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Good Italian, Moderately priced, within reach of 1-2-3 trains, good for kids 7-13

Thanks ml77!
We ate at Serafina. Great atmosphere for the kids. We love going to restaurants that give you crayons and you can write/draw on the paper tops over the tablecloths. Makes playing tic-tac-toe and hangman easy. Plus, they were playing some great 80s music- Yaz, Tears for Fears, Depeche Mode, etc. which brought me back. While not the Italian vibe you get from good Italian accordian music, made it a bit more upbeat. Decor was good too- not too dark but neat red glass that complemented the room nicely. Bar area was hopping.

Service was good and friendly, although a little slow to fill the water glass.
Food- very good. Bruschetta nice and fresh and ample tomato. My older daughter's pesto was creamy although lacking a bit of salt. Other daughter's pizza perfect for kids. I enjoyed my striped bass. Accompanying mussels were small and tender and flavorful; calamari well cooked and tender. Bass could have been cooked a bit more, but cooked enough so it was not fishy. Accompanied the meal with an easy house Sancerre- spicy notes.
And to top it off, they gave us a sweet and creamy tiramisu on the house! Maybe not as liquory as tiramisu usually is, but a good enough finish that the kids enjoyed.
Meals were portioned well, not too much food (pet peave as I hate waste) and priced moderately for Manhattan.
I would definitely return to Serafina.

Oct 01, 2010
madsdadus in Manhattan

Good Italian, Moderately priced, within reach of 1-2-3 trains, good for kids 7-13

Hope the title spells it out but looking for good Italian (Northern or Sicilian preferred) that will not break the bank that my kids can enjoy. Was hoping for a place in Little Italy originally but disheartened to read some posts bashing LI joints as mediocre. Please help.

I should add we need to be able to walk in as a table of four on a Friday night, unless we can get a last minute reservation.

Oct 01, 2010
madsdadus in Manhattan

Denver's Venice Ristorante Recommendations

I am being taken to Venice Ristrorante & Wine Bar on Wynkoop. Does anyone have recommendations as to what I should try or what I should stay away from? Please note that I will eat anything, so interested in eating what makes this restaurant stand apart. Thanks in advance for your consideration and effort.

Mar 07, 2010
madsdadus in Mountain States

One Meal in City of San Francisco

Thanks Chuckles.
I did read the FAQ. Unfortunately, I rarely have cravings or set parameters. Always interested in either what's good or what's unique or truly local.

I think I stumbled on what's good during that trip. Ended up eating at Gary Danko's. Terrific wine list (although who in SF doesn;t have a terrific list).

The White Winter Root Vegetable Soup with Duck Confit Terrine, Porcini Emulsion
and Black Truffles was the perfect start to the evening. The Branzini was surrounded by a good balance between navel oranges, fennel puree and nicoise olives.

Phenomenal cheese plate- excellent variety, to finish the meal.

My companions loved the foie gras.

Good chow on west side of Madison WI?

Chidad's suggestions are terrific, especially for good but not too expensive fare (Vin Santo serves some of the best Italian in Madison, although it may be a little disappointing if you have lots of experience in the NY metro area). Also near there is the Hubbard Avenue Diner for more ecclectic than your average diner fare (think black bean burgers and incredible turkey chile/corn bread, plus great pies and desserts- not greasy burgers and 10,000 other items on the menu). Roman Candle also serves good pizza with a good selection of beer. All of these restaurants are no more than 5 to 10 minutes ride from where you are staying (you may even be able to walk it).

I will second Otto's (good steak (strip and filet are favorites and chops (lamb) with a Mediterranean flair) http://ottosrestaurant.com/menu.aspx and Sai-Bai Thong http://www.sabaithong.com/odanamenu.h...

New Orleans Take-Out on the west side is 10 minutes from your hotel. Well worth a cab ride. Some of the best creole this side of New Orleans.

Since you will be around for fish fry on Friday, a Wisconsin must, try Sweeney's Oak Creast Tavern on 5371 Old Middleton Rd. About a 5 minute ride from your hotel.

Hope this helps.
Let us know where you ended up and what you thought.

One Meal in City of San Francisco

If you could have just one meal in the city of San Francisco (no going outside the city), what would you be eating and at what restaurant would you be eating it at?

