jen kalb's Profile

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Student traveling solo: Sicily, Amalfi/Naples, or Emilia Romagna/Venice?

Your idea of agriturismo visits is great, but will be very difficult to achieve without a car. There may be local bus services in some areas, but that cant be assured and will take some research and asking. Also, the travel out to these locations can eat up your time.

Amalfi Coast isnt anywhere near as impacted (Im talking the hiking trails in the hills not Positano) as Cinque Terre and is much more beautiful and a larger area to explore. Go to the smaller towns and villages and you wont see hordes of tourists, either. Highly recommend.

In E-R/Lombardy, Mantova would be a great stop for interesting cuisine and cultural attractions. Parma too. and also maybe Verona, if you havent been. We spent a day in Reggio Emilia and it is a nice town but does not have as much to see as the others, Cremona ditto. Modena would be my pick over either of these. It all depends on what you want and how much money you have to spend. Fewer places and less time travelling will give you a more relaxed trip..

Naples is great, with good inexpensive eating and lots to see and do.

about 4 hours ago
jen kalb in Italy

Best Risotto in Venice, Verona?

It seems to me based on years of visits that risotto is appearing less and less often on Venetian menus maybe because of the cited difficulties and high local standards for the dish? We had a seafood risotto at Da Fiore 10 years ago (served with ceremony from a copper pan as I recall) but it was not particularly good even at that price (no visible pieces of seafood, either) and it did come out quickly from the kitchen.

As for Mantova, thats a great rice town in a ricegrowing area, and an interesting distinct cuisine. Do a search and you will see some other recommendations; Here's an account of a meal we had there, at Trattoria Ochina Bianco, from 2008:
We chose Ochina Bianca for our meal - a slowfoodish place gone upscale, it specializes in local cuisine and the very fresh highgrade seafood that seems to be the default choice for locals eating out and wanting a change from their local cuisine in both Lombardy and E-R. We started with lucchio in salsa, pike served in a sweet and sour, cold preparation. It was very delicious and refreshing. We then diverged on the second course - Husband ordered a pasta with asparagus, and seafood, I went for the risotto alla pilota con salsicca, not a risotto per se but a glistening mountain of perfectly cooked vialone rice grains mixed with delicious fresh sausage fragments and perhaps butter, very simple and excellent. For our secondo we shared an order of fritto misto, very well done and offered as their specialty. It was a very good rendition but nothing we could not have had in Venice, Amalfi, etc. I regretted that pick. However, the locals were making similar picks - an adjoining table ordered platefuls of luscious looking steamed scampi, off menu. I wished I had been sitting at that table!
http://www.ochinabianca.it/lang/en/

about 12 hours ago
jen kalb in Italy

Napoli for a month

I suspect your hostess will have the best recommendations for your neighborhood? did you take a look at "a walk on the Via Chiaia and beyond in Fred Plotkin's book?" I dont know how far your location is from there but if you dont have the book I can give you some of the addresses for stores and restaurants he mentions.

My sister will be shortly in Naples and I gave her all my materials, But we very much liked Cantina di Sapienza, near the Archeological Museum, Hosteria Toledo in the Quartieri Spagnoli, Ciro a Santa Brigida (just off via Toledo), and Squizitezze/La Stanza del Gusto near Piazza Bellini. For pizza I would look at one of Pignataro's lists - La Notizia is on the hill above Chiaia (via Caravaggio) and Sorbillo's place is down by the water. If you go to Ercolano Viva Lo Re is a must visit. In your general area, we aspired to visit da Dora and La Mattonella if I recall correctly.

2 days ago
jen kalb in Italy

Rec for business dinner in Brooklyn?

