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.

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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.”

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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

New Brunch Menu @ Masters Kitchen and Cocktail ~ Oceanside

It has been a while since I visited Masters, at least 3 months. Their new Chef and Brunch menu caused a stir for me to meet up with my friend Beau Bonham and check it out.

Chef Richardi is originally from Florida. He began his culinary career as a line cook at Pacifica Del Mar, from there he rose through the ranks at  Rancho Valencia, La Valencia Hotel, The Chart House, The Santaluz Club and Roppongi. He is now Executive Chef at Masters and has started to put his stamp on their menu.

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Chef Richardi and Ryan (owner) both great people.

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This Beau person and Ryan:)

The new brunch menu features a good range of dishes from decadent to healthy and simple.

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Of course we went for decadent. I just did a three-mile beach walk and Beau, like me, eats very simple when not dining out.

Before we could begin Chef brought this out…

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House cured salmon, micro greens, and radish.

Perfect, and I mean perfect cured salmon. I almost went with the everything bagel on the menu because of the salmon but this scratched that itch perfectly, freeing me up for other choices. Thanks Chef.

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Steak and Eggs Benedict ~ Flat Iron steak (cooked perfect medium rare), poached eggs, artisan sourdough, hollandaise, and breakfast potatoes.

The steak was on point and the hollandaise was not over powering. A lot of hollandaise is thick and for lack of a better term gluggy..not this one. Also those potatoes, next time I am ordering an additional side order of those. They reminded me of patatas bravas..so good.

Beau stole the show though…

Masters Chicken and Waffles (1 of 1)

Chicken and Waffle ~ Rosemary waffle, fried chicken breast, smoked bacon, chicken apple sausage gravy, over easy eggs.

A lot of brunch places near by do a chicken and waffles dish. This one is different, it ditched the classic maple syrup route for something more complex. The gravy, I believe due to the apple sausage kept the sweet element and the fry on the chicken breast was almost reminiscent of a Milanese. Also huge, leftovers to take home kind of dish.

The other thing that made me happy was it was crowded.

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Masters dinning area (1 of 1)

Great to see busy restaurants before tourist season has even started.

 

Masters Kitchen & Cocktail

208 South Coast Highway, Oceanside Ca

#food #foodporn #oceanside #brunch

 

 

 

 

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 & Grill ~ The Beers

As promissed here is Justin Kunert’s run down of the beers featured at the Bruery beer dinner @ Belching Beaver Tavern & Grill in Vista.

I had the pleasure of joining Chris at the Belching Beaver Tavern and Grill in Vista for their beer paring dinner with one of my all time favorite breweries, The Bruery, out of Orange County.  As Chris mentioned in his article (see link below), I will be talking up all the delicious liquid companions to our incredible dishes This event kicked off The Bruery tap takeover at Belching Beaver Tavern – so you can go taste the beers in this article, or elect a different selection from their 15 tap handles at the bar, while supplies last.  The 15 beers on tap include options from both The Bruery and The Bruery Terreux.  The Bruery specializes in Belgians and barrel aged beers, and their sour and wild beers fall under The Bruery Terreux brand.

As an additional perk to the dinner, we were given early access to this tap list.  Taking advantage of this I grabbed the Sour in the Rye, a 7.7% abv wild ale.  I loved this beer, and if you’re a sour enthusiast it is a must try.  Soon afterwards, we went on to what would but my first beer dinner that actually included food.  It started off with the 7.1% abv OR XATA Blonde Ale.  This is their twist on Horchata, a sweet milk drink.  Delightful aromas of vanilla and cinnamon accompany this blonde ale, before reaching your mouth with a slightly creamy, refreshingly light touch on the tongue.

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The OR XATA welcome beer

With dessert like aromas, I found this an interesting beer to start the evening with.  But as a blonde ale, it was really drinkable and transitioned nicely to our first dish.

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Al Pastor Tostada paired with Frederick H.

The al pastor was definitely my favorite meal of the night, and the 4.4% abv Frederick H. was the perfect companion.  It is light, refreshing, and its slight tartness paired nicely with the mild spiciness of the al pastor.

The next pairing included a beer that will reign more familiar with the palettes of IPA fans.  Mosaic hops are added to this wild ale to create the 6.3% abv Humulus Terreux, which drinks like a pale ale, but with an appropriately funky flavor and dry finish.  The bitterness matched well with the sweetness of the melon.

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The next installment provided one of my favorite moments of the evening.  The beer was one I had enjoyed many times: the 7.5% abv Oude Tart.  It’s a favorite of mine, for its subtly sweet oak aromas and sourness that tingles your cheeks at the back of your jaw.  Chef Ramiro paired this with Venison meatballs, a creamy gravy, and lingonberry sauce.

