Category Archives: italian

vegetarian: 舒果 (shū guǒ)

date january 07, 2011

contact No. 65, Sec. 2, Nanjing E. Rd., Zhongshan District, Taipei City/台北市中山區南京東路二段65號/02.2541.2511

hours 7 days a week [lunch] 11:30-14:30 (last reservation at 14:00) :: [dinner] 17:30-22:00 (last reservation at 21:00)

price 398NT (+10% service charge)

rating ♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Songjiang Nanjing MRT (捷運松江南京站)

website http://www.sufood.com.tw/ (Chinese Only)

Sorry being completely MIA for over a month. Complete fail on my part. I should make it a New Year’s resolution to update at least once a week. Let’s see if I can do that.

This was actually my second time to Shu Guo; I took my mom who is vegetarian in December, but forgot my camera. Anyways, my friend Andrew is in Taipei from Berkeley and since he’s a vegetarian (newly a pescatarian) I figured perfect time to go back WITH my camera.

Shu Guo has three locations in Taipei and other various location around Taiwan. We went to the location on Nanjing E. Road (南京東路) near Songjiang Nanjing MRT station Exit 8 (捷運松江南京站). I’ve also been to the location on Roosevelt Road (羅斯福路) near Guting MRT station Exit 3 (捷運古亭站); located on the third floor above the steak house Tasty.

MAKE RESERVATIONS! We originally wanted to eat at the Roosevelt Road location, but when I called in Friday afternoon for a reservation, they were booked for Saturday.

Shu Guo’s Nanjing E. Road location is three stories: the first story is the greeting area, the second story is a dining room, and I’m not sure about the third floor, but I saw people going up and down the stairs.

The inside of Shu Guo is really clean. The tables are a little close together to maximize the number of people that can dine, but it’s not like you’re eating with your neighbor, you’re just kind of close to them.

The menu at Shu Guo is in Chinese only, but luckily there is a picture for every item.

First course to come out is the appetizer course, which is made up of (from left to right) konjac with tomato (蒟蒻蕃茄), water lotus with pepper sauce (彩椒水蓮), and mountain yam with blueberry sauce (藍莓山藥). The first time I was told to eat from left to right, lightest to heaviest in flavor. The konjac has a pickled plum flavor that I’m generally not a huge fan of, but it’s not bad. I really like raw mountain yam for its crunchiness and sliminess; also, I think the blueberry sauce works well with the mountain yam.

The rosemary bread sticks (迷迭香火柴麵包) came out at the same time the appetizer did. They were warm and accompanied with a small shot glass of a ranch dressing-like dipping sauce. The bread was good, but nothing particularly outstanding.

The next course after the appetizer is the salad, which has two choices: seasonal vegetable sticks salad (時蔬棒沙拉) or yogurt fruit salad (優格水果沙拉). I opted for the seasonal vegetable sticks salad. All the veggies were fresh, cold, and crunchy. The sauce in the middle is a thousand island dressing. Best part of this dish is the little lettuce wrap in the shot glass. The dressing in the shot glass is some kind of sesame dressing. It’s delicious. I’d suggest eating the lettuce thing and then using the remaining dressing to dip the other veggies into.

Andrew opted for the yogurt fruit salad. He said it was good.

After the salad comes the soup. There are four choices of soup: Italian style stew (義式燉蔬煲), Milan pumpkin soup (米蘭南瓜濃湯), green bean mushroom soup (青漾蕈菇濃湯), and burdock cashew broth (牛蒡腰果清湯). I opted for the Millan pumpkin soup. The soup is delicious, very lightly seasoned so what stands out is the pumpkin flavor. Tasty! Andrew opted for the burdock cashew broth. It was really good and really flavorful. Inside the broth was burdock, cashews, lotus root, etc.

Right before our main course came we were served with the “non-staple item” which is five-grain rice (果香五穀炊飯). I thought this was pretty good. There are also mushrooms in the rice so it has a nice mushroom flavor.

There are a lot of choices for the main course. The first time I went to Shu Guo I got the calzone (卡洛佐尼枕頭披薩), which was delicious and big enough to share. This time around I opted for the king oyster mushrooms with twice baked potato (花香杏鮑菇[佐洋芋盅]). The king oyster mushrooms are served on top of an italian sauce with some sweet potato mash. The mushrooms were really good: tender and juicy. The twice baked potato was kind of dry and not hot…although, still good. The potato is filled with a mushroom and tomato mix. I would get this again.

Andrew went with the baked vegetable cheese macaroni (烤鮮蔬芝士通心粉). This was pretty good. I liked the cream sauce and baked cheese is always good.

