Wednesday, September 13, 2017

FELIX (VENICE, CA)

Felix
1023 Abbot Kinney 
Venice, CA 90291
www.felixla.com
Tel: 424.387.8622
Cuisine: Italian
$$$ ($30-$45)
Mon, 09/11/2017, 9:30 walk-in (called 15 min before to see if a table was available)
     (4.5 Piglets)



Felix is the hot, new Italian restaurant on the Westside. It is in the former space that once housed Joe's restaurant that I visited numerous times. It is now revamped (in a good way), now paying homage to fresh pasta created by none other than the former chef of Bucato Evan Funke. 

Each bite of the perfectly sauced pasta was al dente. Unique pasta shapes take hold of the menu, offering dishes based on different regions of Italy. 


The back dining room
The bar
The dining room

The décor is simple and comfortable. Upon entering, all you see is a bar; turn to your left and you are welcomed by the hostess. Off to the side of the hostess is a glass space where you may be lucky enough to see peeps at work rolling out fresh pasta sheets. The restaurant is surprisingly large, with a main dining room and another back room that houses multiple tables.  

POLPETTE DELLA MAESTRA ALESSANDRA ($18.00):  Pork Meatballs, Salsa Verde and Parmigiano Reggiano. This dish was good. I thought for being a pork dish, it was surprisingly moist. I'm used to beef meatballs, so this was a nice change from the usual. The texture is different, a little more spongy and chewy. It was perfectly crisp. The salsa verde was a bit on the lighter end and I kinda wish it had a little more.

MY FAVORITE DISH. RIGATONI ALL' AMATRICIANA ($23.00): Guanciale, Pomodoro and Pecorino Romano DOP. This was freakin amazing!!! The pasta was perfectly cooked al dente style, fresh and homemade. The sauce was rich without being too acidic. It was slightly sweet the way pomodoro should taste. It's so simple, yet so delicious. I highly recommend this popular dish.

MEZZE MANICHE ALLA GRICIA ($23.00): Guanciale, Black Pepper and PecorinoRomano DOP. This pasta was also delicious too! The texture is a bit lighter like a pappardelle. The sauce, oh man, the sauce...it was like a cacio e peppe but with bacon in it! It was simple and oh so satisfying. I couldn't stop eating it. So good!!
PICCHIAPO ($26.00): Roman-Style Braised Beef, Pomodoro, Peperocino, and Gnocchi alla Romana. This was delicious! The beef was so flavorful and delicious. I got a little confused with the dish as it is listed as "gnocci" and I expected gnocci pieces but received polenta cakes. Supposedly that was the gnocci? I think it should've been clearer on the menu or they should have listed it as polenta cakes; nevertheless, it was delicious and everything went well together. It was rich and savory and I thoroughly enjoyed it.


TIRAMISU ($14.00): I believe Jonathan Gold had stated that this was worth trying. It is a fairly large dessert, good enough to be split amongst 2 people. I was expecting something a little more lighter, but this was fairly dense and a bit on the drier end. The flavor itself was decent, but I didn't love this dessert.


Overall, I thought Felix lived up to the hype. To get a reservation is pretty much pure luck or reserving way in advance. I was lucky enough to call last minute around 9:30pm and found a table available (although I had to wait about 15-20min for the actual table to free up). The service was pretty good and I was happy with all the dishes we ordered. Unfortunately, they also ran out of some of the dishes we wanted to order, i.e. the pappardelle and the foccacia. I can't wait to go back. It's like the Bestia of the Westside (but pasta oriented)...yes, it's that good.






Notable Dishes: Rigatoni all' Amatriciana, Mezze Maniche alla Gricia, Picchiapio 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

UOVO (SANTA MONICA, CA)

Uovo
1320 2nd Street, Ste A
Santa Monica, CA 90401
www.uovo.la
Tel: 310.425.0064
Cuisine: Italian
$$ ($15-$30)
Wed, 08/16/2017, 6:30pm walk-in
    (4 Piglets)


Uovo means egg in Italian. Egg is one of the main ingredients used in pasta and hence, it is the name of the new restaurant that just opened up in Santa Monica. It is a restaurant that overnights fresh, handmade pasta from Bologna to ensure the taste and texture remains consistent to what is produced in Italy. The chefs of Uovo have re-created traditional sauces of Bologna that pair well with the pastas that are shipped. 

The restaurant itself is quite small. Similar to KazuNori (which makes sense since it is part of the Sugarfish/KazuNori family), there sits a massive bar countertop with an open kitchen. Around the bar are tables that house larger parties. Uovo lacks décor and the wine list is quite small, but in all honesty, who cares? It's all about the food, specifically the pasta, and well, the fact that it's pretty darn affordable helps too. 


TORTELLINI IN BRODO ($16.00): Handmade Meat Tortellini in a broth of Vegetable, Chicken and Beef. This was a really light dish, which I enjoyed. The broth was absolutely delicious. It was soothing and full of flavor. The tortellini was actually still al dente, even when floating in the broth. They are a bit small, so really easy to chew. I think this would be a great dish to have when sick. 

