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Trattoria Neapolis, Pasadena’s new Italian restaurant, has just made my list of favorites in the South Lake District (this esteemed list also includes Cham Bistro and Pie ‘n Burger in case you were wondering). There are plenty of reasons to love this restaurant. For one, the ambiance is fantastic with high ceilings and natural lighting on the patio. Two, they have a wood burning oven. And, three, they make everything from scratch, from bread to salumi.
They also have an impressive drink program, full of American and Italian classics. Prosecco cocktails abound and the wine list is extensive. If you’re a beer drinker like me, they even have an in-house beer sommelier to help you choose from local and Italian brews. Pictured here is The Doctor, a smooth and smokey mix of rye and Italian bitters.
I’m such a sucker for those giant ice cubes.
Antipasti options include hand-crafted cured meats, Sicilian meatballs and wood-grilled octopus. We went for the Arancini with lobster and pickled fennel. The crunch was perfect, but the flavor wasn’t as intense as it could have been, causing the lemon aioli to be the peak of the dish. This is often the case with arancini, but I did appreciate its creamy texture and the sizable chunks of lobster.
All I used to know about kimchi was that it was delicious and ridiculously addictive, as most pickled dishes tend to be. That was until Cham Bistro, the contemporary Korean restaurant in Pasadena, stepped in and showed me the way. Now, I know how to make kimchi and kimchi soup! I’ve come a long way.
It all started when I was invited to a how-to-make-kimchi workshop hosted by Cham Bistro. Along with a slew of other bloggers, I got step-by-step demonstration on how to make the fermented cabbage dish. I witnessed it all: the chopping, the salting, the soaking, the draining, the marinating, the folding and….
…the waiting. We had to wait a whole month to dig into the jars of kimchi that we were given at the end of the lesson. Though trying, the downtime gave me a weeks to make plans for my stash. I considered kimchi pancakes and soup, both of which were suggested with by an enthusiastic B-Side. In the end, the cold weather helped me make up my mind.
Elements Kitchen just became one of my new favorite restaurants. For one thing, it’s very accessible—we took the train and walked just a few blocks to its location, right next to the Pasadena Playhouse—and for another, it’s not a snooze. And that’s saying a lot, considering much of the fine dining in Pasadena plays it too conservatively.
I liked Elements from the moment we walked in. The service was friendly, the crowd very mixed, the music (mostly) good, and the décor leafy. Plus, I like the confidence that an open kitchen exudes, and this one, helmed by Owner/Chef Onil Chibás, really lights up the dining room.
Constructed by Michel Dozois of Névé Ice, the cocktail menu features 4 main themes: Berry, Rhubarb, Citrus and Spirit. I chose the French Maid, a none-too-sweet mixture of brandy, lime juice, cucumbers, simple syrup and mint. Josh got the refreshing Blueberry Southside Fizz with gin, lime juice, soda mint and blueberries.