Sunday, July 30, 2017

Our Position on Puesto

8577 Irvine Center Dr. 
Irvine, CA 92618

It might not be fair, but most of the time I'm in a restaurant it's hard not to compare it to one of their competitors. This is especially true when I've eaten at the competitor recently. This was the case when we ate at Puesto in Irvine. I immediately thought back to early June when we dined at Urbana in Anaheim. The menus are kind of reminiscent of each other, and I'd describe both as fancy Mexcian cuisine. I loved Urbana and had some pretty high hopes for Puesto.

Puesto is new to Orange County, but they have been open in La Jolla since 2012 and opened another spot in San Diego after that. This Puesto is situated in the suddenly restaurant rich Los Olivos Shopping Center, which is located right across the freeway from the hoards of people trying to to find a parking space at the Irvine Spectrum. I know one of these days those people are going to find out about Angelina's, Burnt Crumbs, and Burger Lounge, and it might become hard to find a parking space in this center.

Back to Puesto though. It was started by a couple of brothers, Eric and Alan Adler, along with their cousin and partner, Isidoro Lombrozo. Executive Chef and Partner Luisteen Gonzalez and Executive Creative Chef  Katy Smith hold down the kitchen duties for this rapidly expanding mini chain. They are opening in Santa Clara and also have another Irvine spot opening soon at Park Place Irvine. The menu here is of course taco driven, but there's also a decent selection of snacks and share plates, a few seafood offerings, and two enchilada choices.

I had made reservations on a recent Saturday night at 7 pm, and this stylish restaurant was hopping with activity. Puesto uses artists to create their dining space. For this Irvine spot, they utilized San Diego artist, Paul Basile who used contemporary Mexico City and the Mexican jungle as his inspiration for this restaurant. Highlights for me were the three dining tables located inside the open kitchen and the bar area, which straddles the inside of the restaurant and the outdoor patio with its agave shaped firepit. So now that we settled into our seats and made our selections, it was time to see what we thought of the food at Puesto.

Unlike our visit to Urbana earlier in the month, Puesto gives you some Chips and Salsa to start off your meal. The chips were very fresh and crisp. The salsa here was more like a hot sauce, as there wasn't any chunkiness to it all. It did have a bit of heat to it, which I enjoyed. A good start to our meal.

I've heard some good things about the Crab Guacamole ($14), which is one of four types offered on the Puesto menu. They all start with their classic guacamole as a base, which comes with plenty of fresh avocados, and then they add cilantro, onion, a fresh squeeze of lime and orange, and some chile habanero to finish it off. This crab version is then topped with flaky, white crab. This is some solid guacamole, but save yourself the extra four dollars and forgo the crab. It really didn't add much, and I never thought I'd write this, but the guacamole is the headliner here, instead of the crab. It had a great texture to it, which was both chunky and smooth at the same time. They could have added a little more habanero for a kick, but still a very good effort.

When I see a fundido on a menu, I almost always get it. It's one of my favorite things to get as a starter in a Mexcian restaurant, and the one here intrigued me because it was a Queso Fundidio Verde ($8). This was my first time having green chorizo, which I think is just green chiles being mixed in with the ground pork. This was a more subtle version of this cheesy appetizer. It was not as heavy as some we have had. I had thought the chili would have been more prominent with this, but the cheese did take over. It went well with the provided blue corn tortillas that Puesto is famous for. Not a bad fundido, but I was hoping for a bigger burst of flavor.

