Category Archives: Italian food

anima pizza & pasta

inside anima

Anima Pizza & Pasta is a new (opened December 2013) authentic Italian restaurant in the heart of Koreatown (Vermont and 7th). My friend, Julie of LA eats introduced me to this gem in early March and went back with a group of friends a few weeks later.

flora

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bruschette miste (ham, salami, veggies) 8.00

bruschette miste (ham, salami, veggies) 8.00

insalata nicoise 8.50

insalata nicoise 8.50

lobster ravioli 9.00 (daily special, off menu item)

lobster ravioli 9.00 (daily special, off menu item)

capriccoisa pizza (olives, ham, mushrooms, bell peppers) 14.50

capriccoisa pizza (olives, ham, mushrooms, bell peppers) 14.50

gnocchi with ragu

gnocchi with ragu 8.50

spaghetti e polpettine (meatballs) 8.00

spaghetti e polpettine (meatballs) 8.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The food is as delicious as it looks and wonderfully affordable. Where else can you get homemade pasta in LA for under $10 for dinner? Each time, I think I spent about $15 for dinner. The portions are not ginormous so you can share a couple dishes and leave feeling satisfied. They’ve applied for an beer and wine alcohol license so until then, no BYOB but they offer complimentary cucumber water and have non-alcoholic drink options on the menu.

The only challenge about this location is the parking. It’s in the same plaza as Kobawoo and a handful of other eateries. Valet parking (I think it was $2) is available if there’s space, otherwise, street parking is the other option.

If you’re as crazy about Italian food as I am, check out my reviews for Maccheroni Republic and Eatalian Cafe.

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white sangria

Hope you had a lovely weekend spent with your families celebrating Mother’s Day. Like many people (including my parents’ pastor who mentioned it in his sermon) was touched by NBA superstar, Kevin Durant’s MVP acceptance speech. I admit I got choked up hearing him thank his mom. What a great reminder to vocalize our appreciation for our loved ones, moms who are unsung heroes.

I had planned on making lasagna for my mom and pairing it with a nice red wine but because of the warm weather (it’s going to be 100 later this week, here in Los Angeles), white sangria would be the refreshing choice. Scored this $4.99 white wine fruity blend from Trader Joe’s (Pancake Cellars Big Day White 2012) which is a decent wine for this price and great in sangria since it has green apple notes (photo credit). If you’re in the mood for a red sangria, here’s an easy recipe I featured last year. I also recommend this strawberry agua fresca that would go well with a spicy Asian or Mexican dish.

good white ed

 

sangria rr recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


white sangria
(adapted from foodnetwork.com)
serves 6
1 green apple, sliced in wedges
1 lemon, half moon slices
1 lime, half moon slices
1 cup, strawberries, quartered
3 TB sugar
1 bottle (750ml) of dry white wine (chardonnay and riesling are great too)
1 pint of raspberries
2 cups (approx) of soda water

Pour a half bottle of wine in a pitcher and add 3 TB of sugar. Stir and let it sit for 5 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved. Add the fruit except the raspberries and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve with ice cubes, raspberries, and a splash of soda water.

Included in the dinner spread was lasagna and strawberry-basil shortcakes (ready for a magazine photo op) made by my sister (click here for the recipe). Not pictured: galbi and kale, brussel sprout, cranberry salad). I’ll share the bolognese sauce recipe once the weather cools down.

M day collage

 

Dr. O’s Signature Chicken Pasta

My graduate program held an end-of-the-year reception for graduates and family members and it was the job of the 1st and 2nd year grad students that volunteered were suckered into preparing food and decorations for 250. This is dinner mind you. This was my first experience in catering and I LOVED it!

My faculty member, Dr. O, taught us how to make this wonderfully simple and addicting pasta dish that I still make to this day (it’s been 6 years since I first made this). The warm, nutty flavor comes from toasting the pine nuts, which are pricey but a little bit goes a long way.

It’s also great for feeding a crowd and a lunch idea (tastes great at room temperature).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. O’s Chicken Pasta
Serves 6-8
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped into strips
1 jar (8.5 oz) of sun-dried tomatoes, julienned (Trader Joe’s)
1 cup of basil
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
¼ cup pine nuts
1/8 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 package of tortellini pasta
Salt and pepper to season

  1. Boil pasta until al dente.
  2. Drain sun-dried tomatoes and set aside the oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes.
  3. Take stems off basil and chop into thin strips.
  4. Toast pine nuts on a baking sheet in the oven at 250F for about 5 minutes or when they brown (keep a close eye as they can easily burn).
  5. Mix pasta, tomatoes, basil, cheese, chicken, and pine nuts into a large mixing bowl.
  6. Pour 1/8 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup oil from sun-dried tomatoes, and minced garlic onto a pan over medium low heat until it boils. Immediately pour over pasta mixture and mix thoroughly.
  7. Season with salt and pepper accordingly.
  8. Serve and enjoy! Dish can be served at room temperature or warm.