Lastly is dessert and a drink. I chose the angel cheese mousse (天使起司慕斯) and chamomile pomelo tea (洋甘菊香柚花茶). I love cheesecake and this cheese mousse is like a really light fluffy cheesecake. It’s pretty delicious. There is a thin layer of chocolate cake at the bottom and some berry flavored mousse in the center of the cake. I’ve gotten this both times I’ve been and will likely get it next time I go. The chamomile pomelo tea is nice and light in flavor, so if you’re looking for something hot and not sweet, this is a good choice.

Andrew went with the sesame walnut milk pudding (芝麻核桃奶酪) and ashitaba aloe vera drink (明日葉蘆薈露). If you’re looking for a dessert that isn’t very sweet I think the sesame walnut milk pudding is a good choice. The milk pudding is really smooth and pretty tasty. The ashitaba aloe drink was interesting. I only had a sip, but it seemed pretty good.

Last time I was here, my mom got the lemon apple pie (香檸蘋果派), which is served warm. It was pretty delicious. I’d definitely get it again.

Overall everything here is pretty great. It’s clean, the service is good, the food is good, and it’s totally affordable. There are a lot of other main dishes that I want to try so I’m sure I’ll be back. If you have a vegetarian friend or family member, or just want some veggies I’d definitely recommend Shu Guo.

italian: la giara ristorante

date october 28, 2011

contact 2F, No. 352, Sec. 1, Fuxing S. Rd., Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區復興南路一段352號2F/02.2705.0345

hours 7 days a week :: [lunch] 12:00-14:30 :: [afternoon tea] 12:00-17:00 :: [dinner] 18:00-23:30

price 600NT-3000NT (+10% service charge; excludes alcohol)

rating ♥♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Daan MRT (捷運大安站)

website http://www.lagiara.com.tw/ (Chinese and English)

My fellow food blogging friend at I Am Gourmand once again planned another lovely romantic dinner at an Italian restaurant in Taipei.

If you are walking north on Fuxing N. Rd. (復興南路) from Daan MRT station (捷運大安站) the restaurant will be on the left-hand side of Fuxing. Be warned, there are two No. 352’s on Fuxing N. Rd. If you’re coming from the MRT station, it’s not the first one, it’s the second one after the clothing store.

From the street, the entrance of La Giara looks the photo above. Walk into the lobby and follow the black and white checkered floor up the stairs.

At the top of the stairs is the entrance to La Giara.

Make reservations before coming! The restaurant didn’t fill up while we were there, but I hear this place is popular, so better safe than sorry. The inside of La Giara is a giant open space with rooms on both ends of the dining area. The lighting is pretty dim, the tables have fresh flowers, and there is soft Italian music playing in the background, which makes for a pretty romantic setting; I can see why everyone says this is a good date place. In researching what to order prior to coming I had read on several reviews that this is a popular spot for proposals. We didn’t happen to witness any, but I can see why it is.

The menu at La Giara is in Chinese, Italian, and English. I noticed that the prices on their website differ from the actual menu; the website probably hasn’t been updated. The menu selection is pretty good. I was surprised that they didn’t have more pasta options, but they have a decent amount of main meat based courses. Between the three of us in our party we ordered:

– Stuffed squid topped with breadcrumb, served with salmoriglio olive oil dressing, lemon juice, garlic, oregano and parsley (西西里式香料麵包丁透抽捲/Calamari alla trapanese, serviti con salmoriglio) 490NT
– Fresh spinach leaves tossed in a dressing of olive oil, rice vinegar, garlic and ginger (菠菜沙拉/Insalata di spinaci) 380NT
– Risotto in four kind cheese sauce (起司燉飯/Risotto quatro for maggi) 530NT
– Risotto with shrimps and scallops (螯蝦干貝海味燉飯/Risotto gamberi e cappesante) 530NT
– Potato dumplings with gorgonzola cheese (藍乳酪馬鈴薯麵糰/Gnocchi di patate al gorgonzola) 530NT
– Semi-frozen almond cake with chocolate (巧克力杏仁霜/Semifreddo di mandorle con cioccolata) 270NT

First thing to come out was the complimentary bread sticks. We all thought the bread was pretty tasty. I think that of the Italian restaurants that I’ve been to thus far in Taipei, these were my favorite. They had a herb, salt, seasoning sprinkled on top and the bread itself was fresh and hot. Note, the olive oil and vinegar bottle do not have spouts, even though they look like they do. The tops are actually caps, so don’t embarrass yourself like I did and pour before taking the top of: you’ll make a loud noise as the cap clanks onto the plate.

