Sunday, September 21, 2014

La Galleria 33

Tonight we made the unfortunate decision of dinning at La Galleria 33 located in Boston's North End.  Usually, when we dine at a restaurant our experience ends when we walk out the door. La Galleria 33 decided to extend our visit by calling us at 10:25pm to argue with us about a minor complaint...here is the full story...

We made a reservation at La Galleria 33 for 7:30pm through OpenTable and were very impressed when one of the owners, who was serving as the hostess, agreed to seat us early. We had been walking around Boston all day and were starving so we arrived at around 7:05pm. Our waiter came over quickly and took our drink order, two Sprites. We are not wine drinkers and therefore decided to stick to soda. 

Throughout the course of our meal we ordered 3 refills on our sodas. We were never told that we were being charged for each and every refill. At the end of our meal when our check arrived we were surprised to see the $10 charge for 5 sodas. Therefore, we spoke to our waiter who proceeded to tell us that, that was a standard restaurant practice. We decided not to argue, we did not call the manager or speak to anyone else, payed the check, and walked out.

Our check at La Galleria 33

 About 2 hours later, at 10:25pm, we received a phone call from the restaurant, from someone allegedly named Rita, arguing about our complaint. After loudly telling us that we were wrong and that she did not understand the nature of our complaint the woman on the phone called us "a pair of cunts" and hung up. Before hanging up she challenged us to find one restaurant in the North End who did not charge for soda refills...we called around and found 3 restaurants located just a few blocks away from La Galleria 33 who readily told us "no, we do not charge for soda refills."

5 beer glasses in which our sodas were served at La Galleria 33

We were feeling very insulted and called the restaurant back to tell the woman of our findings. She proceeded to yell some more. We hung up. She called us about 3 more times. We did not pick up. On the phone she said she would call Boston.com and complain about us. We would like to make one thing clear, we are in NO WAY affiliated with Boston.com. Boston Food and Love is an independent blog simply used to practice our right, as Americans, to freedom of speech. We ask that the owners and/or staff of La Galleria 33 not contact us again. 

Now we would like to leave La Galleria 33's childish, disrespectful, insulting behavior behind and speak about what really matters...their food.

To start our meal we received a basket of bread. The bread was deliciously fresh, perfect for soaking up traditional Italian sauces. Along with the bread came a tasteless hummus like spread. We decided to have more of the bread with our meal but passed on its oily accompaniment.

Bread Basket with Hummus Like Spread 

As our first appetizer we had La Galleria 33's Crispy Calamari topped with a lemon aioli and Italian parsley. The lemon aioli was the star of this dish! Its assertive citrous flavor balanced perfectly against the slightly chewy fried calamari pieces. 

Crispy Calamari

Our second appetizer at La Galleria 33 were the Arancini. These rice fritters were made well. The tomato sauce accompanying this dish was the best bite we had all night. The sauce was light and fresh. We added a bit of salt to the Arancini, which improved their flavor. 

Arancini

Our first entree was the Veal Piemontese which consists of breaded veal stuffed with prosciutto, fontina cheese, and spinach topped with a mushroom sauce. This dish had an unpleasant burnt aftertaste. The mushroom sauce was lacking in mushrooms and the fontina cheese was almost undetectable. The ziti pasta that accompanied this dish was mediocre at best. Overall, this was a flavorless dish. 

Veal Piemontese

Ziti accompanying the Veal Piemontese 

Last but not least, at the suggestion of our waiter, we had La Galleria 33's Baked Gnocchi with smoked mozzarella cheese. The gnocchi were severely overcooked. They stuck to the roof of our mouths as we ate them, they were very gummy. The tomato sauce could have benefited from a few pinches of salt. As a whole, this dish was a disappointment. 

Baked Gnocchi 

We suggest having a few glasses of wine when dinning at La Galleria 33, maybe then your palate will be able to ignore their lackluster food. Needless to say we would not recommend dining at La Galleria 33.

