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Best Bites

September 25, 2018

One thing about celebrating a September birthday (or anytime), there are plenty of choices to enjoy good food.

Being a food columnist, I find it difficult to choose a restaurant for my celebration. I like all of our local establishments, but this year I chose Tucci’s Italian.

With my family, everyone has a different taste for food. This was perfect since their menu allows guests to choose between casual, such as pizza or a burger, and enjoying a juicy steak.

For starters, we began with one of their September special appetizers — the spinach rolls: delicious spinach perfectly seasoned and wrapped in a flaky pastry with dill sauce served on the side. This was a big hit for my grandson, Dylan Whiteley.

Made with fried wonton skins, Italian sausage, pepperoncini peppers, black olives, mozzarella, oregano and red gravy, Italian nachos have become one of our favorites. They were quickly devoured by the grandkids.

Next came the endless salad bowl with homemade Italian dressing. I’m not a fan of Italian dressing: too pungent. Most restaurants make it with too much vinegar for me. But this dressing was different. It’s homemade with wine, vinegar and olive oil. The seasonings that are added were made especially for Tucci’s Restaurant.

Hot, crusty bambino bread was served with olive oil and Parmesan cheese with a special seasoning made especially for Tucci’s. What is nice about the olive oil and cheese is that it’s already on the table, and you don’t have to ask for more. Be careful, though — just the bread and the salad will fill you up before dinner arrives.

Choosing our entrees took time. The September specials looked fabulous. I tried one that is now on their regular menu — chicken Dominic. This is a fabulous chicken dish made with crusty Parmesan cheese served over thin spaghetti with a rich cream sauce loaded with fresh tomatoes. The serving lasted for four meals!

Several family members ordered the spaghetti with meatballs and Italian beef — fabulous. Tony Collins, of Dyer, Ind., ordered the Italian sausage links with red and green peppers and roasted potatoes. Collins is somewhat of a food critic. When the food is bad, he lets the restaurant know, but there was not a word from him the entire time he was eating. Compliments to the chef!

I recommended the cedar salmon on a plank for my grandson, Dylan. He appreciates fresh seafood and was extremely pleased with the entree. My daughter-in-law, Wendy Markland, opted for the brick chicken. She had never tried it before and absolutely loved it. It was seasoned with fresh herbs and spices and served with a lemon sauce and pasta.

I was treated to my choice of one of their homemade desserts. Of course, it had to be the bourbon bread pudding. French bread is soaked in cream, butter, raisins, sugar and bourbon liquid. It’s baked and served with a very special sauce that is caramelized and thick and soaks into the pudding. Absolutely fabulous.

It went fast since there were spoons and forks coming from all directions! Everyone wanted a taste.

We really enjoyed our server, Tonya, who has been with Tucci’s for five years. She managed to keep up with 11 people, keeping the drinks filled, the orders correct and all of us happy.

There’s still time left to enjoy some of their September specials such as the chicken piccata with herbs, white wine, lemon and capers with pasta or the seared scallops with rosemary pan butter sauce with creamy mushroom risotto.

If you can’t make it during September, there’s always October with some of their finest fall foods.

It’s busy on the weekends, so make your reservations by calling 815-929-1875. Check them out on Facebook and at tuccisitalian.com. Tucci’s Italian is at 1560 N. Illinois Route 50, Bourbonnais.

I highly recommend Tucci’s Italian for great food.

•••

The birthday dinner wasn’t my only treat — my daughter, Kelly Markland, spent the day indulging me in all my favorite things. We began at the Kankakee Farmers’ Market.

The warm weather led us to Coffeeism for a delicious iced coffee. From there, we stopped at Cranky Mike’s Popcorn for some kettle corn, picked up some sunflowers and then breakfast at Stefari’s Cafe. My next column will be about my visit to Stefari’s Cafe for breakfast. Fantastic!

Remember, there are only a few more weeks to enjoy the farmers market in downtown Kankakee.

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