San Giuseppe Salami Company by Giacomo

San Giuseppe Salami Company by Giacomo

The San Giuseppe Salami Company is an offshoot of Giacomo’s Italian Market. The market has been selling homemade, authentic Italian products for over nine years in Greensboro, NC. Now the market brings its products direct to your doorstop!

San Giuseppe Salami Company is an offshoot of Giacomo’s Italian Market.

San Giuseppe Salami Company is an offshoot of Giacomo’s Italian Market.

True robust Italian flavors from homemade sausages, salamis and cheeses to other imported Italian treats are what Giacomo’s Italian Market is all about. I had the opportunity to receive some of their specialty products delivered directly to me.

The Italian Dinner Box includes sweet and hot sopressata, Locatelli cheese, sesame breadsticks, cannellini beans and rigatoni pasta. I also received a round chunk of imported Provolone cheese and Milano salami.

The Italian Dinner Box includes sweet and hot sopressata, Locatelli cheese, sesame breadsticks, cannellini beans and rigatoni pasta. I also received a round chunk of imported Provolone cheese and Milano salami.

I received the Italian Dinner Box, which includes sweet and hot sopressata, Locatelli cheese, sesame breadsticks, cannellini beans and rigatoni pasta – all the favorites for a beautiful Italian family meal. Additionally, I received a round chunk of imported Provolone cheese and Milano salami.

San Giuseppe salami, sopresattas and Italian cheeses.

San Giuseppe salami, sopresattas and Italian cheeses.

I split up the items I received and enjoyed them over a few family occasions. First, I cracked open the rigatoni pasta for a weeknight family dinner.

Rigatoni pasta

Rigatoni pasta imported from Italy

I made a batch of my sausage, tomato and cream sauce for the pasta. You can tell it’s high-quality pasta because it had a nice firm texture.

Rigatoni pasta with sausage, tomato and cream sauce - a delicious dinner!

Rigatoni pasta with sausage, tomato and cream sauce – a delicious dinner!

I topped the pasta with some freshly grated Locatelli cheese that also was included in my package. Locatelli is a brand of Pecorino Romano cheese made of 100% pure sheep’s milk that’s then been aged over nine months at a minimum. We’ve been enjoying that cheese on top of many dishes of pasta since!

I decided to save the cheese, salami and sopressatas and serve them as an antipasto on Easter. Everyone loved snacking on these Italian treats before the traditional Easter dinner. My parents, the true Italian critics, commented on the authenticity of these high-quality products.

The cheese, salami and sopressatas made a wonderful antipasto on Easter!

The cheese, salami and sopressatas made a wonderful antipasto on Easter!

I earmarked the breadsticks and cannellini beans for a pot of my Holy Matrimony Minestrone soup. That will be the perfect meal on a cooler day!

I earmarked the breadsticks and cannellini beans for a pot of my Holy Matrimony Minestrone soup.

I earmarked the breadsticks and cannellini beans for a pot of my Holy Matrimony Minestrone soup.

All of the products I received are available for purchase through the San Giuseppe Salami by Giacomo website.

We really enjoyed all the San Giuseppe Salami by Giacomo items!

We really enjoyed all the San Giuseppe Salami by Giacomo items!

The Italian dinner box would make a perfect holiday gift. We really enjoyed all the items!

 

Have you ever tried San Giuseppe salamis or Giacomo’s Italian Market products?

What’s your favorite imported Italian treat?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with a complimentary sample of San Giuseppe salamis and Giacomo’s Italian Dinner box products, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience.

Holy Matrimony Minestrone

Holy Matrimony Minestrone

This soup combines the best elements of Italian wedding and minestrone soups into a new original creation which I’m naming “Holy Matrimony Minestrone.” I credit my son for coming up with this witty name.

Holy Matrimony Minestrone

Holy Matrimony Minestrone

Italian wedding soup typically consists of green vegetables (e.g., escarole, spinach), meat (meatballs) and chicken stock. The name is derived from the Italian term “minestra maritata” (meaning married soup) referring to the fact that the ingredients go well together.

