Thursday, January 3, 2013

Gluten-Free Pizza, Pasta and Bread at Porta Via

Posted By on Thu, Jan 3, 2013 at 5:52 AM

Gluten-free and gluten-full pizzas at Porta Via
  • Gluten-free and gluten-full pizzas at Porta Via
As I have mentioned (numerous times), I’m not joining in on the War on Wheat. But when there’s a gluten-free option that’s just as good or better than its glutenous brethren, then I’m all for it. So I was intrigued when I found out that Porta Via offers not just gluten-free pasta, but pizzas and bread as well.

This is a big deal for me, of course, because I’m a huge fan of Porta Via’s pizzas and pasta. They use this fancy imported Italian “00” wheat flour so the pizza crust edges are pillowy inside and crisp outside and the pastas are silky and smooth.

Shew. Give me a minute.

Okay. So, I wasn’t skeptical of their gluten-free treatment, but I didn’t plan to be won over. But I can say in confidence that I’d probably order the GF pasta all the time and the GF pizza at least half of the time. They also have a GF roll. All three are made with a flour (also imported from Italy) that’s a blend of potato, fava bean and garbanzo bean flours. And all three were incredibly good. So good that if you didn’t know they were gluten-free, you’d have no reason to be suspicious. The GF pizza crust doesn’t rise quite the same way, so it’s not so pillowy, but it’s still got a really good texture and flavor. There is a slight twang to the pizza crust (unnoticeable unless compared side by side to the standard crust), but when my husband was subject to a blind taste test, he just thought there was a little more seasoning in the sauce. The only difference in the pasta is that it’s an extruded tubular pasta. The taste and texture are both fantastic. And the roll reminded me how much I like potato rolls.

So if you’re going gluten-free by choice or by necessity, Porta Via can definitely make it easier for you. You can subsitute GF pasta or pizza crust in any menu item for just $2 extra. And GF entrees automatically come with a GF roll. I recommend the Casarecci de Porta Via pasta and the Margherita pizza. And then don’t forget to have some gelato for dessert.

Porta Via Italian Kitchen
West Nashville: 21 White Bridge Road 615-356-0001
Cool Springs: 3301 Aspen Grove 615-771-7747
Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m to 10 p.m. Closed Sundays.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

This Week's Dining Column: Hangover Brunches

Posted By on Thu, Dec 27, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Enchiladas from The Stone Fox
In this week's issue of the Nashville Scene, plucky reporter Abby White scouts locations for the perfect balm for the overindulgent soul: "hangover brunch."

Here were her criteria for restaurants serving such a meal:

Time investment: The restaurant cannot have a long waiting list, because anything more than a 15-minute wait could literally kill us when we have the shakes.

General ambiance: The restaurant must be free of triggers from the night before — cigarette smoke, the scent of bar mats or vomit. Low lighting and noise levels are preferable. Bonus points if we don't have to sweat out vodka in front of screaming children and post-church crowds.

Hair-of-the-dog quotient: The restaurant must serve some type of alcohol for the truly infirm.

She investigated two new West Side spots: The Stone Fox and M.L. Rose, and one Nolensville Road stalwart, the venerable Salvadoran restaurant and market Las Americas.

Check out her adventures here.

On a more somber note, this week's cover story is In Memoriam, the Scene's annual recounting of the many notable Nashvillians we have lost in the past year, "vibrant threads we will miss in the city's tapestry." Sadly, that list notes the loss of members of the restaurant community, including Jay Luther of Germantown Cafe, John Dean of McCabe Pub, Mario Ferrari of Mario's, and more. Read the entire package here.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Perch in Green Hills: This Week's Dining Review

Posted By on Thu, Dec 13, 2012 at 1:50 PM

In this week's Dining column in the Nashville Scene, Nicki Pendleton Wood checks out the new Green Hills outpost of The Perch, the popular crêperie and coffeehouse in Brentwood.

