For nearly a decade, Jacksonville and the surrounding communities have enjoyed the fresh and authentic Italian dishes served at Effina’s, A Tuscan Grill. A couple of years ago, owners Steven Landers and his wife Paige decided to expand their unique dining experience to Anniston by opening Effina’s Downtown on Noble Street.
At the beginning of 2017, Vicky Moore joined the team at Effina’s Downtown as Chef. Originally from Gadsden, Moore studied at Johnson and Wales University in Miami. After receiving her culinary degree, she moved to Greenville, SC and helped open The Lazy Goat, a Mediterranean-themed restaurant. Moore returned to the Gadsden area in 2013 and opened Velocity Food and Spirits.
Moore found her way to Effina’s Downtown in January 2017. She is the perfect fit for our beloved Italian restaurant, as much of her background is centered around Mediterranean foods.
Moore says she appreciates the focus on fresh ingredients that the food at Effina’s is centered around. “All of our produce is fresh. All of our salad mix, we cut it ourselves. We have that constant control over everything here,” she explained. Moore even makes her own pasta, a chore that she enjoys so much, she describes it as therapeutic.
Moore invited me to watch her prepare the dish, Chicken Piccata, along with a Caprese salad and talked me through the process.
She began by seering a chicken breast, adding capers as the chicken cooked. She then poured in white wine and chicken broth, which is made in house, and a squeeze of lemon juice. I learned this process of cooking is called braising, a method in which the meat is first seared and then covered at a lower temperature while sitting in liquid.
While the chicken was braising, I got a sneak peek at the homemade meatballs made at Effina’s as Moore rotated the pan in the oven. YUM!
Back to the Chicken Piccata. If you’re trying this at home, it’s important to note that Moore added additional chicken broth to the pan while the chicken cooked if the pan started to get dry.
Once the chicken was done, she placed it on the plate with fresh pasta and quickly added butter to pan to melt into the chicken broth/white wine/caper sauce. That mixture is then poured on top of the chicken and noodles.
Garnished with a little fresh parsley and a lemon and voila! you have Chicken Piccata.
While Moore was cooking, the kitchen staff continued on with their daily tasks such as chopping fresh lettuce, preparing sauces, and even placing a food order. Moore says food is delivered pretty much every day of the week, “That’s how we’re able to keep everything fresh.”
As I enjoyed my meal, Moore explained how she is constantly researching and doing “homework” to ensure that she is able to provide new and delicious specials daily. As we talked, Moore was unable to mask her passion and love for what she does.
If you haven’t dined at Effina’s Downtown, do yourself the favor and go. Enjoy a meal from Vicky Moore.