Morello Italian Bistro

I recently had dinner at Morello Italian Bistro on Greenwich Ave in Greenwich for a friend’s birthday and was reminded why it’s one of my favorite local restaurants!

I recently had dinner at Morello Italian Bistro on Greenwich Ave in Greenwich for a friend’s birthday and was reminded why it’s one of my favorite local restaurants!

I remember the firs time I visited the building now occupied by Morello.  The dome ceiling has a big brick pattern that I loved looking at.  The beautiful atmosphere is still the same.  Morello has a really cool bar and the set up of the restaurant is great.  It’s just the kind of place where you can relax, feel catered to, and know you are about to take in an outstanding meal!

One menu item I just love is the Butternut Squash Ravioli.  It is so light and healthy tasting with the best flavors.  Some of my other favorite menu items are Baked Mac & Cheese and Chicken Breast Piccata, but you really can’t go wrong.  Morello’s food is always fresh and very well prepared.  For dessert, you must try the Bomboloni.  These fresh doughnuts with orange-vanilla cream and chocolate sauce are to die for!

To see Morello’s full menu, plan a visit, or make reservations, visit their website.  You can also find them on Facebook to keep updated on special events!

Olio

Located at 934 Hope St. in Stamford, Olio is a favorite restaurant of ours not only because it’s practically in our backyard, but because the food is fantastic!

Located at 934 Hope St. in Stamford, Olio is a favorite restaurant of ours not only because it’s practically in our backyard, but because the food is fantastic!  My husband and I take advantage of their take-out option at least a couple of nights a week and are never disappointed.

Olio Restaurant on Hope

Chef/owner Steve Costanzo, along with his business partner Moira Hyland, have created a wonderful menu that includes a lot of locally produced and/or organic items.  The menu changes with the seasons to offer foods such as fish, meat, poultry, pasta, and salads at the peak of their availability.  The food is fresh and you simply cannot go wrong with anything on the menu.  The spare ribs are to die for!  Olio offers a warm atmosphere and reasonable prices as well.

Olio’s dining room. Image via Bon Vivant.

Olio is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday and for brunch on Sunday.  They only accept dinner reservations for groups of six or more, so keep that in mind when planning a visit.  On Tuesdays, Olio diners enjoy 1/2 price bottles of wine with the purchase of an entree while on Wednesday evenings the menu features the Chef’s special 3 course meal.

Ravioli Special
Spare ribs. Image via CTbites.
Bread pudding. Image via CTbites.

To see Oilo’s full menu or to learn about their catering services, visit their website.  You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Cacciucco — Mediterranean Fish Stew

Cacciucco is one of my favorite meals, especially when the weather turns colder.

Guest Post from Debbie Aidinis

Cacciucco is one of my favorite meals, especially when the weather turns colder.  I originally had this for dinner years ago in a restaurant and loved it.  I always try to make meals I enjoy, so I searched through cookbooks and found a few recipes that were close to the restaurant meal I’d liked.  This is a hearty stew that tastes just as good -if not better- the next day.  I serve it with crusty bread seasoned with an olive oil mixture and placed in oven until it is crispy.  This bread is delicious when dipped in the Cacciucco broth.

Crusty Bread

For this recipe, I prefer to use prawns, when available, with the shells still on.  The flavor is superb in the stew.  Another option is using lobster tails with the shells on.  I also like to use Halibut as the fish, which is a very mild white fish.  As always, everyone has preferences when cooking with seafood and this dish lends itself to many variations in the type of fish used.  The amount of seafood used can also be adjusted to your own liking.

Cacciucco — Mediterranean Fish Stew

Ingredients:

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 stalk of celery with leaves, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely chopped

2 oil packed anchovies

1 can (14 ½ oz) San Marzano plum tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved

Pinch of Saffron threads

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp dried thyme

½ tsp red pepper flakes

1 cup white wine

4 cups fish stock (see Note)

1 cup water

1 bay leaf

1 sprig rosemary

1 ½ to 2 lb white fish fillet, such as Halibut, skin removed

12 little neck clams, cleaned

12 black mussels, cleaned

8 jumbo shrimp or prawns shelled and deveined

Sea Salt

Black Pepper

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Warm Crusty Bread

Optional:

Sea Scallops

Lobster Tails with shells, cut in half lengthwise

Note: If fish stock is not available, you can substitute 2 cups (16fl oz) bottled clam juice plus 2 cups vegetable stock.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy deep skillet.  Add onion, celery with leaves, and carrot to skillet and sauté.  Add red pepper flakes and thyme. Chop anchovies and add to skillet.  Sauté until anchovies have melted, about 3 minutes. Add wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, breaking them up with your hands or a wooden spoon. Add the fish stock and 1 cup of water.  Add the saffron, bay leaf, rosemary, basil, and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add some of the reserved tomato juice if you want more liquid or tomato flavor.  Adjust seasoning if needed.

