Tuscan Treat

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I recently found myself at the Mohegan Sun resort and casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, and to my delight there were some wonderful dining options there. The first one I tried was Todd English’s Tuscany, a romantic little place behind a waterfall near the heart of the casino. The service was friendly and fast.

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I ordered the Caesar Salad (immediately above) to start, and then split the 4 Cheese Ravioli (below) with a friend. Both were delicious, and then I was free to try dessert. As usual, dessert was my favorite part of the meal. I had the Dessert Ravioli (pictured at top), which consisted of two kinds of raviolis: banana-filled (those would be the lighter ones in the photo) and chocolate-filled (darker). It also came drizzled in caramel, with a side of caramel ice cream to boot.

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Todd English's Tuscany on Urbanspoon

Creative & Fresh

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Floriana is located in the Dupont Circle area of Washington, DC. It’s a lovely little establishment with a creative menu, friendly staff, and good food. The restaurant itself is in a converted house, so each room is very intimate. We were in what I presume was once a living room space, with a fireplace, a large bay window, and deep red walls.

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The complimentary bread (pictured at top) is served with a mild and refreshing minty spread. The drinks (pictured above; they made me my favorite non-alcoholic drink: a ginger ale with cranberry and lime juices) were yummy, and the food was even better. I ordered the Gnocci al Pesto (pictured below), which is relatively self-explanatory — although the pesto is a Walnut Pesto that gave the dish a nice nutty flavor. While my picture doesn’t do the dish justice (the lighting was very low and romantic at that point), I will say that it was a very tasty and satisfying meal.

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Floriana on Urbanspoon

A Rosebud by Any Other Name…

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…would taste as sweet! And oooooh how sweet it tastes. While wandering around Chicago’s River North district, I stumbled upon the Rosebud Trattoria. I ordered the Antipasti Misto (above), which was very tasty. The olives and cheeses were flavorful and delicious, and the Margherita Pizza (below) was that perfect balance between crispy and soft. Perhaps most surprising was the friendly and fast service, and the romantic atmosphere (from the outside, the place didn’t look like all that much). It was a really good meal, and a nice dining experience.

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Rosebud Trattoria on Urbanspoon

Third Street Treat

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The food at Trastevere, an Italian restaurant in the heart of Santa Monica’s famous Third Street Promenade, is a true delight. The ambiance is romantic (table candles, white table cloths, a patio where you can dine under the starry LA sky), the service was prompt and friendly, and the location simply can’t be beat. In the above picture you can see the Pomodoro e Mozzarella Bruschette. The tomatoes were amazingly fresh, the mozzarella was cut down to the perfect size (sometimes it’s too big on these kinds of dishes, and other times it’s scant), and the basil was so flavorful it may as well have been plucked right off of the plant immediately before we ate it. I also have to mention the complimentary bread (which was nice and fluffy, served warm). Usually, complimentary bread is nothing to write home about, but Trastevere’s bread is so good. And surprisingly enough, it’s served up with a tantalizing olive tapenade that makes my mouth water just to remember it. I could probably just eat this bread and tapenade all day (if the rest of the food wasn’t so damn delicious).

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For the main course, I ordered the Ricotta e Spinaci Pizza (below). Now, usually I’m not a fan of cooked spinach, but I thought I’ve give it a whirl. Let me tell you, I wasn’t disappointed! This pizza (which doesn’t have marinara sauce) was so light, and it managed to walk that fine line between substantially-doughy and thin-and-crispy, resulting in a nice crispiness on the outer edges of the crust without any sogginess or heaviness in the rest of the dough. It was a culinary experience I’d love to repeat.

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Trastevere on Urbanspoon

Italian delight

I’m a sucker for olives, and boy does Marcella’s Ristorante have the perfect appetizer for me! Just look at this iron serving dish filled with several different varieties of olives, warmed up and covered in flavorful herbs and olive oil.
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This is a great way to start a meal off, and I was not disappointed when my meal came. I ordered the eggplant parmesan, and it was cooked very well. The eggplant was still firm (I hate it when it gets all mushy from being overcooked…or worse yet, unfrozen and reheated), and the flavors were really nice.

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And the dessert. Oh, the dessert. Tiramisu. One of my favorite desserts…this one was pretty good. Not the best I’ve ever had (a bit firm and non-cake-like for my taste), but it was also gone before 5 minutes had transpired. So I’m not really complaining, but trying to explain how this tiramisu was a little different than others I’ve had.
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The atmosphere at Marcella’s was really fantastic. Very romantic. High quality and speed of service. Candlelit. Nicely decorated. All of the things I love most in a date-restaurant. If you like Italian food and a little bit of romance, this is a great place to go.

Marcella's Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Italian twist

photo by Anne Jansen

For my birthday, my husband took me to a small restaurant near where we live: Giorgio’s Italian Restaurant. It all began with this little house salad…leaps and bounds above a standard iceburg-based boring salad, this one had pine nuts and freshly sliced asiago cheese and was drizzled with a pleasant vinegar concoction. Simple but satisfying. And then came the entree: fried cheese ravioli. Fried? you ask? Why yes, fried. I’ll admit to being somewhat afraid right before digging in, but once I tasted it I was sold — this odd twist on a classic Italian dish was actually very good! Throw in the house-made marinara sauce and you have what I had: a hearty Italian treat.

photo by Anne Jansen

a “tucci” of italy

photo by Anne Jansen

In the small town of Lake Oswego, Oregon, there is a fancy little Italian restaurant called Tucci. The margherita pizza, pictured above, was wood fired and baked to perfection. Fresh basil and tomatoes gave it its great flavor, and the crust was light and tasty. The ambiance in Tucci is warm and cozy, and the waitstaff is fun and generous — they brought us this dessert (which I believe is the Chocolate Polenta Cake), compliments of the house. It was flavorful and unique, and plated beautifully. Tucci turned out to be a great little place for a quiet evening meal.

photo by Anne Jansen

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