Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Most Delicious Day Of The Year!

Saturday, July 29 is National Lasagna Day! To celebrate, we wanted to take a look at the history of this delicious, traditional Italian dish. However, it's origins might surprise you! Before you come into Lake of the Ozarks' best Italian restaurant to satisfy your cravings for lasagna, let's look into the history of it.

Not So Traditional Italian

Although lasagna can be found at nearly every Italian restaurant, it technically didn't originate in Italy as you may have thought. Its history can be traced way back to Ancient Greece. The name Lasagna, or "Lasagne" is derived from the Greek word 'Laganon,' which is the first known form of pasta. However, Laganon was not a traditional lasagna as we know it today with traditional Italian ingredients, but it was composed of layers of pasta and sauce. It was named for the method in which it was made, not for the ingredients.

Modern Day Lasagna

While Italy may not have been the inventors of this layered dish, they certainly can be credited for perfecting it! The lasagna dish that we know and love today made its debut in Naples, Italy during the Middle Ages. During those times, lasagna was perfect for feeding a lot of people. and was usually made on special occasions. When Italian immigrants made their way to America, they brought along their favorite variations of this delicious dish. That's why today there are so many different variations of lasagna. While some prefer a meatier sauce made with pork or ground beef, other add roasted vegetables and spinach to the layers. There is no wrong way to make lasagna!

Lasagna at Li'l Rizzo's

Li'l Rizzo's has a homemade lasagna dish that you can order in celebration of National Lasagna Day! Made with 6 layers of pasta, meat sauce, ricotta cheese and Italian sausage. It's then topped with a blend of mozzarella and Provel cheese and then baked. It's mouth watering cheesy goodness!

Celebrate National Lasagna Day at Li'l 

If you LOVE lasagna like we do, come on by Lake of the Ozarks' best Italian restaurant to celebrate National Lasagna Day! We have many other dishes in addition to lasagna, so no matter what you're in the mood for, we have something for everyone! We hope to see you Saturday to celebrate National Lasagna Day!

                                                             Osage Beach Location

                                                                   Horseshoe Bend Location

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Italian History of Amaretto

The importation of Amaretto to the United States didn't occur until the 1960s, however, once it came to the States, it quickly became a hit! Whether as a mixer in cocktails or in food preparation, people couldn't get enough of this almond flavored liqueur. While you may be able to guess it came from Italy from the Italian sounding name, Amaretto has a very old and interesting history.

What is Amaretto?

The word Amaretto is actually Italian for "a little bitter." It's a unique liqueur with an almond flavor, however, it doesn't always contain almonds. When Amaretto is made, the standard base of the liqueur is made from either apricot pits or almonds or both. Like many other spirits, it may contain a number of added spices or flavorings. If almonds are not used, the flavor is achieved through apricot kernel oil, burnt sugar and a variety of spices.

Its Italian Origins

Amaretto is the liqueur of love that was first produced in Saronno, Italy. While this liqueur is often associated with the little Italian cookies that are flavored Amaretto, its history goes much, much deeper.

Amaretto dates back to the 16th century. The local Saronno legends suggest that an artist, Bernardino Luini, who is a student of Leonardo Da Vinci, traveled to the town in 1525. He was commissioned to paint frescoes in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. He needed a model for his Madonna for the "Adoration of the Magi" fresco. A beautiful, widowed innkeeper became his muse, and some say she became much more to him. She fell madly in love with the artist and to demonstrate her feelings, she gave him a special gift, which was the first ever Amaretto. Her recipe was a blend of brandy, apricot kernels and a secret mix of spices.

Amaretto Today

There are two producers of Amaretto who both claim this legend as their own. Lazzaroni, who are known for their amaretti biscotti cookies, and Disaronno.

In 1786, the Lazzaroni family first made their famous cookies for the King, and to this day, they remain the most popular brand of amaretti. In 1851, they created their Amaretto Liqueur, which is an infusion of the cookies with a little caramel for color. Their Amaretto is still produced and bottled in Saronno, Italy, and they claim it's still based on the widow's recipe.

