Enzo’s – Just Like Mia Madre
I was invited to lunch with a fellow foodie, Chuck, at one of his favorite neighborhood gems. He kept his choice under wraps, telling me just shortly before our meeting – he was trying to surprise me, bless his heart.
Little did he know that Enzo’s was one of my favorite haunts when we lived in Lawrenceville, NJ from 1984 – 1994. We’re really very picky about our Italian restaurants, since they have to measure up to Mama Mickalene’s cooking – a very high hurdle. So, to my great delight, I got reintroduced to Enzo’s. The restaurant is still family-run, with the majority of recipes coming from their own traditions. Anna Scozzari, and her mother Rita, were gracious hosts. It reminded me of being in Italy, ushered into a restaurant where everyone is family, whether or not you’re related.
Even though it was lunch time, Anna brought out quite a banquet for us (Chuck simply said: cook what you think we’d like). There were quite a few highlights, especially the Eggplant Rollatini (very light, very flavorful), a wonderfully fresh beet salad, and al dente pasta with their home red sauce. Each dish had balanced flavors (sweet, salty, spicy) which makes good Italian so exciting, when done right – and Enzo’s is spot-on. The surprise was a special meat course – coniglio (sorry, Bugs Bunny fans – Elmer caught the rabbit, and it was served). Rabbit is very popular in Italy, especially from the regions of my parents’ families. It was a gutsy dish to serve us (Anna knew I was a food blogger), but they pulled it off.
It was nice to see the family, experience their food again – and enjoy food alla mia Madre!