Both Katie and I got the Three Taco ($15) option for dinner, so we got the opportunity to try half of their tacos that they have on the menu. She opted for the Grilled Market Fish (+$2), Chicken Verde, and the Chicken al Pastor tacos. On this particular evening, the market fish taco featured salmon, and this was her gold medal winner out of these three. The salmon was done nicely and the provided adobo verde, salsa fresca, tinga verde, and habanero massaged kale gave this plenty of flavor. All these weeks later, and Katie still raves about this taco. She was also fond of her two chicken choices, but not as much as the salmon. The Chicken Verde taco had a lot going on with it. It featured cilantro- cumin tomatillo sauce, their signature crispy melted cheese, caramelized onion, serrano tinga verde, and was topped with cilantro and a slice of avocado. This was a good taco, but the chicken was kind of overshadowed by the other items in it. The Chicken al Pastor was probably the most basic taco she had on this evening, but even that one had a cavalcade of items in it. Hibiscus and chipotle tinga, avocado, pina habanero pico, and the crispy cheese made up this taco, which was the one that showcased the chicken the most, which was moist and tender. A good trio of tacos for Katie.

I went a little more diverse with my Three Taco Plate ($15) than Katie. I had the Carnitas, Baja Fish (+$1), and the off the menu Heroe (+$3.50) taco. The best of the bunch was the Heroe, which is the surf and turf version that our server suggested. It had some lobster and filet mignon, crispy cheese, avocado, and onion strings. I really liked this taco. The lobster was a big hunk and definitely worth the upcharge. I thought the crispy cheese was going to be more prominent, but it blended in nicely, just like the rest of this taco. The Carnitas Taco failed to impress. The pork was not flavored very well, and some of the strands of meat were dry, but the guacamole and tomatillo fresca helped to hide it a bit. The Baja Fish Taco sounded good on the menu with its shredded cabbage, avocado, chile crema, and salsa, but I never got that big flavored bite I was looking for. The cod also needed to be seasoned a little more.

Dessert was up next, and I really wanted to try their Pina Colada Carrot Cake, but I let Katie select this Tres Leches de Cafe ($10). This really had more of a tiramisu vibe to it with its soaked sponge cake, mascarpone whip, and mocha sauce. I'm not into coffee flavored anything, but Katie enjoyed this after I had my obligatory three bites. What we do for the ones we love.

I was kind of disappointed with Puesto. It wasn't that it was awful or anything, but I had hoped it would be as good as our trip to Urbana was. It would have been nice to not have to drive all the way up to Anaheim for great fancy tacos when we could have just driven to Irvine. I'd still go back to Puesto though. These tacos were good, but they are going to be better on Tuesdays when they are priced at $2.50 after 3 pm. Puesto also has a happy hour Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 pm when the tacos are $3.50 each. A much better deal, and one that we will take advantage of soon. Our server Jose was great and provided everything we needed during our stay. Management was very hands on here running food and visiting tables which was nice. Unfortunately, it was not enough to get me to forget about Urbana, but it's way better than anything you can get right across the freeway at Javier's.

Out of five cell phones, (because this restaurant was very near to the old Verizon Amphitheater, and lots of music lovers hope there's a new version of this concert venue at the Great Park), five being best to zero being worst, Puesto gets 3 cell phones.

For more information about Puesto, head to their website here:

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Hoping Kaiser Grill Will Continue Our Roll in the Desert

Kaiser Grille
74-040 Highway 111
Palm Desert, CA 92260

My parents 50th anniversary weekend in the desert was quickly coming to an end, and we wanted to finish it with a flourish. We could have gone to one of the national steak chain restaurants that are in town, but we could eat at one of those back in OC and it would have tasted just the same as it does in Palm Desert. No, we needed to take this opportunity to eat at a local spot. After scouring my usual resources for a restaurant, we ended up at Kaiser Grille.

The original Kaiser Grille, founded by Kaiser Morcus in 1992 was located not too far from this latest incarnation of Kaiser Grille. Mr. Morcus relocated from Vail, Colorado, and thought that the Coachella Valley would be a great place to retire. Retirement was not in the cards though, as he opened that restaurant, and then another, and soon the Kaiser Restaurant Group was born. Truly a family run business, his two sons, and a daughter also help manage their restaurants here in the Palm Springs area, and the famous Hog Breath Inn located in Carmel, which was once owned by Clint Eastwood. Other restaurants included in this restaurant group are The Chophouse, The Deck Restaurant and Sky Bar, Big Fish Grille, Fresh Grind Brgr Bar, and the Jackalope Ranch.

This Palm Desert location of Kaiser Grille used to be the site of Chophouse, which was retooled in 2014 into a Kaiser Grille and run by the very personable and quite impressive Eric Morcus. Eric just happened to be on hand on this evening and we had a quite a great conversation with him throughout our stay at his restaurant. Along with being very hands on in the restaurant, he also serves on various community and business associations, including being a Board Member of the Palms Springs Restaurant Association, Board Member of the Palm Desert Chamber of Commerce, and President of Palm Springs Restaurant Week, among others. It's a wonder that he still has the energy to run his restaurant.

Kaiser Grille, located at the corner of Highway 111 and Portola, is kind of hard to miss with their large orange awnings providing some much-needed shade over their windows. Parking on this Saturday evening utilized a valet, and the restaurant is kind of tucked into the back corner of this small shopping plaza. Once past the hostess stand the bar and lounge area lead you into the dining room. There was some live music going on, which I thought was going to dominate the space, but it was just the right level as to not distract dining room guests. We were seated in a very comfy booth, which had a great view of the moderately busy happenings in the dining room on this evening.

The menu at Kaiser Grille has a little bit of everything for everyone at your table. Of course, there are red meat offerings, but there's plenty of fish, poultry, and pasta offerings as well. I was also pretty surprised to find so many specials used to entice diners to come in and give Kaiser Grille a try. They have sunset/early bird dinners which are very reasonably priced at $19.99, and happy hour every night with drink specials and discounts on over 20 food items. There are also three-course dinner options that run from $29 to $59 depending on your entree choice, which is reminiscent of many restaurant week menus we have participated in. With so much to take in, we had a hard time making up our minds, but we finally put in our order. Let's see if this visit to Kaiser Grille would be a fitting end to our desert anniversary celebration.

As is the case in most restaurants, after ordering we were brought out this bread basket filled with a generous supply of warmed sourdough bread. I loved the chewiness of this bread, and it went great with the provided butter. It was hard to restrain ourselves from a second basket but we managed.

My mom is a sucker for Chicken Tortilla Soup ($7), so she gave the version at Kaiser Grille a try. I have to admit I really enjoyed this version, which was spicier than most and the chicken was actually very tender. With my meal, I had the choice of salad or soup, and I could not resist trying their Castroville Cream of Artichoke Soup ($7). This was a very creamy and muted soup which was very pleasing. The artichoke flavor kind of lingered in the background, which made this a very subtle soup.

Katie is a Caprese Salad ($12) fiend, so it was a no brainer that she would order it on this evening. This version had plenty of fresh mozzarella, basil, tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic glaze, and of course mixed greens. Katie liked the manageable bite sized balls of mozzarella used here and she recalls that each bite of this salad burst with flavor.  

We might as well finish off Katie's food on this evening, as she got this Pan Seared Salmon ($28) as her entree. This salmon was served over a bed of brussel sprout hash which consisted of mushrooms, caramelized onions, bacon, potatoes, and a touch of truffle oil. The fish was topped with a very well done yogurt dill sauce. Katie was pretty impressed with the way this salmon was prepared. It was light and flaky, and very fresh. She would have liked a tad more of the yogurt dill sauce though. The hash was full of flavor and very unique. A dish she would recommend to all salmon lovers.

My dad also went the seafood route with this Swordfish Special ($38) that was offered on this particular evening. I did not catch the description of this dish, but the swordfish came out perched on a bed of sauteed spinach, surrounded by a yellow sauce, with some tomatoes topping the fish. My dad was not a big fan of this plate. The swordfish was kind of boring, and whatever the yellow sauce was, did not really help matters too much. This was made much better when we asked for some tartar sauce to be brought out. Not something my dad would order again, even though the spinach was good.

I guess my family did not get the memo that Kaiser Grille is known for their steaks, as my mom also got something from the sea, a Crab Cake ($17). This crab cake was pretty good sized and came with a little coleslaw, which was the perfect sized meal for my light eating mother. The crab cake came topped with a beurre blanc sauce, which was thicker than most, but very tasty. The inside of the crab cake did have some filler in it, but there was also plenty of good tasting crab inside of it. My mom was very pleased with this meal.

Okay, I guess I shouldn't give my family a hard time about not ordering steak here, as I did not try red meat at Kaiser Grille either. I could not get away from this Pork Chop Special ($29) when our server was going through the specials. This was one of the 3-course dinner options on this evening, and it was excellent. This bone in pork chop was huge and came with a blackberry compote which went well here. The pork was moist and tender and cooked to perfection. A good quality and clean tasting chop. I could not resist eating the meat off of the bone at the end of my meal. The mashed potatoes and sliced carrots that came with this were okay, but could not come close to outshining the pork.

After our entree plates were cleared away, our table quickly looked like a dessert buffet. Since I had told them about my parents anniversary when making the reservations, they gave us a dessert, and my meal came with a dessert, and I'm not really sure where our third dessert came from. I actually liked the Black and White Mousse the best. It was a simple dessert done well. The mousse was smooth and creamy, and I liked combining the two flavors in the same bite. As is my usual, I left the fresh berries to someone else. My parents had a Creme Brulee the first night of our weekend, and they liked this version at Kaiser Grille better than that one and I think I would have to agree. It had a nice crystallized crust topping it, and the custard inside was sweeter and creamier than the one we had our first night in the desert.

Kaiser Grille was a very nice end to our weekend in the desert. With the exception of my dad's swordfish dish, we all had a very pleasant dinner on this evening. It's true that this is not the same quality of food you can get at Maestro's or any other high-end national steak chain restaurant, but it will not set you back a paycheck and a half either. I appreciated all of the specials that they offer here, and feel it's a great way to entice people to give them a try, which judging from the pretty full dining room, it seems it might be working. Service on this evening was excellent, and we loved getting to know Eric Morcus and his family's story. It was also a great weekend of celebrating my parents and showing them how much we love and appreciate them.

Out of five footballs, (because as I was doing research for this review, I learned that Kaiser Morcus was a personal friend of President Ford, who played football at Michigan before becoming a politician), five being best to zero being worst, Kaiser Grille gets 3.5 footballs.

For more information about Kaiser Grille, head to their website here:

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Starting Our Day off with Wilma and Frieda

Wilma & Frieda
73575 El Paseo 
Palm Desert, CA 92260

Anniversary shenanigans continued during our desert trip celebrating my parents 50th anniversary. We had a big day planned, as we were going to visit Elvis's Honeymoon Hideaway, then I had compiled a list of stars homes that I thought my parents might like, and hopefully, we would have time for a nap before dinner.  Also on the agenda was breakfast, which was going to help us get through our day in the desert heat, which was expected to reach into the low 110's. The choice for this breakfast was easy, we made our way to Wilma and Frieda's.

Wilma and Frieda's is located in the Gardens at El Paseo, right next door to Sak's 5th Avenue. I picked this breakfast and lunch restaurant for primarily two reasons. One, they are one of the most reviewed restaurants in the Coachella Valley on Yelp, and also because they just recently appeared on Diner's Drive-Ins, and Dives within the last month. I was also pretty impressed that they have a four and a half star rating with over 1000 reviews. I had high hopes for this place.

Wilma and Frieda is named after Owner Kelly McFall's grandmothers. Kelly has over 30 years in the hospitality business and with the help of a Kickstarter campaign, she wanted to open this place to serve comfort food to the people of Palm Desert. The brunch menu is dotted with just that, plenty of breakfast staples, house specialties, salads, sandwiches, and even a burger. There's also a big selection of baked goods, which are prominently displayed up front.

