When my friend Brad comes to town from his ranch in Texas, along with his friend (and now mine), "Record Man" and Turkey Fryer expert Ernie Phillips from Greenville, Mississippi, it's time to celebrate.
The fact that the number one social occasion of the world revolves around food...and that the number one food most of the world enjoys is Italian...I chose Tony's Di Napoli family style Italian restaurant on West 43rd Street for our evening soiree. I say soiree, because every time I go to Tony's I feel like I'm being entertained because many of the waiters and waitresses at Tony's are involved in the entertainment world on Broadway. My personal favorite entertainer (and waitress) at Tony's is Kathy. She's phabulous!
What sets Tony's apart from other restaurants besides their food is personality. This is something I always look for in a restaurant and a prerequisite if I am to consider it worthy of an entry into www.phoodographsandfinds.com.
Of course it has it's visual personality, however I'm talking abut the kind of personality that makes one feel as if they are coming home. The scene is set by managing partner Bruce Dimpflmaier and his perpetually smiling dynamic duo of maitre d's, Dreni and Ciro. One gets the feeling that these folks really love what they do...and when you love what you do, it filters down to the staff and the customer feels it. I think you get the picture.
It was exactly one year ago that I experienced a dish at Tony's that inspired me. So much so, it is now one of my favorites and one I prepare for myself and my clients.
They call it Ravioli Bolognese. Simple name for a simple dish? Uh-uh!
What sets this entree apart besides the ravioli (no sources, but I can tell you it's one of the three in my "Ravioli Bolognese Parmigiano" entry) and Tony's wonderful meat sauce is the baked-on coating of Parmigiano Reggiano, not mozzarella, that is melted on top.Utter perfection!
When was the last time you had a dish of anything baked with this wonderful cheese on top?
My version, which doesn't really veer off of Tony's recipe, is in the above November, 2012 entry.
Check it out!
Even though I would have liked Brad and Ernie to experience the virtues of Tony's veal (A veal chop pounded down and served Milanese style with a chopped tomato and onion salad on top), they seemed happy with a Caesar salad and our baked ravioli dish.
I think the biggest surprise came with dessert. Although I know the portions at Tony's are traditionally large...as they are at all "family style" restaurants, we were all surprised and taken aback by the size and presentation of the strawberry shortcake. It was truly Texas size!
Brad wanted cheesecake and phinished it off his tiny little piece (not really) all by himself, while Ernie and I had a hard time phinishing off half of our excellent last course. No wonder! It was almost 8" long, 5" wide and 5" high with 4 layers of pound cake, vanilla & strawberry ice cream, strawberries and whipped cream.
Wish I could have gotten it to go.
One last thing. You have to know what to order in any restaurant as not all dishes will please all people.
I can only talk about my experiences at Tony's and the dishes I feel excel.
I have just mentioned a few...and as one of my favorite songwriter's*** once wrote...
"I've said my piece and I'll leave it all up to you"...
Ernie & Bert...or...errr...Bert & Ernie with another Phood Phind!
***Ok...It was Justin Hayward from The Moody Blues
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