Sunday, September 07, 2014

A Visit to Tazza Kitchen

While it's been around for a while and it's garnered lovely reviews, we had never been out to Tazza Kitchen. Quite frankly, we just don't get out to the Short Pump area very often. And when we do, we almost always regret the traffic and the hassle and the mind-boggling layout of some of the parking lots. We don't need the stress.

Well, last week we were both there and we decided to give TK a try. We went early since we had no reservations. A good thing, too. The place filled up as the evening progressed. It seemed to attract hen parties. There were three in our seating area alone. Later on we saw some cock parties strutting in as well.

Tazza Kitchen has a decent layout. In the front there are small casual tables and a fire place when it's chilly. The bar offers a view of the wood-fired oven and a glimpse into the kitchen. The outdoor patio is extensive with another small bar thrown into the mix. Appealing to both hens and cocks alike.

Tazza Kitchen
Next time we want to enjoy the patio
We ordered a Barbera to enjoy with dinner. The wine list is an eclectic mix, but everyone should find something to satisfy.

Bricco del Conte Barbera
A very nice Italian red
To eat we shared the Meatballs - pork, beef, and veal served with Parmesan, tomato sauce, and "brick oven bread." Neither one of us liked the dish. The tomato sauce had a charred, almost burnt taste. It wasn't that it was bad; it was not to our taste.  I did like the bread, soft and kissed by the wood-fired oven then drizzled with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkled with salt. Here is where our waiter excelled. He asked us about our meal. We told him it did not suit our taste and let him know why after he probed a bit. He apologized and offered us something else. We said we didn't need another starter; we were going to order entrees, and we were fine.

While the meatballs were not to our liking, the service was stellar
We both ordered the Steak and Peppercorn Potatoes - a grilled flat-iron steak with smashed fingerlings, salsa verde, and a sunny-side up egg. This was a very tasty dish. The steak was cooked perfectly, and the egg paired very well. The salsa verde added a little twist, but did not take away from the main attractions.

Steak and Peppercorn Potatoes
A wonderful entree cooked and seasoned perfectly
While we were eating a manager came over to ask about our meal and the meatballs. We repeated our experience with the meatballs and expressed high praise for the steak dish. Kudos to both the waiter and the manager since they took the meatballs off of our tab.

If we are in the Short Pump area, we would definitely consider eating at Tazza Kitchen again. Let's hope the weather cooperates with some mild air so we can experience the patio and sample the pizzas at a future date.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

South of the James Market

Time for another round of South of the James Market photos.


Romano Beans
Romano Beans
Red Pepper
Beautiful Red Pepper
Market Bouquet
Colorful Flowers
Zucchini Blossoms
Squash Blossoms
Eat a Peach
Banh Mi Sandwich
Banh Mi Sandwich from The Hungry Turtle food truck
Market Regulars
Two Market Regulars

Looking forward to seeing you at the market!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Brunch at Pomegranate

I now do a bit of volunteer work on Sundays for the VMFA. Whereas I once praised brunch boites for opening before 11 AM, I now seek out places that remain open after 2 PM. Pomegranate is open until 3 PM. Well done! And most brunch goers had cleared out by the time we arrived.

The first order of business, a '36 Picador cocktail with Espolon tequila, Solerno, and lime juice. A bit more lime than I needed since it hid the taste of the tequila, but probably what most brumchers would want.

'36 Picador

For the eats portion I ordered the Quail and Pancakes. The quail purported to be quail confit and then buttermilk fried. I've had duck confit many times and the quail did not seem to have gone through this process; however, I have never had quail confit. It was nicely fried. And the ricotta pancakes with the maple syrup really hit the spot. A perfect pancake to syrup ratio. Not too dry; not drowning.

Quail and Pancakes

Hubby took the eclectic path with the Goat Ravioli with ricotta and spinach and a sage butter. When it first arrived he was disappointed in the size. Too small. After the first bite he realized why. The ravioli was so rich that it would have been difficult to eat any more.

Goat Ravioli with Spinach

We indulged in an irresistible side: a duck fat biscuit. Yummy, although I was surprised that the biscuit did not come with some kind of condiment - jam, jelly, butter, etc.

Duck Fat Biscuit

Brunch was enjoyable. I would consider going again, but I prefer the dinner menu.

Monday, September 01, 2014

New Restaurants Need to Step Up Their Game

Yesterday we decided to grab a late lunch/brunch at the Southerly. We were efficiently seated. At least half a dozen folks on the wait staff passed by us. We waited. Another couple was seated at the next table. We waited. A waiter came by to take the other couple's order. We waited. We waited another couple of minutes and then left. The dining room was not that busy. Very poor impression for a new restaurant whose theme is Southern hospitality.

By that time it was getting late so we decided to try Travinia Italian Kitchen in Willow Lawn. If they stopped serving lunch, we could at least find something else in the area.

We were efficiently greeted and our waitress promptly took our drink order. Yeah! After our disappointment at the Southerly we rewarded ourselves with a Sidecar. Sugared rim and a tart taste. Yes, an adult SweeTart with a cute lemon curl.

Lemon Curl
Sidecar with a Cute Lemon Curl
For lunch I ordered a Grilled Chicken Pesto Sandwich (no tomatoes) with Garlic Parmesan Fries. The sandwich was good (decent pesto), but it did come with tomatoes. The kitchen needs a little work. The fries were fries. The garlic was extremely mild. While I could see it, I couldn't really taste it.

Pesto Chicken Sandwich
Chicken Pesto Sandwich After the Removal of the Tomatoes
My hubby ordered Uncle Tony's Pizza. The pizza was supposed to come with pepperoni, Italian sausage, roasted garlic, and onions. There was no sausage in evidence. But there was an extra ingredient, two pieces of blue plastic. The kitchen definitely needs some work. While we did let the waitress know, no one from management addressed the issue. Hubby also said that the crust reminded him of the boxed Chef Boyardee pizzas from the '70's.

Uncle Tony's Favorite Pizza
Is this really Uncle Tony's favorite? No Italian sausage and a couple of blue surprises.
While the service was better than the Southerly, the kitchen requires much more training and supervision.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Bacon Cheeseburger at Camden's Dogtown Market

Feast your eyes on this baby of a burger from Camden's Dogtown Market. Beef, cooked medium - medium-rare; Swiss cheese; house-cured bacon; lovely bun.

Bacon Cheeseburger

Wine is our choice from what the market offers (add $10 corkage fee except on Tuesdays). The Nebbiolo D'Alba was a friendly pairing.

Lodali Nebbiolo D'Alba

And don't forget the house-made pickles!

Housemade Pickles


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

South of the James Market

The South of the James Market is in full swing with all manner of veggies, posies, doggies, etc. It's still my favorite market and I'm still a huge fan. I have a few photos to prove it!

Turnips and Tatsoi

Silver Creek Peaches

Posey Basket

Squash and Company

Market Darling

So get out and meet your neighbors on Saturday morning at the South of the James Market in Forest Hill Park!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Heavenly Brunches at The Viceroy

The Viceroy knows how to wow the palate during brunch. In the past few months we went twice. Once for Easter and again on Father's Day. Both times the food was excellent. I also appreciate that The Viceroy opens at 10:30 AM for brunch. I prefer going a bit earlier and skipping the after-church crowd. And I have no qualms over ordering a cocktail (yes, think of a Manhattan-esque beverage) that early in the morning.

The other cool thing about brunch is pricing. I can enjoy all of Ryan Baldwin's exquisite dishes at reasonable prices. Brunch offerings range in price from $9 - $14 and features imaginative dishes that match the dinner menu.

Here is what we enjoyed (in no particular order) between the two visits.

A split of pink bubbly

A Splash of Pink Bubbly

Champagne Butter Poached Lobster and Avocado Omelet

Champangne Butter Poached Lobster with Avocado Omelet
The Lobster Omelet was perfect for Easter brunch
Torched Handmade Mozzarella Wrapped in Prosciutto with Fig Balsamic Sauce

Torched Handmade Mozzarella Wrapped in Prosciutto
This dish is always a favorite
Crab Sandwich with Fries

Crabmeat Sandwich and Fries

Duck Breast with Fried Egg and Hash Browns

Duck Breat with Egg and Hash Browns
Awesome special for the day
Smoked Pork Shoulder with Grits and Eggs

Smoked Pork Shoulder with Grits and Eggs
The pork could be pulled apart with a fork and the flavor was delightful
Plungerhead Zin

Plungerhead Zin
Great choice with the pork and duck

Oh so good! And there were other items on the menu that we also wanted to get. The only solution is to go back!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Crab and Filet Special at Tastebuds

Tastebuds American Bistro features awesome specials on Friday and Saturday nights. Check out this one...

Crab-Topped Filet with Potatoes and Asparagus

Yummy! We enjoyed this special at the beginning of June.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Pomegranate in Carytown

In the early Spring we wandered into Pomegranate for dinner. On that Friday night they still had a table available.

Hubby wanted to try the gnocchi. Unfortunately, they had just switched to their new Spring menu and it was not available. Disappointing, but the only disappointment of the evening.

We toasted our incredible lack of gnocchi luck with a Milanese Manhattan and then ordered a bottle of The Possessor, a Tooth and Nail red blend from California. Loved the wine; loved the label.


To begin our meal we ordered Roasted Veal Marrow Bones with Watercress and Radish Salad. Kind of a Winter into Spring starter. The marrow bones were rich and full of flavor; the salad, light and zesty.

For entrees I chose a traditional Steak and Frites accompanied by grilled ramps. All very tasty and so nice to welcome in Spring with the ramps. The large portion meant leftovers for a future dinner at home.

Hubby had the Italian Sausage with Pickled Mustard Seed, Spinach, and Spaetzle. The portion looked deceivingly small, but turned out to be just right and delicious.

We enjoyed great food. We also experienced excellent service from the talented Ashley. Her cheerful demeanor and patience as we perused cocktail and wine lists and her timing ensured that we had a most incredible evening.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bond in the Bush at Can Can

The Bond in the Bush Martini at Can Can. Green Hat Gin, Stolichnaya Vodka, Lillet Blanc, Basil, and Cucumber. My hubby considers this a little bit of heaven.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014


At the end of March we visited Rome for 10 days with my folks. The Eternal City offers plenty to do for the traveler with over 900 churches, numerous ancient ruins, and other delights as one roams the cobbled streets. Most of the traditional sites are within walking distance. The subway does not cover the entire city, but trains arrive every five minutes. Just beware of pick pockets when it is crowded.

A few other pieces of advice.

Churches - While most of the churches look drab and in need of cleaning, the interiors are spectacular and range from Byzantine to Baroque decor. We visited about a dozen, some intentional, others by happenstance. We were not disappointed. Churches were free to visit. Some charge to visit their crypt and/or museum. Photos were allowed in most except during mass. If you want to see something fascinatingly creepy check out the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini on Via Vento. Pay the money to see the museum and crypt. The crypt is decorated with the bones of monks and features a pelvic room among others. No photos were allowed, but the macabre setting remained memorable.

Ruins - The Colosseum was spectacular and took us half a day to visit. The ticket also allowed us to see the Forum and Palatine Hill. Online we read that the ticket was good for three days. When we purchased our tickets, they were good for two. Allow more time to see the Forum and Palatine Hill. The area was vast and awe-inspiring. I could have spent more time wandering about. If you are short on funds, there are other sites that you can see for free. If you go to the the Colosseum on Sunday you'll experience a slightly surreal treat. The main road from the Colosseum to the Il Vittoriano Monument (aka The Wedding Cake) is closed to traffic and families, friends, and lovers stroll along the wide boulevard during the day.

The Vatican - We paid a lot to go on an early morning tour of the Vatican Museums before they opened to the general public. We got to see the Sistine Chapel with about 25 other visitors and could comfortably sit or stand to take in the masterpiece. Based on the subsequent reports, this was a good move. Later on one can be packed in like a sardine. The Vatican Museums were vast and we did not have enough time to cover the other parts. If you go, do not let the tour convince you to exit. Take your time.  The museum even sports cafes for lunch. Upon exiting, make sure you take time to make your way to the dome. Pay the extra two euros for the elevator because you will still climb an inordinate amount of curving stairs to the very top. This was the only dome where we could climb to the top (at least from the places we visited); worth seeing Rome from high above.

Food - Because we were a party of four and not two, we stuck to more of the touristy places and dined outside upon checked tablecloths a fair number of times. We only had one abysmal experience (near the Vatican) and we left before we ordered food. Pasta and pizzas were all good. My father loved the fresh tomatoes and I enjoyed the Roman artichokes. We did hit up one organic place on Via Urbana and we had lunch at a garden patio featuring a potato, white bean,  and octopus salad (very delicious). One of the checked table cloth places had a waiter that reminded us of Nathan Lane. He took a shine to our family and at the end of the meal plied us with limoncello and amaro free of charge. If you have time check out Campo de'Fiori, the morning food and flower market. They feature all kinds of produce with a few meat and cheese vendors for good measure. A feast for the tummy and the eyes.

I'll leave you with a few photos. If you want more, check out my flickr site.

I hope you enjoyed the brief glimpse. Ciao!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

River City Smokehouse Sandwich at Lunch

River City Smokehouse Sandwich by pjpink

River City Smokehouse Sandwich a photo by pjpink on Flickr.
Lunch serves up a pile of BBQ for their River City Smokehouse Sandwich. Enjoy with a Guinness on draft.

Bacon-Wrapped Pork at Tastebuds American Bistro

Bacon-wrapped Pork by pjpink

Bacon-wrapped Pork a photo by pjpink on Flickr.
Tastebuds American Bistro currently offers a Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Pickled Beet and Onion Relish, Herbed Mashed Potatoes, and Braised Savoy Cabbage. A delicious dish for this time of year.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Fried Chicken Night at Saison

Yummy! Saison gets its fried chicken on every Sunday night. A quarter chicken (your choice of light or dark meat) and two sides (their choice, not yours) for $8. A truly tasty bargain. The chicken is moist and tender and arrives piping hot, so fingers beware! And, yes, eat it with your hands. Not a fried chicken fan? The regular menu is also available. The pork chop satisfies, too.

Saison also serves up a fantastic array of inventive cocktails and currently carry one of my favorite wines, Field Recordings Fiction.

Saison serves up a variety of cocktails in vintage glassware

The Boulevard features Rye, Cocchi Torino, Cynar, and Campari

On this night the sides were smokey mac and cheese and potato salad

The pork chop was a tasty alternative for non-fried chicken fans

 Go early or make reservations. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

A Special Cocktail from Tastebuds American Bistro

Barrel-aged Rum, Byrrh, and Blood Orange Juice was the featured offering on Valentine's Day at Tastebuds American Bistro. Although they have a tiny bar, they serve up spirited craft cocktails for under $9. And they have the best cocktail cherries in RVA (no sickeningly sweet fake maraschinos for them).