Tag Archives: Italian

I’ve finished cooking “I” cuisines

Did I miss any? If so, please comment below.

My international food project, started 21 years ago this month, has moved at a glaciar pace since then. But I’m glad to say that I am now done with cuisines that start with an “i”. Or at least I hope so – I keep discovering new cuisines that I didn’t know about when I reached their letter in the alphabet. Indeed, in addition to the cuisines below I caught up on A by cooking an Awadhi meal – only to realize that I’ve skipped Aceh.

The final “I” cuisines I cooked are:


Jackfruit Curry, Vegan Indonesian Fried Rice, Indonesian Broiled Cod, Fried Chicken and Beef Rendang


Butternut Squash Soup, Split Pea and Barley Stew, Fried Fish for Nowruz, Chicken Kebab, Cubed Meat Kebab, Pomegranate Chicken and Braised Short Ribs with Orange

Irish American

Irish Stew, Corned Beef and Potatoes O’Brien.


Panzanella, Pasta with lemon sauce, Bucatini with four cheeses, Pasta in Mushroom Sauce, Gnocchi in a Gorgonzola, Pear and Walnut Sauce, Country Style Chicken and Steak Tagliata

Italian Renaissance

Onion Soup, Renaissance-style Fried Chicken and Braised Beef with Carrots

These join my previously cooked I cuisines:

  • Iceland: baked fish, chicken with saffron and pepper cookies
  • Imperial China: a chicken wing recipe from the 8th century, braised chicken from the 10th-13th and beef and walnuts from the 18th.
  • India: chickpea, red bean, and chicken curries plus chicken and tofu tandoori
  • Indo-Chinese: noodles and cauliflower
  • Iraq: lentil soup, two types of kibbeh, chicken in yogurt sauce, lamb shanks, rice, and farro pilaf
  • Ireland: Irish stew, beef & stout pie, potato biscuits, and bread and butter pudding.
  • Iroquois: ghost bread and three sisters stew
  • Israel: corn shakshuka, meatballs in tahini sauce, lamb shawarma, grilled chicken and olive oil cake
  • Italian-American: minestrone, fetuccini alfredo, baked zitti, spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, vegan lasagna, chicken scarpariello and chicken parmesan.
  • Ivory Coast: grilled chicken, roasted lamb, stewed chicken and peanut sauce.

Restaurant Review: Grotto at the Golden Nugget, Las Vegas

We stayed at the Golden Nugget our last night in Vegas in August 2014, and we were too tired to leave the hotel to go have dinner.  Of the several restaurants at the hotel, Grotto seemed to be the best choice in terms of cost and reviews.  Indeed, we had a fairly good meal. It’s overpriced, but it could have been worse.

Grotto is divided into two sections.  The main section occupies a large, semi-open space near the front desk.  The second section is across the pathway that leads to the casino, by the pool and has views of the pool area.  We ate in the main dining room, which is kept somewhat dark. It’s nice, but too open to pool-attired passerbys to feel anything other than casual.

I had the chicken marsala ($20), which comes with fettuccine alfredo.  I enjoyed this dish very much, I hadn’t had that combination before but it worked very well.

One of the kids had the Margherita pizza, which I also remember enjoying.  I don’t remember what Mike and the other kid had.

Service, I recall, was fine.

Golden Nugget
129 Fremont Street Experience
Las Vegas, NV
(702) 386-8341

Marga’s Las Vegas

Marga’s Restaurant Reviews

Capo’s Restaurant & Speakeasy – Las Vegas

It’s definitely not fair to review a restaurant a year and a half after you had dinner there, when your memory of the experience is dimmer than the lights at dinner, but I’m creating a travel page on Las Vegas, and I want to include Capo’s.  Though the restaurant is definitely overpriced, it offers such a cool Las Vegas experience, that I can fully recommend it.

Capo’s is a prohibition era Mafia theme restaurant. It plays the part of a speakeasy, and the coolness starts from the moment you make your way inside. I won’t spoil the surprise, but it works best if you get yourself in the mood: it’s prohibition era and you are trying to gain admission to a speakeasy, where they may be a bit weary of you.

The restaurant itself is both sumptuous and very dark – it plays very well with the Mafia scene and it’s easy to believe you are in another era.  The food, as I remembered it, was good, though not outstanding.  I remember service being very, very slow – which I didn’t mind as much, because I loved the atmosphere, but it can be hard with hungry kids.  They have live music later in the evening, and I wished I’d been there for more than a song or two – but my kids were tired.

