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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bday Dinners and some awards

Before we start, after you read today's post, head on over to my other blog The Misadventures of Little J to see a little animation I did a few years back. (here)

Now I rarely do restaurant reviews of any type because well I suck at it. But last weekend, I had a birthday dinner for my cousin at Amici Trattoria at the Americana on Brand in Glendale, Ca. I think it just opened several weeks ago. Every time I pass by, the place is always full of customers. Inside and out. There were 5 of us. My mom, my two cousins, one of which was the birthday celebrant and my cousin's friend. I apologize for the color of some of the pictures as some are a bit blurry. I didn't use a flash. My point and shoot is really a piece of crap at the moment. I've put it through so much. I think it's time for it to retire.

Anyway, the place was pretty packed when we got there, but we were lucky to have been seated right away. The prized spots were in the patio, but a party had reserved it at the time. I was fine with eating inside. It's a decent sized space. The tables were placed a bit close to one another, so there were a lot of "excuse me" going around. Decor looked modern. Lighting was on the slightly dimmed side. Our host and waiter were two burly men with what I think were Italian accents. They may have looked intimidating, but were really friendly.

Someone from the waitstaff brings out the traditional bread basket with some rosemary foccacia and slices of french bread. Accompanied with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We wanted to order some wine, but the wine menu was several pages long. Literally. It was a book! I didn't want to spend too much looking at it as I was really hungry. It took me forever just to think of what I wanted to eat, let alone choosing a wine was something that would take me another hundred years to decide. I'm not picky, I just can't choose from all the delectable selections. I was saving up my appetite for this meal.

The waiter takes our order without writing down our choices as I request for another round of bread. You know I love bread, right? From the anti pasti selection, we ordered Frittura di Calamari e Zucchini. Calamari and fried zucchini with a side of marinara. Both of which were nice and crispy when brought to our table. That was gone in a few minutes.

We didn't have to wait long for the main course. With the place being so busy, waiting wasn't much of an option. There were a bunch of other people waiting to have a seat. It was really packed. Our entrées arrived nearly one after another as another person from the waitstaff comes around carrying a big bowl, with spoon in hand, of freshly pre-grated parmegiano reggiano. Offering us if we'd like to add extra cheese to our dish. I opted not too. my dish was already packed with cheese. The portions were large, but really good.

My mom had the Linguine Alle Vongole Veraci. Linguine with manila clams in light olive oil and white wine sauce. Here we go with the white wine sauce again. I'm telling you, I got her hooked!

My cousin ordered the Risotto ala Catalana. Italian Arborio rice with shrimp and baby asparagus with saffron. I had a taste of this and the risotto was nice and creamy. It was really good also.

I had the Milanese di Pollo. Or Chicken Parmigiana. It was nearly the size of my head. Yes, it was that big. Made from breaded organic chicken served with sautéed arugula and roasted garlic potatoes. The chicken was nice and tender. Cooked just right. The mozzarella perfectly melted with just the right amount of sauce. I'd pick up a piece and that lovely string of melted cheese would tag along for the ride into my mouth. I finished the whole thing. I was hungry, remember? But I enjoyed it.

I didn't take a picture of the other two dishes, but one was a Capellini Alla Checca, angel hair pasta with a chopped tomato and basil. The other was Penne Arabiat, penne with a spicy marinara sauce. I think there was chicken in there, too. I can't remember.

With our stomachs full, we couldn't end the meal with just our entrées. No, no, no. I say desserts are an essential for occasions such as this. So we ordered a nice slice of tiramisu to close the meal. We all shared and loved it. A lot of Italian places I've been tend to go overboard on the rum and/or espresso and that can get a bit overwhelming sometimes. This tiramisu was just right. There was barely a hint of it. Did you know that tiramisu originally never had alcohol in it? The mascarpone cheese filling was so smooth, it was soothing to the palate. Slight touch of espresso, soaked just enough into the sponge cake. There were a couple fresh raspberries and blueberries on the plate as well and the familiar dusting of cocoa powder. It was so good and I wanted more, but I didn't want to force my stomach. I wonder if you can order a slice to go. I must find out. Tiramisu is one of the desserts I love and will soon make on this blog. Stay tuned.

