Tag Archives: food

LBCRS Pasta Night (Mark Your Calendars, Prep Your Hunger)

One of our readers has sent in a great event (anything combining local food and charity is awesome in my book) that I wanted to bring to your attention: the Lenten Family Pasta Night @ Long Beach Catholic.

On Friday, March 9th from 5:30-8:00 PM, Long Beach Catholic Regional School will be hosting their 2nd annual Lenten Family Pasta Night. Don’t let “Pasta Night” lead you to think this is strictly a bland pasta/jarred sauce affair. Following last year’s success, this edition will continue to be supported by some of Long Beach’s best restaurants.

This year’s confirmed participants are:

Tickets are $10 at the door. Kids eat free and all sorts of games will be setup.   Proceeds go to the LBCRS parents club – which helps supplement tuition by providing classroom materials for needy students.

If you’re a local restauranteurs looking to get involved, please shoot email the organizers.

You can also take a look at Long Beach Catholic’s Facebook page right here for more information

LI Restaurant Week at the Allegria

(Photo courtesy Allegria Facebook)

Now that the election is over, we can get back to Long Beach’s second most polarizing topic, the Allegria. It being Long Island’s restaurant week, I figured it may be a good chance to see after two years in business how the Allegria’s restaurant, Atlantica fared. (Note: For the rest of the post I’ll refer to the restaurant as the Allegira)

Restaurant Week is a great way to try places you may not otherwise go to, with relaxed prices on a select menu. From my perspective, a pared down menu to order from promises the eater the very best made dishes the restaurant has to offer, though usually in smaller portions.

How’d the Allegria do? Alright. Full impressions below:

There was a decent crowd in the restaurant and we were seated without a wait. All along the staff was very nice and professional.

A small plate of olives as well as bread came to the table along with our comically over-sized menus. I mean, these things are huge and simply do not fit on the table if you want to put them down. The olives were tasty – though could be the same variety sampler from Waldbaum’s olive bar. My first surprise of the night, there was not one, but two different “restaurant week” menus, a lower tier at $24.95 and a higher tier at $34.95.

The wine menu made me chuckle a bit. You could buy wine by the glass with a large slection between $8-$12 dollars, but the cheapest bottle of wine I could find on the menu was $33 (and a few others were below $40). This is a long way of going around to say that buying 4 glass of wine was cheaper than buying the cheapest bottle on the menu.

So the order. I’m easy to please and like everything so I really wanted to just get served whatever was the freshest/best showcase on the menu. The waiter said the scrod was particularly special and great, so that was easy for me. I don’t particularly know what scrod is other than some sort of fish.

My better half went with an arugula salad with walnuts, and Gorgonzola, and for her main course a roasted chicken dish.

Wine came out quick, and the appetizers flew out. I got a classic: fried calamari. First look? Uh oh, looked like it may be over-fried and burnt, though the smell that came off of them was incredible. How’d they taste? Absolutely delicious. Perfectly crisp, tender calamari, and no greasy taste. The dipping sauces that accompanied them were a welcome addition, without being overwhelming.

The salad that came out was that – a salad. The salad itself (and my app) was a large portion for a restaurant week menu, certainly a nice surprise. It was fresh. It was green. It had a vinaigrette of some variety over it that didn’t have a particularly strong taste.

The main course came out in no particular rush that made for a nicely paced meal – not hurrying the food out, but no real “wait.”

My next surprise of the evening – french fries. My big plate of scrod came out served with mixed vegetables and french fries. I basically didn’t bother reading the menu and was almost confused why they were there. I assumed I’d get some sort of frou frou “polenta” or “potatoes a la blah blah,” not fries. Looking at the plate I realized it was more of a fancy take on fish and chips.

I didn’t complain about the fries though, because they were actually fantastic. A thin cut piece of potato (think McDonald’s size) fried to perfection and lightly salted. The scrod was good.  Well cooked, moist, and light. The let down on the plate was the vegetables. I have a sneaking suspicion that the mixed vegetable medley came out of the freezer, into a microwave, and had the label “Green Giant” on it. They were watery, bland, and awful.

The roasted chicken across the table was excellent. Another large plate of food – much more than I was expecting on a prix fixe menu – well presented with roasted chicken resting on mashed potatoes and spinach. The chicken was incredible. Well seasoned, juicy, and all around tasty. The potatoes were garlicy (not a word) and good, the spinach was fresh.

Dessert was a creme brulee and a pumpkin napoleon. Both were excellent. The creme brulee was custardy  (also not a word) goodness and the pumpkin napoleon was an exciting take on a classic dessert.

So I’ve used the words good, incredible, and perfect quite a few times describing individual elements of the three courses, but walked away from the meal with an overwhelming “meh.” A lot of the food was good – better than average – but nothing was just “wow, that’s the best ____ I’ve ever had” or will really stick with me for any length of time (the  exception being the desserts actually).

I think they set themselves up for a disappointment with the high style, high prices, and flashy decor. The food itself though isn’t refined and haute cuisine.  Take my plate for instance, the special for the night trying to wow me boiled down to fish and chips.

