Buon giorno, amici! from Padrino, where Italian posters adorn the walls and Italian eats are all the rage.
Probably by now, the patio renovation is finished and ready for the warm days and nights ahead. According to Keia Davis, assistant general manager at Padrino, the work involved fresh paint, new flower baskets and planters, and a kitchen strategy to grow some of the herbs in the planting space on the patio. If you dine on the patio, look for the basil and parsley and rosemary and what-not that might be growing around you.
As for the patio season, it has already started, and if the weather cooperates, dining al fresco at Padrino is an option.
When you go to Padrino, take note of the anniversary celebration – 10 years of serving patrons in its Old Milford location. Aside from good food, much of the charm of the place is the ambiance created by exposed brick, wood floors and 19th century architecture, to my way of thinking.
“Our restaurant is enjoying one of its best years in serving up pizza and pasta dishes,” Davis said. “We really have good pizza and pasta dishes here, and that is where our focus is. We have good vegetarian and pescatarian pasta choices for people who want those options, and we can adjust to meet about any dietary need that a diner might have.”
All of that is good for Jewish patrons wanting to eat kosher meals when dining out. One new pizza Jewish patrons may be interested in is not on the menu but on a menu chalk board over the bar. The pizza is called the kim cheese, a play on the Korean specialty side dish, kimchi. Kimchi is made from brined and fermented vegetables. Part of the hallowed tradition is underground storage to keep the fermentation crock from extremes of heat and cold, but in today’s world, it’s refrigerated. The ingredients often are Napa cabbage, Korean radishes, garlic, scallions, ginger and a variety of Korean spices that create the zesty, tasty flavor. At Padrino, the kimchi part of the pizza is made in house, using Korean chili paste as the primary flavoring agent. The veggie mix includes the cabbage, but also carrots and zucchini, all of which is topped with cheese when the pizza is assembled. And the result? It’s a hit with patrons, Davis said. “Really good flavors; people like it.”
Among the 16 pizza options available on and off the menu at Padrino, one favorite among diners is the vegetarian, which is available in 10- and 15-inch sizes, as are all the pizzas. The veggie features house-made marinara sauce as the base, which is covered with tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, tri-color peppers and red onions, all fresh, with green and black olives and cheese rounding out the flavor profile. For those with gluten issues, gluten-free crust is available in the 10-inch size for any pizza.
If you’re not in the mood for pizza, there are plenty of options on the menu for those who want something else to eat. Let’s begin with the entrée section of the menu, where my very favorite dish resides – eggplant parmesan. I order this dish where I find it on a menu in Italian restaurants. Quality-wise, this dish is a total wildcard. It can be very good, and not so good, depending on how the eggplant is done.
Padrino is one of those eateries that delivers on this Americanized Italian dish. My sense is that at Padrino, the way the eggplant is prepared is why the dish is a winner. Each slice of eggplant is breaded in the prep stage, and then flash frozen and held in reserve. When I order the dish, the chef takes the frozen slices and drops them in a deep-fryer. This produces a crispy, crusty eggplant slice that is hot and delicately tender on the inside, but not loaded down and heavy with oil. The cooked slices then are layered with a marinara-cheese blend that melds flavors, and the layered mix is baked and served over spaghetti. If you like this dish generally, I’m betting you will like the Padrino version a lot.
More on entrees: at the top of the list is the Italian standard, spaghetti marinara. The house-made marinara sauce is full-bodied and rich in tomato flavor. Sprinkle a topping of grated parmesan cheese, spin the fork in the spoon and go to town on this dish.
Again, if you are a lover of simple Italian foods, you may want to try the pasta agli olio. This is Italian peasant food with a twist. Generally, Italians prepare this dish using three ingredients, garlic, olive oil and pasta, then complement the dish with cheese, salt and pepper. The twist here is that Padrino adds spinach, Roma tomatoes and red pepper flakes (hot! So be warned) to the entrée to add flavor. If you are a purist, you may want the dish prepared the way my Italian grandmother did it, which was heavy on the garlic, light on the olive oil, a little butter thrown in for decadence, and topped at table with parmesan cheese. Done my grandmother’s way, the dish is delicious, especially with plenty of bread to capture what the fork will not. Plus, any food that makes you think of your granny is worth ordering just because.
Jewish diners who love the idea of lasagna may wish to consider the meatless version of this dish. Vegetable lasagna is a layered pasta dish very similar to its meaty cousin. The flavors, and even the texture, are about the same as the meat-sauce version. Italian vegetables form part of the layering, along with a ricotta-pesto cream sauce. That sauce provides an array of flavor that is intriguingly tasty.
Sandwiches are another category you may wish to check out. One of my favorites is the Italian beef hoagie. Also worthy of meal status is the steak hoagie, with a grilled steak on a toasted hoagie bun, topped with marinara sauce, onions and pickles (hold the cheese).
See you at Padrino!
111 Main St.
Milford, Ohio, 45150