Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Food Photos

This is an interesting article on taking pictures in restaurants.  It also features some comments by chefs we really respect - especially Sean Brock.

We have never hesitated to take pictures of our food.  We try to do it quickly and without a flash.  We never really thought that a restaurant might not appreciate it.

I will add that we will try to take pictures of all the food we review, but I also want the readers to realize that the pictures are there to add to the description, but we are not professional photographers.  If we say the food looked and tasted good - it looked and tasted good.  If the picture doesn't look good to you, it's probably a reflection of our lack of skill with a camera, and not a reflection on the food.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Pizza Roma Diner - North Charleston, SC - 2nd Visit

Quick, photo-free review of Pizza Roma Diner.  This was a spur of the moment visit so I had no camera.  Last time we had breakfast, this time, dinner, specifically, pizza.

We had the Three Little Piggies (BACON, ham and sausage) and the White Burgundy Pizza (white cheeses with mushrooms and onions.)  The crusts were exceptional and the tomato sauce on the piggies was delicious.  It had great tomato flavor but did not overwhelm the rest of the pizza.  The piggies had the perfect amount of toppings.  We gave the Piggies a 4.25 and the White a 3.5.  I really expect to enjoy a lot of pizzas here because they have the basics down pat (crust and sauce.)  The lower score on the White was probably more a matter of taste preferences than a reflection on the quality.

We plan on going here again for dessert (we spent at least ten minutes drooling over the dessert case!)

Give these guys a try, you'll enjoy it.

Pizza Roma Diner on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fulton Five - Charleston, SC

This was our third trip to Fulton Five, but our first since starting a food blog.  I had no doubts that they would deliver an outstanding dining experience (based on the first two visits) and I was not disappointed.  There is very little to nitpick at this restaurant so I'll get the only one out of the way.  It's a small place, it will be crowded and it will be a bit noisy.  There's really nothing they can do about it, and in some ways the background noise enhances the ability to have a private conversation in a crowded restaurant.  The only reason I bring it up is to make sure you are not surprised by this and let it interfere with what will inevitably be a delight of a meal.

Fulton Five specializes in Northern Italian cuisine.  This focus allows them to consistently deliver amazing food, without being distracted by the latest foodie trend.  This is not to say that the food is boring in any way.  It is not!  They take the cuisine in great directions, while sticking to their roots.

Obviously, I love the food here, but my next favorite part is the service.  They have a knowledgeable and extremely helpful staff that knows every aspect of what the restaurant is doing.  They work great as a team and it's obvious that their is low turnover and great leadership by the manager.  If you aren't sure what you'd like, ask.  If you want to know what wine is best with your food, ask.  They'll know, and they are genuinely enthusiastic when they talk about food and wine.

Now to our food:

We started with a pair of appetizers.  I got the bruschetta special, a delectable combination of white beans, tomatoes and an awesome balsamic drizzle.  The picture doesn't do it justice (bad blogger bit before taking picture!)  I don't know how they kept the bread crispy with all the wonderfulness on top - but they did.  I gave it a near perfect 4.75.  So close to a 5 that I can't really enumerate why it wasn't a 5, except to say a 5 is something almost godlike and special.
Kari got the same thing she always gets, the Arugala Salad.  This cornucopia of lusciousness has perfect, crisp, spicy arugala, combined with figs, marcona almonds, parmesan and a super lemon vinaigrette.  The picture doesn't do this one justice either.  It also scored a 4.75.
Kari also had the Shrimp Tagliatelle with Pesto Cream Sauce.  The shrimp were excellent and the pasta obviously house made and perfectly al dente.  The basil was exactly balanced with the cream in the sauce.  We scored this a 4.25.
Sort of lastly was my Braised Beef Short Ribs.  I originally thought it was over risotto, but it turned out to be something akin to grits - I forgot to ask what.  The beef was perfectly cooked, more than fork tender - I would call it baby tender.  The outside had that crisp, flavorful crust that is the hallmark of great beef and the satisfaction of my most primitive desires regarding my food.  The sauce was deep, rich and made my soul happy.  I give the dish a 4.5.

Go here.  Take a date you want to impress.  Enjoy the amazing bread and olive oil they start you with and prepare yourself for some great food.  I love Charleston food, and the great thing about Fulton Five is that they fit perfectly in this great food city, but are distinctly different in a way that really stands out from the crowd.

Fulton Five on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bella Vita Bistro - Wichita, KS

This is a guest review from a friend in Wichita: The inside is very elegant, rather dark, with 3 separately themed rooms, and a very romantic atmosphere. We both started off with some unsweetened tea. Then we were served deliciously fresh, warm bread and the waiter prepared the vinegar & oil with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper to taste on the dish:

We chose to skip the appetizers and proceeded to place our order. Todd decided to try the Caesar Salad which included fresh, crisp Romaine lettuce tossed with a house made Caesar dressing topped with saffron crusted croutons. As you can see, it had quite a unique style of preparation:

I chose the House Salad which consisted of fresh, crisp Romaine & baby spring mix topped with tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, carrots & croutons served with an amazing house balsamic vinaigrette dressing:

Again, both were sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and cracked pepper by our very knowledgeable server.

For his main course, Todd chose the Chicken Francese which consisted of a tender breast of chicken dipped in egg batter and gently sautéed with lemon, butter & white wine served over his choice of 1 of 4 pastas:

Upon reading several excellent reviews prior to our visit, I went with the Lasagna Al Forno. This was unlike any lasagna I've ever had. It was made with sliced prosciutto ham, fresh porcini mushrooms, marscapone cheese & house made meat sauce layered between fresh pasta sheets, baked to a golden brown and topped with a three cheese béchamel sauce:

Both Todd & I sampled one another's salads and entree's and were both equally impressed with our selections. We finished off the meal with a rather surprising after dinner mint which was a cocoa-crusted tiramisu ball with a caramel center, delightfully presented on a tiny silver spoon:
Overall, neither of us had a single complaint and were both completely and utterly surprised and delighted with the entire experience. I'm sure we will be returning soon! Bella Vita Bistro on Urbanspoon