The food has more of an clean, direct, and stripped-down feel to it, not complex and delicate like most places that pitch themselves as a four star restaurant. And there’s nothing at all wrong with making simplified, good food, but it just doesn’t seem pitched that way. I think instead you can say “hey, we make great food without flashy gimmicks,” Instead, I feel like it comes off as bit pretentious and then doesn’t deliver on four star promises.

Bottomline: Restaurant Week at the Allegria is good. It is a great way to get in and have a big taste of what they have to offer, while delivering satisfying, though not exceptional food.

Added bonus, our waiter informed us they will be running a restaurant week style prix fixe menu all winter.

Kennedy Plaza Farmer’s Market Review

I have driven by the Farmer’s Market many times and my inner foodie has gone nuts, but yet I just made it there Saturday for the first time. Shame on me for waiting so long.

So in an effort to not buy everything in sight I biked there with some friends, being as there is only so much you can tow on a manual two-wheeler.

From what I have heard there were less vendors than usual but I still left sad that I could not carry more. Maybe one of the reasons I didn’t go prior was because I thought it would be mostly produce. Boy was I wrong!

Not only was there a great variety of vendors, the vibe itself made me immediately smile. Small live music, a little girl selling mint iced tea (adorable and counting her own change no-less), and just pleasant people all around.

It was early and I went hungry so to keep with my “I will not buy everything” frame of mind I grabbed an everything pretzel from The Pretzel Stop truck that was parked out front. It was yummy and I was on my way.

From seafood to produce to gluten-free booths, this small market brought the goods. It’s also like Costco with the amount of samples you can get. All of the vendors that have a specific food product have it for the tasting.

Now to the stand-outs and what I bought…there was a pickle guy, Horman’s Best Pickles. Every kind we tried was great and the options range from sour, dill, bread & butter to cajun and horseradish. I opted for straight up sour for my first experience and I think me leaving the beach mid-day yesterday just to grab a pickle says it all. I’m in.

Bread Alone was a big hit for their cheese rolls, olive and onion focaccia and apple soda bread.

Drum roll for my favorite…Millport Dairy. WOW. Walking up to the booth I was immediately enticed by the friendly Amish man serving up samples of his cheeses, beef jerky, baked goods, eggs and pickled jarred items among others. I tried all of the cheeses (no surprise here) and they were all excellent. I like to experiment with the not so ordinary so I bought the garlic & chive cheese. Creamy and oh so tasty! I also bought his farm-fresh smoked bacon. Yep, not your typical bacon here. I made it and I have to say it is the best bacon I have ever had. You can absolutely tell it is not store-bought and I dare you not to eat the entire package.

I wish I could have fit some of the seafood and more but there’s always Wednesday, right? I hear there is also a ravioli booth sometimes, which I would also love to check out.

Anyone else have any favorites from our market?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Wings in Long Beach (ThrowDown)

Football season is looming.  Meaning that it’s time for Jets and Giants fans across the Island to be disappointed by the performance of their respective teams.  Also, wing consumption will reach annual highs.  Long Beach has so many places that claim to be bars, pubs, restaurants, and other kinds of casual eateries.  With each offering a wing of their own it can be daunting to sort through all of them and their claims of superiority.

I’ve had many, many wings and think I have a good tasting system down.  I’m only going to consider Buffalo Wings – i.e., “Spicy” wings.  None of that teriyaki, Caribbean jerk, sweet & sour, BBQ shenanigans.  Sure, we can give some honorable mentions, but Buffalo is the only true flavoring.  Baked or fried?  Not even a question.  Most baked wings are soggy and gross.  Deep fried and done right is a work of art.   Another component that needs to be considered is the meatiness.  If there is too much meat, it tastes more like eating a chicken leg.  Too little and its all bone and skin.  Of course then, the sauce itself is critical.  Is it just painfully spicy or is it hot with good balance?

I’ve been to Sutton Place, I’m tasted Beach House’s offerings.  I’ve had a dozen at The Inn.  I’ve done Minnesota’s.  Billy’s Beach Cafe – been there.  And there’s more of course that are even less memorable.

Recently, I had the best wing I’ve ever consumed in Long Beach.  I went on a suggestion, and wow, they were right.  Where?  The low-key John Henry’s on Park Ave.

I ordered John Henry’s plate of Buffalo wings, hot of course, and was served a heaping plater of goodness, with all the sides one could want (carrots, celery, blue cheese).  The wing – perfectly fried crispy without being dry and tough.  The sauce – spicy without being overwhelming.  The wing, meaty for sure, some may think a little too meaty, but I believe it to be the perfect balance.  Through and through a perfect wing experience.  Afterwards, no feeling of severe grease overload death.

I was a skeptic.  I didn’t believe this understated pub would have such a strong wing offering.  I scoffed.  Well, like me, try this and then comment.  Yes, many will protest and say that _______ has a better wing.  Eat John Henry’s wing and explain why ______ has a better one.  I’ve probably already had that one and considered it.  If you offer up a place with a better wing, I will of course be obligated to try it – I’d consider it my duty.

And just for fun, I’m going to include a recipe if you want to make wings at home that I’ve had great results with.  Yes, these are baked, but technically “oven-fried.”  Try them at your own peril because you’ll soon be hooked.

Let the wing throwdown begin.