Also, do we need to make reservations to eat there during the early part of the week?

Ella's Deli (Madison)

The Nitty Gritty in downtown Madison and I think Bluephies has tasty matzoh ball soup (at least they used to). Call first!

Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites West Madison, WI

Yup- No man's land is right.
But I think you are almost as far in the other direction to some spots in downtown Middleton like Vin Santo (tasty Italian, mostly Northern/Tuscan with good wine list), Hubbard Street Diner (ecclectic diner, good for breakfast), Louisianne's (pretty good New Orleans style), and Roman Candle (some of the best pizza this side of the Delaware River). For dessert, try Villa Dolce for gelatto (they also have some great desserts and interesting pizzas). You can always take a cab and the HI may even shuttle you to downtown Middleton. All of these are great locally owned establishments.

Eno Vino may be closer, offers great small plates, and an extensive wine list.

"Stuck" in south central WI - what to do/eat?

Hope the date has not passed.

Capital Brewery in Middleton (just west of Madison) has awesome local brew. Amber is their tried and true.

I second the Union for ice cream- some of the best in the States.

If you want Nepali, Himal Chuli on State Street in Madison is terrific. Some of the best Dal this side of Khatmanu.

Harvest and L'Etoile are terrific restaurants using local ingredients. Chef Tory from L'Etoile will be cooking for the big James Beard Dinner in NYC later this spring. And Harvest gets plenty of national recognition as well. Morel mushrooms are a terrific local delicacy and these restaurants have been known to feature dishes with morels in the past.

Best of luck and hope the post is not too late.

Dining near Trump- respond by Monday night please

Adventurous diners. Staying near the new Trump Tower in Chicago.
Looking for good cuisine (any kind) within a mile or two of the hotel.
Must have some decent vegetarian options. Must also be somewhat reasonable (we are not willing to pay for food at rate of $100 per person).
I have been to Blackbird and Il Molino in the past, both of which I love.
I also recall eating at a place within a block or two of Kinzie and State or Hubbard and Wabash (that general area), but cannot remember the name. Any thoughts? Thanks.

Apr 06, 2008
madsdadus in Chicago Area

Help ... Madison dining scene

I echo many of the same sentiments: Lombardinos, Sardine, Harvest, Murimoto, Old Fashioned (good breakfast), Cocoliquot (the homemade chocolate at Cocoliquot is priceless!). Another great place off the square is Nat Spiel (no phone, no reservations, may be cash only too, if I recall). Great clay pot tofu dish. Very fresh ingredients. Old pubby type atmosphere. Friendly staff. It is between the Great Dane and Cocoliquot on King Street. Very casual. Same owner as Barriques and Magnus.

Other great place to go is the Greenbush. Some of the best pizza this side of NYC. Crisp thin crusts and unforgettably fresh ingredients. I also have enjoyed their Smoked Trout salad. Great bar too. Casual. On Regent Street between Mills and Park Street.

Happy eating.

Where do you eat in Madison, WI?

OMG- did you mention Farrells? I remember Farrells in East Brunswick, NJ. We used to go there for the Zoo. And my brother worked there in high school. I can see the resemblance to Ella's. I am about to roll on the floor laughing.

Madison WI pizza - where do I go?

Casa Bianca did close on Bassett but I think they are open out on Junction Road.
Isthmus does not show "CLOSED" for that location. Here's a link http://www.thedailypage.com/theguide/...;

While on the subject, do you have any recommendations for NYC in Chelsea/Flat Iron for dinner- any kind of cuisine.

Jun 15, 2007
madsdadus in Great Lakes

Blue Water Grill Update

Thanks. I did see it during my search. All it was was a which is better discussion, without calling out anything about better dishes- little substance, just a popularity contest. I really would like to know details- what is worth ordering, what should I stay away from, what dishes do the locals that go there usually order- those kind of things.

Jun 15, 2007
madsdadus in Manhattan

Chelsea Retaurants

OK- its your last meal, and you have been restricted to Chelsea to eat it. Where would you go? Why? What would you have there? And how expensive might it be?

