Tag Archives: tomatoes

Osteria Marco makes a mean pizza

From the street, Osteria Marco looks more like a tea shop or gourmet food store than a restaurant. Once inside, the hostess leads you down the winding staircase to the cavernous, but not oppressive, dark-panelled basement dining room. Looking at the room, you wouldn’t even know that we’re in the midst of a recession. It was buzzing on a Tuesday night.

Since we were a large group, we were given a prix fixe menu to choose from. I started with a baby arugula salad, smartly dressed with a simple vinaigrette and finished with toasted baby pine nuts and currants. The arugula was delicate and didn’t have its typical bite, and the pine nuts provided a lovely nuttiness and richness to the salad. There were a few too many currants for my liking, but they did provide a sweet contrast to the dish.

The main course was touted as a margherita pizza from their wood-fired oven, but the menu didn’t say that it was going to be 14″ in diameter. I would have liked the crust to be a wee bit crisper, but aside from that it was delicious. The tomatoes were rich and meaty (San Marzano tomatoes, I’m sure), the basil nice and bright, and the mozzarella fresh and gooey. After trying to hock a few pieces of pizza to my dining companions, I ended up taking half of the pizza home with me.

The dessert menu was a little uninspired, but I was also so full of pizza that dessert wasn’t an option.

The kicker: all this food (including next day’s breakfast in leftovers), plus a glass of wine, came in at $20 including tax and a generous tip.

Osteria Marco
1453 Larimer Street
Denver, CO
(303) 534-5855
Osteria Marco on Urbanspoon

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Best of New York: John’s Pizzeria

John’s Pizzeria
(Greenwich Village)

My second cousin took me to John’s Pizzeria. I had to double-check the address with him, because there are tons of variations on the name in Greenwich Village. He impressed upon me that we weren’t just going for the best pizza in New York; we were going for The Best Pizza in New York.

To be fair, he didn’t give me a chance to try any of the impersonators in the neighbourhood, so I have no idea what the competitors were offering.

But John’s pizza is delicious. The thin crust is simultaneously crispy yet chewy. More amazingly, the crust actually tastes like something: like flour, yeast, and salt. We had a margherita pizza, with brightly fresh tomato sauce and basil. It was perfect. The tomato sauce is rich and full, just salty enough, and complements the crust beautifully.

We also had one with pepperoni and garlic, and another with anchovy and black olives. Both were good, but neither came close to the plain old tomato sauce and basil pizza.

Also, the Murray Cheese Company is just down the street at 254 Bleeker Street. They have a beautiful selection of cheese, meat and other goodies. Like chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

John’s Pizzeria
278 Bleecker Street, between Seventh Avenue and Jones Street
New York, NY
212-243-1680
John's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Toe-may-toe, toe-mah-toe

I make a really simple, but really tasty, tomato sauce. It consists of tomatoes, garlic, basil, salt & pepper, and a bay leaf. With such a simple recipe, it’s really important that you’re using the absolute best ingredients. And, since tomatoes are the star of this sauce, you’d better use the best tomatoes you can find: San Marzano tomatoes.

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Top five food moments: #5

I thought I’d talk about my favourite food moments. I don’t mean specific moments or amazing meals, but snippets in time that occur with some frequency. I’ll just dive in, and hopefully it’ll become clear what I mean.

Five.

I love the split second before I lift the lid on something that’s been cooking away in secret. Sure, I know exactly what’s in that pan: it’s a rich and tasty tomato sauce, a comforting soup or a batch of caramelized onions – but magical things happen to food in a matter of minutes, and I’m never fully prepared for the sights and smells of transformed food.

No matter how many times I’ve prepared something, I still get a giddy, excited feeling just before I lift the lid. And I’m always delighted with what I see and smell.

It’s snowing cats and dogs

I haven’t seen this much snow, or snowflakes this size, since my first year living in Kingston. And that was Kingston, not Vancouver. Crazy.

Apparently, grocery stores are running out of food. We’re definitely getting creative at my house. With the Christmas party (and turkey) cancelled, this might just be the year to start a new tradition: Christmas pizza.

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Polenta and pork cheeks

It was really freaking cold on Friday night – so cold that my base instincts kicked in and all I wanted was stew.

Well, I didn’t get stew, but I did get some stick-to-your-ribs food from The Cascade Room. It was reliably busy – and possibly busier than usual due to the fire at Habit – but not so busy that you couldn’t get a table without a reservation.

I think The Cascade makes the best negroni I’ve ever had. Their bartender, Nick Devine, is known for his mixological prowess – and I fully concur. The negroni came in a short glass with lots of ice, with a rosette of orange peel resting on top of the ice. The overall effect is that you taste the drink while getting the full, undiluted aroma of the orange peel. Genius.

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Whip it (whip it good)

The Whip is one part art gallery, one part restaurant, and one part bar. Given that it’s on a less-gentrified stretch of Main Street, it’s also a popular hipster hangout – but please don’t hold that against it.

I met Elisa for brunch there on the weekend, and the quality of food really blew me away. I’ve only had evening appetizers there, and while the food was well-prepared, it wasn’t terribly inventive or amazing. Apparently they’ve got the A-team working weekend brunch, because it was some kind of wonderful.

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