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By C.T. Sorrentino “His Holiness”. I first saw him on TV, a documentary, 60 Minutes, I forget exactly where or when, but he i...

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Naples, Italy: Good, Local Cuisine, But No "Burning" Desire To Return To La Brace ("The Embers")

Ristorante La Brace

Via Gabriele Jannelli 652
80131 Naples
Phone number: +39 081 5451074
Prices: €€€€

Pizza is an art form as well as a religious experience in Napoli (Naples, Italy), the home of the first pizzeria (Antica Pizzeria Port'Alba - 1830) and where pizza Margherita (named after Queen Margherita of Savoy - circa 1889) was invented at Pizzeria Brandi, both still in existence today. La Brace, "the embers" in Italian, did a decent job on mine, not the best pizza salsiccia e friarielli (sausage and broccoli rabe sauteed in olive oil and garlic) I have had, but far from the worst. Pizzerias, after all, do not exist for long in Naples unless they tend to get it right.
This was the first time we have eaten here, odd because my mother-in-law's home is less than a block away. The service was good although our server got carried away, along with numerous other patrons, as the Naples football club (S.S.C. Napoli) tied their northern rivals from Florence. We started with fritto misto (fried mix), consisting of the Naples standards including arancini (rice balls), potato croquettes, and algae dough balls (zeppoline di alghe). The non-seafood variety of fritto misto, which is what we had, normally costs less than $5 for reference sake.

My wife had rice with olive oil and parmigiano, a difficult dish to screw-up, because she had a bit of stomach flu that day and wanted something light. She, who (to put it mildly) is not well known for her culinary abilities, could not even mess-up this simple concoction if she tried. Of the two guests accompanying us, one had strips of steak (bistecca tagliata) with rucola and parmigiano as well as a side of french fries and the other had the thinest slices of sautéed chicken breasts I have ever seen along with some sautéed mushrooms. The steak looked very appetizing and plentiful, but the fries did not arrive until after I reminded the server of the order. The chicken consisted of less than three ounces of sliced breast, being overwhelmed by the decent sized order of mushrooms.
I ordered a bottle of vino locale (local wine - normally $3 - $5), which is usually a house wine made by the restaurant or one of their friends, but what we got was a cabernet sauvignon from Benevento about 45 miles away. I am not sure what the price of the wine was, but the bill (il conto) came to €61.50 (about $64) not including tip, a bit high for fritto misto ($5), a pizza ($8), steak and fries ($13), chicken and mushrooms ($7), rice ($5), a slice of cheesecake ($4) and a bottle of wine ($10 - all prices estimated and on the high side). Throw in $2.50 each for coperto/servizio (cover charge and service) and it would only come to about $62, about $2 less than what we paid (not including tip).
Anyway, a $70 price tag for dinner for four ain't all that bad no matter where you are, either in Europe or stateside.

CombatCritic Gives Ristorante And Pizzeria La Brace 6 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!

Six Bombs Equates To:
Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16

Tabelog - Official Judge (Silver)

Zomato - #1 Ranked "Verified" Foodie

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Read Chris S.'s review of La Brace on Yelp

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Naples, Italy: Good, Local Cuisine, But No "Burning" Desire To Return To La Brace ("The Embers")

Key Words: Ristorante La Brace, ristorante, la, brace, Rione, alto, Napoli, Naples, Italy, 80131, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: G2G = "Good To Go"

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Naples, Italy: Simplicity And Value On The Outskirts, Yet Well Connected

Hotel Camaldoli

Via Gabriele Jannelli 586
80131 Naples
Phone number +39 081 5466836
Website: hotelcamaldoli.it
Prices: €€€€

A nice, simple, reasonably priced, clean hotel just north of Vomero in the hospital zone (Zona Ospedale - hospitals Monaldi and Cardarelli) and close to two Metro stops (Policlinico and Rione Alto) as well as shops, markets, restaurants and pizzerias galore.
You can walk to both Metro stations (Linea 1 - Line 1 - Yellow Line), taking you to Vomero, downtown (Centro Storico - the historical district), shopping areas on Via Toledo and Via Roma, and the port as well as the main train station (Napoli Centrale) and Piazza Garibaldi. At Napoli Centrale, you can take trains pretty much anywhere in Italy and Europe, either slowly (Regionale) or very quickly (Freccia Rosa and Italo), getting you to Rome in an hour, Florence in two, and Venice in five. You can also travel locally on the Metro from Piazza Garibaldi (adjacent to Napoli Centrale), taking Linea 2 (Line 2) to Mergelina and Pozzuoli. Linea 4 (Line 4 - Circumvesuviana) to Herculaneum (Ercolano), Pompeii, and Sorrento is actually in the basement of Napoli Centrale, so follow the signs or inquire at an Information Booth if needed. It is also quite easy to get to the islands of Capri, Ischia, and Procida by ferry in addition to Sorrento or even Sicily if you have the time.


Breakfast is included at the hotel and is served from 7:30 AM to 9:30 AM daily. It is a typical, light Italian breakfast, serving cornetti (a fresh, flaky croissant filled with sweet cream and sprinkled with powdered sugar - indigenous to Southern Italy, Naples in particular) and coffee as you like it (cappuccino, espresso, caffe latte, etc). They also have juices, water, cereal, croissants, tarts, toast and an assortment of jellies as well as Nutella and butter.
Most rooms have balconies although the view is limited to surrounding buildings and the neighborhood's high rise apartment buildings and shops. Our balcony was spacious with a table and chairs to relax and get some fresh air. Our room was large with an entry vestibule to hang coats and umbrellas and store luggage. We also had a medium size wardrobe with four drawers, a small desk, two chairs, and a TV (only useful if you understand Italian because there are no English language channels - e.g. CNN, BBC, or Sky). The bed was an "Italian king size" (two twins pushed together on a king size frame

There is Wi-Fi, but it is a bit slow. You can stream videos, but they sometime pause as the video is buffering. Wi-Fi on the ground floor is spotty at best as it seems the wireless routers are on the upper floors. The staff are very friendly and helpful, attending to our every need. There is almost always someone at the front desk or in the breakfast area/bar where they have a limited selection of spirits.
There is no elevator, so handicapped access is a problem because even the lowest floor of rooms is 8-10 steps up from the front desk. Large bags can also pose a challenge, particularly if you are located on any of the upper floors. Our room was on the 1st floor (2nd floor in the U.S.), a trek of over 30 steps up the staircases from the lobby and even I was a touch winded after dragging two large bags up to our room.

A simple, pleasant hotel on the outskirts of Naples, yet well connected through the Metro system, Hotel Camaldoli is a good option if you do not have the need or desire to stay in the main tourist areas and want to get acquainted with the true Neapolitan way of life.

CombatCritic Gives Hotel Camaldoli 7 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!
Seven Bombs Equates To:
Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16

Tabelog - Official Judge (Silver)

Zomato - #1 Ranked "Verified" Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!

... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Read Chris S.'s review of Hotel Camaldoli on Yelp

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Naples, Italy: Simplicity And Value On The Outskirts, Yet Well Connected 

Key Words: Hotel Camaldoli, hotel, Camaldoli, Naples, Napoli, Pompeii, Sorrento, Roma, Amalfi, Italy, Italia, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, review, Yelp, bed, breakfast

Translation for Civilians: S&G = "Shits & Grins"

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Lawrence, Kansas: Best Breakfast Value, Most Arrogant Staff in Town

WheatFields Bakery Café
904 Vermont Street
Lawrence, KS  66044

Phone: 785.841.5553
Web: www.WheatfieldsBakery.com
Monday through Friday - 6:30am to 8:00pm
Saturday 6:30am to 6:30pm
Sunday - 7:30am to 4:00pm
Prices: $$$$

I love a good, hearty breakfast, but because bacon, eggs, hash browns, biscuits and gravy are not as healthy as they are tasty, we normally only indulge on special occasions. I reviewed Wheatfields, a bakery and restaurant one block West of Mass Street in downtown Lawrence, on my birthday last year after going there for breakfast. Coincidentally, my wife and I returned for breakfast yesterday on my 60th birthday, enjoying ourselves and allowing me to reassess the rating I gave them last year (6 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!). 