UPDATE: At around noon on September 21st we received two other phone calls from Rita at La Galleria 33. She saw our latest Twitter post of homemade blueberry muffins and called to say "unsweetened apple sauce you fat bitch after you had 5 sodas last night." We have blocked La Galleria 33 from all of our social media cites and would like to ask its owners and/or staff to please stop harassing us. 

For more information on La Galleria 33 please visit http://lagalleria33.com


La Galleria 33 on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Vejigantes - Revisited

Nestled in Boston's South End Vejigantes serves traditional Puerto Rican food at its best. Everything from the restaurant's decor to the music playing over the speakers reminds of the Caribbean island. This is our second time visiting Vejigantes and we were once again delighted with the flavor of their food. 

To start we ordered the Tostones con Salmorejo de Jueyes or fried green plantains topped with crab meat stew. This dish could have benefited from an extra pinch of salt. Apart from that, the flavor was great! The crab was soaked in the tomato based sauce and had a chicken like consistency. 

Tostones con Salmorejo de Jueyes

Tostones con Salmorejo de Jueyes

Next came the Bacalaitos or cod fish fritters. These traditional fritters were a bit greasy but the flavor definitely compensated for that! They were not overly fishy and very crunchy!

Bacalaitos 

James decided to order one of the more original dishes on the menu, unfortunately we do not remember the exact name of this dish and it is not listed on Vejigantes' online menu. The dish consisted of chorizo stuffed inside chicken breast with a creole sauce. This dish was not very memorable. Its flavors were improved with a bit of Vejigantes' house hot sauce and salt.



Aida stuck to the classics and ordered the Mofongo Tradicional de Plátano or Traditional Fried Plantains with pork. This dish is served with a delicious side of chicken broth. Vejigantes makes a great mofongo! This savory dish is taken over-the-top with crunchy bits of pork skin mixed inside. Delicious! 

Mofongo Tradicional de Plátano 

Last but not least we ordered the Cheese Flan. Its texture was firmer than other flans we've had in the past. However it had a great, mildly cheesy flavor! A good ending to our meal! 

Cheese Flan

We are lucky to have Vejigantes in Boston. They serve solid Puerto Rican food in a fun atmosphere. This is a great place in Boston's South End! 

To read our previous review of Vejigantes visit http://www.bostonfoodandlove.com/2012/11/vejigantes-restaurant.html

For more information on Vejigantes visit http://www.vejigantesrestaurant.com

Vejigantes Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 11, 2014

Union Square Donuts

We have been hearing of Union Square Donuts for a while now. We follow them on Twitter and every time they post a new photo our mouths water. A few days ago we were heading over to the Somerville area to fix an issue with our cable company and decided to take advantage of our location. We finally paid Union Square Donuts an official visit, we had their donuts at SoWa Open Market last year. 

Union Square Donut's Shop Display Case

Union Square Donuts

We tried four of their huge, delightfully airy, fluffy donuts!

  • The Creamsicle Donut (top right) was full of orange flavor, thanks to the visible orange zest in the glaze.
  • The Sea Salted Bourbon Caramel (bottom right) had a very mild flavor, however the bourbon definitely came trough the specks of salt. 
  • The Chocolate Marble (top left) was extremely rich topped with dark chocolate and still hot from the frier! Yum! We usually prefer milk chocolate to dark chocolate and therefore this donut left us craving just a hint of sugar. If you are a dark chocolate person you will love this donut! 
  • The Maple Bacon (bottom left) was our favorite donut of the day! The bacon was perfectly crunchy and added a nice hint of salt against the sweet maple glaze. This is an indulgent, delicious, creative, addictive donut! 

Union Square Donuts delivers delicious donuts! The price tag of about $3 per donut is justifiable given the humungous size of their product. We are Union Square Donuts fans and will definitely be coming back! 