Wood says:

The new Perch location aims for the same intimate feel as the dollhouse-sized original Perch in Brentwood. The pleasantly neutral naturals and higher ceiling make it feel larger and roomier but — hard to believe — it has the same amount of seating as the Brentwood Perch, around 80 seats.

She likes the ambience. How about the menu:

The menu is nearly identical to Brentwood's: crêpes, crêpes and crêpes — plus scrambles, omelets, Belgian waffles, a couple of salads and a few happy additions.

Every crêpe has something to recommend it, and there are enough that it'll take quite a few visits to work your way through all the appealing flavors assembled by chef Jack Pritchard, formerly head chef at Wild Iris.

Take the pear, blue cheese, walnut and arugula: The combination that has been the highlight of dinner parties and potlucks for a decade is rolled into a springy crêpe that transforms it into a meal. Or try the spinach, havarti and artichoke, which deconstructs everyone's favorite hot dip and bundles it inside a perfectly folded triangle of satiny pastry.

A lot of folks seem to love the stuffing out of the new crêperie. Check out the review here, and if you've been to The Perch, feel free to share in the comments.

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

{Pub}licity in Bellevue: This Week's Dining Review

Posted By on Thu, Dec 6, 2012 at 1:59 PM

In this week's issue of the Nashville Scene, critic Carrington Fox visits {Pub}licity, the quirkily punctuated but eminently welcome new "gastropub" in the Kroger strip in Bellevue.

In addition to those unusual curly brackets in its name, {Pub}licity offers more uniqueness: "a well-executed and creatively updated roster of pub-grub in a neighborhood that could use some local flavor."

The owners of the new pub in the strip at 7073 Highway 70 S. used to have a Snappy Tomato franchise in the space, but they decided to remake the spot as "a dark-wood-and-newspaper-decked British-style gastropub. They hooked up a phalanx of televisions and a bank of beer taps dispensing local favorites Yazoo and Blackstone and European stalwarts Guinness, Kronenbourg and Maredsous," Fox tells us.

The menu includes includes creditable versions of such favorites fish-and-chips, moules frites (that's mussels and french fries) and shepherd's pie.

One of the highlights of the menu, Fox says, is a vegetarian, flaky crusted version of the Cornish pasty, a savory stuffed pocket which Fox says is on the roster because of general manager Melinda Johnson's love for all things Harry Potter-related. (The pasty is apparently Ron Weasley's favorite food.)

"We were impressed by the medley of portobello mushroom, eggplant, mozzarella and sun-dried tomato inside the golden pocket, though we would have liked a more generous serving of the filling to balance out the leaves of crust," Fox says of the pasty. (Which, by the way, is pronounced PASS-tee and is also a specialty in parts of Michigan where Cornish miners settled.)

I consider myself fairly Anglophilic, but I don't believe I've ever had a genuine pasty. Anybody in Bites Land ever been pasty-fied? Better yet, anybody been to {Pub}licity yet? Feel free to dispense a pint of your wisdom.

(And by the way, {Pub}licity offers chocolate-dipped BACON, served upright in a mug. Thoughts?)

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sunflower Cafe: This Week's Dining Review

Posted By on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 5:24 PM

In this week's Dining column, Scene restaurant critic Carrington Fox visits Sunflower Cafe, the new "nearly vegan and largely gluten-free eatery" on Azalea Place in Berry Hill.

What she encountered at the Sunflower was a bumper crop of bright, winning vegetable flavors.

Fox says that especially in contrast to the "giblet-juiced, lipid-loaded" excess of the traditional Thanksgiving meal, Laura Yazdian and Gabrielle Mittelstaedt's vegetable-based cuisine was tasty yet also light and healthful.

The cafe's "dazzling array of soups, salads, entrees and desserts ... leverage fruits, vegetables and grains into a menu remarkable for its bounty of farm-fresh flavor and creativity," Fox says.

Sunflower Cafe is at 2834 Azalea Place (457-2568). It serves lunch Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and this Friday it's hosting the kickoff dinner to the second annual Tennessee Local Food Summit, which Chris Chamberlain hipped us to last week.

Read Fox's full review here.