Overall for 5 people it was a decent price for an upscale like restaurant. I'd definitely try this place again. Maybe next time, I'll try one of their pizza, pasta or seafood dishes

Trattoria Amici at the Americana at Brand (across from Barnes and Noble)
889 Americana Way
Glendale, CA 91210

Next, a couple weeks ago, I received a few awards. For the first three, I'd like to give a special shoutout to Finsmom from Latest Addiction for passing them along to me.

This last one I'd like to also give a special shoutout to Heather from Girlichef and Kim from The Ungourmet for passing this to me this very brand new award.

Please visit these lovely ladies blogs. They've got some awesome drool worthy recipes, and deserve this tasty award as well as the many food blogs I read everyday. I share this with all of you.

Don't forget to come back tomorrow. The picture below isn't your average pasta dish. A new day, a new recipe. Ciao!!


Unknown said...

I just had breakfast but I'm looking at the pictures of your dinner and feeling hungry. I'm going out for some italian food tonight too. Can't wait.
Congrats on your awards daaaahling. Hope you are having a fabulous weekend.

Denise said...

Congrats on the awards.They are so much fun.

Donna-FFW said...

You did a lovely review. Looking forward to your version of tiramisu.

Jamie said...

You got me with the plate of fried calamari and zucchini - this is what I always ordered in restaurants in Italy. That was one incredible meal you had! And congrats on your much-deserved awards! Quite a handful all at once!

And if you want to make the world's best Tiramisu - check out my sons'!

Andrea@WellnessNotes said...

Congrats on the awards!

The dinner sounds fabulous... And tiramisu is the perfect way to end the meal. Can't wait to see your version! :)

And the pasta dish looks awesome. Can't wait to find out what it is...

nora@ffr said...

vat a perfect dinner jenn!! lov all the foods :) congrats on the well deserved awards!!

vanillasugarblog said...

nothing like a good Italian rest. That dessert is what had me. Good luck with making the tiramisu, it's hard girl!!
I'm heading over to view the video now.....

Dewi said...

Congratulation on your award Jenn! Look like you have a nice dinner too.

theUngourmet said...

It all looks fantastic! Especially the Tiramisu and no I haven't heard the fact about the alcohol. Interesting!

Glad you had a fun time!

Bob said...

I haven't gone out for fancy Italian in ages, but now I want to wicked bad!

Mary Bergfeld said...

Congratulations on your awards. I thought your review was terrific and I hope you had a wonderful time.

zerrin said...

Congrats on your awards! That picture of fried calamari and zucchini took my most attention now, I wish I had a plate full of them now.

OysterCulture said...

Looks like such a wonderful fun time, to have a great group to celebrate something as special as a birthday. How wonderful, and I'd have had a heck of a time picking a dish, as everything everyone ordered sounds fantastic.

Reeni said...

Such delicious eats!!! Congrats on all your well-deserved awards!

Diana Bauman said...

Congrats on your awards. I thought you did a great job on your review :) I only wish we could get manila clams here in the midwest!!

chow and chatter said...

good review Jenn and congrats on the awards will chek out the other blog lol

Anonymous said...

Girl, how dare you say you suck at restaurant reviews! This post was really good! I hope you come up with more, esp since you and I live pretty closer right now ;-)

That risotto looks to DIE FOR!

Heather S-G said...

Oh, that Milanesa de Pollo look awesome! My favorite torta is filled with that deliciousness...yet I always forget to bring a camera when we go out to eat one. The restaurant sounds delish :D

Lori Lynn said...

The place sounds interesting, it's not too far from here, thanks for the tip.

Anonymous said...

Your dinner sounds excellent! Congrats on the awards!1

Jenn said...

Girlichef: I'd love to have a torata right about now!

LL: Your welcome!

5 Star: Thanks.

Phyllis said...

You ordered all my Italian favorites! And I think you are pretty stellar at reviews :)
ps. congrats on the awards and can't wait to see your tiramisu!

Jenn said...

Phylis: ;-) said...

It will not succeed in reality, that's exactly what I think.

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