Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mi Piace 2009

Pasadena, California.

I'm sorry to report that this is now my FORMER favorite Italian restaurant.

What Happened?

I haven't been back in a year and I don't understand how the taste and quality of the food just plummeted.

For one thing, this restaurant was not as crowded as it usually is. Is that a bad sign? There was hardly any wait and the outside tables were not cleaned (dirty dishes and all!) and remained un-touched for the duration of our dinner.

Then, the table next to ours ordered a Cinzano and they didn't have any. So he ordered a shot of Martini & Rossi Red and a shot of Martini & Rossi White in a glass with ice and a twist of lemon. The waitress came back with a tumbler of M&R red and another tumbler of M&R white. Shit! He repeated the order three times! I could have gone behind the bar and did that myself!

Also, I'm noticing that the food tastes ASIAN!  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but, if I wanted Asian food, I would not go to an Italian restaurant.

Let's start with some calamari.

The calamari was still tasty, generously portioned with plenty of heads which I likey. Traditionally served with marinara sauce, this one arrived with a sweet and sour sauce which I thought was unusual but nevertheless refreshing.  And eerily Asian! 

(Mi Piace Chicken)

Neil ordered his usual Mi Piace signature chicken dish which is chicken with bell peppers and angel hair pasta.  He had no complaints about it.  I tasted it.  I swear it almost tasted like chow mein!  I felt like dousing it with some calamansi and soy sauce to complete the experience!

(Shrimp and Calamari Fra Diavolo)

I ordered the Fra Diavolo with Shrimp and Calamari. The verdict:  It was MEDIOCRE!  I could have done the same thing at home with a bottle of store-bought spaghetti sauce.  The dish was way too salty and not spicy.  It did not have the depth of flavor I remember the last time I ordered it.   Really sad.

(Espresso Bread Pudding)

For dessert, I wanted the usual TiramisĂș.  They were out (it was not even 7pm).  What should I get? Mango cake or Coconut cream pie? (These were really on the dessert menu).

Thankfully, they had Espresso Bread Pudding which was great, especially the choco-caramel sauce.  Of course, now I'll be awake till 3 in the morning.

On the bright side, the search is on for the next great favorite Italian restaurant.  Any suggestions?

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