Tag Archives: italian food

Rizzuto’s at the March of Dimes Gala

I (unexpectedly) received the food and drinks in this post free of charge. All opinions of the experience are my own.

Next month (on Thursday 10/17), the Connecticut chapter of March of Dimes will host the 75th Anniversary Signature Chefs Auction Gala at The Riverview in Simsbury in celebration of 75 years of the organization fighting for stronger, healthier babies. Guests will have the opportunity to dine on food prepared by the chefs of some of the area’s best (and some of my favorite) restaurants such as Barcelona Wine Bar, Pond House Grille, Rizzuto’s, and more. Locally produced libations will be poured by Jonathan Edwards WineryPeel, and Olde Burnside Brewing. One of the hosts, Scot Haney, is definitely someone I’d consider a CT celeb!

All participants

Individual tickets are $175 each and tables of 10 are up for grabs at $1,750. Though the price may seem steep and perhaps is not realistic for some, those who are able to spend the funds can be assured that a) they won’t walk away hungry and b) their money is going to a great cause. The money raised by the gala will benefit research and programs like CenteringPregnancy, Healthy Babies Are Worth The Wait, and NICU Family Support. 1 in 10 babies born in CT are born premature, and the March of Dimes needs fundraisers like these to take steps to both improve that number and support affected preemies and their families. If you can’t make it to the event but are able to make a donation, I highly encourage you to visit the event page and do so. Attendees will also have the chance to contribute outside of ticket costs, via both live and silent auctions featuring fabulous items.

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Last Hurrah at La Trattoria

La Trattoria provided me a complimentary glass of wine and my meal for this write-up. This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

La Trattoria (Canton, CT) contacted me about coming in to try out the menu and write a blog post about my experience. I truthfully had never heard of the restaurant before, so I did what I do best and started menu-stalking. I liked what I saw – lots of variety, and opportunity for healthy ordering (the restaurant partners with Snap Fitness in Avon to offer a menu of lighter options). So I accepted the offer and made plans to come in last Wednesday after a post-work Zumba class; the restaurant is located just over the Avon line, and my gym has a location in that town. Super convenient for a weeknight outing!

One of several dining areas inside the restaurant (there is also a nice outdoor patio).

One of several dining areas inside the restaurant (there is also a nice outdoor patio).

My menu-stalking also immediately gave me an idea of who to invite – my sister Hannah, who goes back to school this week. We needed a last hurrah, just the two of us, and she loves classic Italian food. I knew she’d be all about this trip! She was especially impressed when she did menu-stalking of her own and saw on the La Trattoria website that “If a favorite of yours doesn’t appear in the selections below just ask us and we will be happy to prepare it for you.” Talk about accommodating!

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Max A Mia Italian Wine Dinner

I continued last Monday 6/17 to check each Max Restaurant Group location off my list of restaurants-to-visit, and got to attend a five-course wine dinner at the same time. Two birds (one a quail…) were killed with one stone with my participation in the Marchesi di Barolo Italian Wine Dinner at Max A Mia, the restaurant group’s location in Avon, CT.


Packed house!

Though originally scheduled for the patio, the dinner was moved inside after both an overwhelming amount of people wanting to attend (I’m sure partially due to the very reasonable $68 price tag) and a storm that rolled through shortly before the 6:30PM start time. I was disappointed to arrive and find I would not be dining outside since the weather cleared right up after the storm, but unlike most restaurants, Max A Mia’s interior was not frigid and actually delightfully warm. I attended the event with my good friend Jeff and we were seated with two super-nice business partners and friends, Bob and Tim. I told them about this blog and gave them my card so in case they are reading this, hello Bob and Tim!

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Todd English’s Tuscany at Mohegan Sun

I’m so glad you guys liked my Sprigs Earbags giveaway! Thank you to all who participated. I’m excited to announce that the winner is…

…Ali of Miles With Style!

Thank you for entering Ali – now you can seriously get your style on while piling on those miles. I will contact you for shipping info!

I know that the big Thanksgiving holiday was this past weekend and everyone is back to work and “real life” today. I also know that the blog world is going to be flooded with Thanksgiving food (in fact, it already is). I love reading about what everyone else did for Thanksgiving, but I also still need to finish my Mohegan Sun weekend recap. So my Turkey Day talk will come, but for now, we have some catching up to do!

Shoe shot – but you probably noticed our room’s bathroom’s pretty tile floor.

Now let’s see…where were we? Oh right! Maria and I were in our hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mohegan Sun Casino hotel, pampering ourselves and prepping for an epic tasting dinner with other bloggers at Todd English’s Tuscany!

Got to wear a Forever 21 dress I hadn’t worn in forever!

I could not believe that my hair worked out on my first try!

