Saturday, February 25, 2012

Piccolo Forno in the Lawrenceville neighborhood

A month ago, I went to Piccolo Forno to do a feature on them. I've been there so many times in the past, that I wanted to feature the restaurant and show how good their Tuscan Italian food is. The video also features an interview with the owner Domenic Branduzzi. Special Thanks to Jeff Creller for editing the video. He did an amazing job with it.

Piccolo Forno on Urbanspoon

Piccolo Forno

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lolita Restaurant in Cleveland

When people think about Cleveland, their food scene is not the first thing that comes in mind. In fact when people think of Cleveland, it's usually in a negatively or make fun of light. And I can understand that because:

1. Cleveland Cavaliers no longer have Lebron James.
2. Cleveland Browns are consistently bad, which isn't bad since I'm a Steelers fan.
3. Economy isn't the greatest though it's getting a little better.
4. Carl Monday(Google him and you'll know why I put him on the list)

However, one thing that Cleveland has going for is their food scene and I can thank Michael Symon for contributing positively to Cleveland's food scene. If you're not familiar with Michael Symon, he is a celebrity chef from Cleveland who has made his mark on television shows and books. His dishes at his restaurants are modern American with many of them using local ingredients. I like him because he's passionate about cooking, entertaining, his food is delicious as I will tell you shortly.

We were in town visiting a family friend, and we decided despite all the negativity surrounding Cleveland we should check the city out. I wanted to check out his restaurants, and we decided to go with Lolita as opposed to Lola or B Spot Burgers which I imagine are also pretty good. We had an 8:30 reservation at the restaurant and made it at precisely 8:30. Even with a GPS, that's pretty good for not knowing Cleveland. The inside of the restaurant was dark, modern, with unique lights and candles.

We ordered an appetizer and we got duck meatballs, which had tomato sauce, basil, and Parmesan reggiano on top of them. I've never had them before, but I was impressed. It's one of the fattier meatballs I've had, but there was a lot of flavor in them. I could be just happy eating it plain.

As for my entree, I got a duck confit with local butternut squash puree and mustardo vinaigrette. Normally I don't order the same meat for appetizer and entree, but I normally don't eat duck and I order it when the opportunity arises. The duck was juicy, fatty, and the puree and vinaigrette gave the duck an extra flavor profile to it. I'm not a big fan butternut squash, but in puree form I can eat that. However, the best part was the duck's crispy skin. It was flavorful, crunchy, and just so damn good. Michael Symon if you are reading this I would recommend this as an appetizer dish. For the side dish, I got their local crispy potatoes that had oregano, chili flake and orange zest. When taking a bite on it, I could feel the heat from the chili flake. While the potatoes were good, I wish it would have been more like french fries as opposed to roasted potatoes. But that's just personal preference.

All in all, this restaurant was worth staying in Cleveland. This was the first time I've been to Symon's restaurants and when I go back to Cleveland I will definitely check out his other establishments. I left Cleveland impressed, and I hope the city keeps up with their improving food scene. As far as there sports scene, I hope it stays the same :).

Lolita Restaurant

Lolita on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Beef Tostadas

Last night, I ended up making some awesome beef tostadas. I found the recipe on, and made a few adjustments(using Asian ingredients). The biggest thing I did was use sriracha sauce. It made the beef really spicy, but the cream sauce(I used sambal oelek and sour cream. I recommend using regular sour cream. Light sour cream was pretty bland.) and the guacamole were a good counter to the spiciness of the beef. I can't wait to dive into this for a few more days :). Here is the link of the recipe below

Beef Tostadas

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Nakama at the Consol Energy Center

This past tuesday as the work day was winding down, I received a phone call from a dear friend of mine who is a teacher stating that she is enjoying the fact that she was done working, enjoyed the sunshine, and made fun of me because I was still working. Of course, I couldn't really say anything to get back at her. A few minutes later, I received a call from another friend and she said she and her boyfriend had tickets to the Penguins game from his boss at work, and they asked me if I wanted to join. I've never been to a Penguins game, and since it was a free ticket and will be hanging out with them I told them I would go. I texted my teacher friend back saying, "You might have left early, but I got tickets to the Pens game." She texts me back saying she was not impressed. I told her she'll get jealous and told her that my mission is to get her jealous by the end of the night. I know the perfect way.

The Consol Energy Center is known being the home of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and they hold very good concerts as well. What I'll be talking about how underrated their food concessions is. They have there standard food concessions that sell hot dogs, nachos, beer, and the like. However, the arena steps it up a notch by having some cool restaurant concessions like Primanti's, Burgatory, and Nakama. I decided to go with Nakama because I wanted to eat something light, and I wasn't really in the mood for anything too heavy.

I ended up ordering the Pittsburgh Penguins roll, which consisted of spicy tuna wrapped in soy paper and topped with fresh salmon and tempura flakes. At first I thought it was wrapped in some sort of wonton, but the soy paper is really soybean paper. If you want to know more about it, check this wikipedia link Mamenori(the actual name) It is sometimes used to replace nori, which is the common seaweed wrapper for sushi. I like that it had a bright yellow color, hence why it's call the Pittsburgh Penguins roll. The white tempura flakes gave the roll a nice balance in terms of color. I really liked the yellow, dark pink, and white color combination. As far as the taste goes, you can definitely feel the spice from the spicy tuna. Adding the salmon was a good idea because you can taste both the salmon and tuna at the same time. The flakes felt like it would be crunchy, but when you taste the flakes it was surprisingly tasted soft(at least that's my opinion). The only bad part about eating sushi was that you really need a table to eat sushi effectively. Eating sushi in the stands was a bit of a challenge and I even had soy sauce spilled on my jeans. Damn my clumsiness. I ended up taking a picture of my food and sent it to my teacher friend. She finally admitted to me that she was impressed and jealous. I won that round :).

As far as the Penguins game went, it was fun to watch in person. Hockey fans are a different kind of crowd compared to football fans. I had a sense that hockey fans are little bit more laid back than football fans. I've seen people in football games almost get heart attacks when the Steelers or Pitt Panthers are losing even if it's just by a point. At least in this hockey game, there was no sense of panic from the fans even when the Pens were down 4-1 at the middle of the third period. The Pens ended up tying the game at the end of the 3rd period and won the shootout. It was a great game and made my friend jealous. That's what I call a great Tuesday night.

Nakama Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon
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