All Posts By Maria Russo

Maria Russo is an associate editor at Food Network, now living in New York City after being born and raised in the great state of Michigan. She likes her eggs runny, her pasta cheesy and has been known to throw back dozens of oysters at a time.

Restaurant Revisited: Paliani’s Restaurant

by in Shows, September 12th, 2012

Restaurant Impossible
At Paliani’s Restaurant in Burton, Mich., Robert Irvine found a decades-old Italian eatery in desperate need of a Restaurant: Impossible overhaul. He had only two days to tackle the filthy interior and disorganized kitchen at Paliani’s, and help give owner Marina Bufalini the tools to improve her management. We checked in with Marina to see how Paliani’s is doing a few months after its Restaurant: Impossible renovation.

Marina is happy to report that since the transformation, sales at Paliani’s have increased. In June and July, the restaurant saw year-over-year growth of 46 percent and 32 percent, respectively.

Paliani’s has seen a mix of returning and first-time customers coming to see the makeover and taste the new food. While some longtime diners have struggled to adapt to the updated decor and menu, many new customers are pleased, as is Marina. Of the restaurant’s fresh look, she says, “I love the decor and how the light panels on the wall brighten everything and give the room more dimension.”

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POLL: Which Eliminated Food Truck Would You Bring Back?

by in Polls, Shows, September 12th, 2012

The Great Food Truck Race
Just four short weeks ago, Tyler Florence met eight eager teams of first-time food truckers, each with big dreams of running their own mobile business. But now, after a month of racing halfway across the country, only four of those hopeful teams remain after Under the Crust, Barbie Babes, Pizza Mike’s and Coast of Atlanta were eliminated in Los Angeles, Flagstaff, Amarillo and Fayetteville, respectively.

Though this competition is designed to separate the contenders from the pretenders, all eight teams were made up of food truck rookies with a similar lack of experience, so the race could have been anyone’s game. Do you think that the eliminated teams simply suffered a case of beginners’ bad luck, or did their tactics alone lead to their early exits? If you were to give just one team another chance at food truck royalty, which would it be?

Tell us: Which eliminated food truck team would you bring back if you had the chance?

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Double-Duty Dinners Turned Lunches — The Communal Table

by in Community, Recipes, September 10th, 2012

commual table back to school edition
School is officially in session and just as kids may stomp their feet in protest all the way to the bus stop, so, too, might moms and dads as they face another daunting year of keeping their little learners full and healthy. As you think of the new school year and wonder how you’ll be able to do it all, look to Food Network’s Back-to-School Headquarters to help you make the grade. Each week in September FN Dish will share can-do weeknight meals, easy lunchbox picks, after-school snack strategies and more from our best collection of recipes and tips.

This week we’re kicking off the new school year with a classroom party of sorts. We’ve once again partnered with family and friends to host a Communal Table in celebration of all things back-to-school. In this virtual recipe swap, we’re exchanging a mix of kid- and adult-friendly meal ideas, lunchbox must-haves and more.

See what our friends are bringing to the table

Stuck Between Summer and Fall — Meatless Monday

by in In Season, Recipes, September 10th, 2012

Zucchini Gratin
When it comes to cooking in early September, things can get a bit tricky. After all, fall’s first apples are landing on grocery store shelves and you’re starting to crave comforting meals again, but it still feels like summertime outside. So how do you cook the season when you’re sweating it out in steamy temperatures even though signs of fall just can’t be missed? Our end-of-summer recipes are sure to get you through these last few humid weeks. Check out a few of our favorite vegetarian selections below, then tell us what your favorite in-season dish is these days.

Ina’s Zucchini Gratin (pictured above) combines the best of summertime ingredients while celebrating hearty textures that are so typical of autumn. She fills this five-star casserole with light, in-season zucchini, but mixes it with a warm, creamy sauce of nutmeg and milk before topping it with crunchy breadcrumbs and gooey Gruyere cheese. Just a few minutes in the oven is all it takes to turn out a completely meat-free side dish that’s at once flavorful and satisfying but not altogether rich, thanks to the filling of fresh produce.

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The Great Food Truck Race Caption It: Rules of the Road

by in Shows, September 7th, 2012

Momma's Grizzly Grub on The Great Food Truck Race
Come Sunday night, the remaining five Food Truck teams will have made it past the halfway point of the competition. By now their dreams of owning their own food trucks are so close they can practically taste them, and for some that has them racing to the finish line. Momma’s Grizzly Grub, however, comes to a screeching halt on Sunday, thanks to a run-in with local law enforcement in Arkansas.

Here Tiffany and Angela are seen powwowing with a policeman, looking caught off guard and far from happy. Were the ladies the victim of a roadside fender-bender, or were they caught driving their bright-orange truck too quickly around Fayetteville? What could a traffic ticket mean for these Alaska natives and their future in the race?

Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to find out what happened, we’re challenging you, Food Truck fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this law enforcement moment in the comments below.

Which is your favorite food truck team so far? Cast your Fan Vote up to 10 times per day.

