26 April 2008


Minico's is a family-owned Italian joint with a killer white pizza. They make a veggie sub and a few vegetarian pasta dishes. But the white pizza is definitely one of the vegetarian show stoppers.

The white pizza is made from smoked provolone, romano and feta cheese with olive oil and garlic on a medium crispy thin crust. I added green peppers and mushrooms, although the pizza also can be made with a preselected batch of mixed vegetables.

Minico's offers dine-in and carry out options seven days a week after 4 pm at Minico's. Everything else on the menu looks good. If nothing else, it's safe to say that you can't go wrong with the white pizza.

Minico's Pizza on Urbanspoon

19 April 2008

Dragon One

Located at the corner of Parsons and Broad, Dragon One is a Chinese restaurant that frowns on vegetarians. The name, Dragon One, just about identifies the number of vegetarian items on the menu, making me one unhappy veggie.

Dragon One is a Chinese restaurant designed for take-out customers. They are open seven days per week for lunch and dinner, which is a rarity in 9am-3pm Monday through Friday realm of Downtown Columbus.

The menu offers four tofu items. Unfortunately, the tofu is polluted with shrimp in one dish, pork in another, and a varied assortment of dead animals in the third, leaving only one vegetarian tofu dish (Family Style Bean Curd) that was kindly identified for me by the staff. There are also stir fried vegetable dishes on the menu that would be best identified as standard Sino-American fare.

The vegetables were fresh. The bean curd came with broccoli, mixed mushrooms, baby corn and onions in a mild brown sauce with a rich, earthy flavor. The tofu was supposed to be fried medium crispy, but it turned out slightly greasy and chewy.

The hours at Dragon One are a plus for this establishment. The fact that the Dragon lives in range of area favorite the Happy Dragon (which, unlike Dragon One, delivers) could make it tricky for the long-term survival of the place if it ends up being the second best establishment in the area with Dragon in the name.

Dragon One

13 April 2008

Danny's Subs

I have mentioned Danny's Subs in Westerville in previous posts. But I didn't have photos in the last post. And now I do.

They make a glorious vegetarian sub at Danny's. Strict vegetarians might be put off by the one-slicer-cuts-all approach at Danny's. But really. At Quizno's, the one knife that spreads all the guacamole cuts through all the other roast beef sandwiches. It's never really as veggie as it looks. So caveat emptor.

That being said, if you can get past those things, the wheat bread is great with the banana peppers, black olives, green peppers, lettuce, onions, mozzarella and provolone cheese, oil and vinegar, spices, salt and pepper. The regular size is more than enough. The large is twice that. The staff and the owner are great people. See the photos for evidence.

Dannys Subs

06 April 2008

Carrabba's Italian Grill

Okay, okay, you caught me. I was eating at a chain restaurant. But somebody has to dine there so my vegetarian reader base (both of them, in fact) can know for certain that Chain X offers a good or bad amount of vegetarian options. Chain X for today is Carrabba's Italian Grill.

Carrabba's in now part of the Outback restaurant empire, although it started out as a family operation. They feature classic Italian dishes in a relatively informal setting.

Surprisingly, Carrabba's had a limited selection of vegetarian eats. Italian restaurants are usually a great source of vegetarian (though rarely vegan) eats. Carrabba's menu offered bruschetta, breaded zucchini, a few pasta dishes and a few pizzas that were free of dead animal content. The server was helpful in identifying all of the vegetarian items on the menu for me.

The house salad was served with a creamy Italian dressing (***Special note: Even though they told me it was, this item might not be vegetarian. Stay away from the creamy parmesan dressing and make sure you have a server who understands that fish parts are, indeed, not vegetarian friendly!) Mixed greens were served with carrots, onions, pepperoncini and black olives.

My entree was manicotti. The tomato sauce and the ricotta filling were nice, but the grated Romano cheese tasted old with a fairly homogenized character that typically doesn't come from freshly grated cheese. I might have been better off ordering the other pasta dish or the pizzas.

The beverage menu features about 10 specialty cocktails, a pedestrian wine list and Peroni beer on draft. I'm drawing a line in the sand here--Italians should stick to making wine and leave the brew craftsmanship to their German and Belgian counterparts. We'd all be better off because of it. The wildberry cooler, on the other hand, was very good, with fizzy hints of cranberry, blackberry and raspberry.

My pictures were fairly limited. If you want to see Carrabba's firsthand, I'd imagine that you should be able to find one within driving distance without too much trouble. Check out the pictures below.


Happy Dragon

Happy Dragon is a no-nonsense Chinese take out joint in German Village. They offer fairly priced fare with a small selection of vegetarian items.

There is room to eat at Happy Dragon. Judging from the business while I was there, however, I'd guess that 90 percent of revenue comes from take out orders. The menu has veggie spring rolls, veggie tofu, spicy Szechuan tofu, spicy string beans and the ubiquitous vegetable delight for those dining in and those eating at work or home.

I tried the Szechuan tofu, which was deep fried tofu in a rich brown sauce with green peppers, carrots and mushrooms thrown in for good measure. The tofu was a little greasy, but the sauce was tasty and the vegetables were stir fried enough to soften them but not enough to give them a rubbery texture. Despite the minor shortcomings, for a grand total of $6, it was a pretty satisfying lunch.

There are definitely better quality Chinese options throughout the Columbus area. Lee's China Kitchen, which is barely a few minutes away, comes easily to mind. Some of my other favorites include Q2, Chi Thai and Bistro 86 (granted, all three are fusion spots; but they also all have Chinese roots). The benefit of Happy Dragon is that it is very cheap. Even Lee's, which does a brisk take out and lunch business, is a touch more expensive than the Happy Dragon.

