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The Health Benefits of an Italian Diet

Italian food isn’t one of America’s favorite foreign cuisines just because it’s delicious — it’s also nutritious. Its dishes are packed with a variety of nutrients from fresh vegetables, colorful fruits, lean meats, oily fish and fiber-rich grains. A Mediterranean diet promotes weight loss, heart health and longevity.

There are a few key, staple ingredients in Italian cuisine that have substantial health benefits.

Health Benefits of Italian Foods

Garlic Health Benefits

Garlic delivers nutrients such as Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Manganese, sulfides and fiber plus many more with very low calorie count. It also has antibiotic properties and is a key player in heart health, since it lowers cholesterol.

Its delicious flavor is heavily relied upon in Italian cuisine and it can be found in most Mediterranean dishes in some form.

Fish/Seafood

Traditional Italian meals deliver protein largely through fish and seafood. Fish such as tuna or salmon are rich with omega-3-fatty acids, which are linked with reducing high blood pressure, preventing heart disease and stroke.

Meanwhile, other seafood such as shrimp and mussels provide essential B12 vitamins, are high in protein, and are relatively low in calorie and fat content.  

Tomatoes

Whether in sauce, salad, on bruschetta or any number of dishes, tomatoes are one of the major ingredients in the entirety of Italian cuisine. They are a great source of vitamins A, C, K, potassium, the list goes on and on. Tomatoes also contain lycopene, a type of antioxidant that protects cells from being damaged, hence much research around it in preventing cancer.

Olive Oil

Replace butter with extra virgin olive oil while cooking to lower bad cholesterol and boost good cholesterol. Instead of pouring heaps of ranch dressing onto your salad, try a few spritzes of olive oil with some cracked pepper and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Olive oil has a ton of antioxidants and monounsaturated fats, which are a healthy alternative to trans fats you’ll find in other, processed foods.

Red Wine

Health Benefits of Red Wine

What would your Italian meal be without a glass of red wine? Not only does it taste great, but it’s also heart healthy — in moderation, of course. Too much alcohol has very negative effects on the body, but a glass of red wine with dinner is filled with antioxidants and resveratrol, which help prevent damage to blood vessels.

Eating Italian cuisine has numerous physical health benefits, but it also positively affects mental health. In traditional Italian dinner culture, eating is a community event that promotes bringing families together to socialize and enjoy each other’s company. So book a table and bring your loved ones to La Buona Vita to enjoy a heart-healthy and social meal.

How to Plan and Throw the Perfect Baby Shower

Being selected to host the baby shower for a mother-to-be is a great honor–but with that honor comes the imposing task of planning and hosting a baby shower that is fun and festive while appropriately celebrating the impending birth. Though party planning for a baby shower can seem daunting, taking a step-by-step approach can help cut down on the stress and ensure that your celebration is a smashing success.

Pick a date

The absolutely first step in planning a baby shower is choosing the date and time. Consult with the mother-to-be to find out what works best for her (and the father-to-be, if the party is to be co-ed). Baby showers are typically held around the seventh month of pregnancy, so target a date near that time.

Narrow down the guest list and budget

Working with the mother-to-be, figure out who should be invited–and be sure you get all the necessary addresses, too! Once you know how many people you’ll be hosting, set your budget so that you can move on to planning the venue, menu and other baby shower details.

Select a venue

Narrowing down the right party location among all the places to host a baby shower available to you can be challenging. A smaller guest list works well with a baby shower held at home, whether yours or that of another close friend or family member of the mother-to-be. For a larger guest lists or to ensure a fancier affair, choosing a nearby restaurant that hosts special events can create a memorable baby shower setting.

Send out invitations

Once the date, guest list and venue are set, it’s time to send out invitations! Aim to have the invitations in your guests’ hands by six weeks prior to the party. While e-mail invitations are perfectly acceptable, paper invites can add a special touch for a special day.

Plan the menu and party decorations

As with any other party, one of the most important parts of planning a baby shower is choosing the menu. The easiest way to ensure the best food for your guests if you’re hosting the shower at home is choosing an event catering service that can bring delicious and festive food to you with no work on your part. Having trouble selecting a theme for the decor? Seek inspiration from the year’s hottest baby shower trends, including tropical-inspired decor, whimsical boho floral settings and sophisticated monochromatic decorations.

