American, Italian, Uncategorized

Paramour- San Antonio, TX

When you think San Antonio you most likely think of Hispanic and Mexican inspired foods. Tacos, Tex mex, etc. It is true, San Antonio knows how to do Mexican, but there is growth in the city with bars and sophisticated foods popping up. One good example of this is Paramour.

Located right on the River Walk just north of the Alamo sits this rooftop bar. After climbing about four flights of stairs you enter into a different world with pops of color, couches with pillows of pin up stars, and a scenic view. The outdoor space is beautiful, with couches and chairs sectioned off with lovely green plants. Perfect for a bachelorette party or celebrating a fun group event!

When we went it was in between the morning crowd and evening crowd. They were able to serve us their charcuterie board, so we ordered that for a nice light lunch. If you’re a frequent follower, you know I spend a good amount of my time home in Boston where you can get fresh meats and cheeses from salumerias, so I have high standards when it comes to these smorgasbords. Paramour succeeded and impressed me and my taste buds. I don’t know where or how the chef gets these meats and cheeses, but one things for sure they know the difference between salami and soppressatta. The meats were delicious, the goat cheese with honey was delectable, buffala mozzarella, and, what tasted to be, homemade pesto. We devoured the boards when they came out and rightly so. The display was gorgeous, so inviting. I was quite impressed. 

Hannah Grace Photography

If this is any indication of the service and standards of the drinks and other menu items, then I suggest you make your way to Paramour the next time you see yourself in San Antonio. 

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American, Baking Recipes, Italian, Savory, Uncategorized

Creamy Mozzarella Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Spinach Tortellini 

Well that is certainly a mouthful. And it’s a delicious mouthful. Pinterest has done it again, bringing up amazing and beautiful looking recipes from bloggers like Julia’s Album. The vibrant warm colors are what initially drew me in to click on the link for this recipe and once I read the post in its entirety I knew I had to make this dish. 

Being Italian, it’s hard to not want to cook Italian…I mean they do know what they’re doing when it comes to food. This recipe is no different, the creaminess of the base mixed with the sharp cheeses of tortellini and the acidity of sun-dried tomatoes is harmonious. 

I didn’t have paprika like the recipe calls for, but add a dash of chili powder and you’ll get the same effect and taste paprika would have given it. It was a nice addition, kudos to Julia. 

It’s an easy recipe and certainly one the whole family will enjoy, so get your pot of water boiling and pan sizzling and have Italian night in your home. 

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American, boston, Italian, Uncategorized

Monument- Charlestown, MA

If you’re from Boston then you know all the buzz about Monument in Charlestown. Charlestown is on the map, millennials are taking over, moving outside of Boston across the river to once rough Charlestown. Monument is only feeding into that with a vibe similar to Brewers Fork on the other side of town. Having only been open for a week, I got the chance to check out the new place.

Some people don’t know this, but there is a history here. Remember that adorable, lovely neighborhood trattoria Paolo’s? Monument replaced it. Same owner, but they decided to change it up. To be fair Paolo’s was never full, but it was great food and perfect for a date night or for families. The staff was family and to the owners credit they rehired all the Paolo’s staff, but I miss our little trattoria. Monument has the opposite feel to it, which is good and bad! Monument is definitely a gastropub, basically meaning a fancy pub. We went on the busiest night and they are still figuring out kinks, but the bar was loud and full as well as tables. They expanded the space, so looking over to the Paolo’s side you can only miss it. Talking to a waitress from those days whom we’re friendly with only agreed, but is excited for this next chapter. I think us regulars can agree.

Upon looking at the menu it’s different and interesting, really great ingredients and combinations. And they kept the pizza oven so we only assumed the pizza would be Paolo’s pizza. Although front of the house was maybe flustered, telling us a thirty minute wait that would only turn into an hour, the kitchen was firing food and getting it out at a good speed…especially since it was so busy. The staff was doing their best though and once we did get seated our waitress was bubbly.

