“Operator, could you help us make this dinner reservation call, it seems the number on the match book is old and faded.”
Wednesday night was an epic night for the Food Adventure Crew.
As many of you know, tonight, Thursday June 13th, AJ Croce plays a free concert downtown at Levitt Pavilion. We were lucky enough to spend a couple hours with him and his band at Mamma DiSalvos Ristorante on Stroop Rd the evening before his concert. The result was great food, great vino and unforgettable conversation.
HERE’s THE SKINNY ON AJ CROCE:
A LESSON IN STRENGTH and PERSEVERANCE
First a little background on this jazzy piano player and guitarist. AJ has endured more tragedy than one should in a lifetime. You may know of his father, Jim Croce. A musician and guitar player from Philadelphia with #1 hits such at “Bad Leroy Brown” and “Operator (That’s Not the Way it Feels).” Jim was taken from this world in a plane crash in 1973, and our nation mourned his loss for weeks. AJ was just two years old when his dad passed away. Raised by his mom, AJ endured a temporary blinding illness as a child. He and his mom, Ingrid worked hard and thrived with 5 restaurants in San Diego. AJ practiced music, and eventually became a talented piano player, opening up for the likes of BB King. He got married and had two children. Sadly, in 2018 AJ’s wife passed away from a rare heart virus and again he was faced with tragedy. He has persevered, like he always does. AJ’s career includes 9 studio albums and 18 top 20 singles. And now he is on tour in 2019 with a stop here in Dayton,and at Kent State University next. His concert set promises to feature his songs, and songs made famous by his dear old dad.
Mamma DiSalvos was the perfect spot for dinner and foodie talk. AJ is Italian (Croce means “Cross” in Italian), as are the Food Adventure Crew of Jackie, the Big Ragu and Jessie (who was unable to make this dinner). It was like a family dinner for us all. As we sat down, we started to get to know AJ asking about his favorite foods as we always do with our guests. He loves seafood and vegetables. He says he really doesn’t eat much, but enjoys good healthy food and loves to cook at home as well. His home being raised in San Diego, but he has lived in Nashville for about a decade.
AJ CROCE’S FAVORITE FOOD TYPES:
DINNER at MAMMA DISALVOS:
A cheese pizza from Mamma’s kitchen was waiting for us as we sat down. It served as a welcoming appetizer for the band who had just flown in from California. Besides AJ, band members included David Barard, a grammy award winning bass player and pillar in New Orleans’ artist Dr. John’s band for 30 years. Also eating with us was Gary Mallabar, the drummer from the Steve Miller Band from 1976-1987. His beats were on many of their hit songs! Rounding out our group was Garrett Stoner, the Nashville recording artist and guitarist in the band.
As we ordered we all started with Italian wine or an Italian beer. We had Italian wedding soup, salad and bread. AJ ordered the linguine
and clams dinner, some sauteed vegetables, and a meatball in sauce. Jackie ordered Eggplant Rollitini, and Big Ragu ordered Eggplant Parm over spaghetti. The forks were flying, people loving their dishes. We then went wild …. on dessert. The whole group indulged in cannoli, tiramisu and lemocella with whipped cream. Forks and spoons were trying every dish and smiles and laughs ended the night. Mamma DiSalvos hit this one out of the park. AJ thought the tiramisu was to die for, but ate the cannoli too and ordered another cannoli to go … successful outing. We were all full and happy. Conversation and company was great. AJ is a virtual encyclopedia of the music industry, and well read citing historical and literary references throughout dinner. He is a sharp cookie, and you have to keep up with his sometimes obscure references, but what a joy he is to be around.
—BALTHAZAR in New York City:
A French restaurant known for fresh seafood and shellfish, as well as bread and pastries.
— THE RESTAURANTS in LA MAMOUNIA RESORT in Marrakech, Morocco:
A Moroccan, French and Italian restaurant are on site and a featured Sunday Brunch
—LOS PANCHOS in Hillcrest, California (San Diego):
Mexican Grill and Cantina
—LA CAMPANA in Rome, Italy
500 year old restaurant, making it the world’s oldest restaurant
He doesn’t remember the name of the cart, just that the food carts were amazing and served mostly vegetarian foods.
******AJ, What other favorites do you recommend?******
In his hometown of Nashville, he likes FIVE POINTS PIZZA the best.
He also suggests a French restaurant in Nashville called MARGOT CAFE and BAR.
He says JIM’S is best and yes, get the cheese whiz on the sandwich !
HOW TO FOLLOW and FIND AJ CROCE’S MUSIC:
— AJ CROCE ON TOUR –
Show at Dayton’s Levitt Pavilion on Thursday June 13th at 7pm – FREE ADMISSION
*** CATCH AJ IN CONCERT FOR FREE THURSDAY JUNE 13th, 7pm DOWNTOWN DAYTON at LEVITT PAVILION ! ***
We would like to thank Bobby DiSalvo and his staff at Mamma DiSalvos for handling our dinner reservation with excellence and class. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their meals. If you have not been to Mamma’s, then you are missing one of Dayton’s top MUST EATS !
Also, thank you to AJ Croce, his band, and his management for the opportunity to visit with him and talk food. We knew this would be an interview like no other he had before, and it turned out even better than expected. It was like a family dinner with old friends. It was simply an unforgettable Food Adventure.
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