Tag Archives: italian food

Anima Pizza & Pasta

Right smack dab in the middle of Koreatown is Anima Pizza & Pasta, a restaurant that seems imported directly from Italy. It’s in walking distance of our apartment (think near Wilshire & Vermont) and we are so happy that it is! It’s actually in the same strip as another favorite restaurant of ours, so it’s twice the greatness. We discovered this gem late one night (think near 10pm) and we’ve been going back weekly ever since. The quality of the food far surpasses the dollar signs on their menu–it’s excellent food for a bargain. 

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Boulder’s Best Italian Food: Il Pastaio (by Costa Ricans?!)

Il Pastaio, 30th and Arapahoe, (in the King Soopers Shopping Center) has shown itself to be Boulder’s best Italian food thus far. We have not gotten the chance to go to Pasta Jay’s, which is the only other Best Italian recommendation we’ve gotten, but we’ll try to soon so we can compare the two. We have had Trattoria on Pearl, Antica Roma, Salvaggio’s Italian Deli, Laudisio’s, Pasta Vino, Pizzeria Basta, just about every Pizza place, and then some. Pasta Vino is the only one that holds a candle to Il Pastaio and the rest did something WRONG. Pasta Vino was the best Italian lunch we’ve had in the past year here while Il Pastaio was the best dinner and best overall experience. This is why… they don’t do anything wrong and do tons of stuff right.

The restaurant is small and very compact but you can make reservations, which we did. I recommend you most certainly make reservations for the reason that it is extremely busy during dinner hours because it is so good. We were seated quickly after our reservation, despite a long line and there was a fuss about who was next, but they rightfully seated us at the proper time. I credit this to the owner’s son, who did an exceptional job taking care of us the whole night. He was personable and polite, efficient and honest, and an all around good guy for the job. He spent some time in Brooklyn so we talked to him about the restaurant’s history.

We found out that his father and family are from Costa Rica but his father (the owner) studied in Italy and learned how to cook Italian food there. We could see Costa Rican touches throughout the restaurant as well, including the unbeatable bread that was served with the meal. A hot batch came out of the oven near the end of the meal so we asked for a fresh loaf and they obliged without a question. Great service. Let’s talk about the food.

They have Boylan’s beverages. That’s enough for me and it was the perfect compliment for me. It reminded me of home so much… it was the only Italian place in Boulder that reminded me of home. What’s home? The Italian-American food capital of the world.  We got a few appetizers including a caprese salad, a seafood mixto plate, the biggest antipasto platter, bread, and more. Everything was very good and we didn’t leave any leftovers at this point.

Boylan's and hot bread...who could ask for more?

Boylan’s and hot bread…who could ask for more?

Appetizers

Appetizers

However, then I was surprised at the size of the portions. The restaurant is not expensive but the quality of the food and the portion size would make you think it should be. Alana got a custom-made mushroom ravioli with a tomato-basil sauce. I got what I get every time I test a new Italian place out… chicken parm platter with pasta. It was HUGE. MASSIVE. I actually couldn’t finish it but it didn’t make it past the next day.

Alana's ravioli

Alana’s ravioli

Chicken parm, baby

Chicken parm, baby

Everything was good but they custom make raviolis. You can choose from a huge selection of fillings and then add whatever sauce from the menu you want. The quality is exceptional and allows the customer to get anything they want. Seriously, this was one of our best meals and dining experiences while in Boulder. And it’s not very expensive. I think all of that added up to the 60 dollar range and it was completely worth it.

Gelato

Gelato

And canoli

And canoli

So if you’re in Boulder and looking for good Italian food, call up our Costa Rican friends at Il Pastaio and make a reservation. Maybe we’ll see you there. Fueling up on some great pasta and protein can really keep you hungry and fit!

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The Best of Best of Boulder County 2012

This is a review of a review. Every year the readers of Boulder Weekly vote on the Best of Boulder County and while it is all opinion, local businesses love to hang their awards throughout their shops and eateries. Although we haven’t even lived here for a year, we have tried to eat and venture to as many places that our busy lives allow. We are also very opinionated, especially when it comes to food. People can claim they love food as much as me but I would challenge you to put your money where your mouth is if you doubt our hunger. So I’m essentially going to flip from page to page and rant when I feel necessary so hang in there.

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The cover features a picture of Naoto Kanda, the owner of Sushi Zanmai. His restaurant won Best Japanese Restaurant. Despite recommendations from my boss, Ryan, and our family/friend, Fred, we have yet to try this location because every time we walk by it is closed. Despite mediocre Yelp reviews, we’re going ASAP so look for an upcoming review.