Delaware and Hudson offers only prix fixe at dinner. You get to choose your main course but the rest of the dishes are served for the table (vegtarians are accomodated) Traditional cuisine of the middle atlantic states, very well prepared, with some delicacy and dishes you will not have had before. If you want boffo socco tastes, large servings, etc this is not the place although you will be very well fed, good value It would be acceptable for a business dinner If you dont expect a 4 top with everyone facing center andspace around you - they do not have these. With their popularity they have become a bit cramped but its generally (unless you are placed next to a loudmouth group) a good place to talk. Interesting wines, beers and ciders at an acceptable price point.

in the Slope, if you want a bit more space and intimacy, I recommend the wine cellar at Osteria Convivium . Their cuisine is from the iberian peninsula/italy and more boldly flavored. Good wines that match the food.

Mar 30, 2015
jen kalb in Outer Boroughs

They don't have 1/2 & 1/2 in Italy!

Are you talking about what you would get in a restaurant or hotel, or what you would buy at a coffee bar? We dont usually have american style coffee in italy. Im no expert but this is our experience.

If you ask for a coffee in a bar the default will be a small cup of espresso to which you will usually want to add sugar. If you want your espresso milky, you order cappucino or, very milky, caffe latte (mostly a morning drink) or macchiato (touched with milk) Bars do have cafe americano but you have to ask (we have never ordered this so I cant say how it is or whether cold milk is offered with it.

At hotels (mostly in the moderate range) we have stayed at, the default coffee service seems to be watered down espresso style coffee served with a pitcher of warmed milk. You can ask for an individually made cup of espresso or cappucino, some places will oblige some not.

At restaurants, espresso, cappucino, macchiato americano are all possible but I have never seen half and half offered, nor cream. Certainly not the little individual UHT "creamer" packs in the US.

If you like your coffee milky and sweet, cappucino or macchiato would probably be the best choice in lieu of the half and half.

ps there are a lot of things in Italian eating and drinking that are a little bit different from the US. I dont know if you are preparing for about your own experience or someone else you will be taking, but its good to read up a bit about the food and how it is served so you are not too surprised and can enjoy.

Mar 29, 2015
jen kalb in Italy
1

Rome restaurants close to Piazza Repubblica

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1006871
check out this recent thread
u
you might want to download Katie Parla and Elizabeth Minchelli's Rome apps, which both have maps and neighborhood coding and closing day info to help you find a meal wherever you happen to be in Rome. they will b e helpful even if you dont have phone service.

you are right on the metro line, and have access to many bus lines so its a quick hop to other neighborhoods for example Testaccio.

Mar 27, 2015
jen kalb in Italy

Favorite Italian Beach Towns

Everyone has different family patterns I guess. Neither beach nor disney was ever on with us so we took our kids where we wanted to go. My 18 mo old son son rode around London on my husband's shoulders, and loved the parks, zoo and double deckers. We visited Rome and Tuscany with a 5 year old and an 18 months old , stayed in Scotland and then London a year or two later with a baby a 4 year old and a 8 year old. Babysitting can often be found freeing you to tour and lunch sans kids. Dining can be difficult but if you stay in an apartment, particularly, life becomes much more manageable (life in inexpensive hotels with small kids can be fairly sordid)

If you need a beach, dont really want to drive much and like fresh water there are some nice towns around Lake Garda - the sand and water are quite pleasant and clean, you can take the boats from town to town and you can get to the region by train, We had good eating in Gardona and Salo and there are other towns with good dining that are pleasant day trip destinations around the lake and beyond.

Mar 26, 2015
jen kalb in Italy

NYC first visit (kind of) - where to eat to feel like you're in NY!

Its shocking that people are even discussiong Grimaldi's since the original owner has reopened (as Julana's) in the original space (Gromaldi's which had ben sliding downhill for a long time notwithstanding the lines moved down the block) Go to Juliana's instead.

