“I can’t stop eating this pasta!”

This has been an incredibly LONG week and I am glad it’s finally over. The one thing I’d been looking forward to all week was lunch with Abby and Amy, at the Burger Barn–it’s a shack that sits out in the Hy-Vee parking lot here in Brookings during the summer, and they serve burgers, brats, and hot dogs, with chips and a drink for about five bucks. It’s ridiculously cheap and SO good. Amy, Abby and I make it a point to go at least once while it’s open, and we haven’t made it there yet this year. So we planned on going today, except that Amy wasn’t able to make it. Not wanting to break with tradition, Abby and I made other arrangements. At the last minute, she asked if I wanted to try the new Italian place:

I instantly agreed, as I’ve been chomping at the bit to go here since it opened! Not that I don’t absolutely adore George’s Pizza or Guadalajara and even Nick’s Hamburgers, but I’ve said since I moved here eight years ago, one thing Brookings has been seriously lacking is a good Italian restaurant. Now, I think we have one. Abby and I both got the same thing, the Pasta Sampler, which started off with a salad:

It was GOOD. I don’t know what it is about restaurant salads, but they always taste so much better than when they’re made at home. The vinaigrette was good, and while we couldn’t tell if the croutons were homemade or not, those were delicious too.

The Pasta Sampler comes with a Cannelloni, Lasagna, and Manicotti, and was mouth-wateringly delicious. I burned the roof of my mouth on the cheese because I just couldn’t wait for it to cool! I tried not to gorge myself on the pasta, because I knew once I looked at the menu I was getting dessert. But I kept going back to it, and told Abby at one point, “I can’t stop eating this pasta!” There was also homemade bread:

and something a little different for dipping:

I’ve never thought of mixing balsamic vinegar into olive oil and using it to dip bread in, but it worked. And then, there was dessert. Anyone who knows me remotely well knows that my all-time, absolute favorite dessert ever is Tiramisu. Which The Italian Garden has on its menu. However, I opted to try something I haven’t had since I left Ohio:

Cannoli. I may or may not have spent the rest of the afternoon taunting another coworker with the fact that I had one and he didn’t, and that I wasn’t sharing (although I was still so stuffed, I did offer to split it when I went to break, but he didn’t take me up on it, so I ate the whole thing myself!). So rich, so creamy, so delicious. The only complaint I had was that I didn’t have an espresso or cappuccino to go with it!

I was so impressed with The Italian Garden, that as soon as Abby and I got back to work, I emailed Jay to tell him we need to go there as soon as possible. My only complaint about the entire meal was that we had to ask for the bread, while the tables around us were brought it with their salads. But even that’s not really a complaint. I’m a bread junkie, and that’s the first thing I go at restaurants! I desperately want to go back for dinner, and soon.

And because I’m still full enough from lunch, I think I’m just going to snack on some graham crackers or something in lieu of a real dinner. I’d give my right arm for another one of those Pasta Samplers, though! Have a great evening!