It has been a busy, bountiful summer at Nino’s and The Laurel Garden. We published our second seasonal bulletin, grew zucchini, fried zucchini blossoms, hosted parties on our garden terrace, and sliced tomatoes (so many tomatoes!) We’re sourcing more local produce than ever before. Corn, melons, and green tomatoes from Leighty’s. Peppers and eggplants from Jim at the Mount Pleasant Farmer’s Market. Cucumbers, green and yellow zucchini, and ripe red tomatoes from Johnny Czerniak. Beautiful heirloom tomatoes, varieties of basil and mint, and edible flowers from Pribanic Farms. Fried green tomatoes, sweet corn, summer panzanella, and our fresh sauces will remain on the menu for a few more weeks as we celebrate Indian Summer!
Here’s a recap from a busy summer! A field trip to Greendance Winery, garden parties with special guests: Stone Villa Wine Cellars and I think. I can. Pickles! And it’s gearing up to be an even busier fall. Early autumn updates coming soon!
We’re celebrating summer with Second Sunday Garden Parties here at Nino’s. Our first garden party, which took place on June 12th, featured live jazz, sweet and savory martinis, panini, and gelato! Our next garden party is tomorrow: Sunday, June 10th from 4-7pm. So, if you’re in the area, stop by for local corn and tomatoes, jazz by Frank & Friends, and tastings with Stone Villa winery!
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.