February 23, 2009

Pane E Vino

Pane E Vino was, quite honestly, not our first choice. As you may have guessed, it was my birthday, and Jennifer and I were meeting up with my aunt, uncle and cousin to eat brunch. We were going for Cafe Luluc for some pancakes, but it was packed, so we wandered up the street a bit and found this place. The decor is a little unusual, with chandeliers and lounge seating up front, but they have a large covered garden space in the back where we were seated.

The menu offered several standard brunch options and some pretty basic Italian fare. It was a nice brunch deal: $10.50 for an entree and a standard alcoholic brunch drink or coffee/tea. Jennifer and I did what we do best-- ordered two things and split them. I ordered the veggie omelette, which came with a few potatoes, and she ordered the french toast which came with strawberries (there was the option of fruit or meat) and a small side salad.

The blob on top of the omelette below was mozzerella, and overall it was pretty tasty. I liked the julianned veggies mixed in, and the potatoes here are mysteriously delicious. I'm not sure that there's anything special about them, but they taste so good. The french toast was the standout this time, just the right texture and flavorful enough on it's own.

The service was attentive, but not overly friendly. We had at least 4 people at our table taking orders, bringing food and bussing, so it was a little confusing. They did notice my inconspicuous birthday hat, though, and brought be a free tiramisu with a candle. I'd come back for some standard brunch fare while other places are over crowded, especially for the french toast. -Laurel

You always take a chance at a place that has an Italian name, but Greek/American confusing decor and a waiting area reminiscent of your grandmother's sitting room.  However, the deal sounded good, and of course, we're always up to try new things - especially when we're drunk or starving (we were starving in this instance). 

Luckily, the food was better than the deal. The omelet was delicious. I always take a chance with veggies, without knowing for sure what veggies are in it, but this was perfect. And the buffalo mozzarella on top was the perfect addition to the already tasty on its own eggs. The potatoes were amazing, definitely. Cooked to perfection - not too soft and not too hard, something that brunch places seem to have a hard time with. You don't want your fork to sink right into your potatoes, or have to try too hard to cut them. And they were slightly crunchy. The french toast was soft on the inside and slightly crunchy on the outside. The strawberries were fresh and absolutely yummy. 

The staff was sweet to give Laurel tiramisu pudding, and it was the perfect combination of a cinnamon light bottom and a creamy middle. I was absolutely full or I would have stolen it from her birthday hands. She was nice enough to let me have two bites though. 

This place taught me to not be afraid of unknown brunch places...however, I've been to enough terrible places to know that you should at least be careful. As long as the place is a good value, you won't be pissed when it's gross. But if it's a good value, it's more likely to be gross...  -Jennifer

Address: 174 Smith St (Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn)

Payment: Cash, Cards

Delivery: Yes

Open Late: Midnight on weekends

Large Group Friendly: Yes

Bar/Happy Hour: Full bar, brunch specials

February 11, 2009


I read about Motorino a few different places, and upon deciding where to go for my birthday it's the first place that came to mind. Boy am I glad it came to mind.

We called them up and found out that they do in fact take reservations for large parties (we had 12). They do a prix fixe deal for big groups, which was an initial turn off, but turned out to be a great deal. They offer a few levels, $20 per person being the lowest and what we chose, and included antipasti and pizza. You can opt for more money and also buy yourself some meat and cheese and dessert. They don't currently serve alcohol, but (score) it is BYOB.

The staff was very friendly every step of the way, confirming my reservation and happily supplying us with wine glasses and a bottle opener. The bread was placed and soon the antipasti starting pouring in, a couple of plates of everything they were offering that night. This included some kind of tasty meat, arugula salad (with pear, bacon, bleu cheese and a light dressing), brussel sprouts (roasted with what I think was bits of pancetta and shaved parm, soooo good), beet salad, roasted butternut squash, mussles, and olives. It was a bit of a feast all by itself, but then came the pizza...

They brought us a couple of several varieties in constant waves. It was almost over whelming. This included: Margherita (bright tasting sauce, good quality mozzarella, and fresh basil), Soppressata Picante (nice and lightly spicy with chili oil and a meaty kick from the spicy soppressata), Brussel Sprout & Speck (chopped sprouts and bits of meaty speck with parm), and Buffaline (mozzarella, olive oil, basil and sea salt). Every one of them was delicious. The crust is not too thick, but pillowy with a nice bit of crunch, and a little smoky from the hot oven. The toppings are top notch, and under normal circumstances one pizza would feed about one person. We had more than enough food, and considering how many different things we each sampled and how much we ate (or me, anyway, I ate an ungodly amount), it was money well spent.

Their pizzas run $9-16 and antipasti $5-15. They have lots of specials every day and also offer meats and cheeses, as well as gelato and sorbet (P.S. I've been back, and the amaretto gelato and blood orange sorbet are to die for). I also heard they are serving brunch now, which cannot be bad. I'd definitely suggest trying this place out, I'm going back ASAP. -Laurel

This place is perfect for large groups and parties. I mean, bringing your own liquor, a prix fixe price so it was the same for everyone (which is the BEST in large groups, because usually someone/everyone ends up paying more than they should because of other people don't pay as much as they should), and the food was awesome.

