Coming Soon ~ Oceanside

So, there is a liquor license application notice at the old Bessie’s Diner location. The license is for beer and wine for an eating establishment. The Business’s name listed is Dija Mara.

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Also things seem to be steaming right along at the new home of Holmes Winery Tasting room across from Barrel Republic.

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North County San Diego Magazine “Best Of” Winners

It’s great to see North County getting some notice for what we who live up here have known for a while…

Best Smoothies ~ Banana Dang!, Oceanside

Best Upscale Happy Hour ~ Masters Kitchen & Cocktail, Oceanside

Best Neighborhood Eatery ~ The Miller’s Table, Oceanside

Best Casual Night Out ~ The Privateer Marketplace & Wine Bar

Best Organic Farm ~ Cyclops Farms

and more you can see the full list here……

Best Of

 

 

Rosati’s Pizza ~ Vista

So, a few weeks back when it was still raining, I had a craving for deep dish pizza. I did a lot of research and searching and the only place I could find was Rosati’s in Vista. Now I normally don’t cover chains, but I have occasionally in the past. Also funnily enough a friend texted me asking if I knew anywhere to find deep dish pizza on Sunday, so I steered her to Rosati’s. Figured I’d post about it.

Now , I have never been to Chicago, though I have on two occasions ordered frozen deep dish pizza delivered to me from famous Chicago pizzerias. One was Giodarno’s and I forget the other one. They were good but frozen, thawed, and reheated in a home oven takes its toll on the end product. I have had deep dish on a few occasions across the country but nothing super special.

Even with my lack of deep dish expertise, I have my palate and a lot of restaurants under my belt to, I feel, make a fair assessment. I liked Rosati’s.

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Rosati’s Pizza ~ They have 20 locations in Illinois alone, which I guess is a good indication.

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Rosati’s Deep Dish Pizza ~ Green pepper, mushroom, sausage.

The deep dish pizzas take about 45 min. Meaning they are made to order. You can call ahead even if eating in to get one started if you want to minimize the wait.

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Still a little molten at this time. Plenty of cheese, the vegetables had a nice crunch to them and I really liked the sauce. It was chunky and had a nice acidity from the tomatoes.

I did not eat the top part of the crust, it was a little dry. the bottom crust was just fine. Since I destroyed this whole thing by myself, I really did not miss not eating the extra crust. Luckily due to tons of cardio I have the metabolism of a ferret at the moment.

They also do thin crust but I could suggest plenty of places that do a world-class thin crust, I would go here for their deep dish options.

If you are aware of any North County places that do a good deep dish let me know, in the mean time Rosati’s does a fine job with their version. I know a couple in Downtown San Diego and may hit one up on my next trip down. Another go at Himalayan Dine Inn for Nepalese food is my priority right now though for San Diego.

Rosati’s Pizza

307 Vista Village Dr., Vista

Belching Beaver Brewery Refresh Party / Belching Beaver Tavern & Grill ~ Vista

Belching Beaver Brewery Brand Refresh Party.

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Patio setting

Belching Beaver Brewery out of Vista is spicing up their logo and giving it a new look.  To mark the occasion, they hosted a beer and food event on their back patio on what turned out to be a gorgeous, warm sunny day in downtown Vista.  The event provided some new beers, an array of old favorites, and tasty food in a relaxed atmosphere.  The clincher was getting there early enough for a shady corner of the patio, only facing the sun to grab thirst quenching pours of Belching Beaver.  It was worth the sun exposure.  Having just experienced Chef Ramiro’s food pairing concoctions for The Bruery, I was excited to see what he could do with beers brewed just feet away from him.  All of his creativity is discussed below.

1

Carnitas Tostada with Mango IPA

San Diegans know you can never go wrong with tacos and beer.  An IPA paired with spicy pulled pork on a fried tortilla was a fancy twist on the classic, as the mango salsa on the tostada married well with the Mango in the IPA.