Before I move on, since I have already gone through the whole magazine, I would like to say that this isn’t really a fair judge of the Best of Boulder County. I would venture to estimate that 90% of the votes received are from people living in Boulder like ourselves. Other towns in Boulder County, with lower populations and population density, most likely are not fairly represented but it is a poll for readers and everyone acknowledges that truth.

Best American Bistro who cares. I don’t eat bistro sized or priced portions typically so I can’t say much about the top five here. Best Appetizers went to The Med and the one time we went we did enjoy the multitude of appetizers that our large group got so fair enough. Who cares about best brunch? Not me. I want more meals so I break them down… not combine them.

Megan's Graduation...and Chris has Bell's Palsy here so no judging!

Megan’s Graduation at The Med…and Chris has Bell’s Palsy here so no judging!

Here is the first crime. Best Asian Fusion Restaurant. Chez Thuy won with Japango coming in fourth place. Chez Thuy was one of our worst dining experiences yet. We ordered a lot of variety and nearly everything we had was bad. Not decent, but bad. The pad thai was awful. Second worst I’ve ever had to Pong Sri in New York City. Japango was also a bad meal and the menu did not represent many Asian cultures. You want good Asian Fusion… go to Kho’s Asian Bistro in Longmont. It’s New York or L.A. quality.

Kho’s

I’d have to give Best Bakery to Spruce Confections. Their pies and croissants made our family from across the country and world very happy on Thanksgiving. Breadworks serves “fresh” bread at the Farmer’s Market and by fresh I mean stale. Dot’s Diner rightfully wins best breakfast for the bucks. Don’t sleep on The Buff or Turley’s for best breakfast even though they place third and not on the top five. And please try the Panaderia on 28th Street. It has a museum’s worth of delicious Mexican and Latin American baked choices. That should definitely be on the top five for best bakery now that we think about it.

Our latest trip to Spruce

Our latest trip to Spruce

Alana's typical house breakfast

Dot’s Diner breakfast

Us at the Buff! (that's my brother on the left)

Us at the Buff! (that’s Alana’s brother on the left)

Racks of delicious baked goods at Panaderia

Racks of delicious baked goods at Panaderia

Larkburger winning best burger is a sham. It was the worst burger I’ve had in town yet. Expensive, slow, small, and worthless. Mountain Sun takes the cake for me, and Mustard’s Last Stand is the best burger for the buck. Moe’s bagels and service has been awful every time that I have gone and we have Einstein’s in Pennsylvania so it wins by default for having locations near New Jersey and New York.

Tempeh burger at Mustard's (basically what Alana gets)

Tempeh burger at Mustard’s (basically what Alana gets)

Las Palmeras in Longmont has the best burritos along with some Taqueria on Lashley Street. Seriously, if Boulder locations win best burrito with the population of Mexican Americans that exist in Longmont, it’s obvious where people have eaten. Not in the right place. China Gourmet and Tsing Tao are the best Chinese restaurants. China Gourmet is one of the best Chinese food places I have ever eaten in my life. If you want a good restaurant dessert, you need to go back to Kho’s Asian Bistro or Pasta Vino in Boulder. They have a tower of puff pastry and fresh fruit greatness that tops anything I had at The Med.

YUMM

Pasta Vino awesome dessert

I have no quarrels with Best Fine Dining because we’ve only been to John’s Restaurant and The Cork. Ripple and Glacier win as they should for frozen yogurt and ice cream. Tibet Kitchen should win best Indian/Nepali Restaurant or whatever category it fits best into. We haven’t been happy with any Italian yet so that’s that.

Tibet Kitchen...heaven

Tibet Kitchen…heaven

Snarf’s sandwiches are the best. Sun Deli has some good sandwiches as well, definitely better than Deli Zone. Best overall restaurants are Kho’s Asian Bistro and Korea House. Tibet Kitchen and Mediterranean Market are best non restaurant style eateries. Abo’s is the best slice and pizzeria… the makers of this poll don’t know what a pizzeria is. The best gyro is Med Market and not Falafel King. Kho’s and Korea house have the highest quality fish for sushi we’ve had so far. Much higher than Tora and Japango. Tibet Kitchen is the most vegetarian friendly so says Alana the veggie. It also gets the best chai drink. You can tell where we like to eat right? Well that’s enough of my ranting. I’ll stop there before we get into gyms and grocery stores and useless things. We’ll try more restaurants and have a better input for next year. Stay hungry and fit!

