I’ve spent many a day at the Bristol Motor Speedway for the spring and August races. True, there were some sunburns, drenched shoes, and a nasty fall down the hill, but all in all it was, and still is, fun. What I really enjoyed was meeting my fellow fans, some of whom had crossed several state lines to join in the Bristol experience.
Rather than making chitchat by asking what drivers they are pulling for (that question can lead to a heated debate), I liked to find out what restaurants these out-of-towners have on top of their must-dine lists.
Obviously, Ridgewood Barbecue is one of them, but I’ve been impressed by their knowledge of the other local eateries, even some as far away as Greeneville (hint: beans).
Little Italy is a small district in Manhattan known for its fantabulous Italian cuisine. Here in the Tri-Cities we have our own Little Italy, too — a restaurant called Little Italy — on U.S. Highway 421 in Bristol, and I’m sure the owners and staff are preparing a hefty bulk of hand-tossed dough in preparation for what the next 48-plus hours may bring.
With the name Little Italy, one obvious question emerges: Does the food live up to its NYC name? Honestly, it’s really an unfair comparison to make. I can say that because I’ve been to both, enjoyed both, and don’t give much thought to which is the champ. But, there have been some credible sources that say our own Little Italy comes extremely close to the mark.
As I drove to Little Italy for my first visit, I anticipated my lunch would come down to a slice or two of New York Style pizza and a drink, but my plans changed when I saw they serve Sicilian squares. This style is famous for its crispiness and for its melted hot cheese. I didn’t add any toppings. I knew ahead of time that the kitchen prep is longer than most of the other selections, but the wait was worth it.
You can order individual slices at lunch, though I overheard an employee say these aren’t available at dinner. As for the New York style options, go for one of the specialty pizzas. My pick is the Philly –— steak, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, and a thick coating of mozzarella.
This wasn’t the first time my favorite menu item at a pizza joint turned out not to be pizza. Though I have several Little Italy selections still to try, the spinach calzone is going to be a tough one to beat. For starters, it is enormous, and I knew I had struck gold when I cut into it and hot steam rose above it and melted mozzarella cheese oozed out. Both the spinach and the ricotta were fresh, and even though garlic was used, I violated all nutritional guidelines by requesting a side of garlic butter for dipping.
One thing: If you’re going to Little Italy, keep in mind they are closed on Mondays. And come next Monday, the staff may be ready for some post-race R&R.
Little Italy is the best. The pizza is awesome.
|Johnson City Christmas Parade|
|The Annual Christmas Parade In Downtown Johnson City, December 3rd 2010.|