Thursday, May 26, 2011

Always Great Pizza in Cleveland!

Growing up in an immigrant Italian family we always made our own pizza. Rarely was pizza ever ordered. My dad made his own pizza, my mom made the dough and my dad would carefully construct every pizza as big as a cookie sheet to suit all our tastes in the family. This involved making more than 2 pizzas usually. My dad preferred his pizza to include anchovies..ewwww, then there was the works, everything BUT anchovies, then there was always the one with simple toppings that was usually suited to my tastes. (Yes, I am a daddy's girl!)

And onto the pizza...

When growing up my brother who worked for family owned pizzarias, we still wouldn't have a pizza brought home. I don't know why? Now that I think back, for all the pizzas my brother probably made, we never had one made by him. One particular restaurant that my brother and his other friends worked at was Antonio's Restaurant & Pizza in Parma. Just attached to Parmatown Shopping Center. Still the many times going to Parmatown as a kid, still no pizza from Antonio's despite the many times going in there. My brother is 11 years older than me so he was working teenager when I was still so little.

When I got older and I don't know the exact age, I eventually ate at Antonio's, fell in love with their pizza and have seen the menu expand over the years with it's original staples still on the menu. Over the years, the pizza is still the same. You can tell their is good ingredients in this pizza. It's a great hearty dough, amazing sauce and some great mozzarella. They use real Italian sausage (something my husband only likes and despises the sausage crumbles) and good flavorful pepperoni. But I have to be honest, I am not meat pizza loving girl, I like my veggies on my pizza. So usually we always get a half and half extra large pizza. I get my mushrooms, onions and black olives (although this time I omitted the black olives), while my husband and daughter prefer Pepperoni and Sausage. (I don't think my son has chosen sides since he's only about 2.) Might I add, my husband hates and I mean HATES, mushrooms.

One night we decided to go to Antonio's for pizza, we have an Antonio's Express by our house that features a short menu of the restaurant, mainly emphasizing on pizza. But I have to tell you, and for a short time my husband thought I was crazy (because he has no problem with the pizza at the express), but the pizza at Antonio's Express just didn't taste like the restaurant's. I think the one at the express is blah! I swore that at the restaurant it was different. I insisted that if we got pizza that we go to the restaurant and eat the pizza there. I have had my pizza delivered, picked up and even eaten there as they do have a couple tables. I still didn't like it. I've given the express probably 8 chances to redeem themselves. One thing I can say is that their cassata cake is good (because it's from a place I know where they get it also I like they're garlic bread with cheese (which is a pizza with cheese on it but with garlic and oil as the sauce, that is of course if they don't burn it even when I do tell them to light cook it)). So we went to the restaurant, thank goodness because if not I probably would of just ordered Chinese and eaten at home.

So we ordered Wings, (oh my gosh were they good!) and my husband found a new love with breaded ravioli, so we ordered that too. Our 2 year old preferred eating the wings, that was the first time my son ever ate wings. He said mmmmmmmmmm. We got BBQ and Mild. Both very good but Johnny and I shared the BBQ. The breaded ravioli are good too. We ordered our pizza, and it was soooooo good! When we were done, our waitress, who was great, was talking with us. Since our little one craves attention. I told her, I must be crazy, but I think the pizza here is way better than the ones at the express. She's said it was different! HA! I knew it! Bam hubby! I was right! Our waitress told me the sauce is different, and since they have the original oven, she thinks it the way the oven cooks the pizza too. I also think the dough is different as well. Even the spaghetti with meat sauce tastes different between the 2 places and it's because of the sauce! Now if this still is all a hoax, I still insist that the 2 places are different!

My husband loves his pizza....(seriously he could eat pizza everyday!)

I have had a lot of pizza in my life, from many different places. But there are only 2 places I prefer to eat my pizza from and that is Romeo's Pizza and Antonio's Pizza at Parmatown Shopping Center. But as far as flavors go, Antonio's is the closest to the taste of Italian Pizza even though true Italia pizza is thin crust.

