini sandwiches and pastries to inspired pastas dishes and, of course, pizza.

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Sing to Us Paolo: A Look Back at the Fatbois in Rome

No, this isn’t a review of the classic that is The Lizzy McGuire Movie, but a look back on some adventures the Fatbois have taken over the past few months. We were lucky enough to spend three days in Rome, taking in all of the beautiful sights and even better food. I was lucky enough to make it back to Italy a month later with my mom in celebration of her birthday (s/o to Jan) where I’m pretty sure I was more gelato than human at some points during our trip. Here’s a look at some of our amazing trip to Italy!

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Phil Er Up: National Mechanics, Revolution House and Continental Restaurant and Martini Bar

My DIY Bloody Mary

I have journeyed back to the historical land that is Philadelphia to further explore the city and its many food offerings. First stop was National Mechanics, a spot I hit up last time but while researching the ‘hood discovered that, during brunch, it has its very own DIY Bloody Mary Bar. I mean… how can I not? This eatery is unique, utilizing old wooden church pews for booths and showcasing fun bug collections, mounted bison skulls, and cute displays of plants.

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Fatboi’s Philly Takeover: Spuntino

Picture this: you’re sitting in a bar admiring a Firkin, which you had learned early in the day was an incredible selection of local Philly brews, when you start to feel the familiar pangs of hunger that accompany a few adult beverages. After one more longing look at the plethora of beers, your end goal changes; you need pizza, and you needed it yesterday. Well lucky for you, Fatbois has you covered. Spuntino, tucked away in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia, has the pizza you know you needed and the Burrata you never knew you needed. Upon our arrival, our Fatboi Friend in command, Moogan, ordered two Caprese salads for the table.

Spuntino
701 N. 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA 19123
http://www.spuntinophilly.com

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Benvenuto Trattoria Il Mulino

Trattoria Il Mulino
144 5th Avenue South, Nashville, Tennessee 37203
http://trattoriailmulinonashville.com/

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Confession: After spending a few weeks in Italy this summer, I quickly adapted to their way of life, especially the food. What am I saying? It practically turned me into a food snob. Fresh ingredients were abundant. Pasta, vegetables, and meats. Practically anything you needed for an authentic Italian meal right at your fingertips. Since my return to Nashville, I have struggled to find Italian food that can compete with the cuisine of Tuscany, Rome or Modena. I was recently introduced to Trattoria Il Mulino located in Nashville, Tennessee. While this trattoria isn’t located on a cobblestone street and it doesn’t have a view of the Pantheon, it has some killer Italian food.

As you enter the restaurant, it’s hard not to notice the wine wall located near the kitchen. Trattoria Il Mulino has an extensive wine program and an amazing sommelier that can answer any question you can throw at him (even those non-wine related).

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To tease our palate, Chef Eugene created a lovely amuse bouche comprised of eggplant tomatoes, shallots, parmesan cheese and olive oil served with slices of salami. The Chef did an excellent job pairing the mild flavors of the eggplant and tomatoes with the spiciness and saltiness of the salami.  Normally, I would have expected this dish to be prepared with a crostini but the salami was the perfect vehicle.

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While we sipped on our wine and relished our last bites, we were presented with a bread service.  These were not pale, flavorless breadsticks, y’all. Homemade sourdough, fresh focaccia with peppers and tomatoes and garlic parmesan breadsticks were the offered for our meal. All of which were made in house. Good luck trying to steer clear of carbs at this restaurant. TO. DIE. FOR. Without a doubt, you must try one of each of these when you visit. The bread service truly set the tone for the upcoming dishes.

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Exercising my willpower, I did my absolute best to save a few bites of the delicious focaccia for the Salumi & Formaggi board. Accompanying the prosciutto and soppressata was arugula, roasted red peppers, olives, and honeycomb. As if that weren’t enough to make your mouth water, the Chef carefully paired pistachio crusted goat cheese, Red Dragon cheese, and an aged cheddar on the plate.   On the quest for the perfect bite, I combined the prosciutto with the honeycomb and roasted red pepper and the flavors exploded! The perfect combination of sweet and salty. I did, however, find a new favorite cheese that I will be serving in the future: Red Dragon.  Have you ever heard of it?  Delish!  Red Dragon is a type of Cheddar cheese blended with mustard seed and ale.  The Sommelier let us in on a little tip: spread the cheese over a bit of sourdough bread and drizzle a bit of honey on top- seriously mind-blowing!  Without a doubt, the bread tray made its appearance at our table on multiple occasions that evening.

