Spumoni Gardens in Brooklyn, NY is a magical place. While there isn't really a garden, there is spumoni and lot's of it. My family went there two weekends ago to celebrate my Grandpa's 71st birthday and for the occasion we ordered the Chef's Table. The Chef's Table involves carafes of wine, appetizers, salad, pasta, a main meat with vegetables and dessert. The menu is created by the table and the servers there know the restaurant's offerings like the back of their hand. For our appetizers we ordered: shrimp cocktail (which came with plain and fried shrimp), calamari, baked clams, seared and stuffed artichokes and mozzarella in corrozza (triangle-shaped fried mozzarella). The latter two were my favorite picks with the artichokes being especially delicious and less-sweet-than-usual due to the some lovely caramelization and added salt.
After the appetizers came a simple salad with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and mozzarella, which was then followed by the two pasta dishes we had chosen for the table; spaghetti with fresh white clam sauce and fusilli bolognese. I had the spaghetti and it was absolutely delicious and perfectly al dente. Here is a picture of the fusilli (imagine two of these enormous platters for just 10 people!):
After we had our pasta our server came over with a frozen Frangelico and coconut beverage to cleanse the palate and then the main dishes came. We ordered chicken francese and veal dish which came with garlicy-swiss chard and mashed potatoes:
I was pretty full at this point so I just stuck with the eggplant from the francese and a small heap of the swiss chard. The eggplant was incredibly soft and lemon-y while the chard was spicy with a bit of crunch from the stem. When you order the Chef's Table food comes out non-stop for two or so hours and we had literally almost forgotten that dessert was coming post-dinner. Well it did in a very big way:
We got TWO of these dessert platters filled with chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice creams, whipped cream, chocolate covered strawberries, tartufo, cheesecake, chocolate cake and last but not least, spumoni. This was all drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce. A dessert such as this should not be legal. I dug in with the rest of my family and scored a serious scoop of spumoni along with a chocolate covered strawberry and called it a meal... and a good one at that. Here are my grandparents with one of the platters:
The keys to this meal were nibbles, pacing, splitting, tasting and a lot (a LOT) of take-home containers. I am definitely going to try to come back over the summer for a simple slice of pizza and serving of spumoni.
Sticking with the Italian theme, my roommate Tina made this incredible bruschetta with peppers and gorgonzola by Ina Garten. Her tip? Add a splash of balsamic vinegar to your pan along with the sugar for some tang. Crunchy bread and a soft, warm topping are always winners in my book: