Showing posts with label pasta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pasta. Show all posts

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Pasta and More at Testa in DTLA (Los Angeles, CA)

I've been seeing photos of this one uni pasta dish from a new restaurant in downtown LA called Testa. I saw it on all the LA bloggers' feed that I just had to go try it! After all, I absolutely love uni.
I was invited to dinner at Testa, so of course I jumped on the chance.

We started dinner with some Hamachi crudo, orange conserva, champagne vinaigrette, yuzu kosho, fried shallot
Testa
This was a great start to our meal. The garnish did not overpower the delicate hamachi.

Our next appetizer is a heavier dish, that I had to order because I'm a corn fiend.
Crispy polenta, roasted yellow corn, shallots, garlic, tomatillo poblano, spiced aioli, cotija cheese ($12)
Testa
Bold flavors paired with this crispy polenta dish. A very satisfying and comforting plate and a fun fusion of Mexican street corn /elote with the Italian polenta.

Next is what we came for: Spaghettini, sea urchin, katsuobushi dashi ($23)
Testa

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Meal Kits On the Go from Pantry (Brookline, Boston, MA)

I'm a fan of the meal or recipe kit delivery services (I reviewed a lot of them here), but sometimes I feel like they send too much food/ too many kits at once for my personal schedule (I go out to eat a lot - obviously), or some services don't let you pick what you want, or some days you want to cook but don't have any kit left. That's why I think a concept like the newly opened Pantry in Brookline is a great idea.

Pantry
Pantry sells recipe / meal kits, as you can imagine, but they sell them at a physical location. Right now, they only have one store in Brookline.
Pantry
At Pantry, you can choose what you want from a collection of recipes (they have 11 now and working their way to 20) and each one is priced depending on the ingredients (ranging from $16-21 for meals for two people). Want steak? Fish? Salads? Desserts? They have it all. I like how the store is set up, too, as you can browse the recipes and see the ingredients. They do a lot of recipe development, as well, so you can be confident you're getting a delicious meal with seasonal ingredients.
Pantry

Friday, August 7, 2015

Forma Restaurant: A Cheese Lover's Heaven (Santa Monica, CA)

Do you love cheese? If your answer is yes, then you need to head to the new Forma in Santa Monica right away. "Forma" is what they call a cheese wheel, and this restaurant boasts four different dalla forma pasta preparations, which means that the pasta is finished off in the cheese wheel. Four different pastas, four different cheese wheels.

Forma

The dalla forma pasta is not the only cheesy goodness you can get here, though.
Try the Filet Mignon Tartare with avocado, Fresno chile pepper, capers, shallot, parmigiano, grilled bread ($16)
Forma
The tartare is topped with freshly shaved raspadura cheese. This is a traditional cheese of Lodi. It's actually a Bella Lodi cheese that's not fully mature, and it's shaved using a special knife that bends, shown below.
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The overall effect of the bite of tartare, combined with the avocado, cheese, and grilled bread? Perfect.

Forma also has a cheese bar featuring 36 different cheeses. The best part? You don't have to get a cheese platter, but you can actually order each cheese individually, so you can create your own platter, or just get the one you really want to try.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Ribelle (Boston, MA)

Trying to find all the best restaurants in Boston, I jumped at a Gilt City deal for a tasting menu at Ribelle in Brookline. Ribelle is a small restaurant by chef Tim Maslow, a Momofuku alum. By the way, if you've never bought any voucher from Gilt City, you can get 25% off your first purchase using this link.

While waiting for my friends to arrive, I spent time at the bar with the Hip Replacement (Laphroaig, lime, salt, burnt cinnamon, $13), a nice cocktail with plenty of the components I like: smoke and citrus.

Ribelle

Our dinner started strong with some South Bay Blonde oysters with shiso ice. I'm really digging the briny East Coast oysters and these sweet oysters from Cape Cod are no exception.
Ribelle

We had a wonderful salad of Macoun apples, stracciatella, mustard frill, nori.
Ribelle
I can't think of a time I've had apples better and sweeter than these so I had to look them up. The macoun apple is a Fall fruit (yes, I'm behind on blogging and I had this meal in the fall) and is known to be especially sweet and juicy. It really was sweet and paired so well with the creaminess of the stracciatella.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Rino's Place, Old School Italian Gem in East Boston

Food-wise, it seems that people travel to East Boston for two reasons: Santarpio's and Rino's Place. They've both been institutions in what is called Eastie (Rino's Place has been around for about 25 years). The wait at Rino's Place can get so long that they opened a bar/cafe across the street called Prima E Dopo (which means Before and After) that they suggest people go while waiting. I purposefully came at an odd hour, around 3:30pm to avoid both the lunch and dinner crowds. I got seated immediately but the restaurant was still more than half full.

