Tag Archives: Italian

Domani Star – BRUNCH! *****

Jessica Omelet #2

215.230.9100
57 West State Street 
Doylestown, Pa 18901

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As I mentioned in my review of Cafe Lift, I am highly critical of brunches served in restaurants. Not only is it my favorite meal of the day, but I also have become quite good at cooking it, so my standards are set pretty high. But Domani Star is one place that I can confidently go for a consistently amazing breakfast…and now that I come to think of it, I do go almost every Sunday!

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The menu features brunch classics like eggs benedict, pancakes, and 2 eggs any style, but it also features unique and memorable dishes like a Bolognese Omelet with asiago cheese, and a Carbonara Scramble with bacon, onions, and parmesan cheese. 

Italian COuntry Scramble.

My personal favorite is the Italian Country Scramble with crispy polenta, fontina cheese, and baby arugula. This dish is to.die.for.

The Jessica Omelet

I also like the Jessica Omelet with avocado, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, and baby arugula. I get mine with egg whites and a large side of hot sauce and call it a day!

Open Face Sandwich

Another Domani specialty is the Open Face Sandwich with 2 over-easy eggs atop whole wheat toast with avocado, tomato, bacon, and Vermont cheddar cheese with shaved romaine hearts! My dad is a huge fan of this one.

Cappuccino

If you go for brunch, please do not forget to try a cappuccino because they serve one of the best that I have ever had. And if you are a mimosa with breakfast kind of person–which we all know I am!–then feel free to bring a bottle of bubbly (BYOB) and they will supply the OJ. Can’t beat that!

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{ Brushetta with Prosciutto, Ricotta, Apples, & Olives }

Before almost every meal at my house, I find that there are a few moments where everyone gathers around the kitchen center island, anxiously waiting for dinner to finish cooking. The table has already been set, but the meat may need to rest another minute before carving, or the sauce may have to reduce a bit more before serving. It is during this time that I like to “pre-game” for dinner (confessions of a fat girl) with an appetizer–and bruschetta is always at the top of my list! I steal a few slices of baguette from the bread basket, toast ‘em in the oven or on the grill, and then top them off with any and every thing that I can find in the fridge.

This week, my little sister Ella, turned me onto a new layering of ingredients and flavors, which included; sliced granny smith apples, creamy ricotta cheese, chopped kalamata olives, and thinly sliced prosciutto.  Not going to lie, I had some reservations about these particular food combinations at first, but I was very pleasantly surprised by the sweet and salty contrast of the prosciutto and ricotta. The slightly tart bite of apple also added another unexpected dimension to the plate, and was a refreshing palate cleanser in-between toasts.

If I were to serve this at a party (which I certainly will in the future!), I would allow the guests to create their own toasts by serving the ingredients separately, this way everyone can have exactly the toppings they want. The dish is so simple and relatively inexpensive (cost of ingredients averaging $10 for 6 servings), but it very important that you use quality ingredients–high grade (or homemade) ricotta is a  MUST! (I suggest Wegman’s brand for $3.00). I also suggest that you season the ricotta with a nice drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper before serving it…it adds more umph–and looks pretty!

{ Ingredients }

  • 1 baguette, sliced on diagonal, 1″ thickness
  • 2 cups high quality (or homemade) ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 2 granny smith apples, thinly sliced
  • 4-6 ounces of thinly sliced prosciutto

{ To Make the Bruschetta Toasts } Use a silicon brush to coat the sliced baguettes with extra virgin olive oil. Place them on the grill, turning until well toasted on each side (about 3 minutes per side). NOTE: You can also toast the bread in an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees, which takes about 5 minutes.

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Trattoria Toscana *****

 
553 State Route #1
Whippany, NJ 07981
973.386.0303

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Everyone knows that New York is host to wealth of fantastic Italian restaurants–Marea, Babbo, Del Posto, Scalini Fedeli, Patsy’s, Carmine’s (just to name a few)–but outside of the city, off of route 1, lies a “hidden gem” by the name of Tratattoria Toscana. I use quotes because although it has a very inconspicuous location, it is well known among foodies, locals, and Italian’s looking for a proper pasta with gravy. This place is always jam packed and the delicious food being served is worthy of such loyal patronage.

Rodolfo Monti and his son, Giacomo (with names as authentic as their food), are the owner and chef of Trattoria Toscana, and although their menu offers a variety of well-loved Italian classics, their culinary speciality is certainly from the Tuscan region.

