My family and I dined at Simpson, and we fell in love with the welcoming aura the second we stepped in. The manager and servers were very kind, and accommodated my autistic brother who couldn’t handle the loud blender. They were very accommodating, without seeming annoyed/bothered by our request to change seats to be further from the bar. They were just happy to help however they could and it was truly a warm and comforting environment. With all this being said, the food was definitely up to par with this impeccable service.
For our appetizers, we got two shrimp dishes: the coconut shrimp and the firestick pepper
shrimp. The coconut shrimp was unmatched; it was nice and crispy and the shrimp was very tender and sweet. The pineapple sauce perfectly complimented the sweet shrimp, and even had a little bit of zest to it. The firestick pepper shrimp was also quite good. I definitely enjoyed deshelling the shrimp (shells retain so much flavor) and the spicy sauce was at the perfect level of spice to not overwhelm the delicate natural flavor of the shrimp.
The entrees we ordered were also delicious. We had the curry lobster, which was cooked to perfection, buttery almost, and had a solid ratio of savory to sweet. The seasonal mixed vegetables were refreshing and showed a great attention to detail, as they truly lifted the palate when everything else was so rich and decadent. The double dip buttermilk Simpson fried chicken was very good due to the crispy breading and wonderfully complex sauce. It was also accompanied by the vegetables and rice and peas, which provided a very savory, earthy note. It was a bit hard to eat, but it was delicious nonetheless, and the sauce is a real winner. Their fried rice was great as well, since it was a little bit smoky, and the little bits of vegetables throughout were delicious and created a wonderful textural contrast. Maybe the eggs were cut a little too big, but that’s about it. We also got the mac and cheese pie, which was wonderful and perfectly cheesy.
The ratio of cheese to pasta was very balanced. However, we enjoyed the reggae pasta even more, as it had a cream sauce that we loved. It had scallions and cheese as a garnish, which took the dish to another level. The pasta was also al dente, each piece penne having a bite to it, so the texture wasn’t just one note.
Overall, the food and service was glorious, which is obviously the best combination, and we will definitely be returning to this incredible restaurant for more. A strong 9/10!
This restaurant is filled with delicious Italian inspired pasta and a variety of antipasto dishes. I was extremely impressed at the various gourmet dishes I tried.
Before we ordered the appetizers, the courteous waitress delivered a basket filled with slices of amazing, fresh, bread. Each slice was very consistently cooked and flaky and crispy. Every piece was simply delectable and buttery. I was even worried that I was going to get full and not be able to eat any appetizers and entrees. I then ordered zucchini fries and crispy calamari. The zucchini fries were properly julienned and not greasy. The crust was golden-brown and crispy throughout. The breading did not fall off and the zucchini was a perfect al dente. The calamari was also spectacular because it was so delicious that it was almost creamy in a way. The breading was properly flavored and had a slight tanginess to it that I was very fond of. The crispiness—–just like the zucchini fries—–were on point. I rarely ever try soup from restaurants because they tend to be too creamy for my palate, but the Italian to English translation of pasta fagioli (pasta & beans) spoke to me. The cylinder like pasta in the rich (not creamy) broth was perfectly al dente and felt like a very homey dish. The broth was flavored with many nuances of flavor that enhanced the white beans greatly. The appetizers gave me a stupendous impression of this restaurant so far. Now we move on to the entrees and pizza section.
I only went here once, so we got one pie of pizza only. It was called the Grilled Veggie Fontína. It consisted of grilled eggplant, zucchini, and portabella mushrooms and caramelized, diced red onions and fontina. The vegetables had a delicious char on them and had impressive, diamond grill marks that every accomplished chef dreams of doing. The vegetables were amazing and smokey and are perfectly al dente. The cheese seemed as if it was blow-torched, along with the mozzarella, making the whole slice tangy, sour, and even a little salty, which felt a little strange. The eggplant had some slight bitter notes and the mushrooms were earthy and meaty at the same time. The zucchini was crisp and fresh and vibrant. The onions were sweet and salty and the pizza crust was crispy and not over or underdone. One entree I selected was the Frutti de Mare. It is a seafood spaghetti with clams, shrimp, and calamari bathed in a comforting, yet spicy heirloom tomato based sauce. The clams were perfect—-all the shells had opened up and were great in both texture and flavor. The shrimp just oozed sophistication and awesomeness and were so tender. However, the calamari were somewhat rubbery because of possible over-poaching.
