Wednesday, 23 January 2013 15:25

Taste This: Licari's Sicilian Pizza Kitchen

Written by  Matt Simpson Siegel
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Chances are you already know last year was chaotic for couple Gianni and Lisa Licari, having been featured on the Food Network's "3 Days to Open with Bobby Flay." The couple opened the only authentic Sicilian restaurant in Grand Rapids last April with Flay's help, whose greatest accomplishment was convincing Gianni's mother to share several of her secret recipes. Nearly a year later and the Licari's kitchen has settled into a north side pizza staple.
 
Licari's Sicilian Pizza Kitchen

2896 Knapp St. Ste. B, Grand Rapids; licarispizzakitchen.com, (616) 608-6912

Chances are you already know last year was chaotic for couple Gianni and Lisa Licari, having been featured on the Food Network's "3 Days to Open with Bobby Flay." The couple opened the only authentic Sicilian restaurant in Grand Rapids last April with Flay's help, whose greatest accomplishment was convincing Gianni's mother to share several of her secret recipes. Nearly a year later and the Licari's kitchen has settled into a north side pizza staple.

Everything is fresh and prepped same day; there are no frozen pre-made ingredients here. Standout antipastas include the Cozze Al Pomodoro, mussels bathed in white wine, tomato and herbs, and Arancini, crispy rice balls filled with meat and mozzarella with hints of saffron and basil.

Numerous pizzas offer rare toppings and combinations not often thought of in today's fast chain market, such as prosciutto, salami, artichoke and goat cheese. I suggest indulging in either the Sfinciuni or Schiacciata upon your first visit. The Sfinciuni is a true Sicilian pizza with a thick crust littered with aged mozzarella cheese and covered in a rustic, sweet tomato sauce; you cannot add toppings to it, nor would you want to. The Schiacciata is stuffed pizza, having a thin crust covering toppings. Available in four variants; The Bobby is a standout with goat cheese and garlic sautéed mushrooms laced with truffle oil. The Montelepre, named after the Licari family hometown in Sicily, has an herb olive oil sauce and ricotta cheese, crammed with onion, ham and mushroom.

Although a small selection, the pastas have robust and savory flavors. A family heirloom recipe, the Pasta A' La Clef is a short, twisted strand of corkscrew pasta called gemelli (meaning 'twins' in Italian) in a tomato cream sauce with ham, peas and carrots. The Linguini con Salsiccia e Ricotta is a creamy ricotta and tomato sauce served over linguini with a semi-spicy homemade sausage. All house pastas and pizzas are available gluten free. For those that can't have enough, the entire menu is available for catering.


Cheap Eats:

All You Can Eat Pancakes at The Red Geranium Café
6670 Kalamazoo Ave. SE, Grand Rapids; (616) 656-9800 
5751 Byron Center Ave. SW, Wyoming; (616) 532-8888
redgeraniumcafe.com

Shake off the cold and gorge yourself on all-you-can-eat fresh buttermilk pancakes at The Red Geranium Café. With two locations, you can binge at both locations throughout the week to hide your syrup addiction. For a mere $4.99, gluttony is certainly affordable.

Love, Wine & Chocolate
Holiday Inn, Spring Lake
Feb. 9, 6-9 p.m.
higrandhaven.com/love-wine-and-chocolate, (616) 846-1000 x 630

Join fellow connoisseurs of decadent chocolates and fine wines at Love, Wine & Chocolate, with proceeds benefiting the Center for Women in Transition, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that works to end domestic and sexual violence against women. Located in the Grand Ballroom at the Grand Haven Spring Lake Waterfront Holiday Inn, Love, Wine & Chocolate will feature hors d'oeuvres from Jack's Waterfront Bistro + Bar and wine tastings from local wine vendors, as well as live entertainment and a silent auction.

8th Annual Taste of Soul Sunday
Grand Rapids Public Library, Main Branch
Feb. 17, 1-4 p.m.; Free
grpl.org/tasteofsoul, (616) 988-5400

Celebrate African American history and culture at the 8th Annual Taste of Soul Sunday at Grand Rapids Public Library. Enjoy various works of art, speakers and discussions on literature and history, the music of local singer-songwriter Karisa Wilson, jazz artist Eva René Fisher, and the fabulously filling food of Jamaican Dave's, Chez Olga and Southern Fish Fry.

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