Lawrence, KS: Pizza Shuttle Stands For ZERO INTEGRITY And Earns A Spot On My "WALL OF SHAME"


Pizza Shuttle
1601 W. 23rd Street
Lawrence, KS 66046
Phone: (785) 842-1212
I will not waste my time reviewing a business that totally lacks integrity, so I will ignore the food, delivery, etc. at Pizza Shuttle and focus only on the matter at hand … fraudulent business practices.

I ordered two 14″ one-topping pizzas online from Pizza Shuttle (through Eat Street – where I was automatically directed) at a price of $15.18 (including $1.38 for extra cheese on my pizza). 

My wife is allergic to tomatoes, so I asked for olive oil on her pizza instead of tomato sauce, a request that every pizza place we have ever ordered from has gladly and “free”ly complied with. With tax at $1.45 and delivery at $1.50, the total came to $18.13 as you can see on my receipt and order confirmations (online and email) below.

As you can clearly see, the online and email confirmations listed a total of $18.13 including tax and delivery, but when the Pizza Shuttle driver arrived he stated the total was $22.25, an additional $4.07 “due to my wife being allergic to tomatoes and substituting olive oil for tomato sauce”. Nobody bothered calling to inform us of the ridiculous $4+ upcharge and when the driver called the manager to confirm the discrepancy, the manager merely stated “that’s the way it is, it’s Eat Street’s problem, not ours”. 
I paid the driver the extra $4.07 (because it was not his fault and he does not get paid enough to argue with irate customers) and tipped him an additional $1.75, stating “your tip would have been much larger if your manager wasn’t such an a**hole. Tell him to read my review on combatcritic.com and on Yelp … it won’t be pretty!”

Never again, Pizza Shuttle or Eat Street, once and I am done. 

CombatCritic Gives Pizza Shuttle And Eat Street 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On My WALL OF SHAME FOR ZERO INTEGRITY … Nuff Said!

One Bomb Equates To:
Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCritic
View my food journey on Zomato!

Pizza Shuttle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato








Title: Lawrence, KS: Pizza Shuttle Stands For ZERO INTEGRITY And Earns A Spot On My “WALL OF SHAME”

Key Words: Pizza Shuttle, pizza, shuttle, delivery, fraud, EatStreet, eatstreet.com, Lawrence, Kansas, 23rd, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: FUBAR = “Fucked Up Beyond All Repair”
Advertisements

Brooklyn, NY: A CombatCritic BestValue … This Brooklyn Ristorante Is Well Worth A Visit!


Cataldo’s Restaurant
554 Vanderbilt Avenue, Suite 1
Brooklyn, NY 11238
Between Dean Street and Atlantic Avenue
Prospect Heights
Phone: (718) 857-6700
No Website?
Prices: $$$$

We finally found a good, reasonably priced mom and pop Italian restaurant in the NYC metro and the name is Cataldo’s!
After searching the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn and on Yelp for a week looking for a good value, I stumbled upon Cataldo’s. It looked promising because one of the featured photos was of a delicious stuffed artichoke (below – $12) just like my grandma used to make … YUM! Unfortunately, they were out when we arrived and were not expecting a produce delivery for two days … DRAT!
When we arrived, we were warmly greeted by Vito (a co-owner with his brother) and his family. Vito and his brother Salvatore are originally from Sicily, just an hour’s drive from my wife’s hometown in Northwestern Sicily, so they know how good food should be prepared and enjoyed.
The prices are very reasonable, particularly in NYC, with pizzas and pastas in the $10-$14 range and veal (with a side of pasta) running $12 to $16. They offer several wine options in a multitude of colors and varieties with glasses starting at $6 and bottles in the low $20s.
On our first visit, we started with the insalata Mozzarella Caprese ($8), not the “traditional” insalata Caprese with mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, and basil, but a salad with a couple small mozzarella balls and sliced tomato, mostly arugula, and a few olives. I was not overly impressed for the $8 price tag. My wife ordered the Pizza Quattro Formaggio ($13), a wood-fired pie of 12+ inches smothered in four types of cheese (mozzarella, ricotta, gorgonzola and fontina) and baked to a golden brown. The pizza and Caprese are the only reason they will not get my highest rating. The pizza was good, not great, and not on the same level as true pizza Napoletana. I had the Vitello (veal) alla Parmigiana ($12), three good size veal cutlets breaded and fried, then smothered in marinara, topped with mozzarella, and baked to a golden brown. It came with a side of Spaghetti alla Bolognese, their meat sauce, which was as good as any I have had. A bottle of Chianti ($24) brought the tab to around $60 for an excellent meal, about the same price as we paid for garbage at a West Village German restaurant the night before. An excellent value!
We came back a second time two nights later, always a good sign, my wife having the Tortellini alla Panna ($12) instead of pizza and me the Veal Saltimbocca alla Romana ($16) … buonissimo! The tortellini were likely not homemade, but were very good and the cream sauce rich and delicious. The veal saltimbocca was divine, likely the best I have had, including in Rome (hence the name – Romana). Lightly breaded veal cutlets atop a bed of spinach and covered with prosciutto crudo then baked in a light white wine, butter, and lemon sauce infused with rosemary … MAMA MIA! The accompanying spaghetti was topped with the same sauce and with a little freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano on top, it was exquisite … the best $16 I have spent in a long time!

Being our last night in NYC and Brooklyn, we splurged and shared a piece of cheesecake ($5). Made with ricotta rather than cream cheese, it was typically Italian and not as sweet as its NYC cousin, but very good nonetheless.
I never did get to try the stuffed artichoke, but the food was wonderful, the service and hospitality excellent, the setting quaint and warm, and the value exceptional. We made some new friends and enjoyed the excellent food, surely to return on our next trip to Brooklyn and NYC.

CombatCritic Gives Cataldo’s 9 Bombs Out Of 10 As One Of The Best Values (BANG FOR THE BUCK) in NYC and Brooklyn … More Bombs Are Better!

Nine Bombs Equates To:
“U.S. Marine Response To A Verbal Greeting Or As An Expression Of Enthusiasm”

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

MENU

Cataldo's Restaurant and Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCritic

View my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Brooklyn, NY: A CombatCritic BestValue … This Brooklyn Ristorante Is Well Worth A Visit!

Key Words: Cataldo’s Restaurant, Cataldo’s, Cataldo, Brooklyn, NYC, New York City, New York, Italian, pizza, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Brooklyn, NY: Superb Pizza Napoletana, Overpriced Beer And Wine … We’re Not In Kansas Anymore Dorothy!


Dellarocco’s Brick Oven Pizza

214 Hicks Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Between Montague Street and Remsen Street
Brooklyn Heights
Phone: (718) 858-1010
Website: dellaroccospizza.com


BEST NEAPOLITAN PIZZA I HAVE HAD OUTSIDE OF NAPLES (ITALY), but most expensive beer I have seen in my life. I am torn on my rating for Dellarocco’s because the pizza was wonderful with a thin, soft, yet firm dough, perfectly baked with just the right amount of burnt spots from the 800+ degree brick oven. 
The service was excellent. Sabastion, our server, was attentive enough without hovering or interrupting our conversation and the pizzas arrived post haste as they should from an 800 degree oven. The decor is rather modern, sterile, and boring, not what I would expect in a Brooklyn pizzeria.
I ordered a pint of IPA, but am glad I specified a pint because Sabastion, our server, was nice enough to tell me the $6 IPA was closer to a 1/2 pint than a pint. Where we come from a pint of craft draft ale runs $4-$6, so paying the equivalent of $12 a pint is a non-starter in my book. No beer is worth $12 a pint no matter how good it is or where you are … “We’re not in Kansas anymore Dorothy!” Wine is equally overpriced by the glass, although there were several bottles in the $30 range, a more reasonable investment.
The toppings on the “Dellarocco” ($16), smoked Buffalo mozzarella, broccoli rabe, sliced sweet Italian sausage, red pepper, garlic, and basil were reminiscent of pizza Napoletana, not too much, not too little. They even had olio picante (EVO infused with red pepper), the perfect accompaniment to my salsiccia e friarielli pizza … buonissimo. This is my go-to pizza when in Naples, so my expectations were not high, however, the Dellarocco was THE BOMB folks! 
My wife had the “Zucchini” (also $16) with the same superb dough topped with a wonderful zucchini cream, mozzarella, thinly sliced smoked prosciutto, and extra virgin olive oil. It was also delicious, light and flavorful with just the right amount of ingredients so you could taste each individually.
The pizzas are even the right size for pizza Napoletana (about 13 inches), unusual in the States where most places serve a 12 inch individual pie. An inch makes all the difference folks (I’ll leave it at that). Their prices are nearly three times what you would pay for a similar pizza in Naples, but this is NYC (Brooklyn actually) and I have seen prices for an individual pizza ranging from $20 to almost $30, so I do not consider Dellarocco’s pizza a bad value. The beer is a different story because I found another place in Brooklyn with several excellent craft draft “pints” in the $6 to $7 range, so stop gouging your customers and lower your beer and wine prices.
CombatCritic Gives Dellarocco’s Brick Oven Pizza 8 Bombs Out Of 10 With Deductions For Ridiculously High Beer And Wine Prices … More Bombs Are Better!
Eight Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Dellarocco's of Brooklyn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Brooklyn, NY: Superb Pizza Napoletana, Overpriced Beer And Wine … We’re Not In Kansas Anymore Dorothy!

Key Words: Dellarocco’s Brick Oven Pizza, Dellarocco, Dellarocco’s, brick, oven, wood, pizza, pizzeria, Brooklyn, NY, CombatCritic, Napolitana, Neapolitan, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: WTFO! = “What-The-Fuck … Over!”

Philadelphia, PA: This Place Is The Real Deal Folks … Luigi’s Is THE BOMB!


Luigi’s Pizza Fresca
2401 Fairmount Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Fairmount, Art Museum District
Phone: (215) 769-8888
Prices: $$$$
The owner, Luigi, is from Naples (Italy), my wife’s hometown, so he knows how to cook proper Italian. The food is incredible, the portions huge, and the prices extremely fair.
We found Luigi’s after a short visit to Eastern State Penitentiary, just down the street a few blocks (they are also just a few blocks east of the Philadelphia Museum of Art). A simple place, it looks like a takeout pizza joint where you can get a slice and a soda and sit if you want, but the menu is much more extensive than you might think. Beside pizza, sandwiches, pasta, and salads, they offer chicken parmigiana, veal parmigiana, eggplant parmigiana, and chicken cacciatore, all $10.95, including a large side of pasta ($2.50 more for gnocchi, tortellini, or ravioli).

My wife had a panino (singular – “panini” is actually plural in Italian), the Four Season ($8.95) with prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, oregano, and basil on fresh focaccia and an order of fries ($3.50). The panino was very big and delicious, and the fries hot and perfectly cooked. The focaccia was obviously made in-house, soft on the inside and slightly crispy and perfectly seasoned with olive oil, fresh rosemary and sea salt on the outside. I ordered the Veal Parmigiana ($10.95), coming with a massive side of tortellini ($2.50 extra for a total of $13.45). The veal was the best parmigiana I have had in memory and the portion was huge (see my photos) with four good size breaded veal scallops covered with the best marinara I have had outside Italy and fresh, warm, gooey, delicious mozzarella. Then there was the tortellini, a meal in itself,  perfectly cooked “al dente” and tossed (not drenched) in a superb Bolognese (meat) sauce just as it should be. I did not think I could eat all of it when they brought it to the table, but it was so good I could not help myself, cleaning both plates by the time we were done.

The bill came to a little over $30 for the sandwich, fries, veal, pasta, and two fountain drinks, a mere pittance for a meal as good as this one. Their service and hospitality could not have been better or friendlier and the food is one of the best “values” I have experienced in a long, long time. Grazie Luigi … a presto!

CombatCritic Gives Luigi’s Pizza Fresca 10 Bombs Out Of 10 And A Spot On My “WALL OF FAME” … More Bombs Are Better …. Luigi’s is THE BOMB!

Ten Bombs Equates To:
“Phonetic spelling of the acronym HUA, which stands for ‘Heard Understood Acknowledged.’ Originally used by the British in the late 1800’s in Afghanistan. More recently adopted by the United States Army to indicate an affirmative or a pleased response.” – Urban Dictionary

“The Department of Military Science and Leadership, University of Tennessee claim HOOAH ‘refers to or means anything except no’ … Regardless of its meaning … the term is an expression of high morale, confidence, motivation and spirit.” – WarChronicle.com

“The U.S. Air Force stole ‘HOOAH’ from the Army because we were part of the Army until 1947 and rather than waste a bunch of time coming up with something new and unique, we said ‘screw it, let’s go with HOOAH’ … thanks Army … HOOAH! – CombatCritic

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube
Luigi's Pizza Fresca Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Philadelphia, PA: This Place Is The Real Deal Folks … Luigi’s Is THE BOMB! 

Key Words: Luigi’s Pasta Fresca, Luigi’s, , Luigi, pasta, fresca, Philadelphia, PA, Pennsylvania, Italian, pizza, museum, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Fuggedaboudit? Not Authentic Italian, Some Poor Execution, But Don’t Fugeddaboudit Just Yet


Morningstar’s New York Pizza
4931 6th Street, Suite 106
Lawrence, KS 66049
Phone: (785) 856-6973
Prices: $$$$
Calzone – $8.00

I was here last Autumn with a friend for a calzone, which was actually pretty well done, so I decided to try it again with my Sicilian-born wife. For a city of nearly 100,000, it is appalling that Lawrence does not have a single decent. authentic Italian restaurant. A Carrabba’s would even be a breath of fresh air, but the tight-knit city “powers that be” seem to be pretty good at discouraging innovation and “chains” in favor of “mom and pop” establishments. Unfortunately, none of the moms and pops seem to have a clue how to run a decent restaurant, Italian or otherwise. Anyway, all that being said, Morningstar’s is not bad.

Garlic Knots – $3
We tried the garlic knots ($3) which came with a side of red sauce. Baked balls of pizza dough infused with garlic apparently, I could barely taste the garlic and the “knots” were not baked long enough, a little too chewy … too bad!
 
Jumbo Combo – $9.75

The prices are decent except for the pizzas which are a bit pricey, so my wife ordered The New Yorker calzone ($7.25) with mozzarella, ricotta & parmigiana cheese, no sauce (she is allergic to tomatoes – some Italian!), with mushrooms added ($.50 extra). She was quite happy with the calzone. The dough was baked to perfection and there were just enough ingredients, so my wife (who has lived in Naples, Italy – the home of the best pizza in the World – most of her life) was actually impressed. Bravo!

 
Meatball

I wanted to try a few different things, so I got the Jumbo Combo ($9.75) which came with chicken parmigiana, eggplant rollatine, stuffed pasta shells, a side of spaghetti, and a meatball. I asked for the baked manicotti instead of the stuffed shells and they were happy to comply. Unfortunately, when my dish arrived I was a bit dismayed to see everything crammed into a casserole dish. The chicken parmigiana was actually cubes of breaded chicken piled on one end of the dish and the manicotti and eggplant rollatine were on the other end, layered one on top of the other. The whole dish was covered with sauce and mozzarella cheese, then baked in the oven. The side of spaghetti was not well drained, so it was a bit too watery. Too bad because the sauce was decent. With no meatball in sight, I asked the server where it was, but she said the dish did not come with one. After informing her that the menu indicated that a meatball did come with the dish, she scurried off and brought me one post haste. In all, the dish was a bit of a mess, but it was actually not that bad. It could have been better presented and would have been much more palatable had the chicken, manicotti, and eggplant been separated on a large plate, but with a name like Morningstar you cannot expect authentic Italian dishes.

Side of Spaghetti
Alas, still no authentic Italian food in Lawrence, but Morningstar’s does a fair job of trying. Their prices are fair and the service is decent, but it looks more like a sports bar than an Italian restaurant. The old world ambience just is not there. As Morningstar’s would say: “fuggedaboudit”, but not just yet. We will likely be back because my wife liked the calzone (as did I on my first visit), so maybe I will try one of their sandwiches next time. I would also offer suggestions for improvement if invited because I will do ANYTHING to help a local business as well as my chances of having a decent Italian restaurant meal without having to drive 4o miles. HOOAH!
 
CombatCritic Gives Morningstar’s New York Pizza 5 Bombs Out Of 10 (2 1/2 Stars) … More Bombs Are Better!

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – “Elite ’14/’15”

TripAdvisor – “Top Contributor” 

Tabelog – “Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – “Super Foodie”

… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Fuggedaboudit? Not Authentic Italian, Some Poor Execution, But Don’t Fugeddaboudit Just Yet

Key Words: Morningstar’s New York Pizza, Morningstar, KU, basketball, Lawrence, Kansas, New York, pizza, pasta, calzone, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

 

Il Pizzaiuolo: This "Pizza Maker" Does It The Traditional, Neopolitan Way … Delicioso!


Il Pizzaiuolo
Via dei Macci 113R
50122 Florence, Italy
Near Mercato San’Ambrogio
Phone: +39 055 241171
 

I wrote an extensive review in 2012 on Il Pizzaiuolo, so I will not bore you with too many details or flowery prose. Leave it to say that in parts of Italy, Rome and northward, good pizza is hard to come by. Most visitors do not realize that this is authentic pizza napoletana (not “Napolean”, he was the squirt of a French dictator), equaling some of the best pizzerias in Naples (Napoli), the home of pizza and the best in the world.

Just around the corner from the wonderful Mercato Sant’Ambrogio and a five minute walk from Santa Croce, Il Pizzaiuolo has only around 15 tables, so the place is small and hard to find a seat after 8pm. Beside pizza, they have starters, pasta, meat, and fish dishes, but pizza is their specialty. On this visit, one of many in the past, we decided to try their frittura (€8 – fried things), including arancini di riso (rice balls), croquette di patate (potato corquettes), and montanare (fried pizza dough with a little tomato sauce). Their were just two of each (six pieces total) and a disappointment compared to what you would get in a Naples pizzeria for the same price (€8 gets you 25 pieces of the same). They were good, but there should have been more or it should have been much cheaper (€3 to €4).
I had a Neapolitan classic, pizza con salsiccia e friarielli (fior di latte cheese, sausage, and broccoli rabe sauteed in olive oil and garlic – €10) and it was wonderful. My wife’s pizza quattro formaggio (four cheeses – €8) was also excellent with loads of mozzarella, gorgonzola, ricotta, and provola cheese. As is usual in pizza napoletana, the dough was thin and chewy, only crisp enough to hold the toppings without getting soggy and with little splotches of burnt crust from the fiery wood-fired oven. Perfetto!
 

My only complaints, other than the women’s toilet being rather filthy on this visit (my wife told me, I did not see for myself) are the fact that you can only get wine by the glass or bottle, no liters or half-liters and that the prices are a little steep compared to Naples, but those are small discrepancies when you are eating un’oltima pizza napoletana (excellent Neapolitan pizza) in Northern Italy!

CombatCritic Il Pizzaiuolo 8 Out Of 10 Bombs … Bombs Are Good!

 

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:
Yelp – “Elite ’14/’15”
TripAdvisor – “Top Contributor” Tabelog – “Official Judge (Bronze)”
Zomato – “Super Foodie”
… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!
Title: Il Pizzaiuolo: This “Pizza Maker” Does It The Traditional, Neopolitan Way … Delicioso!


