Welcome to the first edition of the Nalbandian Nosh, our very own father-daughter monthly food review. In our family, good food is very important. My dad has been tirelessly crafting both adventurous and timeless dishes since before I was born. While he has been a hardcore carnivore all 51 years of his life, six months ago I made the decision to cut out meat, which was a risky decision considering I could have been kicked out of my house. Despite many arguments these past few months over the merits of eating animals, we always manage to overcome our differences and return to our everlasting love of food.
We decided it was time to put this obsession to good use, so each month we will review a West County restaurant, providing our opinions on a few of their dishes. For our premiere review, we decided to choose what many might consider a staple of West County dining: Mia Sorella. In a coronavirus-free world, we would have loved to eat in the dining room and experience the atmosphere, but we wanted to be safe and chose to order curbside instead. So, without further ado, enjoy our thoughts on a few of Mia Sorella’s delicious Italian meals.
The Herbivore’s Meal
Arancini: crispy tomato basil risotto stuffed with cheese, served with lemon basil aioli
Four pieces for $11.99
I had no idea what arancini was when I was looking at Mia Sorella’s menu, but since they did not have a ton of vegetarian options, I decided that it was a good time to try something new. Arancini is in their appetizers section so I thought it would be a fitting addition to the salad I also ordered.
When I first laid eyes on the arancini, it looked very enticing. It appeared to be fancy fried macaroni and cheese balls, and since it’s pretty difficult to mess up pasta and cheese fried in oil, I was very excited. It also came with aioli as they described, which I was eager to try.
From the very first bite, I was delighted to find that my suspicions were correct: it tasted a lot like fried macaroni and cheese balls. What I was surprised about was the arancini’s deep, rich flavor. In fact, I could only make my way through two of the four because they were so heavy. I really would have liked a condiment that contrasted the denseness of the fried risotto and cheese, which I suspect was the point of the lemon basil aioli, but I found that the dip failed to do so.
Overall, even though I was filled up quickly by the fattening, rich ingredients, the arancini did taste delicious. I loved the difference between the soft risotto and the crunchy outer fried layer. The risotto was undeniably well done and I could taste the tomato basil. I thought the lemon basil aioli was delicious on its own, with the hint of acidity from the lemon, but just a little too over the top when paired with the thickness of the arancini.
$10.00 without the addition of chicken ($5.00), salmon ($6.00), calamari ($7.00), or shrimp ($7.00)
Looking at the menu, I decided that I wanted something a little lighter to go along with the arancini, and salad is always a safe bet for that. Many people do not enjoy eating brussel sprouts, which is the base of the dish, but, personally, I love them and I was thrilled to try a salad that included them. I ordered without bacon, although I genuinely miss getting to taste what that could have added to the dish.
I was ecstatic to dig into this salad because it had so many unique flavors combining together. I am a big fan of brussels as I mentioned, but I am also a big supporter of green goddess dressing. It always hits right in the mild yet not bland sweet-spot, however I have just discovered in my research that it contains anchovies, which are a type of fish. So basically, I have been ingesting animal meat for many months, and I must now deal with whether or not I will proceed to eat dressings with anchovies in them because let’s face it: they are the cream of the crop. Anyway, if anyone would like to recommend some dressings similar to Caesar and green goddess but with no hidden meat products I would be really grateful because I am not sure what to do with myself now.
Moving on from my vegetarian crisis, my mom warned me against including gorgonzola, a type of blue cheese, but I was curious to see how it fit into the dish and what sort of contrast it could provide to the more mild flavors present. I was, in fact, right that it added a good kick in each bite with the sharpness of each tiny piece making my mouth tingle.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal. I thought the flavors balanced out nicely, giving me a lighter side and a flavorful, creamy outlet to tuck into. Mia Sorella unquestionably shined as one of the best Italian eateries I have experienced so far.
The Carnivore’s Meal
Local Burger: fontina cheese, homemade pancetta, lambrusco red onion jam on a homemade sesame bun
Having ordered this in the past I knew what to expect, but as takeout or curbside goes, sometimes burgers and fries can be hit or miss. The Local Burger at Mia Sorella has quite a reputation and a strong fan base. It was voted one of the best burgers in the area by St. Louis Magazine a few years ago and definitely lives up to the hype. It was one of the few in town that introduced a new concept to add, namely, the savory vegetable based jam as a condiment.
Here, the chefs at Mia Sorello use a Lambrusco as the basis for a sweet jam of yellow onions. The freshly-ground patty uses elements of brisket and tri-tip to enrich the flavor while still maintaining the juiciness the burger brings forth from first bite to finish. Served with creamy mild Fontina cheese and crispy Italian Pancetta and topped with a semolina infused bun that adds strength and holds up to the rich, juicy toppings. This is by far one of the best burgers in West County and a real hit.
The only drawback—and I say this strictly in its curbside iteration—is that the dish is served with parmesan garlic fries; these just can’t make it to the house and maintain that fresh-from-the-fryer crispness. There is nothing sadder than tucking into a meal and seeing soggy fries. I would suggest asking for a substitute, which will give you an opportunity to sample some of their other wonderful offerings. Mia Sorella, in this reviewer and father’s opinion, is the best Italian restaurant in West County.