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One of my favorite items to try at restaurants is the octopus. It’s such a tricky thing to cook at home as you have to be quite careful and skilled to make sure the consistency isn’t too rubbery or tough. (The main reason I have yet to cook it in my kitchen.) Imagine my delight when Grilled Octopus was one of the dishes Chef Eugene sent to our table. The Grilled Octopus was served with olives, capers, jewel box tomatoes, and fingerling potatoes. That lovely golden sauce is a combination of white wine, butter, and parsley. The consistency of the octopus was flawless and the sauce was the perfect compliment. Without a doubt, the grilled octopus was my favorite dish of the meal.

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When I thought that things couldn’t get any tastier, Porcini Ravioli made their way to our table. Stuffed with porcini mushrooms and topped with champagne truffle cream sauce, each piece had a delicate black truffle shaving on top. This was one of the most decadent dishes of the evening.   Pastas are handmade daily using as many local ingredients as possible. The kitchen is very flexible and can accommodate a variety of dietary restrictions.

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Trattoria Il Mulino has an assortment of pizza offerings and once you see the menu, you will realize what a predicament I was faced with. One?! I thought to myself?  Really, I have to choose just one? (As if the waistband of my jeans weren’t tight enough at this point.) What happens when you want all of the pizzas on the menu? Chef Eugene worked his magic and gave me the best of both worlds.

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Pizza Four Ways: (not currently listed on their menu)

Verde (bottom): Mozzarella, Arugula topped with Prosciutto

Meatball (left): Ricotta cheese, Meatballs (sliced ever so thin) on a rich tomato sauce

Primavera (top): Mozzarella cheese topped with season vegetables, red and yellow bell peppers

Sausage (right): Olive Oil/White Sauce topped with sausage and broccoli rabe

While I enjoyed trying each of these, the standout was the Primavera.  Fresh crunchy peppers topped with the freshest mozzarella and served with a light white sauce.  Scrumptious!

Now that the Nashville Predators are back on the ice, Trattoria Il Mulino has kicked off their game night special. Stop by and grab a drink or two and order one of these fantastic pizzas before heading across the street to the Bridgestone!

Seriously, the food coma had set in. Gang, this was almost as bad as the Thanksgiving turkey coma I was in last week! I knew I had to rally because Chef Eugene mentioned that desserts were forthcoming. Placed before me were three hand selected desserts off the menu. I knew I was in trouble because I have a weakness for both chocolate and cheesecake.

Dessert Trio: Pictured from Left to Right: Limoncello Tiramisu, Bianco e Nero, and Italian Cheesecake.

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Let’s start with the signature dessert, Limoncello Tiramisu. Holy Cannoli! The lady fingers are drenched in Limoncello and layered between fluffy mascarpone clouds. This will make all your tiramisu dreams come true. The Bianco e Nero can cause quite the addiction. Layered between pistachio gelato and Vanilla chocolate chunk ice cream lies this amazing house made caramel sauce with bits of biscotti sprinkled strategically throughout. Last, but not least, Italian cheesecake.  This was not your typical dense cheesecake that you often find at restaurants but light and airy, which means it’s not overly filling. The best part- the Luxardo cherry. Pair that with a forkful of cheesecake- Forkyeah!

If you are looking for a great place to dine in downtown Nashville and crave something other than the typical Southern fare, pop into Trattoria Il Mulino and have a bite. You will leave with a smile on your face.

Easy Eggplant Pizza (Vegan and Gluten Free)

eggplant pizza

I discovered eggplant pizza the other day as I was scrolling through Instagram and saw an amazing photo by a vegan food blogger. The recipe looked super easy, which was perfect because I was wanting to make pizza with a homemade sweet potato crust and that recipe was more involved than I had hoped for.