Key Words: Il Pizzaiuolo, pizzaiuolo, pizza, pizzeria, Naples, napoletana, Neopolitan, Florence, Italy, Firenze, restaurant, ristorante, menu, Sant’Ambrogio, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, review, guide

An Outstanding Lunch Value, Possibly Overpriced As A Dinner Option


Osteria dei Centopoveri 
Restaurant and Pizzeria
Via Palazzuolo, 31r, 50123 
Florence, Italy
Phone: +39 055 218846
Website: centopoveri.it
Prices: $$$$


Air conditioning on a 100+ degree day in sweltering Florence, Italy … HOOAH!

Tortellini Panna Prosciutto Con Piselli


Reasonably priced at €10 for a two course lunch, including wine, water, service and tip, this osteria (it is not spelled “ostaria”, just like pizzeria is not spelled “pizzaria”) and pizzeria is one of many value options near train station Santa Maria Novella in Florence. There are better and worse, but the food and service were pretty good and the price excellent.


Insalata Caprese

The restaurant is large and our group of six were quickly seated even though they were pretty busy. Five adults ordered off of the fixed price menu and the lone, very hungry child ordered a Margherita pizza, what else. Four of us had the tortellini panna prosciutto con piselli (ham, cream, and peas) for our first course and one had the pasta alla Sorrentina. The tortellini were mass produced, but very good, and plentiful served in a creamy, garlicky sauce with diced ham and peas. The sauce was so good that I ignored my wife’s pleas and performed “scarpetta”, cleaning my plate with the fresh, local bread and happily consuming it. The pasta all Sorrentina did not look all that appetizing, but what could we expect in Florence? There was no sauce, only a small amount of crushed tomato and a little mozzarella mixed with a lot of store-bought pasta.

Frittata di Patate


The very hungry child did not receive his pizza until after our second courses were served, but he was very patient nonetheless. A pizza lover, he was not impressed by his pizza although it looked good from where I was sitting, so 3/4 of it went uneaten. Our main courses were the Caprese salad, frittata de patate (potato omelette), and scallopine ai funghi (pork cutlets in mushroom sauce). The Caprese was decent with fresh fior di latte (cow’s milk), not mozzarella di bufala (made with water buffalo milk in the region of Campania) as you would get in and around the Island of Capri, its namesake. The dish’s signature fresh basil leaves were notably missing and replaced with lettuce, something you would never see in Southern Italy, but it was not bad at all. The frittata di patate was pretty good, although my wife did not think it was good as her friend Giovanna (from Naples) mother’s version. Giovanna had the scallopine, which she said was “so-so”, coming in a thick, creamy mushroom sauce along with green beans on the side. It looked good, but I did not taste it, so I cannot corroborate her evaluation.
Scallopine ai Funghi


We received a liter of local red wine for the five of us, five bottles of water (we had been walking in the 100 degree heat for four hours), and five after-meal espressos with the bill coming to a very reasonable €60.50 for six people, a relative bargain in Florence. The menu is basic, nothing fancy, but the food good and the value exceptional. They are quite a bit pricier for dinner, in the €25 to €40 range per person, so lunch is a major value.


My only complaints were: 1) the child did not get his pizza as fast as he should have; 2) the sparsely adorned pasta alla Sorrentina; and 3) the lack of basil on the Caprese Salad, otherwise we were quite pleased with our meal.

CombatCritic Gives Osteria dei Centopoveri 7 Bombs Out Of 10 (3.5/5 Stars) … BOMBS ARE GOOD IN THIS CASE!




Read More Reviews By CombatCritic On Yelp And TripAdvisor … And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube



Title: An Outstanding Lunch Value, Possibly Overpriced As A Dinner Option

Key Words: Osteria dei Centopoveri, osteria, centopoveri, restaurant, pizzeria, Via Palazzuolo, Firenze, Florence, Santa Maria Novella, Italy, menu, review, travel, value, pasta, wine, pizza, CombatCritic, Yelp, TripAdvisor, tourist

IT’S "THE BOMB" … Great meal, superior service, outstanding value … as good as it gets for the price!


Pizzeria La Tavernetta
Viale San Modestino, 5
83013 Mercogliano, Italy
Phone: +39 0825 787020
Prices: $$$$$

Santuario di Montevirgine
My iPhone decided to go on the fritz again while my wife and I were spending the night at a hotel in Mercogliano, a hillside town about 30 miles (50 kliks) east of and a world away from Naples, Italy, after visiting the famous mountain top abbey called Santuario di Montevergine. The Abbey of Montevergine has been the site of religious orders dating back to the 12th Century and sits almost 5,000 above the base of Mount Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples. It was reportedly the hiding place of the Shroud of Turin during World War II and is home to the massive and celebrated Byzantine painting on wood of the “Madonna” (Blessed Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus).

Baked Scamorza and Porcini Mushrooms – €10
Anyway, back to my crappy iPhone. We were searching for a place to eat on TripAdvisor (because there was a dearth of reviews in the area on Yelp) and found an excellent option, Pizzeria La Tavernetta, which appeared to be in close proximity to our hotel, Hotel Mercurio. However, when I clicked on “Directions”, both Google Maps and Waze could not pinpoint my location even though “Location Services” was enabled on my iPhone. So, we decided to do it the old fashioned way and ask the hotel desk clerk. He took us outside and pointed to the restaurant next door and sure enough, it was La Tavernetta … HOOAH!
As we entered, we were greeted warmly by the pizzaiolo and one of the owners apparently. There was a smattering of occupied tables in the large dining room and a party of about 35 celebrating a birthday at the long table next to ours. I began to become concerned after 10-15 minutes of being mostly ignored by the waiter and thought about going elsewhere, but I knew he (the only waiter) was overwhelmed by the large group and decided to wait.  Am I glad we did!
Antipasto San Valentino – €8
The owner came over and apologized shortly thereafter and the young waiter was nothing less than superb from that point forward. We started with a bottle of mineral water, the local red wine, and the antipasto San Valentine (€8), a massive plate (plates actually) filled with various salamis, prosciutto, guanciale, two medium balls of mozzarella di buffala, two bruschette (plural of bruschetta, which is prounounced brew-sket-ah, not brew-shet-ah as most Americans do), black and green olives, as well as marinated and roasted mellenzane (eggplant), mushrooms, and carrots. Accompanied by a basket of bread, it was a feast in itself, well worth the €8, and we nearly filling before our main courses arrived.
My family comes from a town about ten miles away and the wine was a bit drier than the local wines made there, but it was dark, fruity, and robust, an excellent value at less than $5 a bottle.
Sausage and Frierielli Pizza – €6
I had been craving my favorite frierielli (broccoli rabe) and sausage pizza for over a month and seeing it on the menu had no other choice even though they have a nice selection of primi (pastas), secondi (meat dishes), and contorni (side dishes – potatoes, vegetables, etc). The pizza was as big as any I have had in Naples, the home of the best pizza in the world, and one of the best sausage and frierielli pizzas I have had, including Naples. The crust was perfect, thin yet firm and slightly crispy (unlike Roman pizza which is like eating a cracker with tomato and cheese) and was well covered with fresh mozzarella, broccoli rabe, and large chunks of fresh, sweet sausage. The waiter read my mind and offered “olio piccante” (a spicy olive oil flavored with peperoncini) before I could get the words out of my mouth, adding just the right amount of spice to accompany the perfect pizza.
My wife had the baked scamorza, a stronger tasting cousin of mozzarella found mostly in Southern Italy, and porcini mushrooms (€10) and again we were not disappointed. Two large melted balls of cheese topped with just the right amount of sauteed porcini mushrooms was filling and delicious.
We stopped to talk to the owners, brothers I take it, on the way out and were treated to a small complimentary glass of “digestivo”, in this case a local green liquore reminiscent of absinthe, but made by the abbey monks from herbs found on the mountain slopes near Sanuario di Montevirgine – a perfect ending to an outstanding meal!
Unlike many reviewers, I give the maximum number of “bombs” (stars) rarely (as you can see from my rating distribution here and on Yelp combatcritic.yelp.com and TripAdvisor). My ratings are based strictly on “bang for the buck” and for €33 plus tip, this was a meal deserving my five-star rating and I can safely say that Pizzeria La Tavernetta is “THE BOMB”!
CombatCritic Gives Pizzeria La TavernettaThe Coveted 10 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!
Read More Reviews By CombatCritic On Yelp And TripAdvisor … And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Menu
Menu

Title: Great meal, superior service, outstanding value … as good as it gets for the price!

Key Words: Pizzeria La Tavernetta, pizzeria, la, tavernetta, Apple, iPhone, pizza, pasta, antipasto, frierielli, broccoli, rabe, sausage, scamorza, Viale San Modestino, montevergine,

83013, Mercogliano, Italy, CombatCritic, TravelValue

Cantina di Sica: Not Great, But The Cockroach Seemed Happy!


Cantina di Sica
Via Gian Lorenzo Bernini 17 
80129 Naples
Telephone: +39 081 5567520
Website: cantinadisica.it
Prices: $$$$$

Yes, we arrived near closing time, but instead of making us feel welcome we were hastily seated and told what exactly we could order … excuse me, but is the kitchen open or not? Pizza was being pushed heavily.

First of all, be very specific when ordering. The waiter was in a hurry because they were closing at 4pm, so with pizza menu in-hand I ordered “salsiccia e frierielli” assuming I would receive a pizza with the ordered toppings. 

My wife ordered the pizza Lei with no tomatoes, a giant slice of mortadella covered in mozzarella atop a pizza crust with a large dollop of some sort of cream, possibly ricotta, in the middle. Her pizza arrived quickly and I began to wonder what was taking my pizza so long to arrive.


