Friday, April 22, 2011

Mariachi Loco

As the days of working at The Daily Athenaeum dwindled down, Travis, Melanie and I decided to spend one of our last evenings celebrating at Mariachi Loco. I'm not a big fan of Mexican, but this made me a believer. It's located near the other Walmart on Hornbeck Road. It's owned by the same people as Los Mariachis, so I knew it would be good quality. I didn't, however, think it would be even better.

One of the best parts about a Mexican restaurant is that they usually serve up complementary chips and salsa. I'm not too much for the hot salsa, but a nice free appetizer is always nice.

I never know what to order at Mexican restaurants, but to my luck, a suggestions was right on the front cover of the menu: Special Dinner. It had a little bit of everything, which included a taco and various other Mexican arrangements that I didn't know what they were. When it came out on the, not one, but two plates, I still didn't know what everything was. I do know that there was a hamburger patty-like deal with cheese on it, with four other Mexican burrito/chimichanga ordeals and refried beans and rice.

I wish I was able to describe the dish in more detail because it was yummy, but all I really know is that there was the soft wrap with a blend of chicken, spices and beans. I was hesitant, but once I tasted it, I was pleasantly surprised. It was delicious! Though a little on the spicy side, we ordered a pitcher of peach margaritas that fit the bill to make the dinner a delicious combination of spicy food and sweet alcohol. The peach margaritas were refreshing but strong enough to make me feel warm and fuzzy as we left.

Grade: B

Mariachi Loco Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Richwood Grill

Travis Crum (my former city editor), Melanie Hoffman (my former managing editor) and I made plans with AP star Vicki Smith to get dinner and catch up. Vicki has been truly inspirational during my time at the newspaper, and I hope our relationship continues after The DA. My boyfriend Chris was also in town, so he joined us.

Vicki knows just about everything there is to know about Morgantown, and she's always up for different dinner suggestions, so I threw out "Richwood Grill" because of its super local, but classy, menu. The restaurant used to be "Solera," which served Latin food. But now, "Richwood Grill" serves sustainable food from around West Virginia. Don't let the sound of that fool you, though, as the atmosphere is classy, and really puts to good use the fact that great food comes from within the Mountain State.

Located right out of the beaten path in Morgantown, right up behind the hill from the Willey Street Dairy Mart, it's not a college hangout, but locals seem to adore the place. Check out reviews here. We met at 5 p.m., as soon as the restaurant opened, and we were graciously greeted and led to the back dining area. Outdoor seating was also available, but it was still a little chilly for that. The table was adorned with old-school posters and placards, and the room was decorated lightly but classy.

The menu continually changes according to what's in season and boasted only about a dozen entrees; however, the drink menu consisted of pages upon pages. Vicki opted for a bottle of red wine for the table that was both strong but necessary. I'm not much of a wine drinker, so I can't critique much, but I was warm and relaxed after one glass. I forwent an appetizer because I wasn't overly hungry, but I immediately knew what I wanted for my entree: A scallop and shrimp sausage with pesto pasta and pumpkin seed. It sounded like something I would like, as I often go for pasta, but the majority of our table went for a steak. I believe steak/red meat is their specialty, but I'm not much of a steak person.

When my dish arrived, I was excited. The excitement vanished when I actually bit into the pasta, as it was quite hearty and dry. The pesto sauce really needed a kick of lightness or smoothness to offset the harsh pesto sauce. I would've liked some diced tomato so I wasn't in need of a drink after every bite. The taste of the pasta wasn't bad, but it definitely needed a lighter note. I took a bite out of the sausage and was pleasantly surprised. Two sausage patties, and one contained a scallop and one a shrimp. The sausage wasn't gritty or reek of chemically enhanced meat. It was good quality and quite delicious. The idea of putting a piece of seafood in the meat was interesting, but unfortunately, I didn't taste the seafood too much. It's clear this restaurant is ideal for meat-lovers, and the pasta/seafood sort of fall to the wayside. That's OK; that's what I get for ordering pasta. However, on that note, Chris ordered a rainbow trout dish that had a delicious white creamy wasabi sauce on it, and it was to die for. Very fresh and tasty.

My favorite part of dinner came next: dessert. I can't remember exactly what the dessert was called, but it was a blueberry and apple jam tart with a smooth cheese and apples and toffee integrated. It was delicious. Melanie said it looked like something off of "Top Chef." It was very creative, and the cheese added a bit of a tart taste to the sweet jams. Each of our desserts also came out topped with a strawberry, which added a light fresh flavor to sugary dessert. I could've devoured two.

