Archives for May 2013

Restaurant Review: Spasso Italian Grill

I first went to Spasso Italian Grill for dinner on the night of my bachelorette party. That was pretty much the only part of that evening that I can clearly remember. My bridesmaids and I did a pretty good job after the fact of piecing together the remainder of the night’s events and they which are both completely hilarious and utterly embarrassing. I’ll spare you all of details.

spasso

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Since then, I’ve been back to Spasso several times, and it has become one of the places that I often suggest when people ask me for Italian restaurant recommendations. The restaurant is located on Front Street in Old City, away from the main restaurant rows on Chestnut and 2nd Streets, so if you just might miss it if you are wandering the neighborhood. The atmosphere is more casual and relaxed and the food is not as trendy as other restaurants in the area. But, it definitely fits the bill when you are in the market for traditional Italian food. Sometimes all you want is just a hearty dish of pasta without a lot of frills, right?

The menu features a large selection of both hot and cold antipasti selections, including meat and cheese plates, salads and seafood. The arugula salad ($8) is one of my favorites, because it is so simply prepared—just a heaping pile of the spicy greens, sweet tomatoes, strips of asiago cheese, and a light drizzle of oil and vinegar dressing. The fried calamari ($12) and the grilled polenta with porcini mushrooms ($8) are also solid dishes. I also particularly like the bruschetta that is provided with the bread basket. The bread itself is pretty disappointing for an Italian restaurant and probably would be better if it were served warm, but the concoction of sweet peppers, eggplant, zucchini and garlic takes it up a few notches.

Spasso’s pastas homemade and are among my favorite items on the menu. Everything I’ve tried has been incredibly light and cooked to a perfect al dente. My favorite dishes are the papardelle pasta, with an earthy porcini mushroom sauce ($17), spinach ravioli in a creamy four cheese sauce ($16.50), and the gnocchi ($17). The latter dish is always on the standard menu, accompanied by asparagus, but on my most recent visit this past weekend there was a special with fresh fava beans, served in a springy lemon, truffle and asiago cheese broth.

If you would rather not have a plate full of carbs (in which case, we can’t be friends), you will fine other protein-based entrees on the menu, including traditional favorites like chicken and veal parmigiana ($17 and $19, respectively), strip steak ($25) and salmon ($22). I can’t personally vouch for any of them, since I’m never able to pass up the pasta dishes, but they all look delicious. Just be sure to save room for dessert, like the rich and creamy chocolate mousse cake.

One of the things I like most about Spasso is that it is a great option for larger groups. When I have visited, it’s always been with groups of 5 or more people and the food and service have been consistently good. Portions are generous enough to share and prices are very modest for the neighborhood (appetizers range from $6 to $13; pasta dishes from $13 to $24; and, other entrees from $17 to $25). Other diners must have figured this out as well, because it’s usually full—and a bit noisy—at dinnertime. It is definitely the perfect spot for a family dinner, but maybe not so much for date night.

If you live outside of the city, Spasso has a location in Media, which also serves Sunday brunch.

Nursery Inspiration

Way before I got pregnant, I started collecting ideas for a travel-themed nursery. Since Chester and I hope to pass on our love of seeing the world to our future children, I thought it would be a good to introduce the idea early on.

In theory, decorating the nursery should be one of the more simple, fun parts of pregnancy. After all, people used to clear out dresser drawers and use them as cribs, so it stands to reason that as long as the baby has a comfortable place to sleep, it isn’t going to care what color the walls are or what the shelving looks like.

Now, let me tell you the reality of nursery planning.

It’s kind of stressful.

There are so many options for baby furniture, bedding and accessories and somehow all of the people on Pinterest have managed to put them all together to create rooms that look like they came out of a magazine. And, since I don’t really think I have a knack for interior design, I’m totally overwhelmed by it all.

Fortunately, it has been a bit easier to sift through everything now that I know I’ll be decorating a space for a little girl. Travel is still the overall theme for the room, but I’m leaning towards more of a vintage look and feel, as opposed to the more modern colors and patterns that I was focused on before I knew ET’s gender.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t go back and forth every five minutes about everything from paint, to furniture to curtains, but there are a few things that I’m definitely loving for the nursery…at the moment:

Mosaic Paisley Crib Bedding (From Land of Nod)

I’m thinking this set below would go well with the pink/yellow/white color scheme I’m currently leaning towards.

mosaic-paisley-crib-bedding-pink

Illustrations by Loxly Hollow (via Etsy)

I love the old-fashioned feel of this artist’s illustrations, and, luckily, she’s got plenty of options that fit in with a travel theme.

Paris printMap Letters

Urban Outfitters was selling these awhile back, but this would be a fairly easy DIY. Thinking about doing one in for the baby’s first initial.

map letter

Hot Air Balloons (from Hanging Mobile Gallery)

Could be a cute option for above the crib.

hot air balloons

Vintage Suitcases (via Amazon)

These could double both as decor and storage for toys, books or other small items.

suitcases

We’ll really be digging into this project after we get back from vacation in early June, and I’m excited to see how everything comes together.