Jun 15, 2007
madsdadus in Manhattan

Blue Water Grill Update

I have not seen any recent postings on Blue Water Grill- at least from the NY minute I spent searching. Appears it is all about seafood. Wiithin the seafood category, what do they do best? What do you recommend? What should I run from? I am eating there Monday night, so any replies will be appreciated.

Jun 15, 2007
madsdadus in Manhattan

How do you eat your smoked salmon?

Nothing like a good LEO- for onions use Vidalia's or Walla Walla's to complement the sweet, otherwise a Spanish onion for a slight contrast. And make sure you get lox, not nova as the salty lox works best in a LEO.

May 13, 2007
madsdadus in General Topics

Sensi, Tableau, Olive, Prime, Le Cirque, Bouloud Brasserie, and Breakfast in Vegas

More details on the rest of the meals in Vegas.

Sensi- great atmosphere with a friendly, if slow staff. So-so food. The satay was an ok appetizer. Not any better than my local Thai restaurants, although the mango chutney it came with was a sweet and slightly peppery foil to the beef and chicken- much better than the average peanut sauce it is usually served with (Sensi gives you three different ones but I loved that chutney so much I did not even bother tasting the others). Salmon pinwheel was underwhelming. If I could find one positive, the salmon was done perfectly.

Terrace Cafe at Wynne- went there for breakfast at 7am. The outside that everyone raves about was closed (I was told they shut it down sometime after 6am until 8:30am). Had the pancakes as recommended by others and found them to be underwhelming. Large and fluffy, but lacking significant flavor.

Boulud- loved it. Great view of the freaky waterfall. The cheese plate was phenominal. What a great variety- Manchego, aged Gouda, soft goats milk and sheep cheeses- at least 8 different varieites if memory serves me. Short Ribs were so tender- very good but not great. Cannot remember too much about the rest of the meal as the drinks/wine was fantastic and I took in too much (the Spanish Side Car with Star Anise is a terrific revision on a classic).

Buffet at Wynne- quantity but little quality. And at 17.95 for breakfast (I think?) a poor value.

Tangerine at Treasure Island- Nightclub. Great party atmosphere, especially outside overlooking the scenery at TI. Lots of young people, mostly male. Lot of friendly people. Wait staff look like Hooters girls but with slightly better outfits.

Happy eating.

May 11, 2007
madsdadus in Southwest

Sensi, Tableau, Olive, Prime, Le Cirque, Bouloud Brasserie, and Breakfast in Vegas

Thanks to all of you for the great comments. Let me update you on my progress as I ate through Vegas.

Tableau- fairly casual (lots of jeans, but many sportcoats and ties too) which seems pretty typical for Vegas anyway. I do not think that I tasted a mediocre dish all night. Started out with a roasted red pepper soup- subtle, made with cream but not too rich. Good starter. The Lobster prepared with morels was scrumptious, if a tad bit rich, but the Scallops with wilted spinach and beans served in a soy based glaze was a little better- fanciful flavor, with the sweet taste and firm, slightly chewy texture of the scallops contrasting nicely against the wilted texture and earthy flavors of the spinach. For an entree, the Halibut was terrific, perfectly flaky. Although I did not partake in the desserts, the chocolate tasting looked particularly good with an extremely aromatic variety of chocolate desserts (a friend skipped out on ordering his dinner just to have the dessert which he thought was worth it).

May 08, 2007
madsdadus in Southwest

Vegas dining challenge

What works the best at Sensi? I have a reservation there with some clients next week and know nothing about it.

May 03, 2007
madsdadus in Southwest

Sensi, Tableau, Olive, Prime, Le Cirque, Bouloud Brasserie, and Breakfast in Vegas

I am going to be in Vegas for a few days next week and am interested in only the following restaurants for dinner- what is good (I will eat anything) and what is unusual at the one's you have eaten at and where would you go again?

Sensi @Bellagio- I am going here for sure.
Tableau @Wynn- I am going here for sure
Olives @Bellagio
Prime @ Bellagio
LeCirque @ Bellagio
Daniel Bouloud Brasserie @ Wynn

Also what are my best options for breakfast in/around the Wynn and/or convention center?

Thanks in advance for your kind replies!

May 03, 2007
madsdadus in Southwest

Madison WI pizza - where do I go?

