Category Archives: Restaurant Review

Restaurant review: Roost Bistro

Roost Bistro on Newbury StreetRoost Bistro is a cozy restaurant on Newbury Street between Fairfield and Gloucester Street that opened in the spring of 2014.

I stumbled upon Roost Bistro when I was perusing OpenTable.com for a list of available restaurants for brunch with my friend Tracey who happens to write the blog 40-Something Life.

First impressions of this new bistro were good.  I liked the tiny two tiered patio overlooking Newbury Street and inside had a cozy vibe with lots of natural sunlight and colorful walls contrasted by exposed brick.  The brunch menu is also really reasonable with most items ranging between $10-$12.

Roost Bistro on Newbury StreetFor this first visit I kept my order short and sweet, zeroing in on Spanish Omelette which was generously stuffed with chorizo and caramelized onions and had a side of potatoes.  I won’t rave about the food because it wasn’t that kind of meal, but it was definitely tasty and has intrigued me enough to want to go back and try the bistro for dinner. Add this to your list of new places to try and let me know your thoughts. My only caveat would be the restaurant was clearly understaffed, making it tough to get coffee or our check, but since it was a pleasant morning, we filled the time people watching and chatting with each other.

Roost Bistro is located at 259 Newbury Street and open for brunch on Saturday and Sunday starting at 10:30am.
Roost Bistro on Newbury on Urbanspoon

Restaurant review: Nizza Hell’s Kitchen

Nizza Hell's Kitchen NYCNizza is a cozy space located in NYC Hell’s Kitchen on Ninth Avenue.  The night I was there Nizza had a young crowd and nice energy that reminded me of some of my favorite brasseries – except Nizza’s menu is 100% Italian.  It probably didn’t hurt that bartender, Tom, was easy on the eyes, friendly and made excellent dinner suggestions.

Italian restaurant, Nizza NYCNizza’s menu is very approachable with pizzas, pastas and main dishes ranging from $13-$23.  I started dinner with Tom’s suggestion, eggplant involtini ($11.25). The dish comes with four thinly sliced roasted eggplant that are stuffed with ricotta and herbs.  It is shown above with focaccia bread and olive oil served with a generous dollop of ricotta. The eggplant was cooked perfectly and is something I would regularly order if I lived in the neighborhood.

Nizza Hell's Kitchen NYCI love spicy pizza so Tom suggested I try the “Piccante” ($14.75).  This pizza didn’t disappoint and the heat gave me an excuse to order a second glass of wine.  The pizza comes with tomato, spicy Italian sausage, roasted hot peppers, smoked mozzarella and fresh basil.   It was the roasted hot peppers that really added the heat so have them hold the peppers if you’d prefer something less spicy. A sure sign that I enjoyed the dinner was the self-induced food coma that followed from me over eating.

If out in Hell’s Kitchen and looking for a nice place to grab a bite that has good energy and is reasonably priced, I’d definitely suggest trying Nizza at 630 Ninth Avenue.
Nizza on Urbanspoon

San Francisco restaurant declares war on Yelp

Botto Bistro San FranciscoBotto Bistro, an Italian restaurant in the San Francisco area, claims that Yelp is basically the equivalent of the online mafia. Co-owner Davide Cerretini claims that after he stopped advertising on Yelp their reviews turned negative and a positive review even vanished.

Fed up with Yelp, Cerretini decided to do the unthinkable and aspire to be the worst reviewed restaurant on the site; going so far as to offer 25% off to customers who left a one-star review. Suffice it to say that Yelp is not pleased and has resulted in the online site to send a threatening email.  However that has not stopped them.  Check out their website it is hilarious, bottobistro.com.

Cerretini said to the SF Gate “I don’t have anything against Yelp. The idea is fantastic, but the blackmailing thing is ferocious,” says Cerretini. “I think I should be the one deciding if I’m on the site or not. At least I can be there on my terms. The only power they have is they make you reliable to them. So, I’m going to be one of the most unreliable restaurants.”

“I want to be the worst restaurant there is in the Bay Area,” he says. “I think this is the best business move I have made in years.”

Some of these Yelp reviews are pretty entertaining.

Botto Bistro San Francisco
Thanks for the tip  Todd.  You can read more here.

 

Restaurant review: Prospect in San Francisco

Prospect Restaurant San FranciscoProspect is a casual dining restaurant that first opened in the summer of 2010.  It is located on the corner of Folsom and Spear Street approximately one block from the waterfront.  I opted to try this sleek looking neighborhood restaurant because it won San Francisco Magazine’s 2013 Best Destination Burger.

The bar menu is comprised mostly of easy bites like cheese plate, hot wings and fried shishito peppers.  The full menu includes salads, seafood and meats ranging in price from $14-$45 with most items ranging from $21-$32.

Prospect Restaurant San Francisco I started my meal with the bar menu’s, spicy ceviche ($10).  Prospect’s ceviche includes chunks fresh fish, avocado and tomato as well as a bit of heat from peppers that nicely mingle with the citrus and fresh corn tortilla chips.  I devoured this with my beer while people watching from the bar.

Prospect Restaurant San FranciscoFollowing the ceviche, I had high hopes for the burger and was not disappointed. The Prospect Burger ($16.50 with fries) comes on a delicious buttered and lightly toasted bun with a thick green tomato and lettuce.  The burger is accompanied by thick cut and salted french fries that were crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

Service at the bar, despite a busy crowd, was flawless. The entire staff referred to me by my name despite only introducing myself once to the bartender who took my beer order and they made me feel welcome without pestering me.