We started with two appetizers, short rib poutine and calamari. Both were great, the poutine had a nice gravy and I liked how they used mozzarella curds. The meat was a little cold, but it was tender and had nice flavor. The calamari was really good, the fry was perfect and cooked nicely. The pairing of it with the pickled cucumbers and feta was delicious and the tzatziki sauce brought it all together. 
Now onto the entrees, let’s start with the pizza. Imagining that they wouldn’t try to fix something that isn’t broke, I assumed the pizzas would be that of the Paolo days, but when we order the soppressatta pizza our waitress told us that it’s a different dough from before. I got a little nervous, but was optimistic. When it came I knew immediately it wasn’t going to be great. The crust was huge and doughy and when I bit into it it had a sweetness to it that my tastebuds weren’t prepared for. And you’d think with the North End right there a restaurant would get soppressatta super easy, especially since Paolo’s had a really delicious one. This stuff was pepperoni and it may have been the saltiest pepperoni I’ve ever had. It was not soppressatta, I kept saying to my parents “it’s like having a pizza in Fort Worth”. The cheese made up for it all though, a nice bake and taste to it.

Even though the pizza was a little disappointing, the main entrees were superb. First we got the baked gnocchi that was cooked perfectly with a pink vodka sauce sausage bolongnese and taleggio cheese. It came to the table in an iron skillet, the aroma of melted cheese and sausage filling the air. The sausage was seasoned very well and this dish is what is going to bring me back here.

The other entree we got was the seared scallops with sweet potato purée and assorted vegetables, including snap peas and carrots, in a lemon beurre blanc (which translates to “white butter”) and topped with crumbled bacon. This entree was perfection with the scallops cooked and seared beautifully. The vegetables and sauce complimented each other harmoniously. It wasn’t overly salty and all the flavors came together, and obviously bacon. This scallop entree is another reason I would go back to Monument. 

Overall Charlestown is going to have a different feel to it as the new restaurant draws people from all over Boston, full of young singles and couples making the trek north to check out the new hot spot. It’ll be good for Charlestown to reach that demographic, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to miss our little trattoria. Lots of memories have happened at Paolo’s and I’m sure new ones will happen at Monument…once they work out the kinks, like any new restaurant. 

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American, boston, Italian, Uncategorized

Galleria Umberto- Boston, MA

It’s the holiday season which means this blogger is home in Boston. And that means lots of delicious foods, from Italian to seafood. Naturally anyone’s first day in Boston should consist of espresso, cannoli, and pizza from the North End. Today we’re diving into arancini at Galleria Umberto.

Arancini is an Italian rice ball that consists of meat, cheese, and peas. It is covered with breadcrumbs and deep fried. Galleria Umberto makes these classic arancini as well as other Italian staples. 

You walk in to this old school restaurant, a cash only counter and hot case greet you straight ahead. Posters of famous Italian cities dress one wall, the opposite a mural of the homeland Italia. You know it’s good when you hear locals speaking Italian, and typically the line is out the door. 


The food is just incredible, a Sicilian influence is apparent in the pizza. All that really means is that it has a bit of a thicker crust rather than thin, although don’t be thinking you’re having deep dish or anything! It’s still got a nice thin crust. Grandma must be in that kitchen because it tastes homemade, like Sunday after church and grandma is rapidly cooking for the familia. The crust of the pizza isn’t amazing, a little doughy, but the cheese makes up for it. Whatever blend they use it’s delectable. Pockets of bubbles and crispy tops are heaven to your taste buds. 

The arancini lives up to its expectations of being one of the best. The rice is cooked and fried perfectly with the meat and cheese oozing out as you cut into it. It’s full of flavor and heart, a true Italian obviously cooked these.


It becomes more and more clear that it’s hard to get a bad meal in the North End, but now it’s all about eating with the locals at the best of the best. Galleria Umberto is on that list. Be sure to try and pick up some Italian or Boston gossip while waiting in line. And it’s definitely worth the long wait when there is one because once you see the case of food, bite into pizza and arancini, you’ll be going back again and again with your familia. 

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American, Fort Worth, Italian

Olivella’s- Fort Worth, TX

Let me be perfectly clear: I am extremely picky when it comes to Italian food. Having been to Italy before, I take pride in the ingredients and how pasta and pizza should be cooked. Considering I live part time in Boston, with the North End a hop skip and jump away, I am especially picky about eating Italian food where it isn’t well known, particularly a state that is much better at Tex Mex and barbecue. With that being said, I have found at least two Italian restaurants in Fort Worth with decent Italian food, and since the opening of Olivella’s, I have found a third. 