To start, I suggest the Sliced Pears, Prosciutto, and Shaved Parmesan Cheese ($13) or my personal favorite, Mussels cooked in Spicy Tomato Broth with White Wine and Garlic ($11). Another great way to sample the menu is to split a pasta dish or two between the table as an appetizer. The Amatriciana cooked with pancetta, onion, tomato, and pecorino cheese is very flavorful red sauce with a delicious hearty bacon flavor.

For my main dish I ordered the Braised Short Ribs in a Chianti Wine Reduction, served with Parmesan Risotto and Garlicky Broccoli Rabe. As if all of these plate components aren’t already my favorite things to eat, they were also cooked to PERFECTION! The meat just seemed to fall apart each time I poked it with the fork, and the risotto was a perfect creamy compliment to the flavors of the Chianti wine reduction. The pair was like an upscale, Italian version of mashed potatoes and gravy. And the broccoli rabe, which can be a hit or a miss for many restaurants, was out of this world good. The garlic seasoning was just right and it was cooked without being too mushy. This dish certainly makes my list of Top 10 Food-gasm experiences.

My mom ordered the Tilapia Livornese topped with capers, black olives, caramelized onion, and tomatoes and served with oven-roasted potatoes. Stealing a small forkful from her was a challenge, thats how much she enjoyed it. The fish was light and buttery and the sauce was incredible.

My dad, on the other hand, opted for something a little bit richer–the Lollipop Lamb Chops in an aged balsamic reduction, served with risotto and roasted potatoes (see photograph at top). As you can see in the photograph, the lamb is cooked to perfection with a bright pink hue in the center of the meat. The balsamic reduction had a nice flavor but thankfully was used sparingly, so as not to take away from the quality taste of the meat. And the potatoes–although just a side component on the plate–were also very nicely done with a crispy outer shell and piping hot center.

After finishing with our main courses, we ordered a round of cappuccinos and a large piece of Homemade Ricotta Cheesecake to share as a table. The coffee was nothing special but the cheesecake was very delicious. It was not too dense or too sweet, and the fresh berries and whipped cream around the edges of the plate were great addition to each bite. A perfect way to end a fabulous meal!

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{ Eggplant Parmesan }

 

You know those “learn-to-love it” foods? The strange vegetables and odd aquatic animals that you refuse to eat throughout your childhood but eventually develop a tolerance and than passion for as you get older. I think it is safe to say that eggplant is one of these foods–along with brussel sprouts, olives, shell fish, and stinky cheeses (just to name a few!). And the way most come to love this waxy, purple sponge of a vegetable is through eggplant parmesan–people will give almost anything a chance if it is breaded, fried, and/or covered in cheese. And most likely, they will enjoy it!

If you have tried eggplant parmesan before and the texture still bothers you, do not stop reading and dismiss this recipe. I too have had some bad eggplant parm experiences, but I promise this one might just convert you. Oftentimes, I find that restaurants don’t slice the eggplant thin enough because they want to minimize the preparation and frying time. This shortcut compromises the entire dish, still leaving you with that mysterious itching sensation on the roof of your mouth. But my recipe calls for a very thin slices, which mask the spongy texture under breaded, salty, cheesy goodness!

I fry up an eggplant or two in the beginning of the week, leaving the disks in the fridge for a light snack or as an ingredient for a more complex meal (i.e. eggplant parm lasagna or sandwiches). Of course, I also use them for this easy eggplant parmesan dish!! Enjoy the recipe and give eggplant a chance!

{ Ingredients for Fried Eggplant }

  • 1-2 large, ripened eggplants (sliced about 1/4″ thick)
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 cups of Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup of grated pecorino romano cheese
  • 3 large eggs, beaten with 2 tablespoons of milk
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Kosher Salt

{ To Make Fried Eggplant } Set up three bowls; one with the flour, one with the beaten eggs, and one with the breadcrumbs combined with the parmigiano reggiano cheeses.

Run the sliced eggplant disks through a standard breading proceduredredge in the flour (shaking off the excess), then through the egg wash, and then through the breadcrumbs.
Pour the vegetable oil into a large skillet until it reaches a 3/4″ thickness. Heat the the oil over a medium high flame until it is good and hot (test by flicking in pieces of breadcrumbs–they should sizzle, but not burn!). Fry the eggplant in batches for about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until it appears golden brown.

Remove the eggplant from the pan and sprinkle with kosher salt. Allow eggplant to cool on a bed of lettuce leaves or paper towels (although the lettuce absorbs the grease much better!).

{ Ingredients for Simple Sauce } 

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (28 ounce) can of whole San Marzano tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 2 whole garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

{ To Make Simple Sauce } Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium flame. Sautee the onion for about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute or two (do not burn the garlic). Add the salt, pepper, parsley, and tomatoes.

NOTE: If you like your tomato sauce spicy, then add some crushed red pepper flakes at this time! Cook for 10 minutes.

{ To Assemble the Eggplant Parmesan } Preheat the over to 350 degrees.

Arrange the eggplant on a baking sheet, one layer thick. Spoon some of the simple tomato sauce onto the tops and then add a 1″ cube of fresh (or aged) mozzarella cheese on top of that.

Bake for 18-10 minutes, or until the cheese becomes bubbly and golden. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve!

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Romario’s Pizza ***

Locations all over Buenos Aires; you’ll be hard pressed to find a corner without one!

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It is a fact: Argentines love pizza. I dare to say they love it almost as much as their prized bovine. If you want to get a rise out of a Porteno, you can do one of two things: mention politics, or ask which restaurant makes the best pizza. Yes, I just compared Peronism and pizza.

Anyways, one of my new favorite pizza spots in BA is Romarios. It’s certainly not the oldest pizza place or the most famous–in fact, it is a chain (probably, the Argentine equivalent of America’s Pizza Hut). But I think it is delicious! I like to order their standard pizza pies, which come in 3 sizes, and I usually top mine with serrano ham, mozzarella, cubed tomatoes, garlic, olives, and fresh arugala. One slice of this pie probably has just as much sodium as a cup of ramen noodles, but it is worth every ounce of swelling. The cheese is hot and gooey and the crust isn’t too thick on the pizza. Addtionally, they make their pies with the sauce on top of the cheese, which keeps the crust from getting soggy.

Of course, you can also order a cheese and onion fugazette if you’re looking to carbo-load. Fugazette is a very popular form of Argetine pizza resembling a calzone. It is pizza dough stuffed with cheese and onion, olive oil, and herbs. It is delicious, but certainly filling. You can get delicious unhealthy food almost anywhere in BA though, so I suggest sticking to traditional pizza at Romarios.

If the pizza isn’t filling enough, order an empanada or two. They have an onion and pancetta empanada one that is ridiculously good and the spicy beef empanada is amazing.

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{ Turkey Meatballs with Simple Tomato Sauce }

Being that I am half Italian, my idea of comfort food is classic spaghetti and meatballs. When I am sick I crave my mother’s chicken noodle soup, and when I am away from home for long periods of time I crave her homemade pasta dishes. Unfortunately, I won’t be putting my mother’s meatball recipe on my blog anytime soon (as that is my trump card to winning over a man’s heart…aka top secret stuff), but I do highly recommend these turkey meatballs by Giada De Laurentiis. Not only are they significantly healthier than the average meatball, but they are also very easy to make and taste quite delicious (most people don’t even suspect that they are turkey meat!). For those of you that have her cookbook or have seen this recipe online, you will notice that she pairs the meatballs with a quick tomato sauce containing peas (the sauce seen in my photographs below). I gave this sauce a shot, but could not find anything enjoyable about it. I tried adding extra garlic, extra salt, even mushrooms…but there was just no remedy. So I have offered my own simple tomato sauce recipe to serve with the meatballs, which I use as the base for several pasta dishes. If you are looking for a lower carb meal, then serve the meatballs in a bowl with fresh lemon wedges and a generous sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Whether atop pasta or served alone, these meatballs are fantastic.

NOTE: If you wish to freeze the remaining meatballs, place them into a one gallon ziplock bag with a few ladles of tomato sauce. I find that the sauce helps to keep them moist.

{ Ingredients for Meatballs }

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ounces pancetta, finely diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 pound ground turkey (I used extra lean)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grate Romano cheese
  • 1/4 fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs (I use Panko)
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

{ To Make the Meatballs } Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium flame. Add the pancetta and cook for about 2 minutes, to render out some of the fat. Add the onion and continue to cook until pancetta is crisp and the onion is translucent (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the pancetta/onion mixture with the remaining meatball ingredients and mix with hands to combine.

