Tag Archives: octopus

Neapolitan Pizza in Chicago: Spacca Napoli

30 Oct

Looking for some solid Neapolitan-style pizza on Chicago’s north side? Spacca Napoli is a good option.

We started off with a grilled vegetable plate – a generous amount of grilled eggplant, red and yellow peppers, and zucchini.

Spacca Napoli

The grilled octopus was alright. It came as a a couple large pieces, so it was bit more challenging to eat than most other presentations I’ve seen.

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The pizzas are where Spacca Napoli shines. The Neapolitan-style pizzas are all sized to suite one person. They are so good you probably won’t want to share anyway. There are many options, including a couple of daily specials.

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The disappointment of the night was the Peaches Vesuvio we ordered for dessert, which was I suppose more of a misunderstanding than anything. I thought that the peaches would be fresh, but they are not. The menu says “Peaches (Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio)”, meaning they are jarred peaches from the national park in Italy. Though they may have originated from Italy, they tasted like run-of-the-mill canned peaches from around here…I expressed my disappointment to our server, and he graciously took the dessert off our bill.

Info: Spacca Napoli Pizzeria, 1769 W. Sunnyside Avenue, Chicago, IL 60640 USA
Spacca Napoli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Overhyped: Girl and the Goat, Chicago

14 Jan

Girl and the Goat is a much talked about, trendy West Loop spot. Walk in without a reservation on a Saturday evening and you could be faced with a 2 hour-long wait. So of course, I had to check it out.

Hubby and I got a 5:15 pm reservation on a Saturday – a little early for dinner, but the place was packed already. We were seated directly behind the hostess stand – not an ideal spot, as hungry diners hanging by the bar seemed to hover over our table. It was a little difficult at times to ignore their conversation – as it was pretty much right over our heads. A row of two-tops opposite the aisle beside us, with bench seating, didn’t appear to be significantly more comfortable given the scant 3 inches between each table. 

Hubby is much more of a food snob than I am – he found the meal to be just ok. He wouldn’t return for the price. He didn’t think the elements of each dish went together very well – the Brussels sprout leaves in the grilled octopus dish were too bitter for example. I didn’t mind the Brussel sprouts, though I didn’t feel like they added much to the dish either in terms of flavour. I guess they’re good for adding some colour. We both agreed that the octopus itself  was cooked excellently though.

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Perhaps because it’s winter, the dishes were quite heavy – everything we ordered was paired with cheese or a creamy sauce. A gigantic plate of wood grilled broccoli came atop a blue cheese dressing for example. The dressing brought a great sweetness to the crunchy broccoli, but I do think the dish could have come with less of it. The “spiced crispies” were basically Rice Krispies, an interesting twist but…c’mon, it’s Rice Krispies. If you’re charging $13 for broccoli, you could do a little better than pulling the garnish out of a cereal box. 

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Hubby really enjoyed the goat empanadas topped with feta. I found them alright – tasty but not outstanding or particularly memorable.

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The wood oven roasted pig face is the restaurant’s top seller, according to our server. It was definitely interesting. Pork jowl, cheek, and tongue formed into a sausage patty provided a texture reminiscent of pork belly. This is a stick-to-your ribs breakfasty dish.

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The dish is best enjoyed with the elements all mixed together into a mess:

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Service was spot-on that night and I was satisfied at the end of my meal. Hubby, because he’s a big, hungry guy with the appetite of two pregnant women, was still hungry after our dinner….but didn’t want to order any more food because most dishes were quite heavy and fatty. 

The best dish of the night was the perfectly pan roasted drum fish with thinly sliced autumn crisp apples (ok I’ll buy that idea), and a Szechuan vinaigrette (a questionable pairing).

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The Final Word: Glad I tried this place once, but it was overpriced for the experience. Service is great, but seating is crowded and the dishes try a little too hard to be unique.

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Info: Girl and the Goat, 809 W. Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60607 USA

Girl & the Goat Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fantastic Tapas: Curate, Asheville

24 Jan

Curate is one of the top restaurants in downtown Asheville. If you’re in the area, perhaps to visit the gorgeous Biltmore Mansion, I highly recommend dinner at Curate. It’s a long space, with a bar down one side, and tables for four on the other, opening up to a dining area at the back. The name “Curate” means “cure yourself”… and it’s true, if you’re not in a terrific mood when you step in the doorway, you will be when you’ve taken the first few bites of your meal.

For a small party of 2 or 3 people, I definitely recommend sitting at the bar, to get a great view of the open kitchen (a great way to impress a date 😉 Watch charcuterie plates being assembled, potatoes and eggplant being fried, and cocktails being mixed.

DSC01390For a small party of 2 or 3 people, I definitely recommend sitting at the bar, to get a great view of the open kitchen (a great way to impress a date 😉 Watch charcuterie plates being assembled, potatoes and eggplant being fried, and cocktails being mixed. For larger parties, make a reservation! 

It’s no surprise that this restaurant is busy: look at these beautiful and delicious tapas!

Curate: Butternut squash soupButternut squash soup (Crema de Calabaza) – deliciously smooth

Curate: grilled octopusPulpo a la Gallega – octopus served served with olive oil and potato puree, and sprinkled with Spanish paprika

DSC01399Chicken croquettes

DSC01402Canelones de carne – described as “Spain’s gift to Italy”, it’s a unique, delicate pasta filled with pork, beef, and chicken liver in a creamy bechamel sauce and topped with manchego cheese.

Curate: eggplantBerenjenas la Taberna – fried eggplant drizzled with honey and sprinkled with rosemary

Curate: calamari sandwichBocata Calamares – calamari on a fresh baguette – a delicious and filling sandwich!

DSC01409Chisatorra con pure de patatas – grilled chorizo with potato puree

Curate: spinach with pine nuts and raisinsEspinacas a la Catalana – sauteed spinach, apples, raisins, with pine nuts – a simple, yet elegant dish.

The Final Word: With delicious food and attentive service in a bustling atmosphere, dinner at Curate was one of my most enjoyable dining experiences yet!

Info: Curate, 11 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801 USA
Cúrate on Urbanspoon

Delightful Argentinian: Porteño, New York City

14 Sep

Right near the north end of the Highline Park in Chelsea, there is a little gem of an Argentinian restaurant called Porteño. We arrived early on a Saturday evening so we easily grabbed a table in the small restaurant. By the time we left, the place was quickly filling up. And no wonder – Porteño serves delicious, beautifully plated food at reasonable prices.

grilled octopusThe signature appetizer special: grilled octopus over an arugula, tomato, and orange salad. The octopus was so tender and crisp.

IMAG1329Three empanadas: the sanjuanina with spinach and manchego cheese, the jujeña with corn and onions, and my favourite – the salteña, with beef scallions, and red pepper.

IMAG1330The jujeña: chopped corn and onions stuffed in a delicate but crispy, thin pastry envelope.

filet mignonFilet Mignon special, with asparagus spears, roasted red pepper, mushrooms, and creamed corn.

salmon and quinoaA  large tower of creamy quinoa salad, made with romaine lettuce, avocado, cucumber, grape tomatoes, string beans, served with cubes of perfectly grilled salmon.


I can’t wait to return to Porteño. I’ll have to make sure to save room next time for something off the mouth-watering dessert list!

Info: Porteño, 299 10th Ave, New York, NY, 10001, USA

Porteno on Urbanspoon

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