For more information on Union Square Donuts visit http://unionsquaredonuts.com

Union Square Donuts on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 4, 2014

Besito Mexican - Burlington, MA

In the spirit of full transparency, we were hosted by Besito however we are writing this review as we would any other. No special considerations will be given. 

This past Saturday Besito Mexican invited us to dine at their newly opened Burlington location. Besito, which translates into little kiss in Spanish, focuses on authentic, fresh, and house made ingredients. The decor is bright and welcoming, something you would expect to find if dinning in Mexico. Our waiter was very knowledgeable of the menu and was able to make suggestions without hesitation. 

Even tough the decor and menu scream Mexico, the music does not. We travel to the Caribbean often and the music, which was mainly salsa and merengue, put us in a Caribbean state of of mind. Most would not be bothered by this, however this small detail had a significant effect on our meal. We were eating Mexican food but our minds were craving Caribbean cuisine, which is significantly different. 

Exterior of Besito at the Burlington Mall
Photo Credit: Besito Mexican 

Interior of Besito Mexican in Burlington
Photo Credit: Besito Mexican

Almost immediately after being seated our waiter brought us some chips and salsa. The salsa was delicious. It reminded us of a well made sofrito, which is the base for most latin cuisine. 

Chips and Salsa

 To start off, the manager brought out two of their Shrimp Tacos Dorados, which appear in the lunch menu. The shrimp in these crispy street style tacos topped with organic romaine lettuce, pico de gallo, chipotle cream salsa, and queso fresco were lightly breaded. The mild spiciness did not overpower the refreshing flavor of the shrimp. This was a well balanced dish and a great start to our meal! 

Shrimp Tacos Dorados

We took our waiter's suggestion and ordered the house "Besito Patron" Margarita, which is composed of Patron reposed, Cointreau, pomegranate-tangerine juice, and lime juice. This is a strong margarita, the Patron being the dominant flavor. Our only complaint would be rim, we missed the salt. If you like a strong yet refreshing drink, this margarita is for you! 

"Besito Patron" Margarita 

Besito is know for its Guacamole en Molcajete made tableside. Our waiter asked us at which level of spiciness we would like the guacamole and proceeded to quickly make it. Guacamole is guacamole. As far as this guacamole goes it was in desperate need of salt. However, the balance between creamy and chunky made up for that. The texture was very pleasant. Yet, if it were up to us, we would let the avocado be the star of the dish, there were way to many "fillers."

Guacamole en Molcajete 

For our final appetizer we strayed from the manager's suggestions and ordered what we consider to be one of the more original dishes on Besito's menu. The Panquesito de Jaiba, which is a crispy lump crab cake served with a roasted habanero cream sauce and topped with roasted corn salad and cilantro queso fresco was by far our favorite dish! This interpretation of the classic New England crab cake was packed full of crab flavor which balanced well with the creaminess of the avocado and the sweetness of the roasted corn. The Mexican flare injected into this dish both in its flavors and presentation make it a star! Delicioso! 

Panquesito de Jaiba

Next we had a traditional Mexican side. The Tamale de Elote which is a fresh corn tamale with chipotle chile cream, onion, cilantro, and queso fresco unfortunately fell apart. This side dish has solid flavors however Besito's textural interpretation was unexpected. This dish had an unfortunate corn pudding like texture which was not pleasing to the palate. 

Tamale de Elote

As our first entrée we had one of the manager's suggestions, the Pechuga de Pollo, which is a Yucatan spiced natural chicken breast served with green and yellow squash, a crispy rolled queso fresco taco, and pipian verde. The pipian verde, which is a pumpkin seed sauce, was the star of this dish! Frankly without it the chicken would have been practically inedible. The outside of the chicken was cooked to char and was incredibly hard to cut through. The inside was not much better, it was very dry. The taco was delicious and added a nice crunchy element to the dish. 