I really got excited when we arrived at the nearly empty mall, but there was still a thirty-minute wait for this restaurant. It almost seemed like Wilma and Frieda was the only thing open on this rather warm morning at 11. Once Katie received the text telling us that our table was ready, we were whisked into the busy dining room, which probably had about 15 or so tables filled with hungry patrons. It definitely felt busy, but the staff was doing a great job controlling the scene. Since we were on a little bit of a tight schedule we made our selections pretty quickly. This is what we ended up with.

Since the baked goods caught my eye as we were being led to our table, I had to give their Cinnamon Roll ($5.50) a try. This was lighter than I had imagined it would be, but it did not sacrifice in the flavor department. The cream cheese frosting was one of the lightest I have ever had, while the bread underneath was pillowy soft. A little more cinnamon and butter inside the folds would have been favorable, but one delicious cinnamon roll for sure. The four of us devoured this way too fast.

My dad might have still been full from the dinner the night before because he got this rather light meal, the Tomato, Mushroom, Avocado, and Queso Fresco Omlete ($14). He loved this veggie omelet, as there was plenty of tomatoes and mushrooms stuffed inside the well-crafted egg portion of the omelet. He also went the lighter route by getting a side of fruit instead of potatoes and tried the very good house made English muffin as his breakfast bread on this late morning. A great start to his day in the desert.

The only one of the four of us to get a sandwich, my mom opted for the BLTA Sandwich ($14). This souped up BLT came on whole wheat as per my mother's wishes and was full of some of the best bacon you will ever try. The bacon here was thick cut and smoked just enough. There was so much bacon in this that my mom took some out, which I was more than happy to relieve her of. This sandwich came with fries, which were excellent with the provided ranch my mom requested.

Katie fell back in line with the breakfast vibe here at Wilma and Frieda when she selected this Chicken Sausage, Tomato, and Goat Cheese Omelet ($14). This omelet satisfied Katie greatly. It was lighter than she imagined it would be, and she loved the way the goat cheese and the chicken sausage worked off of each other. The egg portion of this omelet lacked the greasiness that can sometimes accompany this kind of dish. The hash browns were good, and she really enjoyed the very well done biscuit and fresh preserves that came out with this omelet. She left here a very happy girl.

It's been a long while since I got the best item at the table, but we all agreed that this Mark's Short Rib Eggs Benedict ($16) was the best thing to be sat down in front of us on this morning. I loved this dish, with its house made English muffin, perfectly poached egg, delicious and tender short rib, and excellent hollandaise sauce. It pained me to give everyone a bite of this as I wanted to make it last as long as possible. The hash browns were done nice and crispy and rounded this meal out wonderfully.  

Just in case we did not have enough on our plates, I also ordered Kim's Caramel Banana French Toast ($13). This plate kind of left me wanting more. It was fine, but I expected a thicker caramel sauce, and the french toast was just kind of there. I thought the drizzle of sour cream was going to be odd on this, but it ended up not even being present. After the spectacular Benedict, this was kind of a letdown.

Even with the rather lackluster finale on this early afternoon, we left Wilma and Frieda singing its praises. I can not envision myself coming back down to the desert and not coming to this fine restaurant for brunch. I can't wait to explore more of their menu soon and I have my eye on their burger, meatloaf, and the churro waffle to try next. Visiting Wilma and Frieda was a great kickoff to our day in the desert, and we actually ended up having enough time for that elusive weekend nap.

Out of five cartoons, (because of course Wilma Flinstone is an iconic cartoon character, but there's also the lesser known Frieda, who made numerous appearances in the Peanuts comic strips and TV specials), five being best to zero being worst, Wilma and Frieda gets 4 cartoons.  

