You have probably already figured out that I love to eat, but food is so much more than ingredients and flavors feeding our bellies. Sometimes we seek flavor, and other times, we seek memories. We search for a restaurant to bring us back to our past. Maybe a dish reminds you of your grandmother’s, you had the same dish at your wedding, or you’re seeking comfort in certain flavors. When you visit Famiglia Italian American Cuisine at 740 W. Fire Tower Road in Winterville, you are gifted with great flavor that will take you back to whatever memory you seek.

They serve handcrafted Italian-American cuisine in an open bistro style atmosphere. “Famiglia” means family in Italian, and the quaint Italian phrase on their menu speaks to the food, atmosphere and welcoming owners and employees: “Abbandonati all’amore e alla Cucina,” which means “Love and cook with wild abandon.”

The restaurant was founded by Andrew Harris, John Furci and additional business partners who strive to bring your their home-grown recipes, a welcoming atmosphere and family feel. The Furci family heritage is from Calabria, in southwest Italy, and Sora, between Rome and Naples, so you are guaranteed to get a meal with authentic taste. “We’re dedicated to bring the legacy of home cooked Italian meals and love of new American traditions together at the dinner table. Every meal you eat at our restaurant comes from not only our Northern and Southern Italian heritage, but from our breadth of experiences — from Long Island, N.Y., all the way to Greenville,” owner Andrew Harris said.

Famiglia specializes in a variety of Italian and American bistro food including appetizers such as fried ravioli with homemade marinara, New York style brick oven pizzas, bountiful salads, hearty pasta dishes like Penne Alla Vodka, entrees such as chicken Marsala, and a build-your-own pasta dish. Even take a trip to dessert town with authentic Italian options such as Tiramisu, Cannoli, or maybe a divine chocolate Tuxedo cake.

Before we taste some culinary wonders, let’s have a drink and wind down our work clock. I started with a classic Cosmo made with vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice and lime juice garnished with a lemon peel and sliced lime wedge. The drink has a soft pink color but packs a vibrant, citrus flavor with a warming finish from the smooth vodka. Cosmos are only $5 on Tuesdays and a perfect choice any day of the week.

Now let’s dig into dinner with hand-cut prime pork chops. Start with two 10 ounce pork chops that have been lightly seasoned, grilled and then drizzled with a brown sugar and bourbon glaze. This was served with a side of balsamic glazed Brussel sprouts mixed with Pancetta. The pork chop duo was massive in size with nice height with an attractive glossy grill marks. They were tender and melted-in-the-mouth, and the bourbon brown sugar glaze added a bit of warm sweetness and made each bite super juicy. The Brussel sprouts had an earthy twang mixed with rich balsamic hues and a salty bacon flavored bite from the Pancetta.

Next, I tried a brick oven pizza. They are customer favorites and they serve a lot of pizzas every week. You can choose a classic pepperoni pizza or pick the toppings of your choice for a tailored pizza party. I tried the Grecian pizza made with hand kneaded dough. Start with a classic cheese pizza with handmade marinara topped with spinach, feta cheese, garlic, sliced tomatoes and whole Kalamata olives. This pizza was as pretty as an Italian Riviera postcard and had the perfect snap when you take your first bite. It had fresh vegetarian flavors from warm spinach, tangy feta, briny olives mixed with cool tomatoes, rich marinara, and salty Parmesan cheese. The flavors were in harmony and made for a delightful pizza.

No Famiglia family food tour would be complete without a comfort classic like Lasagna. Start with a homemade meat sauce, sweet Italian sausage, seasoned ground beef and a ricotta cheese mixture alternated between wide lasagna noodles, topped with mozzarella cheese and baked until the cheese is golden and bubbly on top. Lasagna is a traditional Italian dish that evokes warmth, comfort and family. It’s a perfect winter dish to warm you from first to last bite with a marriage of flavors in colorful layers of rich and savory. Add a glass of red wine, such as a Malbec with its black cherry notes and smooth finish, for a satisfying end to my Italian food tour.

Famiglia now has a large off-site location for catering and looks forward to catering your next wedding, business event or holiday party. They have the ability to cater for up to 250 people and can tailor menus to fit your specific needs from artful appetizer displays to plated meals, buffets and everything in between.

Famiglia is open Tuesday-Sunday 11 a.m.-9 p.m. They also offer daily specials. Tuesday is buy one, get one half-off on build your own pasta dishes and $5 martinis. Wednesday is half price wine by the glass or bottle and $5 off ribeyes. Thursday, enjoy $3.50 draft beers and kids eat free with a purchase of an adult entree (dine-in only). Friday, enjoy half price appetizers with a purchase of a bottle of wine. On Saturday enjoy $3 Mimosas, $4 Beermosas, $5 Bloody Mary’s, and from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., BOGO half off on 12-inch sandwiches. On Sunday don’t forget to come for brunch and enjoy their wide variety of breakfast favorites or buy one, get one half off on large pizzas. For more information or to make reservations call 252-689-6330, or check out their website, www.famiglianc.com.

Contact Bobby Burns at baburns@reflector.com and 329.9572.