We went downstairs a little early for craps and Christmas. Yes, Christmas.

Mohegan is already decked out for the holidays and Maria and I had to get a photo in front of the tree in our outfits.

We both planned outfits with a pop of color – love it! But I wish I’d taken off my purse for this photo.

I am a conservative craps player so I only ended up winning $10, but I also got a free Jack Daniel’s Manhattan while playing, so I consider this round of gambling a major win!

I love this glass structure in the center of the casino shops!

Our tasting dinner was set up in one of Tuscany’s private dining rooms. Maria and I both arrived hungry and ready to fill our bellies, but Tuscany was more ready than us. We were in for a seriously epic amount of food.

We bloggers also had the pleasure of dining with the woman who brought us all together for the weekend, PR Manager Michelle Williams. We have been working together on events and giveaways for more than half a year now and it was wonderful to finally get the chance to meet in person and talk food, marketing, family, romance…you know, the usual!

The epic menu!

We were first served crusty Italian bread with a seriously awe-inspiring white bean puree and olive tapenade. I’m not sure how I managed to hold off on having a piece until the first glass of wine was poured, but somehow I did.

Our first wine was a white blend of Riesling, Moscato, and Chardonnay. I normally am not a fan of anything Moscato-related but the Riesling and Chardonnay balanced it out. This glass sure went down easily.

The antipasto course of passed appetizers was easily enough food for my dinner. Maria and I looked at each other as the plates were being taken away and said, “How are we going to fit anything else?!”

Antipasta Della Casa

I legitimately would come back to Tuscany and just order this entire platter for myself. It was hard to save room and not kill it.

Calamari Fritti with a Chipotle Cream Sauce

Calamari is often all the same to me because it just all tastes fried. This calamari didn’t stand out too much (the best I’ve ever had is still at J. Gilbert’s because it includes the barely-fried octopus-looking calamari that I adore) but the chipotle sauce – man oh man! Pretty darn good.

Fig, prosciutto, and balsamic flatbread.

Though I prefer my flatbreads to be served on crispier, thinner crusts, the above flatbread’s flavor combo was hard not to love. I’m a prosciutto fanatic!

Tuscan Salad and Trefethen 2010 Chardonnay

I chose the Tuscan Salad of greens, roasted red peppers, artichokes, olives, onions, and lemon vinaigrette for my salad course. Very impressive! I like a restaurant starter salad that doesn’t slack on the ingredients. The Chardonnay went so well with the vinaigrette.

Double-fistin’ – it’s what I do.

Before I knew it I was being poured the next wine – Apothic Red – and hadn’t even finished my Chardonnay yet. Had to double up! The next course, pasta, featured choice of two dishes – clam linguine or ricotta gnocchi. The latter has been on my to-try list for eons, so it was a no-brainer.

Ummm…when can I eat gnocchi again?! The ricotta was to die for but those potato pillows, ahhh. Not surprised I loved this dish since I am a potato fanatic (as well as the previously mentioned prosciutto…me thinks I need to eat a pizza topped with both). That sauce was certainly fabulous and the homemade ricotta, don’t get me started. Wait, I already am.

Me and Anne!

My other seatmate Anne ordered the clam linguine, and she let me take a shot of her dish. I didn’t try any because I could barely fit my food as it was at this point (and we still had the entrees to come…) but I heard great things about it! I’m just not a plain pasta person – my palate craves too much excitement!

Major thanks to Tina for helping me learn more about my camera’s settings before I took this photo.

Then came the entrees. Yes, more food. I didn’t finish my gnocchi and knew I couldn’t finish this dish, but I want to come back to Tuscany so I can order it again and enjoy an entire portion during a normal-sized meal!

Crispy (seriously, so crispy) salmon with bacon Brussels sprouts, clams, and Parmesan polenta.

Maria and I couldn’t get over how crispy this fish was. I want to know Todd English’s secret! Yes obviously Maria and I ordered the same thing for the entire meal.

Insta-twins! Shared our meals one after the other.

The entree was served with DaVinci Chianti, which I’ve actually had before at Bertucci’s. I adore Chianti! It has such a robust flavor.

Maria, I, and the rest of the girls found our third/fourth/fifth stomachs the moment we caught glimpses of the desserts! First, each of us was served a mini fallen chocolate cake with a scoop of the most delicious, simple Tahitian vanilla ice cream and raspberry puree. It had been forever since I’d just enjoyed a scoop of vanilla ice cream instead of a more “complex” flavor. Though I am all about the complex, it felt so nice to go back to the vanilla days of my childhood and mix the ice cream with the warm, molten syrup center of the chocolate cake. There was no way I wouldn’t finish every last bite.

Do you spy the green sprig below the ice cream? I am not sure what herb it was but it paired quite interestingly with this dish!

