Hello Avenue Italy!

Hello Avenue Italy!

I recently a wonderful birthday dinner at Avenue Italy.

Located in Rancho Palos Verdes is Avenue Italy; a restaurant offering authentic and delicious Italian cuisine by  Chef Mario Zanetti. Chef Mario was previously Lead Chef for La Stada Restaurant in Los Angeles and now he heads up this wonderful restaurant. Avenue Italy is also the sister restaurant of another favorite South Bay place of mine, Yellow Vase.

Having my birthday dinner here was truly a wonderful experience. The place transports you right into the heart of Italy with its beautiful setup and decor as well as their amazing Italian cuisine.

We started off our meal here with  Caprese e melanzane.

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This starter came with three lovely tomatoes stacked with grilled eggplant and fresh mozzarella. It was then topped off with pesto. This simple Italian dish was a perfect first course. The grilled eggplant was nicely grilled and not charred. The spread of pesto was just right and not overwhelming. It gave the right amount of flavor to the dish.

Our second course consisted of the Beet salad

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This salad was one of my favorites of the night. It had mix greens topped with oven roasted beets, candied walnuts, dried cranberries and feta cheese. The dressing was a house balsamic vinaigrette. I am a big fan of beets but in many other restaurants, I have noticed beets tend to be large pieces that end up becoming the star of the plate. Here at Avenue Italy, they made their salad so that the beets would mix perfectly with the other ingredients. Small square beets were mixed in with the candied walnuts and dried cranberries and the feta cheese was sprinkled on top. Together these ingredients made of a sweet lovely salad.

For my main course, I chose to get the waiter’s recommendation, Pollo e prosciutto

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It was chicken rollatini with prosciutto and rosemary and vodka sauce. It was served with seasonal vegetables and roasted yukon potatoes. I originally was afraid that the prosciutto may overpower this dish but it did not at all! In fact there was just slight hint of prosciutto and the chicken was main star of the dish. It was tender and perfectly flavored with the rosemary and vodka sauce. I also loved their flavorful roasted yukon potatoes. This was great dish paired with their white chardonnay.

What’s a birthday without a birthday cake or dessert? Our last dish of the night was Avenue Italy’s tiramisu.

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Tiramisu is a classic Italian dessert and here they really did this Italian delight justice. The coffee-flavoured Italian dessert was delightfully light. Wonderful flavor of cocoa with just the right hint of liqueur-spiked espresso and sweet mascarpone and whipped cream. This was truly a perfect ending to a wonderful birthday dinner.

Avenue Italy was simply lovely and I loved celebrating here.
Hello Joey’s Italian Restaurant!

Hello Joey’s Italian Restaurant!

Whenever I travel, I try to find the best eateries that the town has to offer. My Hello Kitty Foodie adventures wouldn’t be complete without it. On my first night in New York; I’m so happy to say that I found what has to be one of the best Italian restaurants in the town of Syracuse.

Joey’s Italian Restaurant is located in Syracuse, New York at Carrier Circle. They’ve been serving up fine Italian American cuisine since 1982 via two restaurants under one roof. Upstairs lies Pronto Joey’s which offers a casual Italian American fare. Downstairs is Joey’s Classic Italian dining that has a more formal fine dining setting.

I had the pleasure of dining at Joey’s Classic Italian and was mesmerized by the beautiful setting the moment I walked in. With its cherry wood furniture, dim lighting and perfectly set tables; the place is intimate and beautiful.

Their menu is equivalent in exquisiteness and filled with an array of fresh made pastas with veal, beef, poultry and seafood. Each of their sauces is handcrafted right in the heart of New York.

Each meal here starts off with a fresh-baked basket of bread that is accompanied with their housemade garlic butter and an olive oil and balsamic dip.

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Joey’s housemade garlic butter is reason enough to go here as it definitely one of the tastiest garlic butters I have ever had. The velvety butter perfectly melts on the warm bread and is quite addicting. It has just the right hint of garlic to it.

Each pasta speciality also comes with Joey’s house salad.

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The house salad is a delightful starter filled with a good variety of vegetables. There are tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, chick peas and mixed greens. Dressing choices include honey mustard, ranch, raspberry vinagrette, balsamic vinagrette, Caesar and parmesan.

Though one can easily get full with the warm bread and crisp salad; one definitely needs to save room for Joey’s homemade pastas. The pasta menu consists of homemade dishes such as lasagna, cannelloni, ravioli, fettuccine and lasagna. There is also house specialities.

One such house speciality is the Tortellini Carbonara.

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The Tortellini Carbonara has pork and beef filled pasta with sautéed Italian prosciutto. The sauce consists of asiago cheese, egg and cream. It’s one creamy dish and the tortellini will practically melt in your mouth.