Disarono also claims to be the originators of Amaretto. They have been producing Amaretto since 1900, and claim their recipe comes from the Reina family, who insist theirs came directly from the widow and passed down from generation to generation. It's thanks to a marketing campaign by Disaronno that led to the rise in popularity of Amaretto across Europe and the U.S. during the 1960s.

Amaretto at Li'l Rizzo's!

Amaretto is a popular liqueur to use in cocktails, and you are most likely to find it on the menu in an Amaretto Sour, which is Amaretto, lemon juice and an optional egg white. At Li'l Rizzo's there are a few drinks on our specialty menu that feature this delicious Italian liqueur.

Banana Split Daiquiri - Amaretto, rum, banana liqueur, cream, pineapple juice, grenadine, nutmeg.
Pineapple Upside Down Martini - Pineapple juice, vanilla vodka, grenadine, amaretto.
Summer Splash - Vodka, grenadine, amaretto, orange juice, southern comfort, pineapple juice, lime juice.
Italian Margarita - Sugar rim, amaretto, tequila, triple sec, sweet & sour.

Whether you're wanting to try one of our delicious signature cocktails that features Amaretto, or you're wanting to devour in some of the best Italian food at the Lake of the Ozarks, Li'l Rizzo's is the place to be! The best Happy Hour at the Lake of the Ozarks is Monday through Friday from 3:00 - 6:00 PM and features great drink specials and half price appetizers. Every Sunday night at our Lake Ozarks location, you can enjoy live music from Me & Jim!

                                                             Osage Beach Location

                                                                   Horseshoe Bend Location

Thursday, July 13, 2017

5 Reasons You NEED To Visit Li'l Rizzo's

Li'l Rizzo's has been a staple at the Lake of the Ozarks for over 20 years, and we're well known for having the best Italian food. However, if you haven't had a chance to try our Lake of the Ozarks Italian restaurant (or if you just need a reminder), here are 5 reasons to come visit us soon!

1. Homemade Italian Food

We know there are a lot of places that serve pizza and pasta, that's why our mission is to become your favorite restaurant. How do we do that exactly? With gourmet pizza, pasta, world famous salad, and of course, legendary service. When we say gourmet, we mean the fresh ingredients, the secret hand-crafted recipes and the love we put into every dish. You will really be able to tell the difference!

2. Tasty Specialty Cocktails 

In addition to our homemade food, we also have a fully stocked bar, which allows our bartenders to serve up almost anything you can think of. However, if you're not feeling creative, no worries! We have a full menu of tasty, specialty cocktails. Check out our blog that features just a few of the cocktails off our menu that are perfect for the summer season.

3. The Best Happy Hour

The best Happy Hour at the Lake of the Ozarks happens Monday through Friday from 3:00 - 6:00 PM. It features great drink specials and half priced appetizers, which includes these favorites:

Spinach, Green Chili & Jalapeno Dip - Creamy, cheesy dip with spinach, green chilies and jalapenos. Served with nacho chips. 

Garlic Cheese Bread - Sliced French bread topped with butter and a blend of mozzarella and Provel cheese. 

Toasted Ravioli - Beef ravioli deep-fried to a golden brown, topped with parsley flakes, parmesan cheese and served with a side of meat sauce.

Plus so much more!

4. Family Friendly Environment

The best part about joining us for lunch or dinner is our family friendly environment. The whole family will LOVE coming to our Lake of the Ozarks Italian restaurant. There is something for everyone on our menu so even the pickiest eater will find something they'll enjoy. In addition, our little diners will get crayons and a coloring page to keep them entertained until their food arrives at the table.

5. Live Music Every Sunday 

Every Sunday night at our Lake Ozark location, we have live music from Me & Jim. Delicious Italian food, cocktails and live music - it's the perfect way to end your week! "Me and Jim" play instrumental renditions of rock music from the 60'S and 70's. They use vintage guitars and sometimes mandolin, performing familiar tunes at conversational volume. "Jim," that is Jim Biggs, has performed in concert with such big names as Chuck Berry, Barbara Mandrel, and Barbara Fairchild. Jim played the Hotel Circuit pickin' country and rock music during the 70's and 80's all across the country. He owns a pile of vintage guitars, mostly Les Pauls, and has been known to bring several of them to the shows and switch guitars as they become too hot to handle! As for "Me," Frank Phelps grew up playing rock music and performed in many bands that no one has ever heard of, but had fun just the same. Frank has performed from California to Canada in night clubs, hotels, and basements, doing concerts, dances, parties and festivals.

