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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

Blueberry Danish Pizza

For a genuinely novel experience, go to weekend brunch at Pizzeria Olio. Pizzas and pastries are being made in their wood-fired oven. Their blueberry danish is excellent, reports baloney. It's "sugar rimmed pizza dough with delicious cream cheese and fresh blueberries. And I don't even like blueberries!" Bialys are also made from the same pizza dough; they're decent, but not like a traditional bialy.

As for the pizzas, it's really hard to say how good they are, says baloney. The crust is thin, almost nonexistent. The dough is like Mozza's, though less shatteringly crunchy. Pizza quality varies slightly, since the wood-burning oven isn't as constant as a modern oven. Chanterelle pizza is interesting, though a little bland; margherita is good, with great burrata.

Pizzeria Olio [West Hollywood]
8075 W. Third Street, West Hollywood
323-930-9490

Discuss: Pizzeria Olio

That Al Pastor Spice

Al pastor is spicy, spit-grilled, long-marinated pork. Done properly, it's flavorful and deeply tender. For a good version, says Lau, head to 19th Street in Costa Mesa—home of most of Costa Mesa's good Mexican food—and go to Tacos and Tacos, formerly known as Tacolandia. Their version is excellent, with truly tender, flavorful meat, says Lau. "Not overly salty and has that great sort of spicy flavor that good tacos al pastor have. It's sort of hard to explain, but go try one and you'll know what I'm saying."

"These were the best tacos al pastor I've had in recent memory," says Lau.

Tacos and Tacos [Orange County]
580 W. 19th Street, Costa Mesa
949-645-0481

Discuss: Tacos & Tacos – Really Good Tacos Al Pastor in Costa Mesa

Overheard on the Los Angeles Board

"With all of the strange English language names for Chinese restaurants, Chans Paris N in Arcadia may well win the prize. I mean what does Paris have to do with Tianjin style food and why the freestanding 'N' at the end?" - Chandavkl

"We had the Caldeirada - Fisherman's bowl. It is a great fish stew in a light but very flavorful red broth. It was full of mussels, clams, squid, two types of whitefish (I think), shrimp, peppers and onions. It was fantastic and would have been a very big serving for one person." - estone888 on Queee Sushi Station & Portuguese Cuisine

"I've had the A&F and the Gioia and they are both about the same. I wish I could love them, but I find both fairly bland despite their obvious freshness. Bubalus Bubalis blew both out of the water, in my opinion, especially if you purchased from their stall at the Santa Monica FM." - cacio e pepe on some locally made brands of burrata

Diary of a New Food Truck Owner, Part 11: Barely Legal

Diary of a New Food Truck Owner is an ongoing series where we talk with Meg Hilgartner, co-owner (with Siri Skelton) of a fledgling San Francisco mobile soft-serve ice cream business called Twirl and Dip. In this installment, Meg and Siri finally start selling ice cream in San Francisco, and get to meet a bunch of people from Twitter. Read all the installments.

We have our health department permit, and now we can sell in San Francisco! We're still waiting on getting parking spots from Recreation and Parks, so until that goes through, we're doing the Off the Grid markets; they have a special permit so all the trucks can park there. We did two today. We worked straight through from 7 a.m. to midnight, but I don't care, I'm still high. I'm so proud! I'm so proud of us, I'm so proud of our truck, oh God, we did it, we went from having a crazy idea to having this giant truck that's legally parked right off Market Street, in the middle of everything, serving ice cream to the people of San Francisco.

READ MORE

Shanghai Bites for the Chinese-Challenged

At Shanghai Cafe, we have cracked the code. The Chinese-only menu, helpfully translated by scoopG, reveals discoveries like Hundred Leaves Knotted Barbecue Meat, or bai ye jie kao rou: plaits of bean curd skin with chunks of tender, slow-cooked pork belly in brown sauce scented with star anise. "I've never had a dish quite like it before," writes bworm42, "and the memories of it have haunted me ever since."

