Tag Archives: Pasta

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.

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

Las Vegas: Postrio

A recent weekend jetset to Vegas to celebrate the birthdays of two of my best friends (Mr. Aaron Hsu and www.zooshoo.com CEO, Jason Hsu) presented an opportunity to indulge in the fine cuisine Vegas had to offer. However, due to the sheer size of the party as well as other personal factors, finding a reservation for that perfect restaurant somehow always eluded us. However, we did manage to score a simple reservation at Wolfgang Puck’s casual bistro, Postrio. I’m not going to lie, the 20% off coupon for being a guest made the choice tremendously easier. The starter bread is paired with a nice olive tapenade. Simple, but refreshingly different. The Puree of Sweet Corn Soup with Roasted Corn and a Black Pepper Creme Fraiche, was thick and creamy. They could’ve just called it a creamed corn soup, because that’s all it was.As an appetizer I started with the Salt and Pepper Rock Calamari and Rock Shrimp which is married with Fresno Chilis and a Sweet Thai Chili Sauce. I would have to say that I do prefer the sweet and sour flavor profiles added by the Chili Sauce compared to your traditional marinara. However, maybe it was just me and the time I spent passing it around and trying to feed everyone got the dish cold, but it was actually pretty mundane. The other appetizer that was ordered was a Trio of Sausages with three different mustards served with Roasted Peppers and a Baby Mache. Maybe it’s because I haven’t developed a taste for fancy sausages yet, but I would take the sausages served with garlic gloves on the streets of Taiwan, over this, any day of the week. I did try a bite of everybody’s dish and I’m sorry if it got a bit excessive and intrusive. But I wanted to be a good little blogger and make sure I sampled everything before I critiqued it. The Fresh Linguini is served with a bed of Manila Clams and tossed with Garlic, Chili and Parsley. A very simple and clean dish. The linguini was cooked al dente, but I do prefer something that packs a bigger punch flavor-wise. The so called Housemade Scialatielli Pasta with Beef and Sausage Bolognese with Basil and shaved Pecorino Cheese, or as my friend called it, “Chef Boyarde,” was a simple meat sauce pasta with a jazzed up name. Although I am a sound epicure of a good bolognese, I did enjoy the linguini more this time. I do believe this is a half plate of the Seafood Bouillabaisse, which is basically a seafood stew. The dish is served with Tortelloni, Clams, Mussels, Calamari, Shrimp, Bay Scallops, and a pinch of Saffron. A bit salty, but hey, it is a taste of the ocean. A serving of the House Made Spinach Lasagna is doused in the same Beef and Sausage Bolognese as the pasta and paired with a nutty Parmigiano Reggiano. Although very similar to the bolognese, I would order this a million times over the regular pasta. Maybe it’s the fresh taste of the spinach , but it was actually a very simple yet delicious lasagna. The Atlantic Salmon is presented over a bed of Roasted Patty Pan Squash, some Fennel, and a warm Tomato Vinaigrette. Bland, bland, bland. But hey, that’s why you order salmon right? The salmon they serve at Whole Foods is a fraction of the price, take away the flair of the unique ingredients, and you’ll have yourself the same dish. I’m here to save you money people. Pesto Marinated Shrimp with Goat Cheese, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Rapini, and some fresh Basil. Sounds good right? Meh. The Steamed Black Mussels are cooked with a White Wine and Garlic, and served with a Giant Sourdough Brick with a layer of Bearnaise Sauce. The mussels were fresh and done cleanly, but the Sourdough Toast was just a joke with the heavy buttery bearnaise, unless your name is Paula Deen. Every bite resulted in taking a year off your lifespan. Next up, was a Pancetta Wrapped Meatloaf over a soft bed of Potato Puree and Mushroom Gravy while stacked high with Buttermilk Onion Rings. I’ve tasted cardboard that had more flavor than those onion rings. The meatloaf was far from spectacular as well.Finally comes my dish. The Alaskan Halibut with White Corn Succotash with Wild Mushrooms, Cherry Tomato Relish, and a Sweet Corn Nage. The actual Halibut was dry, but I guess that helped soak up the flavor from the Succotash, which I absolutely enjoyed. The dish was definitely a clean summer dish that was easy on the palette.

Postrio Scores:
Food: 7/10 –  The food here could honestly be characterized by one word, average.

Restaurant Environment: 8/10 – Being in the Grand Canal shops of the Venetian and that sense of a lighted open environment helped cast an illusion that we were dining outdoors at 3pm, when it was actually closer to 9.

Service: 7/10 – Maybe I enjoy being pampered in Vegas, but I didn’t even seem to notice the waiters, a bad thing? perhaps.

Value: 7/10 – At around $20 a dish, it’s a fair price to pay.

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