Meanwhile, has anybody else sampled the ample buffet at the Sunflower yet? Feel free to comment below.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Silo: This Week's Dining Review

Posted By on Thu, Oct 18, 2012 at 6:12 PM

In this week's issue of the Nashville Scene, restaurant critic Carrington Fox visits Silo, chef-owner Clay Greenberg's sleek new spot in ground floor of the Vista Germantown apartment development (at Fifth Avenue North and Madison Street in the Germantown neighborhood).

Fox notes:

With the exception of red onions and russet potatoes for the burger and fries, all of Silo's ingredients hail from Middle Tennessee. (Oh, and there is that imported citrus that goes into mixologist Robert Longhurst's excellent cocktail roster of Chartreuse mojitos, gimlets and whiskey drink. Now that's some elevated grain!)

Despite the limitations of the regional growing season, Silo is off to an impressive start in a gorgeous setting.

We Bites folk have been keeping an eye on the Silo project for almost a year. Who's been there? Anybody want to share a report in the comments?

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The UFC in Nashville, Brought To You by SatCo.

Posted By on Wed, Sep 12, 2012 at 7:52 AM

The Ultimate Fighting Championship is the pinnacle of mixed martial arts in the U.S. Love it or hate it, it's a huge enterprise — Fox isn't paying $100 million per year for the current TV rights because nobody is watching. They stage fights all over the country, including Bridgestone Arena back in January.

We've always wondered exactly how they pick cities to host fights. Is it some kind of demographic matrix? A bushel basket of sophisticated market research?

It turns out, sometimes it's just because it's where the money guys like to eat ...

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Jay Rayner's Very Bad Meal

Posted By on Tue, Sep 11, 2012 at 3:46 PM

So this is not local, but it is quite funny.

Jay Rayner, who writes about food for The Guardian, picked up a Tesco Express meal for a train ride and found the quality . . . lacking.

Even better for us, he live-Tweeted the whole thing. If you don't already, he's worth a follow. The meal-gone-wrong after the jump . . .

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sky Blue Cafe Now Open for Dinner

Posted By on Tue, Sep 4, 2012 at 5:37 AM

With all the buzz about Chef Hal Holden-Bache's new restaurant Lockeland Table, eager diners are occasionally finding themselves turned away at the front door if the crowd is too...well, crowded. Fortunately, not too far away is a new evening dining option at Sky Blue Cafe. I wrote a First Bite a couple of years ago when the new management team took over, and now the restaurant has grown to the point where they have begun to offer a dinner service Tuesday through Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m.

The new menu is compact and affordable and features a few inventive appetizers, including Fried Red Tomatoes and some salads along with two soups. Main courses revolve around roasted chicken and pork with one fish and one vegetarian dish. If you eat a chance to check out dinner at Blue Sky Cafe before we do, report back here in the comments. (We promise not to pile on any firsttime commenters. Come one, come all!)

Sky Blue Cafe
700 Fatherland St.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

First Watch: This Week's Dining Column

Posted By on Thu, Aug 16, 2012 at 5:59 PM

Eggs Benedict
  • First Watch on Facebook
  • Eggs Benedict
In this week's dining review in the Nashville Scene, restaurant writer Nicki Pendleton Wood checks out First Watch, and interesting joint in Brentwood that concentrates exclusively on breakfast and lunch, operating 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

First Watch is a chain — "there are nearly 100 locations in a sort of belt across the central U.S. plus Florida, Wisconsin and Arizona," Wood writes — and the Brentwood store is the only one in Tennessee.

Wood praises the fresh ingredients First Watch includes in what could have been pretty beige palette of breakfast foods. And instead of sticking to an old-school egg-and-sausage cholesterol fest, the menu accommodates Americans' dietary obsessions for the 21st century: "Whether your regimen requires high-energy, high-protein, low-fat, low-glycemic, vegetarian or gluten-free meals, First Watch provides something interesting," she writes.

How about you, Bites Nation: Anybody tried the multigrain pancakes or the skillet hash? Feel free to chime in the comments.

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