But eggplant pizza? Easy, simple ingredients, filling and oh so tasty 👅

This recipe is vegan and naturally gluten free, with juicy eggplant, savory tomato sauce, melty vegan cheese shreds, mushrooms, olives, artichoke hearts and red onion. A much healthier version of pizza but just as delicious. Whoever came up with the idea for eggplant pizza is a genius 🍆🍕

Ingredients You Will Need:

  • 1 large eggplant
  • Himalayan pink salt or sea salt
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • dried oregano
  • tomato sauce
  • garlic powder
  • nutritional yeast (optional)
  • vegan cheese shreds (or cashew cheese)
  • toppings: mushrooms, olives, artichoke hearts, red onion, bell pepper, spinach, broccoli, etc.

6 Easy Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut your eggplant into approximately 1/4 inch slices. I got 5 slices from my eggplant. I left the skin on because it looks prettier, which made it a little chewy, but I didn’t mind. However, you can peel the skin off if you prefer.
  3. Lay your slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle salt over the slices and let them sit for 20 minutes. This brings the extra moisture from the eggplant to the surface.
  4. Wipe the salt off and dab the excess salt with a paper towel. Drizzle olive oil over the slices and sprinkle some dried oregano. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
  5. Spoon tomato sauce onto the eggplant slices. I used a small can of plain organic tomato sauce and mixed garlic powder, salt, dried oregano and a little nutritional yeast to it for added flavor. Add your vegan cheese shreds (homemade cashew cheese would also be yummy and less processed) and whatever toppings you like.
  6. Broil on low for about 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and your pizzas are starting to brown on top. Let cool for 5 minutes and enjoy!

eggplant pizza

vegan eggplant pizza

I’ve only made this recipe once, but we’re already in a committed relationship 💍 I know it will be my new go-to whenever I’m craving pizza. Regular vegan pizza doesn’t actually fill me up for very long, but eating this eggplant pizza for lunch left me so full that I didn’t eat dinner until 9 pm!

This is a great meal for getting in all those veggies your body needs while also being freaking delicious. Well done, eggplant pizza, well done.

Jillian 💙

True Food Kitchen in Pasadena: The Next Great American Chain Restaurant

I’d heard good things about True Food Kitchen from my friends, so I was excited to learn that a new location had opened in downtown Pasadena last month. Naturally, I had to give it a try!

True Food Kitchen
168 West Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91105
http://www.truefoodkitchen.com

true-food-kitchen-interior1I brought my vegan friend Sarah along, knowing she’d especially appreciate True Food Kitchen’s mission, which is to provide healthy, yet flavorful food that adheres to the principals of an anti-inflammatory diet with fresh, organic, and locally sourced ingredients.

I was immediately won over by the hip vibe of the place, including a gorgeous and expansive outdoor patio strung with lights. Sarah and I were seated inside beneath the warm glow of large circular lights suspended overhead.

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The place was really bustling on a Friday night, so if you plan to coming here on a busy evening, I’d recommend making a reservation and being prepared to wait for your food to arrive. Sarah and I were happy to chill with a glass of wine and chat while we waited for our appetizers.

First up was an order of the insanely delicious Edamame Dumplings. I had expected the dumplings to be pan-fried, but these were more like tender pillows of ravioli, bathed in a delicious dashi soy-based broth with white truffle oil, and Asian herbs. The mixture within each dumpling was creamy and herby, and my only regret was there were so few!

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Next, Sarah and I shared a vegan and gluten-free salad, the seasonal Autumn Ingredient Salad. This salad was a vibrant mix of roasted brussels sprouts, butternut squash, cauliflower, white beans, pomegranate arils, and toasted mulberry, dressed with a zesty horseradish vinaigrette. I loved the robust and nutty flavors of this salad, and it really evoked the feeling of autumn with its toasty and colorful presentation.

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For my entree, I ordered another autumnal dish: Pan Roasted Chicken in a rosemary jus with maple glazed squash, cannellini beans, and swiss chard. The chicken was nicely flattened with a crispy skin, and the gravy had a lemony zing, which I really liked. This felt like a healthier version of comfort food, and it didn’t leave me feeling heavy afterwards, which was a definite plus!