So I tell you, you must try the pizza at Antonio's but at Parmatown. I am not a huge pizza fan, because Italian food for me is normal and not out of norm type of food. So ordering pizza or eating Italian at a restaurant is not first pick because it will never be like mom's or like my dad's pizza. So for me to like pizza and to write a blog about it, it has to be good or I wouldn't share it with you. So if you want some good pizza go to Antonio's. You won't regret it. Our pizza tasted great the next day too, reheated in the oven!

Some of the other foods I have had their like I said before was the wings, I ask mine with blue cheese dressing, breaded ravioli and the spaghetti with meat sauce. The salad with mozzarella and crisp pepperoni is great too and they have the best house poppyseed dressing! I've had their chocolate cheesecake that is good too, but I still make the best chocolate cheesecake! They have great service, staff is friendly and the food is yummy. You can get it to go and they have take out and maybe delivery (although I don't know for sure, you could always ask), but nothing beats eating it right out of the oven. Not to mention that the restaurant has a full bar! Maybe it's me too, but I end up spending less at the restaurant than at the express.

If you don't believe me yet and need a pic, well here you go... (Sorry, it's not a full pizza but we couldn't wait to sink our teeth into it!)

Antonio's has been around for a long time, it's a Parma staple and they won't be going anywhere. Celebrities love it too. One story sticks out and seems to be the most drastic. Because if a celebrity goes this far to order pizza from Antonio's than I say it must be some pretty good pizza but one time Drew Carey ordered 45 pizzas for The Price is Right wrap party in Los Angeles about 2000 miles away. Crazy! But if you love it then you love it! Also the Plain Dealer voted it Best Pizza and they've won consecutively for best pizza.

PLEASE NOTE: This is solely my experience between both locations. I can only represent my own interpretation of it. If you disagree than that is your opinion. But I am here to only write my one TRUE experience. Any comments made rudely or with a hard tone, will be deleted.

Order In or Take Out! Catering is Available.

Antonio's Pizza & Spaghetti on Urbanspoon

Antonio's Restaurant & Pizza Web Site:
Antonio's Restaurant Web Site
Antonio's Express Menu: (A good way to order from for the basics)
Antonio's Basic Menu & Website
Facebook Page:
Antonio's on Facebook

Best Location:
7401 West Ridgewood Dr.
Parma, OH 44129
( Close to Byers Field )

Business Hours:
Monday 4:00pm to 10:00pm
Tuesday – Thursday 11:00am to 10:00pm
Friday and Saturday 11:00am to 11:00pm
Sunday 12:00pm to 9:00pm
Lunch is served Tuesday through Saturday 11:00am to 3:00pm.


Happy Eating,

Monday, May 16, 2011

Not So Sweet in Tremont, a review of Cookies and a Cupcake.

On a sunny afternoon I wanted to go and visit a place in Tremont called, A Cookie and a Cupcake. It's a bakery place that has had some high reviews in Cleveland circulars. The baker/cook that I am and I would think a good judge of sweet treats, I decided to visit..finally! Let me tell you I had been waiting for a long time and just haven't had a chance.

So my husband and son go and I was thinking of picking a great cupcake for my daughter to come home from school and get as a her after school treat.

A Cookie and a Cupcake is located in Tremont, a Artsy neighborhood with some upscale and local favorite restaurants. I love Tremont and get invited every year to do the Art Walk, but haven't yet because of my dad first being sick and then being pregnant, just haven't had the time or will, someday, I promise!

I walked in and was not impressed with the atmosphere, I thought this was some hot spot, I was expecting more. The cupcakes looked good but the cookies didn't. I even squeezed a cookie and it was hard, I'll pass thank you, I thought. We got some cupcakes, I couldn't wait to try them! We got Grasshopper (chocolate cupcake with mint buttercream), Peanut Butter, Red Velvet, Carrot Cake, Espresso, and something that resembled cookie monster, which we got for our son.

