Tuesday, February 24, 2009



Last Sat. night we had a sudden change of plans and found ourselves with nothing to do. We called around and found some good friends that were in town as well and decided to meet for a very quick and inexpensive meal at Buon Giorno Italia, 981 Sibley Memorial Highway in Lilydale off of Hiway 13 in Mendota Heights. (http://www.bgimarket.com/) 651-905-1080.

When teaching cooking classes the question of where to eat good Italian food is always asked by my students. I often tell them I Nonni's, the upper end restaurant next door to the deli. I Nonni is really a special occasion place especially in these difficult economic times, but it is possible to order dinner in their bar and save a few dollars.

But Sat. night we wanted something really casual, and just fun, a place where we could get a quick dinner a bottle of wine and just catch up with our friends. Many people had the same idea as the place was very busy with families and couples just like us looking for a good meal at an affordable price. We grabbed a table and while the guys selected a bottle of wine from the wine shop we looked over the menu.

At Buon Giorno's you order at the counter and pick up your food and if necessary they bring the ordered food out to your table upon completion, but there is no table service. Salads, hot and cold sandwiches, panini, pizza and a pasta bar are all available.

At $8.99 the build your own pasta appealed to me. Two young chef's were making up pastas as fast as the orders were coming in. As my turn came up I asked the young chef what his name was and he replied, "Stuart." I then asked him what his favorite combinations were and of course one question lead to another, with him finally asking me if I was a food critic. While I am not getting paid to review restaurants, I would not have been truthful to deny being a critic, so I gave him my card and told him I would be blogging about my experience. He asked me to be nice and fortunately I can be Stuart.

The combination of pasta that I came up with was, olive oil, garlic, scallops, broccoli, artichoke hearts and tri-colored corkscrew pasta in pesto and white sauce. While they were preparing my pasta, I thought that they were being a little skimpy with the ingredients, but as you can see I had a really big pasta to eat when they were finished with the preparation. The combination was delicious and creamy, the vegetables and scallops cooked perfectly and the pasta was "al dente" just the way I like it. The dish also came with some nice crusty bread.

My husband also ordered a pasta and we decided the next time we visit we will order one pasta or Buon Giorno's Lasagna and their chicken Parmesan and some roasted asparagus and share our dinners. The Caesar salad that we ordered was so ordinary that I would not bother with that again and try a different salad such as the antipasti chop or the tuna and cannellini bean salad.

We all did have room for dessert and I sent my husband to the counter to choose as I was only going to have a bite of whatever he brought back. In the end I ate half of the beautifully presented key lime tart. Now I usually think of this dessert best served in the summer, but I enjoyed it greatly on that cold winter night. The individual tart was a large portion and beautifully decorated with whipped cream. The pastry was flaky and the filling nicely rich with the tartness of key lime juice. It was a perfect ending to our meal.

If you are looking for a last minute place to eat for cheap this might be just the ticket. With a really good bottle of wine, pasta bar, salad and dessert the two of us ate for about $50.00 We would have spent more than 3 times that next door!

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

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