Saturday, June 28, 2014

Biscuits and Jam

One of the custards we were really looking forward to this month was biscuits & jam. We finally got to try it on the last Friday of the month!

M's thoughts:
I wasn't sure what to expect here, maybe some cookie crumbles and jam mixed in with the custard. That's pretty much what this was, but I didn't like it that much. It was vanilla flavored custard - a bit salty - mixed with a fruit flavored jam and a couple bits of biscuit crumble (not many). For the most part, it was okay, but it just wasn't one of my favorites, which is odd because I like when they mix different textures and fruit into custard. Can't explain it much more than that, but I wouldn't get it again.

A's thoughts:
This was an odd flavor for me. I didn't know what to expect. Was the ice cream going to be biscuit flavored or just biscuit infused? I honestly didn't know. In the end, it was sort of vanilla-y, but it had an odd saltiness to it that suggested biscuit batter, but... I don't know. There biscuit pieces in it which were nice, but the jam pieces I had were almost like pieces of macerated fruit. This flavor was very eh for me.

Biscuits & Jam
A's rating: 6/10
M's rating: 6.5/10

Sunday, June 22, 2014


At least once a month, A or I (or both of us) remark about how much we wish Farmers Rotisseria was still around. It was our favorite rotisserie chicken ever, and we've never had any chicken as juicy and flavorful as theirs. Not too long after Farmers closed, we lost Peter's Since 1969 as well. Why do rotisserie chicken spots keep closing?

About a month ago, we finally got a new take on rotisserie chicken in Hell's Kitchen - Poulette - which describes their spot as "very French rotisserie." We were excited. They were a small shop that appeared to have adopted the fast casual model (we need more of that here), and we were hopeful about their take on rotisserie chicken.

We were with my parents after an afternoon of summer solstice yoga so we decided to go for a healthy dinner at Poulette. It also meant we could visit for the World Cup challenge for France! We all split a whole rotisserie chicken meal, which came with four sides. 

The rotisserie chicken was seasoned with herbs de provence, a blend we have at home and love. The flavor was nice, but the chicken was on the drier side, especially the white meat. It always seems to be such a challenge for rotisserie chicken places to get the timing right, and most of the time they end up on the drier side (except for Farmers).

For our sides, we got fries, herb roasted red potatoes, string beans and mushrooms, and brussels sprouts with marcona almonds. 

The fries were crispy and very good. The roasted potatoes were fine, but not that flavorful, and the same is true of the string beans and mushrooms. I could probably make both of those at home. The brussels sprouts with almonds were much more interesting and probably our favorite side along with the fries. They were seasoned with mustard seeds and they were roasted for so long that they really picked up the flavor as they got tender.

Our first visit to Poulette was pretty good. It's a reasonable price, the chicken is okay (although a bit dry), and the sides have a nice variety. It's not Farmers (we're starting to wonder if anything ever will be), but we would probably go back and try it again.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Restaurant Nippon

Last night we met up with some family visiting for the weekend and they picked out a Japanese restaurant for dinner, Restaurant Nippon. Not only was it nice to see family, but we got to check off another country for our World Cup challenge.

Apparently what Restaurant Nippon (and their sister restaurant Soba Nippon) is known for is their soba, which is made from buckwheat they grow on their own farm in Canada with the original soba seeds imported from Hokkaido. According to the menu, they make the soba noodles daily. Knowing that, we both figured we would probably order some form of soba noodles!

I wasn't feeling that hungry when we were ordering (probably a combination of too many Mango Mango gummies while watching the World Cup, just finishing a crosstown bike ride, and some sticker shock), so I got an appetizer size of their soba salad with chicken ($15). The full size was about $7 more, and although I didn't know exactly how much bigger it would be, I didn't think I would need to get the large entree size.

I liked the soba noodles but, other than the texture which was nice and firm, they didn't seem all that different from much other soba. The dressing was good but I couldn't pinpoint what was in it. The chicken was fine, but not really anything notable. It's a good summer dish, since it's healthy and refreshing. The quality of the salad was good, but if we had good ingredients like this, it seems like it would be really easy to make this at home. 

