Monthly Archives: August 2011


Al Vero Girarrosto Toscano in Rome is loud, fun dining in true Italian fashion with an open kitchen and tuxedo clad men running around dropping off dish after beautiful dish.  When you dream of Italian cooking, this restaurant is what you conjure up.  And yet your dreams don’t do justice to what is on offer.

The friendly staff starts you off with a glass of Prosecco and guides you through a classic meal where huge portions are shared over raucous laughter and story telling. 

Assorted peppers in oil, eggplant, zucchini, mushroom pudding, more (and different) servings of zucchini, onions, and other antipasti are brought out.  It’s more than a person can consume.  Marvelous.

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At the ritzy Cavalieri Hotel situated high above Rome is La Pergola, a three Michelin star gem with views of St. Peters, the Vatican and Rome that make one feel they are floating above the venerable city.

Come with a battalion of credit cards and a sense of humor (the water menu, there is a water menu, lists a bottle that is 200 Euro) to eat artistically prepared presentations with refined and elegant service in a beautiful setting either on the terrace or in the beautiful main dining room.

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The adage holds food tastes better when you’re on vacation.  The Monster has been fortunate to travel all over the world and what may be true in Africa may not be the same in Cambodia.  Jose Ignacio and Punta del Este may be neighbors but they are world’s apart (with JI being an altogether better place).  So as The Monster begins his jaunt through Europe he wonders what the food horizons will hold…

La Terazza dell’Eden at the Eden Hotel in Rome is where the gods dine, so trumpets the menu.  It’s a one star Michelin restaurant with a splendid view of the city afforded out the 6th floor windows.  A room done up in shades of grey that exudes class is only further enhanced by the service that is spot on.  It wouldn’t be altogether out of place in the Viceroy save the clientele is more well heeled and the prices more astronomically high.

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In preparation for the Italian food The Monster will soon devour in Italy, the fine people of USAir are kind enough to have their maestro chef whip up a feast worthy of the rats scurrying beneath our feet in the cargo hold.

Oh limp pasta with disgusting sauce reheated in a plastic tray!  How deftly you are paired with a starchy white bun…

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Filed under Reviews, USAir (Philadelphia to Rome)


After the fourteen year, two thousand plus restaurant marathon to eat at every restaurant in Zagat Los Angeles, The Monster needs a little R&R.  So the next few weeks will feature The Monster European style!  First stop, a layover in Philly.  The Monster feels as if he hasn’t eaten in days (it’s been hours).  USAir does not offer any complimentary snacks on board and the pay options are most depressing.  So The Monster pushes old ladies and kids and someone in a wheelchair over to sprint to the nearest oasis offering nourishment (this only happens in his imagination).

And there it is.  Le Petit Bistro in the Philadelphia airport.  Like a siren it’s call beckons The Monster who impulsively points at food behind the glass counter as he feels his body eating itself.  With barely any strength left he realizes how close this call is to his demise (this doesn’t happen either).
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Filed under La Petit Bistro (Philadelphia Airport), Reviews


Latitudes Thai is the type of place on Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica you could pass by all your life and never know it’s there.  On an ugly stretch near body shops, fast food restaurants and stores that advertise they are open to the public (which means the public has no need to ever come), this is a surprisingly good Thai restaurant that won’t make you forget anywhere in Thai Town, or Cholada in Malibu for that matter, but will do nice work in satisfying a craving for tom yum, pad see ew or even on occasion dishes that go beyond the normal Westside delivery Thai.

The inside is nicer than many of the other ethnic locales dotting this neighborhood but everyone knows that’s not saying much.  On this occasion the annoying television in the far wall is playing a nature show on insects preying on other insects.  It is either the coolest or most repulsive show ever to play while The Monster is dining.  He’s going with coolest.  What that spider just did defies explanation.

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With outposts on trendy Robertson and another behind CAA, Cuvee is a fast-casual option for premade meals in the deli case in addition to freshly prepared food from their menu.  With delicious desserts and bottles of wine on offer, Cuvee is an instant picnic in brick and mortar locations.

The hip looking restaurants done up in white marble and boasting al fresco dining offer American standards.  Soups, salads, sandwiches and pastas along with entree portions of fish, chicken and steak dominate the menu.  The portions can be large but with that come higher tariffs.

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Joe’s has long been a standard bearer on Abbot Kinney, serving farmer’s market driven California fare well before boites like Gjenlina or Tasting Kitchen sprung up and stole some of its thunder.

The Monster hasn’t visited in a while due to service that was less than stellar on a previous outing but a return trip is in the offing.  Will the food hold up now that there is competition down the street?
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The Monster wishes he loved Osteria Mamma more than he does.  A few times he’s gone back hoping this trip will be the one where he sees what others love about it.  And yet, each time he comes away shrugging his shoulders and saying “oh well.”  Everything he’s had has been proficient enough.  The service has been accommodating.  But nothing has been of a level where it inspires.

In a charming room near Paramount Studios sits this Italian neighborhood joint with wood framed old timey photos on the walls and a small outdoor patio. The menu is a home styled affair of Venetian dishes that sound filling and comforting.  Nothing strives to be chic or nouveau.    

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Ink.Sack is Michael Voltaggio’s casual sandwich shop a few doors down from the highly anticipated ink restaurant that will be opening shortly. Much revered in the foodie universe, Voltaggio has lines out the door to sample his latest creations. With counter service and only two stand-up tables outside, this is meant to be grab and go food. A short menu on the blackboard details the sandwiches, homemade chips and fruit sides. Grab a drink from the cooler and be on your way.

As long as hype doesn’t get the best of you, ink.sack proves fine enough. The sandwiches are small but tasty, the sides are decent, the ingredients of good quality. But if you come here looking for your mind to be blown (which is what so many heap upon this chef), then you are in for disappointment.

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Filed under Ink.Sack, Reviews