Form the turkey mixture into balls, about 2 inches in diameter. Place onto a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Now make the pasta and sauce.

{ Ingredients for Simple Sauce

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (28 ounce) can of whole San Marzano tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 2 whole garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

{ To Make Simple Sauce } Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium flame. Sautee the onion for about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute or two (do not burn the garlic). Add the salt, pepper, parsley, and tomatoes. NOTE: If you like your tomato sauce spicy, then add some crushed red pepper flakes at this time! Cook for 10 minutes, then add meatballs to sauce and continue to heat until warm throughout.

{ To Serve } Laddle tomato sauce over cooked out pasta (I use linguine) and top with 2-3 meatballs. Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley over the dish, and enjoy!

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Pazza Notte **

Linguini Al Frutti Di Mare – shrimp, mussels, calamari, scallops, and clams in a white sauce served over freshly-made pasta

212.765.6288
1375 6th Ave
New York, NY

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After lunch at Brasserie 360, Jen and I continued to shop for a few more hours until our tipsy bubbly feeling turned into a headache/hangover. We had one of two options: (1) find advil and get on the next train home, or (2) keep on drinking. Obviously, being 21-year-olds we chose the latter option and posted up at the bar at Rue 57. I wanted a fun drink, but nothing on the drink menu was enticing me so I asked the bar tender to make me her specialty. She whipped up one of the greatest and freshest Pims Cups that I have ever tasted. The citrus from the fruit and the earthiness of the herbs was incredible. I would go back to Rue 57 for this drink alone. After 3 of these, Jen and I were ready to eat….again! Alcohol is just a vicious cycle of eating and drinking.

Pims Cup at Rue 57

 

So we walked, or stumbled shall I say, out of Rue 57 until we came across an Italian restaurant called Pazza Notte. To start, we ordered an appetizer of Fried Calamari with Marinara Sauce. It was delicious, as you expect any fried food to be! The marinara sauce was exceptionally good and a little spicy! They also brought out another sauce that was cream or mayo-based, which had a nice spice to it as well. We also ordered a side of Truffle Herb Parmesan Fries, which were out of this world good! They were served with ketchup and another mayo-based Cajun flavored dipping sauce.

Fried Calamari

Truffle Fries

For my main dish, I ordered the Risotto Di Funghi, which is wild mushroom risotto with white truffle oil and parmesan cheese. This dish is noted as the “owner’s favorite” and it sounds divine, but I was very disappointed. I found that the risotto was too mushy and entirely too oily. It actually made my mouth feel dirty after the first bite, and so I sent it back and continued snacking on the truffle fries instead!

Jennifer ordered her usual Linguini Al Frutti Di Mare, which is shrimp, mussels, calamari, scallops, and clams in a white sauce served over freshly-made pasta (photographed at top). She thought it was amazing and had no complaints, although I did not try the dish myself.

The one redeeming factor for Pazza Notte was the drink special—two for one martinis! Jen and I chose to sip on the Blood Orange Maritinis for the remainder of the evening and they were delicious! However, I am a foodie and not an alcoholic, so I probably won’t be going back to Pazza Notte anytime soon. I can get drinks at a bar—I expect good food at a restaurant.

2 for 1 Blood Orange Martinis

 

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{ Pasta Puttanesca }

Pasta Puttanesca with Grated Parmesan Cheese

After having dinner at La Stalla (read post below), I met up with my girlfriend Jennifer to go out and celebrate St. Patty’s Day in the typical fashion of chugging Irish Car Bombs and drinking pints of green beer! And since Jen and I are always looking for an excuse to dress up themed (cowboy hats to country concerts, Santa hats at Christmas time, ect…), we used St. Patty’s Day as an excuse to rob party city of everything green and sparkly. In major cities, where there are large celebrations for St. Patty’s Day, girls decked out in green apparel like this are the norm. However, we found out that in small rural towns (such as the one we live in), people are not as crazed about drinking holidays and don’t feel the need to get dressed up…at all. I didn’t even see people wearing green tee shirts! That being said, you can imagine just how much Jen and I stuck out in the crowd with our glitter green top hats! We got dirty looks from girls who wanted the attention, and free drinks from the boys giving us the attention. Long story short, our St. Patty’s Day shot glass necklaces were rarely hanging from our necks and certainly put to use, and we ended up requiring a ride home (top-of-the-morning to you dad!) after just two short hours at the bar.