We waited until we got home and our daughter was home from school... Here's a pic, it's missing a cupcake because right when I got ready to take a pic, my husband managed to pull out the Espresso one before it. ARGH! So here they are:

My daughter got the chocolate mint one, Chocolate Cake with Mint Buttercream Frosting. She took a bite and looked at me. She had that look like she was about to puke, I made her eat what she had in her mouth. She said it was horrible, I was so mad because I really wanted her to appreciate the thought and how could she think a cupcake is horrible!!!! Well I took a bite and spit it out! Oh my gosh!!!! I was mad! The chocolate cake part didn't taste very chocolatey and the mint buttercream although I know is made with butter, (I've made it before), tasted so much like butter it was gross. A minty butter frosting. The cake too was dry. I said okay, maybe it's this particular cupcake, then my husband said yeah well the Espresso one wasn't that great either! I thought c'mon this is a hyped up place and these people have no palates. So I bit into another cupcake, then another and then another, each one I spit out. Okay all the cupcakes were gross. At more than 2 bucks a pop, they were crap. I just wasted about $15.00! Thank God I didn't want to try every flavor and didn't buy the caramel chocolate black lava salt ya ya ya blah blah cupcake. Black Lava Salt threw me off so I didn't get it....thank goodness!

This just isn't the place, I've had some very yummy yummy cupcakes from bakeries and my daughter can make a better cupcake than this place and she's only 7! I would not recommend this place to anyone. Maybe if you don't have great taste buds or have anything better to compare it to then maybe you might think this is a hot spot because all the snobby people told you so. Look Tremont is a special place, but just because a restaurant or a bakery is in the hot spot area, doesn't make it cool, good or make you a cooler person. I say move on away from this place and look at my blog for my bakery review, their baked goods are great on the outside and inside and everything you get is yummy. Okay Michael Angelo's Bakery in Broadview Heights, check out my blog post for more info. So maybe these cupcakes look good on the outside but inside they are yukky! No word would better describe it than yukky! I will make you a better cupcake, any flavor you want, cheaper and better with great ingredients, just email me. They say they make cakes, wedding cakes.... WALK AWAY, your guests will talk about how horrible it is. It could be the most memorable thing for the guest. One thing is off and it's off baby! So drive on, I can't imagine this place lasting. I think it's popular because right now there is a Phase in culture regarding The Cupcake. But this doesn't do THE CUPCAKE justice.

I will try other places in the Cupcake Phase, I have had some already that were good at the West Side Market. So drive past Cookies and a Cupcake, head over to the West Side Market and find the Cupcake Stand, I forgot the name because I was too busy drooling over the cupcake I ate from there. Later I will post some cupcake recipes and tips!

A Cookie and a Cupcake on Urbanspoon

As for now.... I will still go and check out these places and share the experiences with you, til then..... Wishing you Good Eats Everyone!

Love Onto You All!

Good Diner Eats

Looking for Good Diner Eats? Read On.....Read On....

So on a day, I managed to check out a few places in Cleveland that some came by ear or got a review in some magazine. I have to start and end this blog with one of the places I went to. We woke up, sleepy but hungry, didn't feel like cooking so I looked on the internet for some Diner type breakfast. Nothing seemed appealing or it was just too far because the boys were hungry NOW! So we headed to a close place, that I've tried before but never got the real taste of the place and it was so long ago. My friend took me many moons ago and I wanted to sit down for a good breakfast without breaking the bank and didn't feel a food chain mojo comin on. I settled on Gus's Family Restaurant. Now I always knew they had good pancakes but that was about it.

