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.

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Hello Yummy Spot!

There’s a new yummy spot in town and they’re called The Yummy Spot! The Yummy Spot Restaurant and Cafe is located in Torrance, California and offers gourmet tacos, pastas, salads and snacks.

Walking in the restaurant is not hard to like because it is so cute and cozy. There are pretty lights hanging above, comfy cute pillows on their benches and neat pop art and signs all aroundl!

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Up front the restaurant gives complimentary chips and salsa. The chips are hot and fresh and best eaten right away. The salsa is fairly mild but can be made spicier upon request. By default, they give the red salsa but they will give green salsa if requested.

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There’s three types of pastas served here. There is a Yummy Pasta with sirloin steak, a Carnitas Bolognese Pasta with braised pork and a Shrimp and Three cheese pasta. The Yummy Pasta and Carnitas Bolognese are mixed in tomato sauce while the Shrimp and Three cheese pasta is with white sauce. All pasta entrees are served with garlic bread and salad.

The salad is simple and is topped with tomatoes and croutons. The dressing is very yummy and definitely gives a lot of definition and flavor to salad. It has a good sweet flavor.

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Out of the pasta entrees, I got to try the Shrimp and Three Cheese Pasta. I am a fan of white sauce and their version of version of white sauce is so creamy. I loved the mix of Fontana cheddar, parmesan and Chili flakes mixed in to.  The side garlic bread was perfect when dipped in the sauce! The bread is buttery, full of garlic and perfectly crispy on the outside.

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Aside from the pasta, I tried their gourmet tacos here as well! I tried the Carnitas Taco, the Vege Potato Taco and the Sesame Beef Taco.

The Carnitas Taco consisted of pork cilantro mayo, crema, lettuce, pickled onion, cilantro and cheddar. There’s a lot of cream in this little taco! The crema helped enhance the already flavorful braised pork! This was one good taco.

The Vege Potato Taco is a winning taco for vegetarians! It has spiced potato, red salsa, guacamole, creme, lettuce and tomato. i was a fan of the thick potato wedges!

The Sesame Beef Taco was my personal favorite! This had beef, sesame seeds, smoky napa cabbage, scallion and fried garlic! At first bite, the flavor of the sesame could be tasted instantly! There was a nice sweet aftertaste enhanced even more by the scallion and fried garlic. The beef is similar to Korean bbq.

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My trip to Yummy Spot ended with one sweet treat via their beignets! Their beignets are so soft and fluffy! They serve these deep fried goodies fresh and hot with lots of powdered sugar. i got it with tropical sauce and strawberries! The tropical sauce is a good, sweet dip and the strawberries are fresh but even without these extras, the beignets alone are heavenly!

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Hello Kitty Foodie found this place to be very yummy and was full of smiles after eating here!

For more smiles, please see my recent Yelp review on The Yummy Spot!

Hello Lido di Manhattan!

Lido di Manhattan is a place that my friends have frequented through the years. It’s been the perfect place to celebrate special occasions such as birthdays. With their menu consisting of various delicious appetizers, flat breads, pastas and sandwiches, their beautiful classy indoor setting and their pretty outdoor garden, it is hard not to like this place.

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They always start off the meals here with complimentary fresh, warm bread with garlic dip, olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip. A crispy outer crust and a soft base, the bread is a wonderful starter.

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For the entrees, my favorite is their homemade potato gnoochi. It consists of pan fried pesto, roasted tomatoes, carmalized onions garnished with crispy sweet potato. It is perfectly creamy, rich, smooth and oh so savory. The gnocchi has melt in your mouth softness. It is simply divine.

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For their drinks, my new favorite consists of their new flavored iced teas. The strawberry lemonade is so refreshing and sweet. Pleasantly fruity, this sweet iced tea matches nicely with their savory pastas.

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Best part of all, they served their flavored iced teas with these cute mini carafes for re-fills
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Lido di Manhattan is a favorite for my friends and I through the years and for very good reason. From their breads to their pasta, everything is delicious. All our visits here, end with a smile.  For more smiles, please see my Yelp reviews on Lido di Manhattan through the years.

