Paradiso

29 06 2011
Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 4/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value:3/5
Times Visited: One  ♦   Will I Return?:  Si, Per Favore!
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Ok, you live in the East Bay, but not really in the exciting parts like Oakland or Berkeley. You’re sorta stuck in the Fremont/Hayward/San Leandro no-man’s land of the East Bay*. There are plenty of places to eat, but most of them aren’t particularly exciting. Enter Paradiso.

Like Hayward’s Buon Appetito and a handful of other places around this stretch of land, Paradiso is an oasis of culinary delight. With classy decor, an upscale menu, and service that will put a smile on your face (as well as a hearty amount of water in your glass), Paradiso is a welcome pleasure.

Inside Paradiso: the counter that surrounds the kitchen.

Inside Paradiso

What I loved most about Paradiso, after being wowed by the stunning interior, is the menu. I suppose the selections are nothing terribly unexpected in an Italian restaurant, but I was excited to see how different they were from Buon Appetito, my go-to classy/delicious Italian restaurant in the East Bay. While BA offers dish after dish of (fabulous) pasta, Paradiso changes it up with hearty variety of appetizers, Italian style thin-crust pizza, and a large selection of meaty mains. While we were (unfortunately) trying to keep our budget down on this particular Paradiso trip, we did not have the good fortune to experience any of the starters or salads. But what we did try was enough to keep us coming back.

The Boyfriend ordered his classic go-to: Pizza Margherita. I swear the man could live off that particular breed of pizza-pie, and he nearly does live off the ingredients (cheese and bread can make a nearly unending variety of foods, I have discovered). This pie was thin, crispy, and generously covered with a surprisingly exceptional mozzarella cheese. He enjoyed it; I looked on with envy until he gave me a slice.

Pizza Margherita a la Paradiso

I ordered what (I believe) was one of their specials that night: mushroom risotto. I love risotto. It’s fabulous. But, while I’ve never cooked the stuff, I find that it takes a bit of finesse and is easy to muck up. If the restaurant doesn’t seem up to it by one measure or another, I will often go for a more reliably good dish (pasta, for example). The vibe at Paradiso was giving me all the right signs, so I went for it. And I was rewarded greatly. This risotto was cooked perfectly. It was not too soft, yet not too al dente. It had the right consistency (kinda like oatmeal) and the taste was fabulous. Score one for Paradiso.

Risotto!

I’d love to go back to try some of their salads, the calamari appetizer, and perhaps one of their pastas or another pizza. (Although if there is risotto again, I make no guarantees that I won’t be sweet talked into having that.) They also have a small bar that’s super cute and tucked away in the rear of the entry area. Paradiso is definitely a gem worth visiting.

Paradiso's bar

*Incidentally, Hayward is known as the “Heart of the Bay”. My mom calls it “The Armpit of the Bay”. I guess the glass can be half empty or half full, eh?

Paradiso on Urbanspoon





Koyomi

19 06 2011
Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 4/5   ♦   Food Quality: 3/5   ♦   Value:3/5
Times Visited: Twice  ♦   Will I Return?:  Yes Please
___________

New sushi place in town? I’m there. What’s different about Koyomi? Well, maybe not a whole lot. But I like it anyway.

Koyomi is located in a tiny strip mall that borders the sidewalk in Castro Valley across the street from the mini golf place. It’s got a nice big sign; you can’t miss it. And inside they’ve really made it look slick. Hardwood floors, comfy chairs, big screen tvs above the bar, and… double crown molding around the perimeter of the top of the walls. You read correctly. Double. This place is serious.

dining room

Inside Koyomi Sushi in Castro Valley.

Between the classy Frank Sinatra playing in the background and the new picture-friendly menus, I really like this place. The menu is pretty standard for a sushi place offering appetizers, sushi/sashimi, combinations, udon noodle dishes, full dinners, and a variety of sushi rolls. The service is great and the food is pretty dang good as well. The first time I came here, I enjoyed a sushi/sashimi plate that was quite good. We also shared a pan fried calamari just like the ones we enjoyed in Japan. Boyfriend enjoyed the squid immensely, but I thought it was a bit too bland and a bit too tough; it didn’t stand its ground against its Japanese counterparts.

sashimi platter

Sashimi plate from Koyomi.

squid

Pan fried squid -- no breading or deep frying here!