Mar 26, 2015
jen kalb in Manhattan
1

Hometown Bar-B-Que Red Hook

yes it is so good. a match for the brisket in tastiness. I went on a recent Saturday afternoon and they had it. get some of their sticky sauce. The pulled pork was bland, the slaw was fresh but nothing special, the cornbread looked heavy and overly moist (I did not order) the beans were way too sweet(seemed like with a big dosage of the sticky sauce, same flavor).

but go for the brisket nnd the lamb. I want to get back to try the beef rib and the jerk ribs as well.

Mar 26, 2015
jen kalb in Outer Boroughs

Easter in Rome

yikes you are right. thanks for being persmickety - it was closed on the Monday after Christmas when we were there over the holidays but - thats was over the holidays. We have been there several times for Saturday lunch but like a lot of places in the certer, it is closed on Sat night and Sunday.

Mar 26, 2015
jen kalb in Italy

Easter in Rome

yikes you are right. thanks for being persmickety - it was closed on the Monday after Christmas when we were there over the holidays but - that was over the holidays. We have been there several times for Saturday lunch but like a lot of places in the certer, it is closed on Sat night and Sunday.

Mar 26, 2015
jen kalb in Italy
1

Naples and Amalfi Coast (With Kids and on a Budget) - Advice Needed!

I was amused by the idea of a ferry trip to Ravello which is quite a ways up the mountainside from the ocean - I assume a bus is also involved. Amalfi, just down the hill, is the bus junction for the whole area so you could easily take a bus over from Positano as well and switch for the bus to Ravello.

Mar 26, 2015
jen kalb in Italy

MILAN EXPO 2015 - Suggestions for Northern Italy?

Many of us have reported on these areas in the past. Put your capitalized items into SEARCH and you should find some of these. It should be a nice time to visit!

Mar 25, 2015
jen kalb in Italy

Need recommendations 10 days in Northern/Coastal Italy

this report includes an account of our meal at Il Genovese, across from the Mercato Orientale, as well as the proprietor's EVO store down the street. A friend of mine (incidentally also named Genovese) enjoyed a meal there last year also. Ironically I did not find the pesto in this region to be life-changing, but we did really enjoy the local cuisine.

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9032...
http://www.mentelocale.it/locali/4517...
http://www.ilgenovese.com/

Mar 25, 2015
jen kalb in Italy

Easter in Rome

I believe Armando has a regular Monday closing day. Id also be interested if there are other Easter Monday closings in addition to those places that close that day every week - my Sister is arriving in Rome on that Monday for a brief visit.

Mar 25, 2015
jen kalb in Italy

Where to eat and drink to feel like you're in New York?

For true US regional cooking, Delaware and Hudson, in Williamsburg offers refined and interesting regional cuisine from the Middle Atlantic states in an interest prix fixe format.Good limited list of wines, beers and ciders.

There has been an explosion of Thai restaurants in the last few years - see some of the recent threads, some on LES, some in Brooklyn (Red Hook area), a large cluster in Queens and even a couple on the West Side (Larb Ubol in particular)

Mar 24, 2015
jen kalb in Outer Boroughs

Venice June 6th to 9th

curious Sid, have you found a better place than Busa alla Torre in Murano?

Mar 24, 2015
jen kalb in Italy
1

Bricolage - Vietnamese in Park Slope

I can understand where you are coming from and its great to have all the discussion on Bricolage , by the way but there are several dimensions of difference between Franny's and a slice shop - Franny's is superior in all of taste, ingredient quality and ambiance along with its much greater price, of course.

Given that I dont have a problem with the meat or the ambiance in chinatown Vietnamese places like say New Tu Do or Pho Tay Do then the question is what would I expect from a more convenient, maybe more comfortable and much more expensive vietnamese place. I think I would expect an equal or preferably higher quality of cooking at least than at the cheaper places s. thats what I am having trouble getting a handle on here, whether the food would be satisfying. Id love to see some vietnamese cooking being done at a higher level, with as you say better ingredients and less standardized dishes than the chinatown shops.

Mar 20, 2015
jen kalb in Outer Boroughs

Where to find barberries and pomegranate molasses?

