Feasting on Eataly-ian Pizza!

Work travels recently brought me out to Chicago again — for my shortest work trip ever (1.5 days), I might add — and since I was in need of a quick meal for lunch in between working hours, I stopped by the local Eataly* to grab some good eats, since it was nearby my “office” for the day.

I dined at Eataly’s La Pizza & La Pasta station again, since I had a decent experience there last time a year and a half ago.   This time, I wasn’t terribly hungry, so decided to order an appetizer instead of an entree.  I ordered La Stella, described as pizza with cherry tomato, arugula, shaved grana padano, fresh basil, and extra virgin olive oil from Sorrento.  Sounds delicious, right?!  Just reading the description made my mouth water, and I had no regrets at all about ordering it once it came to the table fresh from the coal-fired oven!

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It had just the kind of crust I like… thin, yet crispy and chewy.  The vibrantly-colored veggies piled high atop it also looked and tasted very fresh, and even though I’m not a big fan of arugula, the combination of the greens and the rest of the pizza was really quite tolerable!  The overall presentation of the pie was very nice, and the pizza was a good-sized portion as well.  Clearly no complaints here — and can’t wait to go back and try the desserts next time!  🙂

*Location:
43 E Ohio St
Chicago, IL 60611

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Authentic Homemade Rigatoni at Trattoria di Campo

I’m making up for lost time here, since I’ve eaten out plenty and clearly haven’t posted enough… so here’s my second post of the day!

I recently tried out another “new” restaurant in Doral… Trattoria di Campo, an Italian restaurant located in the same plaza as Capriccio.  I originally stumbled upon it after searching for “lunch specials” on Yelp, and shortly thereafter remembered that awhile back, an Italian co-worked had also recommended that I try it.

After being seated at a table, while munching on the deliciously chewy-on-the-inside-crispy-on-the-outside bread and olive oil with cheese dip — this might be one of my favorite breads in the area — I considered my lunch options.  Should I go with one of the $9.99 lunch specials or one of the $13.50 lunch specials?  (FYI, I tried searching for an online version of the menus afterwards but couldn’t find it, so I came to the conclusion that the restaurant actually changes the specials menu from time to time.)  I opted for the $9.99 combo, which included a bowl of pasta and a soda.  Rigatoni in a tomato-based red sauce and… my default soda option, Sprite!

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Di Campo uses ingredients from Italy and also handmakes its own pasta — and you can definitely tell from eating it!  I thoroughly enjoyed the texture of the pasta, especially since it was cooked to a perfect al dente… not too soft like how pasta is cooked at many other restaurants.  The tomato sauce was really tasty too, and included chunks of tomatoes.  Also, notice the mountain of cheese atop the pasta… who doesn’t love cheese?!  Overall, I think I might rate this as good!

*Location:
9533 NW 41st St
Doral, FL 33178

The Unexciting Split Pea Soup at Capriccio

Remember Capriccio*?  Well they actually serve more than just paninis and salads… they also serve soups!

As you can see, I ordered a bowl of soup.  Split pea soup, that is.  There wasn’t anything extraordinary about it.  It was really just average.  Okay, I guess.  It even had an average price tag of $5.

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FYI, the restaurant serves complimentary bread too — it’s located by the complimentary water — which went well with my soup, though there was nothing extraordinary about the bread either.  But who could say no to free?!

Anyhoo, since I wasn’t super impressed this time, I might just stick to their paninis the next time I go.  I’ve had some pretty good luck with those…

*Location:
9551 NW 41st St
Doral, FL 33178

New Segafredo Coffee Shop in Town!

I don’t go out for coffee much, but when I do… #gobigorgohome

042715_segafredo_coffeeA new Segafredo* coffee shop (and restaurant/lounge) recently popped up in the Pines, and it’s a pretty snazzy hangout, if I might say so myself.  This coffee shop and restaurant has a pretty extensive menu, as well as plenty of (sectioned) seating areas, so it’s probably worth visiting more than once!  With a legacy that’s 30 years old, I’m sure Segafredo’s got their recipes down right!

I ordered some coffee there earlier this April, but they were still working out all the kinks in the cash registers, so long story short… I got some free (and delicious) coffee!  Iced latte on the left, warm cappuccino on the right.

What’s your favorite local coffee shop?

*Location:
The Shops At Pembroke Gardens
527 SW 145th Terrace
Pembroke Pines, FL 33027

Four-Course Lunch in The Black Crab on MSC Divina

Dining on a cruise ship is the best!  Today’s adventure… the MSC Divina out of the Port of Miami!  Italian-style cruising, somewhat similar to what Costa Cruises offers.

I experienced a four-course (really, five-course) lunch in The Black Crab dining room.  I’d ordinarily tell you about my tour, but since I’m exhausted from spending nearly a day onboard and in the sun — the sun really saps my energy — I’ll just cut to the chase and show you some pictures from my culinary adventures.

First up, the appetizer… Smoked Salmon Roll with chive cheese mousse filling.  The “chive cheese” was only a little piece of chive garnish atop the plate.  Also, what’s the difference between “cheese mousse” and cream cheese?!  The dollops of sauce in the foreground were tasty though… kind of like Big Mac sauce.  Not sure what the green veggies in the back were, as they weren’t mentioned on the menu… I’d rate this plate an okay-fine.

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Next up, the soup… Ca’ppuccino, cream of Porcini mushroom soup topped with frothed milk, served with a mini cumin croissant.

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A Taste of Italy on the Costa Mediterranea

Those of you that have been reading my blog likely know by now that food is the way to my heart.  And I am always open to and appreciative of a good ethnic meal.

Luckily, I got to experience an authentic piece of Italy today, onboard an authentic (and gorgeous) Italian cruise ship — the Costa Mediterranea!  My morning began with a nice frothy cup of cappuccino — and great service to go along with it.  So good so far.  After a three-hour walking tour of the ship, I had the privilege of having lunch onboard in one of the ship’s main dining rooms.

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Like any good Italian meal, this meal started off with antipasti.  Prosciutto crudo e Grana Padano con bruschetta al pomodoro.  Translation: Raw ham and Grana Padano cheese with tomato “bruschetta.”  (I had the privilege of walking through the galley of the Mediterranea earlier and saw the chefs carving the chunks of cheese out of a humongous cheese wheel, so had been mentally drooling and super eager to try this appetizer.) Continue reading

Capriccio at Capriccio!

Interested in a pretty solid panini or salad in Miami?  Then check out Capriccio*!

Today I ordered my default, the Capriccio panini.  Essentially, it’s a grilled chicken sandwich with roasted red peppers, provolone cheese, and Pesto Genovese spread (i.e. classic basil pesto) on Ciabatta bread.

The bread comes out pretty crispy on the outside, so it’s pretty good.  The sandwich packs enough flavor and the chicken is also fairly moist!  The sandwich also comes with some form of garlicky aioli on the side, which is pretty delicious too.  I put a fair amount on, though had to resist eating all of it, so I wouldn’t scare away my co-workers back at the office with my garlic breath.  Overall rating?  Good.

093014_capriccio_capriccioCan’t say that the portion size is anywhere near the larger end in Doral, but each meal is definitely enough food if you need to sit comfortably at a desk for a few hours straight after lunch.  I dunno about you, but I’d prefer to avoid food comas at work.

 

*Location:
9551 NW 41st St
Doral, FL 33178

Veal Chop and Black Truffle Pappardelle at Il Gabbiano

It’s been a while since I last posted, and I think at this point, I’m sadly about two weeks behind.  That means I’ve got a bit of catching up to do, so here we go!

Last last Tuesday, I had dinner at Il Gabbiano*, a fancy schmancy Italian restaurant right on the waterfront in Brickell.  This establishment was once on my Miami restaurants bucket list and long forgotten, but I was finally able to cross it off!  *happy dance*

The meal started off with a couple quick and easy starters, offered to all patrons, compliments of the restaurant.  Parmesan cheese — carved from a block thrice the size of my head — and vinaigrette.  An assortment of bread.  Bruschetta.  Zucchini chips.  *violin quartet*

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The cheese and bruschetta were good — very flavorful — but the zucchini chips were a disappointment, since they had gone limp, below average at best.  Sadly, I didn’t really sample the bread, since I wanted to leave room for my entree… maybe next time. Continue reading

Try Some Italian American Fusion at Divieto

New restaurant!  And this time, new genre too — Italian American fusion!  I don’t think I’ve been to a restaurant that mixes those two specific flavors, so I was pretty excited to check out Divieto*.

