The joy of feasting with family is one of the many mantras we preach here at Eat a Duck. This humble food writer recently had the even greater honor of taking his lovely and spry, octogenarian grandmother out on a dinner date. She goes by many names, but I call her Baba.
An unfortunate truth in life is that many of us don’t get to spend as much time with our grandparents as we may like to. Thankfully, I haven’t had that problem as she lovingly opened her home for me and my wife to stay when I landed my first job in Manhattan. In those months, she brought me to one of her favorite little Italian eateries just one town away in Easton, PA, Sette Luna. It quickly became “our place”, and whenever I visit, I can be fairly certain we’ll end up there on any given night.
This visit felt special though. My trip had been unexpected, so when I found out I would be heading to Bethlehem, I got my taste buds ready for some rib-sticking Italian cuisine. We arrived without reservations but were seated promptly. Unlike most restaurants I’ve patronized, no prior menu research was required. While many of the items here are tantalizing, like the wild boar agnolotti with wild mushrooms and pancetta, or the “lovingly braised” osso bucco, I was here for one thing, Bud’s bolognese speciale. Judge me all you want for going with the “safe” choice, this dish is straight up comfort food and I never pass up a favorite.
This is out of order but I don’t care. I love this bowl of pasta, it puts a stupid grin on my face the second I spot it heading for my table. Tender fettuccine, coated in a meat sauce so luxurious it’s almost a gravy. Nothing cute, nothing fancy, just the way I like. The menu doesn’t lie when it states, “ain’t nothin’ like the real thing baby!”. Bud, I’ve never met you in person, but I feel we’ve made a connection through these noodles you’ve graciously shared with me on so many occasions.
Now that I’ve blown the climax of this post wide open, I’ll keep it rolling with a couple heavy hitting appetizers. Baba doesn’t mess around when it comes to dinner time. Sure she’ll order a nice light arugula salad…but it’s going to be covered with fresh slices of prosciutto di parma and roasted figs stuffed with goat cheese!
We matched that with a trio of veal meatballs relaxing in generous amounts of Sette Luna’s tangy tomato sauce and a cozy jackets of melted mozz. A sprinkle of freshly grated parm finished it off and we dug in. The meat was succulent and savory, with just enough spice to keep your tongue on its toes. The sauce and cheese intermingle with the juicy meat to form a single entity in your mouth. I enjoyed the addition of a couple of lemon peels that added a spring of citrus to the high voltage marinara. There are few things in this world better than a meatball done right, and Sette Luna has got them on lock.
To round out the fantastic meal, Baba went all out on one of their specials of the night, the rabbit lasagna. I had nearly been tempted away from my go to dish when I heard this one get announced. Delicate shreds of rabbit with spinach and melted cheese all coated in a cream sauce and a drizzle of balsamic. Sounds heavy no? It was surprisingly light and easy to down in large bites, a dangerous combination. Rabbit always sounds enticing, but many places overcook it ’til it turns to leather. Not here, your tongue is plenty strong to tackle this bunny, and the distinct flavor still shone through in spite of the cream and cheese. Too bad we may never have the pleasure of tasting this one again, the nightly special giveth and taketh away.
Happily, I chalked up another wonderful dinner with just me and my Baba. Sette Luna makes it all possible with its homegrown owners supplying the town of Easton and the surrounding area with fantastic Italian cuisine and the perfect venue to make memories with loved ones. Thanks to Josh, Terry and Bud for all the great meals over the years, I can’t wait for my next visit!