The pasta was amazing and so robust in flavor due to the incorporation into the sauce and had a little bite to it, which was good. The sauce not as spicy as it could have been, due to an ugly restaurant stereotype that apparently all kids can’t handle spice. Some kids might not be able to, but neither can some adults. Next, I tried the mushroom lasagna, which had porcini and shiitake mushroom layers smothered in a Périgord black and Piedmont white truffle cream sauce. The porcini mushrooms are a tiny variety that are so 3 dimensional in flavor and in this case, they are no different. The shiitake mushrooms are another small variety where the stems are inedibly fibrous, so for better flavor, the chefs in this restaurant put the stems in a stock to flavor the truffle cream sauce and took them out later, which was a good move on their part. The lasagna was layered evenly and very flavorful, however, the sauce was very seized up and should have been reduced in the cast iron a little bit less, to make it smoother.
Although this restaurant does not have a wide selection of desserts, I feel that they portray Italian cuisine pretty well throughout the appetizers and entrees. I give Annabelle's an 8/10!
During my vacation to Philadelphia, my family and I were looking for restaurants that we should dine at and I found a very famous Italian restaurant. Ristorante Pesto, it is officially known as the best Italian restaurant in Philadelphia on “trip advisor” and many other websites with around 1,664 reviews—all saying 5 stars. So, I felt that my family and I would love it. Now let us start with the appetizers and the free, yet gourmet complimentary foods.
We were graciously given gratifying bread with fresh extra virgin olive oil. The bread had a crispy, shell like exterior and a fluffy interior. The olive oil lifted the bread to a whole new level. We were also served bruschetta and crostini with a tomato based salsa and a balsamic vinaigrette. I did not like it because I dislike tomatoes (only in sauce) and they were the base of the toppings. However, the waiters and waitresses served it to make the feel seem more appealing to the boundaries of family style and fine dining. The last plate given for free were balsamic glazed carrots. They were cooked well and the flavor was almost pickle-like and I love pickles to a high extent. We ordered calamari which were fried to the most perfect, buttery texture, not soggy nor overcooked. We did not order any more appetizers because this place is known for its pasta and we did not want to get full on the appetizers when there were more important things to try.
I have dreamt of trying the strangest pasta ever: squid ink pasta, so that was the first thing I asked. They had squid ink pasta, unfortunately it was smothered in a wine sauce and the alcohol had not been reduced to the fullest. So, I asked if they could switch the sauce to a heartwarming pomodoro, and my wish was granted. I was served a bed of pasta as black as night with a red sauce and mussels, littleneck clams, shrimp, and poached calamari. The inked pasta had a subtle brininess with hints of sea luxury, and an amazing fragrance that is very inviting. The pomodoro was not too chunky, nor too thin and has notes of fish because of the seafood served above. The seafood was well cooked and had textural contrast in relation to the creamy sauce and the al dente pasta. Then, we also ordered a linguine Alfredo and the pasta looked perfectly thin, yet it held the sauce well. It was a luxurious, creamy sauce that should be jarred and sold. And, the pasta strands were consistent and cooked evenly, holding the right amount if sauce per bite. Each bite was somehow better than the last and I knew that this was the best Alfredo I have ever eaten. Now we move on to dessert.
I only tried one dessert because I was so full from eating all of the amazing pasta dishes. It was a special for that evening which was an apple tart with a lovely caramel sauce with a sweet vanilla bean gelato. The apples were soft, yet had a crunch and were not completely mushy. So, you can say that the apples were al dente. They had a smokey, yet sweet, cinnamon flavor that soothed my palate. The gelato was not under-churned (soupy–> like a creme anglaise) nor over-churned (like chunky, unmelted butter), but was perfectly smooth and fresh, bringing my taste buds to life.
In conclusion, we are definitely returning to this fine dining restaurant due to incredible service—the waiters, waitresses, and owners were all so very welcoming and kind, and their energy made the food even better. If the service was not as good, I would have rated this restaurant a 9.5, but the food quality, the freshness, the presentation, the creativity, combined with the service and the speed in which the food was served compels me to rate this restaurant a 10/10 on my scale of gourmet restaurants!
