Restaurant Review: Accurso’s

Accurso's exterior
Accurso’s (50th & Main, KCMO)

Over the last couple of months, I’ve enjoyed taking the brief jaunt down the street to partake of a different lunch selection from Accurso’s Italian Restaurant.  Today marked my fourth return visit and the weather almost tempted me to request seating outside.  If it had been Saturday, when the forecast suggests fall-like mid-70s temperatures, I would have requested a patio table.  Playing it safe, I choose the cool environs found inside the restaurant.  I am impressed by the design and decor found on the interior of Accurso’s and the jazz standards playing in the background provide a perfect ambience. 

Accurso's interiorAfter being seated, my waiter, Scott, who has served me three out of four times during previous lunches, related the specials available.  I passed on the specials because I did not want to be saddled with a take-home package of leftovers. I imagined huge portions from what he described and I prefer something lighter for lunch.  He left me to review the lunch menu while he retrieve a drink for me.

Accurso’s $5 Lunch Menu keeps drawing me back to try something different each time.  Previously, I’ve tried their Southern Italian thin crust seven-inch pizza (very tasty, but not as crisp as I prefer).  I also liked the Spaghetti & Meatballs, adding a side salad with a house Balsalmic vinegrette for just a buck.  During my most recent visit, a couple of weeks ago, I tried the Turkey Bacon Wrap which I really enjoyed. 

Scott brought my water and saw I needed more time to decide and left me for a few more minutes.  I wanted to try the Spinach salad, but the Pasta Diavolo distracted me.  I wondered what their home-made diavolo sauce tasted like (I know what spinach tastes like).  I did a quick search on my Nook Color, using Accurso’s complimentary wifi service, to see what the common ingredients were for a diavolo sauce.  I didn’t see anything that I might not like (mainly cheesey or creamy stuff since I’m somewhat lactose intelerant).  What I did find suggested some spiciness, which I’m always ready to try.  When Scott returned to check on me, I placed an order for the Pasta Diavolo with a side salad (gotta have my greens and that Balsalmic vinegrette is really tasty).

Trying Pasta Diavolo for lunch at Accurso's
Accurso’s Pasta Diavolo

I made it about two-thirds of the way through my salad when Scott brought the pasta dish to my table. I didn’t rush to finish, as I wanted to savor the salad.

The diavolo sauce looked creamy, appearing less red than I had hoped.  I tentatively tried a couple of pennes and couldn’t detect any overwhelming cheese flavor.  I did pick up a bit of spiciness, but mildly so, warming my stomach more than my tongue as I progressed through the dish.  I finished most of the pasta, but not all of it.  I prefer not to drown or smother my pasta with sauce, but that’s just a personal foible of mine.   I left a few penne surfing on the diavolo sauce and declined Scott’s offer to box up the remainder for me to take home.  I don’t think I’ll be re-ordering this lunch selection in the future.  Not because it wasn’t well prepared and presented, but rather because I didn’t find it as appealing to my pallette as I wished it to be. 

Next time, a week or so down the road, I plan to try the Spinach Salad.

Ciao, for now.

Recipe Test: Stromboli (via King Arthur Flour)

Stromboli: King Arthur Flour Recipe

My daughter continues providing meals to her father (and I benefit as well).  One of her suggested menu items happened to be stromboli.  She called her boyfriend last night for the recipe, but he had a bad day at work so supper at the Moss Home quickly became leftovers.  Rachelle called me later while I was out at the grocery store picking up items for today’s return of the chicken pot pie.  She needed French bread to make her stromboli.  I told her I needed a minimum of three to four hours to make that type of bread.  I asked her if I could make some French bread on Sunday afternoon so she could make the stromboli on Monday.  She agreed and eventually left to spend the evening (and night) with friends.

Monday morning, I reviewed the stromboli recipe via the King Arthur Flour web site.  I placed the ingredients for the dough in my bread machine and added time to the dough cycle so that the dough would be ready for Rachelle around 4:30 p.m.  I went merrily off to work and called her at 3:00 p.m. to make sure the bread machine started on time and that the dough looked like it should.  She told me it looked great and smelled wonderful.

Our Stromboli looked very much like this one (sorry, I forgot to take a photo of ours)

I got home at my regular time and the stromboli was already baking in the oven on parchment paper on the pizza stone.  The house smelled glorious.  Within a half hour, we took the baked stromboli out of the oven and let it rest and cool for ten to fifteen minutes.  I sliced it while Rachelle heated up some marinara sauce.  We each enjoyed at least two slices, if not three.

Later, after we’d stuffed ourselves, Rachelle realized she should have let the stromboli rise before baking it.  Neither of us had thought about that and had not allowed for that second rise time in our evening dinner planning.  Next time, we’ll definitely let the stromboli rise for at least a half hour or longer.  This recipe is a keeper!

Restaurant Review: Luigi’s (Leavenworth, Kansas)

A little Saturday evening local romantic dinner atmosphere.
A little Saturday evening local romantic dinner atmosphere.

Terry surprised me by taking me out last night to a new (at least new to us) local Italian restaurant.  Located in the renovated (again) old bakery at 7th and Cherokee, across for the newly updated Haymarket Square.  I remarked to Terry that my mom used to work in the bakery decades ago (not sure if it was the 50s, 60s or 70s … and she didn’t answer her phone when I called her to ask).   We found parking within half a block of the restaurant and arrived while it was still light, although overcast, around seven o’clock.  We were seated immediately, directly across from the door we just walked through.  Remember that point, as it will become more important later in the evening.

Our waitress was young (sixteen), amusing and helpful, but we failed to make note of her name (our fault, we’re usually more astute).  I ordered a glass of the house Whit Zin (attributed to the Macaroni Grill, which I thought was odd) with a glass of ice water.  Terry ordered sweetened tea and received ice water as well.

For an appetizer, we selected the sliced Italian sausage.  We both wanted side salads, but not the normal house tossed salads.  Terry and I both prefer Romaine lettuce, so the waitress assured us we could have small Ceasar salads (sans dressing) instead of the tossed side salad.  Terry ordered the baked ziti for his entre’ and I ordered spaghetti and meatballs with marinara.

Shortly after our waitress left to deliver our order to the kitchen, a different server brought us some very hot breads or rolls with traditional seasoned oil dipping sauce.  Since I had spent the afternoon making Rustic Sourdough bread and Italian Supermarket Bread, I have to admit I prefer my own bread to what was served, ironically in an old bakery.

Before we’d even finished half of one of the rolls, our waitress brought a large circular flattened bowl-like dish with the sliced Italian sausage covered in a tasty sauce.  We almost ate all of it, although we left some to take home, mindful that our entres would be large as well and I hoped to try dessert.

Since we were at the front of the restaurant, we could watch the evening darkening outside, and keenly felt the lowering temperatures each time more guests arrived for dinner through the door directly across from our table.  The draft, while refreshing on a normally warm spring day, chilled us repeatedly throughout our meal.

Our waitress next brought our entres with apologies for forgetting our salads, which she comped us.  She was apparently quite busy or one of only a couple of waitresses working the restaurant last night.

Terry eating baked ziti at Luigis
Terry eating baked ziti at Luigis

Terry’s baked ziti looked delicious, and he ate most of it, but he spent quite a bit of time looking for the ricotta cheese, one of the ingredients listed in the menu description for the dish.  He finally gave up looking for it and asked the waitress about it.  She apologized but couldn’t answer the original question.  Terry told her she didn’t need to apologize, as it wasn’t her fault.   Besides the missing ingredient, the dish was a bit bland for Terry’s taste.

My pasta entre was also bland, but I always douse most pasta dishes with crushed red pepper.  I feel justified doing this as the one true Italian I know (a co-worker of many years) does the exact same thing when we’ve shared a lunch as a group at any of the local Italian restaurants within walking distance of our offices at the Plaza Library building.  While I liked the flavor of the meatballs, Terry thought them bland.  I only ate a few bites, anticipating taking most of my entre home to enjoy with my fresh baked Italian bread on Sunday afternoon.  Besides, I wanted to try a dessert.

Our salads finally arrived and I cleared my palette grazing on Romaine lettuce and mediocre croutons.  Terry was confused by the style of house Italian dressing, which looking like a vinaigrette-y French variety.  The waitress explained it was a tomato based Italian.  I smirked at him because I always eat my salads dry, unless it’s my home-made dressing or a raspberry vinaigrette.

As she was bringing our doggy bags and clearing away our dishes, we asked for the dessert menu.  She named off a half-dozen varieties of desserts, all of them with cheese of some sort: various varieties of cheese cakes, tiramisu, cannoli and something else I can’t remember that also had cheese, probably marscapone, stuffed into it.  I sighed.  No dessert for me.  Terry ordered the strawberry cheesecake  and only took a couple of bites home with him.

We enjoyed our night out, mostly because we didn’t have to drive twenty miles, we didn’t have to fight the crowds at the Legends and we spent some money in our own home town supporting a local business.  We will be back to try some other items on their menu, and hope for either milder weather or a spot farther from the front door.

Restaurant Review: Macaroni Grill

I treated myself to lunch at the Macaroni Grill Friday.  The pleasant atmosphere and strains of jazz standards created a relaxing ambiance.   I selected the Scallops and Spinach salad from the lunch menu, one of a dozen or so items containing less than six hundred callories.  Seared and succulent scallops perfectly complemented the wilted spinach tossed with aged prosciutto, roasted garlic, lemon and extra virgin olive oil.  I prefer my spinach crisp and cool, but the flavorful combination satisfied my lunch palette.

Before my salad, my server brought a large (well, large for one person) warm loaf of bread and provided extra virgin olive oil and fresh ground black pepper.  Never one to turn down bread, I ate every last crumb.

My husband and I will have to try this establishment for dinner some time, although it’s a bit far from home for our usual date nights.