Organize a party schedule and choose favors

Having a rough agenda for your baby shower ensures that everyone has fun while avoiding any unnecessary lulls. Plan for a buffer after the party is scheduled to start to allow for latecomers, then move right into games (if planned), food and gift opening. Favors are a great way to thank everyone for attending. Edible treats are always a hit, and trendy ideas for yummy favors include mini fruit pies and tubes of jelly beans in the party’s theme colors.

Still looking for the perfect place to host a baby shower? La Buona Vita, the premier northern Italian restaurant in La Grange, specializes in hosting special occasion dinners designed to provide your guests with an unforgettable time. Our private dining experience offers seating for up to 80 with delectable dishes from our expansive banquet menu and complete access to our full bar. Throwing a baby shower at home? La Buona Vita caters! Make your party planning easier and let us bring a memorable meal to you that uses the same superb ingredients, homemade pasta and authentic northern Italian recipes that can be found in our restaurant.

Out & About in La Grange – Summertime Events

If you’re not familiar with the La Grange area, you’re missing a gem. People say that Chicago is a city of neighborhoods and that tradition has blossomed in this gorgeous western suburb. There are quaint shops, plenty of activities for every lifestyle, and the restaurants in La Grange offer an eclectic mix for every taste and budget.

The summer months in La Grange are jam packed with fests, carnivals, artistic endeavors, and events that have a little something for anyone. Local residents get the chance to socialize and people come from all over the state to participate in some of the events hosted here. Whether you’re looking for great entertainment, live music, family centered fun, or to treat yourself to sampling some of the amazing food at local La Grange restaurants, there’s a lot you’ll love that’s going on in the area this summer.

Great La Grange Summer Events You Won’t Want to Miss

There’s always something going on in La Grange. The downtown area is the ideal place to walk because there are a bevy of eclectic shops and restaurants all throughout the area. Any afternoon can become an adventure here. If you’re looking for planned events, here are some things to add to your summer calendar.

  • Farmer’s Market. The Farmer’s Market in La Grange runs from the beginning of May through the end of October every year. This outdoor market houses the best of fresh produce and specialty items from some outstanding vendors. It’s open every Thursday from 7 am until 1 pm throughout the season and they even have fun activities for the kids, so there’s something for everyone in your family. This isn’t just the traditional fruit market (and the fruit is top quality). You’ll find crafters, artists, every type of food, and more all season long.
  • Endless Summerfest. Endless Summerfest features bands, rides, and amazing cuisine. Local residents look forward to this fest every year and there are plenty of talented musicians to liven up the crowd. Residents from all over Illinois come in to experience Summerfest – it takes place every year at the beginning of August.
  • West End Arts Festival. The West End Arts Festival takes place in September and attracts artists from all over the country. It’s a wonderful chance for residents and art lovers to experience live music, gorgeous visual arts, and performances in a beautiful setting.

Looking for Restaurants in La Grange?

If you’re looking for a restaurant in La Grange to cap off a fun afternoon at one of the many events this summer, stop in and visit La Buona Vita. With a Northern Italian cuisine and a comfortable atmosphere, you’ll find the perfect place to relax and enjoy the summer with friends.

La Grange Endless Summerfest 2017

Celebrate La Grange Endless Summerfest 2017
with La Buona Vita this Weekend!

3 Days of Fun! Carnival Rides, Entertainment, Food Vendors, Beer & Wine Garden, Music, and Fireworks!

August 4th – August 6th 2017
Gordon Park, La Grange

http://www.lagrangeendlesssummerfest.com

 

 

Tips on Hosting & Planning A Wedding Shower

Photo: Hosting a Wedding Shower and Catered EventIf you’re planning a wedding shower in the La Grange area, you’re probably wondering how to make the event truly memorable. Whether you’re concerned with event catering, guest favors, or just the simple rules of etiquette, the only real goal is that your bride and groom have a shower they’ll love. We’ll break down some of the basics for etiquette and your checklist of tasks below, but feel free to add the personality of the people you’re honoring. If they love music, include it. If they love games, absolutely plan some. And definitely make sure the food and drinks are delicious.

Etiquette for Hosting a Shower

If you’ve never hosted a shower before, you might be worried that you’ll upset some of the more old fashioned on your guest list. After all, your grandmother’s rules of social behavior are probably far different from your own. Here’s a quick run down of the old and the new:

Who Can Host

Once it was thought to be completely improper for the Bride’s family to host. Traditionally, the duty falls to the Maid of Honor, but many wedding parties have multiple hosts. The bridal party may all go in as co-hosts to help with costs. The bride or groom’s family can also host the shower. The only real rule of etiquette now is that the bride can’t throw her own shower – and really, she shouldn’t have to.

