There are few things I love more than great food.

I love interesting dishes, and last night I found a new foodie fave.

I met up with a few of my girls last night at Nicchio Ristorante in Belmar (Wednesdays = half-priced wine list!) and they told me I had to try some of the Italian sushi as an appetizer.

Laurie Cataldo

I wasn't too excited at first...I was pretty sure I wouldn't be into it. (I LOVE regular sushi, and obviously I like Italian food, I just didn't think combining the two would end well.)

However, this is not like traditional Japanese sushi, most of them actually don't even have fish in them, let alone raw style.

We ordered two different versions last night, the main roll and the sweet & salty roll.

The biggest resemblance to the Asian counterpart is obviously visual.

The main roll looks just like a regular sushi roll. It's roasted red peppers and arugula surrounded with creamy risotto-style rice and 'wrapped' in roasted eggplant. Served with chopsticks, it comes with a side of perfectly seasoned pesto and a balsamic reduction to dip in, as if it were soy sauce and wasabi.

Super cute. But how does it taste? It's REALLY GOOD.

I was surprised by how much I liked it. It's all the great flavors I love about Italian food served up in an interesting way.

What I really loved was the sweet & salty roll. Rectangular chunks of watermelon wrapped in prosciutto with a bit of arugula and a strawberry vinaigrette on the plate.

It looked very similar to a sort of sashimi tower.

I didn't take a picture of it because I ate it all before I remembered. THAT good.

Mama C always puts salt on her watermelon, and it's said to bring out the sweetness of the fruit. The prosciutto accomplishes the same task. The strawberry vinaigrette was a nice addition, but I wound up eating most of the dish without the sauce.

Of course the rest of our meal was equally delicious -- almost as yummy as bartender Steve! (Sorry, Duzzy.)

What's one of your favorite dishes at the Jersey Shore?