Christmas traditions at Lucca’s Delicatessen

Being the Italian kind of guy I am we have an annual Christmas Eve traditions of having ravioli’s for dinner. I think this might have started just to make life easier so we could focus on the big meal the next day.

Our tradition begins usually a week or two in advance where you actually have to call in your order for ravioli’s at Lucca’s Delicatessen. If you don’t call it in there won’t be any when you get there. Now Lucca’s is probably one of the only shops left on Chestnut Street aside from the Horseshoe Bar that were still there when I was a kid.

I used to remember my dad getting off work and he bring me to the Horseshoe where they’d hide me in the corner with my Shirley Temple while he knocked back a few. But I digress.

Lucca’s is an outstanding delicatessen. The kind of place that you’re just happy standing out in front and smelling the air that wafts out of the place. Quite a lot of their meats and cheeses are imported directly from Italy and they receive shipments of fresh real mozzarella every week. Their prosciutto de parma is a meat that is absolutely to die for. But today we were here for the big meaty raviolis. They are the true traditional raviolis and they make them fresh daily there. If you don’t know what goes into true raviolis you might not want to eat them. I think they’re a way to get kids to eat animal parts they wouldn’t normally eat, but I still love them to this day. The trick is to call in your order and pay by phone then you won’t have to stand in line for so long. You just show up and give the girl in the front by the door your name and she’ll run back and give you your order. I get a kind of smug feeling when I get to do this because it’s like walking into the post office with an already labeled priority mail box at Christmas and getting to walk past the huddled and tired masses and just drop it on the front table and walk out.

Lucca’s is a gem that I hope never goes away like so much else on Chestnut Street. I’m really looking forward to dinner tonight. 🙂

Packaged food that doesn’t suck!

macaronigrill1Being a foodie type of guy I’m not supposed to like stuff that comes out of a package because it’s not artisanal, small farm, organicaly grown eats. Well I had a surprise last night. My lovely wife had been sent free samples of Romano’s Macaroni Grill Chicken Picatta and we just happened to have our noon argument about what we would have for dinner and in the end we decided to give it a try.

Now being Italian I know Italian food. I was figuring this might be passable and most likely better than hamburger helper which I refuse to allow in my house for a second. This really surprised me though. First off they thought about the ingredients and used good ingredients that you can taste the difference in. Plus, you have to add your own chicken and actually cook it on the stove first so not being a stick in the microwave and walk away wasn’t in the picture. It’s basically the pasta and sauce and coating for the chicken. I made it in about 20 minutes which also gave me some time to steam some fresh Italian green beans from the local farmers market (small farm, organicaly grown so there’s the snooty foodie part) while my wife made a salad.

When it was ready and we plated it up I did notice there was sauce in the pan that the box didn’t say anything about pouring over the pasta, so I took it upon myself to sauce up the pasta with it. It was great and it was easy to make and I didn’t have to act like Emeril Lagasse and make all of the ingredients by hand while raising the chickens. The box also suggests that you could use shrimp instead of chicken, but this would go well with just about any kind of meat you wanted to throw at it (venison picatta anyone?) For the ease and price ($4.99) this was a dish that you could tell people was homemade and they wouldn’t know the difference. It’s nice to have on hand and the four different flavors give you good variations to riff on when you’ve got some meat, but don’t know what to make with it.