2

Green Papaya with Me So Honey Blonde

I was pretty skeptical when I grabbed this dish, curious how slaw would survive a hot afternoon.  I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor of the green papaya, mixed in a Me So Honey mustard.  It was a light, sweet, refreshing combination that reminded me of mid summer BBQ’s.

4

Grapefruit Blintz with Hop Highway IPA

This fancy pancake was likely meant for last as a dessert, but my beer instincts told me to save the dark beer for last as I barbarically folded the fancy cake in half and ate it like a taco.  Washing down the sweet cream and sour grapefruit with a solid IPA made for a lovely “dessert.”

5

Vegetable Mole with Viva La Beaver

The final dish and drink was a vegetable mole paired with their peanut butter and chocolate milk stout.  This beer is so delicious and creamy, and the bitter chocolate was a nice addition.  It helped to wash down the little bit of spiciness in the mole.

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To end the day, we tried one of the new beers released at the party.  It was the Coffee-Maple-Vanilla Scotch Ale.  If the name sounds like a mouthful, you should try the beer.  All the flavors mesh beautifully in this unique pour.  I noticed the maple mostly in the aroma, and the vanilla and coffee collapse onto the palate and end with a smooth, creamy finish.  It was on the sweeter side, so if you are not into sweet beers I suggest starting with a taster.  But this beer, among others, is definitely worth making the trip over to the Vista Tavern to drink and enjoy the outdoor patio as we get closer and closer to summer.

All Words & Photos by:  Justin Kunert

Belching Beaver Tavern & Grill

302 E. Broadway, Vista

#Vista #food #foodporn #beer #brewery #craftbeer #belchingbeaver

Crust Pizzeria ~ Carlsbad

Crust Pizzeria is a Chef driven, gourmet pizza restaurant located on the border of Carlsbad and Encinitas at 3263 Camino De Los Coches, Carlsbad. (sprouts shopping center.)

The restaurant is pretty large with a medium-sized bar area, an open kitchen area, and seating for about 75 inside and an additional 40 on the patio. Still it gets busy on nights and weekends.

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Crust Pizzeria

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Crust Pizzeria interior.

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Master Pizza Chef Charlie Meola working at his craft.

Chef Meola has been working at his craft for 18 years. This experience and his passion for only using the best ingredients shows in his food. I was luck enough to grab some of his time and you can read that interview Here.

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Cheese Pizza by the slice available at lunch.

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Pepperoni Pizza ~ Grande mozzarella, Boars Head pepperoni, and fresh-cut basil.

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Tasia ~ Belle chevre goat cheese, kalamata olives, grilled eggplant, zucchini, Grande Mozzarella, feta cheese, oregano, lemon zest, and chili flake.

The pizza I had on a previous visit was the Sophia ~ Spicy sausage, crispy chard, olive oil, fontina cheese, ricotta, and rosemary.

I do not have a pic because my phone ate it:(  but it was delicious. Perfect crust, loved the quality of the cheese and the balance of flavor.

I would put crust in the top 4 pizza places in San Diego at the moment. First off don’t give me the Filippi’s they are mediocre. Pizza Port is OK if your close and want to grab lunch. Urbn does not know how to cook or time their crust, both times it was charred and inedable around the outside ( and I was there when it was slow so it’s not like they got distracted.)

No, I would say Biga, Crust, and The Privateer followed fourth by Pizza Maniac (for an old school grab a slice after work or school place.)

I know I talked mainly about pizza but Crust also does pastas, salads, and sandwiches.

I plan on going back for non work eating soon to explore the menu a little more along with going back to Biga for lunch because it was too dark for pics at dinner.

Crust Pizzeria

3263 Camino De Los Coches, Carlsbad

#food #foodporn #Pizza

Chef Interview With Chef Charlie Meola Of Crust Pizzeria ~ Carlsbad

I had a chance to sit down and talk with Chef Charlie Meola of Crust Pizzeria in Carlsbad recently. You can also see my article on Crust HERE.

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Chef Meola working at his craft.

 I know you started in NY correct?

Yes.

Can you tell me what your seminal moment was or what made you decide you wanted to pursue being a Chef?

Basically I was 13, started off as a dishwasher, went to counter, went to prep, went to sandwiches and basically learned the whole thing. But at that point and time I did not realize this is what I want to do forever. I enjoyed it but I was going to college.

At The University of Arizona right?

Ended going to University of Arizona. Went for three years, did not graduate. I started bartending, making really good money. I worked from 81 to 87 bartending. At that time I kind of realized there are not many old bartenders around, so maybe I need to look for something else.

I was just driving down the road and saw a pizza place for sale. I called the guy made a deal. Then I put two weeks of renovation in it and opened up. I owned it for 26 years, I just sold it about two years ago.

After That?

Went to Alabama, opened up two restaurants in Alabama. I did not like Alabama at all. Then I came here and opened this.

So the moment I realized I wanted to do this was in 88, when I opened up that pizzeria. The goal became just to make pizza better. With the basis of knowledge I already knew I knew I could do it.

Basically for 5 years from 88 to 93 I strived for that. I went on to resource different products from different parts of the country. Research and development trying this and trying that. Still to this day I do the same thing.

What I tell people who come in, like if a purveyor walks in I say “if you’re here to try to save me money and lessen my product, we are wasting each other’s time”. “If you are here to make my product better we can talk.” If you’re here to make my product better and save me money, that’s the cu de gras.”

I’m open to making it better and paying more as opposed to going the other way. I have fights with my accountant on how much I pay for cheese.

When I had my pizzeria in Tucson the Montage in Laguna Beach would fly me out to make pizza for the Chefs who were cooking for the James Beard Award Dinners. So, I cooked for Alex Stratta, Nancy Silverton, these top chefs in Southern California. That’s really it. The integrity of the food the craft are the most important things.

Editor’s Note: making pizza for Nancy Silverton (Mozza, Pizzeria Mozza..) is damn impressive. Just had to say that.

That’s about it, I have noticed now that it’s not all about food it’s about service too. When I started service was an afterthought. I was just in Mexico and noticed how people would be waiting an hour and a half for their food and not even care. Here people 15 min. and want it for free. You are a product of your environment and have to adapt.

Tell me about the products you use.

It’s real simple I keep rules to certain things. I just changed my tomato sauce for the first time in 28 years. These guys from Italy came in, brought some Italian tomatoes. I put what I was using, which was Escalon, next to this Sanyo(sp), it’s a Campagnia tomato, and I was like “this is better I’m gonna buy them.” That’s a big change to make.

You have your three bases your dough, your sauce, and your cheese. That’s your foundation. To change one of those is a big move. You can change your mushroom.

Or your pepperoni

Actually not, we buy Boars Head, which is $5.99 a pound where I could be getting it for $2.00. We get our sausage from a guy named Phil Scimeca who owns a little sausage shop. I met him in Alabama. I get goat cheese from a lady who makes goat cheese. I know everyone goes local and I would if I could find a product that equals. I’m all go local for vegetables, but if I’m going to buy a cheese…. I actually brought my Italian sausage to a guy in little Italy and said “can you duplicate this” and he said no.

Every day we make our own dough, all our salad dressings from scratch everything.

On a side note Chef also dabbles in photography. I was admiring the Surf photography on the wall, thinking it was Aaron Chang’s work, nope it turned out to be his. When you go there check it out, it’s really good.

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 So, there you have it Chef Charlie Meola of Crust Pizzeria. It always interest me to talk with Chefs. You go to someplace that is really good and then learn in talking with the Chef, oh that’s why. Plus as a food writer you have to listen and learn.

Crust Pizzeria

3263 Camino De Los Coches

Irina’s Bar and Grill ~ Oceanside

großes deutsches Lebensmittel!

Irina’s bar and Grill is a medium-sized bar located at 3375 Mission Ave. in the valley in Oceanside. It boasts a fairly modest exterior and a nice, clean interior with a long “L” shaped bar, plenty of seating and two pool tables. Nothing that really distinguishes it from plenty of other local bars…except for the food.

