Sunday, August 7, 2011

Going Italian without bread and pasta

Barrels of balsamic vinegarImage via Wikipedia
Aged balsamic vinegar on grilled vegetables is a nice touch.

I felt like Italian food on Saturday night, and knew just where to go, but I didn't want to break my diet by eating bread and pasta.

I opened a bottle of red wine at home, then drove to Sanducci's Trattoria, a comfortable, nostalgic BYO in River Edge, where I've enjoyed dinner several times in recent months.

Looking over the menu, I noticed most entrees were served with pasta or risotto, but there were a bunch of interesting appetizers, including seafood and vegetables.

I told the waiter not to bring me a bread basket, then started with an arugula salad from a list of specials ($8.95). It had a little red onion and slices of provolone cheese, and was beautifully dressed in just enough extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice.

I asked for two appetizers: grilled cepia ($9.95) -- described as Mediterranean calamari -- and grilled vegetables ($8.95).

The cepia were pleasantly chewy. Made with bread crumbs and sliced, they were served on a dinner platter around chopped fresh tomato accented with basil and spiked with hot pepper.

Grilled tomato, zucchini, eggplant and radicchio were garnished with thick, aged balsamic vinegar. I poured a little olive oil over them. I finished with two cups of strong black coffee ($2.50).

This was a lot of food, and I spent more than I had wanted to, but I loved my meal.

On Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights, the restaurant offers a dinner buffet for $17.95 that includes plenty of salad, seafood and grilled vegetables, but you have to show will power and ignore the pasta, pizza and bread.

Sanducci's Trattoria, 620 Kinderkamack Road,
River Edge; 201-599-0600. BYO, parking in rear.

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