Mamma mia! Now, that was a meal to remember.

After sampling the tasty talents of Local Joe’s chefs JP Pendergrass and Ben Keener during the Farm to Table Dinner in Downtown Albertville, I decided I just had to see what flavorful delights they were offering at their monthly Chef’s Supper Club at Hammer’s Hall. And since September’s meal was a four-course presentation of Italy — Italian food is my weakness — I was extremely grateful to get an invite from the chefs.

The meal started out with a basket of bread, and there was a bit of seasoning in olive oil to dip the bread. And from there, it only got better. The first course was an antipasti plate that included olives and artichokes that were marinated to perfection. Actually, I think that was my first experience with artichokes, and now I’m definitely a fan.

Next up was beautifully plated braised beef and red pepper ragout on a polenta cake that was adorned with arugula. Each bite was like a warm hug from an Italian grandmother. It had the perfect amount of spice. The polenta cake had a flavorful cornbread texture, and you know we Southerners love that.

The next course was my personal favorite. It featured a mushroom ravioli with a sherry cream sauce. The ravioli was delectable, and it had a charming earthiness from the mushrooms inside it. And, that cream sauce was simply heaven.

For dessert, we had a lovely mascarpone and ricotta cheesecake. It had blueberries atop it. I’ve never had such a light and fluffy cheesecake in my life. To say it was scrumptious would be an understatement.

To Albertville Mayor Tracy Honea and his wife, I must say a big “grazie mille” for sharing the wine they brought from the Jules J. Berta Winery. Also, I want to send a “thanks a million” to the chefs for the exceptional meal. I can’t wait to see what’s on next month’s Chef’s Supper Club menu. I hear it’s going to be a presentation of German inspired food, and I’m stoked about that. So, let’s all make a reservation and be there to “prost” to sharing an amazing meal.

Nickie Simpson is a staff writer for The Reporter. She can be reached at

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