Hot zeppole on a cold winter’s day — how could I say no? Charles and I went to Mia Dona yesterday to meet our old friends Rob and Linda for lunch and we had lots of catching up to do. Between toasting the New Year and conversation, I ordered a creamy cauliflower soup topped with a dab of bright green arugula pesto — just what I was in the mood for.
Next came grilled mahimahi with artichokes drizzled with a lemony caper sauce served with olive oil crushed potatoes. Meanwhile, Charles was just about swooning over the homemade cavatelli with meaty Sunday Ragu and a hefty chunk of pork brasciole. Since my restaurant week lunch included dessert, I opted for the limoncello cheesecake. Feelling pretty full, I was happy to share it with everyone. But the zeppole changed all that.
Donatella Arpaia, who owns Mia Dona, is an old friend and knows how much I love zeppole, and wouldn’t let us leave without some.
For me, zeppole are a reminder of Sunday nights when I was a kid. Since we always had the full on Italian American Sunday lunch experience with pasta, meat, vegetables, and usually pastry for dessert, we would typically skip dinner, or my mom would make us a little treat. I always asked for zeppole. Just before Ed Sullivan came on, she would fry up a big batch and drop them into a brown paper bag with cinnamon sugar. Then she would shake the bag until the zeppole were completely coated. The bag would get all greasy and the doughnuts, because that is what they really are, would come out crunchy with sugar and spice. We’d eat them right away, fresh and hot and light as a feather, while we watched Topo Gigio or Senor Wences.
Anyway, the zeppole at Mia Dona were quite possibly even better than my mom’s. We ate them so fast, I didn’t even get a chance to snap a picture! You will just have to go there yourself and try them.
Mia Dona is located on 58th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. They are open for lunch and dinner and the menu features the simple cooking of the Puglia region of Itay.