Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Cucina Forno

If you haven't been to Revolution Mill lately, it's worth a visit. The openings of Cugino Forno and Natty Greene's Kitchen + Market have people very excited, and the development reminds me a lot of downtown Greenville (a much, MUCH smaller version!) There's a large bridge that crosses over a creek, leading you to Natty's, and around the corner is Cucina Forno, an authentic Neapolitan pizza joint. I felt like Julia Roberts in the scene from "Eat Pray Love" when she devours a pizza in Naples. This pizza was incredible! I am so excited to have this place in town!

Meaning "oven cousin", Cugino Forno's atmosphere is bright and clean, and several picnic tables invite you to take a seat. I was worried about the noise level - hard-wood floors with an open kitchen tend to lead to extravagant volumes - but it was actually very quiet and relaxing. You order at the front, and pizzas come in one size: 16". They come on a large tray, in about 8 slices. The Livorno combines Italian Sausage, San Marzano Tomatoes, Buffalo Mozzarella, Basil and Garlic atop a thin, Neapolitan-style crust. It literally took about 90 seconds to come out the oven, which I imagine is about 850 degrees. There's even a spice bar where you can load up on red pepper flakes, parmesan, ground basil and oregano, and spicy olive oil. A side container of their red sauce is served with each pizza, and is absolutely amazing. We decided we had to try another pizza with a red sauce base.
The Livorno
The classic Margherita Pizza is classic for a reason. It's simple and beautiful, and I practically swallowed 2 slices whole. The thin crust is covered in that San Marzano tomato sauce, and the Buffalo Mozz, Basil and Garlic melt in your mouth. As good as the first pizza was, this one was a thousand times better, because of the red sauce. I want a slice wrapped around me like a blanket. It was insane.

You should order the Lecce Salad because it's tasty, and because the greens cancel out how much pizza you eat. Spring Mix is tossed with cherry tomatoes, shredded buffalo mozz, chick peas, carrots and served with housemade ranch dressing. It's a solid salad on its own. They also serve beer and wine, and the Gabbiano Chianti is lovely. (Side note - the bottle says "established in 1124" - um, that's old!!)
Lecce Salad

I can't recommend this place enough. The staff is kind, friendly and want you to have a good time and a great meal. I'll be back often. Go check out the haps at Revolution Mill! 

Monday, August 14, 2017

NC Chef Showdown

If you're like me and enjoy a humongous foodie gathering, you won't want to miss the NC Chef Showdown coming up on August 21 in Raleigh! Yes, it's the same day as the solar eclipse, but after the sun and moon wow us, 22 culinary stars are sure to impress us, too! Approximately 400 hungry mouths will show up to sample savory dishes from 12 chefs, sweet dessert concoctions from 4 pastry chefs and craft cocktails from 6 mixologists. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Local celebrity chef Tim Grandinetti (Spring House in Winston-Salem) will be representing the Triad, and pastry chefs are from hot spots like Vidalia in Boone and Heirloom Restaurant in Charlotte!

The chefs are competing for the titles of NCRLA (North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association) Chef of the Year; Pastry Chef of the Year; and Mixologist of the Year. I'm especially excited to see TOPO and Covington in attendance. “This year’s selection brings together some of the most innovate mixologists in our state. At the showdown, these competitors will use North Carolina liquor and ingredients to demonstrate their creativity and will showcase the quality of the hospitality industry in North Carolina. Event attendees and judges will get a taste of how the state’s food and beverage scene has advanced,” said NCRLA President and CEO Lynn Minges.

Check out the list of participating chefs here and get your tickets while they're still around!