By August 6, 2014 Read More →

ChefView-Verona Cucina Italia

Chef View By Dana Johnson

Bellissimo e Delizioso!

Beautiful and delicious, Modesto’s translation for Verona’s Cucina Italiana! Speaking of ‘beautiful’ I invited Modesto View’s, Jennifer Allsup, Rockabilly View to indulge with me in the total Verona experience.  Jennifer was looking stunning in a sleek black cocktail dress, heels, and her hair was pretty in pink! Glad I choose my favorite Michael Kors and slinky silk blouse as us dolls blended in the swanky ambiance when we sauntered into the bar to research the specialty cocktails! Jennifer went straight for the Lemon Drop while I licked my lips for an Italian Kiss (not a real kiss, oh I wish!)! Those went down so smoothly we ventured to try bartender, Frank Avilla’s Paloma Martini and the Esquire Cocktail! As we raised our glasses I was reminded that we were on assignment to serve you, the Chef Viewers! Thank you, I love this job!

Edwarda and Executive Chef Jaime Alderete are the original owners of Verona’s for the past 15 years, also married for 15 years. Edwarda told me they have 5 children between them, “His, mine, and ours” The couple takes pride in running a family operated restaurant including Chef Jaime’s parents. Antonia at age 71 makes all the soups and some of the decadent sauces. Jesus at age 82 is remarkable as he specializes in lasagna, tomato based sauces, and tasty Bolognese sauce. He doesn’t mind washing dishes either!

Edwarda joined Jennifer and me on the Tuscan style patio as the sun began to set and the parade of culinary wonders began! Bruschetta with peak season heirloom tomatoes and an Antipasto Misto (salami, grilled portabella, cheese, grilled eggplant, artichokes, & olives)! Next, crazy good salad with “Burrata cheese”. Burrata is a Dana~licious new fave; fresh Italian mozzarella with cream curd inside, wow! Edwarda was generous to share her lasagna dinner with us even though Jennifer had a full order of grilled salmon, mashed potatoes, & broccolini, green beans, & grilled corn medley with a MacMurray Ranch pinot noir and I was plated with Chef Jaime’s melt in your mouth veal picatta, grilled polenta, and veggies with Frank’s superb recommendation to pair with a Decoy cabernet.

Jennifer must really love her famous musician husband Mike, as she purposely saved him a taste of her dinner that she was thoroughly enjoying! Towards the end of the evening Chef Jaime had some time to visit. I could have talked his head off about food all night! I could feel his culinary passion and tasted how impressively it comes to the table. Edwarda is the family’s heart and soul that keeps patrons feeling like family, too. Edwarda & Chef Jaime both share a deep sense of gratitude to their staff, both past & present, recognizing they wouldn’t be there without them! That’s awesome!
Yes, Verona’s has desserts all made on site, but sadly we had no more capacity! Separate lunch & dinner menus, daily specials, full bar, extensive wine & port list, full catering services, and happy hour 7 glorious days a week from 4-7pm! You know where to find me!

Modesto View’s signature question: Beatles or Stones? Edwarda without blinking said Stones as if it was a no-brainer! Then Chef Jaime says Beatles, so I decided I was too entirely pleased with the bellissimo evening to question him on his music preference, lol!

With gratitude to Jennifer Allsup for braving a night out with me! Can’t wait to do it again!

By Dana Johnson
Grissini with Prosciutto

Butter (room temperature)
12 10-12” long grissini
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
12 4×3” thin prosciutto slices
Spread some butter over 1/3 of each of 1 end of each breadstick.  Spread Parmesan cheese on plate.  Roll buttered end of each grissini in cheese to coat lightly.  Wrap one slice of prosciutto around cheese coated part of grissini.  Place grissini in tall glass, prosciutto ends up.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill.  Serve.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Burrata Cheese and Balsamic Dressing
5 ounces arugula
3 pounds heirloom tomatoes, cut into slices and wedges (assorted colors)
1 pound burrata cheese (4 small balls)
1Ž4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil plus whole leaves for garnish
Balsamic vinaigrette

Scatter arugula over large platter.  Arrange tomatoes over arugula.  Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper; drizzle with some of dressing.  Cut burrata into 1” slices, scatter over tomatoes.  Sprinkle burrata with salt and pepper; drizzle with more dressing.  Scatter sliced basil over salad.  Serve with more balsamic vinaigrette.

Modesto View August 2014 Verona’s Cucina Italiana
1700 McHenry Ave. (McHenry Village) Modesto, CA 209-549-8876
Hours:Mon-Thurs 11am – 9:30pm, Fri/Sat 11am -10:30pm, Sun 4pm-9pm
FB: Verona, Cucina Italiana

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