Category Archives: Italian

Eataly

Let’s just get right to the point. Eataly is my Disneyland in New York. I can spend all day and night there and still long to go back the next day. I hate to put Batali and Bastianich on a high horse again, but they’ve done one hell of a job with Eataly. For those of you who are a bit lost, Eataly is a giant Italian goods purveyor. But in addition to the giant grocery store are seven small restaurants with their specialities, such as pizza and pasta, vegetables, seafood, and meat. This entry will focus on my journey into the Pasta region of the market.Let’s begin with what I personally believe is the best thing at Eataly. The Classic Mozzarella, which is made fresh daily and drizzled with sweet olive oil and served with a pinch of sea salt. The cheese itself is buttery soft and has a mild flavor, and once everything is paired together, it’s ethereal. This dish certainly fuels my new mantra of simplicity is best. Next up we have a Butternut Squash Lasagna. Let me take this time to rephrase my mantra, simplicity done right is best. Although the lasagna was fairly simple, there certainly wasn’t a wow factor associated with it. It just felt like the butternut squash lasagnas I’ve gotten at other markets i.e. Whole foods (at half the price too).Finally we have the Paccheri al Sugo di Mare or known as the seafood pasta. When described, Pasta cooked al dente poured over with a flavor filled red sauced infused with a seafood medley of Mussels, Clams, Shrimp and Calamari, sounds heavenly doesn’t it? Now I normally love al dente pastas, but this was barely cooked. And like the lasagna, it just wasn’t a dish I fell in love with.

Even though the entrees were a bit disappointing, you can always make it up with.Gelato!! The bottom was a Pistachio and a Sweet Cream, while the sneaky one at the top was Green Apple.

Next time you visit Eataly, just visit the Crudo bar and order a glass of rosé, some prosciutto and mozarella, along with a few oysters. It’s my new favorite pastime.

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Osteria Mozza

Sorry for the delay guys! As many of you know, my life has been hectic these past few days after getting employed in the restaurant industry. The past few weeks I’ve been on some crazy dining journeys so hopefully I’ll be able to share them with you when I have time.

After hearing about Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s notorious success (questionable New York Times’ 4-star rating) at New York based Del Posto. I had to see what all the fuss was about, so I decided to sample their fare at the sister restaurant Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles. On a side note, even though we showed up promptly for our reservation, we were not seated until after a 30 minute wait. Tsk tsk

Even on a random Monday evening at around 9:30pm, the restaurant is still at full capacity and hustling. We elected to sample the Pasta Tasting Menu. Unfortunately for us we came in on a Monday which happened to be Meatless Monday.The meal started off with an amuse bouche of a Goat Cheese Spread and an Olive Tapenade over a crunchy baguette with basil. A great simple light starter with an intense kick from the olives. I’m not a huge fan of olives, but the dish was certainly delightful.The bread is just your average Joe Schmo bread, a bit unimpressed.The first dish was a Coach Farm Goat Cheese Ravioli with Five Lilies. The raviolis were light and delicate, and the smooth flavor of the goat cheese helped round it out (pun intended). Next, a Farfalle with Chanterelles e Noci. To me, it was a bit bland. I don’t think mushroom based pastas run well with me. A Butternut Squash Mezzalune with Amaretti was up next. The mezzalune filled with butternut squash itself was pretty amazing, but then it actually got ruined with the amaretti topping. Now usually I love contrasting flavors and textures, but the sweetness of the amaretti was absolute overkill, this could’ve well been a dessert. My friend actually aptly named this “butterscotch” instead of butternut squash. Batting clean up on the menu was a Gnocchi al Pomodoro with Basil e Ricotta al Forno. Although the dish was remarkably simple, it felt like I was biting into morsels of heaven after the disaster of a dish before. But honestly, now that I think about it, gnocchi and pomodoro sauce? Let’s get creative!Out of the pastas, this final one was my absolute favorite. A Corzetti Stampati with Eggplant, Olives, and Fresh Ricotta. To me, a pasta should be hearty and robust and topped with plenty of cheese. Even though I direly craved meat, the eggplant was a welcome substitute. I’m pretty sure I wolfed this bad boy down and then that of my partners. A quick side story, since our meal was taking a while and actually getting late (close to midnight), we had asked our server to see if they could just present us with the dishes so we can quickly eat and leave. This bad boy scoop of sorbet took them a whole 12 minutes to plate up. Back to the dish. As an intermezzo, we were served a Sorbetto di Coconut, which was topped with a piece of dried pineapple. It was sharp and refreshing and served its purpose as a palate cleanser. Finally for dessert, Rosemary Olive Oil cakes with Olive Oil Gelato. I am in love with Olive Oil Ice Cream, but the cakes which to me should be served warm, were actually cool. The rosemary laced candied sugar was phenomenal.

