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Buon Appetito (SD) mini review... also went to Ba Ren, finally!

Tiffany | Feb 22, 200612:33 PM

A friend took me to Buon Appetito in Little Italy on Saturday and I just wanted to report back, since I couldn't really find anything on this board about it.

We arrived at the restaurant around 9 pm and there was still a crowd of ppl waiting outside. Luckily, we were only two and surpassed the larger groups. Buon Appetito has a very small dining room, so the noise level of ppl chatting and laughing got a little loud... But that was okay, b/c my friend is also loud. ;) The walls feature paintings from a different artist each month which was kind of interesting.

Dinner started off really great. The sommelier (maybe a co-owner?) was super attentive and helped us to pick wines by the glass from the large selection that they had... very friendly lady.

The crusty bread that they served was really good and had a nice doughy texture... but it was the marinara sauce that made it REALLY great. It was slightly chunky and had a bit of a kick to it.

Unfortunately, it was anticlimatic from there. The dinner special that I had (and that our server recommended) was a homemade cheese and spinach ravioli. The homemade pasta was great... I don't think that I've ever had pasta with such a tender, yet slightly chewy texture. It was perfect and my description doesn't really do it justice. The flavors, however weren't that great. I didn't detect any spinach in the dish, the flavors of the cheese & creamy sauce didn't really jump out at me as being unusual. The sauce that covered the entire dish was also in a pinkish color that reminded me of something that wasn't at all appetizing. My friend had gotten a penne dish tossed in ground beef, chunks of tomoto sauce that was a bit watery and had carrots & celery. Wasn't anything to shout about either.

They did, however have a pretty big selection of non-pasta dishes like veal, branzino, other seafood.. and the pasta started at around $9-14 per entree. NOt too bad, and perhaps I'd go back again to try some non-pasta dishes and have their bread & marinara sauce again.

We decided to get tiramisu at Cafe Zucchero a few doors down. I love tiramisu and since my friend highly recommended their desserts, we went there, sat down and waited a good 10 minutes and were never served. It was maybe around 10:30 and I believe they closed at 11? But we were ignored, so got a piece at the counter and took it to go. It wasn't anything even close to great. Lots of thick cream and very little espresso or any other flavor. I mentioned that to my friend, and she replied that that was why she liked it. Greeeat.

Oh a brighter note, a group of us finally made it to Ba Ren for the first time... thanks to Kirkk's food blogs, we ordered a few of the CHowhound favorites and LOVED it!!! The twice cooked fish was SOO good. Also had the dried rice cakes with chicken, a pork dish with pickeled vegetables, and the fish flavored eggplant which was a little overpowering with the vinegar in the dish. At the end of the meal, we were stuffed, but I had to order the Gan Bian Niu Ro (strips of beef, etc) just to try it... and THAT just about burned my tongue off. BUt it was addicting and I savored every bite. Busy weekend but the eating was good!

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