A also got the soba salad but he got the entree size and he got salmon instead of chicken, so his came out to $24. Makes sense that salmon would cost more, and he definitely had more greens and some more soba (probably 25-50% more).

A also thought his salad was good. He liked the mild sesame flavor and tartness in the dressing, the buttery nature of the salmon, and the slight sweetness from the dried seaweed. But similar to what I thought, A was also thinking while eating this that we could make this at home if we had the right stuff.

Overall, the food was well-prepared and tasty, the service was good, and some of the other hot dishes that we saw while there also looked appealing. But, although the food was good, we probably won't go back to Restaurant Nippon unless someone else picks it, because it's just really pricey for the amount of food you get. By the time we got home, we were both feeling hungry so we baked some mini samosas from the freezer. After dropping $50 on dinner, we shouldn't have been that hungry when we got home. But if price isn't an issue and you have a light appetite, then it would be a good spot since the soba salads were very light, fresh and tasty.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Thirsty Koala

There's a place in Astoria called The Thirsty Koala. How could we not go to a place with a name like The Thirsty Koala? That sounded perfect for the Australian stop on our World Cup eating challenge, and I was already wearing a koala shirt (yes, I have one). After a stop for some Chilean food, we stopped in to celebrate the Socceroos (whose name we also love) and watch some World Cup games. (This was last weekend so the Socceroos were still in it, but they sadly got eliminated today.)

Since we weren't that hungry after our Chilean stop, we decided to split a burger and a side, and order some beers. A got the Flying Dog IPA and I went with The Thirsty Koala Light Lager. I was all in on koalas for this meal.

For our side, we got the smashed mint peas ($3.50), which kind of hilariously were listed on the receipt as "mushy peas."

These were tasty, although we could probably make them at home. They taste like peas that were cooked, then mashed around in a little bit of butter, and mixed with some chopped up mint. It was nice to have some vegetables on the side of our meal and they were good, but I don't think we would order these next time after seeing how delicious the potatoes and other roasted vegetables looked.

For our main, we split the Burger with the Lot ($14.50). 

This was a 100% grass-fed beef burger with lettuce, tomato, red onion, bacon, grilled pineapple, beet slaw, caramelized onions, and a fried egg. You could also get the burger in chicken or kangaroo. Although a kangaroo burger would be very Australian, we love kangaroos and felt really bad thinking about eating one, so we stuck with beef (it's also $2 extra). The burger came with a generous portion of tasty fries (everything that came out of the kitchen was a generous portion, it seemed), and sides of ketchup and a mild sweet chili sauce.

During Week 10 of the 52 week challenge, I learned a lot about Aussie burgers, as a bunch of people chose to do that for the Australian challenge. I wasn't sure what made their burgers unique, but soon learned from the Australians there that they often put beets, eggs and pineapples on their burger. I'd never had a burger like that before, but after we tried this one, we agreed that it's a winning combination. Why don't we do that?

This was a really messy but delicious burger. Juices from the pineapple and beets combined with the egg yolk made the whole thing extremely runny, and the burger was huge and hard to eat, but it tasted so good. We weren't sure how well the beets would mix in, but after this burger we might try to put beets on every burger from now on. If you're in the mood for a burger, we'd definitely recommend this.

The Thirsty Koala had so many interesting things on the menu and everything that came out of the kitchen looked delicious. The staff was incredibly nice, friendly, and just the right amount of attentive. We would definitely go back here for our WorldEats visit!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Texas BBQ Fiesta

I haven't tried a new seasonal salad at Just Salad for some time, but today it felt like 88 degrees and a salad was the perfect lunch idea. Of the 4 seasonal salads on the summer menu, 2 have fruit (which I'm not that into mixing into savory salads) and I already tried the Beach Bound. That left the Texas BBQ Fiesta, which I was more than happy to try.