Osteria Mozza Scores:
Food: 8/10 – Although the meal overall was a success, there were a few standout dishes that I preferred to have substituted.

Restaurant Environment: 7/10 – A great open feel, and a few “unique” diners (such as a man reiterating that he would die if a peanut got close to him) added to the flair.

Service: 4/10 – I did expect more in this department, but sitting us 30 minutes after our reservation, and even asking to have our dishes sped up, serving it to us at a snail’s pace was just ridiculous.

Value: 6/10 – For $69, the pasta tasting isn’t a bank breaker, but no meat? Come on..

Overall: 7/10

Bottega Louie

Bottega Louie at Downtown Los Angeles. By the way, do not enter the parking garage before 3:00pm. They’ll charge you $4 per 15 minutes instead of the $5 flat rate advertised price.Colorful Macaroons inside the marketplaceDining RoomComplimentary artisanal bread and butterHalf size of the Louie Salad – Iceberg Lettuce, Jumbo Shrimp, Hearts of Palm, Avocado, Sweet Onions, Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, and Dijon VinaigrettePortobello Fries with Garlic and Herb AioliBurrata Pizza with fresh Burrata, Prosciutto, Rapini, and Granna ParmesanPappardelle – Mushroom and Foie Gras Duxelle

Bottega Louie Scores:
Food: 6/10 –  Despite a unique and delicious Portobello Fries, I’ve experience more flavor chewing cardboard than the Pappardelle and the bitter rapini in the Burrata Pizza caused me to shove my plate away.

Restaurant Environment: 8/10 – A large open seating area and a marketplace displaying colorful macaroons upon entry give the restaurant its charm.

Service: 8.5/10 – Our portions were pre-divided in half without us asking, a small attention to detail that allows you to enjoy your dining experience.

Value: 8.5/10 – With everything priced around $12, it’s well within many’s price range.

Overall: 7/10

Basta Pasta!

After months of planning, and hearing numerous great things about Basta Pasta; my friends and I were finally able to get a dinner reservation for Sunday (it was tremendously difficult to get a Fri/Sat dinner reservations). The restaurant/food itself is very appealing. Serving a full range of traditional hearty Italian dishes, prepared in a meticulous Japanese style.

Any how, upon walking into Basta Pasta you notice that it doesn’t have quite the same New York restaurant feel to it. There’s actually light! The fast-paced, independent New York attitude is substituted with warm calm laughter of people in good company. When you look across the room, you see a crowd that is predominately Asian. What’s also interesting is that I seem to have noticed that the majority of the diners were older – around the same age as my parents. This was a shock to me, especially knowing my parents; who possess a very conservative Chinese palate. Always thinking Italian food is too cheesy, too greasy, too oily, etc.

The sign that greets you when you first enter Basta Pasta.

Morgue like storage doors line the entrance around the bar.

Seeing this wheel of cheese left me in a state of ecstasy. Excuse the cliche, but I was like a kid on Christmas day.

Why hello there. You’re such a tease. Disclaimer : I’m talking about the cheese wheel not the girl

The daily specials at Basta Pasta.Asian inspired Decor.

Some white wine before the meal.

