Being a true city, Chicago has plenty of late-night food. On one of my nights there, a buddy took me to The Vig in Old Town after a few beers because it supposedly has an amazing fried chicken sandwich. The trouble is that they don’t have the full menu at night and that limited menu does not include the aforementioned fried chicken sandwich. There was, however, live music to make up for it and a chicken parmesan sandwich that would attempt to quench my hunger for fried fowl.
State Fairs are often an afterthought. A relic of times past when most of us lived in rural areas and guessing the weight of a pumpkin was the best entertainment of the month. They offer variations on the same rides, foods and entertainment that you find at your local Memorial Day Carnival or County Fair and, I mean, how many people even go to those? But the Minnesota State Fair is so far from an afterthought that it seems to be on the minds of Minnesotans for the 50 weeks of the year in which it is not in operation. Plans are made, new foods are devised and longed after; then, just like that, it’s over again. This year, however, the Unvegan paid a visit to see how it would all stack up.
It is easily one of the punniest names out there. Yeah, really creative to combine “eat” and “Italy” to create a restaurant and market name. But there is no doubt that judging the name of a restaurant is like judging a book by its cover. It’s what’s inside that counts and apparently the inside of Eataly has impressed enough people to open up locations in the biggest cities in the US. I paid a quick visit to the Chicago location when I was in need of a snack.
Scottsdale is pretty sterile city. This is not inherently a bad thing, but it is a thing that seems to preclude the concept of hidden gems. And, yet, I heard word of not just a hidden gem, but one right around the corner from me. Plus, it could only have had a more apt name if it was right next door. It’s called Convenient Corner Market and it dishes out sandwiches with bread baked in-house every day.
Nothing really says “awesome” quite like “family friendly brewery.” Such places are the best of both worlds, contributing to the cycle of having babies because you drink, then drinking because you have babies. New Holland Brewing on 8th Street in Holland, Michigan is one such place. Renowned for its beer, it has a comfortable back patio for kids to hang out at and one very attractive menu.
The Sicilian Butcher is hardly the first restaurant to make a variety of meatballs its centerpiece. Yet, it most likely is the best-decorated of any such restaurants. It treats meatballs much as a build your own burger treats…well…burgers. You pick a meat, you pick a sauce and you pick what the Sicilian Butcher calls a bottom. You can order the meatballs bottomless, but this is highly misleading as they come without a base as opposed to being unlimited. After much consideration, I opted for a bottom.
You probably wouldn’t expect Phoenix to be the most Italian of cities. After all, there is not Little Italy and the Mafia is more of an East Coast thing. Yet, Phoenix definitely has some homegrown Italian favorites and Babbo is one of these. Babbo invited me out to its Scottsdale location for a hosted dinner and I took them up on the chance to check it out.
Everyone knows that the best pasta in the world is gnocchi, but what about the best pasta sauce? Sure, pesto is great and bolognese makes a strong claim, but can anyone actually dispute the supremacy of carbonara? It is perfectly fit for an unvegan, and when I paid a visit to Picazzo’s in Phoenix, I couldn’t think of ordering anything else.
I’m a sucker for gnocchi. If you’ve read this blog long enough, you know this. You also know that I will even forego meat to get some delicious gnocchi. Thus, I was happy to find that Stone and Vine in Scottsdale had itself some gnocchi on the menu. It was called Gnocchi Pomodoro, which obviously means that it had tomato in some way (in this case sauce), but also came with fresh mozzarella.
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.