Tag Archives: Salad

The Original Mama Mia’s Kitchen – Restaurant Review

by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine and Vero Beach Foodie

For my next tasting experience, I head back to Downtown Vero once again and to The Original Mama Mia’s Kitchen!  It seems like just yesterday that the VB American Bar & Grill was there, and in the blink of an eye, the sign changed and the new one for this place went up.  Once the word got out about Mama Mia’s, the questions started flooding in.  Is this the same place that was open in Sebastian many years ago?  I’m happy to report that the family recipes and lineage are the same, just with new ownership.  For the full story of Mama Mia’s history, be sure to check out the back of the menu when you dine with them.

Located on 14th Avenue in the corner between Main Street Jewelers and Baci Trattoria is Vero’s newest Italian restaurant.  Subtle changes were done to the interior due to the quick change over, but they did add a lattice wall with green vine through it to divide the room, most of the tables and booths were used with a few changes to the configuration, and they added white tablecloths with glass tops on all the tables.  The bar and TV’s that were there previously have remained.  They still share the patio with Baci, but they don’t open until well after Baci has closed, so there is no overlap.  Most of the businesses in the plaza are also closed or closing shortly after Mama Mia’s opens, so most of the parking lot will be available to their customers.

 

Now let’s dive right in and see what this place has to offer and what I had to eat!

Escargot in Phyllo Cup – ($8.95) – I have fond memories of a dish that used to be offered at the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival in the France pavilion that this one reminded me of, so I had to try it.  The escargot was placed in the phyllo cups, topped with a garlic butter sauce, then baked until golden brown.  The escargot was very tender and almost disintegrated with the flakiness of the phyllo cup when I took a bite.  The garlic butter sauce was just enough to coat and not overwhelm the dish.

Mozzarella en Carozza – ($8.95) – With such a fancy sounding name in Italian, I was not sure what to expect since it translates in English to just a mozzarella cheese sandwich.  Fresh mozzarella cheese is sandwiched between two slices of bread and the “sandwich” is then coated with seasoned flour, dipped in an egg wash and fried until golden brown.  Marinara sauce can be served over the top or alongside.  The outside of the bread had a light crunch, while the inside was soft and gooey from the cheese.  The marinara has just the right amount of sweet verses tartness from the tomatoes.  It was so good!

Twisted Caesar Salad – ($7.95) – I was curious as to what makes it “twisted”, so we ordered it to find out.  From the description, it’s a typical Caesar salad with the addition of fresh mushrooms and bacon.  The lettuce was nice and crisp and was not overdressed.  The addition of the mushrooms and bacon added some additional texture, but only a minimal smokiness from the bacon.

Momma Mia Fiesta Platter – ($18.95) – Since this was our first time here, I thought that ordering the sampler platter would be a good idea to try several of the dishes they offer at one time.  This platter includes an eggplant rolatini, ravioli, meatball, sausage, and penne.  All were topped with their house-made marinara sauce.  The meatball, made with only ground beef, was seasoned nicely and quite tender.  The sausage was quite bold in flavor but just a little too “herby” for my tastes.  The ravioli had a generous amount of filling and was cooked al dente.  The true star on this plate was the eggplant rolatini.  I’ve tried several around town at other restaurants, but this one steals the show.  The eggplant was roasted, then rolled up with seasoned ricotta cheese, topped with mozzarella, and baked until golden brown.  It was very tender and easy to cut through with a fork, yet still had a little chew to it which was nice.  Flavor was spot on and it was a table favorite!

Veal Parmigiana – ($19.95) – As one of my all-time favorite Italian dishes, I was happy to see this on the menu.  Portion size is HUGE!  I would compare this to the size of a chicken breast you get at Fresh Market.  Being as thick as it was, I really expected it to be a bit tough as I had read in a previous review by a local newspaper. I had preconceived expectations, but to my surprise, it was anything but.  It was perfectly seasoned and very tender.  The sauce served on the side was their meat sauce and it was delicious.  A side of spaghetti with marinara was served alongside.

Tiramisu – ($5.95) – While not necessarily one of my favorite Italian desserts, it is one that we have not had very often during my reviews, so we decided to order it.  Portion size was very generous and could easily be shared, it also had just the right amount of sweetness after such a savory meal.  The ladyfingers were perfectly tender and did not have much alcohol flavor which was nice because that is one of the reasons why this is not a favorite of mine.  It was a nice way to round out our Italian meal!

In Conclusion:

I had heard they had a rough start when they first opened and their review from 32963 confirmed some of what I had heard.  I’m happy to report that my experience was much better than expected for a place that had only been open for a short while.  I usually like to let the “new” wear off a bit and let them get in their groove, but I was anxious to see what all the hype was about.  The food was quite good and very fresh.  You can tell most, if not everything is house-made.  The atmosphere was somewhat like the previous tenant since some of it was reused, but they did add some nice touches to make it more of a fine dining establishment.  If you love Italian food as much as I do, then I suggest you go give these guys a try, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

Original Mama Mia’s Kitchen Facebook Page

Address1920 14th Ave, Vero Beach, FL 32960
 
Hours of Operation:  Wednesday – Thursday, 4:30pm – 9:00pm, Friday – Saturday, 4:30pm – 10:00pm, and Sunday – Monday, 4:30pm – 9:00pm, Closed on Tuesdays
 
 

Station 49 Pizza – Restaurant Review

by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine and Vero Beach Foodie

For my next tasting experience, I head over to Vero’s newest, and the only wood-fired pizza place that I’m aware of in town called Station 49.  Located in what was once known as Garage Pizza, Station 49 has only been open for a few months.  I’ve been hearing wonderful things from our foodie group about it, so I could not wait to check them out for myself.

Located in the 1800 block of Old Dixie Hwy, they are not that far off the beaten path of downtown shops and restaurants.  Owners, Jay and Joan McLaughlin have been dreaming about owning a pizza place of their own for a while now.  When Jay’s longtime Executive Chef Dino from Island Restaurant in New York was looking to move to a beach town in Florida, they jumped at the opportunity to try this new concept with him.   If the McLaughlin name sounds familiar, they also own a clothing store and Citron Bistro located a short distance north of Vero on A1A.  Parking was better than expected for a small place like this and the lot was not too full even though the restaurant was.  From what I remember about Garage Pizza, the interior has been greatly improved and is contemporary, yet with a few modern touches.  The space was very comfortable and they have a few different seating options depending on your preferences.  Sitting at the bar is always an excellent choice if you like to watch an active kitchen and see your food being made in front of your eyes.

Now let’s dive right in and see what this place has to offer and what I had to eat!

Arancini – ($9.00) – While they might have a strange name, and even if you cannot pronounce them, just point to it on the menu and order them, because they are delicious!  They start with a cube of mozzarella cheese in the middle, then wrap it with risotto rice, then it’s coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried till golden brown.  San Marzano tomato dipping sauce was served alongside.  They are a little larger than a golf ball and have this wonderful crunchy and cheesy flavor.  The dipping sauce was light, flavorful, and a little bit sweet.

Chopped Kale – ($12.00) – Kale is not usually a favorite for most people (including me), but what Chef Dino does with this one might be just short of a miracle.  The kale is chopped finely and tossed with strawberries, avocado, toasted almonds, quinoa, shaved pecorino cheese, and dressed with a citrus-poppy vinaigrette dressing.  Kale can tend to be bitter, but I did not detect any bitterness in this salad at all.  It was light, fresh and quite delicious.

Cavatelli Sausage + Broccoli – ($16.00) – Such simple ingredients, yet they work so well together.  Cavatelli pasta was mixed with chunks of sausage, broccoli, then tossed in a garlic white wine sauce.  The pasta was cooked al dente, the sausage was bold and flavorful, and the white wine sauce had the perfect balance of flavor to bring this dish together.  Most of my regular readers know I’m not a fan of broccoli, but it only added a subtle flavor and texture to the dish, so I was able to still enjoy it even though I’m not a fan.

The Works – ($16.00) – FINALLY, a pizza place in Vero that uses crumbled sausage!  As someone who has lived in the mid-west for most of my life, I’ve never seen so much “sliced” sausage on a pizza until I moved south.  It’s very hard to find a place that uses crumbled sausage, so I was thrilled to see they do.  Hand-tossed to approximately 11”, their pizza has a very thin crust which allows it to cook within minutes. This one has crispy pepperoni, sweet sausage, Grande mozzarella cheese, and San Marzano tomato sauce.  The crust was light and crispy, the sausage was wonderful, and it had just the right amount of smoke flavor from the wood-fired oven.  I can’t wait to go back and have another one!

Donut Holes – ($6.00) –  We wrap up our tasting experience with a little bit of dessert.   After the fantastic food we were just served, these were a bit of a letdown for me.  Appearance wise they looked to be over-fried but inside the cake was light and fluffy.  They were served with chocolate and caramel sauces but the dusting of powdered sugar was the perfect amount of sweetness for me.  They were good, don’t get me wrong, they just lacked the wow factor I’m always looking for, especially after what we already tasted. 

In Conclusion:

Did I forget to mention that they use “crumbled” sausage on their pizza’s?  Ok, so I said it already, but I think it deserves another mention because it’s so hard to find in Vero.  Their wood-fired pizza oven is 16 years old and imparts a wonderful, yet only slightly smoky flavor to the crust from the oak and mesquite wood they use to cook with.  I especially love the healthy twists on a few of the dishes they are offering.  Getting me to eat kale and broccoli in the same meal was a feat in it of itself.  So, do I think this new place will stick around longer than the last one that occupied this space?  Absolutely, and I highly recommend you stop by and check them out sometime, I know you won’t be disappointed!

Have you tried Station 49?  What has your experience been with them?  Sound off in the comments below and let me know your thoughts, or feel free to email me at thefoodguy@verovine.com with your questions or comments.

