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Found 331 results

  1. Fantastic dinner last night at Coltivare in The Heights neighborhood. The Heights is a historic neighborhood North of downtown that has been described as a "small town in the city," and "Houston's 1st suburb," having been founded in the late 1800s. When one wanders around amidst the Craftsmen bungalows and Victorian homes up there, it is certainly easy to forget you're in the belly of the sprawling beast that is Houston. Coltivare opened about 2 and a half years ago to pretty universal acclaim, and is still listed in the Top 10 restaurants in Houston by the Chronicle. Last night around 7:30 the place was packed, and we were quoted an hour to hour and a half wait time. They take your number and text when your table is ready. There is an outdoor area for waiting with waiter service for cocktails, wine, and beer, but being new to the area, we strolled down White Oak to browse a record store, and grab a beer at the nearby Onion Creek. Just under an hour later, our table was ready. My impression of Cotivare from reading around was of a pizzeria that used seasonal ingredients and fresh vegetables from their onsite garden (kind of like Roberta's in Brooklyn). Our experience last night proves it is much more. The menu is broken into several sections (Snacks, Salumi, Salads, Small Plates, Pizza, Pasta, and Entrees). With the number of options in the snack/small plate section, you could definitely put together a great meal without even looking at pizzas or mains. We started with 2 snacks and a selection from the salumi section. Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto was exactly that. A bowl of raw sliced heirloom carrot sticks from the garden with a dish of spicy pesto for dipping. Simple and delicious. Arancini were fist-sized, perfectly fried, and oozing with cheese. These were served with a fresh pea salsa verde that cut through the richness well with a brightness and slight earthiness from the peas. Bruschetta came with a schmear of Nduja, topped with greens from the garden (arugula I think), and drizzled with local honey. These were absolutely delicious, and something I would order over and over. Next was a golden beet agnolotti with an assortment of vegetables all cooked to a perfect crisp tender. The fresh pasta was delicious, and while fresh, retained just a bit of chewiness that complimented the vegetables. As my wife said "If all vegetables could be so lucky to be cooked so well." The pizza completely blew me away. Brussels sprouts, butternut squash puree (in lieu of a tomato sauce), pancetta, pickled shallots, red chiles, and delicious, face-melting Taleggio cheese. The crust on the pizza was unlike any crust I am used to. It was crispy throughout, but soft. Very little chew. The cornicione almost looked like brioche as opposed to the blistered, leopard spots of a Neapolitan pie. I don't know if my description is doing it justice, but it was amazing. Maybe it's a sign of the bounty of great Neapolitan pizza in NY and DC, but I am glad they are putting out something different at Coltivare that can really stand out. We had a great 2011 Scarzello Barbera D'Alba with all of the above. There was a great looking cocktail menu (all at $11) that we didn't explore this time. Although we were stuffed, we soldiered on and finished with an Olive Oil Cake with bourbon, Luxardo gastrique, and grapefruit. This was a delicious riff on the Old Fashioned cocktail that came together as advertised. We will be back, and I would urge folks visiting Houston to check it out next time you're there.
  2. Fireflies in Del Ray for a late dinner of pizza and a glass of wine. The pizza was really very good. The crust was just right - tender, nice crunch, not soggy at all. I had the pepperoni, sausage and mushroom version, but I like the Cheesetique one as well. Plus the new bar is open and they had live music.
  3. Kriedl sold Cafe Tirolo about a year ago. I tried it once a month later and it was okay (certainly better than Cafe Monti). But I haven't been to Cafe Tirolo lately.
  4. Next time, if you are as far north as Sherman Oaks, consider driving about a half an hour further up 101 to Thousand Oaks and going to Marcello Ristorante (140 W Hillcrest Dr., 805-371-4367) for their Ravioli de Zucca.