Crispy yellow croaker, another house specialty from the Chinese menu, is a whole fish, lightly battered and fried, in sweet-sour sauce—fresh, crispy, and delicious, reports Lau. Fragrant shredded peppers and beef (xiao jiao xiang gang niu rou si) is a simple dish, well executed. Lau has had mixed experiences here, and his latest visit was no exception. Crab roe soup dumplings were a disappointment, with bland filling in thickish skins. But on the strength of the Chinese menu, he ranks Shanghai Cafe at the top of Chinatown's Shanghai restaurants, well above tourist favorites like Joe's Shanghai and Nice Green Bo.

Among the neighborhood's Cantonese options, South China Garden has been a hound hangout for years, doing brisk business under a succession of names (until this year, Cantoon Garden). Whatever it calls itself, it's still on its game, buttertart reports. Recent winners include the double lobster special, salt-and-pepper soft-shell crabs, crispy fried chicken with garlic sauce, and mixed vegetables with lotus root. "Don't go at night if you want to be able to hear your guests," she warns. "'Hot and noisy' is a term of approbation with regard to restaurants in Chinese, but SCG takes the noisy part to heart in a big way."

Bo Ky is another Chinatown favorite, beloved for its Southeast Asian–style noodle soups. Lately it's expanded northward, opening a second shop on Grand Street. Its teo chew with rice noodle is delicious and satisfying, with beef, onion, and bean sprouts in a funky, fishy Asian "bolognese," bigjeff reports. Curry chicken over yellow egg noodles is a sturdy, tasty meal, he adds, and pho with flat rice noodles comes in a hearty, somewhat one-dimensional broth, "good in a brute force kind of way." For hangover sufferers, MVNYC prescribes the pig intestine soup with pickled vegetables. "Must work through the entire menu somehow," bigjeff resolves.

For less ambitious eaters, Lau suggests a bite at Sun Light Bakery on Chinatown's eastern fringe. Alongside a typical array of Cantonese-style sweets is a savory surprise: cheong fun (rice noodle rolls). But unlike the specimens you might see circling a dim sum hall in carts, these are steamed to order. Fillings include minced beef, roast pork, and fresh or dried shrimp. The finishing touch is a sprinkling of scallion, cilantro, and dark, sweet soy sauce. Eat yours right away, in nearby Seward Park if the weather's good.

Shanghai Cafe [Chinatown]
100 Mott Street (between Canal and Hester streets), Manhattan
212-966-3988

South China Garden [Chinatown]
22 Elizabeth Street (between Bayard and Canal streets), Manhattan
212-964-2229

Grand Bo Ky [Chinatown]
216 Grand Street (between Mott and Elizabeth streets), Manhattan
212-219-9228

Sun Light Bakery [Chinatown]
160 E. Broadway (near Rutgers Street), Manhattan
212-608-8899

Discuss: Hundred Leaves Knotted BBQ Meat at Shanghai Cafe
Shanghai Café – Surprisingly good Shanghainese meal with the off the menu dishes
MANHATTAN CHINATOWN--any place that rivals Flushing's best?
List of Ultimate Chinese food dishes in NYC
Sun Light Bakery – Fresh made to order chang fen / cheung fan (Chinese steamed rice crepe) in Chinatown / LES

Pig, Steer, and Double Dog at St. Anselm

St. Anselm knows its way around a hunk of meat. Some of it finds its way into splendid sliders, says sam1, who recommends the double with cheese. In carnivore-friendly new-Brooklyn style, St. Anselm grinds its own sausage, and it's terrific—especially the chorizo, perfect with a side of eggs.

Much has been made of this kitchen's preoccupation with variety meats, and if fried sweetbreads or Butcher's Faggots (ground pig parts fried in organ casing) are on offer, you should get them, cousincole urges. But most of the menu leans toward Jersey-style comfort food, including winning disco fries (with ricotta and white gravy) and the Newark dog, St. Anselm's spin on a Garden State classic: two deep-fried franks piled into a wedge of focaccia with fried potatoes and peppers. "Wish they had more offal offerings," sam laments. "I was expecting sweetbreads and a lot of the menu was fried hot dogs and burgers."