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Sarah ordered a vegan Butternut Squash Pizza with smoked onion, organic kale, dried cranberry, and homemade vegan almond ricotta. I tried a slice and, while this wasn’t my favorite dish of the night, it had a nice tart flavor balanced with sweetness from the butternut squash and cheese. I’d actually never tried vegan ricotta until now, and was impressed with how creamy it was.

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True Food Kitchen lived up to its name with its seasonal and fresh ingredients that felt as real and un-tampered with as food should be. The menu changes seasonally, so I’ll definitely be returning to see what future menus offer!

Capizzi in Staten Island, NY: Fantastic Italian Fare

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Capizzi
4126 Hyland Blvd, Staten Island, NY 10308
http://capizzipizza.com

This week we were lucky enough to be invited to a tasting at Capizzi, a stylish and charming Italian Restaurant located in Staten Island, New York. Upon our arrival, our gracious host, Stephanie, met us and took excellent care of us during our visit. The entryway to the restaurant boasts an extensive wine bar, brick oven, as well as an authentic deli counter with fresh cheese and meats on display.

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imageTo wet our palettes, we each started off with a refreshing glass of Peach sangria. For our first antipasto, Stephanie arranged a beautiful plate of meats, cheeses, olives, walnuts, grapes, and honey. This combination of savory and sweet was the perfect introduction to what Capizzi has to offer.

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Our next dish was pleasing to both the eye and the palette, topped with a gorgeous decorative flower. The Insalata di Granchio consists of fresh crabmeat, cucumbers, with long, crispy croutons in a spicy aioli. The crab meat was tender and smothered in a generous helping of aioli sauce. The crunch of the croutons also added a nice variation in texture.

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The first of four pasta dishes was the Ravioli all’Astice; homemade half-moon ravioli filled with fresh lobster meat, mascarpone, ricotta, and parmesan in a pink champagne sauce. The pink champagne sauce was the perfect complement to the lobster, and easily became Christie’s favorite.

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What would a true Italian dinner be without a plate of gnocchi? The Gnocchi Sorrentino, handmade gnocchi baked with tomato sauce and cheese, topped with parmesan, was creamy, velvety, and cooked to perfection.

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This beauty right here is the Pasta Burrata baked casarecce with truffle oil, cherry tomatoes, burrata cheese, and bread crumbs. The burrata melts in your mouth and almost had Jess in tears of joy, which is a pretty solid indication that this dish is a must-have.

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For all the seafood lovers, we highly recommend the Risotto di Mare; pan roasted shrimp, clams, mussels, and calamari tossed over seafood risotto. The freshness of the seafood and the bold flavors of the sauce are tough to beat.

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At the last minute, we sprang for the Sweet and Spicy Calamari; fried calamari sautéed with pignoli nuts, raisins, and hot cherry peppers in a sweet and spicy sauce. The calamari has a great texture, and the sweet and spicy sauce is both tangy and delicious.

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With the buttons of our pants ready to pop off, it’s only right that we ordered two desserts. First up was the Tiramisu, the classic Italian dessert made up of soft, spongy lady fingers soaked in coffee. This rendition is light and airy; what we imagine what it would feel like to be eating a cloud. The coffee taste shines through impeccably.

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The final dish in our epic tasting was the Peanut Butter Crème Brûlée. We loved this unexpected twist on the traditional dessert. The top layer of the crème brûlée is crisp, similar to toffee, dusted with a layer of powdered sugar. The peanut butter flavor is subtle, yet smooth, and the strawberries add a delightful sweetness to it.

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Before parting ways with Capizzi, our latest gem of a find, we had to sample the white and red sangrias for good measure. With a hint of sweetness in each, the sangrias worked to refresh without overwhelming.

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It is evident in the service, preparation, ingredients, and presentation that Capizzi operates with the utmost passion and pride. What began within owner Joe Calcagno’s family has been extended to bring high-quality Italian cuisine to Manhattan and Staten Island. To rightfully express our feelings towards this establishment, we honor Capizzi with our newest, rarest rating: The Fatboi’s Seal of Approval. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, we highly recommend you pop in for a visit and cross it off of your Food Bucket List! Special thank you to Joe and Stephanie for having us, until next time!

