Monday, December 29, 2014

Mario's New York Style Pizzeria: It's a GREAT Pie Whether It's "Tastayatago"

                                                                                                     Mario's New York Pizzeria...again, one of those "why did I wait so long to visit this place?!" kind of eatery and great "hole-in-the-wall" pizzeria!

     When you first enter this pizzeria, all you smell are the aromas of what you think a great pizza should taste like. You know, that amazing says to you, "I'm about to have a great pizza with that tomato-ee, cheesy, perfect dough goodness!"  And then you try it and bam, spot on!

     It's one of those "order at the counter" and get your own drinks kind of place...casual and very friendly.  It was also very clean.  You can see them making the pizza, as the kitchen is right behind the counter. I love this type of place!

     I had two special guests with me and we ALL brought out appetites.  We started with the Baked Ziti, which is served with complimentary Italian Bread (perfect for soaking up that sauce!) Then we ended it with a large Cheese Pizza.

     The Baked Ziti was tasty...I love it when you can taste the tomatoes and oh, that cheese. WOW! The kind of creamy mozzarella cheese you can't find anywhere around these parts.  It was so creamy...almost like a cheese sauce, but it's actual mozzarella!

     Next, we had the Cheese Pizza. While I've never actually been blessed with the opportunity to go to NYC and have a slice or a whole pie, this pizza tasted like what I imagined NYC pizza should taste like!  Again with the great sauce and CREAMY mozzarella cheese. The crust had that perfect slight sweetness that blended in perfectly with that savory tomato sauce.  It was slightly chewy, not too chewy, but that perfect chewy that allows you to fold that slice over and take a nice bite!

     The inside of this lil pizzeria was actually a pretty decent size and you can order it to go as well.

     First drink refills are free but cost .50 cents for each refill after that.  I like to take my little guests with me to pizzerias because I think when one is reviewing a family restaurant, it's important to get the feedback from the little people too :-D

     As you can see...they were smiles from ear to ear with happy tummies.  They loved the Baked Ziti as much as they loved the Cheese Pizza.

     Next time you're in the mood for a great slice or pie, stay away from the icky, national "chains", support your local establishments and you'll be so glad you did. The flavors and quality will not even come close. Remember, you can order your pizza by the slice or whole "pie" and you can get it "tostayatogo". ;)

Mario's New York Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Lassalle's New Orleans Deli: Let the Good Times My Mouth!!!

Finally, after almost ten months, I got to sample food from Lassalle's New Orleans. Thanks to the urging of a friend, who shall remain know who you are ;-) 

    Located in the heart of downtown, on the corner of 6th and Boston, this appealing little "n'awlins" style deli was not only spot-on, it was immensely full of flavor. You know, REAL flavor...the kind that takes HOURS and HOURS to create? Yeah...that kind of flavor.

    Special thanks to owners/chefs Chris and his lovely wife and partner in crime Amanda for accommodating my friend and me. They fed us samples of their best of the best menu items.

     We each had a platter with halves of a muffuletta, Lasalle's roast beef po boy, shrimp po boy, and sample small cups of red beans and rice, gumbo, and jambalaya.  Oh, and this feast ended with a happy, a REAL happy ending, Patti's Amaretto Bread Pudding...happy ending indeed :D I needed a cigarette afterwards and I don't even smoke! 

     I don't even know where to begin...every crumb and every bite of this food was phenomenal. No wait, piquant and savory is a better description. 

     Below is the Gumbo, a rich dish made with smoked sausage and chicken, simmered with a rich, dark house-made roux, served with white rice.  This truly is beyond flavorful. Why? Well, let's start with the fact that everything is made from scratch...and if it's not, (like the bread) it's flown in from New Orleans. But we'll get to that in a bit.  Back to that rich, dark, traditional roux. Amanda makes it fresh (we saw it in the making) and it takes about 4 to 5 hours just to make the roux!!  This Gumbo tasted rich and deeply traditional... but the best part is how the slight heat sneaks up on you. So delicious.

Gumbo-smoked sausage and chicken simmered  with a rich, dark, house-made roux, served over white rice.

Amanda stirring the roux...exciting to this foodie!!!!!
Fun Fact: Since their opening, Lassalle's has made approximately 14,400 cups of that gumbo goodness!

     The red beans and rice was also a deep-flavored, traditional dish. The red kidney beans were lighter in flavor than usual, which was perfect because they didn't over-power the dish. Chris said they use red kidney beans of the highest quality available for that very reason, because they're more could tell.  The dish itself was DEEP in flavor and I love how the scallions added a fresh crispy texture to it as well. 

