basil

Fresh Basil Anyone?

Come enjoy our patio!

Come enjoy our patio!

There are a lot of reasons to love our patio; abundant sunshine, fresh air, great food, and how about the towers of fresh basil?

Every summer, we take advantage of the warm weather to grow as much of this staple of Italian cuisine as we can. A few years ago, we found the perfect way to cultivate our crop; The Tower Garden. This wonder of hydroponics allows us to plant many plants in a relatively small space. You can grow almost anything in it, but we grow nothing but basil. Why? Because we use this fragrant herb in so many our authentic Italian dishes, as well as using basil oil to garnish our plates.

About Basil

Sweet basil, or Ocimum basilicum, comes from the Greek word “basileus”, which means king. Although most people equate basil with Italy, it originated in India, and was brought to Italy via the spice route during ancient times. It quickly became an integral seasoning in Italian cuisine. So much so that for many Italians, basil became a symbol of love. Word has it that is an Italian woman placed a sprig of basil on her balcony, her beau knew that he could call that evening.

Sweet Basil and its close relative, basilico genovese, are the only varieties used in Italian as the others tend more toward a minty flavor. Sweet basil’s flavor is often described as spicy and peppery, with a hint of clove and mint. Its flavor pairs well with: olive oil, garlic, lemon, rosemary and thyme – and of course, tomatoes and pasta dishes.

What’s Hydroponics?

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. Terrestrial plants may be grown with their roots in the mineral nutrient solution only, or in an inert medium, such as perlite or gravel. Hydroponics has proven to have several advantages over soil gardening. The growth rate on a hydroponic plant is 30-50 percent faster than a soil plant, grown under the same conditions. The yield of the plant is also greater.

Want to Grow a Hydroponic Garden?

Tower Garden® is a state-of-the-art vertical aeroponic growing system. It’s perfect for rooftops, patios, balconies, terraces—just about any relatively sunny place outside. It can also be used indoors with a grow light. You can grow your own fresh veggies all year long! It interested, get in touch with Pat Sullivan at Juice Plus (http://psullivan.towergarden.com)

caponata

Caponata, Just Like Mom Makes

imageCaponata (Sicilian: capunata) is a Sicilian eggplant (aubergine) dish consisting of a cooked vegetable salad made from chopped fried eggplant and celery seasoned with sweetened vinegar, with capers in a sweet and sour sauce.

This vibrant mixture of fresh vegetables historically was served as a main course. Over time, it has evolved into a side dish, often served with fish. At Gio, we serve it as antipasti to be spread on home-baked flat bread, which Tony bakes in the Woodstone open-flame oven

Caponata perfectly embodies the Sicilian affinity for agrodolce – sweet and sour. Made with vinegar and sugar, the levels of sweet and sour in caponata vary from household to household. In our version, we follow the same recipe as Tony’s mother, which means our recipe leans to the sweet side.

As is traditional in Sicily, we start with the finest fresh eggplant, which we combine with other ingredients like onions, olives and capers. We cook this slowly until we achieve the perfect texture. We add Mama’s secret blend of spices and vinegar and continue cooking until vegetables caramelize, adding just the right amount of sweetness to the sourness of the eggplant and vinegar.

Caponata became popular in our family, as well as most of Sicily, because in the summer we had all the fresh ingredients available, so our family jarred it and preserved it in oil, then we could enjoy it all winter long.

This classic recipe probably dates to the ninth century, when many believe the aubergine was introduced in Sicily by the Saracens. Culinary historians have suggested that eggplants may have been grown in Sicily earlier, perhaps as early as Roman times.

Enjoy this traditional Sicilian treat the next time you visit Gio. Ask Ryan, everyone’s favorite bartender, to suggest the perfect drink for pairing.

Tony's Nonna taught him how to make authentic Italin meatballs

Nonna’s Meatballs

Who taught you to cook?? Was it your mom? Maybe your grandma – or Nonna if you’re Italian? She had all of the best recipes, and if you were good, maybe she let you hang around the kitchen while she cooked. If you were very good, maybe you got to sample a little bit of what she was cooking. If you were very lucky, she may have let you help make the meatballs! That is if you grew up in an Italian family!

Everyone’s Nonna has her special recipe for meatballs. Tony’s Nonna made (and still makes) classic Italian polpettes (Sicilian for meatball). Nonna doesn’t use more than a handful of breadcrumbs in her meatballs, as many Americans do. Instead, they are made mostly of grated cheese and ground beef. Nonna makes a larger polpette, very moist and dense.

If you were a smart kid, like Tony, you knew to hang around the kitchen when Nonna was cooking. If you stayed in the kitchen long enough, maybe she let you help mix the cheese into the meat. And maybe, just maybe, if you helped enough, you got to test the first meatball.

That’s how most recipes were passed from generation to generation. Luckily for all of us, Tony must have helped out in the kitchen a lot because he got Nonna’s recipe for meatballs! If you want something special for dinner tonight, why not come to Gio for an order of Spaghetti & Nonna’s Meatballs? We make them just like Nonna did, but of course we add a small Gio twist! To finish them off, Tony’s bakes his polpettes in our Woodstone “open flame” oven.