As a Jerseyan (ite? boy?) who transplanted here twenty years ago, I found you will not find the pizza slices here that are malleable and dripping with grease that you may be used to. As long as you view Madison pizza by this new paradigm, then I think you will love Greenbush (fresh ingredients, crispy crust, and loveable atmosphere). For take out, we love Falbo's in Middleton. They pile on the cheese and sauce a little more there. I have heard good things about Roman Candle and the other new pizza joint in Middleton (the name is escaping me and the Isthmus website is not helping). Ians is fun for the kids with their Mac and Cheese pizza.

Feb 25, 2007
madsdadus in Great Lakes

Cheap Oysters in Seattle

Are you referring to Brooklyn's, north of Harborsteps on 1st Ave and either Seneca or University ? I remember them having cheap oysters at Happy Hour with a wide variety. That is where I would go. Always had good luck at McCormick and Schmick's just down the street and enjoyed the Metroplitan Grill which is even further down towards Safeco (maybe 2nd or 4th Ave- its been a few years).

Elliots is at 1201 Alaskan Way (link http://www.elliottsoysterhouse.com/)

Feb 24, 2007
madsdadus in Pacific Northwest

Gourmet's Top 50 Restaurants 2006

And without Alice, there would have been no Odessa Piper to start L'Etoile (that's the Madison contribution to the list) either. I think Odessa worked for Alice before trekking east. Does L'Etoile deserve to be in the Top 50 today? Debatable. It certainly did when Odessa ran it. There are probably 100 better spots in the country, but those places just have not done it as long nor as well over time.

Jan 10, 2007
madsdadus in Food Media & News

Madison, Wisconsin

So Susan-

Now that it has been 9 months, have you had a chance to try any of the above? And if so, what have you found? I have looked at some of your replies but I have not seen any critiques of our critiques.

Dec 11, 2006
madsdadus in Great Lakes

Madison, Wisconsin

Any more word on the Brazilian Steakhouse? Have not seen anything. Also, patiently awaiting the start of Roman Candle in Middleton. Not having been to the East Side Roman Candle, is it all hype or is it really that good on the East Side?

Dec 11, 2006
madsdadus in Great Lakes

Help~ Will this poison my family?

You probably are going to be fine. Next time, dump a half to full gallon of ice cubes in with brine

Nov 24, 2006
madsdadus in Home Cooking

call for Thanksgiving debriefing: the good, the bad & the ugly. Please share your greatest successes and also any duds to learn by

Great ideas for next year everyone!

My wife's persimmon and pomegranate salad was awesome- fresh and crisp, taken from http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/1...

Did a turkey breast in a dry rub with cayenne, onion salt, cumin, oregano, chili powder, salt, pepper, allspice...yummy! Plus the gravy made from the drippings and the rub recipe added a terrific kick. The oregano kept the flavor this side of our traditional rosemary/thyme flavored bird. Roasted the breast at 350 which worked well with the rub to create a crispy skin. Coupled with brining the breast overnight left the breast deliciously moist.

My MIL's corn souffle and butternut squash soup were delightful.

My SILs vegan pumpkin pie was almost as good as the real thing- almost.

I did miss my cornbread/sausage stuffing this year, but with dinner at MILs, what can you do. At least she let's me do the turkey (yes, I can be a control-frek husband at Thankgiving)

Nov 24, 2006
madsdadus in Home Cooking

Breast up or down?

Use either turkey forks (very large serving-fork looking tongs) or use lots of wadded up paper towels. I recommend removing the entire roasting pan from the oven and getting it on top of your range to execute the turning, or be extremely careful if you are doing it over the oven rack. But it works and the results are a completely browned turkey.

One caveat- I have not used convection roast yet (Wolf ovens have a great convection roast feature that a friend swears by), so not sure if convection roast would do a better job and eliminate turkey turning.

Good luck.

Nov 23, 2006
madsdadus in Home Cooking

Vineyard Touring in Napa/Sonoma

My wife and I love full, dark and stormy reds (Zinfandels mostly). A few questions:
1) Which is better to visit- Napa or Sonoma?
2) Any suggestions on vineyards to visit and tour in Fall 2007 and places to stay in Napa and/Sonoma?
3) Good food?