The first thing that struck me when I was asked to be on Live from The Heron’s Nest was the location, a new restaurant in Morton, Pennsylvania called “Mammoni Cucina Rustica Restaurant.” (17 S. Morton Avenue, Morton, PA, 610-690-2400, website is coming soon) That’s Italian for “mama’s boy. “ Chef Michael Wheaton boasts about how his grandmother was his first cooking partner and that she taught him everything he knows. Michele Aquino, co-owner of The Bottle Shop (1837 E. Passyunk Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 215-551-5551, www.bottleshopbeer.com), brought a variety of beers to complement what the Chef had prepared for our tasting.
Phil Heron (Editor of Delaware County Times/Host of Live in the Newsroom, www.delcoheronsnest.blogspot.com) and Lorraine Ranalli (Host of Radio Show “Cucina Chatter” and author of Gravy Wars, www.lorraineranalli.com) brought the best of two worlds together at Mammoni’s last Wednesday night, the first day of summer, beer and great food!
I love working with this crew; they are my extended family and I felt like we were seated at the holiday cousin’s table. We joke around, share stories, and have an affinity for good food.
Our first course was a classic Caprese salad, made with fresh mozzarella that melted in your mouth, a few slices of juicy plum tomato, a sliver of purple onion, a little spring mix of lettuces and drizzled with aged balsamic vinaigrette. Michele paired this with a Blue Point Summer Ale, a light and refreshing beer; it was a good match.
The second course was my favorite and their signature dish, Eggplant Mammoni. It resembles an eggplant napoleon with layers of thin, lightly breaded and crispy eggplant, fresh mozzarella, and provolone cheeses, spinach and served with a light marinara sauce. I promised Vince (Carey) I would save him some, since he was working behind the camera and not at the table. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember until I was finished; sorry Vince. Michele paired this with Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, a Bavarian Hefeweizen beer from the oldest brewery in the world. It was my favorite beer of the evening.
The third course was penne pasta with homemade pesto. Although the pesto was made with fresh ingredients and quality olive oil, the pasta was a little bland and dry. Michele paired this with a Victory Hop Devil American Ale.
The fourth course was crab cake with a lobster sauce; the sauce was luscious, thick, tasty, and the ideal accompaniment. The side dishes were well thought out, creamy and cheesy risotto – you could tell someone paid serious attention when making this Northern Italian dish – and zucchini with crispy snap peas, full of flavor. We sampled Uinta Baba Lager with this fantastic entrée.
Thanks to Chef Michael Wheaton and his wonderful wait staff for their hospitality, I am looking forward to my next visit.
I give this restaurant 2-3/4 out of 3 chef hats –
Would you like to start your culinary tour with a beer tasting at the Bottle Shop?
If you missed the show, click here to watch.