Kalustyan has all this stuff. Their zaatar blends are excellent I like better than what I find elsewhere including at Sahadi. Their prices arent low but they get good turnover and I always find some sort of specialty chiles or something to compensate for the trip. The maras or aleppo chiles would be a good gift - Ottolenghi's recipes do not call for them but they work well with his food, are not too spicy and are absolutely delicious,

Mar 19, 2015
jen kalb in Manhattan

Heading up to Venice with the family (restos and more)

Sorry for the errors and thanks for correcting me - re alla zucca I meant cheese not fish!

Do you like Il Refolo? Ive not heard much about it recently.

Mar 19, 2015
jen kalb in Italy

Naples and Amalfi Coast (With Kids and on a Budget) - Advice Needed!

like I said I think there are pickup services. By the time you get into Naples and get situated it will be late and the historic center is really dead on Sunday night.

I thought this resource was interesting.
http://www.positano.com/en/how-to-get...

Here are a lot more seemingly uptodate links
http://www.napoliunplugged.com/get-am...

Mar 19, 2015
jen kalb in Italy

Naples and Amalfi Coast (With Kids and on a Budget) - Advice Needed!

It is hard to get into the detail of this, since it seems to me you are planning way too much moving around for 4 nights. Especially without a care (which is no fun on the Amalfi Coast) You will be carrying your bags as well as your tired kids basically everywhere you go. Find one place suitable for your young family and settle in, for this short a visit or at most stay someplace else for 1 night.

On the Amalfi Coast the buses are the way to get from town to town - you can get to the Coast by taking the Circumvesusiano Train to Sorrento or the Trenitalia train to Salerno . and then taking a local bus on to the coast. Alternatively (and this may be be best way for you to work through your travel plan issues, there are car services for the Amalfi Coast that can do airport pickups (check Fodors travel boards and such for this which might be much more relaxing in the circumstances). There might be a logic to going straight to the AC for that first night with your tired family. You could even possibly stop en route for your pizza or find something at your destination, but waking up on AC for your first morning in Italy would be nice. three (or 4) nights there and a day in Naples would be a lot smoother.

In addition to the buses, you may want to look into the boats running town to town and to Capri. A fun alternative for your kids and you. there is good walking on the hills on the AC, you can pick up maps at the tourist office. Also, some restaurants in the town Montepertusa above Positano.

You have quite a list of restaurants, many of which have been discussed here. I think if you figure out where to stay you will be able to select lunch places in your destinations (even Cetara if you want the long bus ride) pretty easily.

Note, Taormina is in Sicily, and Avellino, while in the region is inland from the Amalfi Coast and not really practical without a car. Most of the good restaurants in the region will have a range of the wines. As for your list for Cetara, Torre del Saraceno is in Vico Equense, on the Sorrentine peninsula, off course for you, Vannulo is a cheese maker s of Salerno - you might add Al Convento, a slowfood place in Cetara.

Restaurants we particularly liked liked were Cumpa Cosimo (informal would be good for kids, in Ravello) and A'Paranza, a village adjoining Amalfi. http://www.ristoranteparanza.com/'

If you do decide to stay in Naples post back for additional recommendations there. I am a major Naples lover, but its a fairly intense town (crowded but wonderful people art and history) and frankly there is good pizza throughout the region - you dont need to go to Naples for a good pie if thats your sole purpose.

Mar 19, 2015
jen kalb in Italy

Naples and Amalfi Coast (With Kids and on a Budget) - Advice Needed!

I should have said a'Paranza, a restaurant in the village of Atrani, adjacent to Amalfi (through a series if narrow alleys and a footpath).

We liked staying in Ravello - we were in an area where there were only footpaths and no vehicular traffic - we saw donkeys will bells on being used for street repairs. Of course, its a ways away from any beach but most Italian beaches will disappoint Americans,

Mar 19, 2015
jen kalb in Italy

Naples and Amalfi Coast (With Kids and on a Budget) - Advice Needed!

