Italian intentions

. September 27, 2012.

2215 Tiffin Ave.
Open: Sundays 11am-9pm
Monday thru Thursday 11am-10pm
Friday Saturday 11am-11pm

Most Italian families have a secret recipe or two — something only they can make. The ingredients of their prized dishes are so under wraps that even  if they give the recipe away, they leave out a key ingredient so no one can recreate the deliciousness. This is how my family’s cannoli recipe is — often imitated, never duplicated.

For those unfamiliar with cannoli, it is a tube-shaped shell of fried pastry dough, filled with a sweet, creamy filling that usually has a mixture of ricotta, sugar and a few other ingredients done in a certain way. In my hometown one branch of the family makes a living creating cannoli and other Italian desserts. Every family has a cannoli recipe, and ours is distinctly rich and decadent — something I’ve never experienced outside of the family. Until now.

Italiano with a twist
When we went to the recently-opened La Scola Tuscan Grill we were impressed with the décor, which featured a massive stone fireplace separating the dining and bar areas. The colors were warm and rich, from the red and black leather seats to the exposed beams and wine bottle light fixtures. We sat down and perused the menu., a list of Italian favorites with a twist.

For starters we ordered bruschetta, a toasted Italian bread traditionally served with olive oil and chopped garlic and tomatoes. This version was topped with cherry tomatoes, pesto and cheese — a different but tasty combo! Also at our table was warm bread for dipping into a saucer filled with olive oil.

Although a kids’ menu is available, my preteen daughters chose to order off the main menu. They got half orders of their favorites — for $7.99 each, they got half orders of the spaghetti marinara, and also two side salads for $2.75 each. My husband got the trio ($16.95) with lasagna, chicken parmigiana and fettuccine, along with a side salad. I ordered the butternut squash ravioli ($15.99) that contained squash, roasted peppers and goat cheese in a sherry butter sauce.

That’s amore!
Everyone loved their meals! As is our usual modus operandi, we all tasted a little bit of everything. My husband was pleasantly surprised at the richness of the ravioli, which I was impressed with the bite of lasagna I pilfered from his plate. My daughters enjoyed bites from both plates, but were focused on their spaghetti. We knew going in, based on the size of the plates, we’d be taking home leftovers. We used to tease my mother that if there were no leftovers she obviously didn’t cook enough, and that’s the case at La Scola. Be prepared to bring a round of goodies home.

Speaking of goodies, we were not too full to peruse the dessert menu. And there it was — cannoli. We tend to order one or two desserts and share, so my oldest daughter ordered her favorite, crème brulee at $5.99, while I ordered mini-cannoli at $4.50. The crème brulee didn’t last long, and we were lucky to get a bite before it went bye-bye. That’s okay, though, because the cannoli more than made up for that.

It’s hard to describe my family’s cannoli, except to say La Scola has come the closest ever. Just the right texture and sweetness, sprinkled with chocolate chips and drizzled with sweet sauce. We each had a bite or two, and as one proclaimed they just might save us a trip to New York when we are in a cannoli state of mind.