A Tale of Two Italy(s)

This is a post about two Italian eateries on opposite sides of the Triad. Two we’ve been wanting to try…and we know there will be more to come, but let’s take a look at a couple of completely different gems in our area.

Kitchen Roselli
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Located in East Bend, about 20 minutes from Downtown Winston-Salem, just over the Yadkin River, is this little Mom and Pop restaurant with a rich history in the Italian restaurant business. Owned by David and Laura Roselli, David’s grandparents were the owners of Wilkes County’s legendary Sunny Italy Italian Restaurant, a place I remember going to several times as a child. The recipes featured at Kitchen Roselli will remind (many)  folks of some of the best things about the former Sunny Italy (like the Italian Dressing) but also David and Laura’s combined creations.

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That’s the dressing! You can get it at the restaurant and other places like Caffe Prada in Winston-Salem.

Not the least of which is…the Ricotta Gnocchi. The pillowy-est, lightest, dreamiest Gnocchi ever ever, ever. I gotta go back and gets me some of that heaven.

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Mr. foodie enjoyed a wonderful Pa’s Veal Cutlet. So tender and tasty. It came with a side of pasta.

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The microfoodies actually do eat pasta with meatballs so that’s what they got. Some of the other folks at our table got lasagna and spaghetti and everyone seemed to like it. But I won the table. I know I did. Mr. foodie said so! Until…

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The cream puff…I mean…Laura’s Famous Cream Puff….as I live and breathe…it is as big as my son’s head and just as chocolatey. :) It is blurry…sorry….the light :/…or is it my eyes?  The thing with the CP is that you must ask for it when you sit down…apparently it’s a big deal and they will run out on busy nights. We walked in the door and were the first people to arrive for service and I did not hesitate. It’s a handmade flaky puff filled with a light and airy vanilla cream that’s not too thick or sweet…it’s just perfection. Look…look at that microfoodie schkoff it down. He was a blur!

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That Cream Puff can also be found at Caffe Prada on Fridays afternoons for like, a split second so you better call and reserve one if you want it.

Kitchen Roselli is charming and warm and friendly. The menu changes all the time with locally sourced ingredients and many handmade pastas. They are open Thursday through Saturday 5:30-9:30. Make the itty bitty trip to East Bend. It is so worth it.

Kitchen Roselli
105 East Main Street, East Bend
336.699.4898
Kitchen Roselli on Urbanspoon

Osteria

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Another Italian restaurant on my bucket list…Osteria is located at the Westover Gallery Shoppes in Greensboro and has some great restaurants surrounding it, but you may miss it at the end of its little complex if you aren’t watching. Chef and Owner, Koco Tamburi brings us a taste of Italy’s Bologna. You’ll see Chef Koco (pronounced Koh-Choh) in his iconic red toque in the dining room greeting guests and scurrying back to the kitchen to, well, cook! I chose them because I want them to be on a Dishcrawl (it’s true…ya’ll try to persuade him for me) but also, it’s one of the few Italian eateries that actually makes their own pasta. I’m a bit spoiled by now, so that’s becoming a thing for me. It’s just so much better! Say “hi,” to Koco.

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We ordered an appetizer, which we didn’t need after such a fabulous white bean ragout to go with the starter of crusty bread. So delicious and different…we are all so used to garlic, butter, olive oil, etc., but the ragout was divine. Our appetizer was Crepes with Artichokes, Tarragon, Spinach and Red Pepper Sauce. Yum!

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Mr. also ordered the lobster bisque….tasty and not at all heavy.

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I had the Taglialini with Scallops, Shrimp, Grape Tomatoes in Pesto Sauce. This dish was gorgeous and vibrant and so was each and every bite. The seafood was cooked magnificently and the pasta…well, you know how I feel about the pasta.

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Mr. had the Fettucini with pancetta, mushroom and peas. Beautiful and fresh with succulent everything. Something about fresh pasta and mushrooms. They likey like each other.

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Osteria
1310 Westover Terrace, Greensboro
336.275.2550
Osteria on Urbanspoon

We loved it at Osteria. Service was great and we hope this relatively new restaurant will have some longevity.