It is hard to get into the detail of this, since it seems to me you are planning way too much moving around for 4 nights. Especially without a car (cars are no fun on the Amalfi Coast in season) You will be carrying your bags as well as your tired kids basically everywhere you go. Find one place suitable for your young family and settle in, for this short a visit or at most stay someplace else for 1 night.

On the Amalfi Coast the buses are the way to get from town to town - you can get to the Coast by taking the Circumvesuviano Train to Sorrento or the Trenitalia train to Salerno . and then taking a local bus on to the coast. Alternatively (and this may be be best way for you) there are car services for the Amalfi Coast that can do airport pickups (check Fodors travel boards to work through your travel plan issues) which might be much more relaxing in the circumstances- using such a service you could go straight to the AC for that first night with your tired family. You could even possibly stop en route for your pizza or find something at your destination, but waking up on AC for your first morning in Italy would be nice. three (or 4) nights there and a day in Naples would be a lot smoother.

In addition to the buses, you may want to look into the boats running town to town and to Capri. A fun alternative for your kids and you. there is good walking on the hills on the AC, you can pick up maps at the tourist office. Also, some restaurants in the town Montepertusa above Positano.

You have quite a list of restaurants, many of which have been discussed here. I think if you figure out where to stay you will be able to select lunch places in your destinations (even Cetara if you want the long bus ride) pretty easily.

Note, Taormina is in Sicily, and Avellino, while in the region is inland from the Amalfi Coast and not really practical without a car. Most of the good restaurants in the region will have a range of the wines. As for your list for Cetara, Torre del Saraceno is in Vico Equense, on the Sorrentine peninsula, off course for you, Vannulo is a cheese maker s of Salerno - you might add Al Convento, a slowfood place in Cetara.

Restaurants we particularly liked liked were Cumpa Cosimo (informal would be good for kids, in Ravello) and A'Paranza, a village adjoining Amalfi. http://www.ristoranteparanza.com/'

If you do decide to stay in Naples post back for additional recommendations there. I am a major Naples lover, but its a fairly intense town (crowded but wonderful people art and history) and frankly there is good pizza throughout the region - you dont need to go to Naples for a good pie if thats your sole purpose.

Mar 19, 2015
jen kalb in Italy

Bricolage - Vietnamese in Park Slope

Im curious, how does this place stack up against the Vietnamese restaurants in the various chinatowns? Does it offer additonal or better dishes? Or is it just a better ambience/in my neighborhood thing? Note I have never been to Bunker or Ha Noi (yet) to which you compared it. I did drive by Bunker once and it would have to be REALLY outstanding to get me over there.

Mar 19, 2015
jen kalb in Outer Boroughs

Morgans BBQ Vs. Dino-BBQ (union)

based on this thread and some prodding from another hound, I did a run to Hometown last weekend for a 1/2 lb each of an assortment of meats. It WAS very good - the brisket and lamb belly were excellent, loved the lambiness of the latter, and both had the right mix of meat, fat, spice and smoke. the pulled pork (they recommended it as their best pork item after they were out of the jerk ribs) was fairly bland. Their sauces were a cut above, the sticky particularly.

I did not like their overly sweet beans (big dose of the sticky sauce think, the beans at Morgans are very much better, cole slaw was meh. It was a nice space and would be good for a get together I think, less crowded than Morgan's which however has a great feel.

I would like to try some ribs (pork and beef) at Hometown - not ready to award the crown yet.