Minestrone is a hearty soup of Italian origin. It is typically made with whatever vegetables are in season, commonly including beans, onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes and stock.

I’ve always enjoyed homemade soup. In fact, one of my greatest food memories is a recollection of times spent with my Nonna (grandma in Italian). She made the most amazing soups. There weren’t any recipes. She made each version from whatever she had in the pantry, and it always tasted delicious! Over the years, I’ve tried to recreate some of her soups. With these memories and her inspiration, I dedicate this soup recipe to her memory.

 

Chicken Meatballs

1 lb. ground chicken

¾ – 1 cup of breadcrumbs (start with ¾ and add more if needed)

¼ c dried chopped parsley

2 large eggs

2 tbsp. milk

2 tbsp. ketchup

¾ c grated Romano cheese

Freshly cracked sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

Canola oil

In a large bowl mix together the breadcrumbs, parsley, eggs, milk, ketchup, cheese, salt and pepper. Combine the mixture with the ground chicken. Mix well, but don’t overwork the meat mixture. Using a small sized cookie scoop, scoop up the mixture and roll it into small balls. Place the balls onto a wax paper lined dish.

Scoop up the mixture and roll it into small balls

Scoop up the mixture and roll it into small balls

Heat about 1” of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is heated, add about 10-12 meatballs at a time, placing them carefully into the hot oil. Cook without moving until they are browned on the bottom (about 2-3 minutes). Turn the meatballs and brown on the other side (about 2-3 minutes longer).

Cook the meatballs until they are browned

Cook the meatballs until they are browned

Transfer the cooked meatballs to a paper towel lined plate and set aside. Continue this frying process until all the meatballs are cooked.

Transfer the cooked meatballs to a paper towel lined plate and set aside

Transfer the cooked meatballs to a paper towel lined plate and set aside

This recipe will yield about three dozen mini meatballs. You’ll only need about 30 for the soup so save the rest for a nice grinder.  I prefer chicken meatballs for this soup, as they are lighter and better suited for soup than beef ones.

 

Holy Matrimony Minestrone Soup

2 tbsp. olive oil

4 medium-sized shallots, finely chopped

4 celery stalks, roughly chopped

4 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, cleaned and minced

3 tbsp. tomato paste

2, 14-oz cans of petite diced tomatoes, not drained

75 oz. chicken stock (low sodium, fat free) (one box and 3 cans)

¼ c fresh parsley, minced

1 ½ cups small pasta (such as tubetini, small egg bow ties or tiny shells)

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed thoroughly

½ bag baby spinach, chop the leaves in half

Salt & pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and allow cook for 2 minutes. Add the celery and carrots. Sauté for 5 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add in the garlic and sauté for a minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, diced tomatoes (with the juices) and the parsley. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer, cooking for 20 minutes.

Bring the soup to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer.

Bring the soup to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer.

Add 3/4ths of the meatballs to the soup. Allow simmering for 5 minutes.

Add the meatballs to the soup and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes.

Add the meatballs to the soup and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes.

Add the chickpeas and the pasta. Let it cook for another 10 minutes. Lastly, add in the spinach and let it cook until the leaves start to wilt (about a minute).

Remove from the heat and serve immediately.

Ladle the soup into bowls and pair it with sliced rustic, crusty bread. Finish the soup with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Ladle the soup into bowls and pair it with sliced rustic, crusty bread.  Finish the soup with grated Parmesan cheese.

Ladle the soup into bowls and pair it with sliced rustic, crusty bread. Finish the soup with grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 6-8

Leftovers will keep in a sealed container for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. To reheat, simmer over medium to low heat until the meatballs are hot through.

This soup is very hearty and with the meatballs in it, you will find yourself needing a fork and knife in addition to a spoon in order to eat it!

This soup is very hearty and with the meatballs in it, you will find yourself needing a fork and knife in addition to a spoon in order to eat it!

This soup is perfect once the chilly weather hits. It is very hearty and with the meatballs in it, you will find yourself needing a fork and knife in addition to a spoon in order to eat it.

I quantify this recipe as “medium” difficulty. I give it that rating not because it requires extensive culinary expertise, but because it requires some time to assemble all the parts. Trust me it’s worth the time to make!

