I typically like to switch up my cuisines – sushi one night, Mexican the next. But the theme of this weekend was Italian, and I’m not complaining. Maybe I’m biased because of my Italian roots, but I don’t think I could ever get sick of Italian food, even after an entire weekend full of it…
It started with dinner at Il Bagatto in the East Village on Friday night. Hidden on 2nd Street between Avenues A & B, Il Bagatto is old school, no frills, authentic Italian food. After the waiter spewed off a looong list of specials (completely by memorization, too!), I decided on two specials: grilled calamari to start and fettuccine with shrimp, grape tomatoes and pesto. Though simple, the calamari was perfectly tender, not rubbery at all, and very light. The pasta was also not too heavy, yet nicely satisfying for a hot summer evening. Afterwards and very apropos, we saw Woody Allen’s To Rome With Love, which I highly recommend for anyone who has a love affair for all things European, like me!
Continuing the trend, Saturday I spent at an Italian cooking class at The Blue Burner in Midtown. Another Groupon purchase and having taken a cookie baking class there a few months ago that was somewhat unfulfilling, I was a little weary for this one. But we were pleasantly surprised, as this class was much more hands-on and involved. During the 3 hour class, we made a white wine risotto, a red wine risotto, pesto, and chicken cacciatore. It was quite the indulgent meal for a Saturday afternoon, but also made for the perfect excuse to take a long nap after.
To cap it all off, Sunday’s excursion was to L & B Spumoni Gardens in the depths of Brooklyn. I’ve read about Spumoni Gardens on several “best pizza” round-ups from other food blogs, so it was about time I saw what the buzz was all about. And the buzz is 100% deserved. Also a very old school, no frills place, you order your pizza by the slice or pie at a window and then devour it on several red picnic tables out front. (There’s also a sit-down restaurant attached to the pizza window). Spumoni’s signature is a tomato pie, which has a thick crust, a little bit of cheese and topped with tomato sauce. A departure from your typical New York slice, this was the best Sicilian style pizza I’ve ever had. And though it’s a bit of a trek into Brooklyn, I’m not one to pass on quality food for the sake of time.