Unfortunately, as far as the antipasti goes, I couldn't eat a lot of it because of my Crohn's Disease, but it looked good and everyone else seemed to like it! There were some things I could eat, and they tasted great. For someone who doesn't like squash, I was really liked the way they prepared it here - it was sweet and very decadent. Not a big fan of sprouts either but I tried one (can't really have more than that anyway) and the way they prepared it was perfect. I think they may have almost converted Amy - a prominent sprout hater. The meat seemed to be a ham that was cured and very juicy and delicious. The mussels I heard weren't the best ever, but what do you expect for a pizza place?

Speaking of which - the pizza. Not too greasy, a thicker fresh crust, and tasty fresh ingredients all the way through. Normally I add salt to pizza to give it a little more flavor (and because I'm apparently obsessed with salt), but this wasn't needed. I wasn't feeling well so I wasn't going to eat any, but I ended up having three slices because after my first I couldn't stop.

Also, since the place is BYOB, you will save a lot of money, and if you think the waiters did a superb job (as we did), you could give them your leftover wine (as we did). They'll love you for life. - Jennifer

Address: 319 Graham Ave. (at Devoe Street, Williamsburg), Near the Graham Ave. L Stop

Website: http://www.motorinopizza.com/

Payment: Cash, Credit Cards

Delivery: Yep, to a pretty large area, too.

Open Late: Open everyday until 12am

Large Group Friendly: Yep!

Bar/Happy Hour: No, but it's BYOB

La Superior (with Guest Reviewer Davis)

La Superior is apparently a new addition to Williamsburg, and a few of us decided to stop by and try it after bowling at Gutter on Saturday night.

The wait was short and we got in and out rather quickly, even though it seemed like quite a few people were in there. Everyone that works there is rather attentive, but Davis ordered a Jarrito midway through the meal and didn't get it until he re-asked at the end of the meal. BUT they gave it to him free of charge, which was super nice. And, I tried making friends with Danny who worked there, but I was apparently being annoying as shit, so it didn't work.

Either way the food was AMAZING, although be warned: the portions are a little small. And we all ordered something different, so Laurel and I decided to invite everyone else to give their opinions as well! -Jennifer

Conchita de Pollo Taco, Carne Asada Taco, Rajas Taco ($2.50/piece)

Jennifer: I ordered the Conchita de Pollo taco, and it was absolutely delicious. The chicken was tender and tasted slow cooked, and was very spicy, but not to where I couldn't stand it. I actually ended up mixing it with my Rajas Quesadilla (pictured/reviewed below) and the combination was delicious. I snagged a bite of Laurel's Carne Asada Taco, and the beef was perfectly spiced and oh-so-tender and juicy. (And yet again, anytime steak costs the same as all the other meats, I'm definitely game.)

Laurel: I ordered the other two little tacos. The Carne Asada Taco was, well.. it was good enough that I ordered another one before we left. The steak was as Jennifer described, and topped with some pico that was fresh tasting with a bit of a kick. The Rajas was roasted poblano peppers with onions and Mexican cream. It was delicious, definitely good for a vegetarian, but not as good as the steak for a meat eater like me.

Sopa Tarasca ($6)
L: I didn't try this. But I remember Amanda saying that is was really good, but it was really spicy. Then again, I remember her also dumping all of the peppers they gave on the side in at once. So try it if you want some soup, but be sparing with the peppers.

Sampler of Salsas ($4)

L: This colorful collection of 6 fresh salsas (3 green, 3 red) and some pico will only set you back $4. I loved this, since you got to try all different types and variances on flavor and hotness. I generally liked the spicier ones, but I enjoyed tasting all of them. The chips are also freshly fried and crispy, and they brought us more upon request when we ran out. Great for sharing.

Rajas Quesadilla - Street Style ($3.50)

J: This might have been my favorite thing that I ordered. Laurel and I chose this style (her in taco form, mine in quesadilla) for the same reason. In the description it says: de-li-cious. It contained roasted pepper strips and diced onions, and was flavored/topped with mexican cream, a sort of sour cream substitute that was welcomed by my taste buds. The quesadilla was crispy - fried rather than cooked in a pan (Street Style as it says on the menu). This just intensified the flavor and tastiness of the quesadilla as a whole.

L: I got a small bite of this one, and I liked the Rajas better in quesadilla form. It was definitely tasty, and one of the best values on the menu. It was nice combination of crispy and creamy.

Flautas de Pollo ($5.50)
Davis: The chicken flautas came with topped with one of their salsa verdes - after that huge sampler of salsa I wasn't sure which was which anymore, but all of them were great. Flautas tend to get overly oily or so crispy they fall apart, but these were pretty much perfect. I'm writing this a week later, and I kind of need another order right now. Also, the Tamarind jarritos was the perfect sweet to go with the spicy. I don't know why that soda hasn't caught on yet with all of the health-conscious nuts... Sure it's a soda, but it's dirt cheap and made with pure cane sugar. Delicioso.

Panuchos de Cochinita ($8)

Casey: Panuchos de Cochinita = Excellent. It was a little spicy, but didn't hit you until afterwards.

(L: Thanks Casey, but this review does not earn you byline status.)
(J: Agreed)

Address: 295 Berry Street at S. 2nd St. (Williamsburg)


Payment: cash only

Large Group Friendly: Somewhat, we fit 5 people and there was definitely room for more.

Delivery: yes

Open Late: 2 am on the weekends

Bar/Happy Hour: Nope, but it is BYOB
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