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You see, Irina’s has a secret weapon, great German food. They have a regular bar menu as well but that’s not why I come here. I come here because good German food is hard to find.I used to travel the U.S. with work and my boss Marc was from Germany. It was our goal to track down any German restaurants we could find coast to coast. They were few and far between. The best we found was in LA, it is no longer around and I can not remember the name. We have Tip Top but I think Irina’s edges them out slightly.

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I started with a Bitberger on tap and a half order of Currywurst.

 

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Currywurst ~ Sliced bratwurst topped with a curry tomato sauce.

Good quality brats topped with a slightly sweet tomato curry served with very nice french fries.

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GESCHNETZELTES VOM SCHWEIN ~ pork ragout in mustard cream sauce w/ honey, pickle + green bell pepper, served w/ sautéed spätzle.

I love Spatzle, this was a good dish. It could have used a touch more seasoning but I ate every bite. Everything is very reasonable the most expensive dish on the German menu is the Jagershnitzel at $12.50 and its huge.

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The huge Jagerschnitzel from a previous visit.

If you’re looking for some different bar fare I would highly suggest checking them out.

They open at 4pm weekdays, noon Saturdays, and 9:30 am Sundays. On yelp you will hear “Sketchy Neighborhood” it not, its fine, I swear you would think no one has ever been to a major city in their life time. They see one homeless person and lose their shit.

Irina’s Bar and Grill

3375 Mission Ave. Oceanside

#food #foodporn #germanfood

Bruery Beer Dinner @ Belching Beaver Tavern ~ Vista

So, I am hitting you with back to back event dinners, which is kind of a mixed bag for me. Part of me thinks, I am reporting on something you can not go to since it has passed. On the other hand it is good to show what is going on here in North County. There will be more events so hopefully you will take advantage and hit some of them up yourself. Even if you do not like events it does give exposure to local Chefs and what they are doing so you can get a feel for their style and talent.

Tonight’s dinner was a collaboration between Chef Ramiro of Belching Beaver Tavern and Grill in Vista and The Bruery out of Orange County. It was a very special collaboration that I feel brought out the best of both parties.

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Chris from The Bruery and Chef Ramiro

I will be covering the food portion, Justin, North County Food’s contributing beer writer will be doing a follow-up post going into the beers more in-depth. It is our first time doing it this way but I think it will be an interesting take on the coverage.

If you have not been to the Belching Beaver Tavern it is a wonderful spot.

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The bar area before the crowd descended.

The dinner was a 5 course menu paired with 7 pours ..think it ended up being 8.

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The menu

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Al Pastor Tostada ~ Annatto seed marinated pork, potato tortilla, hominy puree, burnt pineapple cilantro chimichurri, and spiced cotija cheese.

Hands down dish of the night. This was just everything you want in a dish, layered, complex, heat, richness, and all that. The chimichurri had just this back hit of pineapple and the spiced cotija just played with heat. Truly great.

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Melon Salad ~ Compressed melon, roasted nopales, and nasturtium pesto.

Deceptively simple. The melon was compressed with the paired beer giving it a less sweet flavor. That and the play against the bitterness of the greens and nopales worked perfectly.

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Swedish Meatballs ~ Venison meatballs, creamy gravy, and lingonberry sauce.

Great take on a classic dish. The venison was mixed with some ground beef to add some fat content and inject moisture to the dish.

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Mole Skewers ~ Grilled mole seasoned Beaver veggie skewers

Perfectly cooked vegetables in an insane mole. I tried to see if there was left over mole in the kitchen to take home but alas.

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Grilled Pound Cake ~ Coffee chantilly, jalapeno macerated Oregon berries.

I am not a dessert guy but this was delicious. The grilling of the pound cake gave it a texture just shy of a biscotti. The Coffee chantilly was light and flavorful and not mentioned in the menu description was topped with a chocolate and brittle candy from So Rich Chocolates , one of my favorite chocolatiers, out of Vista as well. Way to keep it local.

The one thing, other than they can make great beer, about the Bruery is they do not shine away from pouring their product.

