Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gloria's Little Italy

Gloria’s Little Italy
279 E 300 S
Provo, UT 84606
(801) 805-4913

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thai Ruby

Thai Ruby
744 E 820 N
Provo, UT 84606
(801) 375-6840

Thursday, June 5, 2008

India Palace

India Palace
98 W Center St
Provo, UT 84601
(801) 373-7200

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pizzeria Seven Twelve

Pizzeria Seven Twelve
320 S. State St. #185
Orem, Ut 84058
(801) 623-6712

When you first arrive you are greeted in the parking lot by the smell of the wood-burning oven. The smell is great and is a hint at the flavor to come. Inside the decorations are simple but nice. There are paintings on the wall (My favorite is "Madonna with child ... and the dog") and quotes about good food. The idea of quality ingredients and good food give the place the character and let you know what to expect.

We had a group of 16 or so when we went. I went in person the day before and asked to make a reservation. They said they don't take reservations. I said we have 16 people and we don't want to flood the place during lunch what time would you prefer we come? They said they don't take reservations. Ok, we'll show up at 11:30 when you open and take what we get. They said they won't promise any seating arrangements but we could hope for the best.

We lined up at 11:20am the next day and the smell and ingredients were enticing. We watched them prep the kitchen and get things together. They seated us together at some tables pushed together. (The small size of the place has pros and cons, I like the intimate feel, I don't like sitting too close to other tables where everyone can hear each other. It won't stop me from coming back.) We came for the pizza and everyone ordered pizza. They said it might take a while but we were happy to chat and wait. They brought out some pita bread and hummus that were both tasty.

With the size of the group we tried to get a couple of people to order each kind of pizza and then we would trade. One goal of Tour of Provo is to try all the options around here and this seemed a good way to do it. The chef decided it was easier to make each type of pizza in batches which was better than we could have planned. He would make 2-3 of each pizza, they would come to the table, we would all have a slice and chat about it just in time for everyone to try the next type of pizza together. I got a slice of 4? different pizzas and they were all fabulous.

The menu changes with the seasons and flavors. Normally I would not order a cheese pizza, but Pizzeria 712 is not normal pizza and not normal ingredients. The pizza was just the right balance of three cheeses. We tried a pizza with homemade sausage on it and fennel and that may have been the winning favorite. I also tried a pizza with speck (like prosciutto but a little more flavor) and sopressata (which they described as fancy pepperoni, but I think that does it an injustice). The pizza was a bit much for something fragile like speck and the flavors didn't blend well. It was just ok.

A favorite pizza of mine is tomato sauce, basil, and mozzarella. If you want to know good pizza and the quality of the ingredients you need somewhere to start with the basics. Like using a palet d'or to determine the quality of a chocolatier's ingredients the margherita pizza tells you everything. The sauce was thin and didn't taste like sugar, it tasted like ripe tomatoes. The mozzarella was soft and smooth and the basil had flavor. The crust (as in all the pizzas) was thin and just a little elasticy. The flavor of the wood was evident in the pizza and the balance of all the ingredients and the wonderful crust was a treat.

In the past I have had dessert at Pizzeria 712 but I was too full this time. They make the desserts in house including many of the ingredients. They are just as wonderful.

They take great care with fresh ingredients and simple food. The flavors are prominent and fresh. Pizzeria 712 is tasty food in a pleasant atmosphere (you can see and smell the oven and preparation the whole time). I would be nervous to take the kids (small place), but would have no problem taking someone I am trying to impress.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

La Carreta Peruvian Restaurant

La Carreta
340 East 1200 South
Orem, UT 84058
Phone: (801) 229-2696

We called ahead for our crowd of 18 or so and they were willing to seat us at 11am (they open at 11:30am). A crowd like that can get a small place behind on the lunch rush and this gets us out quicker so it was great for both parties. When we arrived they had a bunch of tables all pushed together and ready for us. The staff was friendly and happy to help us. The chips and salsa are fabulous with thick, crunchy chips and salsa that has some heat but also flavor.

