North Italia

While most Italian restaurants are composed of tables with red checkered clothes and jolly familial atmosphere, North Italia offers a modern take on classics while keeping the originality of quality and tastes that I find most admirable in Italian food.

 

Zucca Chip: the more mediocre appetizer reminiscent of kale chips, possibly with too many pinches of salt.

Calamari: a non-traditional, arugula-ridden plate of fried batter similar to onion rings, on squid that is surprisingly delicious.

Wild Mushroom Polenta: while I’ve very limited experience with polenta, this dish opened my mind to a world where chard could be awesome, after all.

Pizzas: the thin crust is wonderful, and I’ve always ordered the daily specials to find myself pleasantly surprised each time.

Daily soups: from my past visits I’ve come to a conclusion that their soups are typically of a puree quality drizzled with olive oil. It’s always very refreshing and soothing to the palate.

 

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Tiramisu: their balls of chocolate is a first for me, and the ladyfingers and delicate layers are just as heavenly as any other tiramisus that I’ve ever loved.
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Arancini: these fried balls of mushroom risotto resting in homemade marinara contrasts the rich textures and tastes reminiscent of truffles with a hint of cheese and crispiness.
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Short-rib radiatori: the tender pork and creamy sauces checked by the crunch of bread crumbs and arugula is one of my favorites.
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Bombolini: the Italian donuts perfectly freshen up your palate with its lemon curds and sweetness.
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Chef’s Board: this small plate is a carnival of pastrami and cheeses, prosciutto, breads, jam and nuts litter the actual board for you to pair and snack on.
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White truffle garlic bread: this appetizer does it job too well, always making me scrape the bottom of the cast iron pan.
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Strozzapreti: this creamy concoction of noodles and mushrooms is a delightful harmony.
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Squid Ink Mafaldine: the sauce has a punch of passion, a hint of spice to lighten the chewiness of the noodles.
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Burrata Tortellini: this cheesy dumpling paired with nuts and vegetables is yet another irresistible combination.
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Bolognese: this house specialty may seem plain at first sight, but its delicate textures of tomato and meat sauce strikes just the right chord in my heartstrings.

Cauldron: Sweet Rose & Stars

 

Name: Cauldron Ice Cream

Address: 1421 W MacArthur Blvd F, Santa Ana, CA 92704

Best Times to Visit: avoid hours right after lunch (or really, hot days in general)

Comment: Cauldron is an ice cream store that recognizes that the fact that ice cream is the best thing in the world is not enough to draw customers, and thus innovated both aesthetically and gastronomically.

Not only are each liquid nitrogen serving of ice cream made to order, the way their cones fit snugly in their paper containers was almost too perfect, each circular puffle (which is something that you do have to pay extra for, though it is well worth it) a bite oozing with nostalgic cakes of my childhood, of vanilla, milky. If you are like me, you would pair it with the stumptown coffee they sell on the side, for the bitterness adds infinite complexity to the taste altogether.img_4450

This sun moon and stars flavor is a delicious mix of oolong, jasmine and green tea with an irrelevant blue color that clearly was leaning more towards the aesthetic, contrasting with the miniscule sparkle of stars.