Red Beans and Rice-slow cooked with smoked sausage, served with white rice.

     The Jambalaya...words can't describe nor do this dish justice. You can see from the photo below, the spices this dish contains. It was savory, spicy, smokey goodness. My mouth is watering as I type.

Jambalaya-a hearty creole-spiced dish made with smoked sausage, shredded chicken and rice.

     Ah, the Shrimp Po can see the lightly breaded shrimp, piled on a fresh baked French bread and loaded with lettuce, tomatoes and WOW sauce.  Okay and, JUST so you know, it is absolutely true, Lassalle's has fresh-baked French bread flown in twice a week from none other than the famous Gambino's Bakery in New Orleans.  It's classic crunchy on the outside and oh so soft on the inside.
 Shrimp Po Boy-Fried shrimp piled on fresh baked French bread, served dressed with WOW sauce.

      A little 4-1-1 on the muffuletta originally derived from New Orleans from a Sicilian family on Decatur street. It has since become a well-known type of sammy from N'awlins.  You see that shimmery olive salad goodness on this delectable muffuletta sandwich below? Yeah, the acidity of this olive goodness balanced out the richness of the meats perfectly. It has what I consider to be a sense of umami. In fact, most of their dishes had that "umami-ness" going on. The deepest of savory flavors you can imagine.
Muffuletta-Smoked ham, Genoa salami, provolone cheese, olive salad on toasted muffuletta bread.

     I think my favorite part of reviewing restaurants, other than eating the best foods, is taking the pictures. It's because of my love of GOOD food that I'm able to capture the flavors so you can taste it with your eyes first.  Look at that meat and homemade gravy. I think for the first time in my life, I wanted to actually motorboat my food... particularly that luscious roast beef ambrosial masterpiece of a sandwich.
 Lassalle's Roast Beef Po Boy-their signature Po Boy with slow roasted Black Angus Beef, sliced thin and topped with homemade gravy on a fresh-baked French bread. Served dressed.

      We ended our meal with this amazing bread pudding. It's made with dried cranberries and an amaretto butter sauce. Not too sweet but very rich in a good way. Okay, there is only one way to describe what I felt when my mouth embraced that buttery, cranberry goodness with a hint of cherry. See below and press play ;-)
 Patti's Amaretto Bread Pudding-A New Orleans classic topped with a rich Amaretto sauce.
How I felt after just one bite:

     My friend and I loved the food so much...can you tell? This was all that was left!

     The location is is a bit small but it's big enough and quaint. The music and the decor takes you to N'awlins.

     Next time you're craving some classic New Orleans sandwiches and sides, you just have to give Lassalle's New Orleans Deli a try. It's the best party in your mouth for the price, I guar-ran-tee, ay-yee! My Cajun-ness needs some work.  Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

Lassalle's New Orleans Deli on Urbanspoon


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Infusion Ultra Lounge... and Bistro?

Infuzion Ultra Lounge and Bistro...more of a lounge, less of a bistro.  I know a couple of people that actually like this place so I'll be as kind as possible.

     I personally don't care much for places that name their establishment after both a "club/bar" AND restaurant, especially when they try to portray something they're obviously not.  

     First, most people know that a bistro is a small restaurant, with modest food, prices and settings.  According to Wikipedia, Bistros are defined mostly by the foods they serve. French home-style cooking, and slow-cooked foods like cassoulet, a bean stew, are typical.  Yeah, I saw none of this type of food being served up there. And regarding the setting, the place is pretty huge indoors and out as well as a huge bar...NOT a bistro.  

     The food tasted like someone just decided to open up a restaurant one day and serve what they liked.  My sister and I split a few menu items.  We started with the crab cakes. They were pretty, but the crab cakes as well as the sauce that was drizzled over them all tasted pre-packaged/pre-made.  None of it tasted fresh.  The veggies were the only fresh thing on the plate.  

     My sister ordered a steak and I ordered the crab/seafood salad. Again, a disappointment.  The supposed steak tasted nothing short of a "cube" type of steak, no flavor at all.  The seafood salad was waaay too heavy on the mayo sauce and loaded with imitation crab meat.  It was a sad looking plate. Over soupy-like seafood salad, three slices of onions, a tomato on a leaf of lettuce and a few slices of avocado. Again, FAR from being a bistro. I'm pretty sure my kids were plating better foods when they were in grade school.