Once we got home, I went scavenging for food and was bitterly disappointed that I had no leftover Puttanesca from dinner. Nothing other than more Puttanesca was going to satisfy drunk-food craving and so I set about to make my own from scratch (much to my mother’s dismay when she say the stove in the morning, with dried linguini caked onto the burners). I make this Puttanesca dish pretty frequently, because it is super easy and relatively inexpensive.

Puttanesca means “food of the whores” in Italian, because it was a staple dish among the poor made with cheap ingredients commonly stocked in the pantry. I choose to make my Puttanesca without anchovies, although they are commonly used in traditional Puttanesca dishes and can be added to my recipe. Tonight, I modified by recipe slightly by adding mushrooms and substituting arugala with baby spinach based on what I had available in my house. The dish turned out incredible, and certainly hit the spot.

If you want a little bit of protein, feel free to add some sliced chicken breast over top the dish! Otherwise, serve hot with Pecorino cheese and enjoy.

{ Ingredients }

  • 8 ounces linguini pasta
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • ½ cup pitted Spanish kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (less if you don’t like spice)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • ¾ cup chopped fresh arugala (or baby spinach)
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

{ To Make the PastaBring a large pot of water to a boil, and add 2 tablespoons salt. Add pasta and cook according to directions on package.

While the pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium flame. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the parsley, olives, capers, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes to skillet and sautee for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and juices and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in arugala (or baby spinach) and simmer for 1 minute more, until the greens wilt slightly.

When the pasta is done, drain it and return it to the skillet, combining with sauce. Top with grated cheese and additional red pepper flakes for spice.

**Tip: Do not rinse the pasta after draining it because the sauce does not stick as well to the noodle. The starch is necessary and binding so do not rinse it off.

Tossing the Linguini in with the Puttanesca Sauce

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La Stalla ****

La Stalla from the Outside

215.579.8301
18 Swamp Road
Newtown, Pa 18940

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The thing that I take most for granted living in Miami, is the abundance of incredible restaurants. This is not to say that I don’t eat at them enough—because I do eat out a lot—but I just have become so accustomed to there always being a delicious food option of any variety at every price point. You want French food? There is a hole in the wall French bakery that can satisfy you with the best croissants and brie sandwiches for less than $5 (Le Royal). There is also a little brasserie in the grove that serves the best ceasar salads for $12 (Le Bouchon du Grove). Or you can splurge and enjoy a truely memorable foie gras and braised short rib burger for $30 (Db Bistro Moderne). And Cuban food? Well you can get that delicious anywhere, for either dirt cheap, cheap, or accurately priced. The only type of food that I believe Miami lacks in variety is Chinese. It’s weird, Miami only does upscale Chinese. There is no greasy, grungy, make you feel sick to your stomach (but all at the same time delicious) kind of Chinese food. Then again, this could be a great step in the evolution of American eating habits, so I won’t really complain—although I do crave my oil-drenched Lo Mien from time to time!

But enough of my tangent and back to the point! It wasn’t until this spring break that I realized just how fortunate I am as a foodie to be living in Miami. I’m back in Philadelphia for break and when my parents asked me to pick a place for dinner tonight, I suddenly realized that all the options were Italian. I love a good pasta dish and marsala sauce, but I also like to switch things up a little, and I just had Italian with Jen last night. But faced with choice of Italian or Italian, I chose my second favorite Italian restaurant (after Domani Star, where I ate last night) and decided on La Stalla located in Newtown.

La Stalla is more conducive than Domani Star for large parties, so we usually eat all of our special occasion meals here. Both the food and service are predictable and consistently good, and the atmosphere is cozy and elegant. Wednesday nights are a fun night for people watching, since all the divorcees have their big “off night” from the kids and tend to post up at the bar, decked out in their most cougar-ish attire. It’s dinner and a show.

To start, my family always orders the Tuscan Table which is an antipasti spread complete with Sharp Aged Parmesan Cheese, Grilled Asparagus, Roasted Portobello Mushrooms, Roasted Red Peppers, Marinated Hot Peppers, Kalamata Olives, Marinated Artichoke Hearts, and Beans in Vinaigrette. This plate is also accompanied by warm Tuscan Bread and herbed dipping oil. It is usually the highlight of the meal for me because I can pick at all the different flavors while I sip my first cocktail and read over the dinner specials for the evening. My mom and I have even come just for drinks and the Tuscan Table before, because it is that good! My family’s other favorite appetizer is the Mussels in Spicy Red Sauce, which are killer…enough said.

