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Food challenge: Basil


Emily Arnold has Italian roots. She learned to cook from her parents, who learned to cook from their parents. As many Italians do, her culinary education came from the traditions of red sauce, mozzarella and dough.

But I did not know this when I called Arnold, owner of Parkway Sports Grille in Erie, to give her her ingredient: basil.

Parkway sits up the road from the Yellow Scene office, and I’ve had many a delicious lunch here: sandwiches, burgers and salads. They have a bistro vibe with a sports bar twist. Arnold calls it “amped up pub food.”

So I was not expecting her to serve up a beautiful, amazingly good pizza. Named the caprese pizza, Arnold’s super airy homemade dough is topped with red sauce and pesto, mozzarella, a mixture of provolone, parmesan and Romano cheeses, which is cooked until golden and lightly crisp. She blankets it with a salad of arugula and field greens tossed with a basil vinaigrette.

The flavors of this dish meld together effortlessly and with so much balance. The fresh greens with the salty cheese and the earthy pesto dance together bite after bite. And the kicker is the basil vinaigrette, which packs a punch but doesn’t overpower the other elements. It’s full of Italian flavors, and it’s a kick-back to Arnold’s roots, which diners don’t always see at Parkway.

“We don’t have pizza on the menu, but it’s what I do at home,” Arnold said. “So, this was a really nice challenge to do what I do best and what I love to do.”

Along with the pizza, managing bartender Jordan Jackson serves up a pair of basil-inspired cocktails: a basil-cucumber martini with Effen cucumber vodka, muddled basil and splashes of lime, dill pickle juice and agave nectar as well as a basil-raspberry mojito. The mojito is a play on the classic—basil, golden and red raspberries, agave nectar and citrus muddled with Bacardi rum and topped it with soda water. The martini is certainly a more complex, savory drink, and it’s solid. But the mojito just feels like summer—bright and fresh and fruity with basil at the center.

During the month of June, you can find the basil-cucumber martini, the basil-raspberry mojito and the caprese pizza at Parkway Sports Grille, 605 Mitchell Way, No. 10, in?Erie. parkwaysportsgrille.com


email no info send march17th/09

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