Thursday, November 15, 2007

Don't mess with Mamma!!!

Regina and Marco took JR and I out to a wonderful traditional Italian dinner on Tuesday night! I found it exciting because it was a local place where if you were not with a local you would have never found it.

Regina warned us that we may be the only people in the restaurant (and we were). I found that a little weird until I heard the story. A son (Mario) and his mother (Mamma) run this restaurant and the Mario loves to cook! He spends his off days traveling around the region looking for fresh ingredients, new cheeses and wines, pastas, etc to bring back and experiment. (What a life!!) You have to call ahead for a table so he knows how many people he can experiment with in one night. You even have to ring the doorbell to get in! Hilarious!

Here is a picture of Mario and Mamma!!!

The building is very old (I cannot remember how old) and there is an awesome wine cellar which dated back to the 1400s (I think).

Many of you know how picky I am...if you don't...well, I am seriously a very picky eater! I like a lot of different types of food...I just like it really plain! Italian is probably my favorite type of food and I like mostly red (tomato) sauces. From my travels in Italy, I have learned the northern part of the country has more creamy/white sauces where the southern part of Italy uses more red sauces. I heard this came from back in the old days where folks in the south could not store creamy sauces in the heat and thus they used more fresh tomato sauces. The folks in the north could use more creamy sauces and were able to store them because it is colder in the north! It all makes sense....and we witnessed it when I was here before! I personally liked the food in the south better than in the north (remember, I love tomato sauces!)!

Anyway, Italians also eat in many courses and the dinners last for hours (at least 4-5). We started off with an antipasta for an appetizer. I, of course, did not like many of the choices but did not let that stop the others from trying them! One traditional Italian appetizer is basically deli meat served on a plate (different types of hams and salami) so that is what I had. The others had an assortment of different types of seafood. I knew I did not want to eat much because there were many other courses coming. So about halfway through this course, Mamma comes out and wonders what is wrong with me and asks why I was not eating. It appeared as though I was offending her by not finishing my appetizer! I tried as best I could to get most of the plate cleared as she kept coming back and glaring at me! I was afraid I was not going to get my main course if I did not finish my appetizer!!! Also, Mamma only spoke Italian; however, I completely understood her glares!

There is a little menu to choose from but you can also ask Mario to make something special. I thought that was very nice considering there was not much on the menu I would eat...nothing like plain spaghetti with tomato sauce. We asked if he would make pasta or gnocchi with tomato sauce for me. He just happened to have some fresh homemade gnocchi and was willing to make me a tomato and cheese sauce! It was soooooooooo good! He thought I was a bit crazy asking for something like this....but after it was all said and done.....everyone at the table loved it! He even made an extra dish for the others to sample! It was probably the best gnocchi I have ever had! Everything that is made in this restaurant is completely fresh! While we were having appetizers Mario went out and picked fresh basil to make the sauce for my gnocchi dish! How cool!

We actually skipped the second course (meat/fish) because we had already had a lot and we wanted to make sure we saved room for dessert. When choosing dessert we have to first ask what Mamma has made! This particular evening she had something like a peach tart, cake with some fruit mixed in, and of course, tiramisu. I had the peach tart and it was fantastic! I especially loved the way she decorated the plate!

After dessert we had a coffee and then ended the night with limoncello! What a fantastic Italian night!!! Thanks Regina!

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