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