Hello Happy Valentine’s Day @ The Cheesecake Factory!

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the happy couples and happy singles in the world! I’m happy for my friends who have boyfriends/husbands who will do the sweetest things for them today. I’m happy knowing my friends are treated like queens. 🙂 One day I’ll be a queen too 😉 but in the meantime while this Hello Kitty waits for her own version of Dear Daniel to come into her life, I celebrate like a queen with my friends with a happy hearty dinner at The Cheesecake Factory

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My friends and I love The Cheesecake Factory! As many of my blog readers may have noticed, I’ve spent many special occasions with friends here. Although, I’ve been here several times, I still get quite overwhelmed with their 26 page menu! Luckily whenever I go here with friends, I have the chance to try several of their savory and sweet eats. For today’s blog post, I’ll share little tidbits of some of those items.

From the small plates and appetizers menu, one of my friends got the Chicken and Mushroom Lettuce Wraps. I’ve always been a fan of lettuce wraps and I was quite curious to see how this dish would be at The Cheesecake Factory. Six pieces of crisp butter lettuce leaves was accompanied with a nice mix of diced chicken, mushrooms, green onion, ginger and garlic. I liked that they used shiitake mushrooms for their lettuce wraps. Shiitake mushrooms tend to give a more rich, hearty flavor to dishes and this is exactly what it did for this plate. There was a little bit too much oyster sauce on this dish though but it still made for a good appetizer/ entree. It was also nice to see that these lettuce wraps are part of The Cheesecake Factory’s skinnylicious menu for items less than 490 calories.

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One of the other items that my friends and I got to try today was their Crusted Chicken Romano dish. This dish has chicken breast coated with romano-parmesan cheese crust. It is paired with pasta topped with tomato sauce. The cheesy pieces of chicken and the long, angel hair noodles made for a nice pair! The noodles were soft and the chicken had good golden brown crisp. The tomato sauce on the pasta was perfectly light and not overwhelming.

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Another tasty dish for tonight was the Shepherd’s Pie. One of my friends always cooks Shepherd’s Pie for some of our dinner parties. When I saw this on The Cheesecake Factory menu, I knew we had to try it. The Cheesecake Factory version has ground beef, mushrooms, carrots, peas, zucchini and onions underneath a mashed potato-parmesan cheese crust. Tender ground beef, wonderfully soft mashed potatoes and tasty dabs of ginger made for a very hearty and saucy dish (and yes it is just as good as my friend’s homemade version.) 😉

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Although, I loved the various savory entrees, I made sure to make room for the sweet treats at the end. This is The Cheesecake Factory after all and is one of the sweetest days of the year 😉 and so cheesecake was a must. We definitely had a lot of cheesecake love for this dinner!

The first cheesecake we tried was Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple. Honestly, I feel like we should have saved this for last because this was the most intense of all the cheesecakes we tried. This cheesecake had swirls of caramel, peanut butter, butterfinger and Reese’s Peanut Butter. The sweet caramel comes out at first bite and then next up is the rich flavors of peanut butter and butterfinger. This one had a very bold sweet kick to it.

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I really liked our second cheesecake! We got the Craig’s Crazy Carrot Cake Cheesecake. It is carrot cake and cheesecake swirled together, topped with cream cheese icing and roasted almonds. It’s a combo of two of my favorite desserts, carrot cake and cheesecake and so it is not surprising that I would enjoy this. The carrot cake was soft and moist and the cheesecake was super creamy. I also liked the touch of almonds in the cream cheese icing.

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Cheesecake love continued with the Wild Blueberry White Chocolate Cheesecake. This one is the original cheesecake with wild blueberries. It is topped with white chocolate mousse. The original cheesecake had a nice smooth texture and the blueberries added good tart touch. Very simple but classically tasty.

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Last but not least for our cheesecake love sweet treats was the Lemon Raspberry Cream Cheesecake. This one consisted of raspberry vanilla cake, creamy lemon cheesecake, raspberry lady fingers and lemon mousse. I really liked the luscious lemon flavor and the slight hint of raspberry. It was from this cheesecake that I realized that my preference for cheesecakes are the fruity based ones versus the chocolate types.

