Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mamma Mia!

Ahhh, Homestead... What can be expected from this rural mecca? Known for its vast fields of fruits and vegetables, as well as, acres of nurseries, little thought is still given to their current revamping process.

The once desolate area, has been increasingly booming with new residential developments, commercial restaurants (such as Chilis, Red Lobster and Olive Garden) and shopping plazas which include a Lowes, Walmart and the soon to be Ikea. It leaves one to wonder, how this will effect older establishments that are better known as the little wonders of Homestead.

While the architecture in most of this up and coming city is still drab and dreary, it is here where you will find these wonders which include palatial Mexican dining, Amish treats, finger licking BBQ dives and the sporadic yet, culture specific dine-ins (Chinese, Italian, etc.).

Matter of fact, it is here where you will find this off the side of the road and down a back alley, pride-fully Italian establishment; Mamma Mia Pizzeria. While the address might confuse some, this Collins Ave is not in South Beach.

Their bright red, white and green sign give light to its obscure location. It resembles a NYC eatery in the heart of the city, with its bright dining area and checkered table cloths. The light smell of garlic sifts through the air as you briefly wait for your server to attend to you. The menu is simple and full of traditional appetizers and entrees that would normally be served at an Italian restaurant.

As you wait for order, complimentary garlic rolls which are the size of my fist are served and like any well made garlic roll, the scent of garlic on your breath will linger way into the evening. Then your food is brought to you and one could barely refrain from their eyes popping out as they gaze at the size of their meal. Whether you ordered a calzone (which could easily be 5-6" long and about 2-3" deep filled with your choice of gooey cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms and whatever else your heart declares) or their gnocchi parmeseana (covered with cheese and sauce that could easily give you a heart attack- but in a good way), their portions are enormous.

I'm not sure about the rest of you, but when eating Italian, it's pretty much the sauce that makes the meal and their sauce easily gets two thumbs up. It's not too sweet, not too salty, definitely not watery or greasy and has a good consistency. Mamma Mia Pizzeria is a sure stop when in the area for some decent Italian. 

Mamma Mia PizzeriaL 538 Washington Ave, Homestead, FL 33030

Monday, May 3, 2010

Dim Sum- Touch My Heart

Touch my heart and make my belly happy!

There's nothing like the Chinese pass-time of Dim Sum. Dim Sum stems from an old tradition Yum Cha, which the Chinese observe as "tea time." Before the two had linked paths, it was once considered odd for food to be consumed while drinking tea. The Chinese believed that this kind of consumption would lead to unnecessary weight gain until they realized tea would actually help digest the food. Weight consciousness aside, I'm glad they made it part of their culture and are affluent U.S. has been able to get a taste of it. 

Normally an early morning to mid-afternoon snack (most places won't serve past 3:30PM), Dim-Sum can definitely be made a meal. With several bite-size yet delectably palatable treats, who could resist just having one of many? Mmm... variations of noodles with meats, chicken, shrimp or vegatable. The very thought of steamed succulent shrimp dumplings has my mouth watering. 

How I would love to visit China and sit as a guest with family during Dim Sum time. So far, the closest I've gotten to this is Jing Fong's in New York City. It's always on the top of my to do list every time I visit the NY. Being not much of a shy person, I often mingle with the regulars when I visit this not so little hole in the wall and they seem to be quite pleased with the cuisine. Jing Fong's is pretty big for NY's China Town; usually flooded with neighbors and local vendors on their break. Unfortunately, NY for me isn't a 3 hour drive (one I would happily make on any given day for some good old Dim Sum), but more like a 3 hour flight from my tropical city (Miami). Thankfully Miami is full of diversity and anyone could get a taste of practically anything they want down here. However, the search for some NY quality Dim Sum has been hard. 

 I've been to numerous Chinese restaurants throughout South Florida and had yet to find a place worth ranting about. Then I was introduced to this wonderful little palace of Chinese decadence in the middle of Westchester; Tropical Chinese Restaurant. Am I going to far? You can be the judge but I'm sure you would agree with me.

I must have passed this restaurant more than a dozen of times. Located in a little shopping plaza, I always thought it would have been some mediocre Chinese spot run by a Spanish speaking staff serving your run of the mill special fried rice and honey garlic chicken. Well, I was obviously wrong.

Now it might not have the same set up as Jing Fong's in NY, with a cluster of tables being circled by carts filled to the top with cartons of steamed or fried treats. However, the decor is charming, the service is great and the food will still come to you by cart; you just a get a little more space and intimacy with your table. As you skim through their elaborate and daring menu of Chinese cuisine, the first page of Dim Sum is a heavenly display of dumpling and noodle combinations. My personal favorites are their "Har Gow": steamed shrimp dumplings, steamed siu mai, chicken pot stickers, fried shrimp wontons, and steamed beef tripe with ginger scallions. Ok, you can grab a kleenex now to wipe the drool off your chin; I understand completely! As if that weren't enough, their jellyfish salad (yes, real jellyfish mixed with crisp cilantro) and szechuan muscles and scallops are to die for!

Just talking about this has me craving and tempted to beat the afternoon traffic down Bird Rd. Dim Sum is definitely a beautiful thing. What is traditional pass time for my Chinese friends has become one of ultimate treats for me. 


Tropical Chinese Restaurant: 7991 Bird Road, Miami, FL 33155