I had heard great things about Olivella’s through the grapevine. Pretty authentic, very thin crust pizza with their own homemade mozzarella. I knew I had to give it a try and a review. Located in a small strip mall on Camp Bowie Blvd, you see a bright neon sign that reads the restaurants name, certainly eye catching and intriguing from the busy street. 

Upon entering you immediately get the essence of a small Italian trattoria. Several small tables that lead to a wine nook that continues into a large and home like atmosphere. A fire going in one corner and strings of lights hanging makes the restaurant feel magical. You can see how they would be very accommodating to larger groups. 

It was a quiet Monday night, with families coming in for a special dinner with the kiddos. Our waitress was very personable, giving us her opinions on dishes when asked, telling us about the restaurant. She made the evening extremely enjoyable, something I’m sure that is apparent in all of the staff. 

Now onto the food: we started with a classic Italian antipasti, bruschetta. Toasted bread drizzled with bright green olive oil, garlic tomatoes, and homemade mozzarella. How could you resist that? Olivella’s representation of the classic antipasti was very delicious, certainly looked and tasted Italian. Their homemade mozzarella, both in this dish and the pizza below, tasted homemade and was delectable. I can’t say it was “Italy standard” mozzarella, but the fact they make it homemade is a testament to the chef. 

Now onto the pizza. I always judge firstly on the crust, and being from the New York Metropolitan area I only eat thin crust (perhaps this is an exaggeration, but most likely not). Olivella’s offers two different crusts, their Neopolitan and Metro. The neopolitan is described as their regular crust, the metro as being extra thin. To judge their normal crust, we ordered the neopolitan crust of the Soppresatta and Sausage pizza. Soppressatta is a dry Italian salami, with pork being the traditional meat used. Think prosciutto meets pepperoni. When the pizza arrived, it was a nice thin crust, although it did have a decent rise to it. However, it looked beautiful with rich red colors bursting off the pan. It was cooked well, the mozzarella was still their homemade cheese, the meats were seasoned well and paired nicely with the red sauce used. In my opinion the soppressatta used was not true soppressatta, more of a pepperoni. I would be curious to try their listed pepperoni pizza to compare, nevertheless this hot soppressatta/pepperoni had a lovely flavor to it and complimented all the elements of the pizza.

Overall, Olivella’s was a spectacular experience, from the food to the atmosphere to the staff. It was all delicious, and even being in Texas, had hints of Italy. I would most certainly return to Olivella’s, whether it be for a take away pizza or a huge group dinner. No matter how or where, Olivella’s will bring joy and warmth to anyone, just as the Italians do.

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American, boston, Italian

Paolo’s Trattoria-Charlestown, MA

If you’re new to this blog, many of my posts are of places in Boston, MA. It’s where my family lives now and it’s quite easy to eat your way through the city. Boston is commonly recognized for their Italian food, the North End being the “Little Italy” of the small city. It doesn’t stop at the city, oh no, if you keep going a tad bit more north in the North End you’ll have to make the walk across the Charlestown Bridge into the city where Paul Revere started his famous ride, Charlestown. Although noted for the big tall Bunker Hill Monument, the food is also incredible. One place in particular is Paolo’s.

Located down Main Street just past the town center sits the tiny restaurant that is the local family favorite. Classic Italian food with a family atmosphere. More times than not there is a “usual” stopping in for a glass of wine or slice of pizza. And you can’t blame them. 

The staff is always the same smiling faces, you truly feel at home when you walk in. It’s the definition of local trattoria (exact definition is ‘an Italian restaurant serving simple food’). This trattoria does indeed serve the simple Italian dishes, but they have exciting mixes and it’s all extraordinary.

