Everyone lists the ten best movies or books or songs or knitting patters (and so on) at the end of every year. Here are my selections for the “ten bests” of 2010—ten of the very best experiences from ten different categories. You might call them “The Very Best of 2010,” an eclectic list, for sure.
The Best Chinese Restaurant is Taipei Noodle House on Cedar Lane in Teaneck, NJ. They serve the very best eggrolls and wonton soup outside of Chinatown, and their Prawns in Lobster Sauce is to die for. Taipei Noodle House boasts an extensive menu and friendly, helpful servers, as well as a traditional Chinese restaurant setting (no all-you-can-eat buffet, yay!).
The Best Italian Restaurant is tucked away on South Main Street in Waynesville, North Carolina. Pasquale’s Pizzeria and Tapas Bar managed to ace the eggplant parmigiana test—a benchmark of all restaurants that dare serve that dish. Many is the restaurant that seemed fine until I ordered—and was disappointed by—their eggplant parm (usually a soggy mess); of course, I never returned. They also passed the Chicken Marsala test with flying colors, another demanding standard. Pasquale’s offers a “light side” menu for those with smaller appetites—we regularly order from it and still bring home leftovers. Pasquale’s boasts what I call a semi-formal atmosphere—casual dining with white tablecloths, servers who toss and serve your salad at the table, and cloth napkins.
The Best Nouvelle Cuisine/American Restaurant is a funky little place on Pack Square in Asheville, North Carolina, across Biltmore Avenue from the museum/performance space. Bistro 1896 offers generous servings of very good food in a quirkily decorated remodeled store. The chefs are inventive (I am still raving about a dinner special—scallops and orzo—that I’d eaten there several years ago), the ingredients are fresh, and the wait staff is especially friendly. Another place for good Chicken Marsala.
The Best Middle School Graduation was in Hackensack, New Jersey, where the weather gods threatened rain but held back until after the ceremony, thereby allowing it to be held outdoors, guaranteeing all invited guests a seat on the bleachers where, instead of complaining about not seeing their friend/relative graduate, they could complain about the heat and people shading themselves from the sun with umbrellas. (The best part, of course, was watching granddaughter Chloë graduate with honors).