Omnivore - 'Freedom from food week'

Eating at my favorites without worry of reviewing

This week has been what Wayne and I call a "Freedom from Food Week." That means we didn't have to eat anything for first-time review. The reason is that I wrote the list of my 10 favorite restaurants instead of "Grazing" for next week's paper. That put me a week ahead.

By the way, some people don't seem to distinguish between the "best" and a "favorite" restaurant. A favorite restaurant is one that I go to regularly because the food is consistently good, it's fairly inexpensive and it's relatively convenient to where I live.  I would, for example, consider Restaurant Eugene among the best restaurants in the city but it's not a favorite for regular dining week in and week out.

I've had several terrific meals this week at favorites. Above is the gigantic pickle we brought home from the Shed at Glenwood Wednesday night after our usual indulgence of $3 sliders. Wayne asked for an extra slice of pickle and the waiter brought him this dinner-plate-sized monster. It seems owner Cindy Shera bought an entire barrel of them, thinking she was buying the usual size.

We had two excellent newbie sliders — fried oysters and coleslaw, and pork belly with pork and beans.

I lunched Friday with my friend Frank Miller at La Pietra Cucina, where I haven't been in nearly a month. Our meal was flat-out spectacular, starting with a large bowl of soup featuring octopus and chickpeas with a bit of escarole and delectable Olivastro oil. That was followed by lemony tagliatelle with chunks of Dungeness crab, which was followed by porchetta paninos. No, I did not take a nap in the car after lunch, but I sure felt like it.

Last night, Thursday, I scored a seat at the bar at the always-crowded Dynamic Dish for an amazing-as-usual meal: creamy, slightly crispy aubergine croquettes over San Marzano tomato sauce with steamed kale and crowder peas. I followed that with owner-chef David Sweeney's interesting take on bread pudding — more like toast pudding — topped with whiskey sauce and toasted walnuts.

Last Monday, I visited the new Antico Pizza for another Naples-style pie, this time the San Gennaro topped with sweet sausage, bufala, cippolini and sweet pickled red peppers. Like the week before, I carried the pizza home in a box and it was way too gooey by the time I arrived, but nonetheless a really stimulating play of sweet flavors. I wish the restaurant included seating — there is one table where you can stand and eat — because the pizza is really not suited for travel. It's not on my list of favorites yet, but it's only been open a few weeks and I've been twice!

(Photos by Cliff Bostock)