Mar 18, 2015
jen kalb in Outer Boroughs

April 2015 COTM: Nomination Thread

PLEASE TO THE TABLE is a great suggestion - much better than a spanish book. She has some Latin American books too, but this one would be great

Mar 18, 2015
jen kalb in Home Cooking

Sid's short(er) list for Venice:

Italian restaurant portions are generally sized smaller than in the US or UK, small enough that a sequence of dishes is normally eaten. Meal costs given in guides usually are computed based on a full meal of 4 courses, so may be overstated for light eaters (antipasto-primo-secondo-dolci) which we rarely consume (two courses and a salad or veg:contorni are more typical)

In many years of travelling, I have never seen a kids menu in Italy. While sharing is accepted (we often share the secondo, for example) I would order a plate of SOMETHING - for each person at the table at a minimum. When our children were small they usually each had a plate of pasta or some such. There are no huge roasts on offer in Venice, precious little meat at all, though I fondly remember my first taste of liver venetian style, many years ago. I think you will be able to feel your way once you are there

Mar 18, 2015
jen kalb in Italy

Heading up to Venice with the family (restos and more)

Navigating around Santa Croce can be difficult, it is a bit of a maze. make sure you have a good map on your phone or on paper. I havent tried to navigate around Venice with GPS yet. The system of addresses by sestiere is byzantine. Many of your choices are quite a long walk (or expensive vaporetto ride) awy.

I noted some viamichelin prices below for reference - they tend to be a little higher than we pay,since we often share dishes and rarely order a full meal antipasto-dessert (latter rarely pays, in italy). Whole fish, often sold by the kilo, will drive your bill up radically.

for dinners, Alla Zucca (no fish) but an eclectic range of meat, fish and veg-oriented dishes is fairly close to you - we liked it - put it in the search engine above for other assessments. In the midrange price wise, you need a reservation.((35-53E a la carte, per viamichelin)
Antice Stellato is not far, on the other side of the grand canal and a few canals over in Canareggio. Fish mainly but some other items, medium price for venice (per viamichelin, 31-62E) some creative touches (ex-Slowfood.)

Antico Carampane is not that far from you, popular for fish; might be good for a celebration. (49-79E per via Michelin)

Al Prosecco, in Campo San Giacomo d'Orio,http://www.alprosecco.com/ run I believe by a Da Fiore son - wine bar-ish with some cooked dishes (Slowfood recommended) bio-dynamic wines might be worth looking into. I recommend avoiding the Al Ponte de Meglio restaurant across the canal from Alla Zucca - we had a mediocre meal there a few years back.

If you want to walk farther than Rio Marin for pastry and coffee, say, if you are walking toward the Accademia that day, Tonolo is excellent.

pizzeria Ae Oche is quite near your apartment and offers ample servings.

Good bread is hard to find in Venice - follow PBSF's recommendations or buy in supermarket. We liked the ciabatta best on our last visit (bread is not a venetian thing). The small supermarkets scattered through the neighborhoods are pretty good or you can go (in addition to the Rialto) to the larger ones on Strada Nuova, the Zattere, etc If you go the Rialto go early in the morning. I go to stores expecting to find something to buy and take home - I was frankly disappointed by the Antica Drogheria Mascari - it drives home that Venice is not the metropolitan center it once was - if you are coming from a large city, you will find better items at home.Dont expect to find electronic stuff in Venice either, by the way. Recommend you follow PBSF's recommendations for wine shopping.

Read the reports here on your restaurant choices - Alle Testiere is a tight space with two seatings each night and all fish. Al Covo has meat on its menu along with the venetian fish - these two are about the same price in the 55-99 pp price range. Aqua Pazza has gotten some ok reports - bear in mind it does not offer Venetian cuisine.

Good luck and hope you report back.

Mar 18, 2015
jen kalb in Italy

Park Slopers -- what are your go-to spots for take-out?

We dont do a lot of takeout but I like some of the places already mentioned a lot -

Kulushkat (felafel, sabich and desserts), Meltcraft, Tofu on 7th (by far the vest Chinese, real szechuan)
I also like Mr Felafel (felafel, kefta kebab, and other items.)

Mar 16, 2015
jen kalb in Outer Boroughs