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The only such thing we're interested in exploring is The Big Unit Hot Dog served at Alice Cooper'stown -- a two-foot-long frank, all beef. And it's a big meal, served with choice of two sides: fries, Coop's coleslaw, potato chips, or calico beans. For half a buck more, we can dress our dog with cheese, chili or beer-soaked sauerkraut. Now that's a unit we can understand.
Though they're not always on the menu, vegetarian dishes are a highlight here. We ask for the chef's seasonal selection, roasted in the hunter's lodge-style fireplace in the dining room. A superb sampling includes grilled eggplant, roasted pepper, asparagus, and goat cheese cannelloni.
The best cuts of meat are aged on premises, then slow-roasted to our order -- rare to medium-rare to showcase the quality of the beef. We've got our choice of sizes and savories, too. Usually the "small" 12-ounce is fine; other times we want the hungry man's large 16-ouncer. For beefier eats, get the prime rib bones, regular or barbecue style. Either way, tender meat melts in your mouth, dipped in rich jus and slathered with honest, zesty horseradish. And entrees come with complimentary chopped liver, an enormous breadbasket, a huge salad, and potato: au gratin, baked, double-baked or French fries.
We never thought we'd pay $19 for a plate of old-fashioned spaghetti and meatballs and be happy about it. But that's before we discovered the soul-satisfying dish at Tarbell's. This is a full-flavored feast, starring a vibrant marinara made with organic tomatoes (yes, you can taste the difference) and hefty, beefy orbs. Plus, Tarbell's hip, beautiful-people atmosphere comes with the meal at no extra charge. When we've had a rough day, we like to snuggle up at the always happening bar and drown our sorrows in spaghetti. Works every time.
At Via DeLosantos, it's pronounced albóndigaaaahs.
At the charming brick and mural-adorned Rustico, we find joy as we bite into a mild-toned domestic mushroom, the fat cap exploding with juices and earthy nuance. What delight as we discover a secret chamber, bursting with fresh herbs and shrimp. And what pleasure as we scoop it all up with ladles of impossibly rich creamy garlic sauce. Bread! We need more bread right away -- to sop every last drip of this gilding.
Ah, Rustico. The only pig required for this marvelous mushroom dish is us.