After the bread the server put a plate with three tiny fried balls pierced by toothpicks down in front of us. We noticed that no other tables got this, so we were a little confused, but decided to go with it. I mean, who doesn’t like a complementary  amuse. First impression, it tasted like a delicious tater tot. This ball was tiny, like the size of your thumb nail tiny, but it tasted pretty good. We asked the server later what it actually was and found out that it was actually rice and beef. Tasty, although, they could have taken the wrapper all the way off the toothpick… We later learned that the chef thought it was one of our birthdays, hence the amuse.

So the nice thing about this place is that they will split everything on the menu for you onto different plates to make it easier to share. We decided to get the stuffed squid topped with breadcrumb, served with salmoriglio olive oil dressing, lemon juice, garlic, oregano and parsley (西西里式香料麵包丁透抽捲/Calamari alla trapanese, serviti con salmoriglio) for 490NT and fresh spinach leaves tossed in a dressing of olive oil, rice vinegar, garlic and ginger (菠菜沙拉/Insalata di spinaci) for 380NT. The server said that the salad was big enough to split between 2-3 people, so had the chef split the salad onto three plates for us. We didn’t know that they were going to slit the squid too, but he did. The salad was a hit with all three of us. The dressing was delicious: light and well balanced. Also, for the price, I think it’s a pretty decent size. The stuffed squid was ordered based on reviews both Estella and I had seen online. First, for the price, the serving seemed small. The server said it was because the chef split it into three portions to split equally so it just looked smaller. Anyways, we were all underwhelmed by the stuffed squid, which was sad because we all really wanted to like it; I mean, it looked delicious. The stuffing lacked something that was as simple as salt. There was a sauce drizzled around the squid: you have to get some of the lemon sauce on each bite. The lemon sauce adds some much needed acidity to the dish, but even so, we were all still kind of let down.

I love risotto and I love cheese, so I got the risotto in four kind cheese sauce (起司燉飯/Risotto quatro for maggi) for 530NT. I was originally thinking about getting the seafood risotto, but since Andrea was getting that, I figured I’d go with the cheese risotto. When it was put down in front of me Estella said, now that’s a real risotto. It looked delicious on the plate, spreading on the plate like I learned a risotto should from watching a lot of Top Chef. The rice was a delicious al dente and the sauce was cheesy. Like, super cheesy. I’m not sure what four cheese were in this sauce, but I can tell you that bleu cheese was most definitely one of them. This risotto was rich. Really rich, and honestly not for those who 1) don’t like cheese 2) don’t like strong flavors. Even I could only finish half of it. With that said, I still really liked this. The rice was cooked well and the sauce was cheesy, rich, and creamy. But, if you’re looking for something subtle, something light, don’t get this.

Andrea ordered the risotto with shrimps and scallops (螯蝦干貝海味燉飯/Risotto gamberi e cappesante) for 530NT. This was really good. Again, the rice was a nice al dente and the tomato sauced was pretty good. I think I actually liked the sauce better at Luna D’Italia, but either way, this was tasty and Andrea really liked it.

By far the biggest hit of the night were the potato dumplings with gorgonzola cheese (藍乳酪馬鈴薯麵糰/Gnocchi di patate al gorgonzola) aka potato gnocchi for 530NT. Estella loves gnocchi, as do I, and the gnocchi at La Giara definitely hits the spot. Light, fluffy, creamy, and amazingly delicious. They were like little potato clouds of creamy tastiness. By far the best gnocchi in Taipei, and the best gnocchi I’ve ever had (not that I’m an gnocchi guru or anything). The sauce was also tasty, light, and creamy. I would definitely go back to La Giara just to order this.

For dessert, we decided to split the semi-frozen almond cake with chocolate (巧克力杏仁霜/Semifreddo di mandorle con cioccolata) for 270NT. We had originally wanted to order the homemade semifreddo pistachios (melting ice cream) (大廚特製開心果霜淇淋) for 300NT under the Chef’s Specials, but they were out. The semifreddo we ended up with, though, was delicious! Creamy, not too sweet, and nice and nutty. Compared to the one at Luna D’Italia, I liked this one better. I just thought the overall flavor and texture was better.