Guest List

The guest list for the shower was once women only. The only man in attendance was the groom (and he usually didn’t want to be there). Today, many showers are both men and women. It can be as large or intimate as you’d like but everyone at the shower should also be invited to the wedding.

Invitations

Many people prefer paper invitations, but the choice is really up to the host. Guests should have ample time to reserve the date – at least 6 weeks to 2 months.

Checklist to Make Your Event Memorable

Hosting a wedding shower for your best friend or loved one is a big responsibility. Here are some tips to make sure your day goes wonderfully.

Pick the Venue

You can host the occasion at a home with catering or choose a favorite restaurant/banquet hall for your event. Often hosting at a restaurant can be far more convenient.

Choose the Menu

The menu can be as casual or elegant as you desire. It’s always a nice touch to include something special for the bride, like a favorite dish or cocktail/drink.

Theme

Showers are traditionally more casual than the wedding. You can choose a fun theme for the event if it’s something the bride and groom would like, you can even theme the gifts for couples who don’t need traditional home supplies.

Favors

Guests at a shower traditionally receive favors, or small gifts. This can be used as a table setting to organize seating or you can keep the party favors on a table for guests to take as they leave the event.

Delegate tasks

Showers can go fast and need some organization. Make sure you ask bridesmaids to help with tasks, such as creating the ribbon bouquet from the gift wrapping or writing down the bride’s gifts so she can more easily keep track of thank you notes.

Are You Hosting a Wedding Shower in La Grange?

If you’re hosting a wedding shower in the La Grange area, La Buona Vita Restaurant offers an exceptional private dining area and wonderful menu for the perfect occasion. If you prefer to host the event in your home, our catering service is available so that you can enjoy the same delicious meal in the setting of your choice. Contact us today to discuss your next event!

 

 

Guide to Italian Pasta

Homemade pasta might be the first thing you think of when someone mentions Italian cuisine. Though there is much more to the Italian menu, pasta is certainly a favorite. But pasta isn’t a one size fits all affair. There are many different shapes and types of pasta. The shape isn’t the only difference to the pasta, some work well to hold a hearty sauce and others are perfect in weight and taste for a light soup. Here we’ll cover some of the most popular types of pasta and what the best uses are for each.

Guide to Italian Pasta

  • Angel Hair. Angel Hair pasta is a very thin, long pasta. The real name is Capelli d’Angelo, and it’s a bit thinner than Capellini, much thinner than spaghetti, though the same shape and length. This type of light pasta can be used for a number of dishes, though it doesn’t work as well with heavy sauces. It’s often used with seafood or as a side dish.
  • Capellini. A bit less delicate than Angel Hair but not as thick as spaghetti, Capellini is also used for lighter dishes.
  • Farfalle. Often called “Bow Tie Pasta”, for its shape, Farfalle is made in small and larger size. This is a heartier pasta and can be used in thicker, cream sauces. This type of pasta is often used in soups as it holds its shape and texture well.
  • Fettuccine. Fettuccine is most often paired with Alfredo sauce (a thick, cream and cheese based Northern favorite). This pasta is long like Spaghetti but wide and flat. It’s a hearty, thicker type of pasta.
  • Gnocchi. Gnocchi can be classified as a pasta though it’s often made with potato. Gnocchi are small and very similar to dumplings. They offer a hearty and very filling dish and can be paired with many different types of sauces.
  • Lasagna. This noodle is made to make the favorite dish, Lasagna. The pasta is long, about three or four inches wide, and flat, often with ridges on the sides. The pasta is laid in layers over different types of filling to make a casserole – in the case of Lasagna the filling consists of ricotta and different cheeses, meat, and tomato sauce.
  • Linguine. Linguine is also a long type of pasta, similar to Spaghetti though thicker. This pasta is often used with seafood and oil based sauces rather than thicker cream sauces.
  • Mostaccioli. Mostaccioli is tube shaped and cut on an angle on each side. This hearty pasta works well with thick sauce and tomato sauces.
  • Penne. Penne is a smaller version of Mostaccioli. This also works well with thicker sauces and might be used in some heartier soups.
  • Ravioli. Ravioli is often square or round shaped and stuffed with meats or cheeses. It’s a heartier pasta and can be served with a variety of sauces.
  • Rotini. Rotini is spiral shaped, often called corkscrew pasta.
  • Spaghetti. Spaghetti and meatballs is the most commonly thought of dish for this type of pasta. Spaghetti is a thin, long pasta that can be prepared with many types of sauce but it does pair well with a traditional tomato sauce.
  • Tortellini. Tortellini are small, round-shaped pasta stuffed with cheese. They can be added to a cold salad or served warm with a sauce.