The second time, I ordered tempura udon, which was perfect. Boyfriend enjoyed a bowl of seafood udon both times; I think he’s set. The seafood selection in the udon was quite extensive and very yummy.

udon

Udon and tempura behind.

udon

Seafood udon ruling with an iron bowl.

Both times we were at Koyomi the servers were very friendly and the service was exemplary (read: we always had refills on our water). Also, the server (owner?) indicated that they acquire much of their produce from the local farmer’s market (she didn’t specify if it was the Hayward one or the CV one), which is nice to know — yeay for local stuff! And already boasting a 4-star average with 23 Yelp reviews, I’d say Koyomi is coming along nicely. The only thing they need now is their own website… which I think they’re working on. Yeay for sushi and yeay for Koyomi!





B&C Hits Chicago, Discovers Pizza

12 06 2011

Extra, extra, read all about it…

Deep. Dish. Pizza. As a California native, I’ve heard these words before. But until last week, I had never truly tasted them. Cue montage sequence of me packing my bags, flying to Minnesota, enjoying a wedding, then flying to Chicago. When the little airplane follows the arched red line to the dot on the map marked “Chicago”, fade to me enjoying this pizza:

chicago pizza

Chicago deep dish pizza from Giordano's

Literally the first thing we did in Chicago was seek out Giordano’s Pizza in downtown Chicago, at the recommendation of a friend who used to live there. May we forever be in debt to him for leading us to this heavenly pizza. Like ambrosia on our lips, it enlivened us from the fatigue of our travels, it healed us our ails, and it relieved us of our sins, past, present and future. That’s how good the deep dish pizza is. I’m only hardly exaggerating.

Pizza.

Love.

The process seems to start with a thick, flaky crust upon which is placed a cheese so wonderful that it does not bear resemblance to other petty cheeses found on pizza in your home town, nor those available at your local grocery. Embedded gently in the cheese is a succulent variety of “toppings” (though they do not “top” the pizza in this case), which are, of course, yours to choose. Upon this is placed another thinner layer of flaky, buttery crust which will itself be fully covered in the most delicate pizza sauce your lips have ever tasted. Some 40 minutes after ordering, an angel will fly down to your table and deliver a heavenly, steaming, overflowing, 20 pounds of food that will satiate you in three bites though you will continue to gorge yourself past that point until your belly bulges in fabulously contented defeat.

And this is the glory that is Chicago Deep Dish Pizza.

I highly recommend trying it… even if you have to fly for 4 hours to get it*.

Commandment.

Pizza commandment.

*Additionally, if you’re feeling like a true American and want all the delicacies of the world brought soundly to your doorstep, Giordano’s actually offers the ability to order a pizza and have it shipped to your home. At which point you cook the pie and enjoy everything Chicago has to offer in the comfort of your own kitchen, for only about twice the price you’d pay in-store. We have yet to try this, but I think we may have to give it a go, if only to discover how ridiculous we can be. Anybody want to come over for a pizza party?





London Fish ‘n Chips

4 06 2011
Atmosphere: 1/5   ♦   Service: 2/5   ♦   Food Quality: 3/5   ♦   Value:4/5
Times Visited: Once  ♦   Will I Return?:  I’d honestly rather go to Jay’s
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london fish 'n chipsLondon Fish ‘n Chips can be found across the street from Kennedy Park on Hesperian Boulevard in Hayward. It’s inside a dingy, dated shopping center that characterizes miles and miles of territory along that route. I’d never even seen the place, much less heard of it; my friend Jon introduced us, touting it as an old family favorite of his. And so we went.

This place is pretty classic as far as fish ‘n chips go. Old, dark, not modern, no atmosphere to speak of. It’s very small, so I was able to photograph the entire place in just a couple shots; see for yourself.

front counter

Frount counter at London Fish 'n Chips

seating

Seating area in London Fish 'n Chips.

The menu was simple and pretty cheap. I was there with a few people and we all seemed to keep it standard and order some classic fish and chips. It’s an order at the counter place and they do actually have two beers, I believe, on tap. the entire place is so simple it’s almost hard to find enough to type about.

menu

Menu at London Fish 'n Chips.

The food was good, probably about on par with Jay’s; the only reason I’d choose Jay’s over London is that (a) the atmosphere at Jay’s is far superior and (b) there’s a choice of type of fish at Jay’s that far surpasses that of London. I think London was cheaper though, which was kind of amazing.

fish

Fried fish!

fish n chips

Fish 'n Chips from London Fish 'n Chips in Hayward.








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