Pazzo! Italian cafe has great Italian fare in Naples, FL

Pollo gusto

Resident Foodies say: We tried out Pazzo! Italian Cafe in Naples, Florida (Facebook page), right in the heart of downtown Naples, Florida. The place has an extensive wine list, and a great selection of authentic Italian dishes. We were impressed.

The prices, which are not listed on the website menu, are fairly expensive, probably deserving of 3 dollar signs ($$$) on Yelp, not the 2 currently listed. But, if you go during happy hour (5 to 6), you can get 2 entrees for the price of $29 and a glass of wine is 50%. That’s a decent deal. We had the grilled chicken (pollo gusto, photo above), spaghetti with meatballs, and chicken parmagiano. All were tasty. The homemade bread was fantastic, too. We had two baskets-full!

Spaghetti with meatballs

Chicken parmigiano

Ramen Underground: best ramen in San Francisco

Resident Foodies say: We think we found the best ramen in San Francisco at Ramen Underground. The name of the restaurant should tell you that the place is a hole-in-the-wall on 355 Kearny St. (between Pine and Bush), a place where only people in the know frequent. The place is so small it’s easy to walk right past it. We spotted it walking through downtown one day. We’re glad we did.

We got there at 11:50 a.m. on a Saturday and were disappointed to find it closed, with foreboding bars across the front door. But, luckily, we saw workers inside, so we waited it out. They didn’t even acknowledge as we waited. It must be a common occurrence. Turns out they open at noon (and not 11:30 a.m. as advertised on Yelp).

Chef-owner Ken Matsumura, formerly of Katana-Ya, opened the Ramen Underground back in August. It has a dark, rustic interior, and only a few tables. We were lucky to get the window table. As we ate, many passersby rubbernecked their heads to see what we were eating.

We ordered the miso ramen with vegetables and spicy miso ramen with tofu. The noodles in both dishes were the star of the show. The noodles were downright amazing–so tender and delicious. And they give you lots of it! The miso ramen has a cleaner, more soothing taste, while the spicy miso has a bit of kick to it. If you’re going for the more traditional ramen, then go for the miso.

Miso ramen with vegetables

Spicy miso ramen with tofu

Video: Chef Geoff Zakarian wins Next Iron Chef, defeating Chef Elizabeth Falkner

Resident Foodies say: Iron Chef will remain an all-boys club, save one. Chef Geoffrey Zakarian won the Next Iron Chef, defeating Chef Elizabeth Falkner, in a holiday-themed cook-off in Kitchen Stadium. A number of the judges–5 men (including the Chairman) and 1 woman–seemed to think Chef Falkner cooked the best dish of the night, but Chef Zakarian, known as a master technician, had the best overall meal. Falkner was described by some of the judges as the more creative chef and with greater potential, plus her pastry skills, but Zakarian was considered to be a master chef already. Judge Simon Majumdar, however, was vocal in his dislike of one of Zakarian’s dishes, the “gift” dish made of beef, which Majumdar found chewy and described as a “flop.” It wasn’t exactly clear how the Iron Chef is selected–by a majority vote or by the Chairman based on the advice of the judges. In the end, though, Zakarian won.

With Chef Zakarian, Iron Chef has now 7 men and 1 woman, a gender disparity that is now worse than the composition of the U.S. Supreme Court (more on that later).

Congrats to Chef Zakarian and Chef Falkner for a spirited finale.

Why Chef Elizabeth Falkner will win Next Iron Chef and defeat Chef Geoff Zakarian

Resident Foodies say: Tonight is the finale of Next Iron Chef. Chef Geoff Zakarian, a master technician, is the favorite, while Chef Elizabeth Falkner, who is a pastry chef, is the underdog. Our bet is on Chef Falkner. She would become the second woman to be an Iron Chef, joining Cat Cora.

UPDATE: Our prediction was wrong. Chef Geoff Zakarian won. Click here for the results.

Video Next Iron Chef: Chefs Guarneschelli, Chiarello eliminated; Zakarian v. Falkner in finale

Resident Foodies say: December 11’s episode of Next Iron Chef was a double elimination. Chef Alexandra Guarneschelli was the first to go, while Chef Geoff Zakarian–who has been consistent all season–was the first to make it into the finale. The secret ingredient for the challenge between the remaining two chefs was crackers. Chef Michael Chiarello lost based on flavor and integration of the secret ingredient.

That means Chef Elizabeth Falkner goes up against Chef Zakarian, female against male, West Coast v. East Coast. Zakarian may be the favorite, but Falkner should win it all. It’s “Tebow Time” for Chef Falkner to pull this thing out.