Let’s start with some pastas. Now, how could you come to New England and not have lobster?! One of the best ways to enjoy it is inside ravioli. These lobster ravioli, similar to the Orleans Inn version, is just slightly better. What makes it better is the sauce. This sauce is creamier and richer and that is the slight edge this ravioli has over the other. The second pasta dish I want to note was actually a special the night I went, but this could give you some ideas for home! This dish was gnocchi with sausage and spinach. The gnocchi was cooked perfectly and definitely homemade. The sausage was juicy and the smaller bites made it perfect. The spinach wasn’t over cooked which is always something I look out for. The mascarpone (soft, mild Italian cream cheese) sauce was extremely delectable and compliments all the components harmoniously. This gnocchi dish was perhaps one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had (in the United States). 😉


Now onto the pizza! Paolo’s has a great variety of pizza, a lot of cool combinations! I’ve had several different kinds of their pizza, but am highlighting two in this post. The first is their Gina pizza which features sweet Italian sausage, caramelized onions on top of plum tomato sauce and cheese. This is one of my favorite pizza concoctions on their menu, the sweet sausage and onions really compliment each other along with red and green peppers. It’s very colorful and eye catching which certainly adds to the appeal. 

The second pizza is the classic pepperoni cheese pizza. Trust me, this isn’t the ordinary pepperoni pizza. Since you don’t have all the delicious savory toppings it’s easier to really taste the cheese and sauce of the pizza. On this pizza I realized just how amazing the cheese they use is! It has a little sweetness to it that is so delicious I can’t even think of a better adjective to use to describe how delicious it was. I mean, all I can say is look at the photos and then buy yourself a ticket to Boston and get here. (Other pizzas worth noting include Paolo’s and Bolognese pizzas)

Paolo’s is like home, from the atmosphere to the people to the simple Italian cuisine. This little trattoria certainly deserves acclaimed recognition, but for now I’m happy to call it my home trattoria and I hope you can visit us here, too. 

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American, Italian, Sweets

Cafe Bella- Fort Worth, TX

I’m going to tell you right now, this blog post has the happiest ending. 

The story begins with my friend and I journeying to a quaint Italian restaurant behind the cultural arts district of Fort Worth. Upon walking in the man asked if we had a reservation, which we didn’t, and told us he could not seat us until after 8. We left, knowing we could get a meal somewhere else without waiting two hours.

We drove past our second choice which proved to be very crowded and was hosting a private party which insinuated getting a table would be difficult. We were left to try our third choice, Cafe Bella.

Back behind TCU, yonder from the baseball field and Bellaire, is Cafe Bella with its charming ambiance and fantastic outdoor patio. Upon walking in you knew it had a family feel, unlike the first place we tried, and you could tell it was a local hang out with several older couples saying hello to each other while passing by.

Our waiter was amazing, he made sure my friend and I were taken care of and checked in with us frequently, but not too much to be annoying. He was extremely polite whenever he had to interject our gabbing. The waitstaff was very good as well, clearing plates in a timely manner and always asking if we were done. 

Now to the food! The first thing to catch our eyes and ears was when our waiter said “your bread is in the oven”. It came out nice and warm and they were pretty big. They had a nice crisp top and were nice and fluffy on the inside. The classic olive oil with pepper flakes and basil indicated that we were most likely going to enjoy a pretty classic Italian meal (for being in Texas). 

 

The menu is pretty extensive, pretty classic. I opted to try the chicken Dardan which was lightly breaded chicken with sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, and green onions. It was a very delicious dish, the chicken was cooked perfectly, loved how they got the meat thin and tender. The spaghetti with it wasn’t al dente and the sauce was definitely worth saving some of my bread to zoup up. The presentation was very appealing, the sprinklings of green around the rim of the plate. In my opinion the tomatoes could have had more of a sundried taste, they just seemed pretty blah, but they complimented the dish and gave it some color. 


Finally how could you have a great Italian meal without some tiramisu. Again, the presentation was very appealing and the layers were so clear and defined. The lady fingers weren’t soaked and the whipped topping was light and powerful with flavor.

Now I said this story had a happy ending and it does. Sometimes life throws curve balls you aren’t expecting, like having to go to your third choice restaurant. Somehow it all works out because I think the first place we tried to go to would have been delicious, but full of stuck up rich old folk. Cafe Bella is perfect, you feel at home, you know it’s going to be delicious because of all the locals. Being in the TCU community proves to be special, because at the end of the night another couple grabbed our ticket and paid for our meal. The older woman turned to us and said “you go to TCU, you need all the help you can get” obviously knowing how expensive to is to go to college, be a student, and still go to dinner with a really great friend. If it wasn’t for the first place telling us we had to wait two hours, we never would have had such an incredible meal surrounded by amazing strangers. Cafe Bella is certainly someplace I’ll be enjoying for years to come.

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