My wife and I have been buying Wheatfields wonderful breads since we moved to Lawrence a little over three years ago. My favorite is the raisin and pecan sourdough ($4.50), a robust torpedo-shaped loaf with a thick crispy crust outside and plenty of raisins and pecan pieces inside. It toasts marvelously and is delicious alone, with butter, or coated in my favorite toppings, peanut butter and bananas.
They have numerous varieties, including sourdough, semolina with sesame and poppy seeds, baguette, ciabatta, Kalamata olive, sourdough, and 100% whole wheat among others. Breads range in price from $4 to nearly $9 for their holiday specials, but the whole wheat with walnuts and raisins is just HALF the price of a similar loaf at a new East Lawrence bakery on Barker, being quite a good value.

You order at the counter immediately in front of you as you enter, pay, and are given a small sign to place on your table so the servers can bring your order to the correct table. Drinks are help-yourself with three varieties of coffee (two regular and one decaf) and a small selection of teas and fountain drinks.
Always keeping it simple, I went with the Classic Breakfast (#1 - $6.95), coming with two eggs, hash browns, toast, and sausage links or bacon (I went with the bacon of course). They raised their price a buck since last year, but it is still the cheapest breakfast in Lawrence. Adding a half order of biscuits and gravy (#5 - $4.25, up 50¢) brought my very hearty and delicious breakfast to a little over $11, very reasonable compared to other downtown breakfast spots. Not a big egg or meat eater, my wife had a scone and coffee. She loves their scones and was quite happy with this cheese and herb variety.
Our meals arrived very quickly, even before I was done pouring coffee and toasting my bread. The Classic Breakfast was excellent with the eggs cooked perfectly over-medium, the bacon crispy and not burnt, but the hash browns were not as crunchy as I like them. The half order of biscuits and gravy was plenty for me with a very large biscuit smothered in a thick, savory country gravy with loads of sausage. The coffee was hot, obviously fresh, and delicious.
As breakfast goes, I have had better, but we enjoyed our meal and I have to say that you will not find a better breakfast value in Lawrence. Wheatfields is a very popular meeting place with great bread, excellent coffees, and tasty breakfasts. They seem to do very well because the place is almost always full.
My only gripe is with the staff who seem to have an "attitude". There is no "Hi, welcome to WheatFields" when you come in, it is more like "Yea, what do you want". Employees are routinely impersonal and abrupt, not warm and inviting. A smile and occasional "thank you" from staff would be much appreciated.

CombatCritic Upgrades Wheatfields Bakery Cafe To 7 Bombs Out Of 10 With A 2 Bomb Deduction For Arrogant Staff ... MORE BOMBS ARE BETTER!
Seven Bombs Equates To:

"Shits & Grins"

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16

Tabelog - Official Judge (Silver)

Zomato - #1 Ranked "Verified" Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!

... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Read Chris S.'s review of WheatFields Bakery Café on Yelp

WheatFields Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WheatFields Bakery CaféWheatFields Bakery CaféTabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Lawrence, Kansas: Best Breakfast Value And Most Arrogant Staff in Town

Key Words: Wheatfields, wheat, field, bread, bakery, eggs, bacon, breakfast, dinner, Lawrence, Kansas, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Portland, Oregon: Restaurants Open On Christmas Day And Eve

Some do not like to cook on Christmas Day and others have nowhere to go, so I compiled a list for those who would like to go out for a meal this Christmas.

