110 S 13th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Dining date: 6/21/17
Barbuzzo is one of the more popular restaurants in Philadelphia. It’s part of a restaurant group that operates a number of other restaurants in the neighborhood, even a chocolate shop and jewelry store. Barbuzzo serves Mediterranean cuisine with a concentration towards Italian, including pastas, pizzas, housemade charcuterie and a variety of both small and large plates. We stopped in for dinner on a busy Wednesday evening – the small restaurant was packed when we got there and packed when we left.
240 Central Park S
New York, NY 10019
Dining date: 6/9/17
I’ve been to Michael White’s seafood-focused Italian restaurant once a couple of years ago. I recall having a good meal there; in particular, there were some memorable pastas. The restaurant is known to have some of the best pastas in town, which was one of the primary reasons for returning (another was that it was so close to the hotel on an evening with scattered thunderstorms). The restaurant still holds two Michelin stars and is still one of the busiest fine dining establishments in the city.
While a la carte and custom tasting menus are an option, I imagine most people go with the 4-course prix fixe at $102 for dinner. That menu offers a lot of variety – diners can choose from almost any appetizer, pasta, main and dessert for that price. That’s exactly what we did here.
1124 San Julian St
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Dining date: 5/21/17
Rossoblu opened last month, Steve Samson’s second restaurant after opening Sotto six years ago. Like Sotto, Rossoblu is serving Italian cuisine but the menu and style is a bit different. For example, much was made about Sotto’s pizza oven (imported from Italy brick-by-brick) and the pizzas have been a cornerstone on Sotto’s menu. However, there there are no pizzas here. There are pastas are on the menu though, accompanied by a number of small plate antipasti and large format protein-heavy dishes.
Rossoblu’s space is beautiful with an open kitchen and huge windows bringing in plenty of natural light. On this evening, the doors were wide open letting in a slight breeze (although it was still way too hot and stuffy inside). Rossoblu is one of the first businesses to open in downtown’s City Market South development, which is also slated to house a location of San Francisco’s popular Slanted Door.
Delano Las Vegas
3940 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Dining date: 4/27/17
Rivea opened in late 2015 atop the Delano Las Vegas, a re-conceptualization of the former Mix Restaurant and Lounge. Alain Ducasse remains the executive chef, bringing his French and Italian Riviera-inspired restaurant to The Strip. This is the third location of Rivea, after Saint-Tropez and London.
A tasting menu is available, 5 courses for $115, but our party of 5 decided to go a la carte.
Given the restaurant’s placement at the top of one of the southernmost hotels on the strip, views were impressive.
Orsa & Winston
122 W 4th St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Dining date: 4/15/17
It’s been some time since I’ve been to Orsa & Winston. This was my third visit here and it seems like the restaurant hasn’t changed too much. The food is still very much Italian and Japanese-influenced, although the menu does appear to feature vegetables more prominently. This isn’t surprising, reflective of chef Jose Centeno’s latest desire to cook/eat (his latest concept, P.Y.T., is almost vegetarian).
$85 buys six courses here with a couple of optional supplements that change often. Some of the ‘extras’ – an amuse bouche, a pre-dessert, and mignardises kind of makes it feel like a nine courser before supplements. If that’s still not enough, there’s still a 20-course super omakase is still available at the bar with advance reservation.
On this evening we opted for the regular tasting menu, adding both supplements.
Cento Pasta Bar
128 E 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Dining dates: 2/4/17, 3/4/17, 4/1/17, 4/8/17
Cento Pasta Bar is a recurring pop-up restaurant in downtown’s Mignon space. At night, this is a French wine bar serving French small plates and wines, but during the day it’s a pasta bar (Wed-Sat). The menu is very focused; typically there’s a couple of appetizers and about three pastas on offer. The pasta offerings change weekly, though can change even daily depending on what the chef comes up with. Prices are very reasonable – pastas are in the $12-$18 range.
I’ve stopped in a number of times to try what’s cooking. Just about every seat at the restaurant is at the counter surrounding all the cooking. It’s great to be able to see the pastas come together right in front of you and be able to interact with the chef.