Fitness, Food, Wine & Travel

Posts tagged “happy hour

Gluten Free Menu Shines at Siino’s Pizza, Pasta and Grill in Lincoln

outdoor shot
A few weeks ago, Andy and I visited a restaurant in Lincoln called Siino’s Pizza, Pasta & Grill. We were originally going to sample the gluten free pizzas as a part of National Pizza Month in October, but instead we decided to go with other items on the gluten free menu.

Siino’s story began in February 2011, when Annalisa Siino opened the doors of her first restaurant as a franchisee. When Annalisa took over, the restaurant was an Original Pete’s, and in just three years Annalisa turned it into her own community establishment and gave it her own name: Siino’s Pizza, Pasta & Grill. The rebranding took place in May of 2014.

Siino’s concept is to partner with local growers and feature their produce/products within the new menu. The menu also includes baked goods from Divine Desserts in Loomis, and hand-crafted brews from Loomis Basin Brewing Company & Roseville Brewing Company.

But back to that great gluten free menu. I am not sure of the inspiration for that, but I was pleased to see a restaurant with a whole section of their menu devoted to gluten free items. Patrons can order pizza, burgers and pasta sans gluten.

Gluten Free Menu
Siino’s also has a succinct and approachable wine list and an even more impressive beer selection. They offer a happy hour from 2-5pm, and an all day happy hour on Mondays, with a $1 off pints and $2 off wine by the glass. Then there is Wine Wednesday, that involves half off bottles and $2 off glasses of wine. Sign me up for that! 🙂

We chose a bottle of 2011 Chateau St. Jean Merlot, because of its versatility. We decided within a few minutes of looking at the food menu, we were going to both order a burger, so this wine was appropriate.

Our “appetizer” was a salad— the Balsamic Chicken salad. The salad was composed of mixed lettuce with grilled chicken, julienned salami and mozzarella cheese, red onions, roasted bell peppers and pepperoncinis. It was served with balsamic vinaigrette (easily ordered on the side). Another note: the picture below depicts half of the serving. The kitchen staff kindly split the salad between the two of us.


I loved the local touch on the menu of the Zebra Burger (lovingly named after the Lincoln High School mascot), so I ordered it. It came topped with pepper jack cheese, sliced avocado, applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo and a spicy brown mustard.

Zebra burger

Andy ordered Siino’s Mushroom Burger with sautéed red onions and mushrooms topped with melted Swiss cheese. I actually liked this burger more than the Zebra burger. The mushrooms and the Swiss cheese were an incredible combination. We both enjoyed sweet potato fries with our burgers. Sweet potato fries were a nice touch and an interesting alternative to regular fries.

mushroom burger
Siino’s has many great characteristics as a restaurant: a very local gem, family friendly, great beer selection, fun wine list, lots of gluten free options, and I did not mention this previously, but the service at the restaurant was also very good. My only suggestion is for Siino’s to incorporate some local wineries into their wine list, since they are already using local purveyors for their produce.

Thanks to the servers and management team at Siino’s for a fun Friday evening. You can find Siino’s Pizza, Pasta & Grill on Facebook here and on twitter here.

Dine Downtown 2013: Blackbird Restaurant & Bar: a Field Mark of Sophistication

Sacramento’s Dine Downtown Week is now in full swing and it has been so much fun so far! Andy and I have had the privilege of trying out three different menus from a list of nearly 30 restaurants, and last night’s trip to Blackbird Restaurant and Bar was incredible!

I am only disappointed it took me this long to discover them. Since their opening in April last year, I had heard so many great things about the food and the atmosphere, the art on the walls, and so on. I kept reading Blackbird’s menu and wanting to go because almost everything on it was paleo! Now that I have a few more hours a week (since my work commute time has been drastically cut), it’s fun to be able to spend a little bit more time with Andy and hit some new-ish places like this one.

Here’s the Dine Downtown menu we enjoyed (understatement of the year so far) at Blackbird:


Tip: If you like wine (even remotely), do yourself a favor and spend the extra $15 for the wine pairing. You get three full glasses of wine. If you don’t think you can manage three full glasses, split the pairing with someone. It’s so worth it!