What I received when the waiter finally arrived was a plate of grilled sausage and a side of frierielli. I asked “where is my pizza?”, but the waiter seemed too bothered to make it right, telling me that he had to check if pizza could still be made so late in the day (even though I could clearly see the fire in the pizza oven still burning) so I ate what was brought. Instead of €8 for a pizza, I paid €12.50 for something I did not want.

The pizza Lei was ok, minus the mountain of sour cream in the middle. Mine was what it was, not what I wanted, but also “OK”. Now I see why they have a rating of less than 3 out of 5 stars on Yelp!


When a customer obviously is not happy, it should be made right. It was a misunderstanding, but in the end I was not happy. I now see why they only have 3 stars. The cockroach blocking our path as we were leaving seemed to enjoy his experience more than we did. Hence, …

CombatCritic Gives Cantina di Sica 4 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!








Read More Reviews By CombatCritic On Yelp And TripAdvisor … And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Title: Cantina di Sica: Not Great, But The Cockroach Seemed Happy!

Key Words: Cantina di Sica, cantina, di, sica, Naples, Napoli, Vomero, Vanvitelli, piazza, pizza, pizzeria, trattoria, pasta, wine, vino, cockroach, friarielli, CombatCritic, travel, value, menu

Rocco Provides The Knockout Punch To Naples Take-Out


Rocco e Suoi Fratelli
Via San Giacomo dei Capri 155 
80131 Naples, Italy
Telephone: 081 5465302 

Rocco e Suoi Fratelli (Rocco and His Brothers) is a pizzeria not far from my in-laws house in Naples. After my mother-in-law’s surgery and half a day at the hospital, we did not feel much like cooking, so we ordered from Rocco’s to be delivered. You do not get food as good as this delivered in the States.

We started with antipasto (appetizers), a mix of arancini di riso (fried rice balls), fried calamari, potato croquettes, zeppoline (a deep fried puff of dough with bits of algae inside that I can only imagine got its name because of a resemblance to a zeppelin, e.g. the Hindenburg) battered and fried shrimp (gambaretti) and other deep-fried Neapolitan favorites. There went my cholesterol!

My sister-in-law ordered far too much food for three people, so we had lunch, dinner that night, and still had leftovers. Our primo (first course), gnocchi alla Sorrentino (il mio cognome – my surname), was too much to eat with firm, not too hard, not too soft, balls of potato goodness, infused with fresh mozzarella and baked in a light tomato sauce. With just the right consistency of gnocchi to mozzarella to sauce, it does not get much better than this. Delicioso!

For reasons unknown, we also ordered a pizza quattro formaggi (four cheese pizza) that did not even have a dent put in it at lunch. I did have a piece for dinner and for being hours old, the crust was still firm yet pliant and the cheeses gooey and savory. It is well known that I love frierielli (broccoli rabe sautéed in olive oil and garlic), so it was also on the menu. I had some by itself at lunch but having missed my favorite sausage and frierielli pizza for too long, I added some to the pizza quattro formaggi and threw it in the microwave for thirty seconds … buono … yum … scrummy!!!

For take-out, Rocco’s cannot be beat and I am sure that dining-in is likely as good if not better, so I am a fan and as Arnold Schwarzeneggar would say: “I’ll be back”.

CombatCritic Gives Rocco e Suoi Fratelli 8 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!





Read More Reviews By CombatCritic On Yelp And TripAdvisor … And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Title: Rocco Provides The Knockout Punch To Neapolitan Take-Out


Key Words: Rocco e Suoi Fratelli, Rocco, suoi, fratelli, Napoli, Naples, Italy, Italian, pizza, pizzeria, delivery, menu, pasta, gnocchi, Sorrentino, zeppoline, arancini, calamari, CombatCritic, TravelValue

A Slice of Tibet in An Unlikely Place – Pushkar, Rajasthan


Tibetan Kitchen
Opposite Dadudura Temple
Chotti Basti (Main Market Road – South End of Lake)
Pushkar, Rajasthan, 305022, India

Prices: $$$$$

Momos
Having spent close to two months in Dharamsala teaching English to Tibetan refugees, I came to know and love both the Tibetans and their cuisine. My wife spotted Tibetan Café while walking down the main market street next to the lake in Pushkar, so looking for a change from the usual curry, dal, and naan, we popped in.

The restaurant is on the rooftop overlooking the town (away from the lake) and is dark with colorful lamps and bamboo furniture offering some ambiance. The menu is quite eclectic as they have pizza, pasta, Indian, and Chinese, but being called Tibetan Kitchen, our choice was obvious.

It took ten minutes or so for the server to arrive even though we were one of three parties in the restaurant at the time, but I have grown much more patient in my two months in India as nothing happens very quickly here. He was very pleasant and the service excellent.

We ordered the potato and cheese momos (fried – 100 rupees/$1.60) and veggie thenthuk (95 rupees/$1.60), the prices and quality being equivalent to the numerous Tibetan restaurants in Dharamsala.  It took close to 30 minutes for our meal to arrive, but I could hear the chef chopping away in the kitchen so I knew our meal was being freshly prepared, a good sign.

Thenthuk
The momos were some of the best I have had, crispy and flavorful, coming with an onion broth for dipping as well as condiments (chili and soy sauces).  The thenthuk was excellent, brimming with noodles, cauliflower, potato, cabbage, carrots, and other fresh vegetables in a warm, savory broth with just a little more zing than their Dharamsala counterparts.

Coming in at a little over $7 for dinner for two including appetizer, drinks, and main course, I have to give Tibetan Kitchen high marks. Therefore, …
CombatCritic Gives Tibetan Café 8 Out Of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GREEEEEEEEEAT!




Follow CombatCritic On Yelp (An Elite ’14/’15 Member) And  TripAdvisor (“Top Contributor”) Where You Can Read His Latest Reviews, Try His Favorite Recipes, And More!

Key Words: Tibetan Café, Tibetan, café, Pushkar, Rajasthan, India, restaurant, Tibet, momo, thenthuk, thupka, pizza, pasta, CombatCritic, travel, value, food,

A Tavola Con Te … Authentic Italian in Rishikesh, India


A Tavola Con Te
Badrinath Road, Tapovan Sarai (Laxman Jhula) 
Rishikesh 249192, India

Phone: +91-812-685-9654

Website

Prices: $$$$$


A Tavola con Te was recommended to me by Maria, an acquaintance from Columbia whom I met in Dharamsala. She told me that an Italian couple had just opened a restaurant and guest house in Rishikesh and that they made wood fire oven pizza, so I had to go there on my first evening in town.

The owners are from Milano (Milan) and have recently moved to Rishikesh. The property is up an alley off of the main road, so use TripAdvisor’s directions or GoogleMaps and follow the signs up the alley about 1oo meters and look for the gate with a sign on your left. From there you meander another 50 meters or so past some houses and through a garden to the restaurant and Namaste Guest House.

They have a small terrazzo (terrace) that is nicely done with bamboo roof and decorative cement pillars, overlooking the garden, giving the dining area a rustic feel, and making me feel as if I were in an agriturismo in Italy. There are also a couple of tables on the grass under the stars (or sun), but no indoor option.

They serve pizza from 5:30 PM on, so do not expect it any earlier as the oven is lit around 3PM and takes a couple hours to reach the proper temperature. I ordered the “Buffalo”, a 14 inch pizza with imported Italian (Vesuvio) tomato sauce, mozzarella di bufala (buffalo mozzarella – a specialty of Campania, Italy), and fresh basil leaves, a favorite of pizza napolitana (from Naples, Italy) lovers, which I am one.

My pizza was very good although a little dry because the tomato sauce was very thinly spread and the heat of the wood oven had dried it out. A little more sauce (or fresh tomatoes) or some olive oil (preferably olio picante) drizzled over the top prior to serving would have been wonderful, but I wolfed down my pie nonetheless as it was very tasty and the best pizza I have had since I was in Italy last. 


My wife, being from Napoli (Naples), would complain about the crust because Neopolitans (napolitani … my wife will kill me when she reads this because she is actually Sicilian and refuses to admit that her family has lived in Naples most of her life) are pizza snobs because pizza was invented there and Naples admittedly has the BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD. Pizza crust in Naples is a science and nowhere else on Earth will you find such soft, yet crisp on the bottom crust and fresh, flavorful toppings as you will find in Napoli.

The crust at A Tavola con Te is definitely “Northern Italian”, indicative of pizze (pizzas) in Rome and north and considering the fact that Il Pizzaiuolo (pizza maker) is from Milan, appropriate to the situation. I prefer the crusts in Naples, but who am I to complain because it was very good, not burnt, and crispy but still a tad chewy. Bravissimo!

I returned a few days later for my birthday dinner and everyone wished me well, very thoughtful of them to remember! I started with the pumpkin (zucca) soup, which was creamy, rich, and excellent, but just lukewarm, not hot, and accompanied by four slices of warm bread.

For my entree, I had the vegetarian lasagna (250 rupees/$4.00), a decent size slab that was, again, not very hot and layered with pasta, melanzane (eggplant), bechamel and tomato sauce, and cheese. The eggplant was a bit chewy and the lasagna needed a little more mozzarella, but otherwise it was quite tasty.

Having had the panna cotta after my previous dinner, my birthday dessert had to be the tiramisú (170 rupees/$2.70), layers of savoiardi cookies soaked in espresso, and encased in sweet mascarpone cheese, then sprinkled with cocoa powder … delicioso!


On my next visit I tried the Pizza Vegetariana (260 rupees/$4.10), coming topped with mushrooms, eggplant, onion, bell peppers, spinach, tomato sauce, and mozzarella. Again, the pizza was very good, but a bit dry and with a negligible amount of mozzarella. Being 50 to 100 rupees (80 cents to $1.60) more than the “average” equivalent pizza in many restaurants in India, I would expect a bit more sauce and cheese, even if they are imported and more expensive than the varieties most Indian restaurants use.

FYI – I am much harder on Italian restaurants than I am on others because Italian food is my passion and expectations are exceedingly high, particularly when Italians are in the kitchen. So do not get me wrong by thinking I was unhappy with any of my meals here because I was not and they were the best I have had in my two months in India. A few minor tweaks and this place will be THE BOMB …

1.  They could use some antipasti on the menu (bruschetta, cheese platter, olives/grilled vegetables, insalata caprese, etc) and bread because the pizzas and pastas are not filling enough on their own. 

2. The lights are a bit bright on the terrace at night, so some lower voltage bulbs and candles or lanterns would provide a cozier, more intimate feel.

3. Portions could be just a tad bigger for the price and attention to detail, ensuring that food is appropriately warm and not too dry, will go a long way in satisfying hungry customers.

I really want this restaurant to succeed because the owners are extremely nice and have positive, professional attitudes, the location has great “bones”, the food is very well done, and the prices are reasonably fair. Please visit A Tavola con Te and tell them CombatCritic sent you because I want to come back next time I am in Rishikesh … a presto (see you soon)!


CombatCritic Gives A Tavola con Te 8 Bombs Out Of 10 … More BOMBS Are Better!





Follow CombatCritic On Yelp (An Elite ’14/’15 Member) And  TripAdvisor (“Top Contributor”) Where You Can Read His Latest Reviews, Try His Favorite Recipes, And More!

MENU


Title: A Tavola Con Te … Authentic Italian in Rishikesh, India

Key Words: Rishikesh, A Tavola con Te, tavola, con, te, Italian, restaurant, ristorante, food, pizza, pasta, Himalaya, Himalayas, Dalai Lama, dalai, lama, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, TripAdvisor

Good, Reasonably Priced Fare In A Country Not Well Known For Great Italian


Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen
Jogiwara Road, Market Area (Upstairs)
McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, H.P. India 176219
Prices: $$$$$
Dining Room
Jimmy’s is the only restaurant in town that serves only Italian food … bruschetta (learn how to pronounce it Americans), pasta, pizza, main courses with actual meat and more! You have to look up and on the right as you walk up Jogiwara Road (from the direction of the Dalai Lama’s Temple) about halfway through the McLeod Ganj “market” (shopping area) on the way to the Main Square to see Jimmy’s neon sign up on the third floor.

TV and Asian Style Seating Area
The restaurant is large by Dharamsala standards and nicely appointed with marble-top tables, nice modern colors, plenty of windows, and movie posters on the walls. They have a large screen LCD TV, which happened to be televising a cricket game while I was there. There are two small areas, one in the front as you walk in and another in the back near the TV, where those with good knees can sit at a low table on mats Asian style. Being an old military retiree and disabled Veteran, I went for a table and chairs.
The menu is large with numerous antipasti (appetizers), both veg (vegetarian) and non-veg as they are referred to here, several primi (first courses), including pizza and pasta dishes, as well as homemade ravioli, lasagna and gnocchi, and, finally, secondi (second courses – think meat) where you can choose from chicken, mutton, or pork prepared in a variety of ways. They also have many drinks, including milk shakes and lassi (a yogurt-based drink found throughout India similar to a milk shake, but without the ice cream).
Veggie Bruschetta
For my antipasto, I decided to try the mixed grilled vegetable “bruchetta” (90 Rupees/$1.46 – spelled “bruschetta” in Italy and unlike the pronunciation used by most Americans, pronounced “brew-sket-a”, not brew-shet-a, as the “sch” in Italy is pronounced like “sk” is in English). What I received was four large toasted slices of the best Italian-style bread I have had in India to date with an abundance of tasty grilled veggies (eggplant, mushrooms, onion, and bell peppers) with melted mozzarella cheese on top. Normally, bruschetta is served with cold vegetables (tomato, vegetables) on top and no cheese, but I was quite pleased with the taste. Bravo!
Gnocchi in Pesto Cream Soup, I Mean Sauce
For my primo, I chose the handmade gnocchi with ham in a pesto cream sauce (190 Rupees/$3.10). The gnocchi was excellent and perfectly cooked, not too chewy and not falling apart in my mouth, and the sauce was flavorful, not requiring salt, pepper, or added cheese as is the case with most pasta dishes I have had in India, but with a touch too much garlic (and I love garlic). My only complaint, and I shared this with the owner before leaving, was the same as at many restaurants in the U.S., and that is that there was far too much sauce. Proper pasta is served “al dente” and lightly basted in the sauce just prior to serving by flipping the pasta in the pan containing the heated sauce, but many restaurants outside of Italy overdo the sauce and mine was more like a thick soup with the gnocchi and ham being overwhelmed by the sauce. The owner shared with me the reason it is served this way and that is because his Indian customers are used to thick sauces (think curry, jalfraizi, and vindaloo) and believe that al dente pasta is undercooked, so he is catering to the majority of his clientele. Fair enough.
Chocolate Milk Shake
Feeling hungry and decadent, I also ordered a chocolate milk shake with ice cream (120 Rupees/$1.95) because I had read that they had an excellent peanut butter milk shake (not on the menu) on TripAdvisor. If you order a milk shake in India, do not expect what you normally think of a shake in western countries as they do not contain ice cream unless so stated. Drinks in India are routinely lukewarm as refrigeration is not great and ice is not a good idea because of potential water-born illnesses, so your milk shake will likely not be cold and frosty as you would expect. Mine tasted good enough, but the ice cream was not fully blended and at nearly $2 it was probably one of the worst values in my restaurant experiences here in India.

I spent Thanksgiving in Dharamsala, so because there was no turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, or pumpkin pie, I decided to have the next best thing … ITALIAN FOOD! Normally eating a bowl of thupka or thenthuk (Tibetan noodle and vegetable soup), I splurged and ordered Jimmy’s Tomato and Mozzarella Salad (“Insalata Caprese” – Salad From Capri In Italian – 120 Rupees/$1.95), an order of garlic bread (40 Rupees/65 cents), and the Penne Romano (al dente penne, olive oil, garlic, chili pepper flakes, and parmesan cheese – 150 Rupees/$2.40).

Penne Romano
The insalata Caprese was actually very good with an abundance of fresh, sliced tomato, slices of mozzarella cheese, a little lettuce, and drizzled with an light olive oil and vinegar dressing. The mozzarella was sliced a bit too thin compared to the Italian equivalent and you would normally have fresh basil (instead of lettuce) on top with extra virgin olive oil (no vinegar), but it was excellent nonetheless. The garlic bread (the bread is made fresh and in-house) was perfectly seasoned and toasted, and the perfect accompaniment to the tomato salad. The penne Romano, although arriving far too soon and shortly after my antipasto had arrived, was al dente just the way I like it and the olive oil and garlic sauce tasty although a little too dry. A bit more olive oil would have helped, but it was delicious in any case.

CombatCritic Gives Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen 8 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!


Follow CombatCritic On Yelp (An Elite ’14/’15 Member) And  TripAdvisor (“Top Contributor”) Where You Can Read His Latest Reviews, Try His Favorite Recipes, And More!


MENU


Key Words: Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen, Jimmy’s, Jimmy, Italian, kitchen, pasta, pizza, restaurant, McLeod Ganj, mcloed, ganj, Dharamsala, India, Jogiwara, road, market, CombatCritic, travel, value, menu

Mediocre Service, Non-Existent WiFi … Superb Thai Curry


“Mediocre Service, Non-Existent WiFi … Superb Thai Curry

The Clay Oven

McLeod Ganj, Himachal PradeshDharamsala 176219India

The restaurant sits just off the main square on the TIPA (Dharamkot) road and looks nicer than most in McLeod Ganj with wood beam ceilings, earth tones, and a nice terrace. 

The free WiFi was nearly non-existent, so don’t bother if you need to get anything done while waiting to be seated, get your menu or your food.


I stood at the counter waiting for a table for nearly 5 minutes while employees danced around me saying nothing and with just three parties in a place that seats 50. I finally got my menus another 5 minutes after the grumpy guy (owner?) at the register ignored me and I sat myself.


I ordered the green chicken (Thai) curry (200 rupees – $3.20) and waited close to 30 minutes … but IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT! Accompanied by white rice, the curry came in a clay pot, was generous in size, and hot, not scalding. The flavor was as good as any green curry I have had stateside and I have had quite a few. Spicy, but not overly hot, there were chunks of white meat chicken, mushrooms, and onion with just the right curry to rice ratio. Good stuff and at $3+ it was definitely the best value in terms of curry I have experienced!


The food quality and value alone would rate 9 BOMBS, but deducting 1 BOMB for lousy internet and another for mediocre service …


CombatCritic Gives The Clay Oven 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … MORE BOMBS ARE BETTER!








Follow CombatCritic On Yelp (An Elite ’14/’15 Member) And  TripAdvisor (“Top Contributor”) Where You Can Read His Latest Reviews, Try His Favorite Recipes, And More!

Key Words: The Clay Oven, clay, oven, Dharamsala, McLeod Ganj, Mcleod, Ganj, India, Thai, Tibetan, Indian, curry, coffee, Italian, pizza, pasta, menu, travel, value, CombatCritic

Carpe Diem: Sieze the "Lait" … "Cafe au" That Is!


Carpe Diem Restaurant and Pizzeria
Jogiwara Road – Above Cinema
McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, H.P. India
+91-988-219-2294

Cuisine: Breakfast, Coffee/Tea/Beer, Indian, Italian, Thai

Prices: $$$$$

Rooftop Terrace

I heard good things about the pizza, understanding that they have a wood-fire oven. The place is not easy to find unless to look up to the third floor of the building above the cinema on Jogiwara Road. The indoor restaurant is up one flight of stairs, but the rooftop terrace is quite nice if the weather permits.