This is a throwback post; one of the first reviews I have ever written, you can tell I wrote this in middle school! I hope to return to this place that 13 year old me. found so enticing :)
I think that this is by far the best restaurant I have ever dined at, and that is saying A LOT. This restaurant is a high class, Las Vegas style, luxury buffet in Hackensack, New Jersey. It consists of all sorts of sushi, Japanese condiments, a panini station, a pasta station, and a carving station or hibachi meat section. There are a lot of foods that I have never tried, believe it or not, so I either travel around the world to try exotic things or just to restaurants when it is not summer. When I saw Las Vegas style, I knew I just had to try this place! So I went over the weekend. Here is everything I tried
On the sushi side, I tried octopus sashimi for the first time; I had tried octopus in a spring roll before, but not on sashimi so I was in for a tastebud roller-coaster! I was extremely surprised at the taste of it. It tasted quite tender and the rice was perfectly sticky; it bonded together with the tentacle really well. However, it needed a touch of salt so I knew just what to do in this situation. I ran over and grabbed the soy sauce bottle and gently dipped the sashimi into the soy sauce, holding it with my chopsticks. Then I squirted lemon onto the sashimi for some acidity and it turned out to be the perfect bite. When I saw the signs in the sushi bar, they said, grilled unagi and avocado roll and the second sign said grilled anago and avocado roll. I was wondering what the differences between the two eels were, so I asked my waitress and she said, unagi is freshwater eel while anago is saltwater eel. I took both rolls back to my table and tried each one with extreme slowness. I came to the conclusion that the unagi had a richer note to it and a deeper umami flavor than the anago. The anago is more subtle and has a slight sweetness that was also delicious. The fried calamari was totally on point and was extremely tender on the interior and crispy on the exterior. It was the best calamari I have ever eaten in my entire life! It was so flavorful and spicy and had great textural contrast. I also tried black peppercorn crusted albacore tuna and salmon that was seared lightly for some smokiness and with a touch of tanginess that slightly overwhelmed my palate. The teriyaki chicken and udon was almost perfect. It was roasted in a bold teriyaki sauce and consistently formed udon noodles. Lastly, from the Japanese section, I tried a vegetable tempura fritter with zucchini carrots and onions. It was perfect; none of the breading fell off, it was crispy and the vegetables were cooked perfectly and the flavor was consistent.
Now we move on to Italian classics and the carving station. The panini station is irrelevant to me because I dislike sandwiches. These section is set up a little differently than the sushi section; it is more like a station where you pick a type of pasta, then you pick the sauce and any toppings you want. When you place your order at the pasta station, you are watching the people cooking your food which taught me new cooking techniques. I only tried one pasta dish which was al dente penne with Alfredo sauce and zucchini, broccoli, shrimp, and jalapeños which was outstanding. The sauce was so creamy and delicious that I wanted to jar it and sell it. The vegetables were perfectly al dente in the center and provided a textural bonus to the dish. Some other options were spaghetti as the shape of the pasta, tomato cream sauce, and marinara and there were more toppings as well. The carving station is where all the meat is made; hibachi style. I absolutely love hibachi so I had to try every option. I first took the pistachio crusted rack of lamb and observed the coloration on the inside to see if it was cooked the way I like it. It was a perfect medium, so I ate it and the crust had just the right ratio of pistachios and bread crumbs and the bright green was quite appealing to the eye. I sliced into it as if it was a stick of butter; that is how tender it was! However, it had some unrendered fat on the sides which made it difficult to eat. The pistachios gave a lovely, earthy taste onto the steak which was crispy and was well bonded together by the bread crumb and egg wash. Then, I tried the New York strip steak which was a medium well and was so luxurious and almost spicy in a way.
Last but definitely not least, the desserts. First off, I tried a leche flan with caramel on top which was set to perfection and he’d some lemon zest on top, thus accumulating a tangy taste that didn’t overwhelm my palate. Then I tried yet another creme brûlée which was infused in a sweet and sour robust lemon curd with fresh vanilla bean shavings and the sugar glass on top is, as always, my favorite part. Then, smack in the middle of the restaurant, I notice the best thing in the world, a chocolate fountain just oozing chocolate ganache. I then took two pretzel sticks and dipped them into the ganache, making a lot of ganache spill on my hands. It was the most delicious ganache ever, so I stayed near it, eating more and more dipped pretzel sticks. Then I saw a sign that said panna cotta and I looked and I see a white custard like base under a lychee and raspberry coulis. I had never tried a panna cotta in my life so went back to my table, eating the panna cotta delicately. It feels like somewhat of a jello and a custard base combined, and the coulis tasted strongly of lychee, which I loved and then a subtle aftertaste of a sweet raspberry. When you eat the panna cotta dish altogether, the flavors are astounding. This restaurant receives the rare score of 10 out of 10 on my scale of gourmet restaurants!
My family and I dined at this newly opened restaurant recently and to say it was a success would be an understatement. I have written yelp reviews in the past, but I have never been created a whole yelp profile for a restaurant until I went to Birria Mania, and I just felt compelled to do so. We got the mangonada drink to start and it maintained the perfect balance of sweet and sour tang with a hint of savory spice, and was a great slushy texture.
