Once upon a time there was a sub-genre of movies called Spaghetti Westerns. They were Western movies that were produced by Italians, making them look and feel different from your more traditional Westerns. Old Town Scottsdale is kind of set up to look like the old west. And in Old Town Scottsdale is an old school Italian place called Italian Grotto. It’s like spaghetti in the west, but there is good, bad and ugly about it.
I’ve always said that restaurants with an amazing view often have a hard time pumping out amazing food. The idea being that the real estate is generally too expensive to get quality food. Nonetheless, I’ve been proven wrong a number of times and hoped Pacific Coast Grill in Cardiff by the Sea would by another in the latter category.
LA isn’t an easy place to have sustained success. And I’m not just talking about the entertainment industry, I’m talking about food. You see, one day you can’t get a reservation at a place and the next it’s being replaced by a hot new thing. Yet, there are exceptions, like In-n-Out. But also Bestia, an Italian spot downtown that still requires reservations months out.
It’s not often that a fancy restaurant like Via Veneto invites you to check them out as a blogger. But alas, I found myself a few tables away from Zach Galifianakis ready to take down some of the fanciest Italian food in Santa Monica. It began with a couple of glasses of champagne and then we moved on to the real deal.
The Palm Springs area isn’t exactly known for its culinary prowess. You see, septuagenarians don’t really care how their food tastes as long as they can be done with dinner by 6:00. Nonetheless, there are a few places willing to take some risks and offer unique eats (even if they do sport an early bird special to boot). One of these is Catalan in Rancho Mirage, a Mediterranean restaurant in the sense of the European parts of the Mediterranean at least.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when it comes to Italian food (namely pasta), you’ve gotta be pretty damn special to convince me I can’t do better on my own at home with the dry stuff and some Classico sauce. Union Restaurant in Old Town Pasadena is the latest attempt to convince me to leave home for Italian food.
Pork and booze are easily two of the greatest things that can be consumed on the planet, if not just two of the greatest things in general. Celestino in Pasadena is fully aware of this and has combined them in a pasta dish worth writing about. It is called the Pennette Con Prosciutto e Vodka, but it may as well be called Paradiso.
In Boulder (and a couple other places) there is an Italian restaurant that goes by the name of Pasta Jay’s. While Jay is not a very Italian-sounding name, we nonetheless found ourselves eating there in our short trip to Boulder. Like many other Italian places, it had a pretty extensive menu filled with pizzas and pastas, but I wound up keeping myself in the pasta game. After all, the place wasn’t called Pizza Jay’s.
Often when I eat Italian food out, I am left thinking I could have just made the same dish at home. That’s why I usually go for gnocchi, which seems harder to duplicate at home. Nonetheless, When the wife found a little hole in the wall spot called Luciano’s in Pasadena, I wasn’t expecting anything amazing simply because there was too much on the menu. Not only that, the menu made it seem like everything (pizza, pasta, sandwiches) would be wonderful and that is often a bad sign.
Off to the side of Shayside’s Walnut Street is an Italian cafe that goes by the name of Girasole. From the looks of it, you’d expect it to be a little bit dingy and perhaps a little bit pretentious. It turns out it is neither of these things, being both airy and friendly. Yet, I wasn’t looking to make friends, I was looking for some grub.