Alana's choice...Tuna Melt with everything from tomatoes to lettuce to hot peppers

Snarf’s

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Mediterranean Market platter

Hungry Reviews… Antica Roma (Boulder, CO)

Saturday night and I am recovering from hurting myself, Alana has a cold coming on too. We rested a lot Saturday after working a ten-hour shift so once we wake up we are hungry!

Alana wanted to take a walk to be active since we took the day off of working out. Since it was so nice out, I had no problem limping and hobbling down the Pearl Street Mall to a restaurant that I wanted to go to since our last trip in that area of town. It was a nice looking Italian restaurant called Antica Roma. When we last walked past it, I loved the decor and thought the menu was reasonably priced and had good dishes. I was only partially wrong, fortunately/unfortunately.

Alana was dressed nice and I was wearing… black sweats and a black tee covered in Sajah’s hair but it was a nice atmosphere that tried to mimic the streets of Ancient Rome, to a certain degree. The waitress was nice, energetic, and attentive. Our water was never empty for too long and she was more than willing to refill our bread and help us with recommendations. I was in the mood for pesto or alfredo and they didn’t really have either. Oh well.

Menu and bread

Menu and bread

I told myself I was hoping they wouldn’t make the same mistake that Trattoria on Pearl made… but was it really my mistake expecting decent seafood in Boulder? Why would a restaurant serve something bad? Well, who knows but moving on to what we ate.

For an appetizer, Alana got a bruschetta with avocado, goat cheese and other goodness. She didn’t like the sweet chili sauce on it but she devoured everything but the raw red onion. I got the soup of the day, which happened to be a butternut squash soup… a personal favorite. It made me quite happy. The bread was burnt bad on the outside but the inside was delicious and their sun-dried tomato dipping sauce was very good.

Butternut squash bisque

Butternut squash bisque

Alana's bruschette

Alana’s bruschette

Alana's devoured bruschette

Alana’s devoured bruschette

Then came the entrees and I don’t know how she recommended this dish as her favorite. It was a lobster and tiger shrimp aragosta on fettuccine, but it wasn’t actually. There were two small shrimp… not tiger shrimp. There were three to five small pieces of lobster claw meat that hadn’t been completely defrosted. The fettuccine noodles were as thick as Chinese biang biang noodles and they all stuck together. It really was awful, and it was one of the most expensive dishes on the menu. This place had me hooked until this point. It wasn’t as bad as Trattoria because I didn’t get sick but I don’t know why they bother serving seafood if they can’t prepare it correctly. I understand its Boulder and it might be easier getting it frozen, but learn how to prepare it. Alana got a spinach cheese dish that she enjoyed.

My dish

My dish

All done

All done

Alana's dish

Alana’s dish

We took a look at the dessert menu and didn’t like the selection so we got the bill, put our 20% tip, and took our leftovers. We had a nice walk home and got more sleep! It’s a shame I wouldn’t go back because it’s so beautiful inside.

Tony’s Italian Kitchen: Our Favorite Pizza

Watch out, it’s another stop on our New Jersey Easter Vacation! And of course, yes, it’s another food stop… And this time, it’s PIZZA! Who doesn’t love pizza? (Awkward for lactose intolerants…) So if you read our About section, you know I hail from California. Before I went to New York, I thought we Californians had pretty good pizza. Boy, was I wrong! Not that Californian pizza is horrible, but it just doesn’t compare to New York or New Jersey pizza. Especially, Tony’s Italian Kitchen.

Us driving around Chris' hometown

Us driving around Chris’ hometown

It’s easy to pass up Tony’s, it’s in a tiny strip mall along with some other offices like Chris’ chiropractor and other little places. But once you discover it, it’s a gem! Luckily, Chris and his family had been getting Tony’s pizza for years, so all I had to do was tag along. The first bite I had, I was able to declare this the best pizza I’ve ever had, and trust me, I’ve had a lot of pizza. More specifically, it has the best cheese pizza. His family very often gets it to bring it home. And then I always eat too much.

So during this New Jersey Easter trip, it was our second food stop after having bagels for breakfast. We had two of our friends with us and split a large cheese pie between us. The wait was tantalizing. And then it came out to us, sizzling and hot. We always let it cool a little so the cheese can settle. And you should always have a Peach Snapple with it too. That first bite into that pizza was awesome. We hadn’t had it for six months or so, so it was that much better!

Drool-worthy

Drool-worthy

What really makes Tony’s the best is the amazing sauce. I don’t know what they do to it, but it is so fresh. It was really difficult not to scarf it down way completely fast. The crust is scrumptious and dusted to perfection. If you think you’ve had good pizza, come to Tony’s Italian Kitchen and see if you’ve really had the BEST. Cheers!

