Pastabilities is easily one of the best food-pun themed restaurants I’ve ever been to. (Editor Note: Allison lives for puns. She's no amateur.) Located in Syracuse, NY, Pastabilities offers buffet-style lunches and sit-down dinners for anything pasta-related. The restaurant offers homemade pastas and sauces, including their famous Spicy Hot Tomato Oil. After trying to oil with my bread, I can personally attest to its reputation.
With their own spin-off shop across the street (Pasta’s Daily Bread), Pastabilities is a haven for pasta lovers everywhere. I ordered the fettuccine alfredo (a personal favorite), and was very happy with my choice. The portions are reasonably sized (and priced), and fill you up quick. I also loved the atmosphere of the restaurant, which included word magnets on the walls for guests to play with while they eat.
You can check out Pastabilities’ website here, as well as their Facebook for any upcoming events.
There’s an adorable French Bakery in Blueback Square, West Hartford CT that you need to try. La Petite France is located at 967 Farmington Ave. and I’d highly recommend their pastries. I stopped by for some macaroons and they were delicious, but everything looked amazing, the girl at the counter was a total sweetheart, and the general ambiance was perfect. Their tagline is “Your Parisian Escape” and they aren’t lying. La Petite France is a sweet little getaway, and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Photos below
Okay, let me first say that I’m a gyro person. I don’t know what it is, but I love them. When Greek Fest in Middlebury CT rolls around, I’m there. It’s my thing. I happened to be in Blueback Square, West Hartford a few days ago, and I was looking for somewhere to eat lunch. I was standing outside Sam’s Gyro (7 South Main St.), considering it, and I must have looked very contemplative. A woman walking by stopped and told me that their gyros are incredible and her husband eats lunch there every day. I took is as a sign and she was right. Sam’s Gyro is great. There’s a small, deli style counter and seating in back, so I ordered a lamb gyro and it was ready quickly. The seating looks straight out of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ complete with faux ivy and wood paneling. It was weird, but I didn’t hate it. The gyro was great, and I’d highly recommend Sam’s Gyro. Below are some photos I grabbed.
As a throwback to Florence, I decided to share one of my favorite restaurants I found during my brief time in this city this past January. Yellow Bar (located on Via del Proconsolo) serves a variety of different Florentine pastas and pizzas (which can be viewed here).
While travelling through Italy with my mom, we were drawn to Yellow Bar at the recommendation of our concierge. With inexpensive food and a lively atmosphere, Yellow Bar was the best meal we ate in the city.
According to the restaurant’s website (in English),
“In the heart of Florence a few steps from the majestic Duomo cathedral of Florence, you will find our restaurant ‘Yellow-Bar,’ born in 1974 from the collaboration of two Florentine families with a passion for cooking and Italian cuisine. After a short time the restaurant has encountered a reference point for Florentines also for all Italians compressed tourists visiting Florence and tried to eat the Florentine and Tuscan food. Our restaurant has soft lighting and wooden benches, has a modern look combined with the old, it is welcoming and friendly, characterized by the friendly hospitality and professionalism of our staff.” (You can read more here).
This restaurant is perfect for any pizza lovers. Yellow Bar has many different pizza options, all of which look delicious. I ordered a mushroom pizza, and definitely suggest it to anyone who wants something relatively simple. I also ordered Tiramisu for dessert, which was also good.
You can check out Yellow Bar on Facebook for promotional events, or their website for more information on the restaurant.
At the Coventry Farmer's Market, I was impressed by a local vendor selling homemade preserves. Norm's Best is owned and operated by Norm and his wife. Norm makes and jars all the preserves, ranging from Apricot Jam, to Hot Pepper Jelly, and even Pickled Mushrooms. Norm's wife runs the stand, handing out samples of the jams and jellies to eager patrons.
I stopped by the booth at the farmer's marked and tried tons of delicious jellies, including Pineapple and Peach, and my roommates tried some of the spicier jellies, including Habanero and Jalapeño. We all loved the flavors and quality, but we loved how sweet Norm's wife was. I bought the pickled mushrooms, which are great in stir fry, and my roommate picked up an Apricot Jelly for toast.