St. Anselm [Williamsburg]
355 Metropolitan Avenue (between Havemeyer Street and Marcy Avenue), Brooklyn
718-384-5054

Discuss: St. Anselm in Williamsburg BK - I'm a fan

Overheard on the New York Boards

"The sweet corn pancakes with bacon and bacon maple glaze is one of the best brunch items I have ever had and I am not a pancake person." – doubledoc on Back Forty

"Har gow with green wrappers turned out to have asparagus inside, which was a nice surprise. Steamed meatballs were tasty and bouncy. Steamed dark meat of chicken with crab, mushroom, and tripe on top was something I'd not tried before – good but a bit salty. Steamed BBQ pork buns, steamed lotus paste buns, char siu sou and a bunch of other baked items in pastry, siu mai, fried pork dumplings, fried chive dumplings were all solid. Siu mai were particularly good." – kathryn on dim sum at Guangzhou in Queens

"Mandelbrot (which they call mandel bread) - excellent! Rugelach (not cheap, but great and one of their best items; get an assortment). The large nut, poppy, and chocolate strudels (they will cut them into smaller pieces if you ask; I especially like the nut strudel). The small poppy and apple strudels. Black & whites, when fresh (ask if they were made today). Cinnamon sticks. Cinnamon danishes. Almond horns, with or without chocolate." – Pan's favorites at Moishe's Bake Shop

Enter CHOW’s Halloween Costume Contest!

You've seen our food-celebrity Halloween costumes. Now is your chance to win them! Tweet the story link @CHOW and tell us who you want to be. Six lucky random readers will receive a costume. Get to it!

Mile End Hearts Sixpoint

Mile End, the Montreal Jewish deli that opened early this year in Boerum Hill to Chowhound raves about its smoked meat, quietly starting serving draft a couple of months ago. Yep, they've got Sixpoint's Righteous Rye on tap.

The bottled beer and wine menu has been kicking around since May, but it has always seemed a bit pricey. At six bucks a pint, the Sixpoint will be a welcome addition to many regulars. "We’re 100 percent committed to always carrying Sixpoint," reports co-owner Noah Bernamoff, "because Jeff [Gorlechen] of Sixpoint was able to source these very rare, wide-and-low quarter kegs for us."

Anyone who's visited Mile End knows it's short on space, which is a constant challenge for the owners. Bernamoff and Gorlechen put their heads together to retrofit a small fridge with the quarter kegs, and now Bernamoff feels indebted to the local brewery. Why the rye and not other brews? "It happens to really complement the food we serve. A lot of the food we make has caraway built into it; lots of sandwiches are served on rye." Though Bernamoff doesn't anticipate having room in the current setup for another tap anytime soon, he "wouldn't rule out having another Sixpoint beer. I love their new pilsner, and I've always dug their Sweet Action."

Now still-tipsy brunchers can get a proper hair of the dog to accompany that Great Hangover Cure, poutine. Having a beer alongside the Montreal classic—fries topped with squeaky cheese curds, smoked meat, and gravy—means the only question is whether the Mile End owners will let you wear your robe inside, à la The Social Network, before you trundle back to bed.

Mile End [Boerum Hill]
97 Hoyt Street, Brooklyn
718-852-7510

Discuss: Boerum Hill's best restaurants?

Borscht Arrives in Cobble Hill

Ever feel, in this era of the “foodie” and the “foodist,” as though everyone you know is in the business of making or writing about food?

We had one of those experiences recently, upon realizing that our nine-apartment building was home to not only one food writer, but also the owners of a new Eastern European café (Karloff) and a Café Boulud cook. This building is one-third food nerd!

The Karloff owners, both of whom hail from Eastern Europe, have completely transformed the former Tea Lounge space. The revamped eatery boasts shiny stamped-tin ceilings, a bunch of furniture made out of reclaimed wood, a wide selection of ice cream and pastries, and an eclectic menu with offerings including beef stew and an item of enormous interest to a Russian-Jewish friend who has just moved here from Greenpoint, who pressed her nose against the glass and screamed, “Borscht! BORSCHT! Now this neighborhood finally has everything I want!”

She’s right: There are no Eastern European cafés in Cobble Hill or downtown Brooklyn, at least to our knowledge. It remains to be seen how good the grub is, so hounds, report back!

Karloff [Cobble Hill]
254 Court Street, Brooklyn
No phone number available

Discuss: Karloff soft opening 9/26
In search of your favorite red borscht