Tag Archives: Squid

Christmas 2013: Calamari Salad

2013-12-24 at 11-55-25


No real story here. This is a standby side for our holidays and a rather typical salad for an Italian Christmas or New Years Eve. It made its return as the seafood accompaniment to the meat-wrapped meat entree I prepared.

My father’s version is good, but it’s not quite as balanced as the version served at Asti Caffe and Trattoria in Syracuse, which this salad is patterned after. Continue reading Christmas 2013: Calamari Salad


Pesce Seafood Bar: San Francisco

Lowlight + iPhone means subpar photography. I won’t be that guy who uses his flash at dinner. I just won’t.


“So, I got you this for your trip.”

My sister, ever the Paventi, knew that the only thing she could have given us for our anniversary was the gift of food. The pink paper with the words Pesce Seafood Bar was shear coincidence.

Pesce made the shortlist of dinner options when my research began. Eater, San Francisco Weekly and SFGate all spoke highly of the Russian Hill eatery. When it popped up on Zagat’s list of the best seafood restaurants in San Francisco, it went from maybe to reservations. Continue reading Pesce Seafood Bar: San Francisco

All I really need to know about cooking I learned from my father

The old man giving me my first haircut at his barber shop, circa 1978. I was fking adorable.

With apologies to the person who originally wrote the “All I Need to Know in Life I Learned in Kindergarten.”

  • Steamed clams taste like feet. If you’re going to cook clams, do it provencal style.
  • There’s only one way to enjoy dinner: With Ron Curtis reading the news in the background.
  • Every refrigerator should have a hunk of proscuitto hanging out in back. Next to the batteries.
  • Keep your batteries in the fridge. They stay fresher that way.
  • Roasted turkey is fine, but you know you would rather eat it deep fried.
  • Squid is the perfect topping/stuffing for everything. Pasta. Calzones. Everything.
  • There’s no such thing as too much garlic.
  • Bottle wine > box wine > jug wine. But nothing beats homemade wine.
  • 30-year-old homemade grappa is what makes you a man.
  • Sambuca is to be enjoyed neat with coffee beans on the bottom of the glass.
  • Never let your partner toss the palina, even if you’re hammered (okay, so it’s a bocce rule, but it’s still relevant)
  • Rare beef is overcooked.
  • Filipio Berio olive oil is where it’s at (It’s not, but who am I to question the old man?)
  • One-inch wide is considered “thin sliced.”
  • Roasted red peppers from a jar are nice, but roasting your own and freezing them is where it’s hat.
  • Jack Daniels is a sipping whiskey. When, where and how you sip it is less important.
  • A home is not a home unless there is a braid of garlic in the hallway (that actually comes from my grandfather).

Monday dinner: Pasta with squid and white beans

Squid was a staple food when I was growing up. Our eve holidays (Christmas and New Years) always featured one or two different squid dishes. One was almost always tossed with marinara sauce. We would likely stuffed squid if the holiday was at my Aunt Carolyn’s house. Tubes would be cut and rolled with a breadcrumb, herb and cheese mixture, and baked in tomato sauce.

(Side note: I bristle when I go to a restaurant and hear someone order cahl-uh-mahr-ee. Medigansit’s pronounced cahl-uh-mahd.) Continue reading Monday dinner: Pasta with squid and white beans

Riley’s, Syracuse, N.Y.

Riley’s (from traipsathon.com)

“Hot Beef. Lousy Food. Bad Service. Welcome.”

You’re welcomed by a sign with that statement when crossing the threshold at Riley’s. The restaurant perched on the corner of Park Street and Whitwell Drive on the north side has a cult following in Syracuse, thanks to an eclectic menu, cozy feel (including a very dark dining room, which explains the grainy iPhone pictures) and first-rate food.

Riley’s is one in a long line of Syracuse-area tavern-and-grill outlets. Jake Hafner’s in North Syracuse, Hullar’s in Fayetteville, The Retreat in Liverpool…all of them promise and deliver on quality food and cold beer and each brings something unique to the table. For Riley’s, it’s a changing daily menu that goes beyond simple burgers burgers and steaks. Continue reading Riley’s, Syracuse, N.Y.