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These are absolutely some of the most delightful crispy critters we've ever chewed on. It amazes us how decadent a stark pairing of vegetable and batter can be; the sweet onion rounds practically float off our polka-dot tablecloth under their joyously greaseless coating. We can dip them in the ancho chile sauce (think spicy Thousand Island dressing) that's served alongside, but these rings don't need gilding of any kind.
We think Rawhide Wild West Town is a kick, with its dirt street, boardwalks, haunted hotel, general store, "widowmaker" mechanical bull, covered wagons, clown days and more. The star of the show, though, is Rawhide's steaks. Surprise -- the kitchen's under the direction of celebrity chef Michael DeMaria (Michael's at the Citadel), and his finesse shines in beefy flavor. Choose your cut: 16-ounce cowboy T-bone, 12-ounce New York strip, 10-ounce top sirloin, 24-ounce porterhouse, 14-ounce rib eye, or the slightly more dainty tender filet. Steaks come with all the fixin's -- tossed garden salad, all-you-can-eat cowboy beans, a daily side dish, and ranch toast. For Rawhide's cowboy steaks, we say "Yeehaw!"
Though Valencia Lane changes its menus with the seasons, its foie gras shows up regularly, and is always prepared simply. One of our favorite preparations here has it expertly seared, partnered with a few thimbles of flavorful pineapple chutney, dots of tart 100-year-old balsamic, and a little hill of radish sprouts. It's a remarkable explosion of complementary textures and flavors that has us licking the plate. Long live Valencia Lane's liver!
This means select produce from boutiques like Victory Farms, an organic empire that produces amazing micro mizuna, a salad green that tastes of mild mustard; micro arugula, a joyously bitter salad green; and, of course, the tastiest, most tempting tomatoes of which a pizza could dream.
Whatever the topping, each pie is fired in a wood-burning oven. It's worth the wait, and wait you will -- this bistro is packed every night, with no reservations accepted.
Here's wishing all men pizza on Earth -- straight from Pizzeria Bianco.
At 4 Brothers, we can count on having more than a half-dozen varieties displayed in their pans on the long order counter. Our favorite is the Napoli Special, loaded with spicy Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, black olives, green peppers and extra cheese. Slices get a quick warming in the oven (not a microwave), and a couple of bucks later, we're on our way, humming a sausage-scented "New York, New York" under our breaths.