Prospect on Urbanspoon

Restaurant review: Bel Ari

Bel Ari Modern ItalianLast week I was invited as part of an exclusive group to meet and try food at Bel Ari in the Leather District, prior to their opening to the public today (September 10th).

Formerly known as Sorriso, the restaurant was overhauled by its new owners who purchased it along with Les Zygomates earlier this year.  Bel Ari has a sophisticated look with its white painted brick, dark tables and beautiful artwork.  However, the redesign and branding extends beyond the physical with a new menu by Chef Robert Fathman described as modern Italian culinary inspirations “from all over the boot.”

Bel Ari bartender Karen and her mystery cocktails

Bel Ari mixologist, Karen, and her delicious cocktails

The bar staff is knowledgeable and friendly as you’ll find out when you meet Karen who concocts mystery cocktails based on your palate.  I was immediately taken with this British bartender who formerly worked up the street at Trade. I’d suggest checking out the bar and treating yourself to one of her unique cocktails and Bel Ari’s artichoke pizza, which I found absolutely addicting. Bel Ari pizzaI typically review restaurants after they open when I can get a better feel for the total dining experience; the ambiance, service and food.  Based on this experience, I’m intrigued enough to venture back after they open to the public and would suggest you place this new restaurant on your list of “worth checking out.”

Some of my favorite plates included their warmed, whipped ricotta cheese which was sweet and creamy; the mussels served in a crock pot with the tomatoes, onions and sausage; the artichoke pizza (shown above); and their glazed chops served with broccolini and couscous.

Restaurant review: Anchovies

South End cheap eatsAnchovies is one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants / bars. It is filled with locals and serves good food at very affordable prices.

The decor in this cozy South End establishment reminds me of my Nana’s basement. The beautiful, long dark wood bar is surrounded by tacky decorations that include everything from a rocking horse on the ceiling to old posters.

The narrow space can make it tough to get around in Anchovies and it fills quickly so if you arrive later in the evening you should mentally prepare for a wait (possibly outside on the sidewalk depending on how crowded it gets).  However, I love this place and always enjoy my dinners here. The Italian menu includes appetizers and salads, pizzas, calzones, pasta and meat entrees as well as sandwiches and paninis. Nothing on the menu is over $17 and you can easily walk out stuffed and satisfied for less than a couple of cocktails at most restaurants in the South End.

We started dinner with an absolute *must try* for any first time visitor. Anchovies combines the best of Mexican and Italian with their signature Italian Nachos for $11. This is a large platter that is meant to be shared. My advice is to use the crisp nachos on the bottom of the plate to scoop the soggier chips laden with braised short rib ragu sauce, ricotta and cherry peppers. The salty chips marry well with the rich meat sauce, and the cherry peppers add just a slight pop but the creamy ricotta gives a great finish. South End cheap eatsAlthough the pictures may not show this, the portions are generous. Neither Sergio nor I finished our meals.  Sergio ordered one of Anchovies most popular plates, The Riccardi – penne with chicken sage sausage and mushrooms in a tomato cream sauce for $15.South End cheap eatsI continued with my cheese-fest by ordering a calzone at Anchovies for $15. I think it is fair to say that Anchovies adds more cheese to their calzone than anyone.  I love their tangy marinara sauce served on the side. I dip the cheese and fillings with the dough into it.  This is my go-to comfort food order; it is so large I can barely eat half of it.South End cheap eats
Anyone looking for home style, no frills Italian will love Anchovies.  Best of all the kitchen is open until 1:30 AM 7-nights a week.  Anchovies is in Boston’s South End at 433 Columbus Ave.
Anchovies on Urbanspoon

Restaurant review: Jack the Horse Tavern

Diniing in BrooklynLast week I was able to have dinner in Brooklyn Heights and a friend who grew up in the neighborhood took me to Jack the Horse Tavern. I was taken with the converted storefront from the moment I stepped inside; exposed brick, comfortable seating and a warm buzz coming from the neighborhood bar come together to create a fantastic vibe.

The menu includes approximately a half dozen salads and starters ranging from $9-$13 and a protein rich menu that is evenly balanced between land and sea options ranging from $16-$26.

Jack the Horse Tavern BrooklynI started my dinner with the Green & Red Baby Lettuce which included Manchego cheese, marinated plums and a Riesling Vinaigrette & Rosemary croutons. The salad was light and refreshing which was exactly what I wanted.

Jack the Horse Tavern BrooklynAfter our first course was cleared, I was served the house duck plate which came highly recommended by our waiter. The meal didn’t disappoint and I’d strongly recommend it to anyone who likes duck.  The duck was served on a  bed of farro with dried cherries almonds and leeks. Every fork was laden with farro and duck dipped in the sweet cherry-almond coulis.

Jack the Horse TavernSince my colleagues all indulged in dessert, I opted to join them with another glass of the delicious Italian red we were sharing, Acquagiusta(I’d never heard of it previously but I’ll be asking my local wineshop – Brix – about it) and ordered the cheese plate. I wish I had taken notes when the chef came out to tell us about the five cheeses but I was still thinking about he duck I’d just finished. However, the meal ended equally satisfactory and my dessert became a communal plate that everyone tried and enjoyed.

Jack the Horse Tavern is located at 66 Hicks Street in Brooklyn Heights. It is worth venturing out from Manhattan to try.  After dinner stroll along Brooklyn Heights Promenade to ward off the inevitable self-induced food coma.
Jack the Horse Tavern on Urbanspoon