Restaurant Review – Luciano’s, Wrentham MA

Restaurants in Wrentham, Ma. appear to be on my list of favorites lately. Luciano’s is one of them. My husband and I recently celebrated our wedding anniversary. Where to go? Saw a Facebook post from Luciano’s in Wrentham, MA with a picture of their baked stuffed lobster and I was sold. We have been to Luciano’s before, but not since before Covid, so this was going to be a treat.

Established in 1991, Luciano’s is hidden away in a very unassuming location on Rte. 1 in Wrentham, MA. When you enter you are brought back to a classic Italian steak house of old. Great bar with weekend entertainment and a classic, sophisticated ambiance. This was just the “lets get dressed up and celebrate” location that we were looking for.

As we were being seated it occurred to me, “What if the baked stuffed lobster was a special that night and not available tonight…. I should have called first!”

Our waiter was wonderful and told us the long and complicated list of specials (Baked stuffed lobster was there!!). Explaining them all perfectly. I ordered a chardonnay and my husband got the house red wine. I don’t usually go for red wine, but the waiter’s recommendation was fantastic. The waiter noticed me stealing sips and brought a glass for me, so my husband could be left in peace with his drink. This is the kind of service and attention to detail that Luciano’s is famous for. We started our meal with the focaccia and Italian bread with olive oil for dipping. I could have had this for my meal alone it was so good.

For the appetizer we got the classic shrimp cocktail to share. It was prepared perfectly and served ice cold. For something so simple it is so easy to get wrong. They did not get this wrong. It was wonderful. We knew we were getting big meals, so we did not want to fill up on appetizers.

Ordering for me was easy and I told the waiter it was the Facebook post that got me here. He let me know that I would not be disappointed. He was correct. I cannot even remember how long it has been since I had a baked stuffed lobster. A very classic dish that isn’t on a lot of menus these days. It was my late mother’s favorite and I cannot help but have fond memories of this wonderful woman while I am eating it. Anyone who knows me knows that I feel food is love and food is memories and this meal checked off quite a few of those boxes.

The lobster came and to say I was speechless was an understatement. A two and a half pound lobster, prepared and stuffed to perfection. I actually couldn’t even finish it. The waiter chuckled at my reaction. I brought the leftovers home and my college student, home for the summer, finished it in a flash.

My husband got the Veal Saltimbocca Alla Romana and was thrilled with it. I am not a huge fan of veal normally, but I would order this. It was an amazing dish. I had every intention of getting dessert because it was a special occasion but I was just too full to get anything else.

Going to Luciano’s was the perfect choice for this special occasion. The waiter even noticed the breast cancer pin on my purse and asked if I was a survivor. I am and this year will be five years since my diagnosis and we had a very sincere chat and I appreciated his thoughtfulness. As we were waiting for the check, there were a few elderly ladies sitting across from us having a grand celebration of some sort. One woman had a walker and was tired and was having a hard time using the walker on the carpet. This wonderful man that was our waiter (I wish I could remember his name), had her sit in a chair and he slid the chair across the rug until she was in a place to use the walker more easily. He was charming and made her feel special and she had a great smile on her face throughout the whole adventure.

I cannot recommend Luciano’s in Wrentham, MA any more highly. It is the perfect special occasion restaurant. But let’s be honest, life is short, every day should be a special occasion.

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.

Simple Mango Salsa

Spring is here …. despite the 40 degree weather. And it is time to break out all the spring and summer recipes. This Simple Mango Salsa is the first one that I thought of. It is so wonderful and versatile. I first made this salsa years ago and it has been on regular rotation ever since. It is simple to make and elevates anything you put it on …. grilled chicken or fish, tacos, salad, chips or in any bowl now a days.

Chop all the ingredients and combine in a bowl. Good luck cutting the mango. I think mangos are my least favorite thing to deal with. I make a huge mess trying to cut them, but it is worth it. Well worth it.

My advice is to let the salsa sit in the fridge for a few hours, but if you don’t the time, feel free to eat immediately.

Life without Mexican food is like no life at all.

-Unknown

Simple Mango Salsa

This mango salsa is great as an appetizer, condiment, side dish. Great on fish or chicken. Perfect to bring to a party as chips and dip also. So easy and fun to eat.
Course Appetizer, condiment, dinner, Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Fresh Mango Peel, sliced and diced
  • 1 cup Black Beans Rinsed
  • 1/2 Red onion Diced
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp Fresh cilantro Chopped fine
  • Salt To taste
  • 1 Jalapeno De-seeded and diced fine. This is optional and you can add as little or as much as you want to.

