Angela Gargano comes from one of Madison's premiere Italian restaurant families, so she knows whereof she speaks. Professionally, her passion is yoga. That doesn't mean that she forgoes a good lunch, though.
Mad Town Lunch: Angela Gargano
Occupation: Owner, Bliss Flow Yoga. I also lead "Yoga and Wine" retreats and workshops globally.
Where do you work?: The near west side of Madison.
Foods you love: Where to begin? A fresh briny oyster with a glass of good champagne has to be one of life's great pleasures. Pistachio gelato has to be another. There also can't be many things better than a good plate of pasta cooked simply with fresh tomatoes, olive oil and basil. If I'm cooking at home I love a hearty stew that simmers on the stove for hours -- with a glass of red wine in hand. That's my ultimate winter comfort food. I also got really into Mexican food while out in Sonoma this past fall for the wine harvest. If you go, check out El Molino and get the chicken tamales with mole. I promise you won't want to come home!
Foods you prefer to avoid or won't eat: When it comes to food I'm pretty adventurous and will try just about anything. The only things I avoid are fast food, chain restaurants or anything overly processed.
Favorite places to eat lunch in Madison: I grew up in a restaurant family and it's always nice to see my family and grab a bite to eat at Gino's on State, Gino's Deli or Bellini Restaurant anytime of day. The Sicilian sub at Gino's Deli is delicious and a great quick lunch for when I'm on the go. Other favorites include Marigold Kitchen for its chile-braised chicken sandwich, Brasserie V for "moules et frites," Mediterranean Café for lamb shwarma, Kabul on State Street for dal with homemade flat bread and Sushi Muramoto for seaweed salad followed by black sesame ice cream for dessert. I also really enjoy Nostrano for a more elegant business lunch. Their handmade salumi and pastries are fabulous.
Fallback "go-to" lunch places: I am a huge fan of Lao Laan-Xang on Willy Street and could eat their spicy curry squash daily. I also really enjoy La Baguette on the west side -- especially the Mediterranean sandwich.
Favorite lunch dishes: Especially on a cold winter's day, you can't go wrong with a steaming bowl of beef pho from Saigon Noodles on the west side for $7.50. The smells of chili, basil and lime take me back to a wonderful trip to Vietnam a few years ago.
Now-defunct Madison restaurant you long to eat at again: That's easy. I would love to sit outside on the patio at my father's old restaurant, Peppino's, and have Lobster Livornese with a glass of bubbly while listening to Concerts on the Square.
If you could eat only on one side of town, which would you pick? The near east side. In addition to Lao Laan-Xang, I also like Umami for ramen and pork buns and Dobhan for lamb biryani. I tend to like small family-owned restaurants with interesting and delicious food and think this area has a lot of these hidden gems.
What's your # 1 food desire yet-to-be-fulfilled?: I would love to do a gastronomical tour of Japan someday -- visiting sake breweries, sampling sushi and learning more about Japanese cuisine. Two weeks in Burgundy dedicated to wine tasting and French country cuisine is also on my bucket list.
Finally... pupusas, or arepas? Pupusas.
Do you have a question to Isthmus readers about food?: Any suggestions on where to go for delicious and authentic Chinese food? I would love to find someone who does tofu and green beans in a black bean sauce. Does anyone know of someone in town who does this well?
Mad Town Lunch is a series devoted to finding out where all kinds of folks like to eat lunch in Madison. Do you eat lunch? Of course you do. If you'd like to be featured as a Mad Town Luncher, contact Linda Falkenstein.