TORTELLINI CREMA DI PARMIGIANO ($16.00): Handmade Meat Tortellini in Cream of Parmigiano-Reggiano. This dish was definitely on the heavier side. The sauce was creamy and cheesy. The tortellini is the same as the dish with the broth. It's simple, yet tasteful. If you don't like creamy sauces, then this dish isn't for you. 

MY FAVORITE DISH. TONNARELLI ALL' AMATRICIANA ($15.00): Imported Tomatoes, Pecorino, Onion, Guaniciale, and Red Chili Pepper. This was quite delicious. The pasta is similar to spaghetti but with a bite. The sauce is a bit spicy, which I like. It definitely is saucy and full of flavor. I thought this was well-made and simple. 

TAGLIATELLE AI CARCIOFI ($15.00): Tagliatelle with Fresh Artichoke. This was a good dish. It's very light and the tagliatelle was cooked perfectly. There is butter in this dish, which I love. If you like a lot of sauce, this isn't the dish for you. 

TONNARELLI CACIO E PEPE ($15.00): Pecorino and Black Pepper-a Salt Forward Dish. This was my least favorite dish. I think it was a bit too heavy and very buttery. I just didn't think it tasted what a true cacao e pepe. would taste like. IT was creamy and saucy and very cheesy. 

Overall, Uovo is a great place if you're feeling like you want pasta without putting a dent in your wallet. It's a great place to bring a friend or two so you can try all the different pastas available. I've been to Uovo again since this visit and ordered the Bolognese, which I think is now my favorite dish. The place can be quite busy and the wait time isn't too bad; they usually do a good job with turning the tables. It's a simple place with simple dishes. They also have a few vegetable dishes, but I don't think it's worth wasting stomach space. Stick with the pasta. 


Notable Dishes: Tonnarelli all' Amatraciana and Bolognese (not pictured)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

REPUBLIQUE (LOS ANGELES, CA)

Republique
624 S. La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
www.republiquela.com
Tel: 310.362.6115
Cuisine: French
$$$ ($30-$45)
Sat, 08/19/2017, 9:15pm reservation
    (4 Piglets)



Republique is a restaurant that was once the space of Nancy Silverton and Mark Peel's Campanile. It is now the visions of Walter and Margarita Manzke, delivering French-inspired dishes.


The building itself is beautiful, a building that was the creation of Charlie Chaplin. There are large windows that peer into communal seatings and a compartment filled with pastries, oysters and cheese. In the back, beyond the tables where the skylight shines through is the main dining room. There is an open kitchen as well for diners to see the chefs cooking up a storm.

The menu is straight-forward. We ordered a variety of dishes.


MY FAVORITE DISH. MARGARITAS BAGUETTE ($7.00): with Normandy Butter. This is absolutely amaze-balls. The bread was perfectly crisp on the outside and chewy and moist on the inside. The butter...oh the butter...it is so luscious. It's creamy, decadent and full of flavor. It comes served with a bit of salt, so be sure to sprinkle a bit over the butter and bread. I would just come here for some butter and bread with a glass of wine and I'm a happy camper. 

FOIE GRAS TORCHON TOAST ($26.00): Nectarine Chutney, French Breakfast Radish. This is very similar to foie gras torchon served in France. It was a bit sweet with the nectarine, rich with the foie gras and fresh with the radish. It was a delicious bite. For those who don't like rich food, this dish isn't for you. 
BEEF TARTARE ($21.00): Tarragon Aioli, Pickled Red Onion, Potato Chips. This was probably my second favorite dish. I loved the crispiness of the potato chips that went with the tartare. You could taste the freshness of the meat and the aioli tied the onion and meat altogether. 

BRUSSEL SPROUTS ($18.00): Frisee, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Croutons, Soft Egg. This dish was pretty darn good. The Brussel sprouts were roasted perfectly, bringing out the sweetness and flavor of the vegetable. The bacon added the necessary fat and smokiness to the dish. The egg was the icing on top, making the dish luscious when mixed altogether. A must order! 
SWEET CORN AGNOLOTTI ($28.00): Chanterelle Mushrooms. This was probably my least favorite dish. A friend of mine loved it, but I didn't. I thought the filling, although creamy, was a little too sweet. The pasta itself was delicious and cooked al dente. It was light, but I just wasn't a fan. 

CARMELIZED WHITE CHOCOLATE SABAYON ($12.00): Pudwell Farms Berries, Strawberry Sorbet. I absolutely loved this dessert! I originally wanted the almond cake and had to settle for this dessert. I'm so glad I did. The sorbet was so creamy and refreshing and not too tart. I loved the meringue and fresh berries with the creamy sabayon. It had all the textures without being overly sweet and overly heavy. It was a good way to end the meal. 

Overall, I thought Republique was pretty good. I've been to this restaurant for brunch, which I thought was delicious. It definitely tries to highlight dishes that are French-inspired while giving it a modern and unique twist. The space itself is beautiful and can be a bit crowded and loud. Service was on point. They ran out of a few dishes, which was annoying. Other than that, it's a good place to have a gathering. 