The indoor restaurant was empty at 8PM on a Sunday night, but the terrace was packed, leaving one table for me. The crowd seemed to be young, American/European/Australian bohemians dressed in baggy clothes with dreadlocks, which is extremely common in McLeod Ganj at least. There are six or seven tables with chairs and a sitting area with low tables and mats to sit on (do not forget to take off your shoes).

Mutton (Lamb) Pepperoni Pizza – 210 Rupees ($3.40)

The menu is eclectic, but I had to try the “excellent pizza” I had heard so much about. I ordered the non-vegetarian pepperoni pizza (210 rupees – $3.45), thinking that it would be the standard spicy, greasy, pork variety we American expect (“pepperoni” in Italy is green bell peppers). The pizza came rather quickly and looked quite good actually. Not huge, it was thin and crispy, much like the pizzas you get in Rome and the flavor was also decent … until I got my first bite of pepperoni. I actually like lamb from time to time, but not on my pizza. The pepperoni was obviously made of lamb (mutton here) and although not disgusting by any stretch, it was a little off-putting because it was not expected. Beside the taste of lamb sausage, the pizza was good, but next time I think I will order a vegetarian option or go with a Thai green curry or Indian dish.


One of the few restaurants that serves beer (you better like Kingfisher), the menu is huge and the prices are fair, a little higher than many places around town. The service was fast and friendly.


CombatCritic Gives Carpe Diem An Initial 6 Bombs Out of 10 … MORE BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Key Words: CarpeDiem, carpe, diem, Jogiwara Road, breakfast, café, Thai, pizza, Dharamsala, food, Ganj, restaurant, beer, India, internet, Italian, McLeod, McLeod Ganj, menu, restaurant, Thai, Indian, terrace, travel, value, CombatCritic

Nick’s Italian Kitchen … Fair Pizza, Disappointing Cheesecake, Decent Value and GREAT COMPANY!


Nick’s Italian Kitchen
Bhagsu Road
McLeod Ganj, Himachel Pradesh, India

Cuisine: Italian, Tibetan, Chinese

Price: $$$$$

I stumbled upon Nick’s my first night in McLeod Ganj. The restaurant is situated in the Kunga Guest House less than 100 meters from the main square (going east) and has a large terrace overlooking the valley below with views of the Himalayan foothills.


I saw a young woman with a pizza that looked pretty darn good, so I ordered the vegetarian combo (bell peppers, mushrooms, onion, etc – 175 rupee – $2.85), a diet coke (40 rupee – 65 cents), and a liter of bottled water (25 rupee – 40 cents). Their desserts looked tempting and are apparently a specialty, so I completed my meal with a piece of lemon cheesecake.

The pizza crust was very good, not too thick, not too thin, crispy not burnt, but it became a little soggy (not too bad) from the liquid of one or more ingredients. The flavor of the pizza was bland and did not taste Italian, missing oregano and/or basil with an added spice I could not put my finger (or tongue for that matter) on. It was filling and tasted “OK”, but was disappointing after having looked so tempting.

The lemon cheesecake, although well done, did not taste like any cheesecake I have ever had in the US. It was thin and also somewhat bland, with little lemon taste or cheesiness. It was also “OK”, but not something I would order again as I am a cheesecake lover.

The highlight of the evening was Bargdo, a Buddhist monk from Tibet I was fortunate enough to have dinner with on this, my first evening in Dharamsala. He had been imprisoned by the Chinese in 1988 for protesting in Lhasa in favor of the Dalai Lama and a free Tibet and tortured for 4 years before the Dalai Lama arranged (paid the Chinese) for his release. 

Bargdo has not seen his family in close to 25 years and has only spoken to them twice in that time, not being allowed to phone, write, or otherwise communicate with his parents, siblings, and extended family still in Chinese controlled Tibet.

He has written 14 books and traveled the world speaking on the Tibetan dilemma, having met heads of state and countless celebrities. He is an extremely happy and jovial person, considering his extremely difficult experiences, and was a delight to spend the evening with.

Bargdo aside …


CombatCritic Gives Nick’s Italian Kitchen 6 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!







Key Words: Nick’s Italian Kitchen, Nick, Nicks, Nick’s, Italian, Kitchen, menu, restaurant, pizza, pasta, Bargdo, monk, Tibet, McLeod Ganj, mcleod, ganj, dharmsala, dharamsala, India, travel, value

Fool Me Once, Shame On You … Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me


Genovese

941 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 

(785) 842-8300

In my initial review of Genovese, I gave them a lackluster 5 Out Of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD … but looking back, I may have been too generous.

Bruschetta

We had bought a Genovese Groupon for $58 which included two appetizers and four entrees because we had planned to go with some friends, but our dinner plans fell through and after our first paltry experience, we were in no hurry to return. With the Groupon promotion lapsed, the “face value” of the Groupon “will still be honored” (according to Groupon’s website and disclaimer) and not wanting to waste $58, we decided to use it when my sons came to town for a visit from Colorado.

Insalata Caprese

Because I was using the “cash value” of the Groupon, not the promotion, I decided to utilize the “buy one entrée and two drinks, get one entrée for half off” offer advertised recently in the Lawrence Journal World (LJW). However, when it came time to pay the bill, the server told us that the manager would not honor the LJW offer. I asked to speak with him, explaining that the “cash value” of the Groupon was no longer a promotion, but if he wanted to honor it (even though it had expired) and give us the two appetizers and four entrees in exchange, that would be great! Otherwise, we were using no other “promotion” and I asked him to please honor the LJW coupon. He refused, not quite able to grasp the complexity of the situation or the meaning of “customer service”.

       Wild Mushroom and Asparagus Ravioli
Our meal, being bland, overpriced, with too much sauce on the pasta, was unremarkable and because it was overshadowed by the manager’s poor attitude, I will not waste too much time here explaining it. Leave it to say that the bruschetta ($6.50 – pronounced “brew-sket-ah”, not “brew-shet-a”) was three small pieces of white bread from the supermarket with a little cheese melted on top (bruschetta in never served with cheese), a little olive oil, and topped by three small grape tomatoes cut in halves. The Caprese salad (insalata), a favorite of mine, at $9.50 was equally as disappointing, being sprinkled with balsamic vinegar, another culinary faux pas, a few small slices of yellow tomato, thin pieces of mozzarella cheese, and a couple grape tomato halves in the middle. My wife’s wild mushroom and asparagus ravioli was supposed to come in a broth, but there was little broth visible, the pasta were dry, and their filling almost non-existent. 

Being a former baseball player, it normally takes three strikes to be “out”, but in the case of Genovese, two strikes shall suffice …
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Genovese will not be getting another chance in my book, mostly because of the manager’s unprofessional attitude, but also because of the poorly executed, overpriced food and …

CombatCritic Now Gives Genovese a Paltry 2 Bombs Out of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!







 Genovese on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Genovese, Italian, restaurant, Massachusetts, street, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, Groupon, pasta, pizza, TripAdvisor, antipasti, Yelp, sausage, wine, UrbanSpoon, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

Papa KENO’S Is A GAMBLE When It Comes To Timely Delivery And Customer Service


My son ordered over the phone because we could find no way to order online as advertised on their Yelp page but the employee told him “we’ll have it out when we have it out”. We live just 3 blocks away, but after 45 minutes there was still no sign of our pizza. It finally arrived nearly an hour after we placed our order, so I guess the guy on the phone was right after all.

Poor customer service aside, the pizza, although not cheap at $18 for a one-topping 18 inch cheese pizza, was not bad. We had the salami pizza and two order of breadsticks and the tab came to a little over $31 before tip. Not cheap. As far as I could tell, they do not offer specials online so what you se is what you get.

Decent pizza, not so decent value, and poor customer service means …

CombatCritic Gives Papa Keno’s (Lawrence) Only 4 Bombs Out of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!






Papa Kenos Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Papa Keno’s, papa, keno’s, keno, pizza, parlor, food, Italian, menu, review, Lawrence, Kansas, Massachusetts, street, downtown, delivery, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

LiMESTONE: Strange Name, Fair Neopolitan-ish Pizza … Pastrami Sandwiches?


  • LiMESTONE
  • 814 Massachusetts St
    Lawrence, KS 66044
  • Phone number(785) 856-2825
  • Business websitelimestonepkb.com

Prices: $$$$$

Having lived in Napoli (Naples, Italy), being married to an Italian, not the “American” variety, and descended from Italian immigrants, I appreciate a well made wood oven Neapolitan (Napolitana) pizza. Many have tried to duplicate pizze Napolitane, but few have succeeded and I said to myself “speriamo” (“let’s hope so”) as I entered Limestone for the first time.

I tell you up front that I am comparing, somewhat unfairly, Limestone to the pizzerias of Napoli because they claim to offer Neopolitan pizza, so I may seem harsh. However, my comments are meant to be constructive, offering Charlie (the very friendly owner who happened to be making pizzas next to me while we chatted about Italy) the opportunity to enhance his restaurant as they grow and flourish.

Arancini di Riso (Fried Rice Balls – $2)
I had heard rave reviews from fellow Yelp Elite Scott T and others during their short time in existence, so I had to give Limestone a go. The name gives zero indication of the cuisine and I would never have known that this was a pizza place had my friend Scott not told me about it. Busy for a Thursday night, as a single I was able to be seated right away at the bar where I could watch the pizzas being made and placed in the ornate wood-fired oven.

The space is modern, not my favorite as you probably know by now, with an abundance of stone, wood, glass, and steel, and bright, almost too bright for my sensitive eyes. The center attraction is the large stone-encased wood pizza oven blazing away while pizzas are being hand tossed and decorated for a quick dip inside. The staff all seemed sincerely friendly and helpful, although the tattoo clad bartender had a bit of an attitude, but not so much that it was off-putting, and service was fast and efficient.