Instructions
 

  • Peel and dice the mango into small pieces.
  • Chopped the red onion fine and add to mangoes.
  • Rinse the black beans and add.
  • Chopped the Cilantro fine.
  • Combine all the ingredients along with cumin and orange juice.
  • Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Notes

This mango salsa is the perfect addition to any meal. It goes great as an appetizer or snack combined with tortilla chips as a chip and dip recipe. You can also serve on top of grilled chicken or fish or a side dish. 
This fruity salsa is healthy and kid friendly. Mango salsa is also allergy friendly. 
Allergens: Contains black beans which are a legume. DAIRY FREE, TREE NUT FREE, PEANUT FREE, EGG FREE, GLUTEN FREE, SOY FREE
Keyword appetizers, black beans, chips and dip, condiment, fish tacos, fruit salsa, grilling, healthy salsa, mango salsa, mangoes, salsa, side dish

Easy Linguine With Clam Sauce

When I was a young girl we had a summer house on Cape Cod and my godfather would go clamming and make steamers.  I loved them… I would eat more than most of the adults.  Then I got a little older and turned into a squeamish teenage girl and that was the end of that.  Well this dish made me love clams again.  I was so intimidated to make it, but my husband told me to give it a try. It is so easy to make and everyone is always impressed with how it looks even if they won’t eat it. This one is so good, all my children eat love it!

Set a large pot with salted water to boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta and reserve a cup of the pasta water for later. Heat the oil in a large skillet with a cover. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until garlic is translucent. Add the white wine and simmer a few minutes. If you can use a good wine. It always helps to use a good white wine. But if you don’t have it, anything will do. Add the reserved water. Bring to a boil. Add the clams and cover the pan. (I always buy my clams at our local fish monger, Fresh Catch. The employees are great and always help me find quality stuff). Leave the cover on and cook for approximately five minutes. Until the clams have all opened. If you need a few more minutes, take it. If after that there are any clams that have not opened, discard them. Add the juice of half of a lemon. Frankly, in my opinion the more lemon the better, so on my plate, I always add more. Take off the heat and add the pasta to the pan and very gently toss. At the last minute, add the parsley, some lemon zest and serve. Garnish with lemon and grated parmesan cheese. This meal is so easy and I was always so afraid to make it. If you swap out the linguine for a gluten free version it makes a great gluten free meal.  I have even done this recipe on the grill outside and it works great. This meal is fantastic paired with a great with a Chardonnay and crusty bread. Enjoy!

Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink in the wild air

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Easy Linguine With Clam Sauce

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Appetizer, dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian, Mediterranean

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb. linguine Regular or Gluten Free (reserve a cup of the pasta water)
  • 2 lbs. clams Washed and scrubbed clean to get ride of the sand that may have been left on.
  • 3 cloves garlic Diced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup White Wine I use a good Chardonnay
  • 2 tbsp. Fresh Parsley Chopped. In a pinch you could use dry but fresh parsley is a game changer here.
  • 1/4 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Lemon
  • Salt and Pepper To taste.
  • Shredded Parmesan Cheese To taste.

Instructions
 

  • Set a large pot with salted water to boil for the pasta.
  • Cook the pasta and reserve a cup of the pasta water for later.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet with a cover.
  • Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until garlic is translucent.
  • Add the white wine and simmer a few minutes.
  • Add the reserved water. Bring to a boil
  • Add the clams and cover the pan.
  • Leave the cover on and cook for approximately five minutes. Until the clams have all opened.
  • If you need a few more minutes, take it. If after that there are any clams that have not opened, discard them.
  • Add the juice of half of a lemon.
  • Take off the heat and add the pasta to the pan and very gently toss.
  • At the last minute, add the parsley, some lemon zest and serve.
  • Garnish with lemon and grated parmesan cheese.

Notes

This meal is so easy and I was always so afraid to make it. If you swap out the linguine for a gluten free version it makes a great gluten free meal. 
Goes great with a Chardonnay and crusty bread. Enjoy!
Allergens: Shellfish, Dairy, Gluten (Does work good with gluten free past also)
Keyword Allergy Friendly recipe, clam chowder, family dinner, food and wine, gluten free recipe, home cooking, Italian dinner, italian recipe, sunday gravy, spaghetti sauce,, linguine with clam sauce, mediterranean food, mediterranean recipe, pasta, pasta dinner, seafood, shellfish, simple meal

Cancer changes everything

My story..

