Category Archives: Italian (and Pizza)

Pizza: The all-American snack?

Ready to fold and eat: Four sizzling NYC-style slices at Luigi’s. Photo by Robin Garr.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Primo, Tony Boombozz, Luigi)

Pizza, as I’ve pointed out before, traces its roots to Italy, specifically to the seaport city of Naples in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. In the American melting pot, though, pizza has become as all-American a dish as, well, chow mein or sauerkraut.

From the American Northeast, where immigrant families still turn out a respectable variation on the Neapolitan original, pizza evolved as it moved across the nation in the postwar years. It gained a little here, lost a little there, and has gifted us with offshoots that range from the thick, casserole-like Chicago deep-dish pie to Wolfgang Puck’s California inventions with their wacky toppings of smoked salmon, sour cream and caviar.
Continue reading Pizza: The all-American snack?

Indulgent brunch at classy Volare

Shrimp and grits
Shrimp and grits: This Italian-accented variation on the Low Country standard is a brunch standby at Volare. Photo by Robin Garr

(Voice-Tribune, May 31, 2007)

It’s hard to believe that Volare has been around for only three years.

In those short years, this classy Italian dining room has shed its original Chicago-based connection; brought in the savvy Majid Ghavami as general manager, and hung on to Chef Dallas McGarrity, who cooks Italian as if he had a vowel on the end of his name (and hey, he does!)

With a recent expansion increasing the seating area and kitchen, there’s more of Volare to love than ever. It’s a personal favorite, my No. 1 choice among Louisville’s Italian restaurants for food, mood and service.
Continue reading Indulgent brunch at classy Volare

Hey mambo, mangia Italiano!

Melillo's spaghetti
Le Gallo Rosso’s lasagne is as big as a brick, with hearty layers of pasta, ground pork and veal, well-fashioned tomato sauce and cheese. Photos by Robin Garr.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Le Gallo Rosso, Melillo’s)

If you’ve been around the Louisville dining scene long enough to remember back when the old landmark Casa Grisanti was still a pizzeria, you know that long before there was trendy “Northern Italian” we had spaghetti with meatballs and plenty of spicy red tomato sauce. Extra credit for red-checked tablecloths, plastic grapevines and wicker-wrapped Chianti bottles recycled as candle holders.

To get technical about it, “Northern Italian” isn’t really authentic Italian so much as a somewhat idealized American rendition of popular dishes from all over Italy. The genre gained traction during the 1970s as a lighter, more upscale reaction to the hearty tomato-sauce Italian that had gone before.

In fact, the red-sauce genre is arguably more honest, drawing its inspiration from the heritage of Southern Italy – Calabria and Sicily – filtered through New York, New Jersey and the Northeast by immigrants in the Ellis Island era.
Continue reading Hey mambo, mangia Italiano!

Pizza with a New York accent at Hero’s

Pizza at Hero's
Thin and foldable, NYC-style, a cheese slice and a pepperoni slice from Hero’s in Jeffersontown. Photos by Robin Garr

(Voice-Tribune, May 10, 2007)
Pizza has become an all-American food since immigrants from Southern Italy brought it over to the United States in Ellis Island days, and particularly since its popularity exploded nationwide after World War II.

What was originally a simple way for Italian peasant families to get rid of leftovers has become a national passion, with variations that range from New York City’s thin, portable pizza by the slice to Chicago’s deep-dish, casserole-style pie, and on to some of Wolfgang Puck’s far-out California creations. Salmon and caviar pizza with creme fraiche, anyone?
Continue reading Pizza with a New York accent at Hero’s

NO-ni and more wacky pizzas

Danny Mac's pizzas
A couple of pies from Danny Mac’s: At left, the wacky bacon chicken ranch with a base of ranch dressing in lieu of tomato sauce. At right, a more traditional version with sausage, onions and peppers. Photo by Robin Garr.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Cafe Lou Lou, Primo, Tony BoomBozz, California Pizza Kitchen and Danny Mac’s)

Pizza fundamentalists, not unlike the other kind of fundamentalists, insist that there is only one true way. Any variation on the strict Neapolitan tradition – save possibly for a select few authorized New York City variations – is not merely blasphemous but perverted. Let the congregation answer: “Amen!”
Continue reading NO-ni and more wacky pizzas

Lentini’s is back, again, and it’s better than ever

Three pastas
Lentini’s tris di pasta sampler: risotto con asparagi, thin and dense lasagna and wide tagliatelle in a light cream sauce with Portobello mushroom slices. Photo by Robin Garr.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes

The red neon sign out front of this Highlands landmark isn’t retro, it’s real. It takes us right back to the ’60s, still luring us in to Lentini’s “Little Italy” just as it did when it opened 45 years ago when JFK was president, Elvis was King and girls wore beehive hairdos and poodle skirts.

When the last Lentini (“Sonny”) retired in 2001, a partnership with a Vietnamese entrepreneur followed and we got banh mi and pho alongside lasagna and pizza. This strange experiment didn’t last long. Lentini’s closed, reopened under new management in 2003, then closed again. New owners tried again and promptly went bankrupt. Now it’s ba-aa-ack for a third try, or is it a fourth?

This time, though, the signs look good. Continue reading Lentini’s is back, again, and it’s better than ever