Note that water here is not free, but they tell you that upon being seated. They have two options, sparkling water and mineral water. You pay by the bottle, which comes out to 140NT per bottle. Service here is pretty good, although, we had issues trying to get the attention of servers every once in a while. Overall, the food was pretty good.  The portions are kind of small for the price, but the quality was good. Quality over quantity, right? The chef/owner is frequently on the floor and in and out of the kitchen, which I had read about in other reviews. It’s almost like he’s a little ADD needing to constantly move around and/or check to see how people are reacting to the food. It’s a little distracting, but other then that I’d definitely come back for some of dishes here, ie the gnocchi, and maybe leave some others out, ie the stuffed squid.

For a grand total of 3157NT – about 1000NT per person – we were able to get appetizers, a main course, and a dessert, and all left feeling pretty full and satisfied. I noticed that they do have set dinner meals for either 1800NT or 2500NT, which was out of my price range. You can also just order a la carte if you wanted, which would probably run you around 600NT or so. Regardless, it was nice to find out you could still get a tasty three course meal at a reasonable rate. Good job, La Giara.

italian: casa della pasta (義麵坊)

date october 15, 2011

contact No. 218, Sec. 2, Jinshan S. Rd., Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區金山南路二段218號/02.3393.2518

hours 7 days a week [lunch] 12:00-14:00 [dinner] 18:00-22:00

price <300NT (+10% service charge; 150NT per person minimum)

rating ♥♥ (3 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Guting MRT (捷運古亭站)

website http://www.capasta.com.tw (Chinese and English Only)

I’ve been eating a lot of Italian lately…

Ron called me for dinner and said he wanted pasta. I don’t know of a lot of pasta places around Guting, but Ron had passed by Casa Della Pasta on Jinshan Rd. (金山路) near Shida (師大) so we decided to try it out.

Casa Della Pasta (Shida Store) is located right next door to Roxy 99 and Twiice Night Club (formerly 9%). According to their business card they have 4 locations in Taipei.

On a Saturday night at 8pm the restaurant was pretty full, but we didn’t need a reservation for two and were immediately seated. The inside of Casa Della Pasta is pretty nice: pretty cute and homey, nice place for a date maybe. There is a large window at the back of the restaurant into the kitchen so you can see what’s going on. They also have some Halloween/fall decorations up to add some festive zest.

The menu has a lot of variety. I saw pizza, salad, risotto, gnocchi, and other mains in addition to the long list of pasta. All of their pastas come with the choice of spaghetti (細麵) or penne (管麵). You can also make your meal a set meal for an extra 90NT. I think the set meal come with salad and a drink, but I’m not sure; Ron and I both chose to just order a la carte. I asked the waitress for a recommendation and she suggested the Smoked Salmon with Cream Sauce (煙燻鮭魚奶油麵) for 155NT, which she noted is their signature dish. Ron and I both decided to try it.

I liked this dish. The cream sauce was pretty light and they weren’t heavy handed with it, which I liked. The sauce had a nice garlicy taste to it, but wasn’t overpowering. The smoked salmon cooks a little while on the hot pasta. The waitress told us when ordering this that the salmon would not be cooked all the way, which to me was a given, but nice to be warned just in case. The pasta was cooked well; a nice al dente. I’m pretty sure both the pasta and smoked salmon are not made in house. The pasta didn’t taste like it was freshly made and for 155NT I doubt it is. There was also a small piece of french bread and shredded parmesan that accompanied the pasta. Overall, pretty tasty. I’d get it again.

For the price this place isn’t bad. I’m curious about their meat sauce because that’s usually what ends up being most disappointing at Italian restaurants in Taiwan. The service was good and one of the waiters speaks very good English for those who don’t really speak Mandarin.

In comparison with Luna D’Italia and Papa Gio’ this place is less authentic and less fancy, but the price reflects that. I’d say the average meal at Casa Della Pasta only costs around 300NT if you decide to get the set meal, cheaper if you order a la carte like we did. Would I come back here? Yeah, I’d give it another go. Was it super spectacular? Not really, but it’s good enough.

italian: luna d’italia (月之意大利餐廳)

date october 04, 2011

contact No. 3, Lane 265, Sec. 2, Dunhua S. Rd., Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區敦化南路二段265巷3號/02.2733.9635

hours 7 days a week [lunch] 11:30-14:40 [dinner] 17:45-22:30

price 400NT and up (+ 10% service charge)

rating ♥♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Liuzhangli MRT (捷運六張黎站)

My food blogging friend Estella planned another lovely dinner at Luna D’Italia, another delicious authentic Italian restaurant in Taipei.

The nearest MRT station is Liuzhangli (六張黎), but it might just be easier to take a bus to somewhere around Dunhua S. Rd. (敦化南路) and Heping E. Rd. (和平東路). Luna D’Italia is in the lane in front of the Shangrila Hotel Mall on Dunhua S. Rd. with the Starbucks at the corner.