The Texas BBQ Fiesta salad comes with a romaine-red cabbage mix (they didn't include the red cabbage, but I'm happy with that omission), BBQ rubbed chicken, black bean and corn mix, green peppers, tortilla strips (substituted those out), and pepper jack cheese. I substituted red onions for the tortilla strips, and since I brought my bowl, I got to add 2 more ingredients so I picked tomatoes and chickpeas. I couldn't remember what the recommended dressing was at the time (it's buttermilk ranch), so I went with the horseradish chive I've been getting lately. 

This salad was okay, but I've had better salads there. I've narrowed it down to 2 main reasons. One, I was expecting a lot of seasoning from the chicken since it was "BBQ rubbed," but I didn't taste much in the way of spices or rubs at all. The other was my fault, as I think the horseradish chive wasn't a good match for the salad ingredients this time. It just seemed to clash with the ingredients and overpower whatever flavor was there from the chicken and vegetables. I imagine this would be better with my old favorite, the sherry shallot vinaigrette, or the recommended ranch.

While not my favorite salad combo there, I'm glad I tried it. I was really craving fresh vegetables today so it hit the spot.

San Antonio Bakery

In our continuing quest to eat food from every World Cup 2014 country, we made stop # 3 at San Antonio Bakery for Chilean food. For our World Cup challenge in 2010, M went to Barros Luco which is now closed, and we both went to Pomaire which, sadly, is also now closed. We're hoping that the closing of Chilean restaurants after our visits ends there since we really don't want to be known as Chilean restaurant killers...

San Antonio Bakery is known as the "Home of the Completo" so we knew we had to get at least one to share. After seeing pictures, we decided that it would be a much better idea to each get our own since sharing, while caring, wasn't going to happen. We did also share a Chacarero Pollo as well.

The food comes with a large bowl of their hot sauce which tasted similar to both Tabasco and Cholula sauces, but it had fresh onions and cilantro mixed in. The hot sauce was really good. There was a definite vinegar hit like with Tabasco, but it had a slightly sweeter flavor like Cholula. It also wasn't too hot unless you got a chili pepper seed, but it certainly had a great flavor.

The Completo is described as "The Chilean Hot Dog topped with sauerkraut (chucrut), tomatoes, avocado, and mayonnaise, served in our own freshly-baked bun."

I thought the bun was the weakest part of the dish which was surprising since they're a bakery. It was drier than a regular hot dog bun, and they must have toasted it a bit because it was crisp and a bit crumbly. M was also expecting a softer hot dog bun and was surprised to find it drier, but thought maybe that's how it was supposed to be. The hot dog was just a hot dog to me. I don't know if they do anything different in making it, but I couldn't find anything special.

The other toppings, however, were amazing. The sauerkraut is very mild in comparison to German or Polish versions, but it offered a bit of moisture and a little tang. The cabbage also wasn't reduced to mostly mush so there was a little bit of crunch to them as well. The avocado is mashed up similar to guacamole, but it wasn't seasoned so the flavor of the avocado really came out well. The mayo was a really nice accent as it gave the hot dog a little richness.

Overall we really liked the Completo and would definitely get one again.

The Chacarero Pollo is described as a "sandwich with sliced grilled chicken breast, tomatoes, and string beans in a freshly-baked bun."

In contrast to the Completo, I enjoyed this bun. Perhaps it's my own idiosyncrasy of expecting a softer bun for hot dogs and slightly toastier bread for sandwiches, but who knows. M wanted to get the chacarero because it came with the string beans, and I was very happy she made that decision. They're such an interesting addition because of the freshness, crispness, and sweetness they add to the sandwich. The tomatoes add water, and the grilled chicken is, well, grilled chicken (but it wasn't dry). But as simple as these ingredients seem, the sandwich was amazing. It was fresh and bright, and only because of our adding of the hot sauce did it make any sort of mess. 

The chacarero was what M always got at Barros Luco and it was one of her favorite sandwiches ever, so at least there's somewhere else we can still go to get one.

We were really happy with our choice of coming out to San Antonio Bakery for our Chilean meal for the World Cup (it also might be the only option left...), and we really want to go back out and try the rest of their menu as everything that came out for the other tables looked and smelled really, really good.

