by Chrysa Smith

Bella Cucina. Aah, the lovely merger of the Italian language and food in a beautiful kitchen. That’s where I dined last weekend; in an underground, Tuscan looking, stone embellished bella cucina located somewhere in the belly of Bethlehem.

Chef Donna Marie Burdi, former owner of Moscato’s Italian Restaurant in Easton, is dazzling her catering clients and their friends by serving up private dinners in her underground bistro. For those of you who’ve had the good fortune to enjoy a kitchen table restaurant experience, I’d say this goes one better. Because the kitchen is adjacent, but it’s intimate. You can watch Donna shuffle the pots and pans, stir the sauces and plate the entrees, all while enjoying the company of your invited friends—-and nobody else. That’s right, gather your friends, give Donna a call to plan a menu and set a date—then show up for a great night of feasting with friends—like it was in your own home, only without the incredible amount of planning, selecting, cooking and serving that a truly great dining experience entails.

Ready to loosen your belt? Ok, get this. The evening began with a sampling of appetizers: freshly baked selection of breads, grilled shrimp, vegetables, calamari—yum. We ate, drank (byob) and moved over to the table for the formal feeding. Mixed greens with Blood Oranges in a home-made vinegrette was next and light. Then came the pasta—a Fusilli with Bolognese sauce or Capellini with shrimp and crab—or both. My husband went for the full sampling, only to realize that the feast was just beginning. A mixed grill was the main course: lamb chops, chicken, pork and lobster tail—all hand-selected, perfectly grilled and seasoned. A side of sauteed arugula, some roasted red potatoes, and I hadn’t been so full since the last seven course Italian wedding I attended. But, it wouldn’t have been complete without the grand finale—an Italian Cassata cake and Lemon Meringue whipped to heights I’ve not seen before. It was one of those nights where each person turned to the one seated next to them and said, I’m so full, but it’s so good, I have to eat it.

To plan a feast of your own, contact Donna at 610-250-0552. Tell her you read about her and her Bella Cucina in the Granny Panties blog. (now, one size larger!)

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