I was told that reservations at Luna D’Italia are a must. Estella made reservations for 2 at 19:30 on a Tuesday night. The restaurant was full all night.

The menu is in Italian, English, and Chinese. There are random pictures throughout the menu, but no labels. They have a deal where you can make your entree a set meal for an extra 250NT at dinner and extra 150NT at lunch. This set meal includes bread; daily salad, daily soup, or dessert (choose 2 of 3); and coffee or tea. The items on their entrees ranged from about 400NT to over 1500NT (without the set meal). Estella, Wesley and I all decided to do the set meal to accompany our entrees. We ordered:

– Gnocchi ragu ed funghi (番茄肉醬佐蘑菇義式手工麵疙瘩/Potato gnocchi with mushroom and traditional meat sauce) 420NT
– Lasagna (傳統焗烤千層麵/Traditional roast pasta with meat sauce) 380NT
– Risotto alla pescatora (番茄海鮮燉飯/Risotto with seafood in tomato base) 460NT
– Bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
– Insalata di spinaci (菠菜沙拉/Spinach salad)
– Tiramisu (提拉米蘇/Classic tiramisu)
– Semifreddo di mandorle con cioccolata (杏仁霜派/Semi-frozen almond cake)

First thing that came out was the bread. The flat pita-like bread was pretty tasty. It had some roasted herbs sprinkled on top that added some flavor. Eat it while it’s warm or else it gets hard.

The salad of the day happened to be the Insalata di spinaci (菠菜沙拉/Spinach salad). I was originally debating between salad and soup (which was cream of broccoli), but I decided to go with salad – actually all three of us ended up with the salad. The salad was good. I thought the dressing was tasty and light: some kind of vinaigrette.

Estella chose the Gnocchi ragu ed funghi (番茄肉醬佐蘑菇義式手工麵疙瘩/Potato gnocchi with mushroom and traditional meat sauce) for 420NT. According to research I had done on the restaurant prior to dinner, patrons said that Luna D’Italia was known for it gnocchi and risotto. Both Estella and I found the gnocchi to be less than stellar: they just weren’t as light and fluffy as I like my gnocchi. In fact they were maybe even a little dense; however, the meat sauce was delicious. The meat, the tomato sauce, the mushrooms made for a hearty robust sauce.

Wesley went with the Lasagna (傳統焗烤千層麵/Traditional roast pasta with meat sauce) for 380NT. I thought this was pretty tasty, as did Wesley. Compared to the Lasagna at Papa Gio’ I think they had different strengths. I liked the actual lasagna better at Papa Gio’ as I found the lasagna in this one to be over cooked. On the other hand, I liked the filling at Luna D’Italia better. It is just juicier and more flavorful in my opinion.

I opted for the Risotto alla pescatora (番茄海鮮燉飯/Risotto with seafood in tomato base) for 460NT. I love risotto and was very happy with this dish. The rice was a nice al dente and the sauce had a lovely tomato seafood flavor. There was also a hint of spice to this dish, which was a wonderful surprise since I love spicy food. Seafood-wise there was some sort of white fish, calamari, clams, and a muscle: all were delicious!

I had read that for dessert the Semifreddo di mandorle con cioccolata (杏仁霜派/Semi-frozen almond cake) was a must. Estella and I both ordered the semifreddo and it was delicious! I had never had a semifreddo before and I feel like I have been missing out. This wasn’t that sweet, but it had a great almond mocha taste to it.

Wesley is allergic to nuts so he opted for the Tiramisu (提拉米蘇/Classic tiramisu). It was delicious!  I didn’t really taste the mascarpone, but other then that I felt like everything was really well balanced. I’ve had some tiramisu that tasted way too alcoholic and others that tasted way too sweet. This was a good balance of everything.

At the end of our meal they brought out our coffees and teas. Nothing special. The most annoying thing at this restaurant is that they serve Evian water THAT THEY CHARGE YOU FOR. When we got our check we were like, what are these 35NT charges? We asked a waiter and she was like, oh, it’s for the water. Now, I find it interesting that it’s not mentioned to you that they are going to charge you for water that they pour for you upon sitting down. I thought that was kind of annoying and a little dishonest on behalf of the restaurant. Other then that the service was good and the ambiance nice. They let us sit at our table after we were done and kept refilling our waters. We had joked before seeing our check that Wesley had drank an entire bottle of the water himself, and once we found out we had to pay for it he was like, well then I’m going to get my monies worth. It sounded like the servers spoke some English for those who do not speak Chinese. Overall, I thought this place was pretty tasty and worth the price you pay. I’d come back. They had some pretty tasty looking pizzas and another risotto that sounded good.