The following list is comprised of restaurants that were open last year, so please call before you go:

Christmas Eve

1303 NE Fremont St
Portland, OR 97212
(503) 249-5001

Altabira City Tavern
1021 NE Grand Ave
Portland, OR 97232
(503) 963-3600

Ava Gene's
3377 SE Division St
Portland, OR 97202
(971) 229-0571

525 SW Morrison St
Portland, OR 97204
(503) 802-5370

Feisty Lamb
2174 W Burnside St.
Portland OR 97210
(503) 206-4253

113 SW Naito Pkwy
Portland, OR 97204
(503) 219-9000

Open Tandoor
4311 N Williams Ave

Portland, OR 97217
(503) 719-7347

The Woodsman Tavern
4537 SE Division St
Portland, OR 97206
(971) 373-8264

2448 E Burnside St
Portland, OR 97214
(503) 894-8082

1315 NE Fremont St
Portland, OR 97212
(503) 477-8106

Christmas Day

East India Co. Grill & Bar
821 SW 11th Ave
Portland, OR 97205
(503) 227-8815

Feisty Lamb
2174 W Burnside St.
Portland OR 97210
(503) 206-4253

1001 SW Broadway
Portland, OR 97205
(503) 790-7752

Kenny & Zuke's Delicatessen
1038 SW Stark St
Portland, OR 97205
(503) 222-3354

500 NW 21st Ave
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 208-2173

Jake's Grill
611 SW 10th Ave
Portland, OR 97205
(503) 220-1850

Nel Centro
1408 SW 6th Ave
Portland, OR 97201
(503) 484-1099

Nob Hill Bar & Grill
937 NW 23rd Ave
Portland, OR 97210
(503) 274-9616

4237 N. Mississippi
Portland, OR 97217
North Portland, Boise, Mississippi
Phone number (503) 954-2674
6pm - 2:30am

Radio Room
1101 NE Alberta St
Portland, OR 97211
(503) 287-2346

Sizzle Pie
624 E Burnside St
Portland, OR 97214
(503) 234-7437

401 NE 28th Ave
Portland, OR 97232
(503) 206-7983

Call-In and Carry-Out Only

Elephants Delicatessen
115 NW 22nd Ave
Portland, OR 97210
(503) 299-6304

Mi Mero Mole
5026 SE Division St
Portland, OR 97206
(503) 232-8226

Pacific Pie Company
1520 SE 7th Ave
Portland, OR 97214
(503) 381-6157

Por qué no?
3524 N Mississippi Ave
Portland, OR 97227
(503) 467-4149

Chain Restaurants Open Christmas Day

Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar

4 to 11 p.m.


(503) 236-3727

10428 S E STARK
(503) 254-8460

(503) 285-0735

12101 SE 82ND AVE
(503) 653-9589

Most locations plan to be open 24 hours on Christmas Day


4931 SE 82nd Ave
PORTLAND, OR 97266-3103
(503) 771 1582

9840 NE Cascades Parkway
PORTLAND, OR 97220-6825
(503) 282 4467

Hours: Most locations will be open 24 hours Christmas Day but some locations will just be open from 6 a.m. to midnight


SW 2nd Ave
Portland, OR, USA

SE 2nd Ave
Portland, OR, USA

NE 2nd Ave
Portland, OR, USA

NW 2nd St
Portland, OR 97231, USA

NW 2nd Ave
Portland, OR 97209, USA

NE 2nd Ave
Portland, OR 97211, USA

NW 2nd Ct
Portland, OR 97231, USA

SW 2nd Ave
Portland, OR 97239, USA

Some franchisee owned locations will be open and some will be closed.

Additionally, many Chinese restaurants are normally open as are hotel dining rooms.

Good luck, buon appetito, and ... Merry Christmas!
Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16

Tabelog - Official Judge (Silver)

Zomato - #1 Ranked "Verified" Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!

... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Portland Restaurants Open On Christmas Day And Eve

Key Words: Portland Restaurants Open On Christmas Day And Eve, CombatCritic, holiday, Portland, Oregon, Christmas, day, eve, open, restaurants, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

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