A co-worker and I headed over to the restaurant around noon and luckily just avoided the lunch rush.  Right before leaving the office, we scoped out the online menu and were set on ordering lunch specials off the “Executive Menu.”  We even had the slightest glimmer of hope that we’d be able to ration our meals!  (Seriously, all this eating out is making me fat.)  After being seated at the restaurant, reality slapped us in the face, as we learned that the Executive Menu on the web was outdated and no longer available.  What?!  Fail #1.  #startfromscratch

The ambiance in the restaurant was very nice — vintage, yet modern — so we decided to forgive and forget that the original Executive Menu was unavailable, move on with our lives, and order something else from the current menu — of course still with the hope that we’d be able to ration our meals.  Turns out that not only would we not be able to ration, but the lunch special portions weren’t even really enough for one full meal.  Fail #2.

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Keep reading, it gets better.  I ordered the Shrimp Bistro, essentially linguine in lemon sauce, with shrimp, tomato, and arugula.  Pretty delicious, flavorful.  Fine.  The waitress had introduced it as a “special,” so thinking she meant lunch special — logical, since we had just asked about those — I went ahead and ordered it, along with a house salad.  (Lunch specials are supposed to come with either soup or salad.)  Come bill time, I was unpleasantly slapped (again) with a $3 surcharge for the salad!  Apparently “special” does not mean “lunch special.”  Uuugh… Fail #3.

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Though this culinary adventure might sound like an overall fail, at least we accomplished trying something new.  I actually enjoyed the taste of my meal — though not so much the cost — so I suppose I could be convinced to go back again… but next time, I’d want to first inquire about the current Executive Menu!

Try any interesting fusion restaurants lately?

*Location:
10650 NW 41st St
Doral, FL 33178

Meatball Lunch Special at Mozzarella

Quick was key for today’s lunch, so my co-workers and I decided to give Mozzarella* a try.  If you couldn’t tell, it’s Italian.

Naturally, I gravitate towards the lunch specials — that’s the economist in me — and today was no different.  According to Mozzarella’s tableside menu, all the specials were to be served “with two side dishes (add pasta or risotto +$1.50).”  Sounded good to me, so I went for “Meatballs” with veggies and an Italian salad.  Oh, and also mushroom risotto.  Why not?  Go big or go home, right?

Ten minutes after placing my order, the waitress walked over and started explaining some details about the lunch specials to one of my co-workers.  In Spanish.  Her comment was acknowledged, but then she turned to me and asked if that was okay.  Um… since when could I speak Spanish?  Fluently?!  (FYI, one thing about Miami is that people automatically assume you speak Spanish.)  ¿Qué?  ¡No hablo español!

Apparently, I could either order two sides or a pasta/risotto, not both.  (Btw, this directive was much more clear in the restaurant’s online menu.)  I said that just the two sides were fine, which sent the waitress back into the kitchen, only to come out five minutes later to say that the “risotto was almost finished” so I couldn’t cancel it after all.  Fine.  I told her to just nix the greens then.

15-20 minutes later, the food arrived.  In the meanwhile, I was hungry, so noshed on some bread.  Shout out to the bread!  Fluffy and warmish on the inside, crunchy on the outside, my favorite combo of (bread) textures!  The bread was gone pretty quickly, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to snap any photos…

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That’s the mushroom risotto on the left and meatballs on the right.  Both were pretty ordinary, though the risotto could’ve been creamier and mushier.  The mushrooms were subtly tasty though, and not overcooked, which was nice.  I appreciate mushrooms that aren’t overcooked.  Generally speaking though, the meal, including the presentation, was really quite ordinary.  Three out of five stars.  Okay.

Quick service though?  Probably not so much…

What’s your favorite pasta dish?

*Location:
7930 NW 36th St
Doral, FL 33166