italian: papa gio’ (喬爸爸義大利美食餐廳)

date september 08, 2011

contact No. 22, Alley 6, Ln. 170, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區忠孝東路四段170巷6弄22號/02.2711.8720

hours 7 days a week [lunch] 11:30-14:00 :: [dinner] 18:00-22:00

price 300NT-600NT (plus 10% service charge)

rating ♥♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT (捷運忠孝敦化站)

website http://www.papagio.com.tw/ (Chinese and English)

My fellow food loving food blogger friend Estella planned a lovely dinner at Papa Gio’ a few weeks ago. A lot of my friends complain about how hard it is to find good authentic Italian food in Taipei and I agree. Estella told me that the chef at Papa Gio’ is actually Italian and specializes in making authentic homestyle Italian food.

Papa Gio’ is located right out of Exit 5 of Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT (忠孝敦化).

I feel like it’s always a good thing when you walk into a restaurant and people of that country’s cuisine are there. There were a lot of Italian’s at Papa Gio’, so on first glance I knew that this place had to be at least decent. I would recommend reservations before going to Papa Gio’. We went on a Thursday night, and while when we arrived it was empty, it quickly filled. Papa Gio’ has a good amount of seating and a few “private” rooms. I say “private” because there are several tables inside these rooms, but they are rooms with doors that close. Being a bunch of loud obnoxious American’s, they ended up closing the door to the room we were in.

The menu at Papa Gio’ is in Italian, Chinese, and English. There are no pictures, but there are descriptions of all the dishes. Estella had been to Papa Gio’ several times before and recommended that we get items from the “handmade special pasta” section. As a table we decided to get a few appetizers to split on top of the entrees we each got. All together we ordered:
– Calamari e Seppioline in Umido alla Veneta su Crostone di Pane (威尼斯風格燉小墨魚佐麵包片/Small squid and small cuttlefish in Venetian style with bread crouton) 300NT
– Carpaccio di Manzo con Grana (義式生牛肉佐洋菇及芝麻菜/Thin slices of beef fillet topped with parmesan cheese, button mushrooms, extra virgin olive oil, and rocket salad in Italian style) 350NT
– Penne alla Cubana (辣味番茄蘑菇筆管麵/Penne with tomato sauce, fresh mushrooms, in spicy cream sauce) 280NT
– Lasagna alla Bolognese (手工肉醬千層麵/Homemade pasta layered with meat sauce and bechamel sauce) 400NT
– Ravioli di Manzo al Burro e Salvia (手工義式牛肉餃/Dumpling filled with minced meat, butter, sage, and parmesan cheese) 400NT
– Ravioli di Zucca al Burro e Salvia (手工義式南瓜餃/Dumpling filled with pumpkin in sage cream sauce) 400NT
– Spaghetti alla Vongole (白酒蛤蜊麵/Spaghetti with clams in white wine sauce, garlic, and basil) 280NT
– Heineken 140NT

Ron decided we should get the Calamari e Seppioline in Umido alla Veneta su Crostone di Pane (威尼斯風格燉小墨魚佐麵包片/Small squid and small cuttlefish in Venetian style with bread crouton)  for  300NT. I thought this was pretty good. The squid was really tender and the tomato sauce had good flavor. The portion is pretty small for 300NT though.

Candice picked the Carpaccio di Manzo con Grana (義式生牛肉佐洋菇及芝麻菜/Thin slices of beef fillet topped with parmesan cheese, button mushrooms, extra virgin olive oil, and rocket salad in Italian style) for 350NT. I thought this was pretty good. Everything tasted fresh and as long as you didn’t get a piece with too much seasoning it was pretty well balanced. I did, however, get a piece or two where the combination of everything kind of wiped out the beef taste, but either way, it was still pretty tasty.

Candice ordered the Penne alla Cubana (辣味番茄蘑菇筆管麵/Penne with tomato sauce, fresh mushrooms, in spicy cream sauce) for 280NT. This was under the “pasta classica” section of the menu. The pasta in this section is not made in house, which is probably why it is significantly cheaper than the “homemade special pasta”. I had a bite and thought it was pretty average. Let me rephrase, average for Italian in the US, better than average for Italian in Taipei. I thought it had a good amount of spice and thought the sauce tasted pretty good. I think most people complain that pasta sauce in Taiwan is too watered down, particularly tomato sauces. The pasta sauce at Papa Gio’ is not like that, it’s the kind of “thick” sauce we all know and love.