Notable Dishes: Margarita's Baguette, Carmelized White Chocolate Sabayon, Beef Tartare

Saturday, August 5, 2017

MAGPIE (PHILADELPHIA, PA)

Magpie
1622 South St.
Philadelphia, PA 19146
www.iluvmagpie.com
Tel: 267.519.2904
Cuisine: Dessert, Pies
$ (under $15)
Sat, 07/15/2017, 8:30pm walk-in
    (4 piglets)



Following our indulgence of Philly cheesesteaks, my family and I were in the mood for something sweet. We wanted dessert that was a bit different than the usual ice cream pick. As we searched, we discovered a coffee and pie spot that wasn't too far from our current location.

Magpie is a pie spot that offers seasonal pies made by hand. It is located in a cute little area that seems to have a cool foodie feel to it. The store is quite small with a long bar countertop area as well as a few tables surrounding it. The interior is simple, but cute, reminding you that you just stepped into something that resembles Anthropology. The menu is basic with pies, coffee, and ice cream.

The menu
Cute Little sitting area

The bar seating

The bar
CAPPUCCINO ($3.75): The cappuccino was delicious. It was thick and frothy and had a cute heart design. The espresso had the perfect amount of strength that I didn't even need to add sugar.

GHIRADELLI WHITE HOT CHOCOLATE ($4.00): with house made marshmallow. This was delicious. The marshmallow wasn't the typical jetpuff marshmallow. It was light and airy and the white chocolate was sweet but not overly sweet. It was a good drink if you like hot chocolate and want something a bit different.

BLUEBERRY CRUMB A LA MODE ($6.00 +$2.50 FOR ICE CREAM): I thought this pie was just ok. I loved the crumb topping cause it is one of my favorites, but the whole pie altogether didn't amaze me. The crust had a nice buttery texture. I wasn't a fan of the ice cream. It was just way too crystalized and icy and lacked the creamy consistency I always look for in ice cream.  

BUTTERSCOTCH BOURBON ($5.25): I really enjoyed this pie. I'm a fan of butterscotch so a butterscotch pie made my dreams come true. It was creamy and buttery and the bourbon was really subtle. It was not too heavy and the crust was flaky. A good overall pie.

MY FAVORITE. BLACK AND WHITE ($5.50): This was a really good pie. It was rich with chocolate undertones without being overly decadent. I loved all the textures, from the buttery pie crust, to the creamy filling all the way to the crispy chocolate balls. It was a pie party in my mouth.
Overall, Magpie is a great dessert spot if you're looking for something different than the common ice cream. It is fairly small and cozy and offers great coffee options for the coffee lovers. They also have pie milkshakes where you can pick your favorite pie flavor and turn it into a drink! Additionally, if you're into savory pies, they have that too! Basically, it's a win-win situation for all.

Notable Dishes: Black and White Pie and Ghiradelli White Hot Chocolate

Sunday, July 30, 2017

GENO'S STEAKS (PHILADELPHIA, PA)

Geno's Steaks
1219 S. 9th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
www.genosteaks.com
Tel: 215.389.0659
Cuisine: Cheesesteaks
$ (under $15)
Sat, 07/15/2017, 7:30pm walk-in
    (3.5 Piglets)



Geno's is another iconic cheesesteak spot located across the street from Pat's. It is a rivalry between the two about who tastes better and which one is more authentic. In order to establish which one wins, my family and I did a comparison by eating one right after the other.

The place is just as busy as Pat's. There is also seating al fresco. There are two windows for ordering: one for the cheesesteaks and one for drinks and fries. We decided to try the fries here eventhough we did not order them at Pat's.

Condiments

Menu

Cash only

Drinks and Fries
CHEESESTEAK WITH WHIZ ($10.00): The steak was just ok. It is different than Pat's in the sense that Geno's has larger slices vs Pat's has chopped up steak. I felt as though it wasn't seasoned well and lacked a bit of flavor. The bread was good and it wasn't as greasy as Pat's. 

MY FAVORITE DISH. PEPPER CHEESE STEAK ($11.00): I preferred this sandwich over the cheesesteak with whiz. It had more flavor and the peppers gave it a little kick it needed. 

FRIES WITH WHIZ ON THE SIDE ($5.00): This was amazing. The fries were skinny fries, which is my fry of choice. The cheese dip  of whiz is delicious. It coagulates when it's cold, but who cares! The fries are crisp and when combined with the cheese, it takes it to a whole new level. This is the only way fries should be eaten in Philly. 
Overall, I thought Geno's was ok. Based on flavor, I think Pat's outweighs Geno's in that aspect. I think the slices of beef just made it more difficult to season the steak. We also asked them to slice the sandwich in quarters, but the workers were not the brightest and didn't know what quarters meant. That being said, it's still not bad. It's a great alternative to Pat's if the line is long. The rivalry between Pat's or Geno's is what I believe to be a personal preference of the type of beef you like. 

Notable Dishes: Fries with Whiz and Pepper Cheesesteak