italian boy

italian boy

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

REVIEW: Duccini's Pizza

So I've blogged a bunch already on different traditional pizzas in DC (remember they do not all deliver), and I did mention once already that Radius [202-235-0808] is my number one quality brick oven to have delivered but sometimes that just doesn't cut it.  When you just want to be lazy and fat, maybe drink a bottle of wine and watch a trashy movie you need some real american cheesy pizza.  Well, for me that's Duccini's.  They're fast, reliable, and their pizza is fantastic with a delicious crust.  I love ordering pineapple with canadian bacon (better than ham), the have a pretty good meat lovers pizza, or meat buster or something like that and its rumored they have a vegan option (which I wouldn't dare touch).  Granted this still only holds a candle to ordering a slice in Union, NJ but on DC terms Duccini's is the way to go.  Duccini's Pizza 1778 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009 (202) 483-0007

sausage, peppers and fried potatoes

Choose your favorite sausage, cut it into bite sized pieces and toss in a pan with a touch of olive oil over medium heat.
Just as they start to brown but before they're fully cooked throw in some thickly sliced bell peppers and sprinkle with salt.  At the same time drop loosely chopped potatoes into in inch or two of hot oil* to quickly fry.  Once the peppers soften remove from heat and set aside.  Once the potatoes start to turn golden brown, drain on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  
Toss everything together and serve warm as a great side dish OR for appetizers get medium sized bamboo cocktail skewers, and thread on one crispy potato, one or two folded strips of bell pepper, one or two leaves of basil and finish with a piece of sausage on the end.  Sure to impress. 

*delicious tip:  fry a habanero pepper or two in the oil before your potatoes so they'll be crispy and HOOOOT

stuffed sardines

If you say you don't like sardines just because you remember smelling them once as a child when your Grandfather was eating them out of a can then you need to refresh your taste buds. Sardines are a delicious, delicate, meaty and incredible sustainable fish to eat.
  Buy them fresh just like any other fish, have them cleaned ahead of time if you don't want to get your counter top dirty and then the key for this recipe (and a handfull of others is to debone the fish, simply by running your fingernail (or a knife) down the spine and removing it from the meat leaving one large flat fillet.
Its quite easy actually.  Then make the stuffing of mashed potato, a fresh egg, some grated parmiggiano or other hard salty Italian cheese (some people say never to combine cheese and fish but I come from a family of shepards- cheese was always around so it was often used and its delicious),  fresh parsley, hot pepper, black pepper and some fresh garlic if you have it.  Mix everything together by hand- you'll see it has a great consistency- the grab a handfull and gently pack it into the cavity of the sardine. After they're all stuffed, roll them in some all purpose flour and then drop them into hot oil.  Fry until golden browm like the photo above. If you're afraid of frying, brush them with some olive oil and bake in the oven on 400 till the get the same color (15 or so minutes).  These go great as a part of a FRITTO MISTO, or a mix of fried seafood like calamari, shrimp, other white fish, or just by itself with a side of rice some lemon or maybe even some linguine.  Buon appetito!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

REVIEW: Spices, DC.. eeeeeeeh

Weeeeell. I don't know. There wasn't anything terrible about this place, but there certainly was not anything fantastic. I got the Mu Shi vegetables and Steve got the Lemmongrass Chicken from the grill. The Mu Shi was okay thanks to the pancakes and plum sauce (not like you tasted much else) and Steve's chicken was all right but all dark meat, slightly too fatty and tendonous, and the vegetables were totally raw (not bad but totally raw). It was GOOD, or OKAY, rather and I would go there again if it was the only Asian restaurant in Cleveland Park but its not. SPICES asian restaurant and sushi bar. Cleveland Park, Washington, DC.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

