Tag Archive | Pasta

Penne with Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage, Fire Roasted Red Peppers & Red Onions in Garlic Cream Sauce


I really wanted to make something special for the third night of Chanukah on Monday. The first two nights we were out with friends and although the ritual of lighting the menorah was completed both evenings, there was certainly nothing traditional about the food. So as the week began, Continue reading


On My Plate: Tomato & Basil Cafe & Pizzeria

While it’s easy to drive past Tomato & Basil on bustling Black Rock Turnpike in Fairfield, CT, you may want to make an effort to stop in for a bite. The 12-table Italian establishment offers friendly staff, a modern decor, extensive beer selection, trendy cocktail list and quaint outdoor seating area. They have a sizeable menu ranging from handmade pastas and brick oven pies to gourmet salads, classic entrees and sandwiches prepared on their signature fresh-baked pizza bread. Specials are updated on their website daily, and take-out or catering orders are always available.

I had the opportunity to dine outside on one of these beautiful summer evenings, and was immediately intrigued by the basket in front of me. I know ‘they’ say not to fill up on bread, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was inspired by Tomato & Basil‘s warm pizza rolls. It’s as if you’re tearing off that beloved crust without ruining the integrity of a slice. Fresh out of the oven, with a crunch on the outside and a chewy-soft doughy center. Dip them in the seasoned olive oil infused with crushed red pepper, salt, pepper and rosemary and you’ll be off to a great start before you even order.

First up was the cream of mushroom soup; a velvety, decadent broth with a slight hint of heat. The appetizer felt hearty while remaining light enough to move on to another course. The soup was drizzled with olive oil, and had a generous amount of tender dried porcinis running through it. The bright chiffonade of basil on top tied all the components together. I would’ve dipped my bread in the bowl if I had left any to spare.

I moved on to the crab cakes served with a nicely seasoned Cajun remoulade. They were certainly up to par with a spot-on golden brown pan sear that was music to my ears when I cut into it. Inside revealed a mixture of moist, succulent lump crabmeat with pieces of sautéed vegetables for a satisfying bite.

I continued with a heaping bowl of Prince Edward Island Mussels Pedicini, simmered in a white wine and basil bath with juicy stewed tomatoes, onions and minced garlic. They were cooked properly–not fishy–and served in the shell for shameless slurping. A romano crostini on the side assisted with the remaining sauce begging to be soaked up.

Of the fairly extensive salad menu, I chose the cool, refreshing port wine poached pear over baby spinach with tart dried cranberries, fresh, summertime raspberries, crunchy candied pecans and soft, crumbled goat cheese dressed in a sweet honey balsamic vinaigrette. It was a slight twist on a favorite, full of texture and bursting with flavor. I appreciated the touch of the port wine poached pear,which provided depth to the dish.

The pasta recommended by our waiter was their melt-in-your mouth cavatelli (made from scratch, but not in-house), handmade crumbled sausage and broccoli rabe tossed in garlic and oil. The fresh, ground pork sausage supplied a nice kick to balance the naturally bitter broccoli rabe, all perfectly complimented by hints of parmesan and white wine I tasted in the savory sauce.

Of course, I couldn’t leave without sampling one of their hand-tossed pizzas, so I went with a classic: margherita. I bit into a thin, crisp crust topped with sweet crushed, plum tomatoes, melted buffalo mozarella and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to seal the deal. It was exactly what a pizza should be.

To finish my meal on its usual sweet note, I rounded out my dining experience with dessert. The nutella cheesecake practically had my name written next to it. I slid my spoon into the copious layer of sweet, chocolate hazelnut indulgence, down towards the creamy, NY-style cheesecake that rested gently on top of a soft, cinnamon, sugar graham crumb crust on a pool of chocolate syrup. More, please.

From start to finish, a satisfying, well-executed meal from every column of the menu. Well done Tomato & Basil. Well done.


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