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Posts from August 2006

Dim Sum Dynasty: Ridgewood, NJ

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I'll be the first to admit that it took me a while to jump on the Dim Sum Dynasty bandwagon.  Our early experiences there were limited to delivery, and were mediocre. At that point the dim sum menu may not have been well established, or at the very least it wasn't clear to us that dim sum is what you should order at a restaurant called "Dim Sum Dynasty." 

The menu at that time, and even now to some extent, has some excellent gems interspersed with what I would consider standard Americanized Chinese dishes, albeit Americanized dishes done decently enough.  I don't care about those dishes, so it did take a while to fish out the good stuff.  And the bulk of the good stuff is most definitely the dim sum.  Dim Sum Dynasty has some of the best dim sum that I've ever had, though I haven't had much (shhhhh...), aside from a few outstanding experiences at  Chinatown Brasserie in NYC.

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Carbonara: hold the cream. I'm beggin' ya.

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A few years ago we went to Italy for the first time.  Needless to say, we had a lot of memorable meals.  One dish, though, stood out.  It's the one we talk about the most.  It was spaghetti carbonara at a little unassuming place in Rome called Ai Tre Scalini.

Sitting in the shadow of the Coliseum we really didn't expect much (not that a bad meal in Italy isn't excellent by most barometers).  In fact, we only stopped in because the restaurant that we had planned on visiting had a line out the door, which was probably a bad sign anyway. Boy did we make the right choice.   The carbonara was so pure, and simple, and perfect.  Al dente pasta (obviously), crunchy yet soft and luscious pieces of guanciale that burst with flavor when chewed.  It was like no carbonara I'd ever eaten.  We liked it so much that we walked, literally, 5 miles in the rain later in the week just to order it for lunch again (you'd do the same).  This time it was fettuccini.

I've tried several times to duplicate this dish, with just OK results.  I think I'm actually getting close.  Finally.

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Panevino: Livingston, NJ

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When I heard on Mano a Vino that the people who own Naples 45 in NYC (well, the restaurant group who owns Naples 45) had a pizza place in Livingston NJ, I got all kindza excited.  Naples 45 makes some of my favorite pizza in NYC. Neapolitan style.  Neapolitan pizza, to me, suggests that the crust is just about the most important part of the product:  if the crust falls short, nothing can save the pizza.  It's really all about the bread, though I'm sure most don't agree with me.  Hoping that Panevino shared my philosophy, I high-tailed it out to Livingston that very night.

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The strangest thing I ate this week: Grand Sichuan, NYC

Pigs_intestine2Pig intestines at Grand Sichuan were a lovely treat.  Fried crispy, like cracklins, with a nice porky flavor.  I have to say that for the money, there were a lot of intestines.  Not that I have any barometer for such a thing.  It just seemed like a lot.

Served with vegetables in a spicy sichuan pepper-kicked sauce.  Highly recommended.

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The Porter House: Montvale, NJ

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My quest for exceptional burgers in New Jersey brought me to the Porter House in Montvale, NJ.  I had reviewed their website for months before actually making the trek.  I'm not sure why I didn't go sooner, but I guess it was the whole "Irish pub" vibe that I saw on the website.  That's not to say I don't like Irish pubs.  But I just didn't know if it or its burger would pull through.  Both did.

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