Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli" -The Godfather

There are certain things that I have resigned myself that I will never be able to go out to a restaurant and order. Onion rings. Mozzarella sticks. Chicken fingers. Garlic bread.

I thought maybe I could bribe Aaron with a bottle of Makers 46 into coming up with some recipes, but I'm afraid to mention it for fear that we will end up with a top of the line deep fryer in our already-crowded kitchen next to the remote-controlled rice cooker or the voice-activated salad spinner.
Now, I don't have to. I found Grandma's.

Grandma's Grotto is a little New York-style Italian restaurant in Horsham, PA, located off of Easton Road. It's the kind of place I would normally drive right by, with a sigh and a wayward glance back in my rear-view mirror as I lament the myriad of fried foods and Italiany goodness that I will never enjoy again.

Or so I thought. Turns out, Grandma has gone gluten free.

They are doing their entire menu gf. And when I say entire, I mean entire. I walked in to find this:

If you are wondering if that is a giant display case entirely filled with shelves upon shelves of gluten free pastries, the answer is a resounding, sugar-fueled yes.

It's not just the pastries, though. Grandma's Grotto is committed to providing a full menu of items that have traditionally been off-limits. And we will start with the most delicious, melty, cheesy, deep fried food of all: mozzarella sticks.

That's right. I love mozzarella sticks. I'm not ashamed to admit it. I mean, who thinks about dredging creamy mozzarella cheese in eggwash and breadcrumbs and then deep frying the whole damn thing? Someone with my disregard for the health of their arteries. As a teenager, I lived on deep-fried fast food. Ciara and I spent hours after school at the local pizza place taking advantage of our not-yet-crapped-out metabolisms by enjoying oil soaked complex carbohydrates and greasy goodness. It's been nine years since I've had one though, and I was beginning to worry I wouldn't remember how delicious they were. Or worse: what if my taste buds had changed and would somehow not recognize the inherent greatness of fried cheese. But, when I took my first bite into the hot, crunchy crust and felt it cave in and melt with gooey, warm, stringy cheese, I knew that it was love. Again.

Next up, chicken fingers. It's been kind of a while since I've had chicken tenders that weren't shaped like dinosaurs (not a sophisticated first-date food), so I was happy to experience a more, shall we say, adult version of this crowd-favorite

 And then, in an instant, my life changed. I ate my first onion ring.

Most people probably don't remember where they were when they ate their first onion ring. They probably don't remember the way the sweet, slightly soft onion slid out of it's crispy, crunchy, salty casing and created a feeling of deep fried joy and love. Then again, most people probably aren't in their mid twenties the first time they had an onion ring. I was officially in my happy place.

Those were just the appetizers.

For lunch (yes, all of this food was consumed over the course of one, very delicious lunch followed by one, not at all productive rest of the day spent wishing my pants had an elastic waist band) the main courses were ravioli and penne with vodka sauce.

The ravioli was delicious- smooth ricotta cheese snugly nestled into beautiful little pockets of pasta and smothered with huge chunks of tomato sauce. The vodka sauce was creamy, and the perfect compliment to another delicious side dish: buttery, crispy, toasted garlic bread.

This is how Italians designed bread to be eaten. Smothered in love and dragged through marinara sauce. God bless them for that.

More than that, though, the staff was friendly and helpful and clearly knew their shit. It's always nice to know that you are in the company of those who won't accidentally kill you. These guys are seriously dedicated to making sure that their menu stays completely gluten free. All of their products are made in-house, so that they are fresh, delicious, and constantly changing and developing.They work with some great vendors like Mr. Ritts and Katz and and sell flour mixes, breads, frozen pizzas, cinnamon buns, and pretty much everything else you could ever want out of their store as well.

But before we were done, there was still one more thing to take care of. There was still that tiny matter of the pastry display case in the beginning....

Gluten free cannoli?

Cheese? Check. Cream? Check. Chocolate? Check. All rolled together in a delicious flaky pasty dough and topped with powdered sugar?

Dear God, yes.

The cannoli is a thing of freaking beauty. It might surpass The Birth of Venus or the Mona Lisa on the scale of Italian masterpieces. It is a delicious slice of heavenly pastry that would have been lost of my palate if not for the fine people at Grandma's.

I owe them. Grazie, guys.

No comments:

Post a Comment