Café Assisi, Wrentham MA – Restaurant Review

Now that life is getting back to normal (Crossing my fingers here, that we keep on a positive trend) it is time to start to returning to our favorite restaurants. As a recent cancer patient, I think we have held out a little longer than most. But we are active take-out customers. One of our favorite haunts, that was our regular Friday night destination before Covid hit, is this cute little, local, Italian restaurant in Wrentham, MA called Café Assisi. It is so important to support our local businesses, they have struggled so much and for the ones that made and survived we need to make sure they thrive. These are our friends and neighbors, the ones that make donations for school fundraisers and pour their heart and soul into their business and make this our community. For a couple that loves nothing more than going into the North End of Boston for dinner, this hidden gem in Wrentham, MA is a godsend and most likely responsible for some extra pounds I have been trying to get rid of.

When you support a small business, you support a dream.

-Unknown

Café Assisi is a little Italian bistro hidden in a corner of Wrentham, Ma, right around the corner from the Wrentham Outlet Malls. It could be very easy to drive by unless you knew it was there. The owners have committed themselves to doing it right and it is working! I have never had a bad meal there. Café Assisi does a vibrant take out business and the pizza is fantastic.

A few years ago, we had them cater our daughters’ Confirmation and everyone raved about the food. We called last minute and had multiple food allergies to deal with. They pulled it all together, it was reasonably priced and a lot more food than we anticipated. People are still talking about how good it was. I am very loyal to restaurants that are open to helping with food allergies and they have always been very respectful and upfront about what they could and could not do and I completely respect that.

It’s important to support people who put their heart, soul, and last dollar into something they believe in.

-Unknown

On the spur of the moment we decided to try and get a table and completely forgot that they recommended reservations. Luck was on our side and we got a parking spot right in front and they were crowded but said they could seat us outside. Over COVID, they built a beautiful outdoor seating area with heaters, lights and plants. It is very beautiful and romantic.

We got the shrimp and pasta in a red sauce special, which my husband adored and could barely finish because there was so much food. There was lots of shrimp and it was fresh and cooked perfectly. I got the Cod in spicy, tomato sauce over sauteed spinach which was fantastic.

I am not one to get dessert, but the craving for anything lemon lately has been overwhelming. Walking in to get a table I spied the dessert case and that limoncello cake was calling to me and it did not disappoint. It was out of this world!

I cannot recommend Café Assisi any more highly. So much so that I am afraid to post this as it may get busier and I will never get a table…..but they deserve all the business they can get.

Spaghetti & Meatballs with Sausages

I do not claim to be Italian but this Irish/Scottish Mom makes a pretty good Sunday Gravy or Sauce, however you would like to call it. It will never be as good as my childhood neighbor, Mrs. DiScipio’s Gravy. Anything she made was amazing. Once a year she would make a homemade tomato sauce from tomatoes from her garden. On Friday nights she would make pizza with that sauce. I dream about that pizza. But the whole point of this blog is to share our family recipes with my children. Because food is love.

It has taken many years but I have finally figured out the meatballs. Adding the pork mixture from the sausages to the ground beef mixture was a game changer. Whenever I made the meatballs before, you never knew how they would come out.

My kids love this recipe and it is a good staple recipe for a great Sunday Dinner.

The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.

-Julia Child

Spaghetti & Meatlballs with Sausages

Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 4 hrs
Course dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Italian

Ingredients
  

  • 3 lbs. 80/20 Ground Beef Can add pork or veal too
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup Bread crumbs homemade, italian style or even Gluten Free
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese or romano Or any combination of the two
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp. Chopped parsley
  • 1 15 oz Can of Tomato Paste
  • 3 Cans of warm water
  • 2-3 32 oz Ground Peeled Tomatoes I use Pastene
  • 2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Wine I use white, but red is great too
  • 1 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1.2 tbsp dried parsley
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Instructions
 

Meatballs

  • In a large bowl, break up the ground beef.
  • Take one or two of the sausages that you are planning to put in to the sauce and slice the casing off. Break apart the sausage meat and add it to the ground beef mixture.
  • Add the eggs, bread crumbs, cheese and parsley. Gently mix. DO NOT OVERMIX.
  • I use a cookie scoop so all the meatballs are the same size, but you don't have to.
  • Get a bowl of warm water to keep your hands and the scoop wet. Gently form the balls and put on a greased cookie sheet with a rack.
  • Poke holes in the remaining sausage and add them to the rack also. Cook in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes, flipping after 20 minutes.
  • ALTERNATIVE: My mother just put the meatballs and sausage directly into the sauce to cook there completely. They were always very good. It will just take longer too cook. I have also cooked the meatballs and sausages in a cast iron skillet, this works well too.

Tomato Sauce

  • In a large, heavy pot, over medium heat, saute' the garlic in the olive oil.
  • When the garlic becomes translucent add the wine and red pepper flakes. Cook for a few minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste and three cans of warm water. I like to use a whisk here as it helps to mix the paste. When the mixture is smooth, bring to a boil, add the bay leaf and the cans of Ground Peeled Tomatoes. Add the rest of the spices and sugar. Bring to a boil and then reduce mixture to a simmer.
  • When the meatballs and sausages are done, add them to the sauce and simmer for at least two hours.
  • This is always better the next day.
  • Serve with your favorite crusty bread and a salad.