     The steak looks good from far, but it was bland and flavorless, and if you know a good cut of meat, you can tell by looking at this meat that it was not good...a cheap, tough cut for sure.

     We waited too long for everything.  It took fifteen minutes for anyone to finally approach, making the first server/customer contact.  Then it took forever to get our drinks, forever to get our food ordered, forever to get our food and forever to get our ticket to get out of there.

     The bar crowd was hopping and there was a guy dressed in a chef's coat, but he was entertaining the bar crowd and hanging out with friends, surely he wasn't THE chef...I've never seen a chef like this before if he was...they're usually in the kitchen putting out fresh ingredient dishes.  No way is this place to be taken seriously as a upscale or fine dining restaurant and it is NOT a bistro for sure.  Far from it.

     If there is something someone can recommend I'd go back, but really, if there are only a couple of items I missed that were good, then...what's the point.

     The best advice I can give the owner of this establishment is to research the restaurant industry... know what the terms mean, and know food period.  Hire a professional chef and create a menu that caters to the name of your restaurant.  Or, just stay in the bar/club business because that part of the business was a success. It looked like fun and possibly a place I'd go to just drink.  Infuzion Bar & Grill might be a more suitable name.

Infuzion Ultra Lounge and Bistro on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 21, 2014

Eat: The Story of Food: Food Revolutionaries | National Geographic Channel

Eat: The Story of Food: Food Revolutionaries | National Geographic Channel: Throughout history food revolutionaries have transformed the way we look at food, cook food and sell food.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Bistro at Seville...Get Your Nerdie Foodie Hind Ends There!!

     I hadn't been to the Bistro since it left the Brookside location years ago.  So glad my client suggested it!!!

     The food was amazing...but let me back up and start at the beginning.  I arrived late (sorry Katie!) but was seated immediately.  My guest was already seated.  Okay, I won't bore you with the same "chitter-chatter, food-blogger" boring stuff. Service was GREAT...Food was GREAT. Not over-priced, but rather priced right for the quality of service and flavor of the food, not to mention the presentation.

     We started with the Chokes and Cheese...only, sadly, I forgot to snap a pic. Okay, I didn't forget...this was my first time meeting with my client and it took me 15 minutes to feel comfortable enough to start the nerdy, foodie, food-snapping thing. But finally I did.

     Chokes and Cheese are rich cream cheese, artichoke hearts and Parmesan cheese served with seasoned toasted pita chips.  It's better than any artichoke dip I've had anywhere wasn't too fatty, or greasy.  It's priced around $10.

     My guest Katie, ordered the Grilled Turkey and Avocado. I mean, seriously...who doesn't like avocado? That was a rhetorical question, everybody loves avocado and if you don't, I don't wanna know you, m'kay?
Grilled Turkey and Avocado  10
Shaved turkey, Swiss cheese, sweet pepper bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado spread and cilantro aioli on wheat berry bread. Served with fresh garlic potato chips

     I ordered the amazing Jumbo Scallops. Wow...that's all I can say. It's served over creamed cous cous. Can you picture it? Well, I've got a picture below, but I meant can you picture me licking the bowl afterwards? Yeah, I wanted, so bad.
Jumbo Scallops  24
Pan seared jumbo scallops served with a vegetable creamed cous cous lightly drizzled with a balsamic port reduction

     I actually talked Katie into trying the Baked Fudge. We shared it but I proud of the fact that we didn't finish it!! It was tough not to because it was one of the best desserts I've had in a long time. Baked creamy fudge served per the server's suggestion, with ice cream...mmm!!

Baked Fudge  6/6.5
Not quite a brownie. Not quite a fudge. Somewhere in between lies chocolatey heaven. With whipped cream or ice cream.

     A special thanks to my first time lunch guest Katie...who also happens to be...wait for it...a foodie!  

     I've seen some negative posts about this place and all I can say is what I always say...some people don't have good palates and some people are smokers, which causes you to have terrible palates. So, I say to you...just try it for yourself. Don't always take a review, including mine, to heart. If you don't want to try a place and shell out money for a pricey menu, my advice is to try it out for lunch because most restaurants have lunch portions and prices that are less than their dinner menu prices.

     I liked Bistro at Seville...a  lot. I say give it whirl. It's a great place to impress a client or a date.  Bon appetit you foodie freaks and eat on!

Bistro at Seville on Urbanspoon