March 9, 2006

Spring rolls, not Springsteen

«filed under eating»
This week Meg and I went to two restaurants (exciting): one Burmese and one Italian.

Monday, March 6
Café Mingala

1391 B Second Ave.

The atmosphere was delightfully tacky (think Indian restaurant minus strolling sitarists) and the food was great. We started off with a half-carafe of crisp steel-fermented Chardonnay and the Assorted Appetizers (sic) Delight (which included crispy golden fingers, fried tofu, golden triangles and shrimp spring rolls. The golden fingers were great but they never really told us what they actually were, though they tasted like a fried bland melon).

For entrees we got mango chicken (mild) and Mo-Goke pork, both with coconut rice. Both were excellent and inexpensive but if I were to get the chicken again, which I will, I’d have them add some spice. The Mo-Goke pork consisted of roasted pork cubes served with vegetables in a salty brown sauce. Meg loved hers and I loved mine, so it worked out. The mango chicken looked similar to the boiled strips in moo goo gai pan, coated with the sweet sauce.

The coconut rice deserves its own paragraph. It deserves much more than that; the subtle coconut taste perfectly complimented both dishes.

Price: most entrees $10.95
Value: High
Food: Very good
Pro: Good food for the price
Con: Music was awful (lite rock radio station)

Wednesday, March 8
La Casalinga
120 First Ave.

One of my friends from college came to town and we wanted to find a little Italian place. Unfortunately, we decided to go to the LES on First Ave. (not a huge Italian area, at least not where we were around 14th St.). Lucky for us we found La Casalinga.

It’s almost always a good sign when people are speaking the native language in an ethnic restaurant, which a group of four was doing when we came in. Authentic wait staff is also a plus. Good prices. Friendly staff. If they’d thrown on a kitschy cd, it would have been perfect (they were playing modern alternative classics like Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, and Smashing Pumpkins).

We all got different items: Pollo Ai Funghi E Vino Bianco (Chicken breast in white wine sauce, garlic and mushrooms served with rosemary roast potatoes), Ravioli Di Mare (ravioli stuffed with white fish and lobster in marinara sauce), Penne Al Pomodoro E Basilico (tomato sauce with fresh basil), Ravioli Al Pesto (cheese and spinach ravioli with fresh basil sauce), Fusilli Agli Asparagi (spirals, prosciutto, asparagus, creamy tomato sauce).

Everything tasted great AND they had an early bird special before 7:30. The place seats about 20 and has a relatively good wine list for its size.

Price: Pastas $9.25, Entrees $12.95
Value: High
Food: Very good
Pros: Friendly staff, comfort food
Con: Bad music!

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