Cassarece pasta at La Pastaia. (Photo courtesy of La Pastaia, Hotel De Anza)
Located in the historic Hotel De Anza in downtown San Jose, La Pastaia was always one of my favorite restaurants when I worked in that city.
After all, I unabashedly love my carbs. And La Pastaia’s pastas always had a way of winning me over. Executive Chef Juan Zaragoza, who has been at the restaurant for a decade, turns out Italian favorites such as spaghetti vongole ($22) and cacio e pepe ($16), and standards such as a pork chop with warm farro salad ($27) and pan-seared salmon with toasted orzo ($25).
The hotel’s Headley Club Lounge, which features live jazz, has a sophisticated yet laid-back vibe that’s perfect for enjoying a cocktail or glass of wine. I’ve had many a reunion or good-bye party there with friends and colleagues.
Salmon at La Pastaia. (Photo courtesy of La Pastaia, Hotel De Anza)
CONTEST: One lucky Food Gal reader will win a $50 gift card to La Pastaia.
Entries, open only to those who can actually use the gift card within a year, will be accepted through midnight PST June 18. Winner will be announced June 20.
How to win?
A rice bowl with eggs three ways at Itani Ramen.
You have to smile at place where the bathrooms are identified as: “raMEN” and “raWOMEN.”
Itani Ramen takes its food seriously, but everything else with a sense of humor.
The second restaurant by Chef Kyle Itani of Hopscotch in Oakland, Itani Ramen opened a month ago in Oakland’s Uptown neighborhood.
I had a chance to try it two weeks ago when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant. It happened to be a night when Itani’s good buddy, Chef Daniel Holzman of New York’s The Meatball Shop empire, happened to be helping out, serving dishes and chatting up diners. Holzman also assisted in the kitchen when Hopscotch first opened. And it’s his photographs of colorful street scenes in Japan that grace the walls of Itani Ramen.
Chef Brian Ikenoyama, Chef-Owner Kyle Itani, and visiting-Chef Daniel Holzman.
The long restaurant is industrial-zen looking with unfinished wood on the back wall that gives it an almost shoji-screen-like look. Packages of Japanese instant ramen and bottles of sake decorate shelves above the bar and open kitchen.
A slew of restaurants will be offering special three-course prix fixe dinners, June 10-19, as part of Dine Downtown San Jose.
The prix fixe offerings will be priced from $20 on up. Participating restaurants include Arcadia, Cafe Stritch, The Farmers Union, and Poor House Bistro.
For every prix fixe meal sold, Sysco will donate $1 to Martha’s Kitchen, too. The San Jose organization provides meals to those in need.
Contest: One lucky Food Gal reader will win a $50 gift certificate to Mezcal Restaurant in downtown San Jose. Use it toward the $30 three-course prix fixe the restaurant is serving up for Dine Downtown San Jose, which includes options such as tortilla soup, grilled steak with chipotle sauce, and warm Oaxacan chocolate cake. Or use it another time.
Chef Octavio Gomez of Mezcal. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)
Mezcal specializes in moles, as well as chapulines (fried grasshoppers). If you’ve never experienced the latter, this is the place to try them. Seasoned with garlic, salt and lime, they’re as crisp and addicting as potato chips. So, no need to be squeamish.
Huckleberry cake at Trestle in San Francisco.
I’ve had many wonderful meals at restaurants, but never have I left at the end of an evening overcome with the emotions that I had at Trestle in San Francisco.
As Co-Owner Tai Ricci bid me adieu, I just wanted to hug her for dear life and implore, “Please, please be profitable and be around for a very, very long time!’
If you’ve found your eyes bulging out of their sockets at the stratospheric prices of some of the Bay Area’s tasting menus lately, you’ll find your peepers popping out at Trestle for another reason:
You’ll wonder how they do it — serving an extraordinary three-course dinner nightly for all of $35 per person.
The cozy, contemporary dining room.
We’re not talking a slap-dash affair, either. This is food, where it’s immediately evident that great care is taken. Soup is poured tableside by your server. The skin on a fish fillet is seared till perfectly golden and crisp as a perfect potato chip. Desserts are not just plopped into a bowl, but artfully arranged with whimsy.
Gyro and chicken platters by the Halal Guys.
Three Northern California franchises of the wildly popular The Halal Guys are set to open.
But it’s lucky San Jose that will get the first one, beating to the opening date the ones planned for San Francisco’s Tenderloin and downtown Berkeley.
That first Halal Guys will open 11 a.m. June 3 at The Plant, 81 Curtner Ave. #20. The first 100 guests in line will receive a free entree and the first 2,500 guests in line will receive a choice of a complimentary Halal Guys t-shirt or pair of sunglasses.
Get ready for gyro sandwiches, chicken and rice platters, and their famed white sauce and hot sauce.
The Halal Guys phenomenon began in 1990 when three guys from Egypt had the smarts to realize that Muslim cab drivers in New York were hungry for quick halal food. What started as a sidewalk food cart is now a booming franchise with locations not just in New York, but also Southern California, Houston and Chicago.
Thanks to delivery service Caviar, which was ferrying orders ($11.99 for platters) from the Halal Guys for a preview taste, I had a chance to sample some of the food a few days ago.