While working at my downtown client, my senior KMF emailed me asking if I’d had any lunch plans and I didn’t since I only planned on eating my usual salad at my desk. Also, a new staff had started with me (LB – she loves food just as much as I do) and she had never met KMF, so it was a perfect time for them to meet and for me to catch up with her. KMF suggested in going somewhere in Little Italy and I immediately suggested Bencotto as I have wanted to go for some time now.
When we got there, it was quite early lunch at 11:35-ish (but in our line of work, it is the standard lunching hour) so the place was empty. We were the first customers and had our choice of seating. Our table inside was right by the window of the beautiful open space. I love the design of the restaurant. Imagine being in a glass box, which is pretty much how the restaurant is set up. There is patio seating as well as a smaller second level with more tables. A bar stretches across the back wall of the restaurant and I noticed a beautiful red slicer which undoubtedly is for slicing all the different cured meats.
The waiter was your typical Italian accent man who was somewhat flirty (considering we were a bunch of gals with no men in sight with us). He handed us the menu along with a smaller menu of specials which included some season dishes. However, I came here with one thing in mind: pasta!
I had read online that they make their pasta in-house daily and during my research, many have commented on the delicious pasta. There are so few places that make their own fresh pasta daily and it truly does taste different. True, there are great artisan pastas that can be bought, but there is nothing that can outshine fresh pasta. The taste, texture, and pull are all different.
Bencotto offers some “pre-made” pasta dishes and also a “build your own” entrees. You get the choice of sauce and cut of pasta (cut, filled, and gnocchi). KMF, LB, and I all ordered the pasta:
KMF ordered the pappardelle (wide cut fettuccine) with the Bencotto sauce (a pink sauce with bacon). This was actually my favorite sauce out of all the 3 dishes. I like the lightness of the pink sauce and of course, everything tastes better with bacon!
LB had the spinach ricotta ravioli in the arrabbiata sauce (spicy marinara). I tried half a ravioli and gosh darn it…I wanted more! The ricotta cheese mixture was well balanced, not overly cheesy and addictive. These raviolis were huge, but one drawback was that it was a little cold. We all thought it would be even better if they were a little hotter.
For myself, I had the tagliatelle with the salsiccia sauce (spicy marinara with sausage). I loved their Italian sausage, they were so delicious with lots of spices and my favorite – fennel. If I could only have the sausage from this dish and put it into the Bencotto sauce, it would be the ultimate dish.
The 3 different combination of pasta dishes we ended up ordering were all delicious and we each loved something from each. The pastas were cooked perfectly and really let the freshness shine. The sauces were wonderful complements to the pasta but I think when it really came down to it, the pasta were the big, bright stars.
While leaving, we saw another table with orders of the salads and some other dishes that looked equally scrumptious. Bencotto, you have my heart formed from something as simple as a flour, egg, and water mixture. When I need my pasta fix or find myself in Little Italy, I will definitely be back here for more.
750 W Fir St.
San Diego, CA 92101
This trip was actually made back in April and while going through my picture files, I realized that it’s been already 5 months since I was there! I can’t believe how time flies! As I didn’t have any spectacular meal during the week, I decided to use an archive folder for this Sunday’s post! Now, CP and I were in the City for 5 days and it was my first time there so naturally I wanted to eat EVERYTHING. Alas, my stomach can only take so much food and that is why I hand picked a few places that I MUST have. Among them was Otto.
I had read about this place forever and I wanted to try it! I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking:
The “ticket” we got while we waited for our table. I loved the train schedule board that indicates when your table’s ready. A much better way for waiting on a table than the vibrating coasters. Once we were seated, I had the hardest time deciding on what to get as I was not starving, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from sampling everything!
For the main course, I ordered the lasagnette with braised pork shoulder in a tomato sauce. The pasta was cooked al dente, there were huge chunks of pork shoulders, and the sauce helped tie everything together.
CP ordered the rigatoni with escarole and sweet Italian sausage, tossed with a olive oil and garlic. However, being the ever perspective person that I was, I knew the minute the plate came to CP’s side, he immediately was disappointed. You see, CP prefers his pasta dishes to come with sauce, usually of the red variety and none other. Thus, I knew this very well and without even asking if he liked it after his first couple of bites, I suggested that we switch cause I really liked his dish. I liked both, but I knew that CP would like mine more so I traded. I didn’t mind since his dish was actually more in tune with my tastes. It was a win-win situation!
To wrap up the evening, we finished off with an order of gelato: hazelnut stracciatella and the coveted OLIVE OIL!!! My word, let me tell you…once I tried olive oil gelato, it has officially become my favorite gelato flavor ever. The nuttiness, sweet, creamy concoction is just frozen perfection!
CP made a good point while on this trip: I don’t ever travel without a food agenda or motivation. Every move I make while traveling tends to circle around food and this is very true. I discover a city not only through its landmarks and history, but their food as well. Food is so deeply ingrain with every culture and given the fact that I grew up with food being always a focal point for celebrations and quality time spent with loved ones…is it such a surprise?
Eat on my friends!
One Fifth Ave.
New York City, NY 10003
I have failed tremendously as a blogger. As such, I hereby consider myself an n00b once again in the food blogging world. Please be nice to me.
A year has come and gone as it always does. However, this year I do not have a big trip to look forward to. For the past 2 years, I have made a summer trip overseas to Europe on both occasions. My first trip was back in the summer of 2008. The trip was my graduation present to myself and also, my last real BIG trip before I started my career (aka being an adult).
In 2008, I made my first trip off of the North American continent since I was like 4 or 5 years old? I don’t even remember the last time I set foot off of this continent because I was so young. On top of that, I was setting out on my 25-day excursion on my OWN. Well…technically, I wasn’t completely by myself since I was joining a tour group.
For 25-days, I let the good people of Contiki decide where I should be, where I would be staying, and where I would be exploring in general. My gosh…25 days of non-stop traveling, carrying my 45 pound luggage on my own (I would get a little help occasionally) and going around foreign countries with little to no knowledge of the native tongue. However, it was one HELL of an adventure!
I don’t even know where to start to describe my very first trip to Europe. So instead, I’ll give a reader’s digest version and let the food pictures document my trip!
During my 2008 trip, I visited the following countries and cities:
- UK – London
- France – Paris, Beaujolais Wine Region, French Riviera, Nice
- Barcelona, Spain
- Italy – Verona, Venice, Pisa, Florence, Rome, Pompeii
- Greece – Corfu, Athens
These were the main cities we had visited during our trek through Europe. There were other cities that we had made stops in between our destinations, but they have since been lost on me. However, as you can see here, I had my wide range of sights, sounds, and cuisines!
Please do keep a few things in mind:
- I had just graduated and left my part-time job about 2 months before the trip and I had spent majority of my savings on the trip.
- My choices were limited at times and thus, I ate a lot of bread and anything to keep me from starving.
- Yes, I did more than just gelato (you will see a lot of it). However, when I was in Italy, it was the end of June and the heat plus humidity was KILLING me. All I wanted during the day time was gelato and ice cold water. That’s all I needed honestly.
For the record: I was well fed and never did I once go hungry for long. And I am sure there’s the question of weight gain. The honest answer is I had no idea. I stayed away from the scale after my trip and the whole summer for that matter because you know what? I was about to start my working life and I was going to have as much fun as I possibly could in those two and half months!
Let the reminiscing begin!!
Beaujolais Wine Region:
The amazing market right off of La Rambla – La Boqueria
Pisa & Florence, Italy:
Corfu & Athens, Greece:
Misc Snacks throughout the trip: