Friday, September 11, 2015

Searching for the Best Grandma Ever: Pie #7, Abbondanza Trattoria

Lucky Number Seven in our search for #thebestgrandmaever came from a lovely little "ristorante" called Abbondanza Trattoria.

We ordered a Tricolore Salad (zippy and light) and a large "Pizza della Nonna" for our latest Friday Night Pizza Night adventure. The pizza arrived quickly and was piping hot. We opened the box and found a puffy, square pie that looked as if it were filled with air.

Delicious air, that is.

Chris and I took a bite and promptly described the pizza to each other as "airy","fluffy", "like a focaccia donut", and my favorite one from Chris -- "an Italian cloud". 

The pizza had all the trimmings of a traditional grandma -- crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, olive oil and garlic. The outer crust was satisfyingly crispy and made an audible "crunch" when bitten into, but the bottom and interior crust was flaky and delightful. It is hands down the most pillowy pizza I've ever had.

The next day it was near perfect, with the garlic coming through a little stronger than day 1. And unlike Pie #2, there was no extra moisture -- no sogginess.

Abbodanza's Pizza della Nonna was exactly what comes to mind when you hear "Grandma Pizza." It tasted authentically homemade, with the tomatoes and garlic and overall delightful flavors, and I am pretty confident that this is THE ONE, folks.

So far...(wink).

Pizza #7: Abbodanza Trattoria
Sauce: A+
Crust: A+
Presentation: A+
Next Day/Cold Pizza test: A+
Grandma-style: A+

Abbodanza's pizza #7 gets an A+!

Will next week's pizza top this? I can't wait to find out!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Fillet of Sole in Lime-Soy-Chilie-Ginger Sauce with Ginger Sesame Soba Noodles and Farmers' Market Veggies

I've missed you! 

We had a busy summer -- lots of trips and adventures, and I started a new job! (And, I've been preoccupied with my search for the perfect grandma pizza.) That doesn't mean I haven't been cooking. I just haven't had time to write much, and from the looks of my calendar for the fall, things aren't slowing down. So, apologies for the lax in recipe postings. Hopefully you're following me on Instagram -- I've been posting lots of food pics there.

We have a lovely weekend farmers' market near our apartment so loaded up with eggplant, squash, zucchini, broccoli and peaches. There were a couple fillets of sole in the fridge and I had some soba noodles in the pantry, so I decided to make fish with noodles and veggies. It was delicious.

I marinated the fish in lime juice, soy sauce, minced garlic, minced ginger, and a spoonful of chili paste for a few hours in the fridge. I didn't measure -- I just added enough juice and sauce to cover the fish, then flipped the fillets over about halfway into my marinating time.

For the noodle dish, I toasted some sesame seeds in a pan on the stove and prepared the soba noodles according to the package directions, then let them drain. I diced up two small eggplants and a large zucchini, and chopped up half a head of broccoli, then sauteed in sesame oil until the eggplant was soft, the zucchini tender-crisp and the broccoli bright green (add it last).

While the veggies cooked, I heated a bit of vegetable oil in a pan and cooked the fish over medium-high heat for a few minutes on each side until lightly browned. I sprinkled a bit of salt/pepper and fresh parsley before serving.  It was flaky and flavorful -- the marinade was a hit!
When it was time to eat, I put the noodles and toasted sesame seeds in a large bowl and added the veggies, then tossed with a garlicky, ginger sauce that I had made a bit earlier in the day (recipe below).  It was a light, lovely dinner for the end of summer.

Garlicky Ginger Sesame Sauce
2 tsp minced garlic
4 tsp minced gingerroot
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
1 TBS soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon extra fine sugar
Red pepper flakes
Salt to taste

Minimal MESS/ingredients/clean-up: Category 1

To Do:
  • Add all of the ingredients through the sugar to a medium-sized bowl and whisk until combined.
  • Add the pepper flakes and salt to taste.
  • Let sauce marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. Adjust seasonings as needed before serving.
  • Enjoy!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Searching for the Best Grandma Ever: Pie #6, Delenio

The sixth Grandma Pie in our search for #thebestgrandmaever was delivered promptly by Delenio, an Italian place not too far from our neighborhood. We were in vacation mode, so we ordered a large Grandma and a side of their fantastic "Pane Cotte" appetizer, which is a delightful mixture of "broccoli rabe tossed with oil and garlic, sun dried tomatoes, cannelloni beans, bread cubes & Parmigiana cheese."

The aroma of garlic and tomatoes wafted down the hallway, and into the kitchen. Opening the box, we found another round pie, but this one was different than the last: It looked like a cheese-less pizza. We were curious to give it a try.

Wow! The pizza is sauce-heavy, but somehow it still has a light, bright, fresh taste. There was just enough Parmesan sprinkle and minced basil. The sauce-covered layer of cheese underneath was perfectly salty and not greasy, and the crust appropriately crunchy in all the right places. It's like eating pizza dough covered in sauce, but much better. The "cheese reveal" as Chris called it, is fantastically unexpected, but exactly what you want. Yum. The Pane Cotte appetizer was delicious, too.

Delenio's Grandma isn't a textbook grandma since it's missing the square shape and crushed tomatoes, but I can definitely see a sweet Italian grandma making this for her family with her special, homemade Sunday gravy. And it isn't too shabby for breakfast the next day, either. (How about a runny egg on top?)

I thought last week's Atomic pizza was pretty great, but Delenio is my personal favorite pizza experience so far, at least flavor-wise.

Pizza #6: Delenio
Sauce: A+
Crust: A+
Presentation: A+
Next Day/Cold Pizza test: A+
Grandma-style: B+

Grandma Pie #6 from Delenio earns an A!

But, we're not done with our search just yet -- I can't wait to taste what's next!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Searching for the Best Grandma Ever: Pie #5, Atomic Wings

Pizza #5 in our search for #thebestgrandmaever came from Atomic Wings, a pizza and wings joint. We ordered a traditional Grandma Pizza and their signature wings, because when in Rome...
The delivery was pretty quick and the pizza looked delightful. The round pie had fresh basil, chunky tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, garlic...mmmm.

I must admit that I was a bit skeptical about this pizza. How would a place that focuses on chicken wings fare with a Grandma pie?

Well, happily I can say that it did very well. The pizza not only looked good, it tasted terrific. The crust was the perfect combination of crispy, cracker-like end crust and a thin but sturdy bottom. The sauce was slightly sweet, but with a garlicky kick that I found pleasant, but Chris thought it bordered a bit on the heavy side. The slices were neither greasy nor wet. I probably could have eaten the whole pie by myself, it was so light and fresh tasting. I have nothing bad to say -- except that it also seemed very similar to a Margherita pie in style, so I'm not sure if we can call this a grandma. Still, it was quite divine.

Yes, one of the top contenders so far is a chicken wing place. Who knew? Atomic, you're standing in line with our other A pie, Krispy Pizza.

Pizza #5: Atomic Wings
Sauce: A
Crust: A-
Presentation: A+
Next Day/Cold Pizza test: A
Grandma-style: B-

So, for Grandma Pie #5, Atomic Wings' Grandma gets an overall A-.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Searching for the Best Grandma Ever: Pie #4, Presto's

For Pizza #4 in our search for #thebestgrandmaever we decided to skip delivery, and instead do carry out. We ordered a Grandma Pizza from Presto's Restaurant after discovering their take-out only pizza menu as we were walking by one evening.

We placed our order and had a drink at a nearby bar while we waited for the pizza. About 40 minutes later, we picked up the $15 pie and headed home, just a few blocks away. The garlic and tomatoes wafted out of the box as we walked. It smelled heavenly. Mmmmm!

When we opened the box, we found a square, very rustic-looking pie. It definitely seemed heavier on the cheese than our previous pies, but we were excited to try it because it smelled so good.
The slices were cut a bit oddly, and I definitely couldn't get through my second piece. It was surprisingly very filling even though it had a thin, crispy-crunchy crust. Also, the crust seemed to be made of or dusted with cornmeal as it had a yellowish hue. The sauce was garlicky, as we figured from our walk home, but really bright and flavorful. (The kind of sauce you want to dip things in.) It was a bit greasy though, due either to an abundance of olive oil or cheese -- we couldn't tell. There didn't seem to be any crushed tomato or fresh basil and mozzarella so we're not sure if this is really a true Grandma pie. It almost seemed more like a bar pie (cheese and sauce), but it tasted good, either way.

But it was not #thebestgrandmaever, so our search continues for the perfect Grandma. Hopefully we'll find her soon! (In the meantime, all this research is quite fun!)

Pizza #4: Presto's
Sauce: A
Crust: A
Presentation: B
Next Day/Cold Pizza test: A-
Grandma-style: C

So, for Grandma Pie #4, Presto's Grandma gets an overall B.