We know there are a whole lot more out there than these Italian treasures…and these are not even to be compared to one another…simply the foodies marveling at how fortunate we are to be able to enjoy a world-class, formally trained chef’s cuisine in one part of our community and another restaurant that features a treasured family’s recipes touched by generations. So you have options, worth the drive in every way.

Do YOU remember Sunny Italy? What are your favorite, locally owned places to get Italian?

Beyond the Triad: Tastes of Charlotte…get them here.

You probably know that one of our favorite places to visit and eat beyond the Triad is the Queen City. There are so many talented chefs and delicious restaurants in Charlotte. Remember my blog post about The Cow Fish?  That awesome place is not alone. Here’s a look at some places Mr. foodie and I have tasted that definitely deserve a visit:

Halcyon Restaurant - Flavors from the Earth

Halcyon Flavors From The Earth

Located inside Charlotte’s Mint Museum, Halcyon is modern and quiet with an open kitchen and wonderful, unique cuisine. Full of farm to table wonderfulness, yet very global.

I had a cocktail before dinner and one during…they were both pink, ha! The Pink Heel Splitter and  Mr. foodie got Some Pig with its bacon fat-washed Maker’s; orange bitters, maple syrup, kosher salt. Like a Manhattan but with some pig.

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One of the top suggested items for a starter was the Squash Blossoms. Stuffed tempura blossoms filled with ricotta…delicious. Mr. foodie ordered the Rabbit Saddle…AWESOME and I got the Scallop & Belly…like surf and turf but the turf is pork belly! Wonderful.  

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Nan and Byron’s

On another trip, we enjoyed Nan and Byron’s (it was a New Year’s Day brunch). I love the atmosphere of Nan and Byron’s. The space looks like a converted garage with cool decor. The vibe at brunch was casual and lively.

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Deviled eggs…love!!

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I got the meatloaf and eggs (left) and the Mr. got the Boston Brawler which was roasted pork, baked beans, eggs, and a side of your choice of meat (his choice was sausage). Nothing fancy here…just a tasty, simple brunch with great flavors. I’d like to go back to Nan and Byron’s for lunch or dinner. Definitely worth another visit.

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5 Church

Also suggested for brunch/lunch, Nan and Byron’s sister restaurant, located Uptown, 5 Church. I heard their dinner was fab but we went for daytime eats. I enjoyed a terrific Sunny Side pizza with prosciutto, mushroom and a dippy egg on top. Mr. ordered the highly touted lamb burger, which did not disappoint. It was huge and messy and oh so tasty.

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Bubble Champagne Lounge

One of the most recent additions to Uptown and what’s called The Epicentre is Bubble Champagne Lounge. It looks just as it sounds. Kind of Vegas-y, sexy with thumping, clubby music, but not too loud. Apparently Bubble gets clubby much later in the evening but Mr. and I just needed eats so we had to give it a try. Reviews have been mixed about Bubble but trust me, we had tremendous service and great small plates. Check it out…

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Smoked Salmon Carpaccio with Imported Scottish Smoked Salmon  red onions, and lemon aioli. You putthem on waffle cut potato crisps. Washed down with some champagne…perfect. I could eat and eat and eat…there is something about fries or chips with champagne…have you ever tried it??

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Calamari. Pretty simple, dusted and flash-fried with wasabi cream and some sriracha…

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Tuna Tartare with wonton crisps. Beautifully light with that delicate wasabi cream and sweet chili drizzle…again, so terrific accompanied by the bubbly.

I had to add a picture of my Mr. here so you can see him enjoying martini but also you get an idea of decor.

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Bubble is definitely a place for a special celebration but from the looks of the place, fun with friends or on a date.

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The Wooden Vine

This is absolutely our kind of place. A bit smaller, quiet, casual, rustic, local ingredients, delicious soul-soothing small plates, eclectic…need I go on? You can be dressy or you can be in jeans. We were dressy because it was Valentine’s Day. We passed on the Aphrodisiac Prix Fix menu because we don’t need it and ordered from the normal menu. We especially love small plates because you get to try a few tastes without killing your gut or wallet.