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This was our corner of the table by the end of the night.

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Justin, Chef Ramiro, and the two lovely ladies we had the pleasure of enjoying the dinner with, never met them before just great people. I had a ton of fun. A big part of these events is meeting new people and sharing the love of food and wine.

Belching Beaver’s next event will feature Firestone Walker. Keep up on dates by following them on Facebook which I will link below.

So, now for some insider news. Belching Beaver is looking to add food both to their Vista tasting room and their Ocean Beach location. The menus will be akin to the bar menu at the Vista tavern location. In addition they are looking to expand the Tavern concept with full menu up to possibly the Santa Barbara area. Good on them.

Belching Beaver Tavern & Grill Vista, Ca

Belching Beaver Facebook

The Bruery

Rooster Ramen : The Return ~coming Spring / Summer

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“Here they come to snuff the rooster
Yeah, here come the rooster
You know he ain’t gonna die
No, no, no, you know he ain’t gonna die”    

Alice in Chains ~ Rooster

So, a little while ago I mentioned on northcountyfood’s Facebook page, which you should be following as well, that a great Ramen place is returning to North County.

That place is Rooster Ramen. The original, high quality pop up Ramen in North County. Do not be fooled by Johnny come latelys.

Now, I am happy to say Rooster Ramen is returning with a full-fledged brick and mortar restaurant.

Having eaten Chef David’s Ramen at the old incarnation of the restaurant, I am eagerly awaiting and trumpeting the return!

Here is what David has told me about his new restaurant

Opening late spring / early summer

Highway 101 in an undisclosed location.

Full 30 plus Sake list, plus Sochu cocktails and a complimenting beer list.

Over 9 traditional ramen dishes taken from different regions of Japan, as well as a number of specialty takes on the noodle dish.

The menu will also feature small plates and Yakatori grilled items prepared on a traditional Binchotan charcoal grill.

A revolving specials board will be available daily and feature items based off of what is fresh and in season. Luxury items such as Osetra Caviar, Monk Fish liver, and pork cheeks will also make an appearance.

Prices for Ramen will run $9 to $14 with build your own as well as vegan and vegetarian options available. Expect to see a good bowl of Pho make an appearance.

The restaurant’s digital ordering system will emulate the Ramen vending ticket machines in Japan. This will not only give customers full control of the ordering process but will also increase its speed.

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Example of a Ramen ticket machine.

The restaurant will have the feel of a Japanese farm-house with plenty of outdoor seating, a lengthy Ramen bar, and a semi open kitchen.

Hours will be 11 am till midnight weekdays and till 2 am Friday and Saturday with an early morning Sunday hangover brunch. This will make it North County’s only late night spot, sans a few Mexican places..

All the restaurants plates, bowls, and cups will be hand-made ceramic from Pawena Studios out of LA.

More news and info to come as things progress.

Perfect timing as this is The Year of The Rooster! My sign as well)

Whole Pig Roast Jan. 14th 12-4 @ Biga

First Annual Hog Roast at Biga

Come join Biga, The Red Door and Edwin Real from Eating and Drinking in San Diego as we celebrate the best local flavors and products at our First Annual Hog Roast!

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Tickets Here

We have four amazing participating chefs, all well-versed in sourcing locally and creating unique and ever-changing menu items. They are Tae Dickey from Biga, Willy Eick from 608 Restaurant, Evan Cruz from Arterra and Drew Bent from the upcoming Lola 55.

We will be roasting a whole hog, provided by Heart & Trotter, in our wood-burning ovens. Heart & Trotter will also be hosting a hog butchering demo for those who are interested!

We will have freshly prepared charcuterie, accompanied by Biga’s unique, woodfired Heritage Bread.

Poor House and Abnormal Brewing will be taking over our beer taps.

A wine tasting will be hosted by Regal Wine.

Cost per ticket is $30 if purchased before January 13 and $35 at the door. Each ticket includes food and one drink. Additional beer will be $3 each and additional wine will be $4 each.

Biga

650 6th Ave. Suite C, San Diego