Helpful ReplyHot!Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops...

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pnwchef
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/10 17:39:36 (permalink)
joerogo
Come to think of it, at the very best pizza/hoagie shop in my hometown, pizza is usually just my appetizer.  The Italian dinners on the menu are fantastic, and usually between $10-$12 with hot bread and a salad.  The owner, Antonio, is from Napoli.
 
My pizza appetizer.

 
Who doesn't like broccoli and cavatelli?

 
Eggplant Parmesan!

 
Baked ziti.

 
And sometimes we talk the owner into making special dinners for us.  A couple weeks ago we had osso bucco.

 

on the same note, one of my usual stops in Connecticut is Nardelli's in Waterbury.  Never had a grinder there, usually sofrito in red sauce and maybe a stuffed mushroom. And every time I order they ask me if I know what it is....yes yes, it's veal hearts. :)
 
This is what my pasta dish looks like at home......

 
 
 


Joe, is that kinda like the Turkey dinner at Thanksgiving being a snack before the Italian food comes out to the table.
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/11 00:59:45 (permalink)
As an Italian-American, and someone who has been to Italy several times (like leethebard), I proclaim none of this to be authentic.
 
Actually, I don't know and I don't care.  Looks really good, however.  Italians have some kind of protective, prideful thing going that if you're not Italian, then you don't know what authentic is.  I don't get it.  There are people that are quite knowledgeable about international cuisine without being native to that land.  For instance, Rick Bayless probably knows as much about Mexican cuisine as anyone.
 
And as a kid who would climb up to the stove and get caught eating gravy out of the pot with a spoon and eating all of the meatballs, if you want extra gravy or sauce, great.
 
I know some native Italians/relatives that would gripe about the "swimming in sauce" bit, but I always discounted it, because the ones that I know that did this were pretty much cranking about everything else anyway.
 
 
 
 
 
RodBangkok
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/11 04:23:52 (permalink)
Well I have to agree that  almost everything I’ve seen pics of in this post is Italian American.  You just don’t see sauce glopped on bare pasta in a Italian Italian restaurant.  For 30 years almost all the Italian I have consumed is in Restaurants run by Italians in Asia and I’ve never seen dishes like the pics.
 
Now theres nothing wrong with Italian American, there are good cookbooks on the subject, and one of the best for references to American Italian  is The Talisman Italian by Ada Boni.  This is a book of Italian recipes that go way back, but excludes recipes that use ingredients not available in the states.
 
I don’t eat any Asian food in the US as its been modified so badly to fit American tastes, the same goes for almost any other ethnic foods, IMHO.
 
One of my favorite examples is the bastardization of Bolognese, not just from the states, but the UK also.  I would bet most Americans or Brits have never had an authentic Bolognese…maybe stretching it a bit, but I can say when I first had it in Asia many years ago, I thought this isn’t Bolognese, till I realized what I had been eating in the states was in fact not Bolognese, for years!
 
To each his own, but it would be perhaps advisable to put these type dishes in another category than International food, as they certainly are not.
joerogo
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/11 07:57:38 (permalink)
RodBangkok
Well I have to agree that  almost everything I’ve seen pics of in this post is Italian American.  You just don’t see sauce glopped on bare pasta in a Italian Italian restaurant.  For 30 years almost all the Italian I have consumed is in Restaurants run by Italians in Asia and I’ve never seen dishes like the pics.
 
Now theres nothing wrong with Italian American, there are good cookbooks on the subject, and one of the best for references to American Italian  is The Talisman Italian by Ada Boni.  This is a book of Italian recipes that go way back, but excludes recipes that use ingredients not available in the states.
 
I don’t eat any Asian food in the US as its been modified so badly to fit American tastes, the same goes for almost any other ethnic foods, IMHO.
 
One of my favorite examples is the bastardization of Bolognese, not just from the states, but the UK also.  I would bet most Americans or Brits have never had an authentic Bolognese…maybe stretching it a bit, but I can say when I first had it in Asia many years ago, I thought this isn’t Bolognese, till I realized what I had been eating in the states was in fact not Bolognese, for years!
 
To each his own, but it would be perhaps advisable to put these type dishes in another category than International food, as they certainly are not.


Rod, page three of this thread......Bolognese in Bologna!!! 


 
eruby
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/11 07:59:12 (permalink)
 
Ketteract:  as always, a great write up and fantastic pictures.  I always look forward to reading/seeing what you post
 
Regarding the rest of the 'commentary' in this thread, my sentiments are summed up by this little boy.
 
 

lleechef
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/11 11:58:05 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby joerogo 2017/04/11 14:13:24
joerogo
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With all due respect, we're having fun.
We don't need Gladys Kravitz or Aunt Bea right now. Go break up some other world crisis. Jeez Louise.
Did you know that Aunt Clara was a PittstonGirl?

That would explain a LOT of things!
Ketteract
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/13 17:51:25 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby joerogo 2017/04/14 08:44:00
Today, I hit the last of the Hartford Big Three, Maple Giant Grinder.  No pasta this time.



I actually hadn't been back to Maple since the grinder I had near the beginning of this thread, and of course they hadn't changed.  It just so happened that the weather was, again, nice and warm, so they had their front and back doors open, creating a steady airflow.  Staff was as friendly as ever.



I had remembered Maple's meatballs as being a little less dense than Corner's or Franklin's, and this was still the case.  I'm guessing that these were closer, in that respect at least, to what most people might make in their homes.  They were very mild, more on the Franklin side of flavor.



Arancini was on Maple's menu, but they didn't have any today, and the brief conversation I had with the proprietor suggested that they were pretty work-intensive and not something he would have on a regular basis.  So I settled for stromboli.



You can get a good look at Maple's sauce here.  It's definitely the darkest I've seen so far, and I'm not sure what causes that color.  It also has the smoothest consistency, except perhaps for Wethersfield's, which I need to revisit for the purpose of this thread.  And on the scale of tangy to sweet, here's where it lies:

TANGY  <---Franklin---Corner------Maple---Wethersfield-->  SWEET

The stromboli itself was outstanding, stuffed with capicola, salami, maybe one other meat that was too buried for me to identify, and mozzarella.  I should give special mention to the crust.  Just look at it.



This wasn't something that I'd seen offered at the other big Hartford grinder joints.  Between that, the theoretical arancini, and other items that I saw on Maple's menu, I think it's safe to say that they have the broadest selection.  

I saved one meatball and half the stromboli for later, and then I headed on over to the good old D&D Market (now located only in Wethersfield).  I always want to buy every single thing that I see there.



It's frustrating.







Ended up with a few arancini, a few veal cutlets, a couple of meatballs, and a piece of chicken piccata.  I had room left for one arancini.



I've yet to find a place in the Hartford area that does arancini better than D&D, but that's partly because it can be a rather tough food to find!  It's distinctly Sicilian, and I gather that it's not all that trendy (god knows why).
post edited by Ketteract - 2017/04/13 17:54:52
ann peeples
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/13 18:24:56 (permalink)
Wonderful!
Root-Beer Man
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/13 18:53:37 (permalink)
What a spread! I'd still be there trying to decide what to buy. Everything looks great!
ScreamingChicken
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/13 19:32:47 (permalink)
That stromboli looks terrific!
mlm
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/13 19:49:05 (permalink)

joerogo
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/17 18:15:37 (permalink)
Ketteract, Do you know the meat blend?  I find that all beef tend to be very dense.
Michael Hoffman
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/17 19:11:40 (permalink)
joerogo
Ketteract, Do you know the meat blend?  I find that all beef tend to be very dense.


I've always used beef, veal and pork. lleechef does, too. But her meatballs are better than mine and she's evil and wont share her secret with me.
Ketteract
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/17 20:36:39 (permalink)
joerogo
Ketteract, Do you know the meat blend?  I find that all beef tend to be very dense.




I've never asked - but maybe I should start!  The folks at Maple, Corner, and Wethersfield are very approachable, and I'm sure they wouldn't mind a friendly inquiry.  It's not like I'd be asking for the exact recipe or anything.  Franklin... hmm.  I'd need to have a couple of drinks beforehand.  For courage.
Uncle Groucho
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/17 21:26:29 (permalink)
Ketteract , Did you notice any Italian Easter Pie? My Mom made a few for Easter and I was very impressed.
Ketteract
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/18 06:26:19 (permalink)
Uncle Groucho
Ketteract , Did you notice any Italian Easter Pie? My Mom made a few for Easter and I was very impressed.




Grrrr.  I didn't even think to look.  I went Polish for Easter this year. 
leethebard
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/18 10:15:49 (permalink)
My grandma always made Easter pies. One I remember had salami baked in. Never ate it.It looked strange. My bad. Grandma and later mom, would always make spinach pie on good fridat. Anyone ever hear of that. It was a stuffed pizza, with spinach in the middle. Loved that emensely!!!
joerogo
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/18 10:38:32 (permalink)
Uncle Groucho
Ketteract , Did you notice any Italian Easter Pie? My Mom made a few for Easter and I was very impressed.


Uncle Groucho, This years model.....

Michael Hoffman
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/18 12:25:01 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby joerogo 2017/04/18 18:46:52
Will you cut that out! If I can't have any I don't want to see it.
leethebard
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/18 16:38:39 (permalink)
joerogo
Uncle Groucho
Ketteract , Did you notice any Italian Easter Pie? My Mom made a few for Easter and I was very impressed.


Uncle Groucho, This years model.....



0H gOD, THAT'S IT......
Wintahaba
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/18 16:42:03 (permalink)
Looks awesome, besides the meat what's in it? eggs?
Uncle Groucho
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/18 16:55:04 (permalink)
Joe Rogo , thats it. Dont quote me , eggs, salami, pepperoni , and a couple other Italian meats and spices. I remember a Spinach Pie when I was younger , I think we ate that and stole sauce from the pot when my Grandma wasnt looking. Grandma got mad when we would steal her sauce , she got even madder if we didnt steal it.
Michael Hoffman
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/18 17:10:52 (permalink)
Wintahaba
Looks awesome, besides the meat what's in it? eggs?


eggs and cheese.
Wintahaba
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/18 17:21:18 (permalink)
So, kind of like a pretty thick strada? I've got to get my wife on board w/ making that.
Michael Hoffman
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/18 18:05:41 (permalink)
Wintahaba
So, kind of like a pretty thick strada? I've got to get my wife on board w/ making that.


Here's one recipe for Pizzagaina, or Easter pie. There are any number of others available by Googling pizzagaina.
 
http://www.food.com/recipe/pizza-gain-aka-pizzagaina-pizza-rustica-italian-easter-ham-pie-293899
Wintahaba
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/18 18:29:00 (permalink)
Thank you Michael.
joerogo
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/18 18:50:05 (permalink)
Wintahaba
Looks awesome, besides the meat what's in it? eggs?


I'm not the chef on this one, but, I know its got tuma cheese, ham, eggs and grated cheese.  Don't know what's in the crust, but it's extra special.
joerogo
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/18 18:51:51 (permalink)
Uncle Groucho
Joe Rogo , thats it. Dont quote me , eggs, salami, pepperoni , and a couple other Italian meats and spices. I remember a Spinach Pie when I was younger , I think we ate that and stole sauce from the pot when my Grandma wasnt looking. Grandma got mad when we would steal her sauce , she got even madder if we didnt steal it.


Every region has it's own recipe, my Mom's only had ham.  Ditto on stealing sauce.......and meatballs! :)
Ketteract
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/20 14:43:46 (permalink)
The Wethersfield Pizza House is known for their enormous and decadent chicken cutlet grinders, far less so for their actual pizza, and, I suspect, not at all for their pasta dinners.  Which puts them squarely in this thread's sights.

I came in early yesterday afternoon, just after the lunch rush.  There was a large group of folks at the center table, all eating grinders, and a few others, also eating grinders.  I ordered ziti with meatball and sausage.  Other places I've been to didn't bat an eye at that order, but the fellow here (the husband of the famously folksy woman that's normally behind the counter) made a bit of a deal of informing me that the extra meat would cost more, and that the pasta would take about 15-20 minutes to prepare.  Definitely, my order was not the usual.  I said that was all fine and took my seat.

It ended up being more like half an hour, but Sally's in New Haven and other old-school establishments have taught me to grant immense latitude where appropriate.  There's a whole category of places that, whether due to the particular mechanics of their food preparation, or their overall culture, or both, are simply not built around what I perceive as modern-day practices of obsequiousness and faster-than-light service.  Reviewers on Yelp, who tend to skew younger, often seem to have trouble discerning this; I don't mean to put them down, but it's definitely something to keep in mind when scanning their feedback.

As with Franklin and Corner, there was bread to go with the meal.  I think it's safe to crown Corner as the clear winner in the bread department.  For their grinders, they use the same unremarkable rolls as the other places, but what comes with a dinner is a homemade crusty delight, some of the best bread of that style that I've had anywhere.  Everywhere else just gives you a chunk of the grinder rolls.  (I didn't test that out at Maple, but based on everything I saw there, I wouldn't expect them to challenge Corner for this.)



As you can see, Wethersfield is as heavy on the sauce as the other places.  Notably, the pasta is genuine ziti - Franklin's menu claimed ziti, but penne was what I was served.



Either my memory had played tricks on me, or their homemade sauce varies between batches - this was less sweet than I remembered.  I would adjust my earlier spectrum to put Maple on the sweetest end, with Wethersfield a close second.

Their meatballs were the super-dense type that, so far, I've seen everywhere except Maple.  I neglected to ask exactly what was in it.  Very mildly flavored, as usual.  



A good solid Italian sausage, similar to Corner's in texture and taste.  Franklin's sausages remain the most distinctive by far.



I couldn't help but sneak a pic of their deli case. This was the first time I'd seen the meat boulders arranged on plates instead of in bins.  I think it's striking and cool.



One thing I want to re-emphasize: Franklin, Maple, Corner, and Wethersfield all make their own sauce, meatballs, and (probably) sausage.  These are old recipes, family recipes, secret recipes.  That is the standard, and I can imagine getting so used to it that I take it for granted.  If I were to settle for otherwise, I might as well go to Subway.  In the sauce especially, there's enough variation that you could likely distinguish its origin in a blind taste test. 
post edited by Ketteract - 2017/04/20 14:45:20
ScreamingChicken
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Re: Italian entrees at old grocers / sandwich shops... 2017/04/20 15:34:26 (permalink)
Meat boulders.
 
Since you have good Midwestern manners I'm sure you thanked them for the generous serving of sauce.
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