  5. Recently, I had a very bad experience with a professional group dinner at Ristorante La Perla of Washington. Despite repeated attempts to address the issues during dinner, there was poor to simply inadequate service. We had pre-set menus. In theory, everything should have been seamless. However, it was miserable! Some people received salads; some people didn't. A bread basket was placed on only one side of a very large table when there should have been one bread basket on each side of a round table. Servers were surly at best and seemed as though our party was an after thought despite the fact that our dinner had been planned months in advance. Oh, and the worst of all, a guest at one of our tables was a mindful eater. Rather than ask if the guest was finished with their plate, the server picked up the guest's plate - still half full of food - and promptly placed another plate on top mashing the food down. This act prevented the guest from asking for a 'doggie bag'. The first time my organization had a group dinner at Ristorante La Perla of Washington, all aspects of the dinner from service to food were outstanding. Therefore, we made plans to return a few months later. Needless to say, we will not be booking a group dinner at Ristorante La Perla again and will definitely advise others not to think of dining there. Does anyone know if there is a problem between the FOH and the Chef/Owner? It seems as though there are signs of a major calamity in progress. The decline in service, in less than 6 months time, is stunning. There are many other options, but we like to develop a rapport with restaurants and become regular customers. The location of La Perla is very convenient, but we will travel to experience good service and food. Washington has plenty of Italian restaurants to choose from and we are giving up on this old guard restaurant. Does anyone have recommendations for Italian restaurants in DC where group dining is a wonderful experience? Thanks for all recommendations.
  6. My wife and I stopped by last night to this bright, airy restaurant after spending 6 hours on I-95. It was our first time and we were really in the mood for some comfort food. We know Carlos and Erin from their time at Boundary Road, and we were overdue to say hi. Erin was behind the Passenger stick in its closing year, and the Bamboo cocktail ($10) I ordered was a very nice version, served with an olive. The glassware there is stylish, from the coupes to the 3 Stars snifter that contained my 3 Stars Farmhouse Ale. I closed with a glass of Touriga Nacionale rose, I haven't had one in a long time. For starters, we split a small Chef's Board ($16), featuring gigante beans, eggplant, marinated olives, house-made ricotta, and two other cheeses and two other meats I can't recall right now. Straightforward and delicious. We split a bowl of house-made pappardelle with pork sugo, parmesan and preserved lemon and moderately spicy ($15) along with a side of cauliflower ($6) and blistered shishito peppers ($7). The pasta was paper thin, delicate, and absolutely delicious -- exactly the comfort food we were looking for. I prefer this dish to the pasta that I've had at the Red Hen. My wife loved the cauliflower, and I FINALLY, after ordering the shishito peppers at a variety of places around town (I've had about 80 of them), ate a pepper that was actually spicy! For dessert, we split a pistachio custard topped with whipped cream and served with a chocolate-chocolate chip cookie. Nicely done! For folks who live in Brookland, Woodbridge, or Hyattsville, I can't imagine having a better local option. Atmosphere is unpretentious and cheerful, and looks to be family friendly. Downstairs is additional seating and another bar, for a quieter, more atmospheric couples night. Next time we will come with some friends and split the Tuscan-Style bone-in steak!
  7. I have never been to Carraba's and after reading this thread will ikely never go, but I have a funny Olive Garden story. Every year for Christmas my aunt, whom I adore, gives me an Olive Garden gift card (which I don't). My family lost our home in a fire last year, and even my Calphalon and Le Creuset cookware was destroyed - but what survived? You got it - those 3 Olive Garden gift cards were still clinging to the kitchen bulletin board. After that, my kids decided we had no choice but to use them. We ordered many different things to try, none of which we can recall, handed the 3 cards to the waitress, and she returned and announced that we still had $42 remaining. Anyone want a smoky $42 Olive Garden gift card? We continue to seek good, classic Italian cooking in the close-in Virginia suburbs.
