Lia Simcina

So you’re a tourist?

In New York Restaurants on July 18, 2009 at 9:40 pm

So I made a last minute trip to New York for the 4th of July holiday to help move my friend, D’arcy into the city and visit my friend from MSU, Will (check out my post about our dinner at Troppo). Will, while he’s a relatively “safe” eater, is a foodie as well and told me to look forward to eating the best of the best eats in New York.

Since 1970

Since 1970

So 4:30 a.m. comes and (surprisingly) D’arcy and I are out on the road. We packed sandwiches and some fruit the night before, so no fun lunch posts to blog. I’m terrible with directions but surprisingly, D’arcy and I arrived into New York around a mere 12 hours later. After a long drive, it was time to get some real food in our tummies! Will decided to take D’arcy and I to his favorite pizza place in New York, “Little Vincent’s” located in Huntington, Long Island.

There were a lot of cool shops on the way to Vincent’s (even just from where we parked!) but my mind was set on pizza and we didn’t bother dilly dallying or window shopping. Our stomach’s were growling and Will led us to this little pizza place place.

I was immediately surprised by the size of this place. There was a long counter where a line was already forming (good sign) with the ovens in sight. There were maybe 6 small tables and the walls had very little decor other than the cheap plastic hanging plants. Most of the tables were full, so I snagged a booth in the back while Will and D’arcy went to the counter to order.

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Will & D'arcy reach the front of the line

I was waiting less than 10 minutes at the table, but the longer I sat there, the more people filled in the restaurant. Before you know it there were all sorts of people in line: families (including kids in strollers), adults, teenagers, couples, and a policeman who called me out as an “outsider,” As I’m sitting here snapping pics, he says “so you’re a tourist?” and that’s when I tell him about this awesome food blog I write…

Will bought 3 pieces for D’arcy and I to split, 2 for himself and a soda (had to stick with the NY lingo). After the fact I asked Will what the price was per slice, he said he wasn’t sure (I don’t even think it was listed anywhere?) but that it was around $14-$15 bucks.

Will brings over the pizza on white paper plates and after being up for close to 20 hours, I immediately perked up. I’m normally not a cheese only pizza person, but will assured me this was the only way to go – the classic!

I of course picked the bubble piece – ever since I was a little kid I’d always try to pick the piece with the biggest bubble – and this was the perfect slice!

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Little Vincent's Pizza in Huntington, Long Island NY

I took a napkin and dabbed off some of the grease (trying to be somewhat healthy, I guess?) before I began to dig in. This pizza was “butter in my mouth” and the sauce was what made it exceptional! It was more of a sweet tomato cream sauce rather than the regular spicy sauce I’m used to.

Normally my favorite part of the pizza is the crust (I love carbs – the Italian in me) and prefer thick doughy crusts – it’s like an extra breadstick! 🙂 This crust was thin and crispy, and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Most of the time pizza is heavy, greasy and I feel really stuffed after, food-coma style. But after eating a piece in a half of Little Vincent’s pizza, I felt great! My stomach wasn’t turning and I didn’t resort straight back to the couch.

I’m not even a big pizza person, but if I lived in Long Island I don’t think I could pass this place without stopping in to get a slice! You could tell this pizza was baked to order with 100% natural, fresh ingredients. I was beyond satisfied with the taste and quality of Little Vincent’s pizza. The place was cozy, it was Italian owned (okay so I’m biased), the food was great with good service (not the quickest – but I can understand the high demand!) and they even gave me a free magnet. Definitely one of the top pizza places I’ve been to! If you’re in Long Island, go to Little Vincent’s Pizza!

Grade: A

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Pumped.

Little Vincent’s Pizza – Since 1970

329 New York Avenue

Corner of Main Street

(631) 423-9620

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A Night Downtown at Angelina’s Bistro

In Michigan Restaurants on June 6, 2009 at 6:46 pm

My godother and aunt (I call her Zia which means aunt in Italian) has spoiled my sister and I by “culturing us” with invitations to musicals, plays, concerts, etc. I had never shown much interest in the opera, but when my sister moved to Portland, OR for the summer to work in a research lab, my aunt had an extra ticket and pretty much told me I was coming, whether I wanted to or not!

Now I’m always willing to try something new, so I figured I’d give this opera thing a shot. Who doesn’t like getting snazzy and going downtown for a night out? Oh and my favorite part… a great dinner!

Zia & her Polenta and Eggplant Torre

Zia & her Polenta and Eggplant Torre

Zia had made reservations at Angelina’s Bistro in Detroit, located at 1565 Broadway right across from the Detroit Opera House. We were meeting my aunt’s friends, Tom and Teresa, at the restaurant at 5:30. Surprise Surprise we were late, as Zia tends to be, but Tom and Teresa were understanding as they always are. Angelina’s was pretty packed on a Sunday, and the volume was at a comfortable level. The tables were very close together, which made me feel a little crowded at first. 

The opera started at 7 so we had to make a quick decision. Since that’s nearly impossible for me, we decided on a calamari appetizer. We dove in so fast I forgot to take a pic! It was lightly fried, a little crispy and very light in taste. The carmelo dipping sauce added the perfect sweetness to the squid and overall it was very good. The calamari was cut into long strips, which I don’t mind, but I enjoy the baby squids–sorry that sounds pretty gross to say!
Teresa & Tom at Angelina's

Teresa & Tom at Angelina's

Tom decided on the Whitefish (Herb Pine Nut Crusted Lake Superior Whitefish / Cous Cous / Spinach / Feta Cheese / Basil Oil  21) and Teresa the steak special. The menu didn’t blow my mind away but there were a good amount of options. Most of the dishes were rather basic except what Zia ordered (Polenta and Eggplant Torre / Grilled Portobello / Goat Cheese/ Arugula / Balsamic Reduction 13.5). My Nonna makes the best polenta so I wanted to put it to the test, but when Zia decided on it (and I never get the same thing as someone else) I had to move on.

Angelina's Half Roasted Amish Chicken

Angelina's Half Roasted Amish Chicken

I was debating between the Gnocchi (All Night Tomatoes / Cippolini Onions / Asparagus / Garlic / Extra Virgin Olive Oil  15) and  the Half Roasted Amish Chicken (Italian BBQ Sauce / Mashed Red Skin Potato / Broccolini  18). After considering how heavy pasta is and that I’d be sitting for three hours in a fitted dress, I decided to go with the chicken. 

The portion of chicken was very large, two well sized pieces, along with (my favorite) mashed potatoes and broccoli. The “Italian BBQ Sauce” was essentially regular BBQ sauce–well I couldn’t tell the difference anyway. The chicken was moist and well cooked, the potatoes were tasty but nothing out of the ordinary. I only finished one piece of the chicken because, as always, I had to save room for dessert. Overall I’d give my dish a B+, it was good, but I don’t think I’d get it again.

Tom, Teresa, and Zia all enjoyed their meals, look for their comments below on their review of Angelina’s. 

We ordered the Apple Tart  (michigan apples / calvados / caramel sauce / vanilla ice cream 7) and the Chocolate-Amaretti Cake (crushed almonds / chocolate sauce / whipped cream 7) to split between the 4 of us. This was by far the my favorite part of the meal 🙂 The apple tart was baked fresh and I love the warm & cool sensation. The chocolate cake was extremely rich and moist, a chocolate lover’s dream.

Overall I enjoyed my dinner at Angelina’s and would definitely go back to try more of their menu, but wasn’t that impressed with the entree I chose. 

 

Grade: B+

Angelina’s Bistro – 1565 Broadway – Detroit MI – 48226

Apple Tart

Apple Tart

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This picture does not do it justice! What was left after we devoured it... The Chocolate-Amaretti Cake

Cafe Bellagio

In Las Vegas Restaurants on March 30, 2009 at 1:59 am

Lauren & I were lucky enough to be taken out by one of her family friends, an unnamed retired judge who fed our tummies on our last night in Vegas. For those of you who don’t know, the Bellagio is the ritzy hotel in Vegas, clearly where all the “big shots” stay. The Judge was staying at the Bellagio, and suggested we go to Cafe Bellagio to grab a quick bite to eat.

Bellagio Conservatory

Bellagio Conservatory

We walked through the conservatory at night, which has impressive themes presented in nature. I don’t have much of a green thumb, yet I was easily entertained walking through what seemed like a flower exhibit. These flowers are selected individually from all over the world, and the 140 expert horticulturalists arrange the ponds, gazebos, and water features uniquely for each season. I was blown away by the attention to detail and the artistry of the conservatory; every nook and cranny was crafted with the same amount of time as the overarching enormous butterflies and flowers of this spring wonderland.

The Cafe Bellagio was nice, but the decor was nothing exquisite. Some seating allow you to look out at the conservatory, but we sat at an average location in the middle. The menu was pretty large, including all types of soups, salads, and sandwiches, as well as entrees. I played it safe and ordered the salmon, one of my favorite kinds of fish. I remember it being somewhat reasonably priced, around $20. The dish came with fingerling potatoes and spinach with an eroglu sauce I believe, and it was pretty good. Better than the salmon at Eiffel Tower Restaurant, and that was one of their specialties! (Check out my post about my unforgettable – ha! – night in Paris)

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Salmon from Cafe Bellagio

The salmon was cooked well and a pretty decent size for the price. I liked how I could dip my potatoes/salmon in the sauce for a little extra flavoring. Spinach is one of my favorite vegetables to compliment salmon, and I was pleased by the taste of the overall dish. The entree didn’t hit it out of the park, but I was by no means disappointed.

So now the good stuff comes.. DESSERT! Everyone was “full,” but the judge could tell that I was aching for more. I told him about my blog (why the hell else would I be taking pictures of every dish that comes my way?) and he knew I loved dessert. Lauren wasn’t feeling anything chocolate, so we settled on the carrot cake.

And what a choice it was! One of the most interesting presentations I’ve seen for carrot cake, this dessert had a thin piece of what looked like white chocolate on top, and the fancy cream cheese filling looked like it was designed with a cake frosting funnel. This was relatively reasonably priced as well, I think around $10.

Carrot Cake from Cafe Bellagio

Carrot Cake from Cafe Bellagio

I ate the majority of the carrot cake (SURPRISE!) and would say this was one of the top carrot cakes I’ve had. I’m not a huge fan, but the crunchy topping made it fun to eat and it was definitely an “upscale” carrot cake.

After blabbing about food all night, the Judge told me he had to show us one more place that I would surely enjoy. He took us to the chocolate store inside the hotel, and VOILA! Heaven.

There is a chocolate fountain that is atleast 6 feet tall, and the chocolate store sells luxury desserts and chocolates. Too bad I already stuffed by face with the carrot cake, otherwise I would have spent quite some time, and quite a lot of money, trying all of the delicious desserts. Everything looked amazing, and I had to pull myself away before I put myself in the sugar-coma that was inevitable.

Entree/Dessert Grade: B

The Happiest Girl in the World

The Happiest Girl in the World