Saturday, June 24, 2023

Dos Besos (Pasadena, CA)

Dos Besos Restaurant
99 Union St, Pasadena, CA 91103
Sat 06/24/2023, 08:30p-10:20p

If we're talking about Old Town Pasadena restaurants, the place that's been the most recommended to me as of late is easily Dos Besos ("two kisses"--a nod to the Spanish tendency to greet women with two pecks). The place grand-opened back on March 30th last year, and is the creation of husband-and-wife team Chef Alejandro Llobet Domenech and Catherine Romano-Llobet, who runs the front-of-the-house. The latter, also known as Kit Romano, is a Pasadena native and comes from the video editing world, having served as sales director at Pivotal Post for over a decade. Chef Llobet, meanwhile, hails from Barcelona, and previously ran a local paella-focused catering company called Via Paella.

Dos Besos Interior
Dos Besos occupies the former home of CrepeStudio. The space has been gussied up for sure, but is still rather small, spanning roughly 900 square-feet...

Dos Besos Patio
...Thus, much of the seating is on the patio, which abuts Big Bang Theory Way.

Dos Besos Menu: Tapas/Starters, Ensaladas/Salads, Paellas Dos Besos Menu: Platos Principales/Main Course, Adicionales/Extras, Desserts Dos Besos Cocktail & Wine List Dos Besos Beer & Beverage List
As for the menu, you get a selection of tapas joined by larger plates and even larger paellas, while beverages include a short list of Spanish wines as well as a smattering of beer and cocktails. Corkage is $35 a bottle. Click for larger versions.

pulpo a la gallega
pulpo a la gallega [$26.00] | galician octopus with potatoes
The octo was a must-try for me, and came out just tender enough, with an assertive brine that worked hand-in-hand with hits of salt and plenty of olive oil. The potatoes were also crucial, moderating everything and providing some textural contrast.

sangría de cava
sangría de cava [$14.00] | sparkling wine sangría
My sparkling sangria was as fizzy and fruity as I expected, making it just about the perfect summertime quaffer.

tortilla española
tortilla española [$15.00] | spanish potato and onion omelet
The Spanish omelette was another must-order dish for me, and didn't disappoint. I enjoyed the tortilla de patatas' eggy-potato goodness and semi-creamy consistency, as well as the additional zestiness imparted by the onions. The salad ate tart and acidic, while more crucial was the accompanying sauce, which appeared to be a mix of romesco and a super potent aioli.

albondigas a la española
albondigas a la española [$17.00] | spanish meatballs in tomato sauce
Meatballs were tightly packed and showed off a homey, familiar flavor profile that made a whole lot of sense with that thin, tangy tomato sauce.

patatas bravas
patatas bravas [$14.00] | bite-sized potatoes with aioli
Patatas bravas were superb, with crisp-seared outsides but supple, almost fluffy interiors. The taters were also well-seasoned, but really sang when paired with the garlicky punch of the aioli.

sangría de vino tinto
sangría de vino tinto [$14.00] | red wine sangría
The more traditional red wine sangria drank fruity and spicy, just as you'd want. Rather gluggable.

paella del mar
paella del mar [$60.00] | seafood paella
The Chef is known for his paella, and indeed, I'd say that it was one of the best I've had. I was impressed by how every single piece of seafood was spot-on in its cookery, while just as important was the actual rice, which was delectably seasoned, well textured, and boasted a good amount of socarrat, too.

macarrones con jamón serrano
macarrones con jamón serrano [$32.00] | rigatoni with peas & serrano ham
The pasta had that semi-firm, semi-chewy texture that I like, and really set the stage for the back-and-forth between salty ham and those bright, sweet peas.

lychee cava spritzer
lychee cava spritzer [$16.00]
Not surprisingly, the spritzer was another easy-drinker, and featured a surprisingly elegant presentation of lychee.

solomillo a la pimienta verde
solomillo a la pimienta verde [$52.00] | filet mignon w peppercorn sauce
I tend to shy away from tenderloin these days, but this was a damn fine preparation. The steak arrived well-seared and with a lovely medium-rare cook, while its refined beefiness matched up swimmingly with that mustard-y, peppery sauce. I also enjoyed those herby roasted potatoes, and didn't mind the levity provided by the sautéed string beans, though they were a bit limp for my liking.

torrijas [$12.00] | spanish bread pudding
Time for dessert. The torrija came out super soft and creamy, with a light sweet-spicing, and really opened up nicely when taken with that vanilla ice cream.

tarta de santiago
tarta de santiago [$13.00] | spanish almond cake with vanilla ice cream
The torta boasted a gratifyingly moist texture, and wasn't shy at all about the almond, while again, the ice cream was key.

It turns out that my friends were right: Dos Besos was indeed pretty great, delivering mostly classic Spanish fare executed with aplomb, paired with some congenial service to boot. In fact, this is probably my favorite Los Angeles-area Spanish restaurant debut of the past couple years, and will likely be a go-to dining option of mine when I'm hanging around in Old Pasadena in the future.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home