J. Razzo′s Italian Food, Recipes & Wine Blog

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Seven years ago I was excited to open my own Italian restaurant in Hamilton Crossing in Carmel.  It took me approximately a year to build the restaurant, buying the best kitchen equipment and excellent furnishings.  I was very proud of the restaurant.  The clientele responded and business was great.

 Then disaster struck and nothing I can do except watch as our sales declined.  First was the closing of Meridian St to U S 31.  This lasted for two years and was the main approach to the restaurant.  This included the bridge over U S 31  going East to West.  This is the neighborhood we usually draw from.  It made it almost impossible to get to the restaurant.  All of this was done to drive to South Bend faster .  People ended up bypassing local establishments.  I was not going to stand still.  I called every television  station - they understood and aired my griefs.  When US 31 was finally open I had to wait another 6 months for Carmel drive to open.  When the construction for the highway was finished I finally was drawing my customers back.  Then the ridiculous round a bout nightmare began.  Slowly one at a time they were built.  As people finally figured how to get here they were detoured again.  This wasteful construction is still going on.  The city of Carmel does not care for the local independent restaurant.  Their answer was to hand out bracelets- what a joke!

I have seen many local businesses close and I am saddened.   We live here, support other local business, pay taxes and our children even go to local schools.  Through no fault of my own, my dream to own a restaurant where an enjoyable meal is enjoyed by neighbors and friends has been destroyed!

Published: 2017-09-17 23:42:00  Updated: 2017-09-17 23:42:44

Author: J. Razzo's  ( view profile )

Christmas Dinner Food and Wine

It has been awhile since I have posted to the blog. Today’s post is about food and wine – my two favorite subjects.  Specifically, what wine to serve with Christmas dinner  in particular Turkey and Ham. The wines are suggestions. You can always serve your favorite wine. Without going into detail, here are the wines I suggest. All of them are medium or lower priced.

With appetizers, I suggest either a Prosecco and for the sweeter palate a Moscato. All are very drinkable and less expensive then Champagne.

For white wines, I suggest three. In simple terms, I chose these because of the acidity and sweetness.
  • Riesling – Semi sweet
  • Sauvignon Blanc – California not New Zealand
  • Pinot Grigio – Goes with all foods

Red wines:
  • Pinot Noir – My favorite and I prefer Oregon, it has more body.
  • Zinfandel – Adds a little spice. Make sure it is Old Vine.
  • Barbera di Asti (Italy) – Light tannin and high acidity.


Published: 2016-12-23 00:46:00  Updated: 2016-12-23 00:48:15

Author: J. Razzo's  ( view profile )

Perfect Appetizer for the Holidays

Risotto Balls or Arancini di Riso

  • ½ cup Sweet Butter
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • ½ onion diced
  • 1 quart Arborio rice (Italian Rice)
  • 1 cup white Wine
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • ½ quart tomato juice
  • Sweet peas (as needed about 3 ozs.)
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese (about 3 ozs.)
  • 2 ozs. Parmesan Cheese
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • 2 ozs. garlic butter
  • 2 ozs. heavy whipping cream
  • 2 ozs. grated romano cheese
  • 2 ozs. marinara sauce (Homemade is the best, but store bought is acceptable - just add basil, oregano, and garlic)
  • 2 tablespoons Imported Italian plum tomatoes
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • Dash of salt and pepper


In a large, shallow stock pot, melt the butter, add the garlic, then add the onions at medium heat.  Add rice and cook slightly while stirring.  Slowly add white wine, chicken stock, tomato juice while constantly stirring.  Turn heat down to medium.  CONSTANTLY STIRRING.  THIS IS A MUST!  Cook for approximately 20 minutes or until the rice has soaked up all the liquid.   Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the rice.  Spread the rice on a pan to let cool quickly

Published: 2015-12-16 19:41:00  Updated: 2015-12-16 19:42:42

Author: J. Razzo's  ( view profile )

Sunday Gravy

The aroma of the sauce cooking is almost as good as the sauce itself.


  • 1 LINK SPICEY Italian Sausage - sliced
  • 2 cans whole Imported Italian plum tomatoes
  • 2 small cans tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon crushed. Red Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • For this sauce all spices will be dried spices
  • 4 Pre-cooked Meatballs
  • (optional - 2 slices of bacon or 1 pigs foot)


Heat olive oil in large pot.  Add sweet onions till they sweat.  Add garlic for 2 minutes.   Add pork- brown on both sides.  Add Sliced Italian sausage.   Add 2 cans of plum tomatoes (first chop for 1 minute in blender).  Add 2 cans of tomato paste.  Add 2 cups water.  Add 8 ounces of red wine and  stir well.  Add Spices.  Stir.   Bring to a boil and then simmer for 2 hours.   Add meatballs and simmer for another hour.

This is the dinner where families sit down together and share stories for hours.

Published: 2014-11-20 19:03:00  Updated: 2014-11-20 19:05:22

Author: J. Razzo's  ( view profile )

Homemade Italian Recipe for Stuffed Dates


  • 4 Medjool Dates - must be Medjool (Large and Juicy)
  • 1 Hot Italian Sausage link - remove skin
  • 2 strips raw bacon - cut in half
  • 2 Roasted Red peppers
  • 1/2 Large Plum Tomato - coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups Stale Bread- must be stale
  • 2 Tbls. Toasted Pine Nuts - to toast , saute in frying pan over medium flame
  • 1 garlic clove - diced
  • 1 Tbls. fresh parsley - chopped
  • 3 Tbls. Aged Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Place peppers on grill.  Roast over open flame for approximately 15 minutes, constantly turning.  When they are charred and soft, put them in a pan and cover with aluminum foil.  Remove after 15 minutes - cut in half and remove stem.  Peel skin - it should come off easily.


Put a slit in each date and remove pit.  Stuff with raw Italian Sausage.  Wrap with bacon.  Cook in oven for 20 minutes at 350 or until bacon is crispy.

Romesco Sauce

Place roasted red peppers, plum tomato, bread, pine nuts, garlic clove, parsley, balsamic vinegar, and Sriracha in food processor.  Slowly add extra virgin olive oil. Sauce will be thick.


Heat 2 tbls. of olive oil in saute pan, add Romesco sauce.  Heat until hot.  Place cooked stuffed dates on top of Romesco sauce.  Garnish with chopped parsley.

Published: 2014-08-21 22:51:00  Updated: 2014-11-20 19:06:55

Author: J. Razzo's  ( view profile )

J. Razzo's Local Artist: Julie Joy

If you've ever been inside J. Razzo's, it's hard to miss the bright and colorful artwork on the walls.  What you might not know is that the art is local and also for sale!

Artist Julie Joy is an explorative, versatile impressionist and abstract painter that utilizes oil and acrylic mediums.  She likes to get out of her studio and convey the emotion of her subject matter by traveling and painting outside, giving fresh emotion in the lighting and color that is always in a constant state of change.  You can see this in her pieces depicting landscapes, flowers and local Carmel landmarks that are hanging on the walls inside the restaurant.

"My art is a balance between the emotion of the subject matter and my own heart," Julie Joy said.  "I am lucky enough to be able to transcend time, loosing myself in my passion to create.  Walking in nature prepares me for the day's painting session.  Each day, my subject matter varies from a loose interpretation of a landscape to an abstract vision that I have glimpsed in my sleep state.  My goal is to bring the depths of my soul and the joy of living to emanate from each painting.  May it bring healing and peace to those who interact with it."

Julie Joy was born in a small farming community in Ohio with four siblings.  With her parents struggling to survive and seeking work in different places across the United States, Julie Joy learned to adapt to change and relate to many cultures.  This sense of versatility has spilled over into her paintings.

Open-hearted and passionate, Julie Joy strives to create art that depicts a strong depth of emotion.  Her world of expressiveness through a deft brush stroke tells stories that vibrate in color and light.  It's easy to fall in love with her passion, creativity and ability to create a visual experience that leads to art that collectors say they can feel.

"It is a joy to hang my artwork and be a part of the J. Razzo's family," said Julie Joy.  "It is our goal to bring Carmel together where you will have a warm and welcoming experience with good food and the flavors of local art that tells a community story.  I am excited to say that I have envisioned bringing downtown Carmel to J. Razzo's.  That dream has now turned into a reality."

You can not only see Julie Joy's artwork of local Carmel landmarks on the walls of J. Razzo's, but it is available for purchase as greeting cards.  Each card tells a story of the historical significance of that landmark.  "I have signed the front of each card, so it is very special and a gift from my heart to the beautiful city of Carmel."

Julie Joy is now an artist, teacher, writer and leader in the community.  She has resided in Carmel, Indiana for the past 15 years being a busy single mom of her three children, Dylan, Cassidy and Morgen.  Come in for dinner and a look at her work on our walls, or you can visit her website at  www.juliejoy.org.

Published: 2013-07-24 18:56:00  Updated: 2013-07-24 19:13:43

Author: J. Razzo's  ( view profile )

J. Razzo's Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar

What's the best Thanksgiving wine?
It is that time of year again when we dine with friends and family. The first big holiday is Thanksgiving Day and you ask yourself what wine should I serve or bring? Here are my tips:

The first rule of thumb is that there are no rules. There are no certain wines to drink with certain food. Buy and enjoy the wines that you like, especially for the holidays -- buy the wine that you are familiar with. This is not the day to experiment or try different wines. Go to your favorite liquor store or to a wine tasting bar and give your taste buds a treat- at a reasonable price.

For the whites, I like wines with a fruit taste to go with turkey. Franciscan Cardonnay is full bodied yet fruity. You cannot go wrong with Conundrum- everyone loves this wine which is a blend of 5 white grapes from California. Finally I like a Riesling to serve before dinner and during dinner if you like. I prefer Pacific Rim Riesling . It has just been voted as the #1 Best Wine for the Money.

With Turkey dinner I believe a red is better suited than white. Again I prefer a spicy red. A pinot noir or zinfandel are perfect. For Zinfandel I enjoy Seghesio or Klicker Brick both are "OLd Vine" Zinfandels.For Pinot Noirs I like Oregon Pinot Noirs.Willamette Valley is terrific. Also Cheery Hill Winery , which is owned by the Sweeneys from Indianapolis is an excellent choice.Spanish wines are less expensive and most are spicy like I want. For traditionalists try Cru Beaujolais from France. These wines are bold and fruity.Finally an Indiana Winery is making wine similar to the great wines of Europe and California. For Thanksgiving try Rettig Hill Chambourcin-tasted and liked by my wait staff.

Happy Thanksgiving

Published: 2011-11-17 10:08:00  Updated: 2013-07-24 19:02:10

Author: J. Razzo's  ( view profile )

Whew what a wild 2 weeks

We have been open for 2 weeks now and things are going well. Business keeps on increasing daily and we are hearing great reviews.
It is wonderful seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Remmeber if you have any suggestions I would love to hear them.
Everyday brings a new adventure. What was once a large kitchen is now filled with equipment and workers. Seems everyday I need to add new tables or new storage containers.:) I am also having trouble getting some product in so please bear with me.
Beginning next week we will have daily lunch specials at a more than reasonable price.

Published: 2011-09-13 14:03:00  Updated: 2011-09-13 14:03:08

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Welcome to J. Razzo's Blog

J. Razzo's Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar will be opening Friday, August 26th, 2011 for dinner.  J. Razzo's is located at 12501 N. Meridian St., in Carmel, Indiana.  J. Razzo's can best be described as "Old World flavors in New World decor." Our emphasis is on quality, from buying only the best ingredients - domestic and imported - to serving you the best food at a reasonable price with friendly, attentive service.

Our sauces, dressings, and some of the pasta and breads are made fresh daily in  our kitchen.  We serve over 80 varieties of wines, many by the glass.  Our wines are reasonably priced and are carefully chosen to complement the food.                                

We are especially proud of our private room.  The room can seat up to 40 and is ideal for business meetings, birthday parties, rehearsal dinners and the like.  J. Razzo's offers carry out and catering for your special event.

Published: 2011-08-09 22:07:00  Updated: 2011-08-19 21:06:35

Author: J. Razzo's  ( view profile )

Call J. Razzo’s today for your business or special event catering needs.
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Gift cards are available for the holidays or special occassions.
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