That Food Guy
Monday, August 09, 2010
  Piccolino's Restaurant - Eagle River, Alaska
Click to enlarge - Piccolin's Restaurant Eagle River Alaska
Piccolino’s Eagle River, Alaska 08/09
12801 Old Glen Highway
Eagle River, AK 99577 (907) 622-5266

To be alert is to be prepared. To be alert is an asset. So, when Dale and Bobbi asked if we wanted to accompany them to Piccolino’s in Eagle River, I found I was unaware of Piccolino’s, not at all. So much for being prepared, being alert! In my defense I have to add that it was once just a little storefront establishment, in a set-back mini-strip mall, next to a variety of come and go businesses. Over about six years they have grown, adding a store in Wasilla and now expanding into the remainder of the little mini-mall. A new and bright sign make the restaurant more visible. Others have been more alert and have noticed Piccolino’s. The adequate parking lot fills quickly during the evening hours.

Piccolino’s advertises itself as a Greek and Italian restaurant. They also offer a breakfast menu featuring traditional breakfast items, a luncheon menu and a dinner menu. I haven’t seen the breakfast and luncheon menus but they are available on the Piccolino’s web site, . I did, during this meal, order from the dinner menu.

They have done extensive renovation and added many aesthetic touches. Columns flanking the entry have miniature fountains. Signature bas relief vines and grapes adorn the walls. A choice of either tables and chairs or booths is available. The lighting is subdued, the restrained colors coordinated, and the background noise is low making dinner table conversation easy. It all makes for a pleasant dining place.
The menu is several pages. Besides offering Greek and Italian specialties, they offer pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, steaks, seafood and a children’s (and seniors) menu. There was enough variety that selection took awhile. So many good things to try…

Bobbi ordered the Athenian Eggplant ($18.95). Described in the menu as, “Deep fried breaded eggplant topped with feta, Click to enlarge - Piccolino's Athenian Eggplantmozzarella, sautéed spinach, Click to enlarge - Piccolino's Olympian Chickenmushrooms, onion, and tomato cream sauce. Served over garlic mashed potatoes.” A colorful dish with lots of different flavors. Bobbi enjoyed her selection saying that was was very good and would certainly be considered again at a later date.
Dale ordered the Olympian Chicken ($17.95). Described as, “Chicken breast charbroiled with Mediterranean herbs. Topped with olive oil and garlic lemon sauce. Served over Greek spaghetti.” Daled ordered from the menu description, not certain what he had ordered. He described it as very good, very flavorful and he ate it with gusto.

Click to enlarge - Piccolino's CalzoneMy wife, Janis, ordered a Calzone ($14.95). Her selection was a meat calzone described as, “Pizza sauce, pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, and mozzarella. Served with meat sauce.” A large, nicely browned crust, it was served with a side dish of marinara meat sauce for dipping. The crust was tender and the calzone filled with sauce and meat, certainly no skimping on the filling. She enjoyed it very much and it ranked with other calzones that got her on the habit. It was large enough that half of it came home in a “doggie bag.”

After long deliberation, I chose the Chicken Parmigiano ($15.95). Described as, “Lightly breaded and sautéed with garlic, olive oil and Click to enlarge - Chicken Parmigianowhite wine. Oven baked with Click to enlarge - Piccolinos Dinner Saladmozzarella and marinara. Served with spaghetti.” If you wish antipasto salad, you have to order that separately. For most of the dishes, Greek and Italian, a salad is extra ($3.50). Three of us ordered the salad. It was a nice mixed salad, not to large but adequate. The lettuce is crisp, with bits of carrot and cabbage, with tomato wedges and sliced ripe olives. A choice of vinaigrette, Ranch or 1000 Island dressing is served on the side.

My chicken Parmigiano was excellent. The flattened chicken breast was well cooked. Although I used my knife, I could easily cut the chicken with a fork. Very flavorful with from the cooking with garlic and wine, it was even better with the smooth texture of the mozzarella and the slight bite of the marinara sauce. I enjoyed the meal and, unfortunately for the dog, there were no left-overs to go home.
Piccolino’s has a wine list that offers a lot of selections. We chose this day to pass on the wine. The ladies opted for iced tea and lemon water. Dale and I chose colas. The serving staff keeps the glasses, water aClick to enlarge - Dale's Canolind soda, filled for you. Click to enlarge - Bobbi's cheesecake
Everyone, including myself, was quite full from dinner and had already decided that we didn’t want any dessert. Then the server came to the table with a tray and samples of the Piccolino’s dessert selection. Janis and I held firm but Dale and Bobbi just couldn’t turn it down. Bobbi ordered a cheesecake ($6.50) and Dale selected a canola ($6.50). The dessert chef took great care to decorate the plates with chocolate and flavored syrups. Each enjoyed their dessert, saying that it was very good.

The servers were all very friendly and seemed to be glad to have you as a customer. Except for a slight delay in the arrival of the salad, arriving only moments before the entrée, all seemed to be smoothly orchestrated. Certainly, Piccolino’s will be on the list for a revisit one day soon.

Piccolino’s offers call-in take out and some local delivery.
Normal operating hours (extended during the long summer daylight hours) are
Monday – Thursday 11AM to 9 PM
Friday and Saturday 7 AM to 10 PM
Sunday 7 AM to 9 PM
Breakfast Menu, 7 – 11, Lunch Menu, 11 - 4

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Friday, August 06, 2010
  Rose's Cafe - Healy, Alaska
Rose’s Diner, Healy Alaska
Milepost 249.5 Parks Highway, Healy, Alaska
August 2010

Healy is located about midway on the highway from Anchorage to Fairbanks. It is just north of the entrance to Denali National Park. Summertime activities connected to the park, as well as hunting and fishing, provide some work for the locals. However the main employer would seem to be the Usibelli Coal Mine, a dig that averages about 1 and 1/2 million tons of coal a year. Healy also provides several motels for the Denali overflow crowd and the traveler weary from the long winter drive from Anchorage to Fairbanks. It is an isolated haven in the wilds of the permafrost arctic taiga.
If you are going to stay overnight, as we were, you just might want a bite to eat. One of the motels has its own coffee shop restaurant and then there is Rose’s Café. ( Being about the only gathering venue in town, it seems to be the de facto gathering place for the local, well-behaved youth as well as many seniors seeking a meal. A busy parking lot is always a good sign even if all the other choices are limited.
While we were there it was very busy, not full as you could just about always find an empty Pork chops and eggstable, but a constant turnover making for lively greeting and chatter. It wasn’t raucous but table side conversation was a little bit strained. Then menu offers a wide selection of breakfast and lunch items including their own extravaganza dish, the 1 pound grizzly burger ($15.50). If you eat the entire meal (including the egg and ham slice topping as well as the side of fries or potato salad) you get your picture on the Grizzly Wall. One person completed a five pound Grizzly Burger (five one-pound patties stacked) and is the reigning 5-Pound Grizzly King.
It was late morning and Dick was hungry for traditional breakfast fare. He chose the pork chops and two eggs combination, served with a choice of potatoes (cottage fries) and toast, $14.25. I looked momentarily at the Grizzly Burger, not so much to finish it then but to have a doggie bag fullCheeseburger and fries of hamburger and fries for a late night snack. Discretion intervened and I chose the regular cheeseburger ($9.50) and selected the fries from a choice of French fries or potato salad.
About now you have noted the prices are a bit high. Please realize that this is Alaska and Healy is a long 200 mile one-way run for supplies. Not too bad in the summer with the long and mild days but a real dog in the short, cold, snowy, windy and icy days winters. If you ever travel to Alaska, and you really should, you will notice how quickly the prices rise the farther away from Anchorage or Fairbanks you get, which makes Rose’s prices fairly reasonable.
Dick’s breakfast was a platter full of three pork chops, a large serving of cottage fries, two eggs to order and two slices of toast. That is another thing you will learn about Alaska. Where the working man eats the servings are large just because it takes a lot of calories just to stay warm in the cold of winter let alone do any work. The chops were nicely browned, were moist although a bit on the tough side. It was a large serving of meat. The fries were also nicely browned and well seasoned. The eggs were to order, over medium and the yolks intact. The toast was cooked just right. Dick gave it the thumbs up and was certainly full when he finished the meal.
My hamburger was a large hamburger, a large patty served on a large Whopper-sized bun. I estimate it was a full 1/3 pound if not ½ pound. The lettuce and tomato were fresh, a noteworthy achievement considering where we were. The fries were the natural style with bits of the skin still on. There were hot when served, a bit crispy but not oily or greasy. I did finish this burger but I was glad in retrospect that I did not order the Grizzly Burger, at least twice as large as the one I could just manage easily.
There sRose's Menu - Page 1eemed to be a missing person in the staff and the one waitrRose's Menu - Page 2ess in the dining room was literally running to keep up with the orders. It seemed to be a bit of a wait before our meals were served but it wasn’t because anyone was sitting around; everyone was very busy. There was a momentary flub when the meals arrive and a mix up of which meal went to which table. Quickly resolved, it was the only minor jinx in the entirety of the meal. We were both happy with what we got, enjoyed the meal and left full, sated, ready to face the rest of the day.
This was my first visit to Rose’s. I will certainly feel confident to stop by again when I am acting the tour guide to the wonders of Alaska.

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