Joe’s Knows Italian

Many a Shelby County, Alabama resident will tell you about the culinary landmark known as Joe’s Italian. Built on the foundation of love, quality ingredients and fresh, delicious food, the “baby” of Papa Joe and Mama Elvira has been serving up the best in Italian cuisine for years. Sadly, in 2013 Papa Joe, who was a staple on a stool in the front of the restaurant passed away. However, his legacy of amazing food lives on.

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On my most recent trip, rushing to try to dine in less than 45 minutes before Wednesday night service at Church of the Highlands I branched out on a limb and sampled the pizza my dinner companion ordered. It was a CHICKEN ALFREDO PIZZA made with Cream sauce, roasted garlic, red onion, chicken, fresh tomato & basil. Gaze up there at it again. Go ahead. I know you want to. The pizza was as good as it was pretty! Ample cheese was not overshadowed by fresh herbs, seasoned chicken, the savory cream sauce and a sweetness to the crust which was the perfect combination to balance out the red onions and tomatoes. The pizza was perfect, in my opinion. It really was. I felt the need to hop on a gondola and speak the little Italian I learned from two years of classes in college.

I ordered my usual children’s portion of Spaghetti and Meatballs covered with fresh parmesan cheese. You can’t really see it from my picture, but there’s enough on this “small plate” for two meals. Trust me. I ate my leftovers for lunch. This was especially easy to do when paired with their fresh bread and herb, olive oil which comes as freely as the oil flows.

 

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To top it off, being so big it toppled over, is their famous Strawberry Cake. I was too full to eat dessert before church, but boy-oh-boy, the four forkfuls I ate around 9pm hit the spot and didn’t even keep me up all night.

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Joe’s Italian is located at:

21 Weatherly Club Drive​, Alabaster, Alabama 35007 (205) 663-4111

Opening Hours:

MONDAY – SUNDAY
​​10:30am – 9:00pm

The food at Joe’s Italian is delicious. That’s the only word I can use to describe it. The staff is friendly, especially our server Felicia who clarified her name by saying, “as in Bye Felicia”, and the environment is perfect for a hot date, a birthday party, a quick meal before church or a family feast just because you’re in the mood for Italian. And while Papa Joe no longer greets his guests at the door when they arrive, his presence is surely felt throughout the restaurant.

@AngelaMMoore316

My Cousin Cooked a Cake

A simple Saturday in Montgomery preparing for the memorial service of a family member turned into a delightfully sweet treat thanks to my cousin, Nishia. This true “hostess with the mostest” took a page out of the Book of Zelda (her Mama) who is known for hosting family and friends with the most gracious (and selfless) generosity. Like her mother, my grandmother Jean (RIP) and her sissy, Nette (my Mama), my Aunt Zelda’s ritual of making family feel right at home dates back, at least for me, to the times where I would spend weeks at her house as a child growing up, even bringing friends by from high school or college by, sipping on cold Co-Colas, staying out late, eating fancy-smancy seafood from my Uncle Ricky, primping and shaking in barely there clothing and Payless shoes in front of their large, glass mirrored wall before heading to  Club Top Flight (bless my heart), and enjoying the joy of family.

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In the true sense of Zeldahood, my baby cousin (LOL! She’s three months younger) opened her doors to my sister, nieces, her sister and me recently. At a nearby establishment known for a $27 buffet and lots of machines which light up and spit out, prompting an impromptu car dance reminiscent of the aforementioned glass mirror dance, we had a BLAST the Friday before the Saturday Nishia decided to get up, cook a buffet breakfast of muffins, bacon, and delish leftover pizza. Then, like a quickening flash of “where’d she get that from” energy, she decided to brave the cold weather and go to the store not once, but twice to bake a cake and grill her famous “Boo Burgers”.

I wish I could give you the recipe to the cake. It was truly something to behold. Too bad though, the recipe is safely kept between Nishia and my three-year-old niece Kenna who studied like a baby hawk as her apprentice in the kitchen while the cake was being made. I do know, thanks to Kenna spilling the tea, that the cake has sugar in it. Go figure! There was something more important than the recipe, it’s sheer aesthetic beauty, the utter delight of the moist nuggets of buttery goodness nestling in on the awaiting tongue, the intoxicating taste of lemon in every bite or how absolutely delicious it was as my friend and I nibbled on a slice in church the next day (We can do that at my church…and we watched a movie in church too. Go Highlands!)

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More important than all of that was the love with which it was made and received, and the gift of hospitality being continually transferred from generation to generation. I can hardly wait to see how the example set forth by Nishia blossoms into her daughter, who by the way, is the best babysitter ever! I can’t wait to see how my nieces Kenna and Kassi take what they’ve been given and give it back in ways we can only imagine. And to think, all it takes is a cake or whatever we have to offer.

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@AngelaMMoore316