Jul 022014
 

A while back, S and I decided to have a date night somewhere close by (as in, UTC area). We wanted to try something new, and he suggested Villa Capri Italian Kitchen, in the Towne Centre Drive plaza. I was craving Italian food, so we decided to check it out.

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This was a spur-of-the-moment thing, so we didn’t have reservations or anything. I was initially worried that we’d have to wait, but luckily there were a few tables open. 

Complimentary bread

Complimentary bread

We started out with a basket of warm bread, which we enjoyed!

The menu was actually quite extensive, consisting of appetizers, salads, pizzas, pastas, and entrées. S and I decided to try one pasta and one entrée.

By the way, I have to apologize for the quality of the photos here. I’m trying out a new lens, but it doesn’t seem to do so well in lower-light conditions.

Penne Villa Capri: penne pasta with Italian sausage, bell peppers, and onion in a pink tomato sauce [$14]

Penne Villa Capri: penne pasta with Italian sausage, bell peppers, and onion in a pink tomato sauce [$14]

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Continue reading »

Jun 042014
 

I’m a huge fan of quick and easy weeknight dinners – S and I usually get home around 7PM and are starving, so I try to whip up something quick if we’re eating in. Pasta is one of my go-to meals since it’s simple, and S loves it. I’ve made spaghetti with meat sauce so many times, and today I’m finally sharing my recipe.

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To be honest, I think everyone has his or her own version of spaghetti with meat sauce, and mine is by no means the best out there – but it’s quick and easy, and I think it’s pretty delicious.

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Do you have a favorite meat sauce recipe? Comment and let me know!

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Continue reading »

Jul 022013
 

A while ago, I had lunch with the awesome Dennis of A Radiused Corner. I’ve wanted to meet him for quite a long time, since I’ve always found his blog really interesting and informative – before visiting his blog, I actually knew nothing about the different varieties of ramen, and now I can’t say I know much more, but I’ve really learned a lot from Dennis’ blog. He is currently doing an awesome series called “Everyday Bentos,” in which he documents the packed lunches of “everyday folks” – from salon hairstylists to homeopathic practitioners. It’s quite a creative project and a bit different from what many other food blogs feature. So, go check it out! :D

Anyway, we decided to visit Bella Vista Caffe, which is located on the premises of Sanford Consortium. It was relatively close to where both of us worked, and it had a really nice view and patio seating.

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Unfortunately I arrived a bit late, so we waited a while in line for the ordering counter. That gave us plenty of time to chat and make our decisions for what to eat, though! Hehe. Dennis decided to try the leek & truffle quiche, one of their newer menu additions I’m guessing, and a side of their from-scratch mushroom soup.

Leek & Truffle Quiche with side salad

Leek & Truffle Quiche with side salad

Mushroom soup

Mushroom soup

Continue reading »

May 112013
 

A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated S’s birthday! He asked me to choose the restaurant, so I thought we could try out Piatti, a little Italian restaurant in La Jolla. I had been there once and thought the food was pretty good, and we gathered up some good friends for a little celebration.

The restaurant does take reservations, thankfully, but I had to provide a credit card and was told that I would be charged $100 for no-show. It was a bit intimidating, and I couldn’t help but wonder if they really would charge the money. Well, good thing I didn’t need to find out…

Parking in LJ is always a pain but luckily we got a spot right in front of the restaurant! I was so excited that we found parking that I forgot to take a photo of the restaurant. Whoops.

Well, I’ll start with the bread, then…

Complimentary bread

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I’ve heard ravings about the bread and balsamic sauce long before my first visit, and truly, all of the claims of deliciousness are justified. The bread is served warm in a cute metal basket, and there were several generous plates of the dipping sauce. The sauce is made up of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a mix of garlic, basil, and other herbs. It was so good! I’m pretty sure I finished an entire basket of bread on my own, thanks to that sauce.