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It was once again love at first bite at The Cheesecake Factory. Their cheesecakes continue to be my foodie crush. It was a very happy hearts day today filled with sweet and hearty eats, heartfelt conversations and lovely times with friends. I hope that all of you too had a very Happy Valentine’s Day full of smiles and love! Thanks for reading my Valentine’s Day blog post. I heart all my blog readers! You all make my heart happy when you take the time to read my happy little blog. ❤️

Hello homemade capellini with meatballs and mushrooms

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Today’s culinary creation is homemade capellini with meatballs and mushrooms.

Ingredients: angel hair pasta, pork meatballs, mushrooms, Alfredo sauce

Capellini or angel hair pasta is one of my favorite types of pasta. I love the long, thin noodles.
I’ve had it many times at restaurants but it was my first time to try making this dish at home.

It was nice to find that angel hair pasta was fairly simple to cook. I had angel hair pasta boil for about four minutes to five minutes until the pasta was tender. I did not want to overcook it.

Up next was sautéing the mushrooms and adding the Alfredo sauce to the sautéed mushrooms. The meatballs were prepared in the oven earlier because this took the longest. The meatballs were added to the Alfredo sauce and mushrooms and allowed to simmer and then the pasta was added.

I love the simplicity of this dish. It is quick yet comes out very nice and tasty. Lessons learned though from my first time making this is that it is obe needs to eat this dish right away or the noodles will absorb the sauce! If you can’t serve or eat this dish right away, it is best to separate the sauce.

Hello Tofu Shirataki Noodles!

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Today’s culinary creation is tofu shirataki noodles!

Ingredients: shirataki noodles, meatballs, hot dog slices, Filipino spaghetti sauce

On a recent trip to a local Asian market, I was introduced to tofu shirataki noodles. They are a traditional Japanese noodles that are made of tofu and yam. After a bit of research, I found out shirataki noodles have several benefits! They are cholesterol free, gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, vegan and high in fiber! They can even help in weight loss. I found these noodles intriguing and interesting and decided to try it out. There were two versions of tofu shirataki noodles that I bought. I got the spaghetti and fettuccine.

The tofu shirataki noodles already come cooked and so all I had to do was add a little boiling water and then mix in the ingredients that I wanted.

For the spaghetti, I added beef meatballs and sweet Filipino spaghetti sauce.

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For the fettuccine, I mixed in hot dog slices and sweet Filipino spaghetti sauce.

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I really liked how these noodles came out when cooked. They were so soft and tender. They tasted great too! I could not tell at all that I was eating something that was low in fat and low in calories! I couldn’t even tell that they are low in carbs! It’s as delicious as regular pasta. I am a fan! It’s healthy and yummy! Yay! I really liked the tofu shirataki noodles and can see myself using these noodles for other homemade creations!

Hello dineLA @ Il Fornaio!

I always love when dineLA comes around because it’s a great chance to try out some of the best restaurants around town. This year I decided to go try an old favorite place that I haven’t tried in years. Il Foranaio.

At Il Fornaio, they start the meal with some complimentary bread: Ciabatta, Pane Olive (Olive Bread) and Pane Noci (Whole Wheat Walnut Bread) which you can dip in olive oil. After that is the antipasti and I chose the bruschetta al pomodoro. The complimentary bread and bruschetta were carbs at it’s finest. They were all very flavorful.

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For the secondi, I chose the Conchiglie al Pollo with shell pasta, chicken breast, broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, pecorino cheese, roasted garlic and trebbiano wine. The soft shell pasta, the tender chicken brest and the flavorful sun-dried tomatoes, cheese and garlic toppings made for a great second entry!

The last course or the dolci was dessert! I chose Zabaione alla Gritti. It is zabaione with fresh berries, bellini sorbet, fresh whipped cream and topped with a cherry. I loved the presentation of this dish, with the bellini at the bottom, the whipped cream and berries on top and the addition of the Italian biscuit.

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For more smiles, please see my recent yelp review on Il Fornaio.