Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Che Cosa è una Ragazza da Fare

I suppose I am spoiled. Growing up in NYC. 5 years in Hoboken, birth place of Frank Sinatra. A semester abroad in Florence. What am I driving at? Italian food. How good it is. How much I love it. And how much I crave it these days since there is no good Italian food anywhere close to where I live.

How I long for our Hoboken days, when exceptional Italian food was ubiquitous (and even the un-exceptional stuff was better than average) and Marty and I felt frustrated at the notion of: Italian again? What I wouldn’t give for a plate of perfectly cooked broccoli rabe with lots of garlic, oil and red pepper. I used to by broccoli rabe by the pound at the Korean deli and cook it for myself at home. Go to the grocery store here and you’ll see plenty of leafy greens: collard, mustard, dandelion, kale. But no rapini.

I long for a plate of fresh mozzarella and thinly sliced prosciutto di parma. Or mozzarella and tomatoes. Insalata Caprese. It used to annoy me to see this salad on menus across NYC and NJ. No longer. Now, I’d kill for one.

Veal Picatta. Chicken Francese. Eggplant rollatine. Ahh eggplant. A misunderstood vegetable that the Italians figured out brilliantly.

Red sauce. Bar pie. Pasta in any way, shape or form. Fresh papardelle with homemade ragu. A side of spaghetti al aglio e oglio.

My mouth is watering.

Alas, I have found no way to scratch my Italian itch since moving here over a year ago. We had dinner a few months back at Volare, the best Italian restaurant in Charlotte according to Zagats. The food was overcooked, overpriced and underwhelming.

We tried Da Vinci up in Hickory. The Francese was a disaster (mushrooms?! Who puts mushrooms in Francese?) and I can’t even get into the red sauce. And this, from 2 men who are actually Italian and who if, memory serves me correctly, ran an Italian restaurant in the Northeast.

What really kills me about Da Vinci though is their signature dish. Marty and I went back for a second try not too long ago. We sat at the bar and asked the bartender what he recommended. You know what he said? Buffalo wings. That’s right. BUFFALO WINGS at an Italian restaurant. Seriously.

E se quello non è paese, bacerò il vostro...

p.s. By the way, we ordered the wings. And you know what? They were great. Better than great. Possibly some of the best wings I’ve ever had. Go figure.


Linda said...

I love good Italian also. Luckily, here in St Louis we have the Hill. Very old Italian community. My favorite is seafood but hubby doesn't like it. I like some pork but I haven't really had any in like 12 years since my husband is Jewish.

Country Girl said...

I am pork...though we haven't eaten it a lot recently for some reason...however at an Italian restauarnt, I usually go for the veal...

Linda said...

I don't think he has ever eaten like a pork chop or pork loin or anything, but he does like pepperoni.