Station 49 Website  |  Menu  |  Facebook Page

Address1802 Old Dixie Hwy, Vero Beach, FL 32960

Phone(772) 492-8342

Open Sunday – Thursday, 11:00 am – 9:00 pm, Friday and Saturday’s, 11:00 am – 10:00 pm

 

Heaton’s Reef – Restaurant Review 2017

by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine and Vero Beach Foodie

If you are a regular reader of my restaurant reviews, you may recall my friend and neighbor, Eden Colonna, who wrote the review of Heaton’s Reef last year.  She is attending culinary school down in Boca and was home for the summer.  She had an interest in food writing, so I invited her to tag along and write the review.  Check out the link below if you would like to see her article from last year.

2016 Restaurant Review of Heaton’s Reef

My friend and manager, Will McKinnon invited me back to check out their brand-new summer/fall menu for 2017.  I’m always up to try their food because it’s made under the direction of the culinary team at Cobalt, so their standards are set high by the same great chefs running that kitchen.  Most of you know that Cobalt is one of my favorite restaurants on the island, so I jumped at the opportunity to review Heaton’s Reef again. 

Parking is limited due to its location right at the ocean, but they do offer free valet parking (tip), or you can park on the street with only a short walk to the hotel and restaurant.  The outside of the hotel is still nicely maintained and always beautifully landscaped.  The greenery did take a hit from the hurricane, but it’s been trimmed and should be back in all its glory by springtime next year.  Since there is not a separate entrance for Heaton’s like there is for Cobalt, you can enter through the lobby and ask one of the staff for the best way to get through the hotel to the restaurant.  The atmosphere here cannot be beat when the weather is perfect.  There are lots of tables outside, all with an ocean view, so there is not a bad seat in the house.  If the weather does take a turn for the worse, you can cozy up to the bar and stay dry and you still have the ocean view.  I had requested the “Tiki Hut” covered seating area that has the direct ocean front view.

 

Executive Chef Daniel Triamas happened to be working on the day of the review, so he came to the table to greet us before service.  Now without further ado, on to the food! 

Let’s jump right in and see what I had to eat and drink!

Sunset Point –  It’s made with Coconut Rum, freshly squeezed lime, coconut water, club soda, and simple syrup.  Coconut flavor was very evident in this drink due to the flavored rum and coconut water used to make it.  The lime added a little zing, and the club soda gave it a nice subtle effervescence. 

Florida Berry Sour – It’s made with Stoli razz, freshly squeezed lemon, strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate, and simple syrup.  With “sour” right in the name, I wasn’t sure if I would like it since I tend to like my drinks sweeter.  To my surprise, it was not as sour as I expected it to be.   The strawberries, raspberries, and the pomegranate added enough sweetness to counteract the sourness of the lemon.

Chilled Seafood Salad ($17.00) – A mixture of shrimp, bay scallops, and calamari, diced red and yellow peppers were tossed in a lime vinaigrette and served over bibb lettuce.  It was garnished with chopped chives.  The salad reminded me of a ceviche, but only larger.  The seafood was beyond fresh and a very generous portion.  The lime vinaigrette was very fresh and quite delicious!

Grilled Shrimp Skewers – ($21.00) –  The dish contains two shrimp skewers that have a mixture of peppers, red onion, pineapple, and shrimp on them. They were served over a citrus tabbouleh, and an herb yogurt sauce was served alongside.  The shrimp were perfectly cooked and the veggies had a nice char and a slightly smoky flavor from the grill.  The tabbouleh was new to me but reminded me of couscous in both flavor and texture.

Chicken Pesto Wrap – ($14.00) – It’s made with diced tomato, fresh mozzarella, grilled chicken, arugula, and pesto all wrapped up in a flour tortilla.  French fries and ketchup served alongside.  The chicken was perfectly cooked, the tomatoes were sweet, and the arugula was fresh and peppery.  The tomatoes and the pesto were not that evenly distributed throughout the wrap, so a few bites I had without them were a bit bland, but otherwise, all the ingredients work very well together.

Heaton’s Burger – ($15.00) – It’s made with an all-beef patty and topped with bleu cheese, crispy onions, lettuce, tomato, maple mustard BBQ sauce on a brioche bun.  The burger was cooked medium well which gave it a little texture on the outside but remained nice and juicy on the inside.  The blue cheese was creamy and not too sharp, the crispy onions added additional texture and flavor, and I absolutely loved the maple mustard BBQ sauce.  It really brought everything together quite well.

In Conclusion:

The menus at Heaton’s Reef change from season to season to help keep things fresh so you most likely won’t have the same experience that you had last time you visited.  All the food is prepared under direction by the same culinary team that runs Cobalt, so you can count on the same excellent quality and freshness that you have come to expect from them.  If you enjoy oceanfront dining, $5.00 daily drink specials, and lots of fun special events, then I think you should check out or rediscover what all Heaton’s Reef has to offer! 

Have you tried Heaton’s Reef?  What has your experience been with them?  Sound off in the comments below and let me know your thoughts, or feel free to email me at thefoodguy@verovine.com with your questions or comments.

Atmosphere – 5 Forks

Service – 5 Forks

Food – 4 Forks

Rating Scale Legend:

1 to 5 Forks – 1 Bad to 5 Excellent

Website  |  Facebook Page  |  Daily $5.00 Drink Specials

Open Daily from 10:00 am till 10:00 pm

Address3500 Ocean Dr, Vero Beach, FL 32963

Phone(772) 469-1060