We got in and got a seat ASAP! We had a wonderful waitress who made us feel welcomed and may I add actually acknowledged my soon to be 2 year old son. Some places ignore the little ones I think because verbally they have nothing to offer, at least this is the feeling I get. Also she saw him coloring his SpongeBob coloring book, okay really scribbling but it keeps him entertained! She told him "Great Job!". She won my heart as a great waitress. We ordered our food and I couldn't decide and she did for me. She's hands on too! My husband gets the BIG 10, Pancakes, Eggs, Toast, Homefries, Bacon and Sausage. I got the Corned Beef Hash and Eggs which comes with toast and Homefries. We got little man a scrambled egg breakfast, which came with sausage and homefries and we also ordered a side of Biscuits and Gravy. A lot of food, but wait it gets better.... So we had all this food, didn't finish it all and took home what we could salvage (that is what would taste fine later). We took the toast as we always feed the birds. Little man had no problem eating most of his breakfast, he might of even eaten more than his dad.

Here's the breakfast breakdown:
Little man's breakfast was done perfect and he loved his sausage, eggs and homefries which are actually pretty great hashbrowns. Nice golden brown crust and soft perfectly cooked potatoes. He gobbled up pretty much every last bite. I think though we should of added some cheese to the eggs.
I had 2 eggs overeasy, perfectly cooked, cornedbeef hash, homefries and toast. All very yummy. I was told the cornedbeef hash is made in house. Very good for homemade. Crisp outer edge and when I forked into them, it was piping hot, flavorful, fluffy and NOT GREASY! YUM! I was happy to say that my eggs were perfect, it came out just like how I like them and make them at home. Great toast to sop up the eggy yummy goodness! One down fall, I usually put ketchup on my potatoes, but the ketchup was gross. Obviously it was not Heinz. I just don't get it, why do some restaurants go for generic ketchup over heinz, bad ketchup can ruin a dish. So I salted my homefries, probably the only thing they needed besides Heinz ketchup. They were still good without the ketchup. Okay darn I wanted ketchup but theirs so was not going on my potatoes again! I sampled it and instantly gagged. Niko, please stock up on Heinz! Maybe I should be one of those people who bring little bottles of hot sauce in their purses, but instead I should carry Heinz Ketchup. LOL!
The Biscuits and Gravy, very yummy, creamy, peppery and soft fresh tasting biscuits. I would recommend this. You can get them in a breakfast or as a side. Little man couldn't get enough! They have a breakfast that you can get with biscuits, eggs, homefries all layered with sausage gravy, I think maybe I may try that since everything was yummy!
This is Scott's breakfast, Pancakes, Over Easy Eggs, Bacon, Sausage, Homefries (on a separate plate) and toast. He didn't finish them all but we all had a bite of his Pancakes, I already knew Gus' had great pancakes and little man loved them too. They are BIG, FLUFFY AND OH SO GOOD WITH BUTTER AND SYRUP! Scott couldn't eat everything as I think his eyes are bigger than his stomach. But what he couldn't eat, we took home. The eggs of course along the pancakes were perfect, I think the bacon was too crispy for our liking but a lot of people like it that way.

Our overall experience was great, friendly people and staff. All this food I got you would think would cost a lot but actually it only cost us $19.00. Yes that's it. Now this is when I don't leave a 15% tip according to the check. But when I leave it according to service. Because $3.00 wouldn't be sufficient enough for this waitress servicing 3 people. So I left her about 40%. She was nice, fast and got everything we needed and always had the coffee coming. So it's a food, GOOD FOOD, for little cost and the service was great as I said. Now if you're looking for some kind of hoity toity atmosphere, this isn't it, it's old school, posters of Greece on the walls, (yes they have gyros, and gyro omelets and gyro breakfasts), and clanky noises happening. But it's all good. You can sit on a barstool and watch the cook, well, cook. You can see that there is regulars, all very happy I must say. We ate, we digested and we left.
Of course little man grabbing a bunch of smiles the whole time, despite his shaggy bed head (yeah I know I gotta get his bangs trimmed)... Who could blame him?! Just look at him! HA HA! He was thoroughly enjoyed his breakfast and attention from the staff and patrons. =) It was a great experience for us, too bad our daughter missed it as she was in school! Shhh! Even though she's been out to breakfast the past 2 weekends since she's had sleepovers. It was our turn. HA HA!
I liked their sign inside the restaurant because it couldn't be more true. It's exactly what you get! One thing I would add is the word "GREAT"! "Great Food Fast, Not Fast Food!" It's obvious, because Gus's has been around for awhile and I think it's getting rediscovered. People are worked harder for less money so we're looking to get faster food that's good but not paying an arm and a leg along with sacrificing our stomachs to horrible food. It's a win win at Gus'!