Both Ron and Estella ordered the Lasagna alla Bolognese (手工肉醬千層麵/Homemade pasta layered with meat sauce and bechamel sauce) and 400NT. I had a bite and it was delicious! Eat it while it’s hot before the cheese solidifies and the pasta gets a little stiff.

Mike ordered the Ravioli di Manzo al Burro e Salvia (手工義式牛肉餃/Dumpling filled with minced meat, butter, sage, and parmesan cheese) for 400NT. I didn’t have any, but he said it was good.

My choice was the Ravioli di Zucca al Burro e Salvia (手工義式南瓜餃/Dumpling filled with pumpkin in sage cream sauce) for 400NT. I love pumpkin and all things flavored pumpkin. For 400NT you get eight delicious pumpkin raviolis. The cream sauce was light with a subtle hint of sage. The pasta was a nice al dente, just they way I like my pasta. The pumpkin filling was delicious! It didn’t taste like there were a whole lot of additives to the pumpkin filling which really allowed you to get a rich full pumpkin flavor: slightly sweet, as pumpkin is, but still savory. Eat them while they’re hot for optimal taste or the pasta will stiffen.

Just for reference sake, here is the inside of the pumpkin ravioli.

We had a few late comers to our table. They both ordered the Spaghetti alla Vongole (白酒蛤蜊麵/Spaghetti with clams in white wine sauce, garlic, and basil) for 280NT. I didn’t taste any, but they both thought it was good.

Overall, I thought this place was pretty good. Price-wise it isn’t bad either considering the quality. The service was okay. After our plates were dropped off I kind of felt like they forgot about us. We ended up stealing some water from outside of the room they closed us into since they didn’t come to fill our waters. Basically, if you’re looking for tasty Italian in Taipei, Papa Gio’ is a good place to try.

dessert/all-you-can-eat: pasta frolla.

pasta frolla.

date 10.24.09

contact Dun-Hua North Road, Sec. 1, Lane 236, No. 12, Da-An District, Taipei/02.2773.3736‎/台北市大安區敦化南路一段236巷12號

hours 7 days a week 11:30am-10pm

price 250-300NT

rating ♥♥♥ (3 out of 5 hearts)

If you like desserts Pasta Frolla’s all-you-can-eat cake is for you. Lunch time starts at 11:30am and goes til mid afternoon, and for 249NT + 10% service charge, you can eat cake til you burst, for up to two hours.

pasta frolla's dessert bar.
pasta frolla's dessert bar.

When you walk into Pasta Frolla, to the right is the dessert bar which holds all the cakes you can choose from, and there are a lot. For every person in your party you are given one plate for desserts. Each plate is allowed one dessert at a time. When you’re finished with your dessert and want to try another, you have to take the same plate back up. No plate, no dessert. If you plate is dirty, they’ll give you a new one, but you have to take it up to exchange it. Part of the all-you-can-eat includes the salad bar, which also has soup and bread, and food that they freshly prepare every 30 minutes or so. They’ll ring a bell when the food is done and dish it out to you in single servings up by the dessert bar. Just watch for the line that starts to form, then you’ll know food is about to come out.

salad bar.
salad bar at pasta frolla.

The best thing to do is to go with a group, that way you can try all the cakes without having to eat whole slices by yourself. The last time I went, I didn’t get to do share really, so I didn’t get to try very much. I went to Pasta Frolla for the first time about 6 years ago and between 4 people was able to try almost every dessert they had to offer. Here’s what I was able to try this last time.

cheesecake.
cheesecake.

For cheesecake in Taiwan, this wasn’t bad. It wasn’t exactly good, but it wasn’t bad. It was cheesy which was good, but it was a little dry and a little dense. Definitely no Marie Calendar’s.

tiramisu.
tiramisu.

The tiramisu wasn’t bad. It was pretty moist and not too sweet. There was just a slight hint of rum, which was good, not over powering.

corn soup.
corn soup.

Just when you feel like you’re going into sugar coma, go for the corn soup. I didn’t want to fill up on other foods, I was there for the dessert, so I went with the corn soup. It was a good choice. Creamy without being heavy with the perfect amount of salt to offset the oncoming coma.

black forest cake.
black forest cake.

I wouldn’t recommend the black forest cake. Of all the cakes I tried, the black forest was the worst. It was dry and weird. Not like black forest should be. It wasn’t sweet, it was just, dry cake with whip cream stuff in it. Not good.

creme brulee.
creme brulee.