Looking for Italian Pasta in La Grange?

 

If you’re looking for a wonderful restaurant specializing in all of the old world charm of the Northern Regions of Italy, La Buona Vita in La Grange features a full array of homemade pasta and other regional favorites.

“All the pastas I tried were terrific.” – Phil Vettel

When the chef bug bit Terry Rempert, he sold his 20-year-old printing business and, after earning a culinary degree, took over Marconi’s, a popular spot in downtown La Grange. Though he quickly renamed it La Buona Vita (the good life), other changes were more incremental, as much for the customers’ comfort level as his own. In mid-January, Rempert unveiled a redecorated dining room (new colors, new lighting and an eye-catching, circa-1850s map of Italy), a new cocktail program and new menu items.

The dining room is lovely (and usually packed). The menu remains a work in progress.

The menu arrives in a heavy, embossed-cover binder filled with plastic-sleeved pages. Fifteen pastas, nine red-meat entrees, seven chicken, eight seafood — not to mention a half-dozen daily specials on a separate sheet — make up a daunting assortment to contemplate, one that suggests the precise opposite of what a scratch kitchen (Rempert bought an imported extruder to make his own pastas) wants to convey. Cut the menu to a single page, train your waiters to inform guests that their old favorites are available on request, and LBV’s message will be far more clear.

Dining at LBV is a value proposition. There are rotating featured discounts each weekday. Entrees include soup or salad, and the salad is better than it has to be. Portions are substantial.

The grilled calamari gets dinner off to an eye-catching start. Calamari-steak slices, tossed with olive oil, garlic and some red-pepper flakes, are coddled in endive leaves, arrayed like petals around a center of mixed greens and chopped tomatoes. Stuffed banana peppers, an occasional special, aren’t nearly as camera-worthy, but the lively peppers, and the sausage-spinach-mozzarella-marinara filling, make for fun eating. Artichokes Francese (egg batter, lemon-butter sauce) are messy but tasty.

The chef’s heart is more in the pastas than the proteins. All the pastas I tried (I include the very good lobster risotto for efficiency’s sake) were terrific, among them an appropriately lusty linguini puttanesca and a buttery but gently briny linguini with clams. A simple penne dish with hearty sausage, rosemary and tomato-cream sauce was everything you’d want in such a dish, and short-rib ravioli in a murky porcini-mushroom sauce was the star of one of my visits.

By contrast, veal saltimbocca was solid but uninspiring, and a strip steak special one night, advertised as a sous-vide-and-sear preparation, had been overcooked to a grayish, flavorless lump. I might have griped that my strip steak was bone-in, but at least I had something to bring home to the pooch.

Rempert cleverly turns his profiteroles into dining-room advertisements by doubling up on the ice cream; when this towering plate is carried to a table, you can see other guests taking notice. It’s just vanilla gelato with chocolate, caramel or raspberry sauces, but the choux-pastry puffs are good, and to see one is to want one.

The beverage program includes a large number of affordable (less than $50) Italian wines and a reserve list for those in a mood to spend. A nice assortment of craft beers and a list of cocktails that includes Italian twists of classic drinks (Sicilian mule, anyone?) round out the options, which are even more appealing midweek ($6 cocktails Thursday, half-price on certain wine bottles Wednesday). 

By Phil Vettel
Chicago Tribune

 

Try one of our Summer Specialty Craft Cocktails

La Buona Vita’s Summer Specialty Craft Cocktails

You can view the entire Summer Specialty Craft Cocktail menu here!

Aperol Spritz Cocktail
Grand Bellini Cocktail
Berry Mule Cocktail
Cherry Cheesecake Martini
Fiore CocktailCreamsicle Cocktail

Summer Trends with Craft Cocktails

Photo: Summer CocktailsNothing says summer quite like enjoying your favorite craft cocktails with friends during an evening out. Whether you’re heading to your favorite restaurant or sipping your favorite cocktail creations under the stars, you’ll want to switch up to something that really captures the season. The good news is that summer may mean lighter and healthier, but that doesn’t mean you have to forego taste and full bodied flavors. Today’s latest craft cocktails for the summer season offer the best of your favorite types of alcohol, dressed up with only the freshest of ingredients for a delicious vacation from your day.