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By far our favorite was the Short and Corny. A braised short rib with this incredible cast iron corn casserole and bone marrow butter. Lick the skillet delicious. I swear I’m making it my mission to contact the chef to get the recipe for that corn casserole. It’s a humanitarian thing. Sticking with the bone marrow theme, we also ordered the Bone Marrow Ramen…I’ve never had ramen except the $1 bag variety. The fresh noodles were paired with rye whiskey and bone marrow broth, spicy pork dumplings, a 60-minute egg and veggies. A little splashy for me because I’m a klutz with noodles but marvelous.

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We also ordered the Belly-kopida…a spin on spanakopita with braised pork belly, roasted apples, brie all wrapped in phyllo and drizzled with truffle honey. Yes it tastes as good as it looks.

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Being Valentine’s Day, we allowed ourselves a splurge of something sweet and ordered the Turtle S’mores. A brownie with roasted marshmallow ice cream. Just give me the ice cream. I usually never say that, but that fluffy goodness was like eating the inside of a Three Musketeer’s bar.

Mr. foodie and I voted that The Wooden Vine has to be one of our favorite places in Charlotte so far.

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Bistro La Bon

Lastly, we hit you with a much-loved restaurant that you absolutely MUST try on a Sunday. Why Sunday? Because that’s when Bistro La Bon has their brunch smorgasbord. It is not like anything you’ve ever seen. Not because of size…it’s actually not overwhelming. It’s because of the deliciousness that presents itself on this buffet. You may find smoked sausage. You will find Swedish meatballs and the fixins. Grits…check. Salad…check. Pastries…check. Lox…you betcha. It’s a different kind of brunch and it’s so up my alley.  Our last time there, the owner/chef added biscuits and gravy and we strongly encourage it to be a regular buffet item…holy smokes were they good. But…but! Also included in this smorgasbord is made-to-order eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles and/or french toast…all brought to your table fresh and piping hot…not stale on a buffet for a half hour. The chocolate waffle at Bistro La Bon is dessert, I tell you. So rich and chocolatey topped with some cream. Food coma is waiting to happen. But it’s so worth it.

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Use the links provided at each restaurant mention for details about each delightful place. Of course, we can’t wait to go back and try more restaurants and report our findings. We do it for you, foodies! And we reserve the right to use a meal to re-visit some place great.

What are some of your favorite restaurants in Charlotte?

Mission Pizza Napoletana

I happily broke my rule of not eating at a restaurants’s opening night last week. We were so excited about Mission Pizza Napoletana coming to Downtown Winston-Salem, plus no one in my house wanted the chicken I had planned and if I didn’t have to cook, even better.

About Mission Pizza, owner Peyton Smith’s vision was born in Naples, nourished with a pizza food truck equipped with a clay oven (known as Forno Moto) and eventually has come to life in the Arts District on Trade Street. Located in the old mission building, which has a new corrugated aluminum facade, inside you’ll find a dimly lit, cozy place with high and low seating, a bar and an open eat-in kitchen with a great view of a massive pizza oven. The Ferrari of pizza ovens, honed from volcanic soil of Mount Vesuvius. It cooks a pizza in 90 seconds and at 1000-degrees. So, about that pizza….

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It’s hard to decide which pizza to order. They all have fresh, interesting ingredients. No “supreme” here. With ingredients like, buffalo mozzarella, arugula, pancetta, sopressata, chiles, egg….you pretty much know it’s going to be special.

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Mr. foodie and I shared a Diavola…a bit spicy with sweet sopressata, tomato, fresh moz, chiles, basil and honey. The crust was light, chewy with a barely there char and it was bada boom!!

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Let me also add that there’s not a typical cheesy pizza that you might be used to for the kidlets. And on this menu, if it doesn’t say it has cheese, then it doesn’t come that way, however you can add it. We ordered the Marinara for our kids. At first, they were very skeptical….

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But I scraped that beautiful garlic and basil onto my pizza and those kidlets transformed into cheese-less pizza fans right before our eyes.

Oh and we got dessert. Panna Cotta with wine soaked pears and Tiramisu. But it was devoured by all of us so there’s no picture. And the wee boy who last week suddenly didn’t like Tiramisu, now loves it again. Go figure. This child continues to talk about the pizza and tiramisu. The panna cotta was awesome. So thick, not at all watery or gelatinous. Just custard-y goodness.