big baked mussels

Baked mussels are one of my favorite dishes (clams are just as delicious). Get a bag of nice fresh mussels, wash and brush them, debeard them and with a dull non serrated knife open them up. To open, hold the mussel and knife in the same hand while wedging the knife against the hinge of the shell. Squeeze with both hands (as if you had two walnuts in your hand and were cracking them) and one side should slide open. It takes a while to master it and if you didn't understand exactly how I can try to expain it better later. I do believe these days you can purchase fresh mussels already opened if you have a proper fish market- I've also seen them [but never tried them] frozen. Anyway, look in the half shell and be sure to remove any small bits of broken shell. Line them up in a large oven safe pan then sprinkle fresh parsley, grated parmesan cheese, chopped garlic black pepper, hot pepper flakes, a touch of tomato sauce if you have some and finally drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top. Throw it in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes till they start to brown. These are fantastic, should be eaten warm and be sure to savor the juices at the bottom of the pan. It takes a while to make but you can prepare and refrigerate them raw in large batches a few hours ahead of time before entertaining. Hands down one of my favorite treats.

NEWS: Top Chef Comes to DC?

So rumor has had it on a number of food blogs and on the street downtown that Top Chef will be filming in DC. There have allegedly been cast and crew sightings at and around Restaurant Nora on R Street in Dupont Circle and rumored that the cast residence will be across the street from the restaurant. Glad to see that Real World DC didn't completely ruin the city. A New York Time's article confirmed the location of season seven while reported a rumor that the Quickfire kitchen will be at the Washington Hilton.

READER CONTRIBUTION: what are YOU cooking?

H. Lee from Washington, DC wrote in, "Ahi tuna tartar with sesame-asparagus vineigrette. This was for my friend Cris's first (or was it second) going away party. It was small, easy and simple to present."

GIACOMO: This looks fantastic! I love the idea of serving entire "dishes" in one bite. Looks like a fair amount of work but I'm sure it paid off.

READER CONTRIBUTION: what are YOU cooking?

So what are you cooking these days? Email me your latest recipes, photos, restaurant reviews, family secrets, good finds, hints, ideas or even questions and I'd love to post them!

Monday, March 22, 2010

swiss chard with onion, garlic, hot pepper and tomato

Now that the weather's getting warmer you'll find all sorts of greens available (and cheaper) at your local farmers markets and grocery stores. Some people traditionally cook collard greens, or kale, some swiss chard and others even broccoli rabe. I know certain recipes call for bacon grease or ham hocks or some kind of fatty flavoring but the way my mom and dad always did it was to get a large panwith a touch of olive oil over low heat, add your cut washed greens, chopped garlic, onions and hot pepper with a bit of salt (if you like add a few fresh tomatoes to sweeten it up) and simmer for 20 minutes or so till the greens reduce and the stalks become tender but still al dente. This is an extremely healthy meal or side dish and I love bringing leftovers to work the day after for lunch. I personally prefer more bitter greens but I say to experiment since there are so many options out there.

REVIEW (kinda): i love myself a good paella

Probably one of my favorite dishes. Personally, La Tasca holds my number one paella in DC with Jaleo a close second. I have yet to try it from Lorial since they warn you the wait is 40 minutes. This one pictured above and on the left is from the Cardozo in Miami Beach. The chorizo was exceptionally tasty here. Hands down though the best ever was on the beach in Barcelona (pictured on the right with my mom and dad)- there you have dozens of varieties, all the ingredients are as fresh as the ocean air and the demand is so high that restaurants cant afford to mess with their quality. A while back I blogged about an easy paella to make a home (see here) and I think now that spring is in the air I might finally buy myself a proper paella pan and make a night of it. My number one tip with paella: sandy shellfish will ruin your meal leaving you with gritty unappetizing rice. Be sure your clams and mussels are fresh and washed well and if you are unsure of the quality, steam them seperately, then after checking them, add (with their juices) to your completed paella- don't risk a sandy clam ruining your masterpiece.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

