Oh, my Pasta!

Whenever I’m out with a friend and decide its time to get a nice meal I have three types I’d gear for, Thai, Indian and Italian. The problem with Italian is that I feel weird paying for pasta dishes which I can easily make at home. I could probably make Thai and Indian dishes as well, but not as easily as Italian. Most places use pre-made pastas, so you’re just paying for labor, but not ingredients you don’t traditionally can pick up at the grocer for cheap. What I’m always looking for is a place that not only mentions that their pasta is made in house, but prides itself in this fact.

Luckily recently I finally found this place on Montague Street in the Brooklyn Heights section of New York City. While the restaurant might have a hokey name in “Oh, my Pasta!”, the cordial service and absolutely amazing food made up for it completely.

We started our meal with their rendition of eggplant parmigiana. This isn’t the way you would expect it in a regular Italian restaurant, very heavy with lots of breading and topped with more tomato sauce than eggplant almost. No, this was a succulent portion cooked to a perfect palate that just melted in the mouth and really triggered the start of the meal.

We decided to sample two of the pasta dishes.

Tagliolini al pesto Siciliano and Troccoli alla carbonara.

The silician pesto was made with basil, pine-nuts, shelled almonds, grated sheep’s milk Rodez cheese, tomatoes, and extra-virgin olive oil. It was served on Tagilolini which is a flat noodle, much like linguine for the lay-man, but more more delicate. This pesto was just the right balance of flavors and the tagiliononi absorbed it so perfectly, it melt in the mouth.

I serve carbonara at home on a regular basis, but never with Sheep’s Milk cheese the way they do here. Troccoli is a traditional spaghetti like pasta and the carbonara sauce didn’t take as well to Troccoli as the pesto and was lacking something, but was still delicious. It is possible that because I am working on various type of forms of carbonana sauce at home my mind and taste buds are more selective than with a pesto sauce which is much more intricate to make and why I don’t do it at home often.

For desert we had an absolutely amazing chocolate tort. This thing was perfect in every way. I tend to despise raspberry sauce in chocolate but here it worked and was a perfect ending to an amazing meal.

I must also bring up the amazing service here. While our waitress was brand new, actually having just started that day, the rest of the house from manager to owner and chef all made a point to be involved. While some criticisms on sites such as Yelp and other restaurant reviews sites have mentioned that when the place gets more full their front of the house to back of the house control can be lacking, I didn’t find it to be that bad and the food was definitely worth it.

While I do not find myself in Brooklyn Heights as often as I’d like, when I have a group of acquaintances, colleagues or a female friend to impress I will definitely make a point of returning here.


Chef Steven J. Lecchi makes pasta

She Went to Hell and took us with her

Hello, Chuck Palahniuk, it’s me Reid Harris Cooper. I just wanted to let you know that your newest book is compelling and successfully fills many of the holes it creates along the way, creating interesting characters and a vivid image of a designed hell I can see well animated by John Kricfalusi. On the other hand it is at times quite pretentious, overly wordy and particularly annoying. While you can easily blame this on your protagonist and the first person speech, it did not have to be this way. Certain choices were made in terms of structure, repeated style use and pushed upon ideas that at times I almost tossed the book across the room in frustration. It is almost a sign that the book got accidentally water damaged making it look mangled, but not unreadable.


DAMNED is the newest upcoming book from the acclaimed writer of Fight Club, Survivor, Choke, Lullaby, Haunted, Rant and a few more. Many are thinking of it as possibly a return to form that he seems to have possibly lost, but I see it as more experimentation from a writer who refuses to be locked down into any type of style or particular voice other than that of unreliable narrators and reveals that flips he story late into the book, sometimes too late to make a dent, other times perfectly sculpting pure genius. In many ways, DAMNED does both.

Chuck seems to have definitely done his research here and while it is admirable and adds to the scenery, at times it almost feels like he is trying to boast more than even educate through his various characters that he can talk about Hell because he went and read all the various books, scriptures, theologian essays and more. I applaud his effort, while also rolling my eyes at it. I almost feel it’d been more interesting for him to create his entirely own vision of Hell than the cobbled together version in this book. There are some really hilarious, fantastically brilliant ideas here and some of them are fully formed, while others just get touched upon making you desire more. This could be to the possibility of an upcoming sequel. If said sequel doesn’t exist though they’re just nuggets that will lay there untouched; Very cute, interesting nuggets that will only percolate in the readers mind, but never to be fully fleshed out and formed.

