Just for the calamari…

I’ve tried to write this post at least three times already, so instead of going the “writerly” route – which after an exhausting week of running around for work and school projects, just isn’t working for me right now – I’m just going to be as bare bones as possible with this post. This Friday my sisters and I traveled over to Yonkers to try out a restaurant – Zuppa. We had bought a LivingSocial voucher, so we figured with overages lunch for three wouldn’t be too bad. The restaurant sounded sort of snazzy (based on it’s website and reviews), so we three raided each others closets to pick out our best business-wear appropriate for us ladies who lunch.

On arrival, we were led into the dining area – which was almost cavernous, but not quite. It’s one of those spaces that have high ceilings but is still on the smaller side. My sister loved the feel and artwork of the place. I, on the other hand, almost felt like Zuppa seemed more like a pop-up restaurant than a Yonkers staple.

Zuppa-Yonkers-Calamari

We all ordered the Prefisso or Prefix – the three course lunch special. My sisters both ordered the Crostino, while I went for the Calamari. The calamari was far and away the best calamari I’ve had in years – yes, years! I would come back to Zuppa again and again just for the calamari alone. The calamari was crisp, yet light, and bursting with flavor. Served with a spicy marinara, both of my girls agreed that this was a brilliant dish.

Zuppa-Yonkers-Crostini

The crostino, though plated prettily, was disappointing – house smoked ricotta, orange segment, and bitter greens on grilled/toasted bread – I tried my sisters crostini and they were mostly burnt, the house smoked ricotta was creamy but largely lacking in flavor.

Zuppa-Yonkers-Salmone

Next was the second course – I had the Salmone; grilled salmon, pesto, roasted potato, fagiolini, and moscato wine vinegar – the salmon was slightly overcooked, but the flavor of the pesto and crispness of the roasted potatoes were nice. My sisters ordered the Spaghettini and the Cavatelli. I would have preferred either of theirs to my salmon. Zuppa nailed it with cooking the pasta perfectly al dente – which is a big deal to us Italians y’know ;). The Cavatelli, with smoked ricotta, pasta, speck, and crunchy radicchio, was loaded with flavor. Deliciously creamy with the speck lending great bacon-y flavor to the dish. The spaghettini was simple, shoestring pasta, sun dried tomato pesto, and mushroom. I love the flavor and simplicity of the dish – I just wouldn’t pay $24 or even $15 for it for lunch.

Zuppa-Yonkers-CavatelliZuppa-Yonkers-Spaghettini

For dessert the girls had the seasonal gelati trio – which happened to be Basil, Ligonberry, and Pumpkin. I had the Honey Jameson Pannacotta garnished with honeycomb and a rice crispy treat. They were all delicious and a sweet ending to our meal.

Zuppa-Yonkers-Pannacotta

All in all, our little lunch outing came out to $46 (including tax & tip) in addition to the value of the voucher ($60). If you decide to stop by Zuppa, please be advised, the sparkling (seltzer) water that they offer you is not complimentary and at lunch is $6 a bottle – which they didn’t tell us, nor was it indicated on the menu – until we saw the charge on the receipt. I thought that was rather shady of them as it was offered as an alternative to water and the waiter kept returning to refill our glasses and empty our bottle of sparkling water without our request. That being said, the staff was friendly enough, and didn’t give us any issues with our voucher. While there were some highlights to the meal (calamari, and cavatelli) I have to – with reluctance – admit that the meal wasn’t was I was hoping it would be. A meal at a restaurant should never be a case of choosing between what’s good and what’s flavorless. This was a case of dressing up for a meal that doesn’t dress up for you.

If you’ve been to Zuppa, let me know what your experience was like! If you haven’t, what’s one of your most memorable dining experiences?

Either way, I still plan on returning to Zuppa, even if just for the calamari…

Zuppa Restaurant & Lounge

59 Main St, Yonkers, NY 10701

(914) 376-6500

http://www.zupparestaurant.com/site/

*P.S. All pictures were taken with my new Nokia Lumia 635 – which is pretty awesome for snapping pics in dimly lit settings IMHO! Plus, I didn’t have to lug around my DSLR!

