Well, it's official. Varasano's Pizzeria doesn't suck.
No, really. I lunched there with my usual Friday companion Brad Lapin and Frank Miller. Brad, as I've reported many times before, lives in Rome part of the year and is a super-picky eater. He ordered the Nana. Frank chose the New Haven Clam and I ordered the Margherita and paid $5 extra for bufala rather than the fiordilatte mozzarella.
Personally, I found Brad's choice much too gooey in the center, but he considered it a minor objection, claiming the pizza style belongs more to Rome than Naples. My own pizza (pictured) was really delicious: the appropriate crispy outer crust, bufala melting into the tomato sauce but not losing its solidity, enough basil to provide an occasional blast of flavor and not too soft in the center. Frank's clam feast, not my favorite there because of the ultra-heavy garlic, looked structurally sound.
I was surprised to find the restaurant nearly empty on a warm afternoon ideal for patio dining.
The debate will continue whether Varasano's or Fritti serves the better pizza, but I'll be craving the Margherita regularly.
(Photo by Cliff Bostock)
I was beside myself. The woman behind the counter at Taqueria El Sori inside Fiesta Foods (2839-2863 Buford Highway) extended me a little Styrofoam cup, repeating the words rico, rico.
I took the cup and speared a piece of the meat with my fork. The outer layer of skin was slightly springy and covered with a relatively thick layer of fat that melted in my mouth as I chewed. But there was also a bit of meat clinging to the morsel. It was moist with peppery broth and slightly chewy, flooding my mouth with the taste of fresh pork. I speared a chunk of green chile in the broth in which the meat was cooked. It was mildly hot and almost sweet.
(Photo by James Camp)
Nak Dong Gang, which I reviewed in a recent Cheap Eats, closed its doors this week. I have been unable to reach the owners for any details regarding the sudden closing, but a friend went over today and confirmed the Korean duck restaurant's fate.
Southerners are as blasé about soul food as New Yorkers are about pizza. We like it, we eat it often, but when was the last time you had a plate that actually made you sit up in your seat and say wow? If you cant recall, you obviously havent been to Mae's Soul Food (34 Peachtree St., 404-525-4557). Mae's is a little hard to find. The address says Peachtree Street, but its actually around the corner on Walton Street look for the tiny red and white sign.
(Photo by Jennifer Zyman)
Ruth Reichl, former dining critic for the New York Times and now editor of Gourmet magazine, was interviewed on NPR this morning. She has published another memoir, a brief one about her mother.
Not Becoming My Mother: And Other Things She Taught Me Along the Way will resonate with anyone who is the child of an intelligent woman of the pre-war generation. Miriam, Reichl's mother, was frustrated in her own ambition by the cultural bias of the time. Although a supremely funny person, Miriam was unhappy throughout most of her adult life.
I haven't read the book but, listening to Reichl and reading the first chapter excerpted on NPR's site, it is obviously a bittersweet story of how the culture shapes all of us for better or worse.
Jamie Annarino of Red Clay PR sent me this picture of a cake made by Highland Bakery. Yep. It's a cake. Get your knife and slice open that Yorkie's head and feast on his cake-brains. Spoon out those eyes. Break off his ears and scratch the naked torso of your lover with them before licking up the melting icing.
While George W. was waging the War on Terror overseas, he failed to notice a foreign invasion right under his nose. The dingy Irish pubs and wood-paneled taverns of D.C. are being replaced by sophisticated Euro-style gastropubs and brasseries serving up mussels and frites with a side of homemade mayo or thin-crust artisan pizzas to pair with Flemish sours and American IPAs.
The District has always had a European feel, thanks to Pierre L'Enfant's broad, diagonal boulevards and open spaces, and the height restriction on buildings that has shut out the glass and steel towers of the typical American city. But the high cost of living in the city has taken its toll on neighborhood saloons, where working stiffs rubbed elbows with government wonks and power brokers. Suddenly, the upwardly mobile are gaga over rabbit loin roasted in framboise or a terrine of veal cheeks, quail egg, frisee, and truffles, served with a $20 bottle of Cuvée du Keizer Grand Cru.
No less than three of these Belgian brasseries are located in the vicinity of the capitol. In addition, a wide selection of Belgian ales, on draft and in bottles, can be found at any number of slightly less expensive restaurants and bars serving everything from wood-fired pizza to nachos.
When I heard that Food 101 Morningside is planning for an April 29 Widespread Panic tribute dinner, my first thought was that I needed to stay the hell away. When I was in high school, WP coming to town meant that the cops were out in full force arresting all my friends.
Since I've looked at the menu, however, I think it might be time for those wounds to heal. And I think ribs and whiskey should take care of that for me.
There's a new cafe in the Lamplighter building in Grant Park. I'll have details in a day or two...
I see that Rolling Bones, the cool barbecue joint on Edgewood Avenue is for sale:
This BBQ restaurant is a cinch to operate with a full staff in place making for a flawless transition. This is one concept poised for major expansion and is a perfect vehicle for national franchising. Everything is needed to take the next step along with great training from current Owner and Staff. Super Intown Metro Atlanta with with hi visibility with hi traffic and walk up trade. 1300/SF with 450/sf patio and drive thru. This building has won major awards for its incredible and very cool design. Well established with same Owner for over five years. All equipment, furniture, fixtures and smokers are in excellent shape. Fully equipped kitchen can pump out any volume. Seats over 40 inside and almost 40 on the outside patio. Gross sales of $700,000.00 with $80,000.00 after paying full staff and expenses. Priced at $95,000.00 for the business with a monthly lease at $3500.00 per month or buy business and Real Estate and all equipment, furniture, fixtures and smokers for $695,000.00.
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NYE Party at Smoke Ring with Sweet Auburn String Band. Come hang!