The first course was a Japanese Hamachi. It was some of the best raw fish I have eaten, and reminded me of dishes I have had at both Yoshi’s in Oakland, and at Taro’s here in Sacramento, but this was superior. The hamachi was topped with kumquat, castreltrevano olives, fine herb and maldon sea salt. It was paired with a glass of Forlorn Hope Semillon (2009) “Nacre-Yount Mill Vineyard.”  The wine was very dry and the perfect platform for the hamachi. I couldn’t believe how beautifully the flavors paired up. I must have liked it, because it was the first time I ever finished a dish before Andy.


Next up was the Roasted Beet Salad. It was another perfect plate of food. I got really into beets in 2011 when I enjoyed a course made by Pajo Bruich (while he was at Lounge on 20). Then, I had another remarkable beet dish at Place Pigalle in Seattle. Lately, I have bought them at the Farmer’s Market on Sunday. A little bit about beets… in my opinion, the whole vegetable should be used in some way. The greens on top can be cut and sautéed with onions and bacon, just like kale or spinach.
At Blackbird, the beet salad was served with burrata (a soft and stretchy cheese), ver jus (the pressed juice of unripened grapes), pistachios and upland cress (which is different and less bitter than watercress). The pistachios really made the salad, providing a little bit of crunch. It was paired with a French Sauvignon Blanc: Patient Cottat, 2009, Menetou Salon. I am usually not a big lover of Sauvignon Blanc, but I liked this less grapefruit, more grassy selection.
I was already in heaven, but there was more to come. Our wine for the third course was brought to our table (Folk Machine Pinot Noir, 2011 Potter Valley) and then our plates were presented shortly after. The third course was a braised short rib, also known as Winnemuca Will, with hay roasted parsley root, whiskey laquered pearl onions & toasty oats. The meat was so tender and rich–again, the portion size was perfect. The toasted oats on top were such a treat and added another level of texture to the meat. And what is my favorite vegetable that makes a cameo? That’s right! Parsnips!! I think I was dancing in my seat at that point. 🙂
Overall, this was the best meal we have had during Dine Downtown because of the level of flavor and elegance with the finest (yet fewest) ingredients. I love that the menu didn’t allow any substitutions. It was like: “Welcome to our house. Let me show you what we do best and what we think you will like, and here’s the wine that goes with it.” At the end of a long work week, I was ready for that. I was happy to not have to make any decisions and just be delighted course after course.
Blackbird made me feel like I was dining in San Francisco or New York, but I am right at home and I love that. I love that Sacramento has more than a few restaurants/food trucks/eateries to brag about. It’s so hip to eat here now!

Blackbird Kitchen and Bar is open for business Tue-Thur 11:30am-10pm, on Friday 11:30am-11pm and on Saturday 4pm-11pm. They are closed on Sunday and Monday. Their Happy Hour runs from 3-6pm, Tuesdays through Friday.

Join Blackbird Kitchen and Bar tonight for Dine Downtown by making reservations on Open Table here or you can call them at (916) 498-9224.

You can follow Blackbird Kitchen and Bar on twitter here and find them on Facebook here.

Dine Downtown Sacramento 2013: Blue Prynt Restaurant and Bar

It’s that time again! Sacramento’s Dine Downtown week began yesterday, January 9th and runs through January 18th, 2012. For 10 days only, you can enjoy a special three-course dinner menu at some of downtown Sacramento’s hottest restaurants for only $30 per person.

I returned to both of the restaurants I visited last year because I really enjoyed working with both the owners and chefs, and because Andy and enjoyed the menus very much. So, I’d like to present to you: Blue Prynt Restaurant and Bar.

First, here’s what you’ll have to choose from* this year:

Blue Prynt

*Please note that only the mashed potatoes are available with the Prime Rib. 🙂

We chose a 2009 Rosenblum Syrah Vintner’s Cuvée to go with our entrée. Hint: We didn’t choose the tilapia for dinner. The wine was spicy, yet balanced with notes of cherry and licorice, and would pair well with any game meat. The alcohol on this wine is 15.9%.


For our appetizer, we ordered the shrimp cocktail. The shrimp (poached in lemon) were fresh and plump and the cocktail sauce was spiced with lots of horseradish.


We were also brought a basket of house-made foccacia, and though Andy and I don’t normally eat bread, I tasted some and took a photo of the basket so that you will know exactly everything you get for the dine downtown menu. The bread is baked, sliced and then toasted again for your table, and served with butter. A few bites of it made for a good palate cleanser for the wine after eating the spicy cocktail sauce. Another little detail I love about Blue Prynt is their water. Yes, the simple water they pour for you at the table. They flavor it with sliced cucumber. Such a great departure from lemon wedges. 🙂


For the second course (by the way, you get more food for $30 here at Blue Prynt than at any other restaurant participating in Dine Downtown), we ordered the seafood chowder and a mixed greens salad.


The chowder is made with a blend of halibut, shrimp, and salmon with bacon and potatoes rounding out the flavor. Andy ordered it, and suggested I try some. I was pleasantly surprised because I am not a chowder or even a soup fan, and I enjoyed it very much. Especially last night. It was a perfect match for the chilly weather we are currently having. 🙂

The salad was pretty standard (but loved it). It became more of my main course (so that I don’t overeat). I love ordering an entrée and slicing whatever meat I get on the dinner plate and putting it on top of my salad. That’s exactly what I did last night. The salad comes with cheddar cheese and olives on it. I also ordered blue cheese dressing on the side.


The stars of the meal were the main courses. Both entrée plates were very sizable portions. I ordered the prime rib. It came with blue cheese and bacon mashed potatoes, asparagus and some au jus for the meat. I really loved the spice rub on the prime!!


Andy ordered the pan seared venison also served with grilled asparagus and blue cheese bacon mashed potatoes. The venison was so tender and perfectly cooked. Andy let me have a whole medallion! 🙂 The particular cut being served comes from the thigh and the meat was sourced from Australia. The venison also comes with a flavorful mushroom sauce. The mashed potatoes were a great little bed for both entrées, and took on some of the flavor of the different meats on the plate. And anything with blue cheese and bacon makes the world a better place. 🙂


As if that wasn’t enough food, it was on to dessert. Andy let me have the rest of his wine (thanks, honey) as he moved on to a giant phyllo dough flower with ice cream and both caramel and chocolate sauces. It’s almost becoming a joke with how much food he can get away with and not gain any weight. I actually like having him around because I can order food I would not normally try, have a few bites, and pass the rest to him. The phyllo flower was beautiful, and reminded me a lot of fried ice cream you would get at a Mexican restaurant.


I ordered the chocolate-covered strawberries as I did last year. This time, the chocolate was flavored with a little mint. I really liked them. I had two of them, and Andy must have really liked them as well because he had the rest of them… along with about 95% of the phyllo flower and ice cream. 😛


So there you have it. The Dine Downtown menu at Blue Prynt. You have until Friday, January 18th to enjoy the pre fixe menu above, and Chef Jason reports the main entrées will be available on the regular menu in case you’d like to try them after the promotion ends.

I’d also like to mention Blue Prynt’s all-you-can-eat crab feed on February 9th (yes, please!) for $35 per person. PS: That the price didn’t go up from last year. Call the restaurant at (916) 492-2969 for more information.

Blue Prynt’s Facebook page is located here and you can follow them on twitter here. Here is a link to their Happy Hour page. Join them from 4:30-7:00pm for $4 house wine, $3 well cocktails, $2 PBR, and $2 side-car shot with the purchase of a drink (see shot shelf at the restaurant for options).

For a full list of the Dine Downtown participating restaurants and their menus, you can click here.

Join Blue Prynt for Dine Downtown by making reservations on Open Table here.

Check in here on Saturday for my review of Blackbird Kitchen and Bar’s Dine Downtown menu!