There is a reason for this blog. I always said I wanted to write a cookbook of all the family recipes for my three daughters. I imagined it would be a fun present at a bridal shower or housewarming. To show a more personal side of those who came before them. The memories of our loved ones live on in these little bits of history. I have been putting recipes aside for years and worked on it here or there, because I always felt I had the time to get it done. Then things changed. Cancer happened.

Continue reading “Cancer changes everything”

French casserole Chicken – Supreme of Old Hen

This recipe brings back such fond memories of my childhood. It is not hard, but it is a bit time consuming. For some reason my late-father who loved to cook did not like to cook this. But he always made it for me on my birthday because he knew it was my favorite. It still is…. I have such wonderful memories of my birthday and this meal. I remember one time, he spent all day making it and we were all sitting at the table waiting for dinner. He liked to make a big deal out of the fact that he made it and was presenting it with a flourish, as he brought it to the table.

To be a good cook you have to have a love of the good, a love of hard work, and a love of creating” – Julia Child

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”

Donkey Punch – Rome Restaurant Review

My college student daughter has been studying in Amsterdam for the semester and we wanted to go visit her. I have always dreamed of Rome and after a long battle with breast cancer, we decided to celebrate it was over and take this bucket list adventure with our family. So we all met in Rome for a great reunion.

She has a lot of friends in Rome, so we asked for recommendations for a little place to grab lunch..street food. They live in Trastevere and all agreed we needed to try Donkey Punch. Yes, you heard it right….. Donkey Punch. It is an eclectic little sandwich shop in the heart of Trastevere. There are murals of 70’s and 80’s rockers all over the walls and the sandwich names follow the same pattern.

The college aged girl who made the sandwiches was spectacular and recommended the “Eddie Van Halen” which was porchetta, tomatoes, pickled red onions, mayo and basil and it was done on grilled foccacia bread. I got the “Eric Clapton” which was tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, pickled onions and rocket salad.  Mine was fabulous but the Eddie Van Halen was the best sandwich I have ever had in my life. Next time I will get that. 

The girl making them put so much love into making these sandwiches, I told her she was an artist and I meant it. We ate the sandwiches so quickly I couldn’t even get a picture of them. I would highly recommend Donkey Punch to anyone visiting the Trastevere neighborhood in Rome, Italy. It was a great meal on the go, with a great atmosphere and great price.

“Eating is a necessity, but cooking is an art”

Unknown

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

Miscellanea Pub – Food Allergies in Rome

I did a lot of research on restaurants before going to Rome, especially ones that catered to food allergies. I have to say it was difficult. The general consensus was that Rome was very allergy friendly and we did find this to be true. But information on specific restaurants was tough to find. I knew the places that we wanted to visit (i.e. Colosseum, Vatican, Pantheon, etc.) So I wanted to discover restaurant choices near our destinations, so I wouldn’t be wandering with a “Hangry” family trying to find a place to eat. We were not looking for fancy…. inexpensive, great food, great atmosphere and food allergy friendly.

One restaurant that kept popping up near The Pantheon was the Miscellanea Pub. They call themselves the “International Students Pub”, so we knew it would be inexpensive and casual. After a beautiful visit to the Pantheon at night, I told my family I had a restaurant for them.  It is a bit hidden, but the CityMaps2Go App was so helpful, because we didn’t have service most of the time.

Franco was our waiter and he was fabulous. He was very friendly and told us the food allergies were not a problem, they would make it work (I made the food allergy cards, but honestly never had to use them..the one place we tried, seemed confused by them. But I am still glad that I had them, just in case).

We got the Caprese salad, Bruschetta, Pette di pollo al limone (lemon chicken) Penna all’ arrabbietta (penne with spicy tomato sauce), Spaghetti alla carbonara (pasta carbonara) and Margherita pizza and a lot of wine (house wine). Always get the house wine in Italy! The food was amazing.

Please note: Miscellanea Pub is cash only!

I forgot this and we had no cash. Franco was so wonderful and felt so bad he walked my husband to the nearest ATM and then brought us free desserts and “sexy wine”. The “sexy wine” is something you have to discover for yourself. When he brought it and I gleefully cried “Is this the sexy wine?” he was thrilled I knew what it was. (I do my research.. haha). It was wonderful!

As we were leaving, Mickey (the owner) was sitting outside and thanked us for coming. We are from Boston and he is great friends with the former mayor of Boston and former Vatican ambassador, Ray Flynn. We had a wonderful conversation about Rome and Boston. Miscellanea Pub is a must see on your next trip to Rome!

 

 

Good food is very often, even most often, simple food – Anthony Bourdain