Oh and they don’t just have Coke in a bottle, it’s Mexican Coke. Good stuff. It’s a little sweeter than the American version with real sugar. Go ahead and do what I did and let your kidlets have all they want. :) There’s a small selection of Italian wine and craft beer as well.

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So if the opening night is any indication of what awesomeness is in store for the Arts District, then you can be super-excited about getting a taste of Naples. Congrats, Peyton, your patience has been rewarded. It’s about time we had a real pizza place in that section of Downtown.

Look for the corrugated aluminum front of the building…they are still waiting on their sign and their front door is slightly hidden by a little alcove. Oh and the food truck? Still available for when you need the pizza party to come to you.

Mission Pizza Napoletana
707 North Trade Street, Winston-Salem
336.926.2497

Beyond the Triad: The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar-Southpark

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You know, sometimes you get to  visit a hip and happening place that simply lives up to the hype…don’t you just LOVE when that happens? There’s nothing worse than getting (or giving) a recommendation to a restaurant that has raves and then you get (or the recipient of the rec gets) less than stellar service or food. Happy to say that wasn’t the case at the super popular The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar in Charlotte.

My foodie friend, Ashli, told me The Cowfish was one of her favorite places to eat in Charlotte and a few of my blogger friends also recommended it. I can see why…I mean it’s like my two favorite concepts in one place…Sushi or Burger?…at The Cowfish, it’s YES, PLEASE! I’ve been following their growth the past few months after their appearance in Fire in the City so when an occasion to head to Charlotte for an evening of fun presented itself, we excitedly headed to South Park.

It’s definitely a busy place…no need for super passionate food bloggers to encourage folks to eat there. They are there. And for good reason. It’s inviting, invigorating and well…let’s go ahead and talk about food and service.

The menu is huge…you could get overwhelmed…but you have these Cowfish “experts” there that want to “present” the menu. Sarah, our server, shared with us the various sections of the menu, what they meant, what she liked, what was popular and then we were left with the still somewhat daunting task of deciding what to order. We got a cocktail each (me the 1/2 price Itsy Bitsy Tini-Weenie Fresh and Berry Great Martini and Mr. the Bacon Maple Manhattan). We were starving and ordered a fresh and tasty appetizer that hit the spot.

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The Blackened Ahi Tuna Nachos with 5 crispy wonton chips topped with our famous Crab Rangoon Dip, spring mix, housemade guacamole, diced tomatoes, sliced avocado, sliced seared rare blackened Ahi tuna and microgreens. Awesome…so fresh, the crab rangoon dip was marvelous on top, given it a creamy contrast.

Next we decided on two items The Cowfish is known for…a sushi roll and something called Burgushi…which is a sushi roll using beef and burger ingredients in interesting ways. We were intrigued by “The Prime Time” Filet & Lobster Roll which features Filet Mignon, portabella mushrooms, asparagus inside, topped with lump crabcake, baked and drizzed with a spicy cream sauce. Heaven. I’m craving. Typing this is somewhat painful!

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Sometimes the iPhone just doesn’t do the beauty of a dish justice does it? Well we had a very dimly lit room which was fabulous and it’s better to not use the flash…but here it is with the flash :)
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The other roll we ordered was the Tropical Storm Roll, from the regular sushi menu. California roll topped with 3 layers of fresh sashimi (tuna, salmon and yellowtail), then topped with Japanese cream sauce, sweet brown sauce and sriracha. Each pieces is then covered with multi-colored tobiko (flying fish egg) for a fantastic presentation. Served with a side of wasabi yuzu dipping sauce.
That’s The Cowfish’s own descrip from the actual menu. I can’t mess with perfection. It was a terrific presentation and the flavors were bam!
What a great place to spend lunch or dinner. Really great service and food. Top-notch all they way. Locally-owned and they just opened a location in Raleigh. Now if I can just convince them not to let those cities have all the fun and drop a spot right here in the Triad….hmmmm….
For now, when you get Beyond the Triad, you definitely have a sure bet at The Cowfish.
The Cowfish–South Park Charlotte
4310 Sharon Road
Charlotte, NC
704.365.1922
The Cowfish–North Hills Raleigh
North Hills- CAPTRUST Tower
4208 Six Forks Rd, Suite 100
Raleigh, NC
919.784.0400

The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar on Urbanspoon