“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”

Mark Twain

A few weekends ago was the Jay St Italian Festival as well as St. George’s Greek Festival. I went with my Mom and we planned to have dinner at the Italian festival and dessert at the Greek festival.Our first stop was at Cornell’s Restaurant (39 North Jay St)who had a small menu of food to choose from and a buffet of the foods.The choices were: Minestra (Greens & Beans with Pepperoni), Calamari Marinara, Veal & Peppers and Rigatoni with Bolognese Sauce all for $6.00. We ordered the Calamari Marinara and Rigatoni with Bolognese Sauce. In my opinion, the Rigatoni wasn’t much different than any pasta I could make. Since they served everything out of a buffet setting, though, I wouldn’t judge their usual pasta on this particular day.

Cornell’s Rigatoni with Bolognese Sauce

Every time I looked at Cornell’s, there was a line so the time and focus that they usually put on individual meals probably wasn’t there so I wouldn’t rule it out as an option if you decide to eat there. I didn’t dislike the food, it was good, but when I think of Cornell’s I tend to think of a higher quality than what I can do in my kitchen and this wasn’t an example of that. The Calamari Marinara on the other hand was fantastic! It was non-breaded calamari in a lot of sauce. I would say it was less sauce than a soup and more sauce than a stew, somewhere in the middle.

The calamari’s were cooking beautifully, perfectly tender and the sauce was a good complement. I had wished that we ordered two of those instead of the rigatoni (my Mom went back and ordered some more), I highly recommend trying that if you ever find yourself at Cornell’s for dinner. Then we continued down the street, listening to music and seeing what else they offered including: fried dough, pizza & other types of pasta. We also walked in to Civitello’s for some of their famous Italian ice but the line was out the door,

Cavatelli from Cornells

plus we already promised ourselves Greek food for dessert. Before we left, I bought myself one of my favorite sandwiches from Perrecas (read about it in one of my previous blog entries) then we were on to Greek food.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a Greek best but they’re a lot of fun. The night starts out about food and music and then as more and more people drink more and more Ouzo, more and more dancing and singing add into the mix. Inside the building was a huge line wrapped around the parameter waiting to get the Greek goodies like baklava and my personal favorite Greek dessert, kourabiethes which are powdered almond cookies. I don’t exactly now what makes them my favorite, there isn’t a particular different taste than a regular cookie but with the crunchy consistency along with the powdered sugar and that almond taste I can’t get enough!

Baklava and Kourabiethes

Outside where all the dancing and music was happening is the line for souflaki and gyros. The prices were very fair. My gyro was $8 and each dessert was about $1. The most pricey item was probably the alcohol. I tried Mythos which is Greek beer and if you’re a fan of Budweiser then I would give it a shot. It’s a little less flavorful than Bud, probably closer to a Bud Light but still worth it if you’re at a Greek fest looking to try new things. Something I’m not so quick to recommend is Ouzo. Ouzo is the Greek’s tequila. One shot of this and you’ll feel a heavy buzz. Taste-wise? I wasn’t a fan. It tastes and smells like black licorice which is one food you will not find me writing about on my blog, I hate it. Therefore, I hated the taste of Ouzo but it’s just not my thing. If you’re looking to get on that Greek stage and dance with the best of them but are a tad nervous, a shot of Ouzo will do the trick. Designated drivers be weary, one shot of this will most definitely hinder your driving abilities so steer clear!

I love food festivals and the Greeks and the Italians are the best mix of fantastic food and a great time. If you missed this particular event this year, no worries! I assume that they’ll be doing this again soon and there are Greek & Italian fests all over this area in the late summer early fall so look out! Check the blog’s Facebook page HERE for mentions of various food festivals, you’re guaranteed to have a great time and leave full without spending a ton of money.