Arancini di Riso
Offering an “arancini” (“little oranges”) appetizer (“bites”) special for just $2, the two Neopolitan style deep fried saffron infused rice balls complete with fresh mozzarella inside sat atop a small plate of tomato sauce. Aranicni di riso are a pizzeria antipasto staple in Naples along with crocchette di patate (potato croquettes) and other deep fried delights and the only way to start a night in a traditional pizzeria. Limestone’s arancini were very well done, crunchy outside and moist inside, perfectly seasoned with saffron and other seasonings and a small ball of fresh mozzarella inside. I asked Charlie if they made their own mozzarella and much to my surprise he said “yes, about 600 pounds of curd per week”.

Now for the pizza … dun-dun-dun. With only six offerings (seven if you include the special), there is not nearly the variety one would find in a pizzeria Napolitana. I ordered the sausage pizza, a simple and traditional choice and normally not something I would choose, only because it and the Margherita (fresh tomato and mozzarella with fresh basil leaves on top – named after Queen Margherita’s favorite pizza), were the only two traditional Neopolitan pizza options available. I normally order pizza capricciosa (fresh tomatoes, ham, mushrooms, artichoke, fresh mozzarella cheese – fior di latte – and basil) or my all-time favorite, the friarielli e salsiccia (broccoli rabe and sausage), so I was a bit bummed that there was so little variety. Bacon and eggs on pizza? … bacon and potatoes? … Hollandaise sauce? … Gruyere cheese … NEVER IN NAPLES!

The Spud – $9

My wife, shortly after her return from two months in Naples visiting family and enjoying the “best pizza in the world” ordered “The Spud”, with “thin sliced, crème fraiche, house­recipe bacon, and rosemary” ($9). Her first comment was that the pizza was “too dry”, needing more crème fraiche, which was lightly drizzled across the top in an attempt to look “gourmet” rather than contributing to the consistency and flavor of the pizza. It could have also been lightly brushed with olive oil to enhance the flavor and moistness. Again, the toppings were so sparse that there was more dough visible than ingredients. The flavor was decent with a nice ratio of potato to bacon, but the toppings could be more evenly distributed across the pizza in order to ensure there is at least some potato, bacon, crème fraiche, and rosemary in every bite.

The pizza was a bit small ($10 for a 12 incher), one to two inches in diameter less than pizza Napolitana (for comparison, a sausage pizza in Naples would cost around 6 Euros, a little over $8). The consistency of the dough was close, but it was a little thicker than the original, particularly around the edges. Neopolitan pizza is soft on top, a little crisp on the bottom, with a couple burnt spots and thin enough as to not overwhelm the semi-abundant toppings. The tomato sauce was a tad too spicy and excessively visible due to the lack of mozzarella and sausage atop my pizza. Italians do not overload a pizza with toppings as is customary here in the US, but there is normally enough fresh mozzarella cheese to nearly cover the baked pastry completely after it has melted. That was not the case here and twice as much cheese (and sausage) still would not have sufficed. Although not nearly as good as the worst pizza I have eaten in Naples, it was good and surely better than anything I have eaten in Lawrence thus far. If compared to an $8 Neopolitan pizza, my pizza (based on size and abundance of toppings) should have probably been priced at $6 max, so it was not a great value.

But what do I know? Limestone has quickly become a popular spot on Mass Street and from the looks of it, doing extremely well … BRAVO! In a town void of a decent Italian restaurant, – people voted 715 “BEST FINE DINING IN LAWRENCE” in this year’s Best of Lawrence competition – Limestone is a welcome addition. I will return to see if they improve and to try other dishes (including hamburgers and pastrami sandwiches for some odd reason). Charlie seems like a nice guy and I wish him well … good luck Limestone!


CombatCritic Gives Limestone A Respectable 6 Bombs Out of 10 … BOMBE SONO BUONE








Limestone Pizza Kitchen Bar on Urbanspoon

Follow CombatCritic On Yelp (An Elite ’14/’15 Member) And  TripAdvisor (“Top Contributor”) Where You Can Read His Latest Reviews, Try His Favorite Recipes, And More!

Key Words: Limestone, pizza, kitchen, bar, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, Massachusetts Street, downtown, menu, pasta, wine, arancini, rice, Naples, Napoli, Italy, Italian, restaurant, CombatCritic, TravelValue

Big Pizza Plus Little Pints Equal Mild Disappointment at Johnny’s Tavern West


  • Johnny’s Tavern West
  • 721 Wakarusa, Ste 100
    Lawrence, Kansas 66047

  • (785) 843-0704
  • johnnystavern.com


Price: $$$$$

A tentative review, I was invited to Johnny’s last night by some new friends and did more talking than eating and drinking.


I was warmly welcomed by the lovely bartender who attempted to help me find my party. Once found, I imbibed in a couple pieces of sausage and pepperoni pizza and a glass of draft IPA.

The pizza was the right thickness and consistency for NY style pizza, standing up well to the sauce and remaining firm enough to eat by hand. Cheese to sauce ratio was right on although the sauce had an odd taste that was slightly off-putting. The toppings were abundant and delicious.

The IPA, oddly enough, came in an unusual glass, maybe 12 ounces instead of the “pint” I was expecting. IPA is uniquely English and should come in a pint glass, preferably AN ENGLISH PINT which is a little over 19 ounces as compared to the whimpy US pints (16 ounces) we colonials have somehow become accustomed to. It was tasty enough, but another 4 to 7 ounces would have quenched my thirst much better.

Our young blonde server was very sweet and attentive, a former swimmer with an engaging personality and a keen eye for empty glasses. She hovered around just enough to keep everyone happy, removing waste as she came and went. The service was excellent!

CombatCritic Gives Johnny’s Tavern West a Tentative 5 Out of 10 Bombs with room to grow … MORE BOMBS ARE GREAT!

Johnny's on Urbanspoon



Key Words: Johnny’s Tavern West, Johnny’s, tavern, west, Lawrence, Kansas, Wakarusa, 6th, street, pizza, beer, ale, IPA, food, eat, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

Genovese (Lawrence, Kansas): Decent Quality, Overpriced American-Italian Cuisine, Disappointing Experience


Genovese

941 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 

(785) 842-8300

Being of Italian descent with a grandmother from the homeland who was an excellent cook, having lived in Italy for three years and visiting frequently, and married to a Sicilian, let’s just say that I know good Italian food when I eat it. I found Genovese to be a fair Americanized reproduction with limited options.


With just “3 1/2 Stars” on Yelp and what I had heard about Genovese around town, we were not in a hurry to give them a try. There has been a long standing Groupon available for Genovese offering one appetizer ($6.50 – $9) and two entrees ($8.50 – $19) for $30 (notice that if you buy the least expensive offerings, you actually lose $6.50 on the deal), so we decided to have Easter dinner there.

It is not well advertised on Groupon, but the entrees are strictly from the pasta and pizza categories and the extra meat add-on for the pasta (chicken or sausage – $3, salmon or shrimp – $4) is included in the Groupon. If you do not order the most expensive options and the meat add-on, this Groupon is not a great value. 

Genovese has a $20 wine list which is a nice option for those on a budget with one bottle from each of the most popular grape varieties, including a Jacob’s Creek (Australia) Shiraz (Syrah) which I have had before that was quite nice and a very good value. There is a Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Cabernet/Sangiovese blend from Italy among others in the “red” category and an equal number of white options which I did not even peruse.

For our appetizers (antipasti), we decided on the “spinach risotto fritters stuffed with fresh mozzarella cheese topped with fonduta sauce” ($6.50) and an appetizer of the day, a selection of salumi, including capicollo, soppressata, and a cured duck accompanied by dried figs. We had to ask our server to bring bread because our antipasti had arrived and there was no indication that the bread would be forthcoming.


The bread was sliced into six small pieces, resembling a thick, fluffy focaccia and was accompanied by a lava bean puree and olive oil/Balsamic vinegar blend both in small cups. The “risotto fritters” are actually called “arancini de riso” and a specialty of Southern Italy (from Rome to Sicily). A small ball of rice and herbs with a piece of cheese in the center formed into a ball is then coated with flour, dipped in egg and bread crumbs, then deep fried. The cured meats (salumi) were sparse, with just three extremely thin pieces each of the capicollo, soppressata, and duck for two people, and the soppressata still had the exterior casing attached which I only realized after finding it lingering in my mouth. The meats were tasty and of good quality, but at $1 for each slice, neither very filling nor a great value.


For my entree, I decided on the penne with veal Bolognese, Wakarusa Valley wild mushrooms, and shaved Parmesan with a side of sausage ($16.50 + $3 = $19.50). The penne were store bought, as advertised, cooked “al dente” as they should be, coming in a light ground veal sauce which was a little too soupy. The “shaved Parmesan” tasted like no parmesan (or Parmigiano) I have ever had and was more similar to an Asiago from Sam’s Club than the aged cheese I love more than life itself. Unfortunately, the side of sausage was cut into pieces and added to the pasta instead of coming on a separate plate, which I had expected. The pasta was “OK”, not overly abundant, and certainly no better than anything I have had at Olive Garden (the few times I was forced to eat there). At $16.50, the dish was at least $3 to $4 more than it should be, but that is to be expected at the high rent establishments on Massachusetts Street in Downtown Lawrence.

At $16, my wife had the “wild mushroom and asparagus ravioli with Shiitake mushrooms, vegetable brodo (broth), and Ricotta salata” (salted ricotta cheese) along with a side of sausage ($3). She asked for the sausage on the side, but when the pasta arrived, the sausage were already added to the ravioli for some reason, so we had to send it back. Again, not abundant in size, the ravioli were colorful, but bland and a little too dry until doused with some broth.

The decor is odd for an Italian restaurant, more appropriate for a hamburger joint than a ristorante, but comfortable with a small outdoor patio on the sidewalk with just four tables for those who enjoy people watching, noise, and exhaust fumes. The service was attentive, friendly, and professional, the highlight of our meal.