My Selections from the Tuscan Table

Tonight I ordered one of my favorite pasta dishes here—the Penne Puttanesca, which is Penne Pasta sautéed with Kalamata Olives, Capers, Onion, Parsley, and Cherry Tomatoes in a White Wine Pomodoro Sauce. I typically like to switch out the penne pasta for a linguine, because I like twirling my pasta (silly, I know), but tonight I had the penne and it was just as delicious. The sauce is a light red sauce and the capers and olives add just the right saltiness to the dish. Bets of all, the food at La Stalla is always burn-your-mouth hot! Even the dishes are blistering hot, so there is no pressure to eat in a hurry before your food gets cold.

Penne Puttanesca – Penne Pasta sautéed with Kalamata Olives, Capers, Onion, Parsley, and Cherry Tomatoes in a White Wine Pomodoro Sauce

My dad also ordered a pasta dish for his entrée and got the Farfalle e Gamberi, which is Bowtie Pasta sautéed with Shrimp, Grape Tomatoes, and Garlic in a Blush Pomodoro Sauce. I would never order a seafood pasta as my own entrée, but I had a few bites of his and loved it. The sauce was simple and delicious and they certainly weren’t scant with the shrimp either! My dad and I also split a side order of Broccoli Rabe with Sautéed Garlic, which was phenomenal. They added a ton of garlic which took away from the bitterness of the legume, and it wasn’t weighed down with oil so it felt nice and light.

Farfalle e Gamberi – Bowtie Pasta sautéed with Shrimp, Grape Tomatoes, and Garlic in a Blush Pomodoro Sauce

Broccoli Rabe with Sauteed Garlic

My mom dared to be different and ordered the Pork Chop Special, which was served with Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli Rabe. She was disappointed because the meat was well over-cooked and after a few bites decided to send it back and order a pasta dish as well. She ordered the Farfalle Mascarpone, which is Farfalle pasta sautéed with Mushrooms, Asparagus, and Grape Tomatoes tossed in a Creamy Mascarpone Cheese Sauce. The dish was rich, as expected, but the flavors were spot on and the pasta was perfectly cooked. It was an upscale macaroni and cheese, and it certainly delivered the same comfort. I was also impressed by how quickly they managed to get her new dish to the table. She waited no more than 8 minutes, and they gladly took the Pork Chop off the bill.

Pork Chop with Broccoli Rabe

Roasted Potatoes

Overall, La Stalla is a great place for a romantic date or a large group celebration, a cozy indoor meal or a relaxing meal out on the garden patio, and the outdoor bar scene is great during the summer with bocce ball courts not far off. I would recommend the pastas, and note that you need to specify that you only want a half order if you choose not to do the meal family style. My family is not good at sharing food and so we never do family style!

 

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Domani Star *****


Chocolate Pudding Pots

215.230.9100
57 West State Street
Doylestown, Pa 18901

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Spring break—it is the time of year where college students across the country descend upon vacation resorts such as Cabo, San Juan, Miami, Cancun, and other sunny locales to partake in much debauchery, which usually results in wicked hangovers, unsafe sex practices, interesting photographs (which usually inhibit ones ability to obtain employment post-college), peeling and splotchy skin, a burning sensation when urinating, post-spring break alcohol withdrawal, and of course, great memories! Everybody does the aforementioned spring break at least once while in college, but only the crazies desire to do it twice. Instead, I decided to head home for spring break this year, back to freezing cold Philadelphia. Rather than packing swimsuits and tanning oil, I packed my wool sweaters and suede boots. It sounds a little miserable to most, but you have to remember that I go to school in Miami…I’m on spring break all year!! I need this time to relax and recover, and that’s exactly what I have been doing. I got home a few days ago and my schedule since has been sleeping, waking to eat moms home cooking, napping due to food coma, mid-day cocktails with my best friend, napping due to mid-day drinking, blogging, and eating out at my favorite restaurants. I am living the dream, while most other college kids are being served watered down sugary drinks at all inclusive resorts where they can’t drink the water or eat the food due to sanitation problems. Not jealous one bit!