Pechuga de Pollo

As our second entrée we ordered the Tacos al Pastor which are composed of pineapple and guajillo marinated pork, grilled pineapple salsa, avocado salsa verde, and chile de arbol salsa. The pork was a bit dry yet the char on the outside worked with the sweetness and moisture of the pineapple salsa. This dish achieves the perfect balance of sweet and savory. The generous portion is perfect for sharing. 

Tacos al Pastor

 The first dessert we tried was a Tres Leches. Besito serves this vanilla sponge cake marinated in a citrus three milk sauce topped with whipped cream and fresh berries. This was by far our least favorite dish of the meal. We are fans of the Tres Leches and this one was one of the worst we've had. There were no hints of any citrus. The "three milk" sauce tasted like pure canned evaporated milk and lacked the sweetness you would expect of a good Tres Leches sauce. The cake in the center was dense and none of the marinade was allowed to sip through. We are dessert people, yet we almost wish the manager would not have surprised us with this dessert. 

Tres Leches 

Last but not least we had the Pudin the Chocolate. This Mexican chocolate pudding topped with whipped cream and fried tortillas is perfect for chocoholics! It is thick, creamy, and luxurious. The addictive qualities of this dessert made it the perfect ending to our meal! 

Pudin de Chocolate 

Besito Mexican located in the Burlington Mall, with another location coming soon to the Chestnut Hill area, is a great place for large groups of people looking for good drinks, good service, and decent food. We would like to thank Besito Mexican for its hospitality and its passion for Mexican cuisine.

For more information on Besito Mexican visit http://www.besitomexican.com/home

Besito on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 25, 2014

Ginger Exchange - Symphony Location

Down the street from the Prudential Center, next to the Symphony MBTA stop sits Ginger Exchange. This cozy restaurant serves fresh Asian cuisine at more than affordable prices. The menu offers everything from Korean fried chicken to sushi to baos.  We tried to order a little off every side of the menu. 

To open we had the Avocado Salad with crab sticks, tobiko, and Japanese mayo. This salad was extremely refreshing, especially on a 90 degree summer day. The flavors were well balanced and avocado was perfectly ripe. A delicious start to our meal! 

Avocado Salad

Next came the addictive Korean Fried Chicken with a Thai BBQ sauce. This chicken is deliciously crispy, well seasoned, and very juicy! Our only regret was only getting the four pice order. This chicken is worth every single calorie! 

Korean Fried Chicken with a Thai BBQ Sauce 

To follow we ordered some of Ginger Exchange's Ina's Bao Baos which are three steamed buns filled with spicy pork. These baos were rather flavorful. The pork was not overly spicy and the bread was perfectly steamed. 

Ina's Bao Baos 

Last but not least we ordered the Crispy Pad Thai. These crispy egg noodles are tossed with bean sprouts, peanuts, eggs, scallions, basil, chicken, and shrimp. This dish was very tasty! We ordered a side of kimchee to add to the pad thai and the flavors were delicious together.

Crispy Pad Thai 

Ginger Exchange delivers tasty food, a laid back atmosphere, and great service! This is a great hang out spot if you live in the Back Bay and very affordable if you are a student at nearby Northeastern University. 

For more information on Ginger Exchange visit http://gingerexchange.com

Ginger Exchange on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Empire - Revisited

If we were to give out an award for most the improved restaurant we have visited it would surely go to Empire Asian Restaurant and Lounge in Boston's Sea Port District. We first visited Empire about two years ago, a month or so after its grand opening. Our first time around we were beyond disappointed with both the service and the food. Therefore, in the spirit of full disclosure, we were more than hesitant when we decided to give this Big Night Entertainment restaurant another chance. 

 For the first time in the short history of our blog we actually told our waiter, "yes, we have been here before and it was awful." We suspect our comment did not land on deaf ears, the service was above par. Our waiter was very knowledgeable on the menu and made some terrific suggestions. We are pleased to give Empire an A+ for service. 

