15 Sep 2014
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It started out as a evening to see my paintings being displayed at Verde Wine Bar & Ristorante on Commack Road in Deer Park....the restaurant is quite unassuming, if you go too fast you might pass it by, so slow down! You'll be glad you did! Just south of the train tracks on the west side of the road...you might remember it as being Papa Joe's restaurant...now owned by Papa Joe's son, Anthony.  And the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree! It was like going back to my childhood in Bensonhurst.  The similarities go beyond the braciole being seasoned and cooked to perfection, you see my dad also had Italian restaurants called Papa Joe's, back in the day that is.  Sunday dinner was always a treat, but when you're a child you don't appreciate the love and labor that went into each and every sumptuous meal. So more years than I'd like to admit later, my husband and I, on the recommendation of my friend Michele, decide to have dinner at Verde Wine Bar and Ristorante.  Well actually, a few days ago Michele mentioned to me on facebook that Verde was looking for local artists to display their work at the recently renovated (formerly Papa Joe's) restaurant.  I jumped at the idea and was beyond thrilled when Anthony liked my work and asked me to bring three paintings down to display.  So after dropping the paintings off, David and I had planned we would go to the restaurant for dinner the following week, which we did tonight. 
The hostess was very welcoming and we were promptly seated.  The decor is light yet classic and as I looked around I thought it was nice for a small, classy and modern wedding reception.  The tables were distressed wood accented with bistro style seats....as i said early unassuming yet totally classy.  Our waiter Jim was attentive and informative, and very polite, polite goes a very long way these days!  I think David and I both wished there were more specials but the one special was a three course meal, and if we hadn't already ordered the slate anti-pasta  one of us would have ordered the special, it sounded amazing!  I remember as a kid have caponata and I thought it was "different" but always enjoyed the eclectic flavors of the tomatoes and eggplant and capers and olives so when the slate antipasta was served i couldn't wait to taste the caponata and boy-oh-boy was it worth the wait!!! I remember caponata being a bit bitter, but Verde's caponata has sweet undertones that leave you wanting more!  That coupled with the goat milk mozzerella, sopressata, fresh bleu cheese and a dried italian sausage....truly a masterpiece of an antipasta!
Cavatelli Sunday Style....yes it is exactly what it sounds like....just like Mama (Or Papa) used to make...homemade cavatelli al dente with an amazing sauce, braciole, sausage and a nice big meatball with a dallop of homemade ricotta (pronounced rig-gawth in Brooklyn!)...the braciole was so tender..mmmmmmmm. So many amazing choices on the menu, I couldn't decide between the tripe and the eggplant rollatini (which won out over the tripe, but the tripe is definitely next visit!) but i almost wish i had asked for tripe on the side.  Well I will have an easier time choosing next time (and there WILL be a next time).  The eggplant really was cooked to perfection giving my sister Annette's signature dish quite a bit competition, but with Annette being on Staten Island and not in the restaurant business, Verde has no worries, surely the best eggplant on Long Island!  So you're probably thinking what are the negative points of Verde...oh you're right, no restaurant is perfect!  The negative to this culinary time machine....there was no room for dessert!  We'll save that for next time too!  Abbondanza!!! Thank you Anthony and your lovely parents for a wonderful blast from the past!

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