I hope you “fall in love” with this recipe as much as my family has, and enjoy it as much as “I do.”

 

What’s your favorite soup?

Do you use a recipe to make soup or do you create it “on the fly?”

Deconstructed Bruschetta with Honey-Roasted Tomatoes

Deconstructed Bruschetta with Honey-Roasted Tomatoes

Deconstructed bruschetta is one of my “easy to make,” yet “quick to impress guests” appetizers. I derived this recipe by adapting some elements from appetizers I had at some of my favorite restaurants. When you pull together the sum of these parts into your personally created custom bruschetta, you will find that you’ve created the perfect bite!

Your personally created custom bruschetta is the perfect bite!

Your personally created custom bruschetta is the perfect bite!

Bruschetta is an Italian antipasto (before the meal) that typically includes grilled bread topped with tomato, vegetables, beans, cured meat or cheese. The most popular form contains fresh tomato, fresh basil, garlic and fresh mozzarella on top of the toasted bread.

Bruschetta is an Italian antipasto that typically includes grilled bread topped with tomato, vegetables, beans, cured meat or cheese.

Bruschetta is an Italian antipasto that typically includes grilled bread topped with tomato, vegetables, beans, cured meat or cheese.

A few quick tips before you begin:

  • Since the roasted tomatoes will last for 2-3 days in the refrigerator, I usually prepare them a day ahead of when I’m serving the bruschetta. Just be sure to allow the roasted tomatoes to come to room temperature before serving.
  • Also, I mix up the ricotta earlier in the day that I’m serving it to allow the flavors to blend together.

 

Honey-Roasted Tomatoes

1 quart (or 2 pints) grape tomatoes cut in half lengthwise

1 ½ tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp. clover honey (lightly spray the measuring spoon with non-stick spray so the honey comes out easily)

1 tsp. thyme leaves (dried or fresh)

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. fresh cracked sea salt

½ tsp. freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a large baking sheet pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the cut tomatoes, EVOO, honey, thyme, basil, salt and pepper. Mix together so the tomatoes are coated. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the tomatoes out of the bowl (leaving behind the liquid) and lay them onto the prepared baking sheet. Be sure all the tomatoes are cut-side up, before placing into the oven.

The tomatoes are prepared and ready for slow roasting!

The tomatoes are prepared and ready for slow roasting!

Bake the tomatoes for between 1 hour and 15 to 1 hour and 30 minutes. The tomatoes are done when they are shriveled and brown. Allow cooling on the baking sheet before removing.

The tomatoes are done when they are shriveled and brown.

The tomatoes are done when they are shriveled and brown.

 

Toasting the bread:

Slice one French baguette into ¼ inch slices. Lay the on a baking sheet. Using your oven broiler, toast them under a high heat broiler for a few minutes. Keep a watch on them, as they will burn easily. Allow cooling on the baking sheet.

 

Bruschetta toppings:

I have served bruschetta with a variety of toppings, including my homemade pesto, herbed ricotta (a Barefoot Contessa recipe) or honey, sea salt ricotta.

I have served bruschetta with a variety of toppings, including homemade pesto, herbed ricotta or honey, sea salt ricotta.

I have served bruschetta with a variety of toppings, including homemade pesto, herbed ricotta or honey, sea salt ricotta.

To make the honey, sea salt ricotta, simply mix together a 16 oz. container of ricotta (you can use part-skim but not fat-free) with 1 tbsp. of clover honey and a few cracks of sea salt. Combine and taste. Add more honey and salt to your taste. Refrigerate until serving.

 

Yields 6-8 (or more) generous servings.

 

Do you like bruschetta?

How have you ever made bruschetta? If so, what’s your favorite topping?

What’s your “easy to make,” “quick to impress guests” appetizer recipe?

La Pizza/ La Pasta restaurant, Eataly, NYC

La Pizza/ La Pasta restaurant, Eataly, NYC

For the second part of my foodie day in NYC, we chose to eat at one of the restaurants in the Eataly, NYC Italian market/ mall.

