Globetrotting PalateBy Amy Becker Williams
Savor international cuisine in Ridgeland, Mississippi
Who knew that the fashionable town of Ridgeland, Mississippi, known for both its modern style and outdoor adventures, could also be touted as an international dining destination? Ridgeland is said to have more restaurants per capita than any other town in the state of Mississippi—with that designation comes food havens that tempt taste buds with international flavors.
In high school, I learned how to speak French and collected world maps. In college, I joined the International Club. But for the longest time, I never left the USA. Today, travel is my life. No matter where I venture, I intentionally seek out good food and almost always gravitate toward cuisine with an international flair. And yes, my quest for international cravings holds true when I visit my in-laws in the South, home of my favorite cheese grits. I was thrilled when I discovered high-quality international cuisine, specifically in Ridgeland.
Instead of crowding the house of our family, my husband and I prefer to stay at one of the outstanding lodging options within easy walking distance of local hotspots. Embassy Suites, Springhill Suites by Marriott and TownePlace Suites by Marriott are all at The Township at Colony Park. The nearby Hyatt Place Hotel at the Renaissance at Colony Park is another great choice.
Every time I step inside locally-owned Krilakis, the aroma of perfectly-seasoned lamb takes me back to my fabulous introduction to street-vendor gyros in Mykonos. My mouth waters every time I try to decide on which style to order, but I almost always go for the traditional lamb with garlicky tzatziki sauce. Krilakis’ laid-back atmosphere reminds me of the ease of the Greek isles themselves. Krilakis offers up salads and Greek hamburgers, too. Bring your own wine or beer and relax with friends for lunch or dinner.
I also enjoy an easy lunch or a nice dinner from Mediterranean Fish & Grill, where the menu covers all styles of Mediterranean cuisine from Lebanese to Greek. Mediterranean Fish & Grill not only serves up perfectly seasoned gyro sandwiches, but it has a variety of fish entrées, including a lightly pan-fried Mahi that is to die for. Lamb chops and New York strip shish kabobs are popular choices here as well.
If it’s Italy I’m ready to revisit, then Rossini Cucina Italiana makes the grade when I’m in Ridgeland. This family-owned and family-operated restaurant offers up a varied menu with delicious seafood pastas and tender filets, but I tend to order the same thing every visit—the “Feed Me Tony.” This is a no-stress order in which Chef Tony makes all the tough decisions, and I relax and savor from appetizer through dessert. Sometimes my table is graced with spicy, steamed mussels, Fettuccine Alfredo, and tiramisu; other times, I’m slicing into veal parmesan and later sliding my fork through moist triple chocolate mousse cake. The cozy atmosphere of Rossini has the casual, relaxed feel of Italy, where one can dine unhurried over dinner and a glass of wine.
When I want Asian food, I head to the hibachi grill at Kyoto Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar. The camaraderie of tablemates around the grill, personable wait staff, and lively show from the chefs give Kyoto its casual charm. Most importantly, it’s the food that keeps us coming back.
Japanese food has pulled on my heartstrings as well as my taste buds since I had it prepared for me as a child by our Japanese family friends. When at Kyoto, sweet memories of my friends flood back to me with the smells and flavors of their home country. If I don’t opt for my favorite hibachi chicken, grilled to perfection right in front of me, then I have a big decision to make between the rolls. Biggest contenders usually include Kyoto’s fresh California roll with crab and avocado or the shrimp tempura. My husband never has to worry about his decision, as he’s always satisfied with the tender New York steak and shrimp combo, seasoned with just the right amount of sauce and spices. Sake cheers for Kyoto!
Boccado’s International Cuisine tempts me with delights from the Caribbean locales of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, as well as diverse western European flavors from Spain and France. Boccado’s has a way of embracing innovative entrées, all while keeping it comforting. This international hotspot offers up refreshing fare from their own chef and guest chefs, in addition to tasty libations from Boccado’s mixologists. I tend to go for the crab cakes and a glass of mango sangria, but the seasonal fish entrées are a sure bet, especially when topped off with its hard to resist Dulce de Tomate en Almibar—a sweet, tangy, cheesy tomato-based dessert. Boccado’s serves up lunch, offers intimate dining, and even brings out the nightlife in posh style, especially when there’s a bit of Latin music filling the air.
For a place to practice my French and savor authentic French flavors, the father-daughter bistro Anjou hits the mark. Anjou’s romantic ambiance is understated, keeping it friendly and relaxing. Their service has always been on-point whether I’m enjoying a leisurely dinner of redfish and hollandaise sauce, a weekend brunch featuring French onion soup and frites, or just lingering over a glass of wine and escargot on the terrace overlooking the lake. Anjou brings me back to a comfortable French table full of flavor, topped off with a dash of Southern hospitality. A perfect combination.
Ridgeland is one lucky town to have such international culinary choices (and I’m a lucky girl because I get to visit so often!). Even though the city’s small, Ridgeland is big on fulfilling cravings for a global experience.