So, it’s been almost two years since I have written anything. I don’t really have an excuse. I suppose it doesn’t matter since I am pretty sure no one actually reads this thing but I’m back. I guess I give up easily sometimes. I’m a wanna be food critic, chef, writer etc. But while having dinner with my husband and his parents to celebrate their birthday, I realized that none of that matters. I write because I love writing. I write about food and cooking because aside from reading and sex, those are a few of my favorite things. So why not keep writing about food and cooking to share new ideas and great places to eat with my friends or the few people who actually read this… does anyone actually read this?
Well, if anyone is reading, I am going to share with you my favorite Italian restaurant.
I usually eschew Italian food. Why go pay to have someone make you pasta? I can make my own pasta. And I don’t want to pay ten dollars for a plate of it either. I remember one time in college (before I even realized that I was a food snob) I excoriated a fellow classmate because she didn’t understand why I didn’t want to wait thirty minutes for a table. At the Olive Garden! But this restaurant I am about to review is far from the Olive Garden.
We went back and forth on where to eat. First we decided on Maggiano’s (Italian… not bad for a chain). But we couldn’t get a reservation. Then Lupe Tortillas was brought up (DO NOT get me started on Lupe Tortilla, aside from Katz’s I think it is the biggest waste of money for sub par Mexican food… I’m going to stop because I’m getting angry and should dedicate this to another blog entry).
Patrenella’s however, is an Italian restaurant in an old house just off of Washington avenue on Jackson Hill. When you walk in the delicious aroma of garlic, cooking wine, bread, and other things greet you. It is a warmly lit place and we were seated immediately.
The service doesn’t suck either. I’m not going to bore you with drink orders and such but we decided to start off with the stuffed artichoke and the fried calamari. My husband accidentally ordered the Sammy’s eggplant but when he called the waiter back to change the order, the waiter was very accommodating but said he was going to bring some of the eggplant out anyway (comped) because we didn’t know what we were missing.
So, they ran out of stuffed artichoke so he brought out cheese and olives instead (listed on the menu for $4 but we were comped those as well. What did I say? Great service!) The cheese and olives are a must, inexpensive and delicious. When I was there before, I was told that the cheese was pecorino cheese. Pairs very well with a starter glass of wine.
Any Italian restaurant that serves mussels and clams as an appetizer has my undivided attention. I have actually eaten this as my entree in the past.
The eggplant appetizer wasn’t bad. I wasn’t overly impressed with it because it really just reminded me of Eggplant Parmesan that was thinnly sliced. The calamari on the other hand was delicious. I’m a bit picky about calamari. The first time I had it, it was rubbery, greasy and reminded me of something off the menu at Long John Silvers. After being covinced to try it at other restaurants I realized that there was such a thing as good calamari.
This was some of the best I have had. For those of you that don’t know, calamari is usually squid and baby octopus fried and served with a side of maranara sauce. Most of the calamari that I have had is usually chewy which I can’t stand. Not at Patrenella’s. Both the squid and the octopus were tender, buttery, and the batter was light and crispy without a hint of the greasy rancidness that often accompanies this dish when it’s not made right.
I was torn between the butternut squash ravioli in a brown butter sauce with pancetta but finally decided on the seared scallops over a basil risotto with pancetta and tomato jam. The scallops were perfect; sweet, delicate and they melted in my mouth, The risotto paired nicely with the scallops and the tomato jam. And the pancetta added the saltiness that would have otherwise been missing from the dish.
My husband ordered the spaghetti and meatballs. I don’t really know what to say about that other than… it tasted like spaghetti and meat balls. My mother in law ordered the seafood linguini which comes with a light garlic and wine sauce and clams, mussels, shrimp, squid, and scallops. This dish tasted like the ocean (in a good way) with that fabulous taste of garlic and wine that has been heated.
So, enough said. They have something for everyone but if you love pasta and seafood, this is the place for you. If you are tired of the same repetative fair that you find at most Italian restaurants then give this a try. I’ll even post a link to the website so you can check out the menu. The actual menu has even more than on this one .
Or since I never get that insert the link thing right…