Even the restaurant plates carry Eataly's logo.

Even the restaurant plates carry Eataly’s logo.

Eataly has seven sit down restaurants with both table and counter seats. Each restaurant is positioned next to the market area that provides its fresh ingredients. Le Verdure is next to the produce market; La Piazza is next to the fresh mozzarella and Salumi and cheese counters. Il Pesce is next to the fishmonger. La Pizza & Pasta is next to the bakery and fresh pasta stations. Manzo is next to the butcher shop. Pranzo is in the cooking school and Birreria is a rooftop restaurant that brews its own cask ales.

Eataly has seven sit down restaurants with both table and counter seats.

Eataly has seven sit down restaurants with both table and counter seats.

We chose to eat at La Pizza & Pasta after being completely fascinated with the fresh breads and pasta being made before our eyes. The restaurant’s menu is divided into three main sections: Antipasti, Pizzas and Pastas. Our waitress explained that the left column within the pasta section is dried pasta selections and the right column represented their fresh pastas items.

La Pasta's menu is divided into three main sections.

La Pasta’s menu is divided into three main sections.

As we continued to peruse the menu, our waitress brought us some of the market’s freshly made Italian bread with their extra virgin olive oil for dipping.

Freshly made Italian bread with extra virgin olive oil for dipping.

Freshly made Italian bread with extra virgin olive oil for dipping.

We decided to start our dining by sharing the Antipasto Misto. The menu stated that it’s a selection of the chef’s daily-assorted vegetables. The waitress clarified the menu and told us that it included four items: assorted olives, roasted peppers, roasted butternut squash and eggplant Caponata with toasted bread.

Antipasto Misto - a selection of the chef’s daily-assorted vegetables.

Antipasto Misto – a selection of the chef’s daily-assorted vegetables.

We are glad we selected this as our starter because every one of the items was delicious and light. It was a perfect starter for our meal.  My favorite was the eggplant.

Keeping with the light theme, Gayle chose the Insalata di Finocchio. It was a beautiful salad that included arugula, fennel, shaved Parmigiano Reggiano with lemon vinaigrette. She loved every bite!

Insalata di Finocchio

Insalata di Finocchio

Terri and I couldn’t resist the fresh pasta selections. I chose the Tagliatelle al Ragu di Manzo. It was house made fettuccini-like pasta with short-rib tomato sauce. The pasta was cooked to perfection. It reminded me of my Nona’s homemade pasta and sauce.

Tagliatelle al Ragu di Manzo

Tagliatelle al Ragu di Manzo

Terri chose the Ravioli di Zucca. It was house made ravioli filled with roasted butternut squash, Grana Padano cheese and almond Amaretti cookies, finished with a light brown butter and sage sauce. It was delicious – I tasted it. It was a perfect dish for the fall season.

Ravioli di Zucca

Ravioli di Zucca

We all really enjoyed our lunch at La Pizza/ La Pasta restaurant. I believe we selected well for our first time to Eataly NYC.  I would recommend getting there on the earlier side of lunch because it is first come first served seating and it was completely full by noon.

I look forward to returning to Eataly NYC and trying another one of the six remaining restaurants!

 

Have you ever eaten at any of the restaurants at Eataly NYC?

What’s your favorite kind of homemade pasta and sauce?

Treva Restaurant & Bar

Treva Restaurant & Bar

The girls from work and I headed out for another Happy Hour adventure. Treva restaurant and bar in West Hartford center was our destination.

Treva restaurant and bar is located in West Hartford center.

Treva restaurant and bar is located in West Hartford center.

Treva is one of two restaurants owned by Chef Dorjan Puka, a veteran chef for the Max restaurant group. Treva features chef-inspired Northern Italian innovative cooking.

Treva features chef-inspired Northern Italian innovative cooking.

Treva features chef-inspired Northern Italian innovative cooking.

We sat in the bar area, which is quite cozy. While there are several booths and counter seating, the booths are mostly for parties of 2 people with only two tables that could fit four maximum – not a Happy Hour destination for larger groups.

The Happy Hour menu features a nice selection of fun cocktails, wines and beers for $5 – 6. Additionally there is a great selection of Happy Hour appetizers priced at $2 and $5.

