Thursday, July 31, 2008

Restaurant Review: Cita's Italian Chophouse, Coconut Grove

A few nights ago I met up with a few friends for dinner at Cita's Italian Chophouse which had just opened in the Grove recently. I had been wanting to give this new joint a try because I need a new place to add to my "just back in town dinner" rotation. We started with the burrata and the scallop appetizers. The burrata was good. Nothing to get excited about but good nonetheless. I thought it was lacking in the creamy department, like the piece we got was mostly the outside layer. Anyhow, the scallops kicked major ass. They came wrapped in prosciutto on top of some sauteed greens with a creamy mustard/red peppercorn sauce. The sauce was housed in a little cup so you could apply to your own taste and I liked that because I like to taste the scallop without sauce first. This scallop was perfectly cooked and tasted delicious on its own but the sauce took it to a whole 'nother level.

Next up 2 of us had the Soup of the Day (potato) and one requested the house salad. The soup was incredibly good. Normally when I think potato soup I think "heavy" but this was potato puree and it was light and tasty. Arugula and parmesan floated around and added flavor to each bite. I didnt try the salad but I was told it was really good. So good, that when the person who ordered the "house salad" found out it was the Cita's Chop Salad at $14 he said he'd get it again anyday.

Mains came out and each one was a winner. I had the grouper and my friends had the rack of lamb and salmon. The grouper was moist and flaky and full of flavor. The lemon caper sauce was a great add too as was the side of jasmine rice. Only disappointment for me was that I was so full that I had my membership to the Clean Plate Club temporarily suspended. I just couldnt finish the rice. I tasted the rack of lamb and it was damn good, especially with the roasted garlic. I was too full for the salmon but the person who had it was picky about salmon and said it passed the test.

Throughout the meal, the waiter was very informative and made recommendations when asked. At one point, there was a mixup with what was ordered and what was received and the waiter not only found a way to remedy the situation, he then offered to buy dessert. Dessert came like a "chocolate 5-ways". There was a chocolate lava cake, peanut butter panna cotta topped with chocolate shavings & whipped cream, chocolate cookies, chocolate ice cream, and a white/black chocolate mousse. I dont even like chocolate much but I tried everything but the cookie and it was allllllll gooooooood.

I gotta say, I went it expecting to have an average meal and was completely blown away. The menu is quite extensive, good wine selection, incredibly good service (just opened recently and still working out a few kinks but the staff was informative, speedy, and eager to please and remedy any mistakes), and the food was phenomenal. We got a tour after dinner that exposed a whole other mini-bar and back dining patio that I never wouldve imagined being there. It was really cool. This one will be a winner in the Grove, mark my words. They have what Grove yuppies and the like have been looking for - fantastic food in a neighborhood setting. The prices are slightly expensive but they are justified by the ingredients and quality of each dish. I definitely recommend checking out this restaurant to anyone looking for a nice meal in the Grove.

Cita's Italian Chophouse
3176 Commodore Plaza
Coconut Grove, FL 33133

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I just saved myself $1000 and Geico had nothing to do with it

I travel a lot and thus my car will stay idle, sometimes for lengthy periods of time. On my 1st of 2 Vegas trips in the last 4 weeks, I came back to Miami to find my car completely DEAD in the Fast Park parking lot outside MIA (quick side note here... This parking lot KICKS ASS. $7/day if you have AAA and the shuttle is very fast and they give you a free cold bottle of water on your way out). On top of this lot's awesomeness with service and convenience, the bus lady came over to jump my car. The thing wouldnt even turn over. So, I call AAA and it takes them 2 sets of cables to get my car going. I go to my shop who installed the battery and they run a test showing that the battery and alternator are fine. That made sense because I bought new ones 7 months prior. So, battery was fine but I think all of that voltage blew out my radio because it went dead. The thing that sucked though was that the light behind the LED display would stay on even when the car was off. The only way to avoid this was to disconnect the battery every time I finished driving and that gets old pretty quick. So, I headed over to Braman BMW to have it checked out since my normal shop (Tires Plus on Bird near Merrick Park - they do good work and the guys who work there are trustworthy) didnt do electrical work.

After about 2 hours of sitting there and waiting, Braman told me that my radio was dead. Wow, amazing what 2 hours and $150 can get you! Information you already know! Braman also told me that I needed a new battery and alternator which was odd because I had a printout from the guys who installed my battery and alternator that said they were fine. All in all, they wanted $666 for a new radio and another $600 to install it. The girl in service advised that getting a new stereo from Best Buy would be better and I agreed. So, I headed to Best Buy and bought a new stereo. Later on I found out that I need a special harness and kit to have someone mount this thing in my car. That seemed like a hassle and I had to travel the next day so I postponed the install.

In the meantime, I checked out eBay. I was able to find a BMW factory stereo for $200 and it was in Miami! That and it was plug n play! I bought said stereo and searched the internet for install instructions. I nearly crapped myself when I read how easy the install was. I just got the stereo today. I was able to install this puppy in LESS THAN 10 MINUTES!!! THat is no exaggeration either and I know very little about cars. Id like to send out a big fat "EFF YOU" to the crooks over at Braman who were going to charge me $600 for a job that took less than 10 minutes. Thanks to eBay and the internet, I saved myself $1000.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


I used to work in a high stress job environment and, as such, I was a highly stressed individual. I was extremely irritable and quick to get angry if I felt I was being taken advantage of or treated with disrespect. In other words, I was an asshole.

When I left that job, so did the asshole me. My friends and family noticed a change immediately and it was good to have the old me back. I am much more relaxed now and a pro at keeping my cool. Today, that really came in handy...

I went and got a haircut after work and remembered that I needed some water at the homestead so I stopped by Milams on my way back to the Grove. I got some chicken, some shittake mushrooms, garlic teriyaki sauce, water, ice, and a bottle of V8 Acai & Mixed Berry which is one of my favorite drinks. I paid, went to the car, threw the groceries into the trunk and headed home. When I got home, I was able to lug all the groceries plus my briefcase and a car stereo Id bought the day before up to my condo. On the way, I stopped and grabbed my mail and when I got to the 2nd floor where my place is, I realized Id left my keys in the mailbox. So, I put the stuff down, got my keys, and went back up. When I got in, I started putting things away when I noticed the juice was MIA. "What the hell?", I thought to myself. So, I headed back out to the car and checked the trunk. Nothing in it. I hopped in the car and headed back to Milams figuring Id left the juice at the register. When I got there, the cashier said she didnt see it. I didnt take her to be a liar, so I left puzzled at where the hell this juice had gone.

I checked my trunk AGAIN. Still not there, pal. I head home and check the house again. Still nothing. Now Im irritated and in a pissy mood because I want to make dinner and eat before it gets late. So I say, "screw it", and start cooking dinner. As Im making my stir fry, I cant let the goddamn juice fiasco go. I review the whole thing in my mind again. Bought the juice, put the groceries in the car, got home, got mail, got inside, juice up and vanishes like a fart in the wind. Im stir frying and Im pissed off because I just wanted to drink some goddamn juice tonite. Now Im starting to think that the cashier is happily thinking about the juice she is going to drink later. I struggle with the idea of going back to Milams a 3rd time. Im eating with a vengeance now and I cant take the lingering feeling that Ive been had. So, I eat half the dinner and hop in the car to go back to Milams.

I get back and Im determined to shake this girl down to find out where my goddamn juice is. I ask her again and she says I didnt leave anything. Her face is sincere and I know she is telling the truth. Old me definitely wouldve exploded on her and demanded to speak to a manager. Old me definitely wouldve looked like the biggest asshole for doing that too. New me is cool, calm, and collected. I go to the juice aisle and discover Id bought the last bottle of that juice. I start searching for an alternative before angrily deciding that I'll be damned if I buy another bottle of juice at this place. Now Im convinced that I mustve put the groceries down before putting them in the trunk and possibly left that bag. Its hardly believable but there's a chance that is what happened so I leave thinking, "Great, some asshole is probably having a juice party with his whole family on me tonite!"

I needed gas so I stopped for some and then drove home, once again reviewing all of the details of the disappearing juice caper in my head. It is this very second where I have an epiphany. When I went back downstairs to grab my keys out of the mailbox, I thought I heard a "thud" that sounded different than a door closing. I get home, walk up to my place, and look over the railing into the bushes... THERE IS MY MOTHERFUCKIN JUICE! HELL YEAH!! ALL IS GOOD IN THE WORLD!!!

The juice is getting the royal treatment in the freezer as I type this, in order to achieve maximum awesomeness before I dominate about half of the bottle. Ive never been so fired up to drink a glass of juice in my life. Mmmmmmmmmmmm..........juuuuuuuice.