These are just a few of the many reasons to visit the best Italian restaurant at the Lake of the Ozarks. Whether it's your first visit or if you're a regular, we love that you decided to join us at Li'l Rizzo's. We can't wait to see you soon!

                                                             Osage Beach Location

                                                                   Horseshoe Bend Location

Thursday, July 6, 2017

10 Things You May Not Have Known About Pasta!

At Li'l Rizzo's, there is no denying that we LOVE pasta, whether it's being twirled on a fork or baked in lasagna. On average, Americans eat about 19 pounds of pasta per person per year according to the National Pasta Association. However, Italians consume about 56 pounds of pasta per year. Despite our love of these noodles, how much do we know about them? Li'l Rizzo's has 10 interesting facts about pasta you may not have known about.

1. Al dente keeps you full longer. When pasta is cooked al dente, which means "to the tooth" or "to the bite," it takes longer to digest. Not only will this keep you fuller longer, it also helps the pasta keep your blood sugar levels more stable.

2. There is a method to pasta shapes and sauces. The reasons why there are so many shapes of pasta is that the weight, texture, and shape all contribute to the way that it holds onto sauce. Basically, certain pasta shapes are better with certain sauces than others. Creamy sauces are better with long, flat pasta like linguine, while short tubular shapes are better paired with thick, chunky sauces.

3. Pasta can be a good way to get protein. While we often think of pasta as a carb, eating pasta can be a good way to get a little extra protein into your diet. One cup of cooked spaghetti can have around 8 grams of protein and supplies your body with several of the amino acids we need to stay healthy.

4. The Ancient Chinese ate pasta before Italians. You may think of pasta as an Italian dish, but research shows that the Chinese were actually the first to eat pasta. A 4,000-year-old bowl of noodles was found in China. It's a common belief that Marco Polo actually brought pasta from China to Italy during the 13th century.

5. There are more than 600 pasta shapes. According to the National Pasta Association, there are more than 600 different shapes of pasta produced around the world.

6. There is a reason behind the names of the pasta shapes. Pasta comes from the Italian word for paste, as many types of pasta start with a pasty mix of flour and water. However, that isn't the only name with meaning. Farfalle is the Italian word for butterflies, and spaghetti is Italian for little strings.

7. First came pasta, then came marinara. People had been eating pasta for thousands of years before anyone thought to add tomato sauce. This is partly due to do the fact that tomatoes are not native to Europe, and weren't introduced to the continent until the Spanish explorer Cortez brought them in 1519 from Mexico. Tomatoes and pasta soon became an iconic combination in Italy.

8. Thank Thomas Jefferson for Macaroni! Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, is credited with introducing pasta to America back in 1789.

9. Italians eat a lot of pasta. It's no surprise that Italians eat the greatest amount of pasta worldwide. However, what you may not have expected is that Venezuela eats the second most and Tunisia eats the third most. Who would have thought? So if Italians eat the most amount of pasta, how much do they eat? The International Pasta Organizations claims that if Italians ate their average yearly amount of pasta in spaghetti shape (rather than the numerous other varieties of pasta shapes), they would eat approximately 600 million kilometers of spaghetti, which is enough to wrap around the Earth 15,000 times!

10. Eating pasta makes you happy! It's true! The carbs in pasta increase the body's production of serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter that scientists believe trigger feelings of happiness and well-being.

Is all this talk about pasta making you hungry? Head on over to the best Italian restaurant at the Lake of the Ozarks to enjoy a big bowl of your favorite pasta. We have many delicious dishes that feature pasta from the traditional lasagna with our homemade marina to our delicious Cajun shrimp served in a Cajun Alfredo sauce. We can't wait to see you soon!

                                                             Osage Beach Location

                                                                   Horseshoe Bend Location