San Antonio Bakery is located at 3620 Astoria Blvd in Astoria, Queens.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Turntable Mad for Chicken

On the first Saturday of the World Cup, we only had a small window of time to fit in a World Cup lunch. We thought it best to go someplace nearby and decided Korea would be the easiest country to check off the list. We're big fans of Korean fried chicken and have tried a number of places (even if we've only ever written about one Bonchon visit). Not wanting to go back to Bonchon yet again (as tasty as it is), we decided to try a place we'd heard good things about - Turntable Mad for Chicken - and catch part of the Uruguay-Costa Rica game.

We arrived before the game started and were very happy to see a big projection screen set up by the window, which would afford us a great view of the game. We also got to listen to a group of Korean girls try and figure out who was playing. It started with them looking at the Uruguayan squad and saying that they were certainly Eastern European but not Russian. They then looked at the Costa Rican team and said that they looked Turkish. We were off to a wonderful start.

The flags were brought out next, and the Eastern European Not Russian Uruguay became Greece. So now we were looking at Greece playing Turkey, but at least Greece was in this World Cup. Somehow they found the country abbreviations, and they realized that it was indeed Uruguay, but they thought they were playing Croatia. Finally one of them looked up the actual game and they settled on Uruguay vs Costa Rica. Yay! Sometimes we forget that not everyone is as obsessed with soccer and the World Cup as we are.

We were there for the chicken, so that's what we got. We also got a side of daikon radish ($4), since we didn't know the chicken came with it and we really like eating daikon with Korean fried chicken. It came first like an appetizer, so it gave us something to snack on as we waited for our chicken to be fried up.

M prefers boneless breast pieces of chicken instead of dealing with bones, so she got a small order of that (6 pieces for $9.95), half in soy garlic flavor and half in hot & spicy flavor.

The spicy pieces tasted like they had been drenched in a gochujang or chili pepper based sauce, but they were a bearable level of heat (if you like spicy). We've definitely had spicier fried chicken at other places but M likes a medium level of heat where you can still taste the flavor of the spice and it's not just hot. The soy garlic was really good too. Both were crispy fried, but still easy to bite and not dry.

A likes wings a lot. He got the medium (12 pieces for $17.95), also half soy garlic and half spicy.

A often gets just the soy garlic since he likes the flavor, but it had been a while since he got the spicy from any other Korean fried chicken joint so he opted for the half and half. The spicy had actual flavor aside from the heat which is always nice. The heat itself isn't the type of OMG burn like those stupid ultra hot wings you can get from other wing joints, but it was a good long, slow burn that just kept going. The soy garlic wings were good, but they were very similar to most other soy garlic wings he had gotten at other places. The really nice thing about these wings, though, was that the skin was really nicely crisped but not overly bready.

As the first half of the game ended and we were preparing to leave, we saw another table get this beer thing.

Apparently it's called a beer tower (and costs almost $50!). At first A was trying to figure out how they were using the dry ice to cool the beer since the bubbling would ruin the beer itself. It didn't take long for him to realize that it was cooled water bubbling around the center cylinder of beer. There were apparently neon lights somewhere in there as well. It looked really interesting.

We enjoyed our fried chicken lunch at Turntable Mad for Chicken and would definitely go back!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Week 22 - Turkish

We've never been to Turkey, but we're fairly familiar with Turkish food (or at least what's presented as Turkish food from maybe 8 or 10 different restaurants). There's so many things that we love - the mercimek kofte that made our top 10 lists one year, chicken adana, (meat) kofte, lots of salads. I knew that for Week 22 and its Turkish theme that I wanted to attempt mercimek kofte again (for the third time, as I still wasn't satisfied), but I wasn't sure what else to make. The trio of vegetarian salads that we ended up eating came together somewhat randomly, but were a great mix of flavors for dinner.

Each of these dishes feels like it deserves a post of its own, so that's what I'll do. For our Turkish night, we ate:

- Chickpea salad (nohut salatasi)
- Red lentil patties (mercimek köftesi)

Our favorite was probably the beet salad. We would definitely make that again, and we have lots more beets!