As I mentioned, prices are high but they have groupons and other discounts, worth hunting for (e.g. they currently have a Travelzoo deal of lunch for 2 for $19).

Capo’s Restaurant & Speakeasy
5675 W Sahara Ave.
Las Vegas, NV
(702) 436-2276

Marga’s Las Vegas

Marga’s Restaurant Reviews

Luke’s Grill Restaurant Review – San Leandro

When we first moved to San Leandro, almost fourteen years ago, we used to go to Luke’s Grill quite often.  There was a distinct lack of restaurant choices (which remains today) and the food at Luke’s was competent enough.   However, as time went on the food got worse and the prices got higher, and we stopped going.  Then, a few weeks ago we wanted to go out in San Leandro, and I thought we should give it another try.  Not only had it been years, but armed with a Restaurant.com gift certificate, the prices seemed more reasonable.

It was a good decision. While the food won’t win any culinary competitions, it’s back to being competently made and tasty enough, the portions are generous, and – with the gift certificate – the prices are competitive.  Service, moreover, was very good and the family who runs it is very friendly.  The only down with Luke’s grill is that the live music, on Saturday nights, is too loud.  Don’t get me wrong, the music is quite good, but even sitting on the other side of the restaurant it was hard to hold a conversation.

The kids and I all had pasta.  I ordered the beef ravioli with meat sauce ($13) and a side of meatballs.  It was tasty and satisfying, and the portion was large enough to bring leftovers home.  Mika, my 11-yo, had the manicotti with marinara sauce ($12) and she pronounced it “very yummy”.  Again, there were leftovers.  Pasta dishes come with a side of garlic bread (OK, a bit tough/bitter) and your choice of soup or salad. I had the lemon chicken, as I usually do, and while I remembered it more lemony, it was very satisfying in a chilly night.

Mike had the gyros on pita ($8.50) and he was also quite pleased. It was what you expected the dish to be.  Camila, meanwhile, had the kids’ spaghetti ($4.50). She ate it plain, so there isn’t much to say about that.

The complimentary bread with olive tapenade was very good (the tapenade more than the bread), and, as I mentioned, waters and cokes were refreshed frequently.

In all, I think I’ll be going to Luke’s Grill more often.  Specially, given how much Mika likes it.

Luke’s Grill Restaurant
1509 East 14th St.
San Leandro
M-Th: 11 AM – 9 PM
F: 11 AM – 10 PM
Sa: 12 PM – 10 PM
Su: 4 PM – 9 PM

Original Luke’s Grill Review

Marga’s San Leandro Restaurant Reviews



Tuscany Restaurant – San Leandro – Review

August 2011 update: This restaurant is currently for sale.

February 2011 Review

La Bella Italia, the restaurant that took over the old Prings’ space, is back under a new name: Tuscany. After years of trying to make a go at it, including multiple renovations and the addition of an Indian food menu, the Indian-American Italian-food loving family who owns the place had finally said “enough” and leased out the facilities to a couple of wanna-be restauranteurs who opened up an Italian restaurant they called Bardelli’s in the location. Apparently Bardelli’s didn’t do so well – I never tried it, so the food might have been a problem, though I suspect highish prices and a lack of promotion figured into the equation – so they closed and returned the restaurant to the Bella Italia owners, who have apparently decided to have a new go at it under a new name. Unfortunately, that’s all they seem to have changed from their previous incarnation.

My friend Aamani, Camila and I decided to go there for lunch yesterday. We got there around noon and we were one of two parties. Their lunch menu consists of a handful of cold sandwiches, pizzas, pastas and soup/salad (the same stuff they had before). If I well remember they are mostly in the $7-9 range. Lunch is served with a nice warm dinner bun and butter and a small bowl of soup. Yesterday it was some bean and pasta soup, tasty but not too interesting.

We had about an hour for lunch, not enough time to order the pizzas, so Aamani went for the Prosciutto sandwich (fresh mozzarella, parma prosciutto roasted peppers and artichokes). She thought it was pretty good. She liked the bread and was happy with the ingredients, though she wished the prosciutto had been warmed. Still, she wasn’t doing handstands over it. I had their lasagna bolognese and was disappointed by the lack of seasoning. The whole dish was very bland, some salt would have surely helped, perhaps a cheese beyond ricotta.

On the plus side, lunch was pretty cheap and the waiter was gorgeous (albeit very young). Still, I don’t imagine I’ll be back anytime soon.

La Bella Italian Inn
15015 E. 14th St.
San Leandro, CA

Marga’s San Leandro Restaurant Reviews