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What makes an Italian restaurant great? Bruschetta!

Angelia Hensley • Apr 25, 2018 at 10:00 AM

What do you look for in a good Italian restaurant? Are you looking for the best pizza? Is it the ooey-gooey, cheesy lasagna that makes it the best? Or is it the light, fluffy garlic bread dripping with butter? When my husband and I walk into a new Italian restaurant, the first thing we look for is the appetizer menu to determine if they serve bruschetta. If the answer is yes, we will always order it and judge it based on the amount of balsamic vinegar used in the tomato topping.

Bruschetta is an antipasto from Italy consisting of grilled French baguette slices rubbed with garlic and topped with olive oil and a tomato mixture. Variations may include toppings of tomatoes, vegetables, beans, meats or cheeses. We have found that our favorite bruschetta includes tomatoes, onions, basil, balsamic vinegar, parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese. The best bruschetta we have ever devoured was found in a tiny little restaurant in Little Italy in New York City. Here is a recipe that is similar to what they served and is loaded with flavor — particularly balsamic vinegar!

To begin this scrumptious appetizer, you will need to prepare approximately six Roma tomatoes. With the tip of a knife, dig out the stem part and score an “x” on the opposite end. Drop the six tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for approximately 90 seconds or until you see the skin start to pull away from the meat of the tomato. Immediately immerse them into an ice-water bath to stop the cooking. Peel the skins and discard them, and then seed the tomatoes before chopping.

Ingredients:

1 small red onion, finely chopped

8 basil leaves, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

6 Roma tomatoes, finely chopped (see above)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Mix all of these ingredients in a bowl and allow to macerate in the refrigerate for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to broil.

Parmesan cheese

Mozzarella cheese

French baguette sliced

1 whole clove of garlic

Italian seasoning

Steps:

Slice the French baguette and drizzle with olive oil. Broil in the oven for about 2 minutes or until lightly toasted. Carefully rub each slice thoroughly with the clove of garlic then discard the clove. Top with mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Broil for another minute or until the cheese has melted. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and then top it with the tomato mixture.

Nothing is better than true, authentic bruschetta served in Little Italy in New York City (maybe Italy!), but this beautiful and easy appetizer will be a must-add to your recipe box. Enjoy!

Mount Carmel’s Angelia Hensley is a community contributor for the Kingsport Times News.

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