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Archive for February, 2011

Zero Zero gets its name from the type of flour that is typically used in making pizza dough. My friend recently put this on his list of great places for artisan pizza in San Francisco. I couldn’t resist making a detour here to check it out.

My friends and I decided to have dinner here after our yearly Christmas/Birthdays spa treatments in the city. Our reservations were for 8:30, but we figured since it was a Martin Luther King Day and a Monday that we should be able to grab a table a little earlier. Ummm. No. The restaurant was completely full! We were both surprised and excited since we figured that a busy restaurant in a low foot traffic area meant good food.

Starters
Olive Oil Tasting Crudo – I really like tasting different kinds of olive oils. When the seafood crudo of the day featured a tasting of olive oils, I had to have it. Each of the crudos featured a sashimi of some type of fish. For some odd reason, I stopped reading at the words “olive oil tasting” and didn’t realize that the sashimi was paired with the olive oil. However, I was in for a pleasant surprise. The olive oils really enhanced the raw fish, presenting an excellent mingling of flavors. It was absolutely perfect.

Roman Style Dumplings – To me, the Roman Style Dumpling had the texture of crispy polenta. (Maybe its the same thing and I’m just not aware). I really liked the dumplings, my friend really liked the pork belly that came with the dish.

Beet Salad – The salad was fresh and “lively” with many different textures: beets, arugula, Cara Cara orange, avocado, radish drizzled with a citrus vinagrette.

Pizza
Both pizzas were good. The crust was large and crisp, but with the right combination of chewy-ness. On both pizzas there were some larger sized air bubbles burnt a little black, but it didn’t detract from the pizza overall.

Margherita Extra – The only “extra” difference is the buffalo mozzarella that they add to this pizza. Tasty pizza with light easy toppings. The buffalo mozzarella is definitely worth it.

Castro – Mmmm Meat lovers pizza.

Dessert
What a great concept! You get a tick sheet where you can mix and match your ingredients to your heart’s delight. One thing that you should be cautious of is that you can end up making a really expensive dessert if you’re not paying attention. Instructions basically say: pick an ice cream, pick a base, pile on the toppings. The ice cream is $5, the base is $4, toppings are $0.50, and extra special toppings are $1. Just picking one from each category already puts the dessert at $10.50. My friend didn’t realize this and ended up creating some concoction that was $11!

Dessert #1: Vanilla ice cream with Da Vera Olive Oil and Sea Salt ($6)
Wow. I would never have put this combination together but it was absolutely fascinating! It had this absolutely incredible sweet and savory taste to it. Loved it.

Dessert #2: Mascarpone Cheese cake with pomegranate seeds and saffron ($5)
Something in this combination was a little odd. I couldn’t tell if it was the texture of the mascarpone in the cheese cake or the saffron. I think it might have been the saffron flavor.

Dessert #3: Warm Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ice Cream, Hot Fudge, Caramel, Cocoa Nibs, and Toffee ($11)
Just the description put me in to sugar shock. Doh.

This was a good solid meal which definitely had its highlights. The pizza was good, but it wasn’t fantastic. I think I’d still rather go to A16.

Zero Zero
826 Folsom Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 348-8800

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I’ve been to Half Moon Bay several times before but never ventured to the Ritz Carlton before. Perched on the coast line behind some luxury homes, the hotel has a stunning view of the ocean. On the way to the restaurant, you pass through the Conservatory Lounge which serves a lunch menu that looked pretty good. We were exciting seeing this, thinking that Navio would be serving even better food.

Navio is an expansive restaurant with warm dark wood paneling. It stands in stark contrast to the bright white of the Conservatory Lounge. Even though there was plenty of elbow room, some aspect of the wood paneling made me claustrophobic. Navio has an enormous open kitchen. Since there were quite a few tables in the restaurant, I was hoping for a show. I love watching the line chefs work. Much to my dismay, it seemed as if lunch was prepared in an alternate kitchen and then brought in.

Starters
Charcuterie Plate – Very nice collection of cured meats: Speck Ham, Sopressata, Wagyu Beef Country Style Terrine, Nostrano Salami and various accoutrements. The house made mustard had a strong flavor of mustard that made it quite unique. Great way to start a meal.

Entree
I’m a sucker for short ribs. Navio had braised short rib sliders on the menu. However, I have to say that I was a little disappointed. The meat was tender but not extremely flavorful. The bun was a small ciabatta roll, I think. It was a little to crusty on the outside. The best part was the pickled onions on top of the short ribs. Its pretty sad when you order a meal and the best part is one of the garnishes.

Dessert
Since the entree was two smallish short rib sliders and french fries, I had quite a bit of room left over for dessert. We ordered the Tahitian Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee and Ice Cream Profiteroles. The Creme Brulee came in this canoe-like dish. It was maybe 1.5-2″ wide and was a very cool way to present creme brulee…..until you realize that the spoons don’t fit the width of the dish. FAIL.

The profiteroles were elegant and creamy. But tough to share. Trying cut them in half sent them scooting across the bowl. Best that only one person tries to eat this.

We realized part way through the meal that the Conservatory Lounge and Navio serve nearly the exact same lunch menu. The only difference is that Navio diners receive complimentary valet parking while Conservatory Lounge diners have only discounted valet parking. I think it might be worth a trip back to Navio for Dinner or the Sunday Brunch that is so highly touted. I definitely won’t be returning for the lunch. I think there are other places to have that same gorgeous view and more reasonably priced ( and better? ) food.