I also recommend the sausage and veggie pasta for a meatier dish. For this Mother’s Day, I’ll be making lasagna for the first time (wish me luck!).

It was a big hit at my office potluck this past January. Check out the delectable spread.

work potluck jan 2014

 

 

maccheroni republic

macrepub #8

creamy heirloom tomato soup w/French lentils

macrepub #2

bigoli della nonna (Venetian style spaghetti with a meat sauce)
macrepub #1

linguine ai frutti di mari

macrepub #5

heavenly: gnocchi with meat and mushroom ragu
macrepub #6

Santa Barbara prawn with asparagus and white wine sauce

macrepub menu

Too many delicious options to choose from…

macrepub #7

Chatting it up w/co-owner Jean-Louis de Mori.

macrepub #9macrepub #3

patio seating

Expanded yet cozy patio (we sat waaaaaay in the back)

My coworkers and I enjoyed not one but two amazing meals at Maccheroni Republic in downtown LA across from Grand Central Market on Broadway. Both times (in June and this week), I was struck by the quality of the food and hospitality of the servers and co-owner (gentleman wearing a hat). I tried the gnocchi which my boss said that it’s better than his grandmother’s version and also ordered their bigoli della nonna (Venetian style spaghetti noodles w/a meat ragu sauce) which was heavenly. I also recommend trying their soups. My second visit, I had their creamy heirloom tomato soup with French lentils and was very impressed (soups are deceivingly simply but complex).

I’ve gushed about this restaurant and mentioned it to many friends to go try it. They don’t take reservations but during our first visit, we arrived when they opened for lunch and we were able to sit inside together (a party of nine). The second time, we sat in the patio area with heat lamps. Also, they recommend ordering family-style (a la Buca di Beppo) for large groups but guests can also order individually (which we did). They don’t have an alcohol license (so no wine menu) but they don’t have a corkage fee so feel free to bring a bottle of wine (like chianti or cabernet) to enjoy with your pasta. Yelpers were mentioning that there’s a good wine store, BUZZ wine beer shop in short walking distance from the restaurant. Another reason to love this place is all their dishes are under $20 which is very affordable for the quality and quantity of their pastas. Hope you check out this eatery and enjoy it as much as I do. Btw, check out my friend, Julie’s blog post on this downtown gem. LA Times acclaimed food writer raves about this place too in a recent glowing review. Mangia!

boston: part 1 (good eats)

I was in Boston for about a week earlier this month for a work conference and came the weekend prior to explore/play. My friends (and talented colleagues) and I hung out and had some amazing food. I have so many pictures to share that I’ll devote another post to the sights of Boston. It was actually my second time here but first time really experiencing it on foot. Here are some food highlights:

Our first night in Boston, we took a short bus ride to this Asian fusion restaurant, Myers+Chang. I’m a bit weary when I hear fusion but it was a much needed pick-me-up after a 5+ hour plane ride. Our favorites were the papaya salad, Indonesian fried rice (below, top right, bottom left), and their dan dan cold noodles in a peanut sauce. Despite being a busy Friday night for the restaurant, we had ice waters (noticeably sweating from the humidity we’re not accustomed to) and seated at the window within 10 minutes.

The highlight was meeting Chef Joanne Chang as she came by and asked us how the food was!!! She even liked MY Instagram pic! I’ve been a big fan ever since she beat Bobby Flay on the Food Network’s  Throwdown with her signature sticky buns (keep reading).

We went to Cafe Luna for Saturday brunch in Cambridge (top left, bottom right). I ordered their lemon ricotta stuffed mascarpone pancakes with lemon curd. Probably one of the best brunch dishes I’ve ever had. These were so light and fluffy, perfect for the hot day with my iced chai latte. Julie had the lobster eggs benedict (bottom right). Doesn’t it look savory and decadent? She was saying how fresh the lobster was in her dish. We were very impressed by this small sidewalk cafe (which was packed on a Saturday morning, as good ones should be). The owner was so friendly and kind to us as we learned he’s originally from OC.

brunch and meyers

Day 2 continued: Flour Bakery in Cambridge. A few blocks from Cafe Luna is one of 3 Flour Bakery locations. The first one opened in 2000 and has become an integral part of the city. Chef Joanne Chang has not only the bakeries, her restaurant, and also 2 cookbooks to her empire :). Despite our stuffed bellies, we HAD to sample their desserts. They’re famous for their sticky sticky buns (below). OMG! Very gooey and a generous amount of pecans. I also had a chunky lola cookie (choco chip oatmeal cookie w/coconut and pecans), which was even better! I found the cookie recipe online and baked them last weekend (foolproof!).

