Buon Giorno!

This morning, I am eating a steaming bowl of oatmeal – penance for my double dose of Italian food yesterday.  I do it for you, you know.  Research.  Development of my product.  Culling out the best of the best and working hard to be sure you guys don’t get led astray. 

If you haven’t heard yet, Cook With Mary is planning a Gourmet Tour of Italy later this year.  I am on the hunt for experiences of the Italian variety right here in town.  These experiences will get the travel group primed and ready for Italy, and begin to gel the group.  I have lots of plans in the works, and went to an Italian restaurant yesterday to cement one of our first group outtings.

BLU Italian Grille is located inside the Marriott Downtown. 280 W. Jefferson.  Parking is a breeze, and I was quite relieved to be able to walk through the garage to the elevator and arrive in the lobby of the Marriott without catching the ‘breeze’ outside in downtown Louisville yesterday.  Temperatures were in the lower teens with wind chills well below that.  Enter the parking lot on Liberty.  Parking reciepts are validated for diners at BLU, so if the weather is as wicked as it has been, this might be a nice choice just based on convenience.

But convenience isn’t the only reason I’ll be returning to BLU.  Smiling faces, great service, great food, and a fantastico cappucino to end your meal!    Working my way through the menu is another reason which will take me multiple trips.  I browsed through the lunch and dinner menus while waiting on my lunch.   Lots of wonderful sounding selections.

I chose the BLU chicken club, based on the recommendation from the restaurant manager, Kelly Salat.  While waiting for my sandwich, Mei (my waitress) brought me a roll with some of the house made Parmesan Butter.  Flecked with pepper and textured with grated parmesan, the butter, some bread and a glass of wine could have been lunch.  But then, I would have been checking into the hotel for a nap.  I was mentally deconstructing the concoction so that I could repeat this at home.  Magnifico!

My BLU Chicken club turned out as an Italian twist on an American Standard.  Grilled chicken breast on crusty ciabatta with lettuce, tomato, pesto mayo, provolone and proscuitto.  Considering the size of the sandwich, I immediately decided to take half home and share with my son.  My club came with addictively delicious and crispy house made potato chips, dusted with salt and paprika.  I have never seen such thinly sliced potato chips!  Royston Green, manager on duty for BLU’s lunch informed me that the restaurant bar serves these as snacks for patrons there.  A generous sized pile of field greens dressed in a shallot vinaigrette also accompanied the sandwich.  I wished I had brought my camera because the presentation was lovely.  Another reason that I should have brought my camera – it would have been nice to have my son see the sandwich, since I managed to make it through the entire thing! 

Word to the wise – if you work in the downtown area and are looking for a place to stop for a cocktail or glass of wine after work – this would be the place.  It might seem sad to say that another reason to return would be to share the potato chips with my husband.  They are that good. 

Back to my club.  The chicken was perfectly cooked, just enough char on the very edges to give some crunch, but still moist and tender in the middle.  Perfectly dressed with a slice of prosciutto and provolone and enough pesto mayo to hold things together without making the sandwich drippy.  I polished off the edges of the bread by dipping them in more of the parmesan butter, and hoped that no one was watching my gluttonous exhibit.

My favorite lunch at a restaurant, especially at a fine one, is to have soup, salad and dessert.  Rarely a sandwich.  I am so glad I did this time – it was worth it.   The lunch menu also includes a grilled tuscan vegetable sandwich, an Italian panini club, and an Italian roast beef – great choices.

During lunch, and to slow down my intake, I continued browsing through the dinner menu.  So many times, I look over a menu with lots of selections and find only one or two that appeal to me.  Not so here.  Many items called to me, giving me even more chances to return.  Italian restaurants frequently offer fried calamari – Blu’s version comes with roasted red pepper aioli.  Maybe a crab stuffed portabello mushroom or Fritti Mozzerella with yellow beefsteak tomato cruda.  These are just the appetizer selections. 

Next time at BLU, I’m going to try the Caesar salad, or maybe the Caprese.  Oh yeah, a Nicoise salad is offered too.  Not just Italian selections, but covering a bit more of the Mediterranean.  A Minestrone and a soup del giorno  are offered nightly. 

There are Pasta and Risotto offerings from Spaghetti and Meatballs to Seafood Risotto.  Entrees include a Tuscan NY strip, Filet, Veal Osso Bucco, Seafood, Chicken and Lamb Chops.  My head is spinning.  Maybe if I took enough friends, and we all got something different, I could taste everything!

I haven’t even touched on the abiance of BLU.  Such attention to detail!  The floor is imported from Italy, the furnishing chic, but comfortable, the blown glass pendant lights are lovely!  BLU has two nice private areas for parties and a beautiful bar area.  Here is a table setting that will give you an idea of the environment:

Table setting at BLU

The restaurant sent me a picture of a pizza on their menu to drool over:

Pecorino Crusted Shrimp Pizza

All in all, a great experience. See lots more about BLU.  Great service, great food in a beautiful setting.  A frothy cappuccino was the perfect ending.  You know, if I were a REAL restaurant reviewer, I would have gone back 3 or so times before I wrote this.  Being my impetuous self, I just couldn’t wait to share!

Enjoy!

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