So far, spring has been a busy season! As promised, here are some more pictures from our 40th anniversary. We received some wonderful gifts, including another Maltese Falcon (for a total of two!) and a beautiful new patio gate. Thank you to all of our staff, past and present, as well as our loyal patrons and friends for the wonderful custom iron gate. It will be gracing our patio entrance soon, taking the place of our antique gate which was stolen last year.
We also had a fabulous time last Monday at our cooking class! We prepared homemade ricotta gnocchi with pesto, chicken saltimbocca, and a shrimp, fennel, and blood orange salad in our kitchen. Of course, wine and hors d’oeuvres accompanied the lesson, and afterwards, everyone enjoyed a three course meal of the dishes we taught. Thanks to all who attended! And a special thanks to our great teachers: Nino, Linda, Kelly, and Micki. I hope everyone is now rolling gnocchi at home.
Last but certainly not least, Happy 65th wedding anniversary to Mr. and Mrs. Bennett! Pictured below is the cake and custom floral cake topper from their anniversary party at Nino’s. Also pictured, a lettuce wrap with rice vermicelli and i.think.i.can’s pickled carrots which we made for Rachel and Ian’s wedding tasting. Next month, check back for a look at what is sure to be a beautiful May wedding!
As many of the people reading this blog probably already know, we offer two distinct menus for dinner at Nino’s. We came to these menus with the desire to offer not only classic Italian specialties, but also creative, seasonal cuisine. For over a year now, our del giorno and tradizionale menus have helped us accomplish this goal. Our tradizionale menu is offered year-round, and features our most recognized and well-loved Italian fare: Spaghetti Bolognese, Linguine con Vongole, and Eggplant Parmigiana–just to name a few. Our del giorno menu changes frequently–every day or every other day, depending on the week. This menu is all about seasonality. Still Italian-inspired, we also draw inspiration from other Mediterranean, European, and American culinary traditions. In many cases, when we use local ingredients, we pay homage to their Pennsylvania roots. In all cases, the seasonal ingredients determine the menu. Rustic dishes such as chicken pot pie are the order of the day in the winter months, and in the summer the weekend menu decisions are made at Mount Pleasant’s Farmers’ Market each Wednesday.
One of the most popular features of our seasonal menu is our antipasto cart. Each Friday and Saturday evening, we fill the antique cart in the center of our dining room with an ever-changing variety of antipasti. Antipasto before dinner is an Italian tradition, and to me, the perfect showcase for the seasons. Local salami, house marinated mushrooms, and imported olives are featured weekly, along with both hot and cold specialties for sampling before dinner. At the peak of tomato season, a highlight is our Caprese Salad with fresh mozzarella, red and yellow tomatoes, and basil. Lately, in the cold, locally-made hot Italian sausage has warmed us up!
Look for seasonal antipasto recipes forthcoming here on our blog. We’ll celebrate winter as we wait for spring.
A perfect holiday cocktail with a green accompaniment: “The Bartini” and broccolini with tahini.
The Bartini–25% Campari, 25% Limoncello, 50% Prosecco…100% Italian! Garnished with rosemary, this aperitivo (before dinner drink) is red and green not only like the Italian flag but also like Christmas!
Steamed broccolini with a lemon, tahini, and yogurt sauce is a wonderful hors d’oeuvre or side dish. We sprinkled toasted pine nuts as a finishing touch.
Mushrooms are a wonderful seasonal ingredient in autumn and winter. We feature them in earthy dishes such as veal and porcini pappardelle, chicken portobello, and wild mushroom risotto. Plus, our house marinated mushrooms have become a staple on our weekend Antipasto Cart. For marinating, we begin with whole baby button mushrooms, heated–just barely–with extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, and herbs. They are the perfect companion to our selection of local salami; not to mention, tossed with carmelized onion and gorgonzola, they make a delicious pizzetta!