The happy hour menu has a great selection of  appetizers priced at $2 and $5.

The happy hour menu has a great selection of appetizers priced at $2 and $5.

We enjoy ordering several items from the Happy Hour menu and sharing. Once we’ve tasted several, we then determine if we will try others or order more of the same.

Dicasa salad and homemade gnocchi.

Dicasa salad and homemade gnocchi.

We each started with the Dicasa salad. It has very fresh mixed green lettuce with a wonderful balsamic dressing. It’s salad like I had growing up – nothing elaborate, but fresh and delicious!

We also ordered the gnocchi and Tuscan fries. The Tuscan fries are flavored with rosemary, truffle oil and Parmesan Reggiano cheese. They were so delicious that we wanted to eat the excess cheese that remained on the plate after the fries were all gone!

The Tuscan fries are flavored with rosemary, truffle oil and Parmesan Reggiano cheese.

The Tuscan fries are flavored with rosemary, truffle oil and Parmesan Reggiano cheese.

The gnocchi were handmade and served with a light sauce that consisted of truffle oil and Parmesan. They melted in your mouth. We ordered a second helping!

The gnocchi melted in your mouth!

The gnocchi melted in your mouth!

We shared the flatbread which contained mozzarella baked into the thin and crispy crust. It was topped with arugula and freshly-sliced prosciutto.

The flatbread contained mozzarella baked into the crust and was topped with arugula and prosciutto.

The flatbread contained mozzarella baked into the crust and was topped with arugula and prosciutto.

You know you’re in a great Italian restaurant when the cured meats are hanging across from the bar counter, and the prosciutto is being sliced fresh to order — right in front of you!

The prosciutto is being sliced fresh to order right in front of you!

The prosciutto is being sliced fresh to order right in front of you!

Finally we ordered the Treva signature burger. It was topped with Vermont cheddar and arugula. It was cooked exactly as we ordered it and was large enough to share among three.

The Treva signature burger topped with Vermont cheddar and arugula.

The Treva signature burger topped with Vermont cheddar and arugula.

All of the dishes we ordered from the Happy Hour menu were wonderful. I can’t wait to go back and try some items from the full restaurant menu. Treva has several dining areas including two outdoor seating areas. Plenty of space for an elegant relaxed dinner for two or a larger group.  There is paid parking on the street or in the lot behind the restaurant.

As always, the girls have a great time catching up everyone’s lives in a setting outside of work. It’s great to relax and enjoy each other’s company! I wonder where we will be heading to next for Happy Hour?!?

 

Have you ever eaten at Treva restaurant & bar in West Hartford?

Where’s your favorite place for Happy Hour?

Sorella Restaurant, Hartford, CT

Sorella, Hartford, CT

Earlier this year, I dined at Sorella restaurant before a UConn Women’s Basketball game. That night also coincided with the winter Taste of Hartford restaurant week. We had a great meal. So when the summer Taste of Hartford promotion returned, I was anxious to eat there again.

Sorella opened in November 2013. It is located on Main Street in downtown Hartford. The restaurant, whose name means ‘sister’ in Italian, is one of three in the Dish Restaurant Group.

Sorella restaurant is located on Main Street in downtown Hartford.

Sorella restaurant is located on Main Street in downtown Hartford.

As you enter the restaurant, you will notice that the décor is not their strong point. Although I do think the old-time Italian family photos hanging on the walls are charming, and the view of the Old State House from our table was delightful. But for foodies like myself, we aren’t hung up on the décor as long as the food and dining experience is top notch – and they were!

The restaurant specializes in simple Italian favorites – wood-fired Neapolitan pizza, fresh pastas and creative antipasti. The atmosphere is comfortable and family-friendly. The bar area takes up about one third of the restaurant and the remainder is for the dining room.

Because it was the Taste of Hartford restaurant week, we had our choice of items from the full restaurant menu and the special promotion menu. The Taste of Hartford menu consisted of a three-course meal (appetizer, entrée and dessert) for $25 – a great deal!

Taste of Hartford menu consisted of a three-course meal (appetizer, entrée and dessert) for $25

Taste of Hartford menu consisted of a three-course meal (appetizer, entrée and dessert) for $25

Christine and I decided to order from the Taste of Hartford menu. Mike opted for the full menu because the item he wanted wasn’t one of the price-fixe menu entrée choices.

Christine and I both started with the Prosciutto di Parma appetizer. It consisted of tissue paper thinly sliced prosciutto topped with arugula, locally sourced strawberries all drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar. The combination of sweet, salty and savory flavors made this appetizer “every bite delicious.”

Prosciutto di Parma appetizer consisted of tissue paper thinly sliced prosciutto topped with arugula, locally sourced strawberries all drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar

Prosciutto di Parma appetizer consisted of tissue paper thinly sliced prosciutto topped with arugula, locally sourced strawberries all drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar

Upon the waiter’s recommendation, Mike chose the garlic bread. The short loaf was loaded with mozzarella and provolone cheeses, and roasted garlic. It was served with a side of marinara sauce. It was a gooey and tasty.

The garlic bread was loaded with mozzarella and provolone cheeses, and roasted garlic, served with a side of marinara sauce

The garlic bread was loaded with mozzarella and provolone cheeses, and roasted garlic, served with a side of marinara sauce

For my meal entrée, I opted for the grilled Atlantic salmon filet. The salmon was placed on top of a bed of cold farro salad with light vinaigrette dressing. I asked for the filet to be cooked medium well and it was cooked as ordered. I enjoyed every bite!

Grilled Atlantic salmon filet

Grilled Atlantic salmon filet

Christine ordered the Fusilli Bolognese. The pasta was served with a hearty beef and veal red sauce topped with fresh pecorino cheese. The dish brought me back 20+ years because it tasted just like my Nona’s meat sauce.

Fusilli Bolognese

Fusilli Bolognese

Mike ordered the rigatoni saltimbocca. This is the same dish he had last time we dined here. He remembered it being so delicious and wanted to have it again. The saltimbocca sauce is made with ground veal, prosciutto, sage, wine and pecorino cheese. While it may not look like the most exciting meal, the combinations of flavors from the sauce are true to the dish’s name in Italian – “jumps in the mouth.” I had to steal a few bites because it is amazingly delicious! I found the recipe for this dish online so I’ll have to try making it at home.

Rigatoni saltimbocca

Rigatoni saltimbocca

Since Christine and I ordered from the Taste of Hartford menu, our meals did include dessert. There were two choices on this menu. We opted to each order a different one so we could try both.

She ordered the nutella chocolate tart. Mike and I had that last time we dined and remembered it was very yummy. The tart has a cookie-like crust with a rich chocolate center, dusted with sea salt and paired with vanilla cream. I love the chocolate and salty combination!

Nutella chocolate tart

Nutella chocolate tart

I ordered the Oleficino olive oil cake. I had never had an olive oil cake before, but I had seen a picture of it beforehand and I wanted to try it.

Oleficino olive oil cake with citrus curd and lemon sorbet

Oleficino olive oil cake with citrus curd and lemon sorbet

Olive oil cake is a rustic Sicilian cake that has a very moist center and a crispy crust. It came with a citrus curd and was topped with lemon sorbet. It was refreshing and delicious. Surprisingly, our typical chocolate-loving dessert family was won over by the olive oil cake as a new favorite.

The service was very friendly, attentive and courteous. I’d recommend reservations, especially when there are events in Hartford (e.g., UConn basketball) or pre-theater, as the restaurant is busy for dinner. The restaurant also serves lunch six days a week. There is street parking or a pay lot directly across the street, which is where we’ve parked.

We had another great dinner at Sorella. We will gladly return – and we may not wait until the next Taste of Hartford restaurant week!

 

Have you ever eaten at Sorella restaurant in Hartford?

Have you tried any of the restaurants participating in the Taste of Hartford restaurant week?

Max a Mia Ristorante, Avon, CT

Max a Mia Ristorante, Avon, CT

This year for Father’s Day, we decided to treat my husband and father to Sunday Dinner at Max a Mia Ristorante in Avon, CT.  It is one of the nine restaurants in the Max Restaurant Group, mostly located in Hartford County, CT.

