Dining Outside the Home: Divieto Ristorante in Estero, Florida! Whenever a meal is prepared table-side, things are bound to feel a little bit different at this 1920’s version of a classic Italian restaurant. Their signature dish, Ruota di Parmigiano, is a creamy fettuccine Alfredo specialty tossed in a parmigiana-reggiano cheese wheel. The steamy homemade pasta is poured into the hollowed out cheese wheel over a layer of freshly scraped parmesan shavings. As the pasta is gently mixed in, the buttered noodles are coated in the creamy decadence causing the customers to practically drool uncontrollably. But mind your manners, take a sip of water, and wait patiently until the server ceremoniously transfers the traditional pasta dish before you as though you were royalty.
“Rome is the city of echoes,
the city of illusions,
and the city of yearning.”
~ Giotto di Bondone
Dining Outside the Home: Tour of Italy in Greenfield, Indiana! There’s something charming about an eatery located on the town square a few steps from the county courthouse. Inside the decor is Old World Italy with rustic brick walls dividing spacious seating for a romantic meal for two, weekend entertainment for a crowd, or outdoor dining on the patio. The wait staff is as friendly as family. If you’re lucky, the owner of Tour of Italy may step away from the alcove kitchen to twirl pizza dough into the air. With fresh ingredients, made-from-scratch garlic knots, and authentic Italian cuisine, it’s difficult to choose just one item. Order enough to share and take home the rest. Problem solved.
Dining Outside the Home: Florentine Café of Little Italy in Boston, Massachusetts! At first glance, wide open windows catch the attention of passersby. Each one is bordered with overflowing flower boxes that cascade beyond wrought-iron grillwork. Echoes of laughter and the clink of glasses mingle from within. This touch of ambience sets the stage for Old World charm and succulent homemade pastas in Little Italy. Warm crusty bread suddenly appears at the table with herbed olive oil before the specialties of the day are shared. As you rake your eyes across the menu, that inner voice promises to start another diet…tomorrow.
On water as smooth as glass, a skilled gondolier guides the narrow, flat-bottomed boat through the canals of Venice. Close your eyes for a moment and be taken away beneath stone arched bridges, past bustling cafés and iron street lamps where couples embrace in romantic murmurs. This is Italy, or at least it appears so, presented for your enjoyment on the gondola rides at The Venetian in Las Vegas.
Dining Outside the Home: Pietro’s Pizza in Lihue, Kauai! Just a stone’s throw within walking distance from Kalipaki Beach is a New York-style pizzeria where the crust is thin, hand-tossed to perfection, and every order is cut into eight wide slices. “Makes it easy to fold in half to eat”, we’re told. Crisp and smoky flavored meat toppings complement the bubbly cheese and chewy crust baked in a brick oven. Whether you eat it there or buy it by the slice, check them out when your taste buds crave something Italian.
As many of you are aware, my husband and I recently travelled to Boston, Massachusetts. Our visit there enveloped us in historical harmony and direct presence with local residents who live and work there every day. Because the outreach of friendship and good will impacted us as such a positive experience, I felt compelled to share one of those delightful encounters.
One afternoon as we strolled along the cobblestone streets of Little Italy, passing eye-catching windows adorned with overflowing flower boxes, the distant music and savory scents transported us to an Old World country rich in charm, spirit, and passion. Over the threshold, featuring Tuscan-style architecture, we entered a casually elegant corner specialty shop. Taste the “Dreams of Sorrento” was the personal invitation we received inside from Jeff Cirace, an established pillar in the community.* His masterpiece, Sorrento Lemoncello, is an extraordinarily distinguished lemon liqueur. It tells a story all its own. It brings the romance of Italy to your very own home. (And who doesn’t love romance?) The exceptional quality of organic lemons grown on the hillside of the Amalfi Coast is the secret to its intense aroma and exquisite citrus flavor. Not only were we intrigued and fascinated by our conversation with Jeff, but his personal attention to detail had us spellbound. We had to get some of this Lemoncello! And, without regrets, we ordered a gift basket. I look forward to sharing recipes with you that are enhanced by this fabulous flavor. Stay tuned…
*V. Cirace & Son is a family-owned business continuing the tradition of selling fine wine and spirits since 1906 in Boston’s vibrant historic North End of Little Italy.