Not only am I eating while at home, I am eating like a queen! After a few martinis yesterday, my friend Jennifer and I decided to go out for dinner. We were a tipsy and decided to splurge on a good meal, as food is never too expensive when you’re drunk! We headed over to Domani Star located right in the center of Doylestown. It is an Italian restaurant that has been one of my favorites for years. They serve both lunch and dinner, and now more recently even brunch (although, I think dinner is their specialty!). They have a small indoor dinning room, with bar seating available, as well as outdoor side-walk seating for when the weather is nice (which it is not yet!).

In light of the recession, Domani Star now offers a pre-fixe dinner menu on weeknights, which includes your choice of an appetizer, entree, and dessert. Unfortunately, the pre-fixe menu items are not the same as the regular menu, but there is a very decent selection. Jen and I both ordered from the pre-fixe menu, which has a set price of just $24 (thank you Domani for the recession prices!). We both ordered the Bruschetta, which is grilled Tuscan bread rubbed with fresh garlic and extra virgin olive oil topped with fresh diced tomatoes and herbs. The portion is enormous, more like half a loaf of Tuscan bread and the flavors are incredible. My only suggestion is do not order this if you are on a date because the garlic will repeat on you for the rest of the evening. Even if you brush your teeth? Yes. Not even Listerene will get rid of the taste. But it is delicious and worth eating if you are spending a night alone or just with friends watching a movie, as I did.

Bruschetta – grilled Tuscan bread rubbed with fresh garlic and extra virgin olive oil topped with fresh diced tomatoes and herbs

For the entrée we also ordered the same thing—we are best friends so we are a lot alike. We got the Chicken Francese, which is boneless chicken breast dipped in egg batter and then cooked in a white wine lemon sauce, served over top golden Yukon whipped potatoes and grilled asparagus. The portion was just perfect and the food was piping hot, even the plate was burning hot! The chicken was tender and juicy and the sauce was fairly light on butter, which was a refreshing change for franchese. The asparagus were super delicious and all the stems were already cut off and the Yukon potatoes were to die for. Domani Star has by far my favorite mashed potatoes. They are incredibly rich and laden with butter and calories, but they are simply delicious and worth the calorie splurge. I actually order my entrees here based on whether or not they come with the potatoes. Sadly, it is generally the deciding factor!

Chicken Francese – Boneless Chicken Breast Cooked in White Wine Lemon Sauce, Served with Yukon Whipped Potatoes and Grilled Asparagus

For dessert, we ordered the Warm Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream and Homemade Whipped Cream and the Warm Bread Pudding served with Bourbon Sauce and Fresh Berries. Jen and I both agreed that the bread pudding was the star of the two, but it was certainly rich and the two of us didn’t even finish the one small piece. Of course, this is because we were also sharing the chocolate cake, which was good but not exceptional. If you are luck enough to go on a day when they are serving the Chocolate Pudding, you must order it because it is the most incredible dessert ever for a chocolate lover!

Warm Bread Pudding served with Bourbon Sauce and Fresh Berries

Warm Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream and Homemade Whipped Cream

Although the menu changes seasonally and frequently at Domani Star, the one item that never comes off the menu is their Polpettine dei Bacaro di Venezia, which are their famous homemade meatballs made with beef and veal meat, served lightly breaded and fried golden brown with lemons, herbs, and Parmigiano cheese. This is the menu item to try at Domani Star and it gets it’s name because it is served the same way that meatballs are prepared in the wine bars of Venice.

Polpettine dei Bacaro di Venezia – Homemade Meatballs made with Beef and Veal, served Lightly Breaded and Fried Golden Brown with Lemons, Herbs, and Parmigiano cheese

 

My other favorite appetizer from the regular menu is the Polenta e Gorgonzola, which is an oven roasted polenta cake with creamy Gorgonzola sauce, and fresh rosemary. It is a little bite of heaven. It is rich but the portion is small so it is not overwhelming or too filling to have with an entrée. My mom and I usually order one to share before our meal!

If you do go for lunch, I recommend ordering one of Domani’s sandwiches, which are always served on grilled Tuscan bread and accompanied by with either pasta salad, mixed greens, or french fries. I usually order the Grilled Vegetable Sandwich or the Pork Tenderloin Sandwich. If you are in the Doylestown or Bucks County area, I would highly recommend Domani Star for a great Italian restaurant, which is also BYOB!

Breaded Pork Sandwich served on Grilled Tuscan Bread with French Fries

 

 

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