Home Cooking 

What do Luciano Pavarotti, balsamic vinegar, and Ferrari sports cars have in common? They all originated in Modena, a city in northern Italy located between Milan and Bologna. Modena is also the home of Michele Doto. He came to the United States 14 years ago because he got married to "a beautiful American woman." He came to the Memphis area more recently as a victim of Hurricane Katrina. Three months ago, he opened Pasta Italia Authentic Italian Cuisine and Gourmet Market in Collierville.

Although Doto is new to the area, he isn't new to the restaurant business. He's worked in restaurants in France, Spain, Switzerland, and England. Miami was his first home in the U.S., but when he and his wife felt that it was time to start a family, they moved closer to her relatives in Biloxi. After first working in area restaurants, Doto was hired by a New Orleans-based food company to develop their Italian-food line, which segued into Doto opening his own business.

"It just seemed natural," Doto says. "I was responsible for importing all the Italian gourmet foods, and I knew where to get them, so when I had the chance to open a gourmet grocery in Biloxi five years ago, I didn't hesitate."

At his restaurant in Collierville, Doto uses those same authentic Italian ingredients to prepare the foods of his home country: rosette pasta, lemon- and olive oil-marinated seafood salad, antipasto misto with marinated and roasted vegetables, prosciutto di Parma, sopressata, and other delicacies. With only 11 tables, the restaurant is just the right size to become a favorite neighborhood spot.

The "Gourmet Market" part of Doto's business isn't really a market per se but more a service to those customers who'd like to take a taste of Italy home.

Pasta Italia is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Tuesdays through Saturdays 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Pasta Italia, 101 N. Center Street,

Collierville (861-0255)

Memphis Pizza Cafe is moving across the state line with a new location opening in Southaven next month. Mississippi fans of this Memphis institution don't have to fear any changes, though. Memphis Pizza Cafe in Southaven will serve the same great pies as its Tennessee counterparts. Cafe, Cajun Chicken,Vegetable Supreme, Ultimate Cheese, and BBQ Chicken are just a few of the Pizza Cafe standards that come by the slice or in the round.

Another Memphis Pizza Cafe is scheduled to open in Collierville in September.

Memphis Pizza Cafe, 5627 Getwell, Southaven (662-536-1364)

Joining the Memphis Pizza Cafe in Southaven is Crescent City. The popular franchise serves good ol' New Orleans fare: po' boys in at least a dozen variations, muffulettas, gumbo, crawfish étouffée, red beans and rice, jambalaya, and the like. (And don't forget the fabulous beignets.)

The Southaven restaurant, scheduled to open this month, is the third location in the Memphis area and will be followed by a fourth location on Germantown Parkway, also this month. But it doesn't stop there. In the works is yet another Crescent City, on Beale Street, scheduled for the fall.

Crescent City, 6585 Town Center

Crossing, Southaven (662-536-4013)

2362 N. Germantown Parkway

(213-9077)

Frank Grisanti Restaurant was declared smoke-free last week.

Owner Frank Grisanti, along with his son Larkin, the general manager of the restaurant, have committed to providing a healthy environment for their employees and customers.

Frank Grisanti Restaurant, 1022 S. Shady Grove (761-2245)

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