Restaurant Revisited: Frankie’s

by in Shows, September 5th, 2012

Robert Irvine at Frankie's on Restaurant: Impossible

When Robert Irvine visited Frankie’s in Three Rivers, Mich., he found a dusty, outdated restaurant with dangerous levels of food safety and a kitchen stocked with more microwaves than pots and pans. After meeting owners Jay Woehrmyer and Tina Wyman, however, he realized that poor management and a lack of leadership were their biggest problems. Robert had just two days to turn around this 13-year-old restaurant and attempt to fix Jay and Tina’s failing partnership. We checked in with Jay and Tina to find out how they and Frankie’s are doing a few months after their Restaurant: Impossible experience.

Since Robert left, sales at Frankie’s have risen 39 percent, and Jay and Tina report that the makeover is attracting new customers. Both count the new open layout of the restaurant among their favorite parts of the decor.

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Eating Meat-Free When Others Are Not — Meatless Monday

by in Holidays, Recipes, September 3rd, 2012

Baked Creamed Corn With Red Bell Peppers and Jalapenos
Since today is Labor Day and the unofficial end of grilling season, it’s likely that platters of ribs, hot dogs or burgers will find their way to your picnic table. So how do you maintain a meatless meal when friends and family around you are indulging in meaty main dishes? There are indeed ways to keep your Labor Day menu flavorful, hearty and deliciously meat-free that don’t include eating around the chunks of chicken in the pasta salad or nibbling on fruit and carrot sticks all afternoon.

If you’re attending a backyard bash and the host has requested you bring a dish to share, reach for your favorite meatless one. The Pioneer Woman’s Baked Creamed Corn With Red Bell Peppers and Jalapenos (pictured above) is a five-star recipe from Food Network Magazine that feeds a crowd and can be made with just a handful of ingredients. This potluck-friendly classic is loaded with vegetables and pairs well with traditional cookout fare and meatless items alike.

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Labor Day Recipes for a Crowd

by in Entertaining, Holidays, September 1st, 2012

Kansas City Style Pork Ribs
This summer, Food Network’s Grilling Central is packed with recipes for the entire family’s taste buds, boasting the best in burgers, dogs, chicken and more all season long. But with so many recipes, where do you start? Each Saturday, FN Dish is giving you a complete menu that is stress-free, and this weekend’s spread is guaranteed to feed a crowd.

If this Labor Day weekend suddenly finds you cooking for a houseful of guests, fear not. We have everything you need to pull off an effortless, enjoyable backyard bash that’s brimming with top-notch dishes. Best of all, our no-fail recipes are a cinch to make, so you can be sure that you, the host, will have as much fun at your party as your guests.

Perhaps the most important part of any summertime soiree is the cocktails, and when it comes to entertaining a crowd, simplicity is key. Now isn’t the time to show off your mixology skills with made-to-order specialty drinks. Instead reach for big-batch cocktails that lend themselves to easy pouring, like Food Network Magazine‘s Red Sangria or Bobby’s White Peach Cocktail. If your guest list includes kids, prepare a pitcher of alcohol-free Mint Limeade, so that they can enjoy frosty glasses, too. Check out Food Network’s roundup of Pitcher-Friendly Drinks for more simple drink ideas.

Get the menu

The Great Food Truck Race Caption It — This Way to Food

by in Shows, August 31st, 2012

Coast of Atlanta on The Great Food Truck Race
The Great Food Truck Race cruises into its third week this Sunday, which means by now the teams have become more comfortable in their trucks and are finally starting to think and sell like professional food truck operators. But although the teams have learned to properly price their menus, cook in small spaces and work with local ingredients, some are still struggling to find the best way to publicize themselves and track down optimal parking spaces. Should trucks pair up with one another to increase their visibility, or should they try to monopolize an entire area on their own? Can they afford to settle for an out-of-the-way location if they have absolutely top-notch food? The remaining six teams are likely asking themselves these questions and more as they prepare for another weekend of selling in Amarillo, Texas.

No matter her team’s location, Coast of Atlanta’s Tawanaca has taken the opportunity to advertise into her own hands, resorting to a rustic cardboard sign and sidewalk promotion to lure potential customers to her truck. Has her team fallen victim to the Curse of the Bad Parking Spot and been forced to turn to alternative methods of marketing? Is her handmade advertisement a way to compete with nearby trucks? What else could the teams be doing to better their businesses?

Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to find out which team goes home next, we’re challenging you, Food Truck fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this on-the-street moment in the comments below.

Which is your favorite food truck team so far? Cast your Fan Vote up to 10 times per day.

Best Labor Day Weekend Recipes

by in Holidays, Recipes, August 29th, 2012

Grilled Turkey Sliders With Tomato Jam
Though the unofficial end of summer is just around the corner, there’s still time for one last outdoor party. Make the most of your Labor Day weekend by hosting a backyard cookout for friends or simply barbecuing with family before the kids head back to school and the rush of weeknight activities begins. We’ve rounded up Food Network’s top five Labor Day recipes to help you celebrate the best flavors and ingredients of the season and pull off an easy, enjoyable holiday get-together.

5. Black Bean and Corn Salad – For a quick no-cook side dish, Rachael combines red peppers, vibrant corn and hearty black beans with a light cumin-lime juice dressing.

4. Creamy Dijon-Dill Potato Salad – Make a party-ready potato salad by tossing tender Yukon Golds with crunchy celery and a creamy mayonnaise-mustard mixture that’s finished with fresh dill and bright lemon juice.

Get the top three recipes