The creme brulee was probably my favorite. In general, I love creme brulee. This wasn’t as creamy as I’m used to, but it’s still good. The flavor was there even though it was a little thicker than I’m used to. However, this was a high-light.

pasta.
pasta.

Fresh made pasta was one of the dishes served. It was actually pretty good. Too bad I was already full, all I could eat was a bite. The pasta sauce was good, not too watery like a lot of tomato sauces in Taiwan tend to be. The noodles were also a good firmness; I hate soggy noodles. At some point during our two hours they also served fried rice, french fries, and a few other random things. I didn’t have any fried rice, but I did have some fries. They were fries, nothing special.

yogurt cake.
yogurt cake.

If you are truly Asian, you grew up drinking those little yogurt drinks, sweet and tangy, and super small. This cake was supposed to be that flavor. I thought the Ritz crackers on top were weird, but you couldn’t really taste them. This cake was, eh. It was moist, but the flavor was weird. It tasted kind of like plain yogurt with white cake in between.

Overall, Pasta Frolla is a pretty cool place. It’s the only all-you-can-eat cake place that I know of, excluding buffets. The cakes aren’t the best, but every once in a while you get some really good ones. It’s worth a shot. Plus for 250NT, why not?

italian: mona lisa.

date 10.27.08

contact 353 Columbus Ave./San Francisco/94133/415.989.4817

hours Sun-Thurs 11am-11pm/Fri-Sat 11am-12am

price $15-$30

http://www.monalisasf.com/

After having minor difficulties loading a dresser into the car Dan and I knew we weren’t going to make it to the ramen place in Daly City in time to eat.

Plan B: drive around SF until we found something open that we thought looked good.

Dan decided that North Beach would be a good place to go because they had a lot of restaurants open pretty late. After walking around and looking at a few menus we found ourselves at Mona Lisa. For me what did it was their extensive menu. I like to have choices and this place has LOTS of choices.

I wasn’t expecting this place to be as big as it was. From the outside it looked pretty small, but it was a decent size. On a Monday night at 9pm this place was pretty packed, which was also one of the reasons we chose this place. We figured if that many people were there eating, it had to be somewhat good. The tables are close together and the lighting is pretty dim, but I think it adds to the charm of the place. Everywhere you look there is some kind of decoration. Lots of busts of statues, paintings on the ceilings and walls, pretty much every inch is covered with some kind of something. Our waiter was nice, helpful when I asked which risotto was better. As a former waitress I can be very picky about service, but I was happy with the service here.

Inside Mona Lisa.

I ordered the Risotto San Francisco. It was VERY tasty, something I would order again. Chunks of crab meat, slices of asparagus, and tomatoes in some kind of sauce. It was just what I was looking for. Some of the crab was still in the shell which made me a little scared that I’d have one of those Pretty Woman moments where I pick the meat out with my fork and knife and then have the crab fly across the room. Luckily that didn’t happen. Having to pick the meat out was a little annoying, but the food was good enough where I didn’t really care. I could have finished the whole dish, but stopped myself because I was full. For $16.95, I feel like I got my money’s worth.

Risotto San Francisco: Salsa Rosa, Asparagus, and Crab.

I am a dessert whore, so of course we got dessert. The dessert menu has a picture and description of every dessert which I like, that way I have a better idea of what I’m ordering. There were a lot of choices, fruity or chocolatey, whichever you prefer, they have. We decided we’d get two, one fruity and one with chocolate, just to cover our bases. We decided on the Exotic Bomba and Black Forest Cake, each of which were $8.00.

The Exotic Bomba was quite tasty: mango, passion fruit, and raspberry sorbetto covered in white chocolate. It was a lot bigger than it looked in the picture, but I wasn’t complaining. The raspberry sorbetto in the middle was probably my favorite, but none the less, it was a nice lite dessert.

Mango, Passion Fruit, and Raspberry sorbetto covered in white chocolate.
Exotic Bomba: Mango, Passion Fruit, and Raspberry sorbetto covered in white chocolate.

The Black Forest Cake was okay. Chocolate sponge cake with a layer of chocolate cream, chantilly cream with cherries and white sponge cake, with chocolate on top, this dessert was a little dry, but still tasty. If you get all the layers in one bite it isn’t so dry, but if you only get the cake, it’s pretty dry. Maybe it wasold or an off day, either way, probably wouldn’t get it again.

Chocolate cake with a layer of chocolate cream, chantilly
Black Forest Cake: Chocolate cake with a layer of chocolate cream, chantilly

Overall, for about $60, $70 after we added tip, we got two entrees, a glass of wine, and two desserts. Not bad for a good late night meal. Would I go back? Definitely.