Layered eggplant with mozzarella and creamy pesto sauce. You can order half or a full order. The half is already plenty and is only $6.

Eggplant
Eggplant parmigiana is one of my favorite comfort food and I knew I was going to like this variation since I love pesto. I was right and I had to stop myself from devouring the entire thing since I still had another dish coming.

I came for this: the housemade ravioli filled with ricotta cheese. This dish is nominated for Best Pasta for the upcoming Chowzter North American awards. (A similar dish but stuffed with both lobster and ricotta has been featured on Food Network).
Rino's Place

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Lunch Prix Fixe at Mario Batali's Del Posto (New York, NY)

One of the things I love about New York is the lunch prix fixes, allowing you to try some of the city's best restaurants for a lot less money. When I went with my mom and my aunt last time, we tried Del Posto's lunch: $49 for three courses (with an option to add pasta for $10). With three of us, we got to try a lot of things!

The lunch started with some complimentary finger sandwiches and Cauliflower soup

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Bread service
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The menu at Del Posto is seasonal, of course, though you might still find some mainstays like this
Vitello Tonnato (olive crostone, caper shoots, lime cells, lemon basil)
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Vitello tonnato is a Piedmontese dish of veal slices served in a creamy tuna sauce.

Cotechino (stewed pistachios, chopped Preboggion - that's just mixed green leafy vegetables)
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Cotechino is a pork sausage, but the distinction is that this pork sausage is typically made by boiling over low heat for a few hours. It gives a softer flavor than many other charcuterie.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Coppa (Boston, MA)

Among the Boston restaurant that my LA friends recommended to me was Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette's Coppa. Chef Jamie Bissonnette won the James Beard award for Best Chef in the Northeast region this year. I was pretty excited to try this place and it didn't disappoint.

Coppa was smaller and more casual than I had expected; a cozy enoteca in the South End with reasonable prices.

I started with the Sea urchin panino with lonza and mustard seeds

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Even though the uni flavor wasn't that strong here, I loved it nonetheless since it worked nicely with the lonza (cured pork tenderloin, also known as lomo) sandwiched between thin, crunchy bread.

This was followed up by the Beef heart pastrami crostini
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It did not taste as offal-y or gamy as I had expected, but it was tender and flavorful.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Il Piccolo Verde (Brentwood)

With the rise of inventive and off-the-wall menus these days, we sometimes forget how good how good old school cooking is - like classic Italian, for example. At Il Piccolo Verde, a cute, small, Italian place in Brentwood, I was recently reminded of it.

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The Baked eggplant parmigiana is a bit different, since it is stuffed with zucchini ($12)
Eggplant Parmigiano
There's an old school wood fired pizza oven here.
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We tried the Pizza Napoletana, topped with tomato sauce, fresh burrata, and basil
Pizza

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Factory Kitchen: A Strong Italian Contender in Downtown LA

I've had many good meals, but every once in a while, one stands out above the rest. This was my experience at The Factory Kitchen, which opened up in downtown LA recently. I didn't know much about it before, so I was quite surprised, but I really should've heard more. The chef, Angelo Auriana, was the executive chef at Valentino for 18 years before moving to Farina in San Francisco. The manager, Matteo Ferdinandi, was a business partner of Celestino Drago. Both of them are the epitome of Italian hospitality.

Because of the name, I was expecting a small restaurant, but the large dining room is simple but elegant.

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 The bar is headed by Karl Steuck, who was previously at Writer's Room and Hatfield's.
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I tasted another writer's Urban Cowboy (bacanora, cochhi americano, grapefruit, lime, sage honey - $10)
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Bacanora is a rare find in the US, and I love how he used it in this cocktail.
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I ordered the Soon To Be Divorced (tequila, campari, lime, agave, thyme - $10). I've never had tequila and campari together, but this was very drinkable with the lovely thyme aroma. Other than these seasonal drinks, Karl has a short list of classics as well.

For the wines, Francine Diamond Ferdinandi, who's worked at Gramercy Tavern and Spago, has created a small but impressive wine list. We left it to her to choose our wines and so should you.

Be sure to get the Prosciutto, which came in an unexpected form. 24 months Parma prosciutto is served atop a lightly fried sage dough, with some stracciatella in the middle ($18)
Prosciutto

Barberosse Gratinate: oven baked sliced beet casserole with melted Asiago ($10)
Beet casserole
It may sound strange at first, but the beet slices actually make a great vehicle for the melted cheese.
Pancotto (farmer's duck egg, red potato vellutata, sauteed greens, semolina bread crostone - $9)
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Rather than pizza, The Factory Kitchen serves Focaccina calda di recco al formaggio, a thin focaccio crust. We liked both the traditional (with Ligurian olive oil) and Cotto (crescenza, cotto ham, rosemary - $17)
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The focaccina is stuffed with crescenza cheese which was creamy but light. 

Now, the pasta. Handmade pasta is one of my favorite things in the world and there's one pasta dish here that blows the rest away. It is the Mandilli de Seta (handkerchief pasta, Ligurian almond basil pesto, fiore sardo - $19)
Almond Pesto
This... This was outstanding. It's the dish that makes the entire table fall silent. So simple yet from the silky handmade pasta to the beautifully subdued pesto that covers it. This is a dish that you dream about days after eating it. It was heavenly paired with the white wine that Francine had chosen.

Pappardelle (taggia olives speckled pasta, duckling ragu, Italian parsley - $19)
Pasta
This is also a wonderful pappardelle, although it was difficult for me to go to other pasta after the previous one. I usually like pappardelle with meat ragu so I'm going to have to eat this again another time before the mandilli di seta.

Porchetta (rolled pork belly, red onion, carrots, fennel celery - $24)
Porchetta
This porchetta is one of the best I've tried in recent memory. The richness and fattiness doesn't overwhelm, it's tender and flavorful.

Anatra (duck breast, huckleberry, romanesco, broccoli di cicco - $26)
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The duck breast was excellent, but it's the leg confit that everyone fights over!

If you want something lighter, the dentice (pan seared tai snapper) is perfectly prepared.
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I had to try one more drink. The Backyard Boogie (Templeton rye, root, fennel, absinthe mist, orange oil - $10) is perfect for those who prefer stronger, more aromatic cocktails.
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For dessert, you can't miss the cannoli. We saw them make the cannoli shells earlier that night.
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Perhaps it was the orange marmalade on one end, or the pistachio on the other, but this ricotta-filled cannoli was simply the best I've had.
Cannoli


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Chef Angelo Auriana
I hadn't heard much about The Factory Kitchen prior to coming in, so I came in with no expectation and was wowed. I wasn't eating out when Chef Auriana was helming Valentino, so I never knew what it was like, but I'm glad he decided to return to Los Angeles with The Factory Kitchen.

The Factory Kitchen
1300 Factory Place #101
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 996-6000
http://thefactorykitchen.com/
The Factory Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Handmade Pastas and Charcuterie at Desco (Oakland, CA)

Desco is a gorgeous new restaurant in Oakland from Donato Scotti who owns Donato Enoteco in Redwood City, serving house made charcuterie and pastas.

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Desco's bright and spacious dining room

I had dinner there with a couple of vegetarian friends, but I indulged in plenty of meat on my own. I started with a platter of three house-made charcuterie that seemed to be much more reasonable than the ones I find in LA. The Piatto della casa (smoked duck, lamb prosciutto, rabbit terrine ) is only $10
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It's quite the charcuterie plate for $10! The lamb prosciutto was aged for 3 months and the rabbit terrine was drizzled with extra vecchio (extra old) balsamico.

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There's a small list of classic cocktails ($10 each), but they're made well and included drinks like Pegu Club. The Old Fashioned was quite nice and they have a good selection of gin and whisky.


The thing you must get here is the handmade Casonsei ($12). Casonsei is a type of filled pasta from Bergamo in Lombardi region, where the chef is from. It is filled with pork and amaretto cookie crumbs, then topped with brown butter and guanciale. 
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I absolutely loved it. The pasta had very nice thickness and texture. The pork inside is very tender, perfect with the crispy guanciale. This pasta was so delicious, I couldn't stop eating despite having another entree coming ..

Friday, August 2, 2013

$45 4-Course Menu at Scarpetta, Every Day

Were you excited about Scarpetta's $45 DineLA menu? Are you bummed you missed it? If you answer yes to either of those, you might want to know that Scarpetta's had a $45 4-course prix fixe menu for a while now and is continuing it after DineLA.


I'll say it again: you can get a 4 course meal at Scarpetta for $45 any day.

All meals start with a bread basket that many consider to be the best in LA. Do try the Stromboli (they have a vegetarian version with broccolini which is equally delicious).
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Now, on to the prix fixe menu. There are two options for each course, which will change seasonally. When I went last month the first course option included:
Tuscan Kale, red quinoa, medjool dates, and pecorino romano
Kale
It's hard to beat a well done kale salad, and this is definitely one of them.

The other options is a Braised Short Rib of Beef, vegetable, and farro risotto
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It's certainly a heavier appetizer, but they were both good and will satisfy whichever mood you're in.

The second course is the pasta, or "Paste":
Spinach Pappardelle, housemade duck sausage ragu, morel mushrooms, and ramps
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