If you get the chance, try Norm's Best for top notch handmade preserves,
Al Tartufo (located on Via Ulisse Rocchi) was my first introduction to the food of Perugia, and I was not disappointed. I ordered the Flan di ricotta con pera al vino e miele al tartufo as an appetizer (pictured below), which words could never describe. I’m not a huge fan of flan, but this one was very fresh and the pear complimented the ricotta perfectly.
For my actual meal I ordered the Gnocchi scottati su fonduta di grana (pictured below), which was also my first time trying Gnocchi. I was very impressed, and I can honestly call this one of the best meals I ever ate (second only to a small Italian restaurant in Luxembourg City).
Al Tartufo is very reasonably priced, and I would certainly visit it again to try even more of their dishes if given the opportunity to return to Perugia. If you’re interested in learning more about this restaurant, you can check out their Facebook and remember to keep them in mind if you’re ever visiting Italy!
I recently went to Bidwell Tavern, (1260 Main St, Coventry) and was thoroughly unimpressed. People always rave about the food and atmosphere and I could see the rustic charm but the food was sad and disappointing. We got the stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer, which were okay, but not impressive. I tried the French Onion soup which was very good, and a pulled pork BBQ sandwich. The sandwich was very dry and boring, the fries were good, but not good enough to redeem the sandwich. My roommates both got salads, and they were both very disappointed. The grilled chicken was burnt and dry and we all left very disappointed. Unfortunately we likely won't be returning to Bidwell Tavern, despite the rustic charm.
On a whim, my roommates and I stopped at Connecticut Gourmet Bakery (1569 Main St, Willimantic,) and picked up cake slices and cookies. The woman who helped us was incredibly sweet, first giving us the grand tour, samples, and even recommendations. We tried the cinnamon buns which were amazing, the gingersnaps which were equally great, a white chocolate raspberry cake which was decent, and various other delicious cookies.
Located in the scenic Castel Gandolfo (a train ride away from the city-center of Rome), Sor Capanna is one of many small restaurants in the Lake Albano region. The restaurant offers homemade seasonal dishes with a charming atmosphere and local vibe. There is seating available outside during the summer season, as well as two floors of seating options inside.
I ordered the Ravioli ai Fiori di Zucca (Ravioli with zucchini flowers) and Tiramisu (not pictured). The food was incredible; it tasted homemade and was very reasonably priced. Restaurants like Sor Capanna make visiting the countryside of Italy even more special.
You can check out the restaurant’s website here for menu options and more information.
I wasn’t originally going to write about this restaurant, although it is very good. However, upon visiting it for the second time, I figured it deserved a shoutout. Mama Eat not only serves delicious Italian cuisine (think lots of pastas, meats, pizzas, sandwiches/paninis, and salads), but also offers gluten-free versions of each dish.
According to their website,
“Mama Eat is the first restaurant with a menu for celiacs! Who has this problem knows how difficult it is to go with friends in one place for an evening spent in the company and be able to freely order from the menu what you preferisce.Ma because feeling out of place or uncomfortable or even give up the pleasure of a pizza with friends when you can enjoy a gluten-free product, in a safe way?”
I did not photograph either meal I had at the restaurant, but I can tell you that both meals I ate were delicious; Penne alla Sorrentina (Pasta with tomatoes and smoked mozzarella) and Bucatini alla Siciliana (Pasta with tomatoes, aubergines/eggplants, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese). All dishes are reasonably priced around 10€, and gluten-free options are usually only 1€ or 2€ more than their gluten counterparts.
If you’re looking for a quick meal in Rome with friendly staff and a pleasant atmosphere, Mama Eat is a great option (especially if you have Celiacs or are gluten intolerant). The restaurant is located on Via di San Cosimato, and has a second location in Naples (located on Via Alessandro Manzoni, although I have only eaten at the restaurant in Rome). You can see a copy of the menu here.