You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘pizza’ tag.

We were looking for a dinner spot last Friday and wanted to try something new. I was in the mood for something casual and was pushing for Black & Blue near the Easton courthouse. My wife heard some good chatter at work about Emeril’s new place at the Sands and I could tell she had her heart (and stomach) set on it. It was already 5pm so I was surprised when she was easily able to make a 7pm reservation – we’ve since learned that Saturday is the busy night.

Overall, I was a bit disappointed. I was expecting something as stylish as Emeril’s Chop House across the casino floor, but it was much more casual. The restaurant runs along a wide hallway that extends from the back wall of the casino. There are 3 seating sections – a bar, a prep area, and the dining room. The bar had the most character with a view of the casino floor. The prep area gives you a view of the pizza oven and charcuterie cooler & slicer but the lighting was kinda bright. The dining room, where we were seated, was pleasant but had the vibe of a catering hall. (The curtain near our table clearly indicated that the dining room was designed to be closed off for private parties.) The arched beams leading to a huge chandelier were a nice detail, but the height of the ceiling, starkness of the walls, and view of the adjacent large hallway detracted from the intimacy we look for in rustic Italian dining.

My main focus in the menu was the meat and cheese selection. We created a combination of 3 cheeses (burrata mozzarella, taleggio, and robiola) and 3 meats (prosciutto, coppa, and nduja) from a selection of maybe 20. They arrived accompanied by 2 different chutneys and some small (seemingly fried) breads. Everything was great except the little churro-like breads. They were chewy and stale. My wife also ordered the radicchio and endive salad.

For our entrées, my wife went with the clam pizza and I ordered the meatballs. For a wood-fired pizza, it was rather bland. They need to take a page out of Sette Luna’s playbook and give their crust a lot more seasoning and color. The meatballs, though, were great. There were 3 of them covered in a rich red sauce and fresh arugula all on a bed of soft polenta. If I had one criticism, I would have plated it on a large dish. It really looked like a side order. And I had to take care to avoid splashing with so little room to maneuver on the plate.

The service was good except for one instance when the entrées arrived a few minutes before we were finished with our charcuterie. Our table was pretty well filled with dishes and cutting boards, but the server tried to force the entrées onto the table and take away our unfinished appetizers. I made him cool his jets, but I still felt I had to rush through the rest of the meat and cheese as our food was starting to get cold.

The desserts were petite and excellent. My wife enjoyed the dark chocolate-hazelnut tart and I had the spumoni torta.

We’ll likely go back but will probably be a little more specific about where we want to sit – and probably skip the pizza.

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We live up on College Hill and our neighbor gave us a strong reco to try Morici’s Sicilian pizza. We’d eaten there once or twice before and have had their pizza via takeout a few times as well, but we’d never tried the Sicilian. We’re not big fans of the dining room – it’s kinda claustrophobic – but I wanted to enjoy the pizza right out of the oven. It just gets too steamy in the box and can lose its crunch on the walk back to the house.

We started with their antipasta salad which is enormous. It had enough dressing that we didn’t think it would survive as leftovers, so we ate the entire thing. Lots of pickled and fresh veggies, artichokes, olives, meats and cheese.

They have a large Sicilian with 4 toppings for about $20 which seemed like a good deal. We went with ham, sausage, spinach and mushrooms. It was quite good, but we were so stuffed from the salad that we ended up taking 90% of it home. My wife generally avoids thick crust pizza but she really enjoyed this pie. The crust is nice and crispy on the outside and the inside isn’t too dense. The toppings were generous and fresh. FYI- the cheese is under the sauce.

I highly recommend reheating a slice in a cast iron pan and topping it with a fried egg. It makes a great breakfast.

The unseasonably beautiful weather last Friday demanded that we find some outdoor dinner downtown. My wife has been bugging me to go back to Valenca in Centre Square but I’ve weaseled my way out of it for the past year or so. We’ve had way too many odd experiences there – mostly problems with the service. But they have a nice patio setup and tasty sangria so I was ready to give them another shot.

We started with the “meat and cheese plate” – more meat than cheese, but it was good nonetheless. A nice variety of meats and, simple presentation, and tasty candied walnuts to balance the saltiness of everything else.

My wife went with the Greek Salad and Margherita Pizza, and I had the Chorizo Penne. Everything was fresh and well-prepared.

We saved room for dessert and decided to share the lava cake with hazelnut chocolate ice cream (from The Purple Cow Creamery – excellent).

We weren’t surprised by the quality of the food – that was never our problem. The service was our concern and I’m happy to report that we had a great waiter. He was attentive and friendly without being overly chatty. We’d had one server there previously who wanted to have a conversation with every visit to the table. Awkward and frustrating. It’s too soon to be sure that Valenca has upgraded its waitstaff overall, but this visit has definitely recolored my opinion of the place. Plus it’s hard to resist the vibe of their patio and the great light as the sun sets on the square.

We were heading over to the Regal Cinemas on 248 to see Black Swan last weekend and were looking to grab a quick bite. We stopped for gas at the Wawa just on the other side of Rt 33 and noticed Cici’s Pizza in the little strip mall next door. A couple slices of pizza takes no time at all so we zoomed over. As we walked in we realized Cici’s is a pizza buffet. Perfect! This will be even faster – no perusing the selections or waiting for the slices to heat up!

It wasn’t until after I happily handed over $15 for the two of us that I noticed all the kids. There is generally an inverse relationship between the quantity of children and the quality of the food. Still, as we hit the buffet line, the pizza looked really good (though I was starving). I grabbed 4 different slices and hurriedly sat down so I could get my fill as the movie time ticked ever closer.

The pizza wasn’t awful. But it was bad (which is better than awful in my precise rating system). Spongy and bland are the two best descriptors. Some slices were better than others – the sausage (with preformed meat marbles) and the Sicilian spinach alfredo had a bit more flavor. I know that you get what you pay for and that I shouldn’t expect quality from a cheap buffet seemingly run by 15-year-olds.

My guess is that the company’s goal is to offer pizza that is interesting enough for parents yet soft and palatable enough for kids. We took a chance and now we know better. And so do you.

I packed a lot into my weekend (as usual), so come Sunday evening I was ready to just relax and have someone fetch me large quantities of food and alcohol. Thanks to the slight break in the heat wave, I blissfully anticipated sitting at one of Sette Luna’s sidewalk tables and sipping Nero d’Avola until closing time. Then we drove down to 3rd Street…

People everywhere! No place to park! Roads blocked! And cafés packed!

This was not good for my state of mind. I have a bad habit of setting up expectations and wigging out when things don’t go according to plan. Especially when it comes to food. I get grumpy when I’m hungry – most people do it seems. My wife worked as a hostess at a diner when she was in her teens and vividly recalls the contrasting moods between arriving and departing customers.

We swung around Ferry Street to see the crowd at Sette Luna and ended up parking in the circle near Valenca. We headed over to Ferry, past Pearly Bakers and saw signs for Heritage Day – that explained it! Then I felt bad about living in such a bubble. We get our info on Easton current events from the newsletter that accompanies the monthly utility bill. Not exactly “current.”

As expected, there was a long wait for a patio table but there was an indoor table for 2 ready immediately so we snagged it. Some Belgian beer, a little Italian wine and awesome food as usual. My wife had the pasta special – fettucini with their fantastic shrimp and fresh cherry tomatoes. And I had the pizza special – bianca with figs, goat cheese and shaved prosciutto. (I highly recommend you try sweet fruits/veggies on pizza – figs, squash, grapes. Caramelized apples and onions with gorgonzola is one of my faves.)

We heard some murmurings about fireworks and looked around to find that most of the packed dining room was suddenly empty. We quickly paid as we heard the first few explosions. To our good fortune, the corner of Ferry St. by the Post Office a few feet away was a perfect spot to watch the show. I’m guessing they launched from a barge in the river or along its banks. You can see how close we were from the huge wall of smoke.

We hadn’t gotten dessert at Sette Luna, but this ice cream truck looked a little (or a lot) too sketchy to risk the botulism. And I’m sure Marvel wouldn’t be thrilled with Spidey’s implied endorsement…as tastefully executed as it was.

It turned out to be a pretty good night. Maybe I don’t have to have everything go according to plan.

It’s been a while since we’ve been to Sette Luna down on Ferry Street – maybe 2 months? The problem with having favorite restaurants is that you can get bored with the menu really quickly. Their daily menu hasn’t yet changed, but we can always count on Sette Luna for some decent seasonal specials. Some massive shrimp and pasta for my wife, while i enjoyed another great pizza with figs, goat cheese, and prosciutto (added after it was taken out of the oven).

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Their pizza crust is seasoned perfectly, with just the right amount of chewy and crunchy, and is thin enough to let you appreciate the delicate combination of flavors. And even after i devoured the entire thing, i still had room (barely) for dessert. My wife was just going to have coffee, but i convinced her to go for the chocolate mousse. She was glad she did.

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I opted for the special: a blend of ricotta, whipped cream, orange zest and mint (it had a technical name but i couldn’t really comprehend the pronunciation) set in a pool of chilled rhubarb soup. Damn, this picture looks disgusting, but i’m a sucker for anything rhubarb. It was OK – some nice flavors but the textures weren’t that pleasing. Bolete’s goat cheesecake with strawberry-rhubarb consumée was much more successful.

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The Promenade Shops is an outdoor mall in Saucon Valley (just south of Bethlehem) with a bunch of great dining options. If you have the time, definitely try Melt or White Orchids. But if you’re looking for something quick and affordable, we recommend Pandini’s. They offer salads, pasta, small pizzas and their signature Labretti sandwiches – basically a freshly baked pizza crust filled with toppings and folded in half. Everything is made to order and very flavorful. The portions are good too.

I had the Pesto Chicken Labretti and my wife had The Florence pizza. On an earlier visit, we tried the Mushroom Marsala Penne and can recommend that as well.

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The other Friday we decided to grab dinner on the way home from work. Half of our drive is on rt. 80 and the rest is on 611 through mostly farmland, so our options are pretty limited. Mt. Bethel has the greatest concentration of choices including an amazing bakery that i’ll have to post about sometime soon. We called ahead to Teresa’s Pizza Cucina and Cantina for a pie with lots of veggies plus sausage. They recently rebuilt the place after what was apparently their second fire. Used to be called Doughboys i believe – but that was before we’d ever been through Mt. Bethel. Not sure if Doughboys food was good, but Teresa’s definitely makes a good pizza (wood-fired oven, natch). The thinly cut sausage is a nice touch, as opposed to feeble crumbles or Papa John’s mass-produced spheroids.

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This is the second in a series of general reviews of our favorite dinner spots – places we know we can go for great food, service and ambiance. These aren’t rankings – just the order in which I’m choosing to write them.

A block further down Ferry St from Easton’s Best #1, Ocean, you’ll find Sette Luna. Great Italian food with contemporary flair. When we first came to Easton, the building housed Moscato’s – also Italian food. The place seemed popular but i think they sold the restaurant to concentrate on the catering part of their business – not sure where i heard that.

When Sette Luna first opened, the menu was relatively limited and the food was great, but the dining room was too bright and noisy for our tastes. Their expansion into the other half of the building was a real turning point. The second smaller dining room, beautiful bar, wine cellar, and refined menu made Sette Luna more of an experience than just a place to grab an above-average meal. From the beer selection to the custom-made door handles, you really feel you’re being cared for by people with an eye for detail. That’s comforting.