Notes

Allergy Information:  Nut Free, Tree Nut Free. This recipe is easily adaptable to suit your allergy needs. I use Gluten Free breadcrumbs. You could leave the cheese out of the meatball mixture. 
Keyword italian recipe, sunday gravy, spaghetti sauce,, sunday dinner, spaghetti and meatballs, pasta, meatballs, spaghetti and meatballs

La Scala In Trastevere, Rome Restaurant Review

I am sitting at my desk today dreaming of Rome… There is nothing like it and now that I have been there I will never be the same. Strolling through Trastevere over the cobblestones on a warm night with family has always been my dream. After cancer, life is all about moments and experiences and Rome was one for the ages.

There were many times during our visit that we walked by La Scala in Trastevere and I kept saying we could not leave without trying it.

The hotel recommended La Scala in Trastevere, but said that we would need a reservation. We took a chance and stopped by without one and got a seat outside. It was raining, but that was not a problem, they had an awning and a heater and the effect was a very romantic dining experience.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all”

Helen Keller

Continue reading “La Scala In Trastevere, Rome Restaurant Review”

Trattoria Il Lucano – Rome Restaurant and Food Allergy Review

As we were walking back from the Pantheon one night on our recent life-changing trip to Rome, the kids were starving and I didn’t have any idea where we could eat. Before our trip I studied and searched for restaurants that would accommodate our family and their food allergies (Peanuts, tree nuts, carrots, cucumbers, soy, gluten, legumes, eggplant and zucchini). Italy is known for being very food allergy friendly but information on specific restaurants is hard to find, so I tried to find blog information and there was a few, but it was outdated and limited. So I looked for restaurants that were recommended by friends or had good reviews and reached out to them. Then I made a master list of the places that I wanted to visit and nearby restaurants that were food allergy friendly. (We made the food allergy cards and they were great but only used them once). It was good old fashioned leg work that got the job done. I will share my hard work with you all to save you some time.

I did a lot of prep work, but on this day I had run out of ideas. It was raining and we took a risk and stopped in at Trattoria Il Lucano and asked if they could accommodate us. We lucked out and it was a fabulous meal.

Our waiter was named Mimo and he was so much fun. He suggested that my husband try the steak which they cook at the table. We got the caprese salad, cacio e pepe, pizza and lots of house wine! Always get the house wine. We sat outside under the awning and had a fabulous meal despite the uncertainty at the beginning. My husband is still dreaming of the steak!

The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook. – Julia Child

Roscioli Salumeria Con Cucina – Rome Restaurant and Food Allergy Review

When I let my sister know that I was going to Rome all she kept saying was you need to go to Roscioli Salumeria Con Cucina located in the heart of Rome!  She and her husband said it was the best meal they have ever had and they tell everyone to go there. When we discovered it was only a three minute walk from our hotel we were thrilled. It did not disappoint!  I would highly recommend a reservation and to dine in the wine cellar. The reservation is very easily made on their website. When you travel to Rome with food allergies there is a lot of research to be done and I had a hard time finding information on specific restaurants. But if you do your research it can be done. We have a daughter with a lot of food allergies and there was a comment section on the reservation form where we inquired about what she could eat.

Our first night in Rome we ventured out for a beautiful walk through Rome to the restaurant. We were greeted by our waiter Ricardo and brought to the wine cellar. He was aware of the food allergies and let her know that she would have a fabulous meal. She is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, carrots, cucumbers, legumes, zucchini and eggplant but they had it under control. Honestly, I do believe he was very relieved that we were not uptight about it and she didn’t care what she had, she was just happy to be there. We were told to order the cacio e pepe and we would be amazed. We were! The wine was wonderful and the caprese salad, bread, gnocchi, ravioli, the limoncello, tortellini in brodo (homemade tortellini in broth) was so simple and to die for. The menu had a food allergy labeling system that made it all so easy. If you are gluten free, I found the restaurants bent over backwards to accommodate you. Roscioli is comfortable, relaxed and not very expensive, the perfect restaurant for our first night in Rome. They even brought us a little dessert with cookies you could dip in chocolate to welcome us to Rome. Roscioli is a must see.. I do believe it was the best meal I have ever had in my life.

I’d much rather drink wine and eat pasta than be a size zero – Sophia Loren

Carbonara

When the recipe card is as old and worn as this one, you know it’s good. Not even sure where I got the recipe, but it is a staple in this house. At my bridal shower, oh so many years ago, the guests all brought me a recipe, it might be from there. This is the ultimate pantry meal.

I split this recipe in two and make half with regular pasta and half with gluten free to accommodate my whole family. It is great both ways!

Life is a combination of Magic and Pasta – Federico Fellini

  • Olive Oil
  • 1 lb. spaghetti, cooked (regular or gluten free)
  • 1/3 lb. bacon
  • 4 or 5 cloves garlic – chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper (I like it spicy, so I add a little more)
  • 1/2 cup white wine or chicken stock
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup boiling pasta water
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Handful of chopped parsley
  • Coarse salt and pepper

Cook pasta Al Dente.

In large skillet over medium high heat. Saute bacon until it browns. Remove bacon and put aside. Drain the bacon oil and then add two tbsp. olive oil, garlic and red pepper. Saute two minutes. Add wine and reduce by half.

Beat eggs vigorously and stir in a ladle of pasta water. Drain the pasta and to bacon pan and remove from heat. Add egg mixture, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper and toss until well combined and cheese has melted. Serve with extra cheese.

Allergens: Dairy, Egg, Wheat (can make gluten free)