So go to Gus'. It's great. I enjoyed everything and everyone there and had a good day with my 2 boys. It was on a perfect day, the real first hot day in Cleveland since our stretch of cold rain. I couldn't of asked for anything better, well maybe just Heinz ketchup, also I don't think I wouldn't get the "Pink Lemonade" again. It wasn't Pink and tasted more like water than lemonade. Yes I have a picture although an awkward one:
I'll definitely skip it next time unless it's improved. But coffee is great and I assume the sodas are too. Other things in the past that I have tried from Gus' is the Chicken Fried Steak. Very yummy and a great price! I would recommend this place to others. They have lots of parking around and especially reserved across the street for those extra busy days. We were sat quickly so we really had no issues there. So go and have breakfast, lunch or an early dinner. You won't be disappointed.

Gus's Family Restaurant Info:

4377 State Road
Cleveland, Ohio 44109

Parking is available across the street at the old RTA Station fenced in lot. Additional on-street parking is available after 9:30 AM.

HOURS: M-F: 7am-4pm
Saturday: 7am-3pm
Sunday: 8am-3pm

Phone: (216) 661-5967
Fax: (216) 739-0759

Gus's Family Restaurant Online:
Gus's Facebook Page
Gus's Online also featuring Menu

Check it out on Urbanspoon..
Gus's Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Go and Enjoy! Happy Eats!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Need A Recipe Idea? Check My Online Recipe Line Up!

(Like My Kitty graphic addition? That's one Bad Kitty! ;) She'll play with you!)-->

Fudge Truffle Cheesecake by Annamaria Settanni McDonald

What a pic to start a blog huh? Well that is a cheesecake made by me, and you can make it too! Read on......

I have been working on a cookbook for sometime. So I am a little lagging on getting it done. I have always wanted to do one but honestly with having another child, it's taken me longer. If feel like I am now just able to get back into the game. Situating recipes, figuring out what recipes I want in it and how I am going to convince some of my Aunts for their secret recipes. Of course I am hounding my mom on her recipes. I can't say that even though how exact each ingredient I put down regarding her dishes, nothing can add her essence of love when she cooks. But we can only dream of coming close. So with her recipes, some of family secret recipes if they get revealed and many of my own that I have tried and put together. Also new recipes that I made and loved will also be added. My own family recipes if you will. In the meantime, I have been adding a lot of these recipes on a online recipe club. I have received a Blue Ribbon already and have been graced with a following who also love my recipes. I am truly blessed by these people who support me and give me encouragement to go on and cook and bake. So I am sharing the online recipe club that showcases my recipes and in the meantime you might just find some other recipes by other cooks in the club! What I love about this club is that they really get involved, there is a test kitchen who actually makes the recipes submitted and awards them with blue ribbons and one special one every week is the feature. My Fudge Truffle Cheesecake was featured and Blue Ribboned on October 19, 2010. Which may I add is my daughter's birthday and also my wedding anniversary. I have so far been hooked to the club and have met some very nice people. You can say it's like a family! So here I am sharing my recipes posted that I have tried and tested and most of my own creation but nonetheless have all been made many times myself.

Here is my line up of recipes, click here:
"Annamaria @ Just A Pinch Recipe Club".

Click Here for Just A Pinch Recipe Club
Just A Pinch Recipe Club Web Site
Just A Pinch on Facebook:
Just A Pinch Facebook

Go and check it out! I bet you'll love it! You can also join for free!

A Special Thank You to the Test Kitchen at Just A Pinch and Food Editor Janet Tharpe for being so awesome!!!!

With Love & Happy Cooking,