Week 21 - Beer

The theme for Week 21 of the challenge was beer. Although I picked out a recipe for this soon after the challenge theme was announced, I was a few weeks late in doing the beer challenge because... well, life happened. I was on antibiotics for a while which meant staying away from alcohol, so beer week wasn't going to go very well since I like tasting while I cook. So we put it off, but it was definitely worth the wait. 

I decided to adapt this recipe for spicy beer braised lime chicken enchiladas from How Sweet It Is, and it was delicious!


I made some substitutions to the recipe ingredients to try to use up what we had in the house and also to add onions. The notable changes (the ones that were not just varying amounts) were to (a) swap corn tortillas in for flour, (b) use a shredded taco cheese blend instead of freshly grating monterey jack, (c) use a can of diced tomatoes instead of tomato sauce, and (d) add an onion.

There were a lot of ingredients in this recipe. For the enchilada sauce, you needed:

- 2 tbsp olive oil ($0.40)
- 2 tbsp flour ($0.10)
- 12 oz bottle of beer (I used Trader Jose light, which was basically Corona) ($1.09)
- 14.5 oz can of petite diced tomatoes ($0.85)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste ($0.90)
- 1 tbsp chili powder ($0.50)
- 1 tbsp chipotle chili powder ($1.25)
- 1 tsp cumin ($0.10)
- 1 tsp onion powder ($0.10)
- 1 tsp garlic powder ($0.10)
- 1 tsp brown sugar ($0.10)
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika ($0)
- pinch of cayenne pepper ($0.05)
- salt and pepper to taste ($0.10)

For the rest of the recipe, you needed:

- 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts ($2.25)
- 1 tsp lime zest (0.05)
- 1 tsp brown sugar ($0.10)
- 1 tsp ground cumin ($0.10)
- 1 tsp smoked paprika ($0)
- 1 tsp salt ($0.05)
- 1 tsp pepper ($0.05)
- 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder ($0.42)
- 1/2 tsp onion powder ($0.05)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder ($0.05)
- 2 tbsp olive oil ($0.40)
- 1 large yellow onion ($0.60)
- 8-10 oz of beer (almost 1 full bottle, same Trader Jose light) ($1.09)
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced ($0.28)
- juice of 1 lime ($0.15)
- 6 oz shredded taco cheese blend ($1.50)
- 8 corn tortillas ($0.50)

It was a long list of ingredients, and the total came out to approximately $13.28 ($5.64 for the sauce and $7.64 for everything else). It wasn't cheap but when you get enchiladas at a restaurant, they can be the same price and only give you 2 enchiladas (plus sides, but the sides don't cost them much). 


1. Combine lime zest, brown sugar, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder together in small bowl.

2. Slice chicken into smaller tenders (if desired). Rub the spice mix from #1 on all sides of the chicken pieces.

3. Add olive oil to large skillet over high heat. Once oil is hot, add chicken tenders and brown the chicken, about 2 minutes on each side. (A splatter screen would be a good idea.)

4. Remove browned chicken pieces and set aside.

5. Slice onions into thin slices. Add onions to skillet (no extra oil, don't clean out the pan). Allow onions to soften.

6. Add chicken back into the pan.

7. Add the beer, reduce heat to medium, cover. Cook for 20 minutes until chicken is tender. (At this point, the pan was looking a lot like the carbonnade and that made me very, very happy.)

8. While chicken and onions are braising, start the enchilada sauce. Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium heat and then whisk in flour.

9. After flour turns golden brown, add all the other ingredients for the enchilada sauce and stir together. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for at least 5 minutes.

10. When braising is done, use forks to shred the chicken and mix everything together. If there's no beer left in the skillet, use a little water to deglaze it before stirring.

11. Turn off heat. Add 1/3 cup of enchilada sauce, jalapeño peppers, lime juice, and about 1/2 cup of cheese. Mix together.

12. Spray 9x13 inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Add 1/3 cup of enchilada sauce to coat the bottom of the pan.

13. Add a spoonful of filling to each corn tortilla. Wrap each enchilada tightly and put in the baking dish.

14. Add the rest of the enchilada sauce and cheese.

15. Bake for 20-30 minutes (until cheese is golden and melted) at 350 degrees.


We really liked these enchiladas. The first thing we tasted was the sauce on its own, and it really had a kick to it, thanks to all that chipotle chili powder. It was almost a little too strong. But then when I mixed it up with the chicken, onions, and cheese, it was completely different and so much more balanced. Next time, I think I might use a little less chipotle chili pepper to allow the other ingredients to shine more, but it was still good the way it was. A thought it might need a touch more cheese on top as well, but that was the only other minor critique he had.

This was a good recipe on its own, but I'm really happy with my addition of an onion and replacement of tomato sauce with diced tomatoes. Not only did it add some more vegetables to the dish, but it gave it even more body and fullness. I would definitely make these enchiladas again. They were great!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Trattoria Trecolori

As we ate our Italian meal last night to kick off our World Cup challenge, we started thinking about the Italian meal that we had during the last World Cup challenge. It's kind of funny that this time we started with Italy, but last time Italy was the very last meal that we had for the challenge, a dinner on the eve of the World Cup final. That time we visited Trattoria Trecolori, a spot in Midtown that has good food and reasonable prices, and is very popular with the pre-theater crowd. 

We started off with some complimentary bread and butter.

And also some free olives.

We split an appetizer - a caprese salad - which had excellent mozzarella alongside tomatoes, basil, and balsamic glaze.

For my entree, I got the lasagna of the day, which was lasagna with sweet Italian sausage ragu. It wasn't remotely healthy, but it was delicious. The portion size was also very reasonable, enough to fill you up but not so much that you felt too stuffed like you'd have to roll home.

A got the gnocchi of the day, which was spinach gnocchi with sweet Italian sausage (clearly we were in the mood for sweet Italian sausage), sundried tomato, and a Gorgonzola cheese sauce. Gnocchi, especially when covered in a cheese sauce, is heavy. But A really likes gnocchi, and he was very happy with the melding of saltiness from the sausage and cheese and sweetness from the sundried tomatoes.

To finish off the meal, we ordered a tiramisu, which is one of A's favorite desserts. A enjoyed it as expected. It was a really good offering with not too much cream on top and with delicately soaked ladyfingers. M isn't a huge fan of tiramisu, but she liked this one more than most.

We had a really nice and relaxing meal at Trattoria Trecolori and would go back (even if we haven't gotten around to it in the past 4 years). If you're looking for Italian in the Theater District, we would definitely recommend it. It's always nice looking back at old pictures and reliving old memories (even if you don't remember every detail and taste). That's one thing I really love about doing the World Cup eating challenge for a second time. We get to enjoy this World Cup and relive the last one too!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Super Simple Asian Chicken Salad

Most days I eat pretty unimaginative lunches. Lots of leftovers and frozen meals. Sometimes I'll microwave a burger or bake some fish sticks and put them on top of salad. Nothing very exciting. I usually save all of the good stuff for dinner meal planning.

But every so often, inspiration strikes, and sometimes it's born out of necessity. Today, we had half a bag of chopped romaine and half a bunch of cilantro to use up. The perfect lunch came to mind - an Asian chicken salad. I could make it Vietnamese-inspired and finally open the fish sauce that had been sitting in the cabinet for weeks.

Simple and healthy salad

I didn't follow an exact recipe, but mixed together ingredients I remembered seeing in lots of Vietnamese-style recipes. The salad doesn't look very exciting mixed up in the bowl, but it was really tasty. Other than washing some extremely dirty cilantro, it was also really quick and simple.

To make the salad, I used:

- 1/2 bag of chopped romaine ($1)
- 1/2 bunch of cilantro, leaves only, not chopped ($0.50)
- 1 can of chicken, microwaved for 30 seconds ($2)

The dressing consisted of (all approximate amounts):

- 1.5 tbsp fish sauce ($0.10)
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar ($0.05)
- 1 tsp sugar ($0.05)
- red pepper flakes to taste ($0.02)
- garlic powder to taste ($0.05)

Less than $4 and very healthy.

Dressing ingredients

I really liked the salad and would definitely make it again. It got a little salty near the bottom of the bowl where the dressing was more concentrated, but that's easy to solve by just using a little less dressing. Otherwise, this was a great lunch!

Don Antonio by Starita

To kick off our World Cup eating challenge this summer, we started with Italy and some Neapolitan pizza from Don Antonio by Starita. We've been there a number of times but have never finished writing up our post about their delicious pizzas. Might as well write about all our visits now!

For our World Cup eats visit, we decided to get two pizzas. We have gotten the signature pizza there - the Montanara Starita - on every visit, but also wanted to try something new this time.

The Montanara Starita ($13) is one of the best pizzas we've ever eaten, and it's no wonder why it's their specialty. They take lightly fried pizza dough, add their signature Starita tomato sauce, imported smoked buffalo mozzarella and basil, and finish the whole thing in their wood-fired oven.

It is truly an amazing pizza. The crust is a nice mix of crispy and soft, the tomato sauce is rich with tomato and herb flavors, and that imported smoked mozzarella is absurdly tasty. The pizza is so balanced as there is a perfect amount of smoked mozzarella to pair with the tangy and sweet tomato sauce so as to not overpower it. As good as the other food there is, a bite of this pizza makes you forget about everything else you're eating. The only thing we can think of that would make it better is more basil. But that is such a minor suggestion.

On this visit, we also ordered the margherita pizza with sausage and mushrooms ($17). Every margherita pizza includes tomato sauce, homemade mozzarella, pecorino romano, basil, and extra virgin olive oil, and our variation topped that with a mix of sausage crumbles and mushrooms.

The pizza was a little on the salty side from the sausage and mushrooms, but it was still quite good. The crust is much doughier and softer than the fried Montanara, but M prefers softer crust so she doesn't mind at all. A prefers the bite of the fried dough, but he liked this pizza. This was a really good pizza and we're glad we tried it. But the Montanara Starita was still better.

On previous visits, we've tried Italian beers, like this pink pepper Italian pale ale ($16) made by Almond 22 Brewery and imported from Italy. You really tasted the peppercorns, but it wasn't so full of peppercorn flavor that you didn't taste the beer.

We've also gotten a bunch of appetizers during our visits, all of which were fried.

The potato croquet ($2.50) had lightly fried potato with mozzarella, bread crumbs and herbs. A little heavy, but tasty.

The arancini ($2.50) was your classic Italian rice ball, also stuffed with Italian ham. We really like rice balls, and this was a good version.

You can also get fried dough puffs as appetizers. The dough here is from the same mix and fried up in similar fashion as the Montanara Starita that we love so much. We've tried the Montanarine ($1), which tops the dough puff with their signature Starita tomato sauce and pecorino romano, and the Montanarine Genovese ($2), which adds onion, pancetta and pecorino romano. These were both tasty appetizers since that dough is excellent. A liked the classic Montanarine better, while M preferred the Genovese.

On past visits, we often just ordered the Montanara Starita with some appetizers and salads. We've tried two of their salads. This one is the Rustica ($10), which has spring mix, prosciutto di parma, artichokes, gaeta olives, lemon, and extra virgin olive oil. It's not the type of salad M usually goes for, since it has marinated artichokes and olives and prosciutto, but we wanted to try something different that day that didn't have fruit (like a lot of the salads). When you ate all of the ingredients together, everything was very complementary.

And this one is the Pontina ($7), which tops spring mix with homemade mozzarella, grape tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil. This one is nice and light, but we could probably make this at home if we had the right mozzarella. It's not that hard to put together.

The one thing we've never tried at Don Antonio is dessert. We're not even sure what they offer there. We're usually just so happily full and content of fried pizza that dessert doesn't even cross our minds.

We've always had fantastic food at Don Antonio, no matter what we order, and it's definitely our favorite pizza place in Hell's Kitchen and Midtown. It was a great spot to start our World Cup 2014 journey!