C & J

http://capizzipizza.com/

SF Foodie Fest Preview: Eat Drink SF 2016

EatDrinkSF
Photo by Gamma Nine

I know everyone always claims their hometown food is the best — but when you live where fresh bay water meets sea salt and sand, it’s hard to deny that San Francisco is where it’s at when it comes to fresh produce. Now add the fact that some of our country’s most innovative chefs set up shop all along the peninsula, and us San Fran kids really have something to be proud of. So this year, I’m joining the crowd to celebrate the best of the Bay’s homegrown food, world-class chefs, restaurants, somms, mixologists — and all things to eat and drink in SF — at Eat Drink SF 2016.

Photo by Gamma Nine
Photo by Gamma Nine

About the Eat Drink SF

Each year, Eat Drink SF invites foodies, wine-nerds, culinary enthusiasts, and just plain hungry and thirsty people to meet and greet with top local chefs, bartenders, and sommeliers. The three-day event, running from Thursday, August 26 – 28, will include over 160 restaurants participants who will provide tasty treats, cooking demonstrations, and more.

 

Photo by Gamma Nine
Photo by Gamma Nine

Those looking for a little more to munch on will certainly be able to find it. Participating restaurants include:

1300 on Fillmore, Alembic, Brasserie S&P, Cafe Claude, Cathead’s BBQ, Chiaroscuro, Cross Hatch Eatery, Delfina Pizzeria, Dragon Beaux, E&O Kitchen and Bar, Gaspar Brasserie, Gitane, Hog & Rocks, Humphry Slocombe, Huxley, Konjoe, Lemonade, Luce, Michael Mina, Precita Park Cafe, Roka Akor, Souvla, Spaghetti Bros., SPIN San Francisco, Terzo, The Keystone, The Market, The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards, Tratto, Zero Zero

If you’re interested in learning a few kitchen tips and tricks, you’re certainly going to want to check out the Main Stage where lectures, demonstrations, and Q&A with industry experts will be featured all day. Check out the Events Page for details.

And let’s not forget about us drink enthusiasts! This year, Eat Drink SF will feature over 70 bars, distilleries, breweries, and wineries who will provide the events drinks as well as host tastings and seminars. Featured beverages will include:

Bass Note Sangria, Beaujolais Wines, Bodega Norton, Buena Vista Cafe, Ca’ Momi Winery, Carpano Antica Formula, Chateau Gassier, Concannon Vineyard, Fernet Branca, FloWater, Joel Gott Winery, Kikori Whiskey, Korbel California Champagne, Junipero Gin, Mr. Espresso, Provenance Vineyards, Pure Leaf Iced Tea: Tea House Collection, Purity Organics, Robert Mondavi Winery, SIMI Winery, Singani 63, Sipsmith Independent Spirits, San Francisco Brewers Guild, S. PELLEGRINO® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water, Spirit Works Distillery, Stella Artois, Stella Artois Cidre,Templeton Rye, Teeling Whiskey, The Glenlivet, The Hess Collection, Torres Brandy, Trinchero Napa Valley, Trumer Pils, Tullamore D.E.W, Wente Vineyards, Woodford Reserve, Zaya Rum, and Zodiac Vodka.

Photo by Gamma Nine
Photo by Gamma Nine

And just like the culinary kids, pros in the beverage industry will be hosting several educational seminars throughout the day as well in the San Francisco Wine School Beverage Classroom. I’m personally excited for Saturday’s Chardonnay: Burgundy, Butter & Beyond with Chris Gaither, AS.

Oh, but I do hope the SF Wine School brings more cute tattoos…

SF Wine School Tats

Join Us!

Hungry for more? Tickets are still available on the Eat Drink SF website. And whether you’re there for just one day or the whole weekend, I guarantee you won’t go thirsty or hungry.

Cheers!


Eat Drink SF is presented by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association — the local restaurant representative organization and political advocate.

All photos of EDSF are from the 2015 event. Photography © 2015 Marc Fiorito w/ Gamma Nine | All Rights Reserved