To start our meal we decided to order a few cocktails. The White Sake Sangria composed of sauvignon blanc, sake, guava, mango, and pineapple was deliciously refreshing. In contrast, the Hot Night in Bangkok Martini made out of Avíon Silver, plum sake, passion fruit, and sriracha packed a real punch. This martini is certainly not for the faint of heart, the sriracha is the dominant flavor and after a few sips the spiciness really starts to take over your palate. 

White Sake Sangria

Hot Night in Bangkok


Previously at Empire we stuck with the more traditional items on their menu. This time around we branched out and ordered some of their more creative offerings, like the Lobster Cupcakes. These "cupcakes" are created from pressed sushi rice, spicy garlic butter, and broiled Maine lobster. Our waiter suggested we ordered these and we are glad we did. Unfortunately, these "cupcakes" do not hold very well together and it is difficult to get a balanced bite. However, the flavor is superb. The have a deliciously mild heat which perfectly compliments the delicate flavor of the lobster. Outstanding dish!

Lobster Cupcakes

Lobster Cupcakes

A few days before dinning at Empire we asked the restaurant for some suggestions via Twitter. One of the suggestions were the Spicy Salmon Rice bites composed of seared sushi rice, a spicy salmon topping, and togarashi special sauce. This was one of the least successful dishes of the night. The dish is crispy, has both notes of sweet and savory, and achieves a good balance between hot and cold. Sadly, the combination of flavors is just ok. Apart from its stunning presentation there is nothing really memorable about this dish. 

Spicy Salmon Rice Bites

Next came another one of our waiter's suggestions, the Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings. As one of the specials on the menu these wok fried wings with jalapeño and cilantro shocked us when they reached the table. The neither looked, nor tasted as they were described. Our waiter described this dish as being similar to "Korean fried chicken," which is usually extremely crispy and full of flavor. These wings were a bit on the soggy side. The flavor of the breading and topping was delicious, however once you reached the actual chicken the flavor seamed to disappear. Lackluster is the word that comes to mind when we remember this dish. 

Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings

Next we ordered the Red Dragon Roll, which was another one of Empire's Twitter suggestions. This roll is made out of Blue Fin Tuna, red chili miso, sake, and daikon sprouts. This is the perfect summer sushi roll! The tuna was incredibly fresh and the flavors worked well together. We would order this dish again. 

Red Dragon Roll

The manager surprised us by sending out a complimentary Empire "House Maki" roll. First of all, we would like to thank Empire's manager for the lovely gesture. Second, we would like to say that this ended up being one of our favorite bites of the night. The House Maki composed of a whole tempura roll, spicy tuna, avocado, and wasabi tobikko was exquisite. It reminded us of really good comfort food. A very enjoyable dish! 

Empire "House Maki" 

Our last savory dish was the Beef and Kim Chee Fried Rice, which is made with pickled kim chee, tender beef, a fried egg, green onion, and garlic chives. The kim chee was cut into large pieces with made it very hard to get an even bite. The fried egg was delicious. This is your run of the mill fried rice. Good but not spectacular. 

Beef & Kim Chee Fried Rice 

Last but not least, we were again surprised be the manager with Empire's Pandan Profiteroles. Once again, our thanks to the manager. This dessert is composed of a chocolate sauce, sweet berries, and pandan ice cream. We would have substituted the profiteroles with a soft sponge cake that could soak up the delicious pandan ice cream. Although messy to eat, this dessert was very good. The chocolate sauce had a luxurious texture and the berries lightened up the rather heavy dish. This dessert was a delicious way to end our meal! 

Pandan Profiteroles

Pandan Profiteroles


To read our previous review of Empire visit http://www.bostonfoodandlove.com/2012/07/empire.html.

For more information on Empire visit http://www.empireboston.com.


Empire Restaurant and Lounge on Urbanspoon Empire on Foodio54