Grade: C
Richwood Grill on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mountain State Brewing Co.

Not to be confused with the Brew Pub, Mountain State Brewing Co. opened up a nice little bar/restaurant in the Wharf District of Morgantown. Melanie and I decided to try it out after a long day at work. We had to park at a meter because there isn't direct parking available for the MSBC, at least not that we saw.

When I walked in, I was blown away at the size. The restaurant is huge and very spread out. The bar area is first, with a dozen tables, high and low, for patrons who want to be near the bar. We opted for a booth, near the right side of the restaurant. The restaurant is reminiscent of a large, cozy cabin. The booth could have sat six people comfortably.

We were handed small clipboards with loose leaf papers containing the menu. Without much hesitation, we both knew we wanted to try the sampler, which consisted of four beers. I wish I knew the names, but the only one I really like was the light-colored one because it was easy to handle, smooth and refreshing. The further you move to the right, the stronger the beer. For me, the more gross it tastes. We came to the conclusion that the dark stout tasted similar to coffee. I ended up ordering the lightest one, which was a good complement to the pizzas we ordered.

Don't make the mistake of asking where the pizzas are. Here, they're referred to as "flatbreads," and they're not the typical pies at a pizzeria. I ordered the "Olive Another" with olive tapenade, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and fresh mozzarella. Melanie opted for the "Buffalo Chicken" with chicken breast, buffalo sauce and bleu cheese (lots of bleu cheese!). We both ordered small pizzas and ended up taking the majority of it home. They're made in wood-fired brick ovens that give the pizzas that extra flavor.

I was hoping there would just be a regular cheese and pepperoni pizza, but there wasn't. I was happy with my pizza, but I was hoping for some more robust flavor. I thought the fresh mozzarella would really kick it up, but the flavors were more muted. Not that olives are powerful, but I was looking for the kick. The artichoke hearts were tender, as were the peppers, but the mozzarella was lacking. Most pizzas need that cheesey goodness to make it feel like a pizza. Instead, this was a gourmet flatbread, but tasty nonetheless.

Melanie's buffalo pizza, on the other hand, had that kick and then some. I really liked the taste of it, though some of the chicken was dry, and the bleu cheese was overpowering at times. I think the pizza would've fared nicely with a healthier dose of hot sauce and less bleu cheese. I liked this one more though. The flavors were so powerful, it was like a tug-of-war in my mouth. Regardless, both of the pizzas tasted delicious, and the atmosphere was very comfortable.

Grade: B
Mountain State Brewing Co. on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 8, 2011

Anthony's Pizza

Today was rainy, so I was destined for lounging and relaxing. I ordered delivery from Anthony's Pizza. I saw the new restaurant on and wanted to see what it was about. I ordered a half Sicilian pizza and an Italian "wedgie," which is basically a lettuce, tomato, mayo, salami sandwich with pizza flatbread as the bread, with ricotta, garlic and spinach. Because I ordered on DubVMenus, I was also able to get a free two-liter. Not a bad deal. The total came out (with tip) to about $20, and the food was delivered in about an hour.

I bit into the wedgie and was a bit confused. First of all, it was warm and was lacking all the "basic" ingredients the description said it would come with: tomato, lettuce and onion. Instead, it only contained the optional ingredients: mayo, ricotta, spinach and garlic. Luckily, when I tasted it, it was not bad. It wasn't what I ordered or expected, but it was essentially a calzone that wasn't sealed around the edges. But, then I got to thinking - this meal is warm, and it has mayo on it. Since it was already messed up, I was concerned they put it through the oven with mayo, which would lead to food poisoning - one of the most unpleasant things I've ever experienced. So, I called the restaurant to ask them what was up. They basically said I somehow ordered it wrong, though I ordered it online and it gave me a receipt saying exactly what was being processed. Anyway, they said they didn't put the sandwich with mayo through the oven. I supposed we'll find out in approximately 5 to 7 hours.

The pizza was better. Sicilian pizza is "poo- fier." The dough was about an inch thick, with spiced Italian sauce and melty mozzarella cheese. I prefer a bit less doughy pizza, but it was still very tasty. The blend of herbs and spices in the pizza sauce gave it a flavorful Italian taste without being too spicy or overseasoned. The taste is similar to DiCarlo's in the northern panhandle, but the dough is much fluffier. The restaurant would have received a better score if there wasn't the debacle with the wedgie.

Grade: C

Anthony's Pizza on Urbanspoon