A couple of dishes to consider when you go: The Bisteck a la Carreta is a thin steak marinated in grapefruit and then brought sizzling to your table, it is fabulous and should not be missed. The saltado and tallarin saltados are an excellent combination of beef with onions and tomatoes. They have a seviche (raw fish in lemon juice) that is fabulous. The dish tastes so fresh with the fish and veggies and I was surprised how much I liked it. Bisteck a lo Pobre is a tasty combination of fried eggs and steak that with the rice to soak it all up tastes hearty. Another favorite is Jalea de Pescado which is breaded, fried fish on top of a mixture of lettuce, potatoes, and some shrimp. The 'salad' and fish are great together and didn't leave me hungry.

The whole experience was fabulous. They were constantly refilling drinks and salsa. They made recommendations on dishes and fielded questions with some great conversation. Some people tried some of the Peruvian drinks they offer and reported that they were tasty too.

The atmosphere is casual but clean and nice. Kids are welcome and comfortable and they have some interesting Peruvian twists on kid meals that my kids eat. Highly recommended for any occasion. They have a back room for birthday parties and such if you prefer it. Order anything above or ask for recommendations, they'll take good care of you.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sam Hawk Korean Restaurant

Sam Hawk
660 N Freedom Blvd
Provo, UT 84601
Phone: (801) 377-7766

We phoned ahead the same day for our crowd of 10. We called at 11am and arrived around noon. This was not my first time at Sam Hawk and we always call ahead, even for small parties of two.

There were a few first-timers to Korean food in our group. The best place to start with Korean food is the bulgogi. The two main options here are beef and pork. The beef is sweet and mild and the pork is savory and spicy. Our group was spilt in half between beef and pork which made it easy for everyone to try a little of the other kind.

When we arrived the table was ready to go. We had to wait a little while, but they brought out the banchan and rice (in those great metal bowls). Then they started bringing out the meat. It arrives sizzling on a small cast iron plate on a wood plate (like fajitas). They brought out the Romaine lettuce and we were ready to eat. Grab a lettuce leaf and load it up with some meat, rice, banchan, kimchi, anything you want (JoeD was the best at this). Then eat it like a taco. The crisp cold lettuce and the spicy hot pork and the kimchi make for a combination you won't forget.

Banchan refers to the small side dishes that come with a Korean meal. We had bean sprouts, kimchi, potatoes, egg, marinated beef, and some ssam jang (spicy orange sauce that I didn't like the flavor of).

The meal was great and the service was great. Call ahead to get your order in or it takes a while, but once you are there the service is fast and they stay on top of refilling your banchan as you need it. I think the favorite of most people was the pork over the beef. But everyone loved the banchan and the building process. Kimchi was not as well received, but a couple of people (myself included) found it great.

The price was about $9 per person. I was full when we left, but two people were looking for more. We headed over to Shirley's Bakery, but the line was too long so we headed back to the office. Can't wait to go back.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Four Seasons Hot Pot & Dumplings

Four Seasons Hot Pot & Dumplings
236 N. University Ave.
Provo, UT 84601
Phone: 801-375-6888

We have a large party (13?) so we emailed them a week in advance and phoned them the day before. They were ready for us and pleased to share their place. The soups were ready to go and we had a variety of different bases to try (chicken broth, miso, and something spicy). They showed us the raw ingredients and explained each of them.

The atmosphere was great, it was like sitting down as a family. I put things in I wanted others to try and I ate things others had put in that they thought were tasty. Everyone seemed willing to try most things at least once and that made some good conversations. I was wrong about how many people would like the seaweed knots and someone else was wrong that I might like the tofu skin. The most popular might have been the beef in the spicy soup base then dipped in their house sauce - an amazing combination. The group was lively and people were always happy to throw in their favorites and let others eat them. A frequent conversation was asking if a pot was available to have ingredients added or if anyone wanted to try something that had finished cooking. People were proud of their combinations of soup and ingredients and eager for others to try them.

The price of the meal was $8 or so and included the drink and an ice cream bar but I didn't have room for ice cream at the end. They did bring us little candies and most everyone got a set of chopsticks as a present from our hosts. The service was great and the conversation was great. We even managed to cook our own food without poisoning anyone. Can't wait to go back.