  8. The spot on 18th & L that formally housed the Italian takeout/lunch joint and was then rumored to be a new Big Bowl has window signage up for Vapiano. Not much (English) info on the web, but it appears to be a German "fast casual" Italian chain: Vapiano. Their claim to fame seems to be a 'chip card' ordering system where the customer does all the ordering at different stations I'm assuming. Anybody ever been to one overseas? A link on the corporate page references a store opening in Ballston as well. Overall it reminds me of an Italian Wagamama (which could be a good thing if done right; I love Wagamama!)
  9. My husband and I were recently in Houston and made our second trip to Da Marco with his parents. This is exceptional non-traditional Italian. I started with the artichoke alla giudia, a whole roasted artichoke. I was a little surprised because basically its presented whole, with a sweet sauce (maybe pineapple? its been a while). I think I would have preferred a more savory sauce. My husband had the very tasty mozzarella di bufala with roasted cherry tomatoes, drizzled with a wonderful extra virgin olive oil. My father-in-law had the oyster special, basically a plate of three oysters, which he said he wasn't the best he's ever had, since it was kind of late in year for Houston. We also split an order of corn ravioli served with bits of lobster on the side. The ravioli was good, but quite frankly, I think I would have preferred a lobster-stuffed ravioli. For our entrees, my mother-in-law chose the garganelli mmmmmm. I can't remember what it was, unfortunately, but she enjoyed it very much. My husband and his dad split the 48 oz porterhouse, which they loved (I think they actually got this a previous time). I got the chianti-braised short ribs with gremolata. At the first bite, I swooned. And I finished it all, without sharing. Well, maybe my husband stole a few bites, but I didn't really offer any. We also had a side of polenta for the table. Very rich and creamy. We were too full to have dessert, but they looked delicious. Da Marco only serves wine, no hard alcohol or even beer as far I could discern. We split two bottles of wine, both in the $50 range. I would highly recommend this restaurant for anyone visiting Houston.
  10. I stopped into G Sandwich today to pick up lunch. This is the new sandwich shop by day/tasting menu by night/gravy menu on Sunday nights place that Mike Isabella has just opened next door to his Greek restaurant Kapnos. I arrived shortly after they opened at 11:00 and was among the first to order. I waited maybe 10 minutes for my order to be ready. In that time I determined that I was quite glad that I was ordering take-out and not planning to eat in the restaurant. The music was deafening -- I can't imagine trying to carry on a conversation. It took me 15 minutes to walk home and the food did not seem to have suffered at all in the interim. We both loved our sandwiches. He had the Cubano Panino (pork collar, swiss, pickles, prosciutto cotto, yellow mustard); I had the Spring Lamb (tzatziki, romaine, pickled onion, dill). The lamb sandwich was served gyro-style, but the amount of the filling was such that it would have been extremely messy to eat that way, so I used a knife and fork. All of the roasted meats used at G are cooked at Kapnos, and it showed. That lamb was so succulent! It may have been a bit fattier than I would prefer, but wow, that fat was tasty! The other ingredients provided nice complimentary flavors and the dill really stood out, but in a good way. My husband loved his Cubano and that's saying something since he is a bit of a Cuban sandwich snob, having spent a lot of time in Miami. I'm not saying that this is an authentic Cuban sandwich, just that someone who's pretty picky about that genre endorsed it. In addition to the 12 different kinds of sandwiches they make, G also offers 8 marinated vegetable sides, 4 salads, 2 soups, sweets, house-made sodas and iced teas and a small list of alcoholic beverages, including 4 beers, 2 wines and 2 cocktails. We've been eating a lot of carry-out foods in the past 10 days, as we moved and are still living in chaos. During this time we have also had sandwiches from SundeVich and Taylor Gourmet. I have to say that after this one experience, I'd rank G above both of these: way above Taylor and somewhat above SundeVich. It may not be fair to compare after just one visit, but when I'm looking for my next sandwich, I'm going to G.
  11. I was walking around at lunch today and passed by 100 King St (vacant for awhile) and notice a bunch of permits on the windows and obvious demolition going on. Went back to the office and did a bit of digging and found a submission by Carluccios on the upcoming docket of the Board of Architectural Reviews. Apparently a UK based Italian chain. Carluccios.pdf
  12. Nothing makes me angrier than when I am at a restaurant that clearly doesn't care. $136 for POOR Italian food tonight, for four people: hard bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar; bland insalata caprese with radicchio and other lettuces (no seasoning whatsoever - even Frank's recipe has salt); mediocre chicken parmigiana (heavy breaded chicken, bland sauce); bland, underseasoned flank steak cooked with rosemary and vinegar, served with bland fried potatoes and steamed broccoli, and watery balsamic vinegar-tinged gravy; gummy asparagus and mushroom risotto. I was dreading the food once the waiter served the bread. The "loaf" we received was hard as a rock. I had to soak the pieces I broke off in oil and vinegar to render it edible. The waiter handed us a plate of cookies and gummy bears along with the check. The wines were just "ok". We skipped dessert, paid the bill and went to Stella's for mascarpone-filled sponge cake. We went there so you don't have to. I wish I had brought my camera to document everything. Michaelangelo Ristorante and Caffe 579 Columbus Avenue (Union Street) North Beach ps. if it was up to me, I'd have gone elsewhere but that's what happens when you're with friends and they spend 15 minutes deciding on where to go. it's a behavior I've noticed is common in San Francisco. the New Yorker in me just wants to scream.
  13. My son's baseball schedule has finally stopped, but had us traveling througout VA and beyond this summer. Last weekend saw us heading home from West VA via route 340. In an effort to avoid eating in West Virginia we headed into Berryville to try the rumored Neighborhood Italian Kitchen (NIK) offshoot. For those who are unfamiliar, NIK is probably the best restaurant in Winchester now that One Block West is going away. A strip-mall Italian-American joint that makes it's own mozzarella, cooks everything to order from scratch, and cuts no corners. NIK's Broiler room has opened just off the main strip in Berryville, conveniently located next to the ABC. In addition to the "regular" menu we have come to enjoy from NIK's Winchester, the Broiler room has added a selection of steaks, dry-aged in house. As with the NIK in Winchester, the prices are unbelieveable. $24 for a 20 oz bone in shell steak with your choice of side, and $13.95 for a chicken parm dinner large enough to serve two! While I can't comment on the ingredient sourcing other than to say that (a) mozz is made in house, and (b) suffice to say that the steak isn't wagyu and the chicken isn't green circle I can say that the dishes are made with care. We started with mushrooms oreganata and calamari, both of which were excellent - I prefer the sauteed calamari at NIK's Winchester, but was over-ruled on this order. The oreganata was well balanced between garlic, oregano and parsley - you'll often see versions leaning too heavily on the garlic, but not here. Mains were Rigatoni with Meatballs, Chicken Parm x2 and the 20 oz. shell steak with fries. The Rigatoni and meatballs were enjoyed - the bite i was able to steal impressed me with the brightness of the tomato sauce. The meatballs themselves were large but relatively light - I would guess a ground beef and pork sausage mix. The chickens parm were also excellent - the very same bright tomato sauce worked as well as a topping as it did in a more starring role with the rigatoni. Finally, my son inhaled the 20 oz shell steak, which came cooked to the requested medium rare, and with a generously charred exterior. The fries were potato wedges, and seemed to be made in house vs. the frozen variety. We were far too full to contemplate dessert, and left with basically an entire chicken parm dinner ready for the following day. The wine "list" is short and unremarkable, however they do have at least three offerings from Winchester's Escutcheon Brewing Co on tap, so I'd lean in that direction. We will be back.
  14. For all you Chris Bianco fans, here's an interesting article from the LA Times talking about his new LA project and book. As one of the folks who has made the Pizzeria Bianco pilgrimage, I'm super excited about the anticipated opening of a location in the ROW DTLA, a developing high-end, mixed-use area next to the Arts District. Excited enough, probably, to make the trip down with two kids under 3 (yeah, that excited)!
  15. Some more pix from a visit a couple of months ago: Porcini with blueberries and pecorino Grilled artichokes with lemon aioli Octopus with pesto Grilled asparagus, caprino cheese, pickled shallots Meatballs Green beans with pesto and pine nuts Chicken liver crostini Rather disappointing. Was dry and needed a bit more "oomph". Charred pork belly, served with sweet-and-sour onions Awesomesauce on a plate Raspberry crostata -- dry and crumbly. Not too bad though -- with two glasses of white wine, coffee and herb tea, came out to $120 pp (incl. tax and 20% tip).
  16. Situated on Lake Anne in Reston, Kalypso's Sports Tavern, with expansive outdoor seating across from the dock area and water. Plaza is dated due to the concrete theme of 1970s construction, but there are several recent additions to the area which all appear to be fairing well. Had not been here in some time but found ourselves there Sunday and decided to give it another shot. Outdoor seating area was nice, umbrellas are a little worn and could use a cleaning, but the open-air area was nice. They have improved their ordering system so it is automated and very efficient. From Humus appetizer to dinner salads, entrees and kids meals, everything was fresh, and nicely prepared. Service was efficient, and food came out quickly and hot. Lucky for us they had live music Saturday evening starting at 5:30 PM, which was great for atmosphere. Place was decently busy and when we departed around 7, there were people waiting to be seated.
  17. I received the following e-mail via a Silver Spring listserv this morning: Trattoria da Lina is a new Italian restaurant coming to Takoma Park in early 2017. The project will take over a former office space and add another option to Takoma Park's growing dining scene. Construction is well underway for this 55 seat restaurant in the heart of the Takoma Park commercial district. The restaurant's design is rustic and cozy with brick and wood and inspired by the casual eateries of the owner's motherland.The menu will offer a wide variety of pasta dishes, including traditional favorites and authentic creations, plus steak and fish options too. The restaurant will host a full bar. The owner is Marcello Minna, area restaurateur with 20 years experience and partner in Magico, the group behind Takoma Park's popular Dolci Gelati Cafe. Minna plans to staff the Trattoria with a team from Italy. Trattoria da Lina 7000 Carroll Ave Takoma Park, MD 20912 202-446-4167 Minnamarcello@yahoo.com
  18. Former Liberty Tavern chef Liam LaCivita's new restaurant Bar Civita is now open, taking over the former Murphy's of DC space in Woodley Park. Menu is Italian-leaning with handcut pastas, homemade cheese, charcuterie, antipasti. Most dishes available in full and half-sized portions. Hoping for some good things, since Woodley Park could use some better restaurants! City Paper Post
  19. They're still delivering to Arlington from the Alexandria location, but the last time we got it, the pizza was undercooked. I don't know of other pizza/Italian places that deliver to the Courthouse area other than Papa John's and similar ilk, though picking up at Fireworks has worked (pizza ready in 15 minutes both times). Wish Faccia Luna had delivery!
  20. This place looks good - Capo Deli Pictures on Yelp look great, especially the bread, and prices are not obscene. $9 a lb for eggplant parm. $9 for smaller sandwich, and $11 for sandwiches that appear to feed two hungry people. Open til 3AM - 4AM on weekends. 2007 me would be so happy right now.
  21. Pretty slick looking (Washingtonian) City Paper Soft opening July 21, debut August 4. Three, five, and eventually eight course prix-fixe tasting menu format. Masseria. 1430 Fourth St., NE; 202-608-5959 "Masseria combines the raw and simple look of an Italian country estate, the industrial grit of the Union Market district, and the undeniable contemporary chic of its fashion-savvy chef-owner."
  22. I'm driving to Douthat State Park this evening (I-66 to I-81) in advance of a half-marathon tomorrow. Will want to stop for a bite on the way - something Italian if possible (pre-race carbs). Any suggestions? Thanks!
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