Monday, Nov. 03, 2008


America's favorite restaurant cuisine is Italian. But the hidden secret of most restaurants that serve "Italian" food is that many of those creating it were born in Central or South America, not Palermo or Pisa. Some of those cooks are now opening places of their own, and consequently we have the dining experience known as Mex-Italian. Think Bruschetta topped with guacamole or balsamic vinegar used to flavor taco meat. Minneapolis' La Chaya is offering dishes like pizza with Oaxaca cheese, and at Bruno's in Seattle, you can get both tortilla soup and bruschetta. Two of New York City's most satisfying new restaurants, Miranda and Matilda, serve Mex-Italian. The rapper-turned-cook Coolio also likes this culinary combo: on Coolio's popular Internet cooking show, you can watch him inject a turkey with a mixture that includes both tequila and Italian dressing.