Cafe Europa Bistro and Wine Bar

Cafe Europa in Portsmouth Virginia is in a category of it’s own. Fine dining that is influence by French, Italian, and Mediterranean cuisines.

Portsmouth Virginia is home to one of the finest restaurants on the East Coast, Cafe Europa. Dining at Cafe Europa you get the feeling that you are dining at a French restaurant, but the truth is Chef Michael serves up French and Italian dishes, with a Mediterranean influence. Cafe Europa is a Bistro in the truest sense of the word. They are a small unpretentious restaurant that serves an international cuisine. To give you an impression of how good Cafe Europa is, people boating up and down the coast of Virginia, will turn up the Elizabeth River and dock in Portsmouth, just to have a meal there. This is saying something when they could just as easy dock on the other side of the river and eat at one of the many fine restaurants in Norfolk.

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Cafe Europa Polenta Gorgonzola

On this particular evening we were served up two outstanding appetizers Polenta Gorgonzola and Mussels Marinieres. My personal favorite is Cafe Europa’s Polenta Gorgonzola. The polenta is grilled and then rested on a rich and decadent Gorgonzola cheese sauce. This is a little slice of heaven and my favorite way to eat polenta.

Clams
Mussels Marinieres

The Mussels Marinieres is served in a white wine and butter herb sauce. The sauce is exquisite. Make sure you ask for extra bread to soak up the sauce.  The Mussels Marinieres is not on the menu, it is usually offered as an appetizer special. On the menu they do offer a Mussels Provencal, the difference is it is served with a Pernod, tomato based sauce. Either appetizer will be a special treat.

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Cafe Europa Hungarian Veal

Have you ever had veal that melts in your mouth? Whether you have or haven’t, Cafe Europa’s Hungarian Veal with Potato Noki was the star of the evening. The tomato-based sauce with it’s hint of paprika is Chef Michael’s way of paying homage to flavors of the Mediterranean. The sauce is a perfect accompaniment to the veal. I had to ask for another couple pieces of bread to lap up the sauce. The veal is so tender, it just melts in your mouth. I seriously considered asking for another order to go. This has to be the best veal I have ever had.

Apple Galette
Apple Galette

All of Cafe Europa’s desserts are made in house. As with the appetizers, every night the dessert menu changes. Talk about a challenge for the waitress, imagine having to memorize 16 or so desserts every night.  You would be hard pressed not to find something you desire. Dessert this evening consisted of a slice of Apple Galette, pictured, and slice of Conversation Tart. The Conversation Tart is a puff pastry filled with an almond filling.  I have tried my fair share of their desserts; I have never been disappointed.

Looking for an intimate evening out, or dining at a restaurant that leaves you feeling as if you just had a meal with old friends, Cafe Europa is definitely worth checking out. If you are in the Portsmouth or Norfolk Virginia area, call and reserve a table at Cafe Europa Bistro and Wine Bar. Have you been to Cafe Europa or have a favorite Bistro, share your comments below.

Gallo Pizza & Italian Restaurant

Family owned and operated, Gallo Pizza & Italian Restaurant of New Oxford PA, offers a taste of Italy.

It took a couple of tries to finally eat Gallo Pizza, but it was well worth the wait. One of the keys of making a restaurant a destination worth driving to is word of mouth. I was talking to a friend one morning in a coffee shop, when he recommended Gallo Pizza. The first time I tried to go there, the restaurant was closed and family was vacationing in Italy. Then the other day I was in a shop talking with the owner of Dawg Gone Honey. I told her I was looking to eat lunch. She recommended Gallo Pizza. The cherry on top was she told me they were back from vacation.

Gallo Veal Parm 2
Gallo Pizza Veal Parmesan

I have been looking for a good Italian restaurant in the area for a while now. I have visited Italian restaurants that claim to be authentic; yet they seem to forget something as basic as seasoning. This is not the case with Gallo Pizza. I decided to try their Veal Parmesan. Even before I took that first bite, I was pleasantly surprised by the portion size. There was definitely enough for leftovers. I tried the spaghetti with marinara sauce first. The sauce is balanced, well season, not overly seasoned. It wasn’t watery. The Veal is hand pounded, lightly breaded, and deep fried. My first bite left me looking forward to my next bite. This is exactly what I was expecting. I mentioned leftovers. Not today.

Gallo Stuffed Pizza
Gallo Stuffed Pizza

Stuffed pizza, another Chicago original. You might ask, what is the difference between a Stromboli and a Stuffed Pizza. The biggest difference is the pizza sauce is not baked inside the Stromboli, it is normally served in a separate dish. My preference between the two is the Stuffed Pizza. I can’t really say what is my favorite style of pizza. If I had to decide whether to go to New York, the original home of pizza, or Chicago, I would most likely choose Chicago. I do enjoy a good slice, but in Chicago you have both Deep Dish and Stuffed Pizzas to choose from.

Gallo’s Stuffed Pizza is execeptionally good. I wouldn’t be surprised if each slice weighed a half of pound or more. No cheap ingredients here. The meat lover’s pizza featured here has Ham, Pepperoni, Salami, Sausage, Ground Beef, Bacon & Extra Cheese. They finish this pizza off with a light coat of garlic oil on the outer crust. Bite after bite, I could find nothing wrong with this pizza. Not all pizzas are created equal. Nothing worse than a restaurant using cheap tasteless toppings. This is not the issue here, Gallo’s Stuffed Pizza is one of the best in the area.

Gallo Pizza & Italian Restaurant is definitely a destination worth driving to. Just make sure you come hungry. Another plus is they are not over priced, so bring the family. Have you been to Gallo Pizza or have a favorite Pizza Restaurant, leave a comment.