For more information on Wilma and Frieda, check out the website here:

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Palm Springs Anniversary Weekend

Piero's PizzaVino
73722 El Paseo #1
Palm Desert, CA 92260

1967 was a great year, (not that I was around for it), but it was the year that the Beatles released the Sgt. Pepper's album, the first ATM was put in service in London, Evel Knievel jumped his motorcycle over 16 cars, and it was also the year that Vanilla Ice was born. Okay, they all can't be winners, but you get the point. You can also add one more great event to that list, it was also the year my parents got married.

50 years is a big deal. For awhile now I was trying to think what I could do to show my parents how much I admire their relationship and show them how grateful I am that they decided to take the plunge all those years ago, which ultimately lead to me being around. It dawned on me that they had honeymooned in Palm Springs, and as oppressive as the heat can be out in the desert in mid-June, I decided to take them out there for a weekend at a five-star resort and of course, try some of the local restaurants. After a two-hour car ride and checking into our hotel, we hightailed it to our first restaurant for the anniversary weekend, Piero's PizzaVino.

Located on famed El Paseo, Piero's has been operating since 2011, and in those six plus years they have amassed a four-star rating on Yelp, and have gotten plenty of local praise for their Italian cuisine. Owner and Italian native Piero Pierattoni, along with his wife, Sheri opened Piero's in order to bring the best and most authentic Italian pizza to the Coachella Valley. The Pierattoni's also own the more upscale Ristorante Mamma Gina, which is located right across the street from Piero's. Talk about cornering the market.

We arrived at Piero's around 7:30 on a Friday evening, and were surprised with the rather large crowd inside the restaurant, as there was not much action to speak of on El Paseo on this early summer evening. As is customary for this time of year, many businesses close for the summer, as a good amount of the population of this desert city goes back up to Canada for the warmer months and returns when it gets too cold up north.

We were seated on their enclosed patio, which was rather quite comfortable temperature wise, but a little on the noisy side. Part of the reason I picked this restaurant is that their menu is pretty diverse and has plenty of options. They offer 22 starters without even counting their eight salad selections. Predictably there are lots of pizzas to choose from, but they also feature a good amount of pasta and heartier entrees. Let's see if Piero's would be a good start to my parents anniversary weekend.

I let Katie and the anniversary couple pick the apps we would start with, and they selected the Fried Zucchini Blossoms ($11.90) and the Bruschetta ($7.90). I have to admit I was not totally on board with these selections when they made them, but I liked them well enough. The lightly fried zucchini blossoms were filled with ricotta cheese and topped with raw honey. I was afraid that texturally this was going to be awkward, but it worked out fine. I liked the sweet honey with the zucchini, while the ricotta did not overpower as much as I thought, and was nice and creamy. The bruschetta here was not overly loaded with tomatoes, and they were placed under the mozzarella cheese, which is different than most versions we've had. There was also plenty of garlic and basil to keep things interesting. This is definitely a bruschetta for people like me that are not huge tomato lovers, as it was more like a garlic cheese bread with a few tomatoes thrown in.

Katie and I must have been very hungry because along with the starters that we had, we also got these salads. The Small Mixed Salad ($6) is not listed on their menu, but it really brightened up the table when it made its appearance.  This eye popping salad came with a boatload of fresh greens, red onion, tomato, cucumber, and her choice of ranch dressing. A very generous size for a small dinner salad. I went with my usual, the PizzaVino Small Caesar ($8.90). I love Caesars, and this was an excellent version. It was dressed with plenty of dressing, which is very important to me. The romaine was fresh, and there was plenty of big squares of parmesan cheese included on this. Sure there were no croutons, but the addition of the anchovy was a nice touch, which you don't see too often anymore. Two pretty impressive salads.

