Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bits and Morsels travels to Emilio's Ballato

Emilio's Ballato's biscotti and the best cannoli ever!

Who doesn't love being pleasantly surprised? That was the case for me last Wednesday night at Emilio's Ballato. Full disclosure: I heard about Emilio's Ballato from Kelly Ripa. She mentioned on Live with Regis and Kelly that she had dined there.

The restaurant is located way downtown at 55 East Houston Street. Presently, there is a construction site blocking the restaurant so make sure you know where you are going. My taxi driver dropped me off across the street and I ended up walking more than a few blocks past the restaurant, getting a little lost, and was forced to take another taxi (yes, it was embarrassing for all involved). 

However, I went back a few days ago and found it on my first attempt. Once you eat there, you don’t forget its location. Emilio's Ballato doesn’t look like much from the outside, but inside it is warm, relaxed, cozy.
Emilio and Mario Vitolo of Emilio's Ballato.
It’s the perfect date restaurant because no one will find you there. The food is not pretentious and it’s an easy restaurant to loosen up and feel comfortable in.

They get a late crowd, too. I was there at 7 and it started to fill up around 9. A cliche, but true in this case: from your first step inside the restaurant you are made to feel like family by the owner Emilio and his son, Mario.
Inside Emilio's Ballato.
Every item on the menu is made to order, so you can’t really order badly. On Wednesday, the appetizer special was mozzarella en carozza. Who can turn down crispy, fried mozzarella cheese. This version was light, served with a simple and delicious tomato sauce. A garlicky broccoli rabe was also a good (and healthier) choice as an appetizer. Offered are all the Italian American classics, including an eggplant parmesan with a perfect cheesy top crust that is a memorable experience.

For dessert, it would be a sin not to order the cannolis; filled to order, not too sweet, with an excellent texture. The cheesecake and tiramisu were also winners. Emilio’s Ballato has been around since 1956. It is the real deal and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Emilio’s Ballato
55 East Houston Street
212.274.8881
Mozzarella en carozza ...
Escarole salad with tuna. Grilled octopus.
Eggplant parmesan. Spaghetti with fresh tomatoes garlic and oil.
Broccoli rape with garlic and olive oil. A side of string beans.
Look at those meatballs! Red snapper with tomato sauce and spaghetti on the side.
A capuccino and cannolis. The Cheesecake before I had a chance to photograph it.
The Tiramisu and the race to eat it ...
Jamie Oliver aka The Naked Chef is looking to open a bevy of restaurants all across Asia. He is seeking $22 million dollars from investors to make it happen. I’m a big fan of Jamie as he does significant charity work and is a big promoter of healthy eating, especially for children. [Bloomberg]

The Fine Living Channel
is going to be replaced by a new cooking channel. The new channel is going to focus on instruction-based cooking shows. I unwind by watching cooking shows, so I'm looking forward. [Media Week]

Oh no! There is a possible pumpkin shortage. An excess of rain this spring has lead to fewer tiny pumpkins. You know, the ones we all love and adore for Halloween decorating. [Washington Times]

Believe it or not ... but chicken wings have gone up in price. At one point, chicken breasts were the more expensive cut, but now it’s all about the wings. People perceive wings as an affordable luxury so they have been in high demand during these difficult financial times. Many restaurants have started selling “boneless wings" ... a little cost-cutting technique by slicing up and frying chicken breasts instead. [The New York Times]

Until we eat again,
Jordana Z.

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