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.
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.
3708 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Dining date: 4/28/16
This was my first time dining at the Las Vegas location of Scarpetta after dining numerous times at the Beverly Hills location. In fact, I had just dined at the BH location twice in the prior two months, just before it closed. I normally wouldn’t have paid a visit here so quickly; however, my dad promised my aunt he would take her here (she had heard about chef Scott Conant’s spaghetti many times and never tried it). My family was in town for Vegas Uncork’d with one dinner slot available so we came here. This would be the first time for my aunt and grandmother, although my parents have been here before.
An a la carte menu and a six course tasting ($110) is available here. Given we had a party of six, we went with the tasting for ease of ordering.
332 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Dining date: 3/5/15 and 10/27/15
I’ve been to Maccheroni Republic a number of times for their fresh, housemade pastas at great prices. The restaurant quickly gained in popularity since opening in late 2012, drawing lengthy lines at the no-reservations spot. I still stop in once a while, though primarily for an early weekday lunch in order to avoid any wait. This post recaps two of my previous lunches.
The free corkage policy is now gone; the restaurant has their beer & wine license with a limited selection of beverages. However, corkage is still very reasonable (I think it’s like $5).
Via della Purificazione 20
00187 Rome, Italy
Dining date: 10/24/14
While researching for restaurants to try in Rome, we came across this place – Osteria Barberini. It had very strong reviews everywhere we looked, including being a top 50 restaurant on TripAdvisor (4.5 stars on over 1700 reviews) and holding 4.5 stars on Yelp. The restaurant touts its truffle menus (especially as white truffles were in season) and reviews raved about the truffle dishes. Was exactly what we were looking for. We attempted to make a reservation and found dinner completely booked, however we were able to squeeze in a late lunch table.
Osteria Barberini’s menu has a lot of classic Italian favorites within its antipasti, primi, and secondi areas of the menu. However, there is an additional category featuring dishes using black and white truffles. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call them cheap, truffles (particularly white) were significantly cheaper in Italy compared to prices in the U.S. We first noticed this during our first night at Da Francesco, but Osteria Barberini’s pricing was also reasonable with white truffle dishes in the low-€20s and black truffle dishes in the mid-teens. We focused in on the truffle dishes (while in Rome!) and ordered a couple of items off the regular menu.
Piazza del Fico 29
00186 Rome, Italy
Dining date: 10/22/14 and 10/24/14
The first…and last…dinner in Rome was here at Da Francesco. While walking around the Piazza Navona area, we found this restaurant on Yelp. Located just east of the piazza, it had positive reviews and pictures with raves of a black truffle pasta. While I’m not always so trusting of Yelp, the pictures looked great and the prices reasonable (few dishes reach €20).
The menu is fairly extensive featuring everything from classic Italian appetizers to pastas, pizzas and heartier main courses. Porcini mushrooms were in season and a highlight on the menu (with the bounty displayed at the front of the restaurant). Menu and staff were also pretty English-friendly. We actually enjoyed the meal so much on our first evening that we returned on our last night to give a few more items a try.