Tag Archive for italian

Downtown St. Paul, Cosetta, and the Wabasha Street Caves


I’ve been to Minneapolis a number of times, but somehow, I hadn’t made it to neighboring St. Paul, the capitol of Minnesota. So on my last trip to the area, I was determined to spend an afternoon there. It didn’t make any sense to this wanderluster to be that close to the city and never step a foot in it.

And I am glad I did! As one native remarked as I was trudging my way up to the Cathedral of Saint Paul—


–it’s a city full of beautiful architecture and rich culture. Well, what he actually said is more beautiful and richer than Minneapolis, but I’m not willing to take sides on that debate. I will say that my afternoon traipsing through the downtown was full of awesome discoveries.


The first of them was in that picture—the Landmark Center. It’s gorgeous and is now used as an event space. The second was the statues of the Peanuts throughout the neighboring parks.




I honestly didn’t know Charles Schultz was from St. Paul. Happening upon little trivia tidbits like that is why I love exploring cities.

St. Paul Hotel

St. Paul Hotel

After a Dunn Bros coffee and checking out the Rice Park area, I decided it was time to hunt down that Cathedral, which took my breath away as I passed it on the bus into town.


So off I went, getting closer and closer.

Passing the Xcel Center

Passing the Xcel Center

My stomach insisted on lunch before my journeying could continue, so I check out nearby Cosetta (2011 7th St.) a St. Paul institution.

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Little Star Pizza

Our waitress rushing out, concerned my husband left his bag behind. Thanks!

Our waitress rushing out, concerned my husband left his bag behind. Thanks!

Little Star is a small gourmet-pizza chain with three outlets in San Francisco. We chose it for an early dinner on a Saturday afternoon because it had the best ratings for open eateries in that neck of the Mission at that time, aside from the also-appealing arepas spot across the street.

At 3 pm, the place was empty, which is to be expected for most establishments. The menu is tiny, roughly five types each of deep dish and thin crust pizzas and about the same amount of appetizers and salads. Those pizzas come in small 9” and large 12” only, though personal pan pizzas are available at lunch for a reasonable price.

The color palette was cool tones, which I like, and the small bar at the entrance was especially cute. Medium-to-dark woods, silver tables, brick and sleet gray walls.

We started out with the goddess salad, little gems lettuce with creamy pesto dressing, chives, and toasted almonds.


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Izalco Catering


Izalco Catering is a Salvadoran catering business that serves up pupusas at the San Ramon Farmers’ Market every week. That just happens to be near my husband’s workplace, so I joined him for lunch one Thursday afternoon, and we ordered five of their pupusas to share.


As you can see, they are each about the size of a salad plate, so two are plenty filling! In the picture are three Southwestern ones made with cheese, chipotle chicken, and onions. You can watch the workers make the pupusas from scratch after you order, forming the pockets by patting the masa dough together and stuffing them with fillings. It’s a good way to entertain yourself as you wait for yours to come up!

The pupusa pockets were perhaps slightly undercooked, having a stretchy, limp quality but maybe I’m just unfamiliar with the Salvadoran style. I found them satisfying regardless, because of how fresh and warm they were. The pockets themselves are on the bland side, so Izalco packs a lot of flavor into their fillings, especially the ooey, gooey cheese and sauce pouring out of the Southwesterns. It was only slighty spicy—do not fear, those of you with sensitive palates.


That’s a Mediterranean pupusa cut open. It’s made with cheese, artichoke hearts, almond pesto, and olives. Still tasty, but the flavors were kind of odd in a pupusa, mostly because they were too bland to liven up the dough. But I always like experimentation, so I can’t knock Izalco for that.  The pupusa underneath it was an Italian with cheese, basil, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, and spinach. Those flavors melded better, with plenty of strong elements to stand out in the filling. But I thought the Southwestern was by far the best that we tried.

Each order is served with a side of crisp coleslaw that tasted like it had been pickled, or maybe it’s just tossed with pickled jalapenos. It’s topped with a spicy, thin tomato salsa and was by far my favorite part of the meal. I thought it quite unique! Overall, Izalco’s pupusas are good enough to make me curious about the rest of their catering business, which offers a huge range of Salvadoran food, such as pasteles and empanadas, for special events. Now how to get invited to a party serving them…


Izalco Catering
at the San Ramon Farmers’ Market

Reviewed 24 April 14.

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