Amuse Bouche – Marscapone/Goat Cheese spread over Baguette

We were given a wide assortment of delicious bread, paired with a fruity Olive Oil. The bread sticks were simply phenomenal.Pesce Crudo – Australian Yellowtail Carpaccio with Lime Wasabi, Sliced Radishes, and Apple Chutney.Insalata D’Anatra – Applewood Smoked Sliced Duck Breast with Watercress and Arugula Salad. Absolutely delicious, some of the best prepared duck that I’ve ever had.

Risotto con Gamberi e Funghi – Risotto with Shrimp and 3 kinds of MushroomsPreparing a dish tableside by tossing warm pasta and cream sauce in a Parmesan wheel and then topping with freshly sliced Prosciutto.Spaghetti con Prosciutto e Parmigiano – Spaghetti with Parmigiano Reggiano and Parma Prosciutto Spaghetti ai Ricci di Mare – Spaghetti with fresh Sea Urchin, Serrano Peppers, Fresh Tomatoes and Basil in Garlic Oil

Basta Pasta Original Tiramisu

Instead of getting 3 individual entrees, we all decided to share; making it a small pasta tasting menu. Along with my friend, I wish they seasoned the pasta a little better with more pepper and a pinch of salt. Besides that, all the dishes were well prepared and creative paired with great service.

Basta Pasta Scores:

Food: 8.5/10

Restaurant Environment: 8.5/10

Service: 9/10

Overall: 8.5/10

Welcome to my new food blog! Minetta Tavern.

First off, I’d like to thank those that motivated me to get this thing done. Hopefully, I can get this blog to thrive and survive and morph into something that I can be proud of. This is dedicated to all my friends and family that have been there from the start. I truly hope you guys enjoy it.

My first entry is going to be a review of one of my favorite restaurants since I moved to New York City.

MINETTA TAVERN.

I’ve already wrote an extensive review on Yelp, which you can find here.

But since that review, I’ve probably gone back around 3-4 times and each time had been a different pleasurable experience. Which is why Minetta is ranked as one of my all time fave restaurants. Taking pictures at this vintage-esque restaurant proved to be quite difficult; but I tried to manage with whatever light I had.

Located in the heart of Greenwich Village; surrounded by local dive bars where NYU students go to, well act like college students; you’ll find a charming little restaurant that has more of a speak-easy feel than those gaudy Midtown restaurants. As soon as I step in, I find myself planted on one of the barstools soaking in the comedic performance by the satirical bartenders.

“whadayahave?”said one of the bartenders, trying to be smooth I respond “the usual.” I receive a slight snicker for my efforts. I order a Murray Sour.

Murray Sour - Yamazaki 12 Year Whiskey, cardamon infused Agave Nectar, Fresh Orange and Lemon.

A surprisingly smooth full flavored drink. As with many whiskey based drinks; there’s always the lingering fear of the overpowering whiskey dominating the drink. However, with the Murray Sour – the drink is so perfectly blended that the harshness of the whiskey is eased and mellowed out.

Almost done with our drinks; we place our order.

First round of appetizers appear:

Roasted Bone Marrow with Baguette Soldiers and Shallot Confit

Oxtail and Foie Gras Terrine with Poached Leeks

Tartare Goutez - Veal with Black Truffle, Lamb with Argan Oil, olives and mint, and Beef with Mustard and Cornichons.

You would expect the “hors d’oeuvres” to set you back a pretty penny. However, each dish is roughly $18; a value price to pay considering the price of the restaurants main star entree. The Black Label Burger ($26).

Black Label Burger - Selection of prime dry-aged beef cuts with caramelized onions and pommes frites

Paired with the highly sought after pommes frites from Balthazar; the Black Label Burger is the epitome of burgers. The construction of this masterpiece can be found here (A Hamburger Today).

You can also try Minetta Tavern’s other delicious entrees, but make sure you pair it with the Black Label

Bone In New York Strip Steak with Black Label Burger

If you’re lucky enough to get a reservation at Minetta Tavern; I highly recommend going. Rumors are that you have to make reservations 3 months in advance; however they only accept reservations 1 month in advance – go figure. If you want to get a shot at the best burger in the world; I recommend coming before the dinner rush (before 6:00-6:30). You won’t be disappointed.