Food wise we ordered beef tacos with consummé, chicken mulitas, beef ramen, beef philly cheesesteak, chicken birria pizza, and chicken dorito nachos. The beef and chicken was tender across the board, with an intense depth of flavor. The consummé was rich and flavorful and was the perfect accompaniment for the taco. The chicken mulitas had cotija cheese on top, which provided a contrast to the mozzarella on the inside. The ramen was essentially noodles in the consummé with a hard shell taco inside. The taco shell remained crispy despite being in the consummé, which provided much needed textural contrast to the noodles, which were slightly overcooked. But again, the richness and dimension of the consummé made it taste as if it was cooked down for hours. The beef philly cheesesteak was impeccable, with a solid bread to meat to cheese ratio, and what tied it all together were the pickled red onions, which were, dare I say, the star of the evening. They gave the heavy sandwich a much needed burst of acidity and freshness. The chicken birria pizza was a great pull apart item with the perfect ratio of chicken to tortilla, making it easy to eat, and we still went for the consummé as a dip and it was a stellar bite. Lastly, we got the dorito nachos with chicken, which did not hold up well against the rest of the dishes. There was too much spicy drizzle (chamoy, I think), and it clashed with the dorito and cheese flavor profile, but my picky sister enjoyed it so that's good.
I know I spoke a lot about the food my family and I ordered, but that wasn't even the best part of our time at Birria Mania. This would be the impeccable service and hospitality we were shown. They were extremely accommodating to my brother, who has a disability, and truly went above and beyond to make our experience a positive one. The waiters were also just very polite and professional and put together, despite only being open for a week, and our food was served pretty fast considering the full dining room. Even as a crowd began to form outside the door and all the tables were full, the workers remained poised and efficiently spoke to all of them, and it was all conducted in a very organized way. It was just so difficult to fathom that this had been one of their first days open. The ambiance, of course, was also very hip and inviting, with colorful sombreros stuck on the ceiling and loud music. Across the board, it was a fantastic experience; we went for the food and will definitely be returning for both the food and the service now! Solid 8/10 :)
My family and I went to Manhattan recently one of the first times since the pandemic began. We were wandering around battery park city, looking for shake shack and just as we were taking a minute to catch our breaths, we found ourselves near Miramar: a Mediterranean seafood restaurant, so we decided to eat here instead, praying it wouldn't make us regret not going to shake shack.
For our appetizers we got the portobello mushroom and the avocado salad. The portobello mushroom was very earthy and had tons of umami flavor and the sautéed spinach gave a fantastic contract in texture. The mozzarella was there to keep every flavor in balance and the sun dried tomato pesto was an unexpected but welcoming twist on the palate, livening the dish up perfectly. The avocado salad was okay, however it needed more avocado, considering the name, so for me, the ratio of avocado to greens was off, but the flavor was still quite good.
For the entrees, we got numerous items, because that is how hungry we were! The stuffed shrimp, filled with jumbo lump crab, onions, bell peppers, served with grilled asparagus and zucchini was absolutely divine. The shrimp were of good size and the rusticity and small size in which the bell peppers were cut created a nice pop in crunch, while still adding color to the dish. The crab could have been flaked a bit larger in order to highlight the nature of the crab, however the flavor was spot on and the dish ate very well. The zucchini and asparagus were also grilled to perfection with impressive grill marks. The seafood linguine with mussels, shrimp, scallops, calamari, and littleneck clams was fantastic. You could taste every seafood distinctly, but the scallops could have been a bit more refined, but these are the little things, as the calamari rings were able to sop up a lot of the chunky tomato sauce, which I thought was a nice touch. The pasta was perfectly al dente, having the perfect bite to it, while still twirling properly and delicately on the fork. The vegetarian mixed grill featuring eggplant, zucchini, asparagus, red pepper, onions, and rice, was a very balanced assortment. The bitterness of the eggplant with the sweetness of the pepper and the zing of the onion with the smokiness of the zucchini and the freshness of the asparagus was unmatched. It just makes me proud when a vegetable centric dish manages to have such tremendous flavor. Also, the rice might not look like much, but looks can be deceiving as that was flavor packed rice; it had infusion of char from the grill and had so much nuance and complexity, and being cooked to perfection was the cherry on top. Lastly, we ate the grilled shrimp, grilled salmon, and seared scallops over the iconic pepper, onion, and rice. These scallops were far better than the previous scallops, possibly due to the sear with the rub, since my preference is hard seared scallops in relation to scallops cooked in sauce. The shrimp, again cookies perfectly and with natural sweetness and classic grill smokiness. The salmon was a tad dry for me, but still edible with decent flavor.
As you can see my family and I truly indulged at this restaurant with minor flaws here and there, but I would genuinely dine here again. I would like to take a minute to also thank the servers and waitstaff for being so kind, comforting, and attending. It's true what they say, you stay for the food and you come back for the service, so I would rate this restaurant a 9.5 (service bumped it up from a 9) out of 10 on my scale of gourmet restaurants, please try it!!