Navio at the Ritz Carlton, Half Moon Bay
1 Miramontes Point Road
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
(650) 712-7000
http://www.naviorestaurant.com/

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Continuing our journey down the CA coast, we stopped for a night in Santa Barbara. When I called for reservations at Jane on a Friday night, they indicated that they were completely full, but could take walk-ins if we came early enough. A restaurant with only walk-in availability on Friday nights should be good sign. So off to the restaurant we went.

Starters:
Coconut Shrimp – The coconut crust on the shrimp was cooked a little more than I preferred. Instead of golden brown, it was a little on the darkish side. However, the shrimp inside was extremely fresh. I guess for me that sort of balanced things out for me on this dish.

Papaya and Dungeness Crab Salad – I wasn’t sure how the sweet fruit would pair with the savory seafood, but this dish was such a pleasant surprise. The papaya had a sweet dense texture, ripe but not mushy. The crab was slightly sweet with a salty undertone. Paired together, the flavor was complex and multi-layered. The bed of greens underneath had a light vinagrette that did not detract from the primary components of the salad.

Entrees:
House made Lamb Sausage with Fettucini – I still remember a lamb pasta dish from Florence from several years ago. It’s my “favorite lamb pasta dish” that I have never ever found a replacement for. This dish from Jane came very, very close to taking over that title. The house made lamb sausage was incredible. It was well seasoned and had a great meaty texture. It had a good lamb flavor without being too “lamby”. One of my dinner companions didn’t realize until much later that it was lamb that she was eating. To round out the dish, the fresh pasta and light sauce complemented the sausage perfectly. Mmmmm..

Pan Seared Duck Breast – The papaya / crab salad and the lamb sausage pasta were a tough act to follow. The duck breast entree tried really hard, but ultimately I don’t think it matched up to the other two dishes. The dish was good, not great and definitely not memorable when compared to the other dishes.

Fresh, Fresh, Fresh. I love the fact that Jane uses extremely fresh ingredients from the local Santa Barbara area. It really shows in the food. I would definitely eat here again!

1311 State St
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 962-1311

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Bar 35 – Honolulu, HI

We met up with a friend in Honolulu for dinner and drinks. He had been working there on a contract gig for the last 4 months. He introduced us to Bar 35 pizza. The front room of the bar is like any other swank SF club: large bar area, seating, dance floor, etc. Since it was a gorgeous night in Honolulu, we sat out on the back patio.  The pizza is prepped in a small room that almost looks like the coat check area of any other club. If you weren’t paying attention, you’d walk right past it on the way to the back patio.

We love artisan pizza, especially thin cracker-crust like pizza. While the traditional pizza toppings are great comfort food, nothing beats a thin crust pizza topped with things that you wouldn’t ordinarily find at your local pizza joint. At Bar 35, the pizzas are varied and almost represent a culinary world tour.

We ordered three pizzas:

Gyromati – Lamb and beef gyro meat, tzatziki sauce, romaine lettuce, tomato sauce and mozzarella
Sweet Bangkok – Chinese sausage, sweet chili sauce, cilantro, tomato sauce and mozzarella
Veggielicious – Fresh zucchini and mushrooms, olives, tomato sauce, mozzarella, fresh basil, and sesame oil

My favorite by far was the Gyromati. I love gyros, so combining a thin crust pizza with gyro toppings….oh HEAVEN. All this paired with some great beers (over 100 international beers!) and a beautiful Hawaiian weather made for a fantastic evening

35 N. Hotel St.,
Honolulu, Hawaii,
http://www.bar35hawaii.com

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In Honolulu, we try to avoid most of the tourist traps and head for the places that are off the beaten path. Here are a couple that we’re pretty fond of:

Tenkaippin Ramen – We went here on a recommendation of a friend. Figured since it was on the way to Leonards it was worth a stop. The ramen is very good, but it didn’t blow me away. It was nice however to be FAR away from the tourist strip and see a little of how normal people live in Honolulu.
617 Kapahulu Ave
Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 732-1211

Leonard’s – You go to Leonard’s for malasadas. They are a full fledged bakery and I’m sure the rest of their baked goods are excellent, but you go to Leonard’s for the malasadas. Malasadas are doughnut-like without the doughnut hold. They’re basically sweet fried puffs of dough that are crusty golden brown and light and fluffy inside.Our first tasting was still warm and was well worth the trek up to the storefront. We had bought a dozen (it looked reallly good) and saved them for “later”. Needless to say, they didn’t last very long. However, we did reserve two for the next day. Even day after malasadas are good.
933 Kapahulu Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816
(808) 737-5591
http://www.leonardshawaii.com/

Waiola Shaved Ice – Look for the big line in the middle of what looks like a middle class neighborhood. That’s the Waiola Shaved Ice. I can’t call myself a shaved ice guru or anything, but wow it was really good.
2135 Waiola Street,
Honolulu, HI 96826
(808) 949-2269 ‎

Kyoto Ramen Yotteko-Ya- The sign on the door says Kyoto Ramen, so don’t look for something that says Yotteko – Ya. We liked this place so much that we ate here twice in the 5 days were in Honolulu. Great, rich broth and good noodles. Normally when I have ramen, I give my pieces of the pork to Jim. Here, I eat them first. Yummy.
1960 Kapiolani Blvd #214
Honolulu, HI 96826
(808) 946-2900

 

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