 

Recipe: Pasta with Scallops, Cherry Tomatoes, and Basil

Recipe: Pasta with Scallops, Cherry Tomatoes, and Basil

Pasta with Scallops, Tomato, Basil

Pasta has always been my favorite blank canvas food. It allows for so much creativity in the kitchen. One of my favorite ways to eat pasta is with my family’s homemade Sunday Sauce (sometimes called gravy), it’s a heavy sauce that is as full of flavor as it is with love. However, a simple recipe – like this Pasta with Scallops, Cherry Tomatoes, and Basil one – sometimes is just what you need, it doesn’t take long and is filling and flavorful!

I made this sometime on a lazy day this past July, it features my favorite ingredients – basil, tomatoes, scallops, and – of course – garlic! I also recommend you serve with some pecorino romano on the side – I don’t mention it in the recipe, as that sort of something my family does with all pasta’s ;)

Pasta with Scallops, Cherry Tomatoes, and Basil
Serves 6
A tasty comfort meal, that's perfect for any day of the week!
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Ingredients
  1. 25 Grape tomatoes, sliced lengthwise down the middle
  2. 1 Tsp of salt
  3. 1/2 Cup of basil, chiffonade
  4. 1/4 Cup olive oil
  5. 1 Shallot, diced
  6. 4 Cloves of garlic, minced
  7. 2lbs Small scallops
  8. 1 Package of your favorite spaghetti (or angel hair), cooked according to the directions on the package
Instructions
  1. Brill a large pot of water to a boil, cook your pasta according to your preference or just by following the directions on the box of pasta. While your pasta is boiling prep your ingredients.
  2. In a large saute pan heat the olive oil at medium heat, add the diced shallots and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute more, then add your sliced grape tomatoes and basil, cooking for about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the scallops and reduce heat to low. Turn off the heat once the scallops have cooked – this should usually (in my experience) take anywhere from 4 to 6 minutes, it’s important to keep an eye on your scallops as you don’t want to overcook them.
  3. Once the pasta has cooked (preferably when it’s al dente), drain and return to it’s pot. Mix in the scallop mixture and add salt, serve and enjoy!
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Lemon Basil Bow Tie Pasta Recipe!

This recipe is one of my favorites, it’s creamy and tasty and just generally amazing! What’s really great is that it’s actually a very versatile recipe, for example you can change out asparagus for sauteed spinach if you prefer, or add more lemon zest and grape tomatoes for a more bright spring-like flavor. I just love it – the flavor of the lemon and the basil play wonderfully together. It’s a simple pasta that’s filling and flavorful, what more could you ask for?

Lemon Basil Bow Tie Pasta

Lemon Basil Recipe

12oz of Farfalle (Bow Tie) Pasta (about 3/4 box)
3 Garlic Cloves – minced
1 lb Asparagus Spears – cut into 1 inch segments
1 Small Onion – finely chopped
2 tbsp of Olive Oil
Zest of 2 Lemons
Juice of 1 Lemon
8 oz of Nonfat Greek Yogurt
1/2 Cup of Mayonnaise
Bunch of Basil, about 21 leaves – chopped finely into strips
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Boil the pasta until al dente, drain and let cool in a bowl. Add zest to the pasta and set aside to cool.

Farfalle

2. Chop up garlic, onion, and asparagus. Pour olive oil into a small pan at medium to low heat. Saute onions until they are translucent. Add garlic and chopped asparagus. Place lid on pan and let the mixture sweat until the asparagus looks bright green. Remove from heat.

3. Add asparagus mixture to the pasta and mix well. Allow to cool.

4. Once pasta is cool add the juice of one lemon, the Greek yogurt and mayonnaise. Mix in chopped basil and add salt and pepper to taste.

Oikos Yogurt RecipeBasilPasta Recipe

Drop me a comment and let me know if you try this recipe out and what ways you make it your own!