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Call me uncultured, but I had never tried a lingonberry before. The chef mentioned that when he first tried this beer, it reminded him of lingonberries.  After trying my first lingonberry, the resemblance was uncanny, and it gave me a whole new perspective on the beer.  For me, this defined the intrigue of these events, and stoked my fascination in different experts’ tastes and experiences with beer.

Already 4 beers deep, The Bruery showed no mercy for the last couple pairings, and brought out some heavy hitters with their 11.1% abv Share This: Mole and the 11.3% abv 9 Ladies Dancing.

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Mole Skewers paired with Share This: Mole

The Share This: Mole has a forward, in your face boozy aroma, but is supported by welcomingly sweet roasty and cinnamon smells.  Upon tasting it you start to notice the spiciness from the added ancho chiles and poblano peppers, and sweetness from the cocoa nibs and vanilla.  It is a pretty complex beer with lots of competing flavors, but ends up providing a superb balance between the high alcohol, spiciness, and sweetness.  Chef Ramiro said the mole skewers were an obvious choice to pair with the beer, and they were indeed a great match.

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Grilled Pound Cake paired with 9 Ladies Dancing

The last dish and drink combination was the tiramisu inspired 9 Ladies Dancing paired with Chef Ramiro’s unique take on tiramisu.  This was delicious.  The beer, with sweet overtones from the added vanilla and chocolate, matched perfectly with the sweetness of the dish as the dessert helped cut the booziness of the beer.  The coffee chantilly on the dessert brought out the coffee flavors in the beer.  The intertwining of layers and flavor made for a wonderful finish to the evening, or so we thought.

For a surprise night-cap, The Bruery generously brought out their 6.1% abv Sourrento, a sour blonde ale inspired by the southern Italian liqueur Limoncello.  Lemon and vanilla aromas filled your nose before the sour ale provided a sweet, refreshing pucker and a dry finish.  This beer, among the others, speaks to the creative innovations that come with beers from The Bruery.  They push the limits of originality and play with flavors that keep your mind guessing and your taste buds craving more.  Go out and try some of their brews at the Belching Beaver Tavern and Grill!

Words and Pics by: Justin Kunert

You can read about the food from the event Here

The Bruery

Plecentia, Ca

Belching Beaver Tavern & Grill

Vista, Ca

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

Pre – Opening Dave & Busters ~ Carlsbad.

So, I was invited recently to check out the new Dave & Busters opening January 30th at the Carlsbad Mall. Though different from my normal restaurant modus operandi I was excited to grab my friend Mario from Banana Dang! and Check it out.

I am glad I did I had a lot of fun and was I impressed with the build out.

The new Dave and Busters inhabits what was the lower part of the old Robinson’s May Company. It shares this newly remodeled wing with Regal Cinemas, 24 Hour Fitness, Pizza Press, Luna Grill, Pannera Bread, and soon The Cheesecake Factory. The rest of the mall is 80% boarded up and under construction.

Before bemoaning corporate entities too much, the reality is, it is a mall and the Dave and Busters alone employs 216 locals, that whole wing alone once completed probably 600+.

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Putting the final touches on the exterior at 2501 El Camino Real Suite 140, Carlsbad.

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Entry way on the lower level of the east wing.

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40,000 square feet of sports bar, restaurant, and games.

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The restaurant section of Dave & Busters. I’m guessing it holds 80 to 100ish.

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The facility hosts 2 private meeting rooms. This is the larger which has an independent audio and video system. They offer catering services which offer customizable menus for any occasion.

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I was impressed with the sports bar area. A Huge amount of TVs including 3 4k digital 100″ screens. They carry all sport packages including UFC events.

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It was nice to see Belching Beaver’s mango IPA on tap as well as Stone.

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You gotta have an updated version of old school skeet ball.

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Marc, another member of the press, playing Mario Olympics.

They have, obviously, a ton of games that work off of a ticketless card system for credits and points. Dave and Busters is 18 and up unless that person is accompanied by a guardian 25 or older.

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I really wanted to play the Star Wars Battle Pod game but I ran out of credits shooting robots and racing cars badly with Mario. I would treat this place like Vegas come in with a set amount or it could quickly become a money sink.

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You can redeem your points from playing games at the prize center.

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The prizes have upgraded since I was younger, I usually left from an arcade with this…..

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I’d still get stuck.

We were treated to a buffet of their menu items to try out. The quality was better than expected putting it above places like Buffalo Wild Wings.

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Sample offerings.

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One of my plates:) The baby back ribs were especially good for a non BBQ specialty joint. I also went for seconds of the fish and chips.

My favorite offering was (and I’ll use their pic because its pretty)…

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Cheese Burger with smoked bacon. This was really tasty.

So, there is your sneak peek at Dave & Busters in Carlsbad. I will be back to grab a drink and a bite at the sports bar…and play that Star Wars game.

Dave and Busters

2501 El Camino Real, Carlsbad

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)