Getting to the food, i have to start with the pizza. As a guy with a childish aversion to crust, I tend to view the usually flavorless rind as a “pizza handle,” eating it only so i can’t be accused of wasting food. But Sette Luna’s crust I crave. Their wood-fired oven, combined with the dough recipe and seasonings, creates a flavorful crust with the perfect blend of chewy and crispy. They offer maybe 15 pizzas on the regular menu – half white, half red – as well as a daily pizza special. They’re wonderfully thin and light so you can definitely finish the 12″ disk if you bring your appetite.

A pizza makes a nice appetizer as well. Speaking of which, there’s a nice selection of unique apps. We had an heirloom tomato salad that we loved (though it was likely a seasonal offering) and their risotto ball is amazing – a baseball-sized ball of risotto stuffed with Bolognese sauce, covered in breadcrumbs and fried, and served in a bowl of Marinara. Major comfort food.

They also serve their Bolognese as an entrée (with Penne i think) and i highly recommend it. Order a side of bread to enjoy every drop of sauce. (Yeah, you have to pay for the bread, but it’s worth it.) The menu isn’t loaded with pastas. You won’t find every conceivable combination of noodle and sauce like Olive Garden – they do a few dishes and do them well. When i’m not in a starchy mood, I go for the steak or the salmon. I think there’s an osso buco but i haven’t had it yet, though it’s one of my favorite cow parts.

Sette Luna has a nice selection of 3 different Belgian beers on draft, a long list of microbrew bottles (with descriptions -thank you!), and some great wines sold by the quartino – a small carafe holding the equivalent of 2 glasses roughly. I honestly can’t remember much of the dessert list, just the rich panna cotta.

The service has always been great. The manager, Josh Palmer, is always there to make sure everything runs smoothly – we’ve even seen him buss tables. The servers are all on the younger side – not the most polished in town but they do a solid job. We recommend sitting in the smaller dining room. The main room can be a bit noisy with the open kitchen and presence of families with children. You can wait for your table in the bar area. It can be a bit of a bottleneck based on it’s location between to 2 dining rooms so be mindful of the waitstaff trying to squeeze through. Take advantage of the call ahead seating on Fridays and Saturdays after 7.

Sette Luna offers lunch but we’ve never tried it. There’s also a Sunday Jazz Brunch that we’d love to try if we could get our butts out of bed before 10am.

Now that it’s starting to warm up, we’re really looking forward to grabbing one of the sidewalk tables for some al fresco dining. Ferry St doesn’t get much traffic so the air is clean and there’s minimal noise. Though the traffic is heavier, another great place for patio dining is Valenca in the NE corner of the square – my next “best.”

Cameras don’t work if their batteries aren’t charged (unless you have a disposable or your trusty camera obscura to capture your precious memories).

We just had a great meal at Sette Luna, and i was hoping it would be the first time i took pics for the blog. I was thrilled that i remembered the Canon on our way out the door, though it crossed my mind that the battery may not be charged. Not that we had time to charge it as we had called ahead for a table. I really have to do a post about “call ahead seating” at some point. I’d love to hear any opinions on it cuz we think it blowz.

When our appetizer came (Mozzarello al Forno – fantastic btw) i whipped out the camera, turned it on and went for the button that turns off the flash…CHANGE BATTERY PACK stared back at me with a slight smirk.

So no visual documentation. Sorry. Tomorrow night it’s Ocean and I swear i’ll have my shit together by then. Our entrées looked great, though you’ll have to take my word for it. I had the bianca pizza with goat cheese and beets topped with fresh arugula. My wife went with the linguini with clams – a little linguini and lots of clams. She said it was the perfect proportion. I went with one of several Belgian beers they have on draft. Smooth and citrusy with warm spice. My wife had a quartino of Nero d’Avola.

Another great experience at Sette Luna. My overall review will be up next week.

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