I bought home some goodies from this bakery including coffee beans and their signature granola, both taste so good I wish I bought more. My parents really liked their coffee beans for a smooth taste (says a hint of chocolate, but I can’t tell). What’s interesting about Chef Joanne’s background is she graduated from Harvard w/a dual Bachelors in economics and mathematics to work as a management consultant only to realize her true passion was becoming pastry chef. If you’ve ever baked, you understand the art and science of baking. How cool is that?

flour bakery

We also explored the South Boston as our conference was a short walking distance to this up-and-coming area (NPR just did a story on this area). We found this gem of a restaurant, Sportello, one of Chef Barbara Lynch’s restaurants (she has 8 or 9 eateries and mentored the last Top Chef winner). The concept of the eatery is casual Italian diner with countertops covering most the restaurant and an open kitchen + bakery. It’s so cute and inviting. Most notable was their handmade gnocchi and tagliatelle with bolognese sauce. The simplest dishes are the hardest to pull off and they make it look effortless. Shout out to our server Ethan who was amazing.

sportello

I love exploring new cities because you stumble upon places that locals frequent like Barrington Coffee Roasting Company, a few doors down from Sportello. A simple cafe with high quality coffee. Their iced coffee hit the spot on those hot summer days. We also made room for cannolis at Mike’s Pastry in the North End after a full meal. $3.50 for a pistachio cannoli in a small, always crowded Italian pastry shop (cash only).

mike's pastry

Hope this gives you a little taste (no pun intended) of good eats in Boston. Stay tuned for Boston part 2 later this week. Too much good content to cram into one post.

citrus arugula salad and crostini w/fig butter, brie, and prosciutto

I made this awhile ago and thought you might like to see… citrus arugula salad
serves 3-4 (as starter)
4 cups of arugula
1 orange, slices into half moons
1 ripe avocado, sliced
1/4 cups toasted walnuts
1/4 cup of olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1 TB honey
1/4 tsp salt and pinch of pepper
Throw all ingredients up until the olive oil into a salad bowl. Make the salad dressing and individually dress each portion. Enjoy! crostini-pic3 crostini with fig butter, brie, and prosciutto
serves 4
1 bagette, 1/2 inch slices, on the diagonal
fig butter
brie cheese, 1/4 inch slices
1 package of prosciutto (about 10-12 oz)
1/4 cups olive oil
Preheat oven to 450F. Rub one side of bread slices with oil. Place oil-side down, touching the baking sheets. Spread fig butter on each slice, top with brie, then prosciutto. Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Mmm… Perfect with a glass of riesling. Enjoy!

Pasta for the Parents

Last weekend my sister, Alice, and I tag teamed and made a simple pasta dinner for my parents. They work in the food industry so the last thing they want to do is come home to cook a meal (they meaning my mom =) This dish is great for spring or summer because it highlights the seasonal veggies and makes good use of whatever protein you have on hand. To our surprise, our Korean food loving parents happily ate this up. Even my dad commented on how much he enjoyed the simple flavors. Happy eating! -S

Photo credit to Alice who shot this on her Canon DSLR

Simple Chicken and Veggie Pasta
Serves 6
1 lb of fusilli pasta (or penne)
1 1/4 lb of cooked chicken breast (or thighs), cut into strips (option: use leftover rotisserie chicken or sausage would great too and add some peppery flavors)
1/2 cup of chicken broth
2 TB olive oil (for cooking chicken) + 3 TB olive oil for pasta
6 cloves of garlic, rough chopped
1/4  head of cauliflower, cut into florets (about 1 cup)
1 lb of cherry or grape tomatoes (I used cherry), halved
1  cup of asparagus (frozen or fresh, I used frozen), cut into 2 inch pieces
1/4 cup of fresh basil, chiffonade (cut into thin strips)
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a stockpot, boil water for cook the pasta and cook based on package instructions. Set aside. While water is boiling, preheat oven to 400F for roasting the tomatoes.
2. Cover a baking sheet (or roasting pan) with foil and pour the halved tomatoes into the pan/baking sheet. Pour a little olive oil and gently toss with your hand. Roast for 10 minutes or until bruised. (This step is optional but it emphasizes the wonderful and vibrant flavors of these mini tomatoes–you’ll be amazed! But I realize it’s an extra step).
3. Season uncooked chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and cook on a frying pan, 7 minutes on each side. Side aside for about 5 minutes or until cooled. Cut into strips.
4. Over medium heat, heat a stockpot (same one used for cooking pasta). Once heated, pour  2 TB of olive oil. Add chopped garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add cauliflower and asparagus and saute for 2 minutes or until slightly browned. Turn the heat down to medium low add chicken broth and cover with lid for 5 more minutes until the veggies are cooked (and slightly crunchy) and the broth is reduced by about half. Turn off the heat.
5. To the stockpot, add cooked pasta, tomatoes, remaining olive oil (3 TB) and gently toss and season accordingly with salt and pepper. Plate meals into pasta bowls/plates and top with basil and grated Parmesan cheese.