Yesterday we took my MIL out for her birthday. She wanted to go to Della Notte and we were happy to oblige her. We ate early to make sure we nabbed a parking spot in their tiny lot...plus we like to eat early. The place was just about empty, which allowed us to better enjoy the decor. Although I've heard some say that the giant tree in the middle of the round main dining room is tacky, I love it. The only thing I don't like is that the murals of Venice around the perimeter of the room are painted in a rather casual style in bright colors that do not really match with the more elegant vibe of the furnishings and table settings.
The food was excellent. I had the L'Indivia Belga salad with chopped Belgian endive and granny smith apples, spiced walnuts, big lumps of Gorgonzola cheese, and caramelized onions in a sherry walnut vinaigrette. The sweet and bitter and creamy flavors were lovely counterpoints and I wondered why we never buy Belgian endive to eat at home. Then I had the torgilioni (like non-pointed penne rigati, or narrow ziti) with wonderfully iodine shrimp and tender scallops in a rich puttanesca sauce full of capers. Maybe it was all of the foccacia I stuffed myself with, but I had a hard time finishing my entrée, so I shared it with Mr Minx. I had a forkful of his fettucine with crab in a creamy tomato sauce and it was lovely but a bit rich for my blood. The only other thing I tasted was my BIL's calamari which was well cooked and perfectly salted. He enjoyed his linguine with clams, and my MIL liked her gnocchi with tomatoes, green olives, and smoked mozzarella as well. We washed it all down with a crisp pinot grigio.
We passed on dessert. I was full to my eyeballs anyway. And no, we didn't go to Vaccaro's instead.
My mother and grandmother often made Belgian endive salads with vinaigrette and bleu cheese, but only for special occasions. That side of my family is Hungarian, from Vienna, where my mother was born. They blessed me with at-home Continental cuisine. Back then (50s, 60s, 70s), it was expensive, as it is now, which is probably why you don't make it too often. Faced with $5 a pound for the stuff, often not very fresh due to the price, who wouldn't opt for something fresher and cheaper. But it is good :) -V
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