Did you really think we were done? NOT A CHANCE. I couldn’t pass up one each of the cannolis and another Italian pastry (I’d call it a croissant with cannoli filling – anyone know what that is called?) on the below tray. EDIT: Thanks to Sara for sharing that the pastry is called a “sfogliatelle”, which means many leaves in Italian. If you look at it you can see why it has that name! I packed up some more of both to bring home to the fam.

The sfogliatelle is next to the cannolis!

AND end meal. Finally, right?! Like I said before, I really want to go back to Tuscany now to enjoy a “normal” sized meal so that I can eat every last bite and not leave with a food baby. But believe me, this food baby was welcomed. I am honestly so proud of myself for enjoying every bite of this meal that I wanted to, knowing I don’t do it all the time, and sleeping quite peacefully that night.

A huge part of that was the fact that I felt so special, appreciated, and in my element during the meal and the entire weekend. I was in the company of good friends who are also bloggers I admire and have read for – in some cases – years! I was the guest of one of my favorite CT destinations and got the chance to try so many authentic Italian dishes at a new-to-me restaurant. And the best part? I didn’t have to do the 45 minute drive back home afterward! 😛

Julie, Me, Tina!

Some of the girls headed out for shopping after the meal wound down (and after we spent a bit more time sitting, digesting, and chatting), but Maria and I were so ready for bedtime.

Pretty sure about ten of these photos were taken.

When we got back to our room, Maria and I had a case of the wine sillies that was sparked by the donning of my matchy-matchy Victoria’s Secret flannel jammies.

Two thumbs up for fancy-pants pajamas!

We decided that the giant…things on our bed looked like foam rollers. Anyone know what they’re called?

What is this thing?!

Sadly, it didn’t function as a foam roller.


Alas, we cheered up and settled in for TV, girl talk, and not too long after, bed. We awoke the next morning like the early birds we are, checked out of the hotel, and checked back into reality. And while reality is always nice to return to, I have to admit that I was texting Maria later that night saying, “I miss Mohegan!”

Thank you to Mohegan Sun, Tuscany, and Michelle for an enchanting evening and Saturday in general!

Though I received accommodations and this meal free of charge, all thoughts and opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this post.

Which dish would you have most liked to try?

Have you ever dined with other bloggers?

Have you ever done any gambling?

Mondo Monday!

You really have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to use that title. Basically since before I even visited Mondo in Middletown, CT a week ago today (last Monday) for some tasty Groupon-funded pizza! Colin of Taste of New Haven and I hit up that particular spot because he is an avid pizza lover (New Haven, pizza, obvious connection), and nothing is more fun than dining with a fellow foodie! Middletown was also a nice central location between the Hartford and New Haven areas.

View from our seats (we sat by the bar). Image courtesy of mondomiddletown.com.

We started with a small tapas-style Misto Plate, which I forgot to take a photo of (d’oh), but it did contain some tasty things. So, you can’t blame me when I was so excited that I dove right in and forgot my blogging duties. I love sampler plates, and this one contained a perfectly-portioned mix of dressed greens, polenta croutons, prosciutto, fresh cheese, marinated red peppers, and olives. I had a little of everything, but I have to say the polenta croutons were my favorite items on the plate. So crispy and satisfying!

For our pizza, we went with something I’ve been dying to try for so long: Oozy Egg Pizza!

Mozz and romano cheeses, egg, truffle oil, and half prosciutto (my half).

This pizza was beyond beyond incredible. The crust was at the perfect crispness: a satisfying crunch, and strong enough to eat one-handed (you know what I mean…nothing is more annoying than a weak crust that leaves toppings falling off a slice, no matter how delicious). The lack of sauce didn’t take away from the pizza at all – in fact, it added to it. White pizza was the only way to go on this one. The prosciutto and egg on my half combined to give me the taste of a breakfast sandwich on a pizza – but I’m not talking about an Egg McMuffin here. It tasted completely gourmet!

No bite was left standing – obviously. Mondo has so many other pies that I want to try and I hope to get back for another visit sometime. It’s a bit far from my house but I really think my mom would enjoy their veggie pie – and they even offer wheat and gluten-free crust options!

I cannot believe that Thanksgiving is in just a few days…this year has absolutely flown by. I’m hoping winter flies by just as fast so I can get to spring already!

Have you ever tried runny egg on a pizza? Do you like prosciutto on any other types of pizza?

Bertucci’s and TCBY Night!

Hey guys! I am currently stranded for an extra night in Tennessee due to the snow storm back home, but I don’t hate it. I love it here and could stay for days and days more! I have been eating tons of food and having great quality family time. I’ve even managed to get in a couple of good workouts, including a 4 mile incline treadmill run today! I have to be honest that sometimes I get hesitant to indulge on vacations or let loose and let myself enjoy things I don’t normally eat, but I have been concentrating on being with my family and trying to use that to distract myself from any worries I may get about vacation food. After all, this tasty food is definitely not something that should be cause for worry!

Before I start recapping this trip I want to recap a couple of yummy nights out I had last week, starting with last Monday’s dinner!

I was a crazy woman last Monday night and went out to eat after the gym. Yes, I’m wild and insane. Usually I go straight home, but I made plans with Jeff and Kim to go to a Thai restaurant that I had a SaveNowCT deal to. Well, you know how small restaurants are sometimes closed on Mondays? Yes, that happened.

NO WORRIES! I’m a coupon queen, and had a $5 of $25 deal from the Bertucci’s Facebook page, so I met the two of them there instead. At this point I was ready to eat my arm off and I immediately started on a roll. Mmm. I love their rolls and olive oil + herbs.

Jeff the hand model

Luckily my meal came with a cup of minestrone, so I got that fairly quickly and was relieved from my hanger. It was delicious! I loved the plentiful red beans and noodles. I hate runny, lackluster broth soups. This was hearty!

Check out the herbs on top – love it! For my meal I selected the Seafood di Mare, which awkwardly means Seafood of the Sea? We will let that one slide. This was a brick oven entree of baby scallops, shrimp, mussels, cod, with plum tomatoes and a baked crostini AKA crusty, amazing bread that I put the tomatoes on top of and ate like a homemade bruschetta.

The mussels were very good! It was my first time trying them and I’m glad I had something new. The rest of the seafood was wonderful as well. My only complaint is the temperature of the dish. This thing was HOT, and not your normal restaurant hot. I’m talking after 15-20 minutes of eating (I eat slowly), I was still blowing on each bite and desperately sipping water to cool my mouth down. I finally figured out that taking the remaining components of the meal out of the hot oil they were chillin’ (not at all) and setting them on a bread plate for a few minutes would cool them down quickly. The amount of oil this was baked in was too much anyway – there was so much leftover when I finished! I’d recommend using less oil and heating it less – but really, what do I know about cooking? Just a thought though, Bertucci’s!

And now I’ll embarrass myself by showing the website’s image of my meal. Looks pretty similar in terms of what came with it, but man I would’ve enjoyed having that lemon!

Thanks to Bertuccis.com for image.

Jeff went with the Seafood Torta: “Bertucci’s famous dough filled with tender scallops, shrimp, roasted tomato sauce, tomatoes, shaved cheese and oregano. Topped with fresh thyme and then baked to perfection in the brick oven.” I’ve had the Vegetable Torta before and while it’s delicious, I found it hard to eat and too similar to a pizza. I might as well just get a pizza, it’s easier to manage!

We all agreed that the presentation on this dish was pretty sad. It looked so bland on that plate – so lonely! But Jeff said he liked it. And another website photo for comparison…

Thanks to Bertuccis.com for image.

If only Jeff’s meal had come with that sprig of thyme laying oh-so-delicately on the torta!

Kim got one of my favorites, the Venetian Spinach Salad: “Grilled chicken breast atop a bed of spinach, grape tomatoes, red onions, shaved cheese and balsamic vinaigrette.” Her only complaint was that the red onions were too large for the salad – they were in rings, not shavings, and she doesn’t like too much onion taste at once. I gladly took a few rings off her hands and ate them whole. Classy.

I’m really lucking out with the availability of pretty website photos to put mine to shame, huh?

Image from Bertuccis.com

I’m always impressed with this salad. It’s one of the few I will order from a restaurant. I like to get the salmon – it is worth the higher price. Bertucci’s offers surprisingly delicious salmon.

At this point, we were feelin’ pretty good because the meal was over and it was time to head to TCBY for some FRO YO!

Cute couple aka my dining partners in crime.

We arrived and I discovered that it was Trivia Night, aka answer a trivia question right and get $1 off. And I got the only easy question (Which designer’s daughter owns a candy shop in NYC, Ralph Lauren OF COURSE), so I got $1 off! Poor Jeff and Kim got questions about the 70’s gas shortage and the tallest waterfall on Earth.

The most interesting topping on tap was star fruit! I’d never had it before and was excited to try it. Jeff nailed it when he compared it to an under-ripe pear – it was OK, but not something I’d go for again. Maybe it was just under-ripe!

I went with a mix of PB, white chocolate mousse, caramel, and cake batter flavors. Lots of toppings and topped off with sugar-free chocolate sauce.

And now I bring you…our creations!




Hey, it looks like there’s a candy cane in there! Trust me, there’s not, I hate them. I am obsessed with those frosted animal crackers though.

What’s your favorite fro-yo topping? Have you ever run into a meal that was just WAY too hot?