Cut the fish into 2 inch pieces, add to broth, and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add clams, mussels and shrimp.  If using any additional seafood, add to mixture at this time. Cover and cook until shrimp is pink and clams and mussels have opened.  Discard the bay leaf before serving.

Slice bread in half to open, and spread with a mixture of olive oil, chopped basil, parsley, black pepper. Place in the oven at 400 till crisp and brown. Cut bread into long pieces.

Ladle the stew into bowls, place bread on the side, and serve.

Saffron

Enjoy!

Artisanal Cheese

I often find myself turning to quick and delicious options, like a beautiful cheese plate.

As much as I love good food, I am not much of a cook myself.  More often than not, you’ll find me standing in the kitchen at 7:00 in the evening asking myself, “What’s for dinner?”  If I had the time, I’d definitely do more cooking!  Instead, I find myself turning to quick and delicious options, like a beautiful cheese plate rounded out with fresh fruit, bread, and maybe some greens for good measure.  If you run into us at Fairway Market, we’ll probably be standing at the cheese counter!

A lovely cheese plate! (Image via The Sprouted Kitchen)

Our enjoyment of these simple meals centered around good cheese has led us to branch out from what’s available at the local market.  One place we enjoy right in our own back yard is Napa and Company in Stamford.  Their excellent menu is accented by a variety of artisanal cheeses, from aromatic cheeses like Morbier and Epoisses to sharp varieties like Manchego and Tarentaise.  The cheese menu includes wine suggestions as well.  With such an assortment of cheeses to sample, it’s easy to discover new flavors and expand your palette!

Napa and Company
Napa and Company

Another fantastic place to dine on cheese or shop for cheeses to bring home with you is Artisanal Bistro in NYC.  This is a  great stop for anyone in NY who loves cheese, wine, and good food.  When you step into Artisanal Bistro, it’s like walking into a different era.  I love the retro vibe, with art deco lights and a tin ceiling.

Artisanal Bistro
Artisanal Bistro

Artisanal Bistro’s cheese and wine pairings are really interesting and the Cheese Shop gives visitors the opportunity to purchase hand crafted cheeses from around the world or impressive cheese platters.  Cheese boxes and baskets make wonderful gifts and include gourmet treats chosen to best complement the included cheeses.

Cheeses at Artisanal Bistro
The cheese counter at Artisanal Bistro.

Chances are, there’s a local cheese shop near you.  Why not stop in and try a new variety of cheese or bring some home for a simple, quick dinner?  If you’d like to learn more about the cheese shops above, both Napa and Company and Artisanal Bistro are on Facebook.

 

Eataly, NYC

New York City, overflowing with people and experiences, is also home to one of my favorite shopping and dining experiences: Eataly, located at 200 5th Ave.

New York City, overflowing with people and experiences, is also home to one of my favorite shopping and dining experiences:  Eataly, located at 200 5th Ave.  A collaboration between culinary icons Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, and Eataly founder Oscar Farinetti, the NYC location aims to bring artisanal Italian foods to its clientele.

image from Happy Healthy Life

This is not your average grocery store.  It’s a market for true food lovers, those who want to know where their food came from and how it made the journey from field to shelf.  The feast begins when you enter the market and take in the sight of high ceilings and marble, displays of exotic produce and crusty breads, tempting gelato and cheeses, Italian pastas, and other delights not typically found in American supermarkets.

image courtesy of: need to know
photo by Evan Sung

If the idea of cooking up these culinary delights overwhelms you, Eataly offers a variety of cooking classes.  Or, you can enjoy a meal in one of the restaurants located right inside the market.  From the steakhouse to the vegan cafe, Eataly is sure to have something to tempt everyone.

Before leaving, be sure to check out the wine store.  The staff are helpful and knowledgeable, an invaluable combination when it comes to assisting wine shoppers.

photo by Bryan Hood

To learn more about Eataly’s philosophy, products, or classes, visit their website or look them up on Facebook.