After happy houring at Bathtub Gin and gastropubbing at Essex, The Astronomer and I jammed over to Staple & Fancy Mercantile for a late-night feast. We were joined at dinner by Lang, a native Seattleite and one of my best friends from college.
While I’ve eaten at quite a few of Chef Tom Douglas’ restaurants over the years, I have thus far ignored Seattle’s other dining darling: Chef Ethan Stowell. A self-trained cook and Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Chef” (2008), Chef Stowell, along with his wife Angela, own and operate Tavolata, How to Cook a Wolf, Bar Cotto, and Rione VIII in the area.
Staple & Fancy’s Italian-inspired menu is comprised of “staple” items, including appetizers, pastas, sides, and proteins, as well as a “fancy” family-style supper served in four courses ($45 per person). The fancier option is highly encouraged. In fact, the menu nudges not so subtly, “We would like to inform you that you really should do this.”
Since this was technically our second dinner of the evening, The Astronomer and I left the “staple” or “fancy” decision up to Lang. He chose the latter and thus, the fate of our stomachs was chosen. Dinner started with a loaf of crusty bread served with good olive oil and vinegar. Classic.
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If you’re not tuning in to It’s lunchtime with Jonathan Gold every Wednesday at noon on the L.A. Times’ Daily Dish, then you’re missing out on excellent dialogue about the Los Angeles restaurant scene. During one such “live discussion” a few months back, the merits of a new Downtown eatery called Maccheroni Republic were brought up. I had never heard of the restaurant beforehand, but after registering the words “handmade pasta” and “reasonable prices,” I immediately made plans to check it out. I live for noodles.
Jean Louis DeMori and Antonio Tomassi, the two men behind Maccheroni Republic, opened an Italian restaurant called Locanda Veneta nearly 25 years ago. According to the Times’ food editor Russ Parsons, ” it kicked off the first round of terrific, small, very specific Italian restaurants in Southern California.” Maccheroni Republic is their second venture together.
The menu here is brilliantly simple: just a few appetizers, soups, and a slew of pastas. Between The Astronomer, Diep, and I, we shared two starters and three mains and left pleasantly stuffed.
The first appetizer to arrive was the Nduja ($6.95), a house-made Calabrese salami spread served with toasted crostini. We liked the spicy spread very much, but the bread left a lot to be desired. Little bothers me more than being served unspectacular bread at an otherwise solid restaurant. Continue reading ‘Maccheroni Republic – Los Angeles (Downtown)’
I had the best time at Bestia a few weeks back. Everything about the place—the food, the energy, the room, the service—rubbed me in all sorts of right ways. Dining here was definitely an event and easily one of the most memorable meals of the year thus far. Joining me at this downtown hot spot was The Astronomer, my mom, and my friend Diep. We made sure to arrive hungry.
Prior to joining forces with his wife, Pastry Chef Genevieve Gergis, and Restaurateur Bill Chait to open Bestia last fall in the Arts District, Chef Ori Menashe spent the past three and a half years as executive chef at Angelini Osteria.
The dining room and bar were positively humming when our party of four arrived on the scene; the mood just couldn’t be beat. We were seated immediately.
Practically every seat in the house offers a view into the restaurant’s expansive open kitchen. We had a ball watching the cooks prepare, plate, and expedite each dish in between courses. The intensity with which the kitchen staff hustled added to the palpable energy in the room.
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Following our stroll through The High Line and a festive deep-fried breakfast, The Astronomer, Sonia, and I headed to Parm for a late lunch on our first full day in the city. Here at this quaint spot in Nolita, Chefs Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone celebrate and “elevate” Italian-American cooking in all its red sauce glory.
With quite a bit of buzz surrounding the restaurant, including a 2-star review in the Times, I was more than a little excited to experience what all the hubbub was about. Plus, I hadn’t eaten any parmigiana, be it meatball, veal, or eggplant, since graduating from college, so it was high-time I got my fill.
We arrived sometime past 2 PM and waited a quick minute before being seated. Sonia’s dined here just about a dozen times, including the night before, so she led us through the restaurant’s greatest hits. I also cribbed some notes while reading Pete Wells’ write up, so we were all set on the ordering front.
We started with a slew of appetizers, including warm-from-the-oven “Pizza Knots ($5)” sprinkled with crumbly Parmesan and fresh parsley. Whereas classic pizza parlor “knots” are doughy, greasy things that have a way of hijacking one’s stomach, these were lighter specimens with a definite crust and fluffy innards.
While I could’ve gone for seconds, the portion size allotted us only a knot each. Perhaps this was for the best considering how much food was coming our way.
Continue reading ‘Parm – New York City’
The opening of Trattoria Neapolis early last week was easily the most exciting thing to happen on South Lake Avenue since I moved into town four years ago. Sandwiched between an Aaron Brothers and an Anthropologie, the restaurant brings a California-inflected Italian menu, as well as a solid beverage program, to a part of Pasadena best known for Pie ‘n Burger. God knows I adore Pie ‘n Burger, but a new dining option is always appreciated.
Chef Bryant Wigger, most recently at the Four Seasons Los Angeles, makes almost everything from scratch including the pasta, bread, and salumi. The restaurant’s centerpiece and point of inspiration is a 7,000 pound Neapolitan wood-burning oven that can blister a pie in 90 seconds flat.
While perusing the menu, I sipped a spicy Moscow mule. The Astronomer indulged in a tall glass of Golden Chaos.
Continue reading ‘Trattoria Neapolis – Pasadena’