Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Restaurant Food at Home: 1 of 2

When I was in San Diego earlier this month, there was a lot of – um – tension about where to eat. That’s putting it politely. We were all on edge: tired, hot, sunburned, and hungry. We ended up eating our final dinner in town at Jimmy Love’s, which is more of a nightclub than a restaurant.

We still had a handful of menu options and I ended up getting the spaghetti pomodoro. It was surprisingly good. That was one of those dishes that reminds me how good plain marinara sauce with lots of tomatoes can be. Let’s be honest, though, it was not worth the $15 it cost, but it was better than I expected from a menu that misspelled tomato.

So I recreated it at home, but I made it better.


This is Alex’s plate. He likes for me to photograph his food sometimes, too, and in this case his Ninja Warrior training, hungry-man portion is perfect to show all the tomatoes.

I riffed from a recipe from an Italian restaurant we frequent, often with Alex’s mom, in Philadelphia, Ralph’s. They actually have a few recipes on their website, including the marinara. It’s so simple there’s no reason to keep it a secret, and Ralph’s is never short on customers. And if I were Italian instead of Southern, I probably wouldn’t have to bother looking up the recipe.


This is my plate, on which you can see the portabella slices. I sauteed half of the grape tomatoes with garlic and onion, then added some tomato sauce and the seasonings and cooked for an hour. I finished with fresh basil and the other tomatoes, which I just heated through. The spinach and mushrooms were cooked separately. So simple that the only reason for my lead-in was to tell a story. I have another restaurant recreation for you tomorrow. It’s actually more interesting.

Buon appetito!

When you eat out, do you enjoy another person doing the cooking, or do think how you could do better? I do a bit of both, depending on where I’m eating.


  1. Jessica,

    I totally agree that pasta with red sauce is so simple but really one of the best things to eat in the world. But, having said that, when I go out for Italian, I'm almost always disappointed...because even though it's good...pasta with marinara is usually one of the few vegan or veganizable things on the menu...and I always think I can do it why not just save $15 bucks and make it at home...personally, I also think Italian is one of the most over-priced restaurant least around here it is.

    I don't mean to sound negative about Italian ancestors hail from there (not the restaurant, the country) but I mean really...but when I eat out at a Thai place or an Indian, or any other place really, I don't follow that thinking pattern; I just enjoy the service the the food made by (hopefully) people who know how to cook really yummy food.

    Long story short: your pasta looks really good...I'm eating it with my eyes...and I'd go to your place over an Italian joint any day!


  2. Yummy! The tomatoes look fantastic and I love that you were able to sneak in some greens. It kinda sucks when you eat at a restaurant and pay a bunch of money for something you could create at home. But, sometimes, it's the only way. Happy times in the kitchen!

  3. i know i could add a lot more veggies if i were doing it myself! i would just add more healthy stuff to my food if it were a perfect world. like in a pasta dish id rather have a little pasta and a LOT of veggies/sauce.

    is Alex your husband? my husband likes me to take shots of his food also...but then i dont post them on the bloggy(hey theres meat in it!) its cute/sweet that they want to be a part of it:)

    they misspelled tomato? lol aw man!oh another thing, i hate how expensive pasta dishes can be!! it SHOULD be the cheapest!whatev, eating out is fun:) i would love to order what you made:)

  4. I do that all the time, try and recreate recipes from restaurants at home. I love how much cheaper it is and how you can make several servings for probably the same price as that one dish at the restaurant. The marinara sauce looks absolutely amazing.

  5. Wait, wait, how did they spell tomato?! That's hilarious!

    The sauce looks super duper good--I'd eat it any night. Especially on some roasted spaghetti squash. Mmm!

  6. The marinara looks wonderful. Beautiful photograph.

    I am frequently disappointed in restaurant food unless our friend Ian is cooking. That is why we end up there so often. He is a wonderful chef and hasn't disappointed us yet.


  7. Your recreation sounds way better than the expensive dish you ordered! :o)

    I'm always thinking how mine would be better than the restaurants, but that's because there's no where good eat here. I haven't tried to recreate anything yet, but maybe someday soon.

    I can't believe they misspelled tomato...that's too funny!

    Tony always wants me to take pictures of his food too, most of the time his doesn't make it to the blog because of the meat, but you have seen that occasionally his does manage to make it onto my blog. :o)

  8. if the spaghetti pomodoro was awesome out and you recreated it to be even better, then i've gotta make this! totally gonna check out the marinara recipe.

    dan eats much larger portions than i do as well. mine are usually on smaller plates and his on the regular sized ones. Alex too on the Ninja Warrior training?! awesome. ;)

    misspelled tomato, huh?! yeah, that is also awesome. i see potato misspelled a lot around here. and avocado. cracks me up!

    when we became vegan apparently we also became fork'n food snobs. who knew?! while i appreciate dining out (so nice to have someone do'n the cooking), most of the time it's not worth it because we can make it at home to be sooo much better. with two exceptions: thai foods & chipotle. trust me, we've tried!

    i need to check out the naughty foods, and i love mr. potato pants. he would have gotten along famously with this silly persimmon i found last week with a gigantical nose on his face. w00t!

  9. I love the way those tomatoes look on top.

    I prefer MY cooking definitely - unless it's one of the really great vegan restaurants, the kind with a real chef. Then they totally blow me away, of course.

  10. I like going out to eat every once in a while, but I'd much rather cook for myself. Sometimes restaurant meals are so expensive! It's funny, some of my favorite restaurants are the ones that are cheaper. They have better food than they expensive places! Your spaghetti looks great, by the way!

  11. Nothing like a great Marinara Sauce. I actually like getting heartburn from it. That's how I know it's the good stuff.