 

roasted beet and goat cheese appetizer

Our New Menu Includes a New Ingredient: Beets!

beet and orange salad

Our new beet and orange salad. A perfect starter for your meal.

Two of our new menu items feature a new ingredient, beets. We love this sweet, earthy root vegetable, as do many Italians. That’s why we decided to include them as part of our new, authentically Italian (yet uniquely Gio) menu.

Beets in Italian Cuisine

Beets? In Italian cuisine? Yes! While not always thought of as a staple in Italian cuisine, beets have been part of the Italian diet for centuries. Wild beets grow throughout the Mediterranean, where they thrive in the well-drained, sandy soil. Italians enjoyed beets in their cooking since the third century, A.D when the Romans discovered that the fleshy taproot was as delicious as the leafy chard. While you may not find beets on the menu in Italy, they are often served in the home.

Beet Nutrition

We also love beets because while they are full of flavor, they are low in calories and have no cholesterol. Beets also contain several plant-based anti-oxidants. A phytochemical compound, glycine betaine, is found in the root. The root also provides B-complex vitamins including niacin (B-3), pantothenic acid (B-5), and pyridoxine (B-6), and minerals such as iron, manganese, copper, magnesium, and potassium.

Our New Menu Items

Our new Beet & Orange Salad and Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese appetizer are authentic, rustic Italian dishes. We use fresh beets, roasted to bring out their natural sweetness and earthy flavors. We combine them with other fresh, Italian ingredients to create two delicious new starters.

The Beet & Orange Salad combines beets with juicy sections of orange and fresh mozzarella cheese. We toss all three ingredients with fresh spring mix. Then we  finish the salad with our homemade creamy poppy seed dressing.

The beet and goat cheese appetizer, or antipasti, layers sweet, warm roasted beets with fresh goat cheese over a bed of crisp arugula. We top everything with a bite of orange zest and our own balsamic reduction.

Both dishes are authentically Italian, with a progressive Gio twist!

Enjoy and si mangia bene!

 

Gio Italian Grill: An authentic taste of Italy in the Lehigh Valley

 

cavatelli

New Menu Featured in the Morning Call Go Guide

Our new menu items were recently featured in the Morning Call’s Go Guide! Reporter Lenora Dannelke shared our new entrees, including beef tips tossed with rigatoni pasta, grape tomatoes and arugula in a Gorgonzola cream sauce, as well as new starters such as beet and orange salad, with her readers. She also gave her fans a “taste”  of our seasonal cocktails including pomegranate mimosa, winter (red) sangria, hot peppermint patty, sugarplum cosmopolitan, and winter wonderland.

Thank you, Lenora! Stop back soon!

mcall_new_menu

 

Gio Italian Grill: An authentic taste of Italy in the Lehigh Valley

 

new menu gnocchi

Gio Introduces New Menu!

beef tips on Gio menu

Beef Tips – one of the new dishes on our menu.

When we opened Gio Italian Grill in 2007, our goal was to create an authentic Italian dining experience with a progressive twist. In preparation, we traveled to Italy, researched the best, fresh ingredients, and studied authentic Italian cuisine. Tony interned beside local chefs at a historic restaurant in the heart of Palermo, Sicily in his quest of unique recipes. We installed one of the area’s only real open-flame pizza ovens so that we can serve true Italian pizza.

Since our opening, Gio has evolved and grown. We continue to bring authentic Italian cuisine with a progressive twist to the Lehigh Valley. In fact, we have won Lehigh Valley Style’s decadent dish award year after year. But that’s not enough! We want always to be improving and bringing you the best in Italian cuisine.

Our New Menu

To continue in our quest for excellence, we proudly introduce several new, authentic Italian (with a Gio twist) dishes to our menu.

New Starters

  • Beet & Orange Salad. We make this salad with fresh beets, juicy orange segments, and fresh mozzarella cheese; all tossed with spring mix in our homemade creamy poppy seed dressing.
  • Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Appetizer. We layer warm roasted beets and goat cheese over crisp arugula and top them with an orange zest and a tangy balsamic reduction.
  • Stuffed Portobello Appetizer. A large Portobello mushroom stuffed with finely-chopped pepperoni, leafy spinach, and chopped garlic. Served with a spicy marinara sauce for dipping.

New Pizza

  • Quattro Gusti Pizza. We top this authentic Italian pizza with prosciutto, artichoke, mushroom, red onion, San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil. Yum!

New Entrees

  • Gnocchi. Chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, and wild mushrooms in a spinach pesto sauce
  • Italiano Classic. Your choice of chicken or veal sauteed with prosciutto, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes and a light garlic sauce
  • Baked Cavatelli. Cavetalli pasta cooked al dente and baked with homemade sausage in basil, roasted pepper cream sauce and topped with mozzarella. A rich and wonderful pasta dish.
  • Beef Tips. This favorite “special” has been added to our dinner menu. It features beef tips tossed with rigatoni pasta, grape tomatoes and arugula in a Gorgonzola cream sauce.

We can’t wait for you to try our new dishes. We hope you love them as much as we do!

 

Gio Italian Grill: An authentic taste of Italy in the Lehigh Valley