Tuesday, April 26, 2011


We moved from New Jersey where pizza is everywhere -- good pizza.  The crust is thin, the sauce is perfectly seasoned and cooked, and the cheese is a mix for best flavor.  We've been complaining about the pizza here for almost 20 years.  Who knew that Luigi was just waiting for us to discover him all that time.
Luigi, aka Val Montesano, was born in Calabria, Italy, and came to Morehead via New York City.

He's been in the Cypress Bay Plaza (anchored by BELK's) for 21 years.  I can't stop thinking of all the pizzas we could have eaten.  Luigi's is the real deal.  The crust is thin and you can have it even thinner if you like.  The sauce is totally homemade and full of flavor.  The cheese is a perfect complement.  If you're like us, you'll want to ask for more sauce and less cheese.  Most people prefer it the other way around.

Everything at Luigi's is super-sized.  If you should order a steak sandwich, be sure to order a small and have a partner to share it with.  We stopped in to Luigi's around 2:30 in the afternoon, in between lunch and dinner and decided to take a pie home to eat for our evening meal.  We asked for mushrooms and pepperoni.  As you can see in the photo below, the pie doesn't quite fit in the box.

The man next to us at the counter told us that he drives 50 miles once a week to get a Luigi's pizza.  It is so-o-o-o-o very good.

We'll be stopping in Luigi's often from now on, and I'm sure we'll be trying more than just pizza.
LUIGI's PIZZA and SUBS, Cypress Bay Plaza, Morehead City, Phone: 252-240-3125.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Chicken Marsala has become an easy go-to dinner in our household, ever since I discovered the recipe from Cooking for Engineers  That recipe used sweet Marsala wine.

When our local Harris Teeter had one of their regular case sales for wine, I bought a few bottles of Florio Marsala along with our favorite drinking wines.  Marsala is a fortified wine and, once opened, it will keep in the fridge for about 6 months.  You can also drink it like a port or sherry as an after-dinner drink (that's where you will find Marsala -- near the ports and sherries).  Florio, the original maker of Marsala wine, has two kinds:  dry and sweet.  On the day I was shopping, the dry Marsala bottle had a recipe on a piece of cardboard that hung over the neck like a necklace.  It was entitled "Chicken Florio Marsala."  I decided to give the dry Marsala, and the recipe, a try.

The Cooking for Engineers recipe calls for brining the chicken for 1 hour, and has fewer ingredients.  We liked it a lot, but the sauce cooks down and doesn't leave you with much.  This recipe doesn't cook down quite as much, and there's plenty of the wonderful sauce to enjoy.  You can serve this with mashed potatoes, rice or noodles.  Since I mostly eat low carb, I have it with a salad or low-carb veggie.  I've made the Chicken Florio Marsala three times now, first exactly as written with the dry Marsala, next with brined chicken and some tweaks and last with tweaks and sweet Marsala.  While I enjoyed the sauce made with dry Marsala, I prefer the sweet Marsala.  And the chicken is moister and more tender when it's brined first.

P.S.  Save yourself some time, but maybe not money, by only buying Florio Marsala (about $10-$12).  No one makes Marsala like the Sicilians.

Chicken Florio Marsala
Adapted from Florio
Rating:  9.5 out of 10
2 cups cold water
2 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or 1 lb. chicken tenders)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
4 oz. fresh white or cremini mushrooms, sliced
3/4 cup Florio Marsala, dry or sweet (I prefer sweet)
1/2 cup heavy cream
sea salt and black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

In resealable plastic bag, combine water, salt and chicken.  Refrigerate 1 hour.  Drain.  Rinse chicken well under cold running water.  Pat dry with clean paper towels.  If using whole breasts, cut breasts in half to make thin cutlets, and pound to even out.  For chicken tenders, just pound to even out.

In large, heavy skillet (an iron fry pan would be perfect, and is what I used), heat oil over medium-high heat.  When it's sizzling, add chicken and brown, without moving, for about 3 minutes per side.  Add onion, garlic and mushrooms and saute for one minute.  Pour wine over pan and simmer for one minute.  Add cream, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Lower heat to medium and simmer 3-5 minutes, or till chicken is done and sauce is bubbling.  Serve chicken with sauce and sprinkle with parsley.  Serves 3-4