BONUS KITTY PIC

Cute Sajah

Cute Sajah

Restaurant Review: Pastavino

Even though we are trying to limit ourselves to one food outing a week, we still treated ourselves to a nice Italian restaurant on Pearl Street. We actually tried to get to three other restaurants before landing here–all closed until dinner for some reason. So it was pretty much by accident that we found this lovely Italian place. And we were very happy that we did.

It was beautiful and sunny out–a nice change to the 10 degree weather we’ve been having. We briefly looked at the outside menu before marking their prices reasonable and dishes appetizing. The place was pretty empty, with a big bar in the front and a brick-oven in the back. It was adorned modernly, and the lighting was pleasant as it was coming mostly from the sun outdoors. We were seated at a semi-small table and waited by Isabelle, a nice 20s something girl who deserved a good tip by the end.

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(ONTO THE FOOD!) I know, I know, just setting up the scene. So I immediately spot Penne Arrabiata, which is my go-to dish if places have it. It’s a penne pasta with nice hot spicy tomato sauce poured on top. But I also have a craving for cheese…so my eyes hover over the Mozzarella Caprese.  Chris decides on another appetizer: antipasto misto (which included a various assortment of cheese, meats, olives, and veggies). So we start by ordering those two appetizers. We throw a loaf of bread in there too to get us started (we are very hungry at this point). Meanwhile, as we are chugging down the water we realize how delicious it is. I know that’s weird to see, but it was so refreshing.

AguaThe bread comes, nice and hot. It’s delicious, crispy on the outside, and warm on the inside–with a hint of rosemary. We douse our small plates with oil and vinegar and mop it all up eagerly with the bread. The other appetizers come sometime later, we’re enjoying our time slowly so we don’t really notice, and she brings out the wrong one for Chris (though we share). Chris breaks the news to her and she starts taking it away but Chris asks, “Are you going to throw that out?” She says yes and he asks if there’s any way to avoid that. She let us keep it without charging us for it and brought us our other appetizer. The wrong appetizer was fritto misto by the way, lots of calamari, scallops and such.

Bread nomski

So we do try to take pictures of all food. But...we ate the caprese too fast--oops

So we do try to take pictures of all food. But…we ate the caprese too fast–oops

Fritto Misto

Fritto Misto

Antipasto MistoIt was all as it looks. We ate the caprese so fast that we didn’t snap a shot of it–each part of it (basil, tomato, and mozzarella) was just so fresh. The fritto misto was also delicious, and I got to eat the calamari because they’re wild caught! The antipasta misto was good as well, though I would rate the others higher. We didn’t really like the olives and eggplant of the antipasta misto.

Rejected

Rejected

Taking our time, feeling thoroughly relaxed and not so starving anymore, we order our main dishes. Chris gets the Pizza Salametto which is a big pizza with salami, mozzarella cheese, and basil. I, of course, order the Penne Arrabiata, even though, by this point, I’m starting to feel full. Sigh. We snack on what’s left on our appetizers until the main dishes come out. I was happy with my pasta, but it wasn’t anything special. Chris’ pizza, however, was delicious. Although, I was “full,” I kept snagging pieces from his. It was a little oily, and had poor structural integrity, but the taste was there and the ingredients fresh. Chris also got a good deal with the lunch special and got a big thing of Minestrone Soup on the side.

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IMG_2873By this point, I am full. Like, feeling a food baby coming on full. I am seated back in my chair, enjoying the tastes while Chris finishes up his soup. Once we slow down, and she notices, she pops over and asks about dessert. I shrug, saying I’m full, and Chris says, might as well look at it. So we do. Aaaaand, we end up getting dessert (of course). Chris spots a fruit tart–Sfogliatina alle Fragole. He had way too much fun trying to say it to the waitress. It comes out and it is a tower of glory. Just look at it.

YUMMDespite our being “full,” we finish every last bite. We reasoned afterwards that we were probably not just full, but sometimes you get bored of the same taste. That’s why, we decided, people tend to get dessert even though they’re “stuffed.” So we get the check, taking our time, and give our waitress a nice tip for being so good with not charging us with the wrong appetizer and being great.

Overall, we really liked this place. The only downfall was that the tables were small and they put so much stuff on the table. However, that’s not a big factor at all. The atmosphere was great, beautiful sunlight with calming music served us with a happy mood to go along with our flavorful filling dishes. We would definitely go again to get an enormous amount of food for a good price.

Small table

Small table