Some Summer Choices for Your Drinking Pleasure

  • Craft Beers. Craft beers have become a steady favorite over the past few years with no real end in sight. There’s always something new to try and the tastes range from heavy and dark to light and citrus filled. Whether you have an old standard, like Peroni or Stella Artois, or you like to mix it up with new choices each time, a craft beer offers a great variety to your summer evening entertainment.
  • A Mule. The traditional Moscow Mule is made with Ginger Beer, Vodka, and fresh lime. While they are quite popular and offer a great light drink for a hot night, La Buona Vita offers a number of different takes on this drink to tempt any palate. They include a Jack Mule with Jack Daniels, a Tuscan Mule, an Orange Italian Mule, and a Berry Mule with a choice of your favorite berry flavors.
  • A Bitter Handshake. This kick of a summertime cocktail is made with Rye Whiskey and features the taste of blood oranges for that authentic Sicilian citrus fan.
  • LBV Italian Margarita. You can have a Margarita anywhere, but this Italian take on the old classic will become your new absolute favorite. With the warm taste of Disoronna to complement traditional Patron, it’s a taste you’ll equate with being kissed by the sun.
  • Martini. Your traditional Martini is always a classic choice. While you might decide on a Cosmopolitan, Appletini, or your standard Dirty Martini, you might also choose a new take on this old favorite, with a wide variety of heavier dessert flavored martinis to set the mood or a Lemoncello Martini for the perfect cap to a great summer evening.

Looking for Great Craft Cocktails in La Grange?

If you’re looking for the best selection in innovative craft cocktails, new craft beers, or fantastic wine, look no further than La Buona Vita. With a stunning selection of your favorite tastes, our seasoned staff can mix you a new concoction to tempt your taste buds and recommend some of the best pairings for any meal you might choose.

Introduction the the Sous Vide Style of Cooking

Sous vide cooking is one of the most talked about new culinary trends, increasingly utilized by both professional chefs and ambitious home cooks alike. But what is sous vide? The name means “under vacuum” in French because ingredients are often (but not always) vacuum sealed before cooking. Simply put, sous vide is a cooking technique that uses a precise temperature-controlled water bath in order to evenly cook food to an exact doneness. Although pioneered by the French in the 1970s, this style of cooking is now used in a wide range of cuisines, from Spanish molecular gastronomy to authentic Italian food.

For those unfamiliar with the technique, the sous vide method might sound a little kooky–and indeed, the technique combines standard cooking principles with equipment that looks like it’s meant for a science lab. The benefits of sous vide are evident from the first bite, however. Sous vide is designed to make it simple to get precise cooking results that are easily repeatable. Imagine making steaks that are exactly medium-rare every time without any risk of overcooking or any need to fret over the pan, prodding the meat with a thermometer or cutting into to it to check how done it is. Preparing tough cuts of meat that require long cooking times to make them tender is also simplified with the sous vide method, allowing cooks to utilize less expensive cuts while still producing moist and flavorful results. And though popular with meat, sous vide can be used to cook a wide variety of ingredients, from poultry and fish to vegetables, fruits, eggs and even sauces and desserts.

How can you get started cooking sous vide at home? The past few years have seen equipment that was once priced to be accessible only by professional kitchens become inexpensive enough to be in range for avid home cooks. To begin, the only thing you absolutely need is an immersion circulator, although a vacuum sealer, a cast iron skillet and a Cambro plastic container are extremely helpful in achieving the best results. You’ll use the immersion circulator to heat and maintain your water bath at an exact temperature throughout the cooking process; a solid version suitable for home use can now be had for under $200.

Once you have your sous vide setup in place, the obvious dish to start with is steak. Pricey and notoriously difficult to cook well, a good steak can really highlight the benefits of sous vide. But the beauty of this method is that it can make so many dishes sing; juicy chicken breasts, perfectly poached eggs or tender and moist pork shoulder are all excellent to make using sous vide.

Of course, while the sous vide method is increasingly accessible to home chefs, getting started does require an investment in equipment and a lot of trial-and-error as you adjust your techniques to this innovative method. Even if you are daunted at the idea of trying to cook sous vide yourself, however, you can still reap its benefits. As an exciting and original purveyor of Italian cuisine in La Grange, La Buona Vita has been serving up specials that utilize sous vide to give diners tender, flavorful and perfectly prepared dishes. Recent dinner specials have included a strip steak prepared sous vide and seared to perfect golden brown perfection. If you are interested in tasting the results of sous vide yourself, La Buona Vita will have a table waiting for you.