The bill came to close to $80, so by the time tip was added we were looking at a “C-note” for dinner, not an inexpensive venture by any stretch. Thanks to the Groupon, our portion came to nearly $45 (plus the $30 we paid for the Groupon – a grand total of $75), a much more tolerable total but still quite a bit higher than it was worth. For comparison, a similar dinner at Lidia’s, one of the best Italian restaurants in Kansas City, with two appetizers, two entrees (meat dishes, not pizza/pasta), a bottle of wine and dessert usually comes to a little over $100 including tip. So without the Groupon, Genovese does not even come close to a meal at Lidia’s and is a poor value in my eyes …

CombatCritic Gives Genovese 5 Bombs Out of 10 … MORE BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Add caption









 Genovese on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Genovese, Italian, restaurant, Massachusetts, street, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, Groupon, pasta, pizza, TripAdvisor, antipasti, Yelp, sausage, wine, UrbanSpoon, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

Adriano’s Bistro: An Interesting Concept With a Few Rough Edges


Adriano’s Bistro
240 Lake Dillon Drive
Dillon, CO 80435
Phone: (970) 468-6111

WebAdriano’s Bistro Dillon.com
FacebookAdriano’s Bistro Deli
Prices: $$$$$


NOT Dillon, Colorado

Asking for quality and value in a tourist area restaurant is probably asking for too much and Adriano’s Bistro is not the exception. Looking more like a nightclub than a restaurant from the outside, the interior is somewhat dated with wood paneling, hard wood floors, and basic tables and chairs sans tablecloth.


We were seated quickly by a friend of my youngest son Nick, a Snowmaking Supervisor at Keystone Resort, by the name of Kaylee whom also turned out to be our server. Entrees run from $13.95 for pizza to $25 and up for specialties AND COME WITH APPETIZER, SOUP, AND SALAD INCLUDED. That is where the concept varies from other places, in a good way and bad.

The good news is that in a town full of hungry skiers and young resort workers, a hearty meal at a fair price would work quite well, but on a Thursday night in Dillon, you could almost shoot a cannon through Adriano’s without hitting a soul. They idea was good, but the execution needs some work …

The porchetta (pronounced por-ket-a – $19.95), a traditional Italian dish of rolled, stuffed pork slow-roasted over a wood spit or grill and served with roasted potatoes, but my dish did not resemble any porchetta I have ever seen. First, our appetizer arrived, half of a cocktail size meatball and a small piece of Italian sausage smothered in a red sauce and dwarfed by the bread plate they came on. I tried to make the meatball and sausage last for more than two bites, but failed miserably. The taste was “OK”, but could have been out of the freezer and can from Sam’s Club for all I know.

Porchetta – $19.95

Next came the soup, a cup of cream of vegetable that was thick, savory, and piping hot, probably one of the highlights of the night. The soft loaves of fresh, warm bread kept coming and were a nice accompaniment to the hot soup on a cold winter night. The small, side-salad was good, but minimal with a few fresh greens and shaved carrots topped with a light balsamic vinaigrette.


Fresh Baked Bread

Back to the entrees. As I said, my porchetta did not resemble the traditional variety, but was an interesting and creative approach with sliced pork (and not much at that), onions, and ground sausage in both red and bechamel sauces, supposedly on top of baked ziti (pasta). I found the dish a bit too salty and could not find the ziti which the chef apparently forget to add.


My oldest son had the Fettuccine Alfredo with chicken ($21.95), a basic, simple dish of pasta, cream, and cheeses that is difficult to mess up. The pastas we did see did not look fresh or handmade, but straight out of the bag and I would not be surprised if the sauce came from a can or jar. I am not saying it was bad, only that it was unremarkable for the price.

Margherita Pizza – $13.95

Probably the best value of the night was my youngest son’s Margherita Pizza (named after Queen Margarita of Italy – $13.95), a 12 inch, wood-fired, hand-tossed pizza reminiscent of Roman pizza, thin and crunchy (unlike traditional Neopolitan pizza which is soft and chewy). The sauce and cheese stopped well short of the edge, leaving a thicker-than-needed crust. The mozzarella could have been fresher, but the pizza was well put together and tasty … BRAVO!


Fettuccine Alfredo – $21.95

Toward the end of the evening a large man with a Bronco hat arrived with a friend with a Dodger cap and, based on the attention they received, they were obviously affiliated with the recent Super Bowl losing Denver Broncos. The chef, manager/owner, servers, and other staff came out of the back to fawn over the celebrities, but did not say a word to the other guests, totaling about 7-8 by then, including us. The only one we spoke to all night was Kaylee, but she did a fine job and made up for her supervisor’s lack of hospitality.


With a $22 bottle of wine and three people, the bill came to just under $100 (without tip), a bit much based on the quality and substance of the meal and probably $20 to $25 more than a similar meal would have cost in Denver or Colorado Springs.

CombatCritic Gives Adriano’s Bistro 7 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Adriano's Bistro on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Adriano’s Bistro, Adriano, bistro, Italian, pizza, dinner, Dillon, Colorado, Keystone Resort, Silverthorne, Frisco, pasta, salad, appetizer, CombatCritic, TravelValue, combat, travel, value

My Favorite Restaurant In The Whole World, Owned By A Good Friend … PALERMO RISTORANTE ITALIANO (LA)


PALERMO RISTORANTE ITALIANO (ORIGINAL – LA)
1858 N. Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Neighborhood: Los Feliz
(323) 663-1178
palermorestaurant.net
Prices: $$$$$
While in LA, my hometown, you should try Palermo on Vermont near Sunset Blvd. Tony, the owner, is an old friend and I was one of his ORIGINAL customers when they were in the original shoebox over on Hillhurst. 

The place is a Hollywood landmark with photos of stars all over the walls, including CombatCritic! There’s a small photo of me in Palermo, Tony’s hometown, near the front door and an 8×10 of me in uniform high on the right wall as you go back to the  men’s loo. At least they used to be there! Make sure you tell Tony that LtCol Chris Sorrentino said “HI” if you go! You’ll get the royal treatment. 

The food is excellent, home style Sicilian, not “gourmet”, with thick red sauce, massive portions, and reasonable prices. The veal parmigiana is my favorite and their pizza is TO DIE FOR. Free wine while you wait, which is commonplace between 5:30 and 8pm, and the cannoli are wonderful, possibly ON THE HOUSE if Tony is there and you tell him you know me. Tell him I’ll try to get out there soon and BUON ANNO … a presto amico!

CombatCritic Gives Palermo Ristorante Italiano The Coveted And Rarely Bestowed 10 Out of 10 BombsLE BOMBE SONO BUONE!

Palermo Ristorante Italiano on Urbanspoon


Key Words: Palermo Ristorante Italiano, Italian, restaurant, Los Angeles, California, Hollywood, Los Feliz, food, pizza, pasta, veal, parmigiana, cannoli, Tony, CombatCritic, Chris, Sorrentino, TravelValue

Best Pizza in Lawrence (Kansas)!


Tad’s Pizzeria

1410 Kasold Dr 
Lawrence, KS 66049

(785) 856-3131

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tadspizzeria

Price: $$$$$

I know it is not saying much when I say that Tad’s has the best pizza in Lawrence, a town of 90,000 with some of the poorest restaurant choices per capita in the nation, if not the world, particularly when it comes to Italian food.


I had heard that Tad’s had good pizza a few weeks before our recent trip to Puerto Rico, but we did not have a chance to try it before we left. Upon our return I was too burnt-out to cook, so I ordered from Tad’s mobile website while in the sauna at the gym. Their site is actually quite user-friendly and easy to navigate, but I was dismayed when I realized that when I created an account to order our food, I had apparently signed-up for a service called “EatStreet”. Tad’s and/or EatStreet should warn you before enrolling in a service without your permission, including “push” notifications I neither wanted nor needed.


Back to the food …

I ordered two pizzas, one NY Cheese and one NY White, and at $14 and $16 respectively for an 18″, not a bad investment. Wheat State Pizza is comparable in price, but offers Groupons from time to time, making them a better value. Tad’s should consider doing the same or offer more specials than the limited number they have now. With tax and tip, the bill totaled about $36, not cheap for “PIZZA NIGHT”. I routinely order the most basic menu item available on my first visit to a restaurant, in this case no pepperoni, sausage, or … YUCK … PINEAPPLE, to see if they can get the basics right.

The pizzas arrived promptly even though Tad’s is across town from our house and the delivery person was very friendly and polite. My only critique was that when I handed him $40 for a $30 order, he asked “do you need some change”, to which I responded “yes, please!”.

The red, cheese pizza was delicious and reminiscent of the pizza “back East”, thin dough and crust, well seasoned sauce, and good mozzarella cheese, the type that stretches when you pull the slicers apart. I do not know why it is so easy to find good pizza in New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania where even the bad pizza joints serve pizza better than most places in Kansas.

The white pizza was also very good with no sauce, abundant mozzarella cheese, and a dollup of ricotta on each of the eight slices. The pizza could have been improved with some extra-virgin olive oil brushed on the dough before adding the cheeses or possibly some garlic, oregano, and/or basil added under or on top of the cheeses. It was a bit dry and lacking taste, but was tasty nonetheless.

We will definitely be ordering Tad’s pizza again. My only recommendation being that it would be nice if they offered salami as a topping. I have never sen a true NY pizzeria that did not have salami and my favorite addition to a simple cheese pizza.

Overpriced by a buck or two a pie, CombatCritic Gives Tad’s Pizzeria 7 Out of 10 Bombs based on VALUE … BOMBS ARE GOOD!


Tad's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Key Words: best, pizza, lawrence, food, tad ‘s, mozzarella, cheese, pizzeria, salami, NY, New York, white, ricotta, basil, oregano, delivery, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value