As an entire package the book tells a full and complete tale that is both visually entertaining and mentally stimulating, yet falters from expansive sections which could’ve easily been in fast forward and at times The major plot “twist” can be easily telegraphed from an early sequence as well that is just really longer and weirder than it needed to be. I feel like I’m spitting more venom than sprinkles here for a book I actually cared enough to finish, especially since books that start to piss me off usually get tossed on the ground and given a beat down, but the fact is that I really saw a lot of potential in this story and I feel at least a sequel could save it, but as it stands I can only recommend it to the the most stalwart fan of Chuck’s or those who really love contemporary visions of Hell via the dialogue of a young girl who finds empowerment through Death and Dismemberment.

DAMNED currently has a release date of October 18, 2011 in America and is published by Doubleday. It will be a hardcover with a retail price of $24.95, but obviously cheaper through sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

A Bad Company, A Fun Book

The Hart Family is one of the most celebrated and possibly the first (there are timeline arguments to be made)  first families of professional wrestling/sports entertainment.  There have been quite a few books written about and by the Hart family, most notably Bret Hart’s biting, brutal, hate laced, but honest Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling.  I was a huge fan of this almost 10 year in the making tome which was more transcription of audio diary than Bret’s actual writing.  Bret happens to be a great writer and has/had a regular column in the Calgary Sun.  That column was once in awhile written by his older brother Bruce, the brother that without, Bret may’ve have never decided to have his father Fritz turn him into “the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be”.

Bruce Hart, the second oldest brother,  has chosen that the time was right for him to tell his very slanted side of the story in ECW Press’ Straight From The Heart.

I was very gratified to get the opportunity to read and review this book from the Publicity department at ECW Press at Book Expo America.  As a story/skewed memoir it is as enetertaining as any wrestling autobiogrphies of recent memory.  There’s fervor, details, psychology, analysis and a great story.

It’s a shame that much of Bruce’s memories or at least how he chose to put them on the page are false, incorrect, missing details or just outright lies.  This doesn’t change their quality of storytelling, but if one wants to really learn about the history of Stampede wrestling or even Bruce’s own wrestling career, this isn’t the place to look.

As the book continues down its path Bruce is also much more bitter than Bret ever came across in his book.  Of course in respect, he has every reason to be bitter.  Even through the lies and machinations, the hardships that Bruce experienced do shine and they set him apart as a person way different than his more famous family members.  He seems to have a lot of vitriol for his former brother-in-laws David Smith and Dynamite Kid and he holds no punches with them, but he equally seems to have a detest for Bret.  He also seems to feel he deserves credit for Bret’s success, stating he ghost wrote every single column in the Calgary Sun and that every decision and gimmick concept that Bret used to become “The Hitman” came from him.  I find this a little hard to believe.  As hard it is to believe that every single time Bruce had the chance to make it big, some crisis happened or someone else messed it up and his family screwed it all up for him.

Even for as much respect and love he shows his father Stu and the great history, which seems more accurate than anything in the book, of Stampede’s beginnings, the latter passages show that he equally feels like his father was to blame for failure and he was the reason they had success, but since he was “in charge”, he had to take credit for everything, be it failure or success.

Later on, he seems to pull back on his anger of Stu, but the feelings on Bret do not stop and sound tantamount to slander, but its such interesting and intriguing slander that it comes across as awesome fiction instead of a statement.  Which as I stated much of the book comes across as, as have many other wrestling books.  Unlike the very personal and open statements of Mick Foley or Chris Jericho’s books, Bruce’s book have much more in common with the books he personally quotes from, such as Ric Flair and Vince Russo.  This isn’t history, it’s HIS history and he backs it up with other people’s skewed histories instead of the video truth.

There’s also a ton of hypocrisy in his world view, but that also makes for fascinating and compelling reading.  In the end though he thanks us the most and hopes we enjoyed the read, as much as he’s enjoyed the ride.  I did indeed.

I would’ve like some further clarity on the current situation of his life, where he once again got married to a woman 20 years younger than him and had a child at 56.  He skipped ahead from his father’s passing in 2003 to Bret’s return to the fold of Vince McMahon’s corporation (in which Bret continues to appear in 2011 and probably beyond).  Much happened in those intervening years though.  I guess Bruce couldn’t think of a sufficient lie to tell to make that interesting.

It may seem crazy, but I still highly recommend Straight From The Heart, just go in there with an open mind.  You can choose to also take it at face value and if you’re not a real wrestling fan who actually gives a damn, do that and enjoy it, cause well, you will.

Addendum:  The book has some awesome photos.  Here’s an example:

The book also provides you names and time periods that while his memories of how things went down is inaccurate, they give you a great guide to the resource that is the internet and you can find lots of classic Stampede wrestling on Youtube:

Bruce Hart vs. Dynamite Kid

Owen Hart vs. “Bad News” Allen