Finding real Italian food below the Mason Dixon is like trying to find a good man. Oh how you will suffer through the imposters. The price is always too high and the mental hangover lingers endlessly.
You know you are far from home when you need to shop in the “ethnic” aisle for San Marzano Tomatoes. Yes, you too may find yourself looking into the frazzled eyes of a southern grocer, attempting to decipher your Yankee accent and need for “special” tomatoes.
Like love, however, if you shop around and do your homework, you just may find the rustic comfort your soul craves. When I am below the Italian food belt ( anything south of 9th Street in Philadelphia), the hunt for something to heal my homesick ails is daunting. When I miss Umberto’s Pizzeria, when I miss Luigi’s, and when Caffe Reggio is far behind me in the rear view , I stop in at Leoci’s Trattoria in Savannah.
Local farm raised ingredients meets rustic homemade Amore! The pasta is made fresh for each plate, so be patient. But, just like the hunt for a lascivious lover, the wait is worth it. From the arancini to the fresh tagliatelle, it may be better than that lover anyway!!
During my recent visit I tried the Pasta alla Norma; fresh ribbons of tagliatelle with grilled eggplant, crushed tomatoes and a delightful helping of buffalo mozzarella. My salad was smothered in grilled artichokes and under a raspberry jalapeño dressing, made fresh on the spot. If you do wander in, be sure to try the veal polpette and any of the risotto. The wine list is endless and so are the possibilities! So do not fret, find yourself an olive skinned beauty or a stallion, and turn that GPS to Leoci’s.
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