If you have a taste for inexpensive Chinese food prepared on the fly, Happy Dragon should be right up your alley. Check out the pictures below.

Happy Dragon

03 April 2008

Sexy Veggies, Part 17

Hot on the heels of this blog's tenacious reporting on PETA's sexiest vegetarian next door, Maxim magazine has provided some healthy competition.

Maxim's newest Web pictorial is titled, "Our Sexiest Vegetarians." They got more than a few direct hits on this one. Kylie Bax is smoking. Rachel Leigh Cook is easy on the eyes. Meat might be the only thing Pam Anderson hasn't put in her mouth (but the vegetarian diet has treated her well anyway). Petra Nemcova is a little better than average. And vegetarianism has also helped Shanon Elizabeth recover well from the Charlie Sheen aftershock.

But they also missed a few winners. I wouldn't kick Carrie Underwood out of bed for eating meat (even though she hasn't since she was 13). Ashley Judd can eat whatever she wants as far as I'm concerned, and she's still a vegetarian. And I'm not gay, but if I were, the first vegetarian I would make love to would definitely be Prince. Granted, he'll be a hard sell in Maxim, but who cares anyway?

Despite all my criticism of the oversights, Maxim nailed one choice right on target. Natalie Portman is the sexiest vegetarian on this or any other planet. She always looks good enough to eat...and that's definitely a no-no no matter what degree of vegetarian or vegan you are.

01 April 2008

Pistacia Vera

I might have walked past Pistacia Vera 500 times while tooling around German Village without venturing inside. Maybe I was walking back to my car after eating at Katzinger's. Maybe I was hanging out with a friend. Maybe I was at the Book Loft. But I never got past the front door. Until yesterday.

Pistacia Vera bills itself as a dessert boutique. They specialize in the kind of desserts that embody the idea that less is more. By refining techniques and flavors, Pistacia Vera can offer adventurous creations that elevate a simple cookie to the level of a masterpiece.

The interior is arranged like a coffee shop. There is a small counter with all the desserts arranged behind it. There are also a few tables for those who want to sample some of the wares before they lug them home.

The macaroons are delightful. Rather than being a classic coconut (or almond) cookie, these macaroons come in flavors like raspberry rosewater, chocolate Earl Gray tea and caramel cream. They are light, airy and packed with intense, sweet fillings that have to be tasted to be believed.

There are also great cookies in larger sizes. I sampled the pistachio chocolate chip cookies. They were made with coarsely ground pistachios and giant soft chocolate chips.

Some of the other fine looking fare included guava glaces, sweet wine tea cookies, pistacio tupelo honey nougat, honey lemon madeleines and orange date rugelach.

Don't just walk past this place. It's well worth your time. Check out the pictures below if you don't believe me. I'll be grazing on macaroons cursing myself for not stopping in when I walked by on previous occasions.

Pistacia Vera

Pistacia Vera on Urbanspoon

Tutto Vino

Tutto Vino is an intimate wine bar tucked in a small shopping center in golftastic Dublin. They feature a great assortment of tapas and entrees that are made to be served alongside a varied selection of wines by the glass and by the bottle.

This wine bistro is going by a different name now. It used to be known as the Wine Shoppe Bistro, but after Bob Monica sold his ownership stake to Raj Hora, Hora renamed it Tutto Vino. The menu is similar to the Wine Shoppe Bistro.

The menu is a French/Italian/Mediterranean hybrid that centers around tapas. The small plates can be eaten as a meal by one, or (better yet) passed around and shared, allowing everybody to try a little bit of everything.

The wine and cheese plate is customizable. Diners select from a range of olives and cheeses which are then accompanied by fruit, nuts and flatbread. The olives and cheese can also be ordered individually. I tried a five-county cheddar that represents the five major cheese producing areas of Britain stacked one on top of another. I also tried a Canadian white cheddar alongside kalamata olives, a classic Greek black olive with a great flavor and a perfect salt cure.

The mushroom tart was also great. It consisted of a cornmeal crust stuffed with portobello and porcini mushrooms, Gorgonzola and Parmesan cheese, caramelized onions, red peppers and bread crumbs. The presentation was a little plain, but the taste was special.

The hummus (pictured above) was also a surprise. It was served with flatbread, cucumbers and grapes. The hummus was mild and well made.

The Florentine strudel was the winner of the night. The strudel consisted of mushrooms, spinach, roasted peppers, artichoke hearts and four cheeses baked in a flaky pastry shell. It was akin to Spanakopita with a few more bells and whistles, and it was great.

The desserts also looked good. The Gravel Road Jeni's ice cream was delicious as ever, featuring smoked almonds inside a caramel ice cream with caramelized sugar, butter and sea salt.

The wine flights are another great value. You can sample five wines of your choice for about $17. I sampled a Lobster Key Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, a white and red Bordeaux (names unknown), the Quarterback (a blend of Shiraz, Grenache, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) and the grand champion Orin Swift's The Prisoner, a lush, jammy red made from grape varietals including Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Charbono. The grapes create a spicy blueberry wine with deep color that is more than the sum of the parts from which it's made. Tutto Vino also features a retail wine shop, and bottles can be bought retail and served in the restaurant for a small mark-up.

The service was a little spotty while I was at Tutto Vino. The server was friendly and capable. She was just stretched a little thin. It seemed like she definitely needed help. I'll chalk it up to a staffing oversight.

Tutto Vino is as good as it was in its previous incarnation. It's a great place to share food and wine with friends. Stop in, and check out the pictures below.

Tutto Vino