Another house speciality is the Chicken Tetrazini.

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The Chicken Tentrazini has Joey’s housemade noodles topped with a breast of chicken sautéed with mushrooms, roasted red peppers and peas. The sauce is a light cream sauce. The mushrooms, red peppers and peas bring so much flavor along with the tender chicken breast. The light cream sauce is just right. This dish is definitely one of my favorites at Joey’s.

Not only are the pasta dishes homemade, the desserts are as well! The sweets menu is equally is an impressive and consists of favorite Italian sweets like tiramisu and cannoli along side classic desserts; carrot cake, cheesecake, citrus cake and creme brûlée.

It is very had to pass on a good creme brûlée and decided to try Joey’s version.

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Joey’s creme brûlée was indeed a wonderful ending to a wonderful dinner. On the bottom of the soft creme brûlée is rich Bailey’s chocolate. This creme brûlée is finished off with fresh cream and a fresh strawberry. The creme brûlée is silky-smooth. The rich Bailey’s chocolate is a sweet surprise and brings another depth to the dessert.

In my quest to find some of the best eateries in town, I think I succeeded in my first night in New York with the charming Joey’s Italian in Syracuse.

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Joey’s Italian.

Hello Jimmy’s Kouzina!

Hello Jimmy’s Kouzina!

It is on my vacation bucket list to see the sights of Santorini, Greece and walk the beautiful town of Venice, Italy. Perhaps one day, I’ll visit those wonderful places but in the meantime I get to have a little taste of Greece and Italy; thanks to Jimmy’s Kouzina.

Jimmy’s Kouzina is lovely restaurant located at the heart of Manhattan Beach. Specializing in Italian and Greek food; this eatery has been serving the South Bay since 1984. It was formerly named Old Venice but now has a new name via Jimmy’s Kouzina. The restaurant is renamed in honor of owner and chef Jimmy Hantzarides and is currently owned and operated by his family; wife Julie and children Natalie and Andrew.

Chef Jimmy’s legacy lives on with homestyle cooking and fresh made food inspired by his Greek upbringing. The food here at Jimmy’s Kouzina is truly special and upon my visit here, I saw that.

I started off my meal here with one of their meze (appetizer) dishes; the Spanakopitas.

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Spanakopitas are a traditional Greek appetizer and Jimmy’s Kouzina does a wonderful version with crispy file dough triangles stuffed with spinach and feta. I loved how they added an Italian twist with having marinara sauce as a dipping sauce. This was the start of a wonderful meal and the best was yet to come.

For our main dishes; we started off with another traditional Greek plate; Chicken Gyros Shawarma.

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All plates come with choices of two sides. Our chosen sides were yellow squash and rice pilaf. These two sides matched perfectly with the tender strips of chicken gyros. Another perfect pairing were the pita bread and tzatziki. Flavorful and fulfilling; it was  agreed feast indeed.

From traditional Greek we went with a fusion dish next via their Santorini Special.

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As I mentioned up front in this post; I’ve always dreamed of going to Santorini and so the name of this dish really caught my eye. The other thing that caught my eye however was all the special ingredients in this dish! It’s penne pasta tossed in olive oil, basil, tomatoes, garlic clove with a touch marinara sauce. It is topped with pieces of Gyro meat and feta and parmesan cheeses. It’s an Italian pasta with a lot of Greek flavors. I liked the incorporation of the Gyro meat in this dish and loved the blend of traditional parmesan cheeses and feta. This dish is very innovative and creative and is wonderful reflection of what Chef Andrew’s dishes are all about.

From the savory to sweet; we were in for more treats this day. Being a big coffee fan; I was ecstatic to see a full menu of various coffee delights. Greek coffee, Freddo Espresso, Affogato and more; my coffee crush was in full swing. My choice for this day was the Mochaccino.

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The Mochaccino is a four layer chocolate cappuccino. With a shot of espresso and chocolate milk; this drink was rich, smooth and simply divine. It was the perfect drink to go along with our chosen dessert; baklava.

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We started our meal here with crispy filo dough treats and we ended our meal here with more crispy filo dough treats. The baklava consisted of crispy layers of filo dough and walnuts in simple syrup. It was drizzled with sweet honey. To the side were some fresh fruit and whipped cream. It was truly a sweet ending to a lovely meal.

Each dish I tried was full of flavor and creative.  It’s rare to find a place with great Greek food in the South Bay and even rarer to find a place with great Greek and Italian food with some Mediterranean flare. Jimmy’s Kouzina is special indeed.

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Jimmy’s Kouzina