Food Scoop "Birmingham"

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Southern Italian Flare in Birmingham!

Posted by bhamfoodscoop on May 29, 2012

Recently I met some local foodies at Bettola Restaurant, which is located at Pepper Place in the Lakeview District. This quaint, dynamic, & eclectic eatery serves up authentic Southern Italian food. Several of their classic dishes include the signature Neopolitan pizzas that are cooked in a wood-fired Neapolitan pizza oven— which was handcrafted in Naples, Italy and shipped to Birmingham. This oven is capable of cooking a pizza in 90 seconds.

This was my first visit to Bettola and I had no idea what to expect, but let’s just say that I’m so glad that I visited. Upon arriving to dinner, I saw my guests sitting on the outdoor patio and I began to greet each and every one. And as we slowly began to trickle in, the atmosphere seemed to liven up and greatness was being created. On this warm evening, I met a diverse group of people that seemed to be a wonderful reflection of this great city and community of Birmingham. More specifically, my large party consisted of people of different races, ages, occupations, perspectives, and many more various characteristics. Earlier in the day, I was wondering how would I get all of these people to converse amongst each other because I thought that these various differences would be a hindrance, however, I was completely wrong. The conversation just flowed throughout the entire night.

I was amazed to see that the restaurant had assigned just one waitress to take care of 14 people, but she did an amazing job. Our experience was truly personalized by the restaurant and the customer service that we received rivaled that of many others. Everyone started out with drinks, homemade bread & marinated olives (contain pits/seeds). Not long after, the staff surprised us and brought out complementary antipasti’s for the entire table. These antipasti’s included a calamari dish, prepared by the owner especially for us; it consisted of squid, arugula, garbanzo beans, and thinly sliced ginger. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish, but a few other people felt differently about it.

The next antipasti was served to us on a long wooden board, which had prosciutto, capicola ham, house sausage, salame mostrano (salami), two special types of cheese, pickled vegetables, & dried apricots in a housemade glaze. Everyone loved at least one thing from this special dish.

After enjoying the drinks and antipasti’s, I discovered that this was going to be a long night because I still had to order an entree and a dessert, but I definitely wasn’t complaining. For an entree I ordered the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese (pasta) which was made with House-Made Tagliatelle Pasta, Ragu Bolognese, Two-Year Aged Parmigiano Reggiano. This dish was delicious and filling; I would order it again.

Everyone else ordered a variety of dishes, but the main dish that our group ordered were the variety of signature pizzas. For example, here is the Quattro Stagioni which is made with Cotto Ham, Artichokes, Mushrooms, Black Olives.

Not everyone got a dessert, but I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity. So I got the Torta di Mandorle which consisted of Burnt Butter-Vanilla-Almond Cake, Mascarpone Cream, Toasted Almonds. It was scrumptious but there was no way that I could eat it all. The cake was moist on the inside and had a wonderful vanilla almond flavor.

The lady sitting next to me ordered the Torta Cioccolata Warm Truffle Chocolate Baked in Toasted Almond Tart, Espresso Gelato, Toasted Almonds. She really enjoyed this dish and I sampled it; it was good but I’m not a big fan of coffee flavored ice cream and it was really rich.

Overall our entire restaurant experience was phenomenal and I can’t wait to return. The owner and chef James Lewis has definitely created a gem. The prices range from $15-$25 per entree. So I encourage you to visit Bettola Restaurant and sample the authentic flavors of Southern Italy, without even having to leave Birmingham. Grazie!

Bettola on Urbanspoon

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Posted in Italian, Pizza, Upscale | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Boxcar Cafe @ Railroad Park

Posted by bhamfoodscoop on April 20, 2011

George Sarris (Birmingham Restauranteur) seems to be taking over Birmingham’s restaurant scene. His latest venture is in Birmingham’s Railroad Park! He recently opened up the Boxcar Cafe under the park’s pavilion near 17th Street South. However,  many of you know that he owns the Fish Market, he’s one of the owners of DoDiYos and Pianeta 3, and he also owns Yellow Bicycle Catering. George is passionate about serving food that captures our attention, and this shows through all of his endeavors.

At the new Boxcar Cafe, George is going out of his “known” element and offering a grab-and-go type restaurant for patrons. In addition, many of you will notice some familiar items on the menu!

The mezze plate ($7) comes with imported olives, cherry tomatoes, pita chips, hummus, Greek cheeses and Sarris’s special blend of extra-virgin olive oil.

Soups include gazpacho ($3.50 a cup) and seafood gumbo ($3.50 a cup/ $5.00 a bowl)

The Greek salad is available either as a side ($3.50) or a large order ($6.75).

Panini selections include grilled cheese ($5), grilled Mediterranean vegetables with goat cheese ($7.50), and rosemary-lemon grilled chicken with caramelized onions and garlic aioli ($7.50). Each comes with a spring mix salad with a light balsamic vinaigrette.

Baklava ($2) and Greek cookies ($2.50 for two) are available for dessert.

Sarris’s Boxcar Cafe is open for lunch seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Within the next couple of weeks, Sarris also plans to open Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Posted in Downtown Eats, Greek/Mediterranean, My Favorite Lunch Spots | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »