BEST CAESAR SALAD - 2006
For such a ubiquitous salad, the mighty Caesar is sadly botched more often than not. Whether it's from the wrong kind of lettuce (only romaine will do), overpowering, gunky dressing, or too many shakes of straight-from-the-can grated Parmesan, too many restaurants take a heavy hand with this seemingly straightforward classic. Radda's "La Stella" Caesar is a shining star of simplicity. Although it's not prepared tableside, according to tradition (we're hard-pressed to find anyone doing that these days), this plate of large, crisp, artfully arranged heart of romaine leaves, lightly dressed in subtle seasonings and rich olive oil, still satisfies. The croutons, made from grilled focaccia, are deliciously chewy, and fresh shavings of high-caliber Italian Parmesan are generously feathered on top of the masterpiece. It's easily a meal unto itself. Order it with grilled chicken ? served thinly sliced and warm ? and you've got all four food groups.