As we were having our salads, my dad asked for some bread, and this little ensemble came out for us. The bread came wrapped in parchment paper, which I thought was a little over the top, but still nice. The bread was solid, and it came served with two oil based dipping sauces. One was a garlic version and the other, which I preferred was a spicy pepper. You have to ask for this, but you'll be glad you did when it gets to the table.

Even though Piero's is known for their pizza, only Katie got one on this evening. It was a tough choice but she went with the Pollo Pizza on this night. This white sauced pizza came topped with chicken, spinach, artichoke hearts, caramelized onions, garlic, mozzarella, and Romano cheese. Katie loved the way all of these ingredients worked together, and she was surprised that this pizza was so light. She compared it favorably to one that she had at Pizzeria Mozza earlier this year. She'd definitely get this again.

My mom is not a big eater, so she opted for this small Chicken Salad ($9.90), which really wasn't very small, even to me. Whenever I see fruit in a salad, I know it has piqued my mom's interest, and she ended up loving this salad which included sliced apples, baby lettuce, grilled chicken, caramelized walnuts, gorgonzola cheese, and it was finished with an apple cider vinaigrette. She did manage to eat most of this and loved it, even though she ate around the gorgonzola, which she forgot to ask to have left out of this. Along with the flavors, this had tons of great textures included. The crunchy apples and walnuts, along with the tender chicken and creamy gorgonzola made this an interesting salad for her taste buds all the way through.

There was a time when my dad and I would almost always get the same thing in a restaurant, but as he's aged, he's become a lighter eater. This was evident when he selected this Shrimp Entree ($23.50) on this evening. Not that I have anything against this dish, but I like something a little heavier, which you will see in a moment. The shrimp that came out with this was bathed in a white wine, herbs, and garlic sauce which added a nice flavor to these six shrimp. This also came with some roasted potatoes and asparagus that were simply done.

As I stated earlier, a heartier meal would be in my future on this night. This Lasagna Bolognese ($19.90) was delicious. I believe this was the first time I ever had a Bolognese lasagna, and I can say that I'm hooked. Instead of the usual ricotta and mozzarella version of lasagna you can get everywhere, this one uses a meaty bolognese sauce, along with a delicious bechamel sauce, and to top it off are two fennel sausages. With all of this meaty goodness, I did not even miss the cheese. I loved how the bechamel and the Bolognese interacted with each other, and the fennel sausage was an added bonus. One of the better lasagnas I have had in recent memory. Now I have to be on the lookout for a version of this back home in OC.

Dessert time, and since I had told Piero's it was my parents anniversary when I made the reservation, we got two sweet endings to our meal on this evening. My parents love Creme Brulee ($7.90) so of course, we had to give Piero's version a try. It had a great crystallized crust on top, and the inside had a sweet and smooth custard base. It was good, but kind of like all the other creme brulees we have had out there. The Spumoni Cassata ($7.50) was not like what we were expecting. My only run in with spumoni is the little silver dish of it that you get for dessert at the Spaghetti Factory. This was not like that at all. This was more like a layered ice cream cake, with the first and most prominent flavor being lemon, and then there was a small ribbon of chocolate and a bigger base of vanilla with nuts and fruit inside of it.  It was okay, but I'm not much of a lemon guy, but I appreciated the cooling effect this had since it was still quite warm outside.

Even though the desserts at Piero's were just okay, this was a great first meal for my parents 50th anniversary weekend. A month later and I still look back fondly on my lasagna, and everything else we had on this evening was pretty much above average. I thought the price point for this restaurant was pretty low considering this was on El Paseo and the meals in this part of town can get rather pricey. The service on this evening was fine, and we had no complaints. Piero's was a great kickoff for what we hoped would be a fantastic weekend of food, fun, and celebrating my fabulous parents.

Out of five golf tees, (because Palm Desert is home to over 30 golf courses, and one can assume that golfers go through plenty of tees in this desert city), five being best to zero being worst, Piero's PizzaVino gets 3.5 golf tees.

For more information about Piero's PizzaVino, head to their website here: