Showing posts with label Italian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italian. Show all posts

Vancouver vacation 2013 - summer fun now past

Oh do I love thee?  Let me count the ways... 

1) Your scenery is always breath-taking but even more so during our August visit as the sun made the water sparkle...yes, like diamonds!  Made our kayaking and biking around Stanley Park just THAT much better. 

2) Eating options were numerous and within a stone's throw of our boutique hotel. Crazy-good ramen, down home Italian and fresh sushi made choosing a chore (but not really.) 

3) Friendly people, easy navigation and that cute little "jaunty man" signal which tells you it's time to cross the street. 

The burrata at La Buca
A mouth-watering menu at La Buca
Finally, how can I forget the really great boutique hotel on Robson Street?  The Listel features comfortable rooms, helpful staff and great location for walking to most of what we wanted to see/do.  Less driving and parking meant more time to chill and enjoy the city. 

We did take the car to North Vancouver with the intent of participating in the Grouse Grind before we left on Thursday.  My friend tells me it's a straight up hike on the normally-wintery ski trail with a convenient tram to bring you down when finished.  An un-named person forgot their hiking shoes so we found solace in The Bakehouse and the many pastries on display.
I'm back to my usual routine - work and some play - and my summer fling with Vancouver seems so far away.  But I will be back, with hiking shoes in hand!
Places to eat
La Buca
4025 MacDonald Street
Vancouver BC  V6L 2N8
Ramen Santouka (amazing)
1690 Robson St
Vancouver, BC V6G 1C7
Neighborhood: West End
(604) 681-8121

 The Boathouse
1305 Arbutus Street
Vancouver BC  V6J 5N2

Eatery Takeout
3431 W Broadway  
Vancouver, BC V6R 2B4, Canada

The Bakehouse
1050 W Queens Ave
North Vancouver BC  V7R 1H7

The Listel Hotel
1300 Robson Street
Vancouver BC V6E 1C5
The lamb agnolotti - beautiful and delish at La Buca

Bistro Don Giovanni, Napa CA

There are many great dining choices in Napa but Bistro Don Giovanni always tops my list of favorites.    The setting is comfortable, whether you're sitting on the patio dining al fresco or seated inside by the fireplace on a drizzly day.   While the setting is key to the overall experience the food is definitely the star of the show; a blend of local flavor and Italian flair served up by the expert staff.

The only problem I have with Bistro Don Giovanni is that there are SO MANY choices and I like them all!  From pasta to fish and the starters it's hard to narrow my meal to just a few items.  This time we focused on the basics: a perfectly cooked burger, fig pizza with blue cheese (amazing flavor) carpaccio and a rich decedant chocolate mousse.  All basic but nothing bland!

The fig and blue pizza starter is absolutely divine!

Carpaccio done well

Chocolate mousse and biscotti
Bistro Don Giovanni
4110 Howard Ln  Napa, CA 94558
(707) 224-3300

NY favorites: Locanda Verdi and Peppolino

With so many restaurants to choose from in Manhattan deciding on dinner can be daunting.  This recent NY visit I opted to check out two of the same restaurants from last years' trip and was reminded why some always sizzle:  consistent quality, delicious food and attentive servers.
Locanda Verde
377 Greenwich Street New York, NY 10013
(212) 925-3797
Italian food in a sophisticated setting.  A few of the favorites: duck
meatballs, spaghetti all' matriciana and clam pasta.  The spaghetti was pure comfort food; a bit rich and just the right amount of spice.
Hint:  do make reservations if you can or you'll be in for a wait.  No matter of course given the busy, booming bar and scene that goes with it.
Clam pasta at Locanda Verde NY
Clam pasta - Locanda

Chocolate budino at Locanda

The perfect blend of spice and savory - Locanda
281 West Broadway New York, NY 10013
(212) 966-9983

Italian food seemed to be my cuisine of choice this trip so Peppolino was high on my list.  You can't go wrong with many of the entrees but  definitely don't skip the ricotta cheesecake.  This is not your
typical cheesecake; less sweet and vastly richer than most, it's their
signature dish...and rightfully so.


Barn Diva, Catelli's, Russian River Brewing Co in Healdsburg

No matter how many times I visit Healdsburg there's one thing that always stands out:  great food, and lots of it.

First stop, Barn Diva for a fantastic lunch of salad, fries and quiche.  Of course the salad wasn't just any salad, it was chock full of avocado, blue cheese, beets, shaved carrots and crunchy croutons married with a creamy tarragon dressing.  Add a side of fries - which are really more of a cross between a chip and a fry - to go with the rich quiche and you are ready to hit the winery trail.

The quiche at Barn Diva, Healdsburg
Our one and only winery visit this trip was Schlumberger (an old favorite) where reservations are recommended and a seat beside the lovely, relaxing fountain in the courtyard a must.  We took this opportunity to listen to the hypnotic symphony of water trickling and wine glasses clinking in the warm, embracing late-season sun.
After a check-in at the hotel and a power nap we headed out to the Russian River Brewing Co in Santa Rosa.  I'll admit, beer isn't my first love but the sampler seemed necesssary. We tried all the samples with mixed reviews:  I liked the sour versions (Supplication, Temptation and Consecration) and my companion liked the Redemption or the blondes (what a surprise.)

All that wine and beer tasting created quite the appetite so we headed to Catelli's in Geyserville.  Featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (or Triple D) you SHOULD  believe the hype: amazing 12-layer lasagna , homemade ravioli (in two sauces) are just a few of the dishes to die for.  Oh, and the bread which feels like a course on it's own.  Hint:  if you order the lasagna it arrives with two large pieces of very garlicky, buttery bread. 

The best of all worlds: meat ravioli with butter sauce and cheese ravioli paired with the spicy tomato.  Heaven!
Once the plates arrived I asked my dinner companion if he wanted a taste of my ravioli (which of course he did.)  Asked the same question about his lasagne I hesitated oh-so-briefly to which I was told "take some now before it's gone".  Although a nano-second to me, the lasagne quickly disappeared and I made a mental note to visit Healdsburg - and Catelli's again soon.   

Paradiso Deli, Now Palermo, in San Jose California

791 Auzerais Ave
San Jose, CA 95126
(408) 295-6459

Paradiso Deli is pure delight; from the food to the staff and funky interior. It's like dining at your grandma's house without the crocheted sofa covers (ok, was that just mine? And not like it's a bad thing!)

Anyway, I ordered the ravioli (homemade) which came along with a gigantic, delicious meatball and salad for $8.99 - a steal in my book! I think what really made the ravioli "sing" was the marinara the meatball was bathing in and which tasted like a long-simmered, perfectly spiced sauce.

My dining companions ordered the roast beef sandwich (pictured) and the lasagne. Both said the food was good and my co-worker raved about "what a cool place" Paradiso was.

In a world of seemingly "same" restaurants out there it's nice to run across a gem like this. You can't help but like the staff, and you will definitely love the food.

Italian food in Campbell, CA - Olio

384 E Campbell Ave
Campbell, CA 95008-2023
(408) 378-0335

Recently dined at Olio in Campbell on the way to Tabard Theatre in San Jose. Wow. Loved the food and atmosphere here.

We over-ordered but wanted to try out many dishes at once. Standouts were the ravioli (porcini in a cream sauce – delish) and the dipping platter (hummus, baba ganoush etc.)

On a side topic: if you like live theatre in a small, intimate setting, try the Tabard Theatre in San Jose. It’s got an old time feel with decent productions!

Cucina Toscana, Ginza and Vosens - Salt Lake City "Finds"

This is a city that understands food. I must say that while in the area I didn't have a single bad food experience - and it's great to see new places popping up in the downtown area. Can't wait to return and try the Neopolitan pizza place around the corner from Cucina Toscana (which is FAB!)

Cucina Toscana
307 West Pierpont Avenue
Salt Lake City, UT

Cucina Toscana was a pure delight – from the food and atmosphere to the staff, especially the owner, Valter Nassi who routinely walked the place to welcome guests. He did this both nights I dined (yes, I went back the second night!) and it was a nice touch you don’t see often in restaurants.

What’s great about Cucina Toscana is that the restaurant seems to focus on fresh and flavorful, ensuring that every bite (including the dipping oil for the bread) is memorable. I ordered the Ravioli Quattro Formaggi which was spinach and cheese ravioli in a tender, probably homemade pasta with a decadent and smooth cream sauce. It was probably one of the best renditions of this dish I have tried in years.

My dining companions ordered the pasta sampler (gnocchi with arrabiata and a ravioli with browned butter sauce) and a frute di mare with fresh seafood and again, great flavor. Starters included a very interesting fruit and cheese plate (plums, dates?) and provolone cheese in a simple syrup. Refreshing and unusual.

We finished off our meal with sorbet and tiramisu, both which held up to the usual standard. As we tipped back the last of our wine we reflected enthusiastically on a great Italian meal and a place to return during our next visit.

Vosens Bread Paradise
249 W. 200 S.
Salt Lake City UT 84020

If you don’t pay attention you’ll miss it, the tall building with the yellow sign reading Vosen’s outside. It’s a building that almost appears to be deserted until you get close and see the pastries inside.

The pastries in the case are anything but ordinary, in fact they are all about the size of a small dinner plate and bear names like “vanilla crème custard”. Flaky and sweet, these are the perfect reward for say…breathing or being nice to the neighbor’s dog and they also make a nice breakfast treat.

Lining the shelves inside the bakery are all kinds of German goods from curry ketchup (my friend claims this is “da bomb”) jams, candies and other items like dried spaetzle. Although the pickled items seemed interesting, I couldn’t take my eyes off all the pastries and wanted to buy one of everything. Knowing my luggage space was tight and security a pain in the neck with “unknown items” I grabbed my vanilla crème custard and headed out the door, all the while lamenting my short time in Salt Lake City.

209 W. 200 S.
Salt Lake City, UT

Solid food in a nice setting. The location was right down the street from the Hotel Monaco and a stop-off when returning from the mall. Service was pleasant and prices were good!