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Tuesday
Nov092010

Loving Luzzo's



Just when you thought you were done with Pizza month, we pull you back in.  Due to the plethora of Pizza joints within the area,  Elana and I have agreed to stop this soon and continue at a later date... but there is still work to be done.  This week's review is of Luzzo's, on 211 First Avenue in the East Village.   Since it was Elana's birthday, we invited a whole crew of pizza enthusiasts and made a reservation way in advance.  Our crew had grown to 15 people, and I was skeptical of how they would handle our posse.

Accommodations turned out to be no problemo.  One of the waiters took our crew down a flight of stairs to their basement.  If anyone is thinking about booking a large group for some delicious pizza, ask to be downstairs in the basement.  We basically had the place to ourselves.  It even comes equipped with a stereo system in which the staff at Luzzo's actually encourages you to supply your own music.  Unfortunately, none of us were aware of this ahead of time, so Elana's whack-ass mix of early 90's techno supplied the musical backdrop.  Also in the basement is a bar, stocked with wine and ice cold Peroni, the latter of which was ordered by all the male participants in half hour increments; like clockwork, one of us would twirl our index finger in the air, while our waiter would rifle off bottle caps and dispense the brewskis.  Did I mention how awesome the basement is?

After ordering a few snacks, the pizzas arrive.  Like Keste, Luzzo's is very much a Naples pie; the mozzarella is barely melted, the crust is charred, yet chewy.  It is extremely simple in its look, yet sophisticated in its creation.  Luzzo's gives the option of ordering either 12 inch or 16 inch pies.



For the group, we get a bunch of 16 inch pies; 4 of which are Bufala Mozzarella pies.  This pizza is definitely some of the best we have had.  It is a little thinner than that of other Neapolitan pies,  which isn't good or bad - just figured i'd say so.  Its bufala mozzarella is great; despite its spotty application, it is huge on taste:  milky, salty, and a touch sour.  Perfect.  The tomatoes are of equal quality, extremely fresh with perfect compliments of oil.  Take a look at the oil which swims on top of the slice.  It's there, but not overwhelmingly so.  And the crust is of fine craftmanship - the blackened portions of the crust are contrasted with its doughy, pillowy insides.  Rugged exterior, tender underneath it all.  Alot like myself.



(This picture is from the bar afterwards.  As you can tell, it was fun)

We ordered a few more pies.  One was a white pizza with truffle patte (pictured above). Another was a magherita pizza with prosciutto and arugula.   A third one was a white pie with prosciutto and mushrooms seen below.  All were very good; building on Luzzo's wonderful pizza making philosophy with wonderful pizza making accompaniments/ingredients.



Those looking for a high end Neapolitan pizza will not be disappointed by stopping into Luzzo's.  In comparison with Keste, our other reviewed Neapolitan pie, it is slightly thinner and tad more simple and bare.  Yet in taste, they're in dead heat.  Stay tuned for our pizza rankings in the coming weeks.

Overall Movie Experience - Shawshank Redemption

Monday
Nov082010

Something Simple - Sweet and Spicy Mixed Nuts



As of today we are starting our preparations for Thanksgiving. We hope that in these weeks leading up to the big turkey day, you'll find some appealing things on this blog that you might consider cooking. I say consider because I know you may have your own favorite Thanksgiving recipes. If you do, send 'em to me - I can post them on the blog! Or not. Either is fine.

To begin, we are starting small. Thanksgiving is overwhelming. All the options! One yam can be dressed a thousand different ways. Not to mention the daunting task of what do with that dang bird. Brine? Dry rub? Fry the bejeezus out of it? Tofu?

Here is something that you can put on the table when all your 8,000 family members are milling about unsubtly trying to calculate what time dinner will be served.

Also, it comes with jokes! Here's how that works: you put a few (decorative) bowls of mixed nuts around your place, so people have something to crunch on. Your old Uncle Wally saunters over to you, looks at the bowl, looks at you and says, "I thought we already had enough nuts in this family!"

Cricket noises.

End scene.

No Uncle Wally? Thank heavens for that. We don't have one either and never did, but I'll get to that story later.

What You Need:

3 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of ground cloves

3/4 tsp salt

1 large egg white

Mixture of unsalted nuts. I used: pecans, cashews and almonds. You can use whatever you like, just make sure you have about 2 cups worth.

What To Do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 4-sided sheet pan. Whisk together the sugar, spices and salt in a small bowl. Whisk the egg white in a medium bowl until frothy, then stir in the nuts. Add the spice mixture and toss to coat evenly.



Spread the nut mixture on the sheet pan in one layer. Bake, stirring once or twice until dry and toasted, about 20 - 25 minutes. Loosen nuts from the pan and cool completely.

You can even make this one ahead and store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to a week.

* Recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine.

** At this point, Uncle Wally asks you to explain this particular nut recipe, and when you finish explaining, he looks at you and says, "Takes one to know one!" Oh, that Uncle Wally.
Sunday
Nov072010

It Is Officially Time for Cake



I wanted to take a minute or three to thank all you readers for coming here to read this blog. It's really quite impressive that you keep on keepin'-on with that because it may have occured to you that John and I are doubtful sources for good information. We do like love food though, and talking about it, so maybe you've all picked up on that.

Anyway, today's my actual birthday, and we indeed have more Twitter followers - so thanks! I love it when you get exactly what you want. Hopefully, we will be able to entertain all you new guys. If you haven't signed up to follow us yet, or tweeted me "Happy Birthday," you have until midnight tonight. As I mentioned before, doing so will enter you into a drawing to win the herbed salt from Italy.

This weekend has been a good one - lots of fun birthday stuff. And tonight, I'm headed with John, Marmo and the Box to Del Posto! So, stay tuned for that because we will most definitely report back to you.

* Special birthday thanks to: our readers, twitter followers new and old,  the long list of crazy people I know that celebrated with me over the weekend, the computers over at the NYC Triathlon for granting me a spot, and the fam (especially John who would like to take this time to remind you all that, yes, he is younger than I am).
Friday
Nov052010

I Heart Cappuccino From Van Leeuwen



Look at this work of art! Straight off Van Leeuwen's Panda truck this morning on 6th Ave. A good start to the birthday weekend, I think. This little beauty was followed by a delivery of Butterlane cupcakes from Marmo and the Box.

This weekend will bring some good stuff for you, my dear readers, in the form of two great restaurants that will be reviewed. Get excited, but I'm going to keep you in suspense as to which restaurants.

In the meantime, let's review:

First, don't forget to sign up to follow us, or tweet me "Happy Birthday" for you chance to win the herbed Italian salt. Click here for more details. Many thanks to all the people who have already done so!

Need a recipe for the weekend? Try out Velia's Eggplant Rolls.

Want some Sant' Eustachio Coffee? Order from Gustiamo and be entered to win a free coffee cup!

Have a great weekend!

Friday
Nov052010

Italian Favorites (in a non-comprehensive list)

This will be the end of the Italy posts. Next week we start talking turkey, as Thanksgiving is coming up! In the meantime, favorites from my Italian journey:

Il Cane: Favorite image of a dog sleeping behind an old-timey wagon:



Il Pranzo: Favorite lunch – Pasta Cacio e Pepe at Roma Sparita. Note the basket of FRIED CHEESE. Yeah, that's right.



Carne: Favorite new cured meat: Like prosciutto but not pork from the Jewish section in Rome.



Le Patate: Favorite photo of boiled potatoes cooling on a windowsill (I know, it makes no sense).



Il Polpo: Favorite Octopus for sale at the Roman Testaccio Market.



Il Negozio: Favorite Roman Gourmet Food Store (where I bought the salt) – Castroni



La Scuola Cucina: Favorite Daytime Activity: Velia's Cooking School



La Strada: Favorite Creepy Alley in Orvieto - ALL OF THEM!



Il Miele: Favorite Vendor at the Orvieto Farmer's Market – Sigillo di Garanzia Miele (No website I could find).  I bought Sunflower Honey and a jar of hazelnuts in honey, which is pretty much awesome. I keep saying that I'm going to bake something with it, but I just keep eating them out of the jar with a spoon.



Il Gioielli: Favorite Jewelry Shop in Orvieto – Spazio Manassei Gioielli di Monixa Coscioni. I think this woman is a metal/gem stone working genius.



La Cattedrale: Favorite Over-Exposed Cathedral Photo  –  Orvieto Cathedral (still learning the fancy new camera)



L'Auto: Favorite Tiny Red Car Loaded with Too Many Things (Orvieto)



L'Albergo: Favorite B&B in Orvieto: B&B Sant'Angelo



Il Vigneto: Favorite Hotel/Vineyard in Orvieto: La Rocca



La Ceramica: Favorite Pottery Store: L'Arpia - handcrafts pottery based on Medieval designs native to Orvieto. You can watch them paint in the store!



I Ravioli: Favorite Pumpkin Ravioli EVER: Palazzo Manfredi (Michelin Star Restaurant)



Il Castagno: Favorite Curbside Snack: Roasted Chestnuts from Street Vendors in Rome



La Photografia: Favorite Tipsy Photo Take from a Moving Taxi in Rome



La Pasta: Favorite Close-up Photo of Pasta with Cured Meats: Pasta Carbonara from Le Mani in Pasta (Trastevere, Rome)



Le Bar: Favorite Wine Bar in Rome: Il Goccetto



Le Bar: Favorite Wine Bar in Orvieto: La Champagneria



Salute! Thanks to Marmo for an amazing trip!