Max a Mia Ristorante in Avon, CT

Max a Mia Ristorante in Avon, CT

The restaurant has a casual Italian bistro style with a traditional Italian menu, including an authentic brick oven for its stone pies, fresh-baked Italian and focaccia breads.  The atmosphere is sophisticated, yet comfortable and family-friendly.  There is a large bar area, sizable dining room in addition to outdoor seating if the weather permits.

As with any restaurant in the Max chain, the service is attentive and courteous. I’d recommend reservations, especially for dinner, as the restaurant is busy.

We hadn’t eaten at this Max Restaurant in some time, but I remember the food was delicious.  The restaurant was conveniently located for both families and as I always say, “You can’t go wrong with a Max Restaurant” and that statement held true again!

While reviewing the menu, we were presented with a wonderful breadbasket and olive oil for dipping.  The basket included their fresh-baked Italian bread and homemade flatbread pizza.  The pizza was delicious!

The breadbasket included their fresh-baked Italian bread and homemade flatbread pizza.

The breadbasket included their fresh-baked Italian bread and homemade flatbread pizza.

After debating over several wonderful menu choices, I decided to start my meal with the Tuscan salad.  It includes a mix of fresh greens, fresh mozzarella, kalamata olives, tomatoes and warm polenta croutons, with a balsamic dressing.  Christine followed my lead and ordered the same.

Tuscan salad

Tuscan salad

Mike and Greg opted for the Caesar salad, their usual, which includes romaine lettuce, focaccia croutons with the creamy Caesar dressing. All the salads were very fresh and a good portion size.

Caesar salad

Caesar salad

For my meal entrée, I opted for the Stonington sea scallops.  Roasted fingerling potatoes and cauliflower with pickled red onion vinaigrette accompanied them.  The scallops were seared to perfection and the red onion vinaigrette gave a sweet, citrus flavoring to the dish.  I loved every bite!

Stonington sea scallops. with roasted fingerling potatoes and cauliflower with pickled red onion vinaigrette.

Stonington sea scallops. with roasted fingerling potatoes and cauliflower with pickled red onion vinaigrette.

Around the table, the others ordered:

Risotto with English peas, fava beans, fresh garbanzos and a tendril salad.

Risotto with English peas

Risotto with English peas

Penne al Buttero with hot Italian sausage in a tomato cream sauce baked in the pizza oven.  Mike said it had just enough zing for his spicy palate.

Penne al Buttero

Penne al Buttero

Eggplant lasagna – layers of eggplant, mozzarella and provolone cheeses with tomato butter.  It melted in your mouth!

Eggplant lasagna

Eggplant lasagna

Spaghetti Vongole – spaghetti with littleneck clams, pancetta in a lemon-herb broth.  My dad really enjoyed it!

Spaghetti Vongole

Spaghetti Vongole

Chicken Parmigianino – a hearty portion of the traditional Italian favorite over spaghetti with marinara sauce.

Chicken Parmigianino

Chicken Parmigianino

We all reviewed the dessert menu and were tempted by several choices.  Despite Mike’s usual choice for something chocolate, he opted for the coconut layer cake.  And we were glad he did.  The piece was very large – great for sharing.  It included coconut cream frosting, toasted coconut and toffee sauce.  The flavor was amazing.  It tasted like the coconut was picked fresh from the tree. We asked for additional forks and all had a taste or two.

Coconut layer cake

Coconut layer cake

To cap off an outstanding meal, the restaurant gave both fathers a $25 gift certificate for their next time dining.  That was a very nice touch – and very unexpected.

The restaurant gave both fathers a $25 gift certificate for their next time dining.

The restaurant gave both fathers a $25 gift certificate for their next time dining.

Father’s day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood and the influence of fathers in society.  As Bill Cosby said, “Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope.”  Unconditional love!

 

Have you ever eaten at a Max Group restaurant – if so, what’s your favorite?

What’s your favorite restaurant to celebrate Father’s day?