REVIEW: java green & cafe green, DC

So if you're a vegan or for whatever reason have insane dietary restrictions you probably already know about Java Green (and Cafe Green which seems to refuse to open). The food is delicious- they have everything from soy based kimchi "chicken" to almond milk and dehydrated "fried" onion rings. They have slammin bento boxes and some of the best rice bowls in the cuty (whether you're a vegan or not). Honestly, I think some of it though, is really over the top and they food designers are more chemists than chefs. I feel like an ultra processed dehydrated "fried" onion ring defeats the purpose of being on a raw diet. Also, I don't even want to know whats in some of that vegan fake cheese. Either way, if that's your hustle then go for it- you'll find few options in the city that can even hold a candle to this joint. They have on fun outdoor patio but expect a line if you're heading there anytime near peak. PS management stinks and they owe my over $400 bucks from when I helped open Cafe Green and redesign their catering menu. Java Green 1020 19th Street Northwest Washington, DC 20036 - (202) 775-8899

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


low point: eating cold progesso lentil soup from the can with a fork and a straw. i lost my spoon.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

slap chopper, or the like

So I've seen the infomercial on the Slap Chopper but never had the opportunity to use one. This is the XO version that I bought at Bed Bath & Beyond. I have to say it's almost always out, it saves you so much time and it makes onions a world easier. here are before and after photos from garlic, ginger and chilies. I definitely recommend cleaning in a dishwasher to get in all the corners but this is on my top ten list of kitchen gadgets to have around.

university mix

I often need a snack or something to pick on to get me through the day in the office so I've been experimenting with the nut mixes in the bulk section at Whole Foods. This so far is my favorite. It's called the University Mix- its fantastic with sunflower seeds, peanuts almonds and dried cherries. Sweet and savory, this good find will quench your appetite and is much healthier than chips or chocolates.

spicy thai lettuce wraps: lime minced chicken (or tofu) with ginger and sweet peppers

Sautee chopped garlic, ginger, fresh Thai chilies, and shallots till they start to turn golden. Add a pack of ground chicken, loosely chopped red bell peppers, soy sauce (for gluten free, make a quick mixture of vinegar salt and sugar) and lime juice. Stir everything until it's fully cooked then move it all to one side of the pan- crack an egg inside and break the yoke quickly to cook. Then add chopped peanuts, mung bean sprouts, fresh cilantro and more lime juice or soy sauce to taste. This is fantastic! Have a few washed iceburg or romain lettuce leaves out, scoop and handful, add some plum sauce (or any other sauce you prefer) and ENJOY. I'll get some better photos next time I make it. For a vegan variety use cubes tofu instead of chicken and omit the egg

Spicy black bean and avocado salad with cilantro and lime

Can of black beans drained and rinsed, avocado, a diced tomato, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno, olive oil, lime and salt. This is fantastic for a taco night or whenever you're craving something healthy and fresh. Fairly inexpensive so it works great in large batches if you're entertaining.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

DINING OUT FOR LIFE, Thursday, March 11th

This Thursday, March 11th, is Food and Friends’ annual charity event, Dining Out For Life where over 150 local DC restaurants donate between 25% and 100% of their proceeds to Food and Friends. For over 20 years Food and Friends has been supplying daily, nutritious meals, groceries and support to nearby residents with HIV, cancer, and other life threatening diseases. Please consider dining out at any of these participating restaurants (click here) and be sure to make your reservations through

REVIEW: do i really need to mention lorial plaza?

Clearly most DC readers know where Lorial Plaza is, what the food is like, how long they'll wait in line at 8pm on a Friday night and that they open at 11:30 am every weekend morning with food made ever so perfect for a hangover Dionysus himself would cry. The main reason most DCers end up there, at least in large groups, are the fantastic and enormous margaritas. Rocks, frozen or a strawberry swirl. I just discovered the "sangrita".... born from a frozen margarita and sangria, I have to say is hands down my favorite pitcher in town. Lorial Plaza, of Raul Sanchez and chef Luis Reyes, on 1835 18th St NW is a mix of Tex-Mex, Spanish, El Salvadorian, and maybe a couple other countries' cuisine. Some say it's fantastic, some say they've had better- in all my years there I've heard few complaints and know there's something on the menu for everyone.

Monday, March 8, 2010

REVIEW: Sushi-Go-Round, Chinatown

If you're looking for some fast sashimi in Chinatown you can stop by Sushi-Go-Round. The conveyor belt is fun and good for happy hours since everyone can pay their own bill but honestly I would NOT recommend eating the sushi there. For whatever reason most of the sushi on the belt has Japanese mayo or is a crunchy roll and I end up always leaving dissatisfied. Sushi should not be fried and should not be swimming in sauces and bizarre condiments. Please lets leave some things sacred. If you sit down in the main restaurant, order your rolls, sashimi or tempura and you'll be sure to get what you're looking for. Modestly priced, fast and great quality fish. Sushi-Go-Round, Verizon Center Washington DC. 705 7th St

seared tuna with dill and yellow rice

Wet your tuna steaks in soy sauce, sprikle with dried dill, black pepper, and sear a minute on each side. FANTASTIC. Fresh, healthy and only takes a few minutes start to finish. I like this with yellow rice but if you're aiming for low carb serve the tuna steak over chopped lettuce or micro greens with a touch of vinegar on the side.

REVIEW: Mojitos at the Chesterfield (Miami)

White rum, sugar, lime, sparkeling water and mint. Make it. The perfect summertime drink. Fresh, tastey and aromatic. I have to say there are few things better than relaxing your sunbathed body in the shade while sipping on a mojito watching people pass by. The mojito pictured above with a sugar cane stirrer is from the Chesterfield on Collins in South Beach- instead of spending 16 bucks on one, buy the bottle and make it at home. TIP: make a traditional mojito and garnish with chopped mangos, blueberries, melon or whaever fruit you might have around.

REVIEW: Maya Tapas & Grill, Miami Beach

So after just getting off a cruise ship with food so terrible they made the Chef preparing Continental Airlines trays seem like Emeril Lagasse, all I needed was something fresh and clean. Nothing processed, no heavy sauces, and no freezer burn. Well, we were strolling up Lincoln Road and Maya's menu caught our eye. I can sum it all up with "wonderful simplicity." Everything was modestly seasoned, extremely fresh and prepared in a way to showoff their ingredients, not mask them. The avocado salad was fantastic and the spicy beef was also superb. A pitcher of sangria (get the half pitcher, its enormous) can keep you there for a good part of the afternoon while you take in the Miami sun and the Lincoln Road foot traffic. PS, Evan our waiter could not have been any better (THANKS EVAN!). Maya Tapas & Grill, 809 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach, FL

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

turkey meatball soup with basil and fresh tomatoes

A couple weeks ago when we were all snowed in, DC shut down, and no one went to work for a week I came up with this yummy lunch. Just start out by preparing any stock and bring to a boil- I had half beef stock and half broccoli in my freezer (perfect combination but use whatever you prefer- mushroom, chicken, et cetera) at the same time I mixed ground turkey with an egg, some breadcrumbs, dried parsley, salt and pepper. I mixed it all together with my hands then rolled them into tini balls. Drop them in (1/2 inch or less) of hot frying oil till they get golden brown. If you don't want to fry, baking is fine too. Once the stock is hot enough, ladle some out in a big bowl with a handful of mini meatballs, some fresh tomatoes and fresh basil. A nice garnish with this is to add some roasted green onions: drizzle a handful of fresh onions with olive oil, broil them till they're crispy, and add as the finishing touch. This is a great Winter (or Summer for that matter) soup that is pretty low fat, has some great fresh flavors and will warm your soul.

About Me

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Hi there, my name is Giacomo and I enjoy things delicious. Long story short, my parents moved from Italy to NJ where I grew up (and loved it) but found myself in Washington, DC fourteen years ago and haven’t yet found an excuse to leave. Food has always been a huge part of my day and life… from happy times, sad times, holidays, drunken escapades and all the rest in between, I’ve usually spent a good portion of that time putting something in my mouth. I guess I started this blog a little while ago to keep track of what I was cooking and places I’d eat-- simply because my friends were always asking “how do you make this” or “where do you get that” but surprisingly over time I guess real people started reading too. SO, take a look around and let me know what you think. You’ll see that the backbone of lots of my food is Italian but I manage to cover most bases. Thanks for stopping by. BUON APPETITO!

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