We had a pretty big group of people, but I didn’t get to taste everyone’s food or take photos. I’ll just share a couple of dishes that my friends ordered…

Rolled Pasta with wild mushrooms, ricotta, spinach, and porcini mushroom sauce [$15.50]

Rolled Pasta with wild mushrooms, ricotta, spinach, and porcini mushroom sauce [$15.50]

Continue reading »

Feb 172013
 

Ristorante Kaz is the sister restaurant of Izakaya Sakura, one of my favorite places on Convoy for weekend lunch. It serves Japanese-style pastas, and I’ve wanted to try it out ever since hearing about its opening. A couple of weeks ago, we finally made it there for lunch along with one of our friends.

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The restaurant has a sign now, unlike a previous time when I walked around this plaza twice and didn’t find the restaurant – I thought it wasn’t open yet and left in disappointment. Then, I found out that like Sakura, they just didn’t have a sign. Anyway… hooray, now you can actually find this place.

When we went around noon on a Saturday, it was absolutely deserted – usually a bad sign in my book. But I had read some pretty good reviews, so maybe not enough people knew about this place. The interior is almost exactly like Sakura’s but even smaller (and without the sushi bar, of course). There was a little chalkboard with menu specials, but we decided to go with the lunch prix-fixe, which starts at $12 with a basic salad, soup, and choice of pasta. There are upgrades to each item, for an additional fee.

(By the way, I could have sworn that I took a photo of the menu, but it somehow got lost in cyberspace.)

To start, we were given complimentary bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

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We actually liked the warm, toasted bread so much that we asked for some more. I think the waitress was slightly amused that we enjoyed bread so much.

Caprese salad

Caprese salad

Instead of the house salad, I upgraded to the caprese salad for $2 extra. I love this dish, and Kaz did a pretty good job and had fresh ingredients. I thought it was quite a generous size, too.

Cabbage soup

Cabbage soup

I went with the soup of the day, which was a cabbage soup with salted pork. Continue reading »

Jun 192012
 

First things first: I spent the weekend organizing my categories and tags, and I realized that upon updating, my Twitter feed (and possibly RSS feed?) was basically flooded with each update.  So, I apologize for the spam – but my tags and categories were driving me nuts!

Anyway, now that everything is organized (mwahaha), let’s move on to my dinner at Lorna’s Italian Kitchen.  Our friend E. recommended this to us, and since SK and I love pasta, we had to check it out.

This was definitely a family-style restaurant – nice and cozy, about 10 tables and a counter for take out.  (However, SK later told me that there was another whole section next door that also belonged to Lorna’s, so you could probably have large parties there, too.)  We were seated promptly, and the service was very friendly.

We started off with some warm, fluffy bread…

For my entree, I chose the Tagliatelle Bolognese – which, by the way, was the only one with a “spicy!” note in the description.  So of course I had to get it.

Tagliatelle Bolognese: fettuccini in cream sauce with sausage, ground beef, plum tomatoes, fresh garlic and oregano, $12.75

It wasn’t that spicy (even SK says so), but it sure was tasty.  The fettucini was cooked slightly past al dente, but I’m not very picky about that.  The tomato-cream sauce was packed full of flavor (thank you garlic!) but not too heavy, and the sausage and ground beef went really well with the sauce.  I would definitely love to try and imitate the recipe at home.

Ferni Pasta: penne pasta in a garlic cream sauce with chicken, broccoli, mushrooms and red peppers, $12.95

SK’s entree, the Ferni Pasta, was much creamier – it tasted sort of like alfredo sauce, but with lots of garlic, and you bet I’m going to start adding garlic to all my alfredo sauces from now on, because it just adds so much deliciousness.  Again, the pasta was slightly past al dente, and the chicken was very tender.  Another delicious pasta!

The bottom line?  I loved my dinner at this family-style restaurant.  The atmosphere is very warm, and the food is great and comes in large portions.  I would definitely recommend Lorna’s to any pasta lovers out there!

Lorna’s Italian Kitchen
3945 Governor Drive, San Diego, CA
(858) 452-0661

http://www.lornasitalian.com/

Hours:
Tue-Thu 11am-9pm; Fri 11am-10pm; Sat-Sun 4pm-9pm

Apr 302012
 

I visited Pasta Espresso with SK and another pasta-lover friend.  Tucked away in PB, it had a sort of rustic charm to it, adding to my already-pretty-high expectations for this place based on friends’ and reviewer recommendations.

The menu is pretty simple: five different types of pastas, four different sauces.  You choose the combination ($8 for regular portion, $9.50 for a larger portion).

They actually ran out of the fire spirals, which was pretty disappointing to me since I was obviously the most interested in that one.

The three of us tried three different combos.  When they arrived, we were somewhat surprised – the sauce was meatless, and the portion was average~small.  There was also nothing charming about the plates used, which reminded me of cafeteria food.  I suppose I should have expected that the sauces were not made with meat – after all, there was a “ground turkey” sauce – but still, meat is a pretty important component for SK and me.

Red pepper fettucine with alfredo sauce

Least favorite of the three.  The pasta was cooked to a perfect al dente, but it lacked the nice red color that you’d expect from red pepper fettucine.  Even worse, the alfredo sauce was pretty bland – we all felt that there’s definitely much better alfredo out there (or even homemade).

Angel hair with pesto sauce

The pesto sauce was better than the alfredo, probably my favorite sauce of the three, but it was still nothing spectacular.  Again, the pasta was cooked nicely, but the dish did not impress me.

Spinach fettucine with marinara sauce

The spinach fettucine was actually a pretty green color and contrasted nicely with the red marinara sauce.  As the same with the previous two, they really do know how to make good pasta, but the sauce just tasted so generic that I couldn’t appreciate the meal the way I should have.

The bottom line?  If you’re into homemade pasta cooked to al dente perfection, and you don’t care about the sauce or meat?  Then you can check it out.  Otherwise, I’d say that Pastalini serves up a nice bowl of pasta, with a wide variety of sauces, meats, and veggies, and for a lower price.

Pasta Espresso
4480 Haines St., San Diego, CA
(858) 272-9448
http://pastaespressopb.com/

Hours
Mon-Sun 11:30am-9pm

Dec 242010
 

Sid has apparently wanted to try out Pastalini, a fast-casual pasta bar, so we went a couple of days ago. Upon entering, we were both reminded of the pasta bar in the Marketplace (or Great Hall) at Duke. You pick your noodles, sauce, meat, and veggies, and they cook it for you on the spot. Fortunately, the selections and food are much better than Great Hall… There were at least six different types of noodles: fettucine, bowtie, rigatoni, angel hair; or cheese tortellini, gnocchi, and whole wheat pasta (for an additional charge). There was also a wide variety of sauces, and you can taste any of the sauces. I tried the sun-dried tomato and immediately loved it. Sid tried the alfredo and said that it was good (nice and garlicky), but went with the pesto instead.

There were also several options for meat, and many different veggies. I eventually decided on pomegranate meatballs (although the Italian sausage was quite tempting), and roasted squash and mushrooms.

Preparing my food:

As you can tell, you can see everything that’s going on, which is pretty cool. They have 3 burners and had 2 going at a time. (They also serve custom pizzas, which are made in the back.) You can choose to have your pasta seasoned with garlic paste, salt & pepper, red pepper flakes, and oregano. (I got all but oregano.)

My food (Angel hair pasta with sun-dried tomato sauce, pomegranate meatballs, roasted zucchini, and mushrooms). It’s served with three ADORABLE bread buns:

It was a nice dish, although in retrospect, I should have paired the pomegranate meatballs with the pomegranate marinara.. One downside is that my sauce was quite oily – and so was Sid’s pesto. A few of the zucchini pieces were a TAD overroasted and had an unpleasant burnt taste, so I’m not sure I’d recommend that. Sid’s spinach and onions worked pretty well, though, with his grilled chicken and pesto.

Pastalini is definitely a good lunch spot – fast, cheap (~$7), large portions (I got two good meals out of it). I say ‘lunch spot’ because it’s only open till 7:30pm on weekdays, and closed on weekends, which I found a little strange but if you’ve got the time and are in the area, stop by and let me know what you think.

(P.S. we went to the Miramar Rd location – there is a second location in Linda Vista, which has more extended hours.)