Tag Archives: italian food

Noodle Pudding: The Hidden Gem Located in Downtown Brooklyn

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They say even in the worst relationships, you can find one positive thing – for me that positive was learning about Noodle Pudding in Downtown Brooklyn. A few years back I began going to Noodle Pudding, and I try to make it there once every few months. So like most people, you are probably wondering, why is this place that serves some of the BEST ITALIAN food in all of the borough called Noodle Pudding. Rumor has it, the last name of the owner Antonio Migliaccio, translates to Noodle Pudding but I can neither confirm or deny this.

The restaurant is located on Henry Street, and has no sign on the outside. The only reason I know where to go all the time, is by looking at the large gathering outside of the door. They do not do reservations (however, I have called up a few times for large tables and they were cool with it) and are cash only. The places is the epitome of old school Italian – with a ton of rotating specials every time you visit – which makes it hard to write this review, especially since you cannot find an accurate menu anywhere. I am going to go off memory for some of these dishes, so bare with me, keep in mind I have been there more than a dozen times.

  • Gnocchi: Homemade and pretty much melt in your mouth, no need for using any of your teeth. You have two options for the sauce, on a regular red sauce or the butter sage sauce. Both are great, but you can always get red sauce – go with the butter sage sauce. You taste all the components, including the nuttiness of browned butter and earthiness of the sage.
  • Tagliatelle Bolognese: another dish you can taste the freshness of the pasta. Great basic dish, with some hearty chunks of meat. Last time we went, , last Tuesday, my fiancé’s father had it – and wiped the dish clean.
  • Straccetti: Thinly pounded beef, finished with truffle oil and shaved parmigiano. The beef has always been tender, and cooked beautifully with a charred outside and pinkish red on the inside (the way I ordered it).
  • Tagliata: I think the better out of the two beef dishes, and I have ordered this/recommended this multiple times. To often the steaks flavor is concealed behind the seasoning of the chef. Not the case when it comes to this prime rib, which is just done perfectly – seasoned with rock salt and rosemary. The crystals of salt and flakes of rosemary just truly compliment the meat, rather than mask the taste of this juicy cut. The only time I had anything similar was, once in Florence and once at Aurora Soho.
  • Rabbit: Which is one of the main reasons I goto Noodle Pudding. The style changes often, one of which includes a four-course dinner all of rabbit, which I have been dying to try. Last time I went, last week, I had the Rabbit Ragu, which was out of this world. Highly recommend ordering the rabbit, give it shot – I can practically guarantee no matter the style, you will love it.
  • Salmon: I generally do not like salmon, unless its sashimi – but the other night my fiancé’s mom order this, so I figured I would give it a try. The salmon is pounded thin, cooked medium, with a side of escarole and beans. I actually enjoyed it, and my future mother-in-law, said it was some of the best salmon she has ever had.
  • Lasagna: had it for the first time last week, stole some off the person to my left, and it was a perfect pieced of lasagna. Homemade pasta sheets, meat, and delicious sauce – perfection.
  • OCTOPUS BRUSCHETTA: Leaving one of my favorite dishes for last. Noodle Pudding has definitely mastered the art of pulpo cooking – and they served the eight-legged creature in a tomato sauce, with some slices of toasted Italian bread. The braised outside, with tender meat, makes this one of the best octopus dishes I have come across. As you can tell from my Charlie Bird, Peasant, Piacere, Rubirosa …etc, I know my pulpo, and you should take my word when I say ORDER THIS.

I should be heading back over soon, but above is just a start of all the items I have ate over the years. Also, one of the best things – which isn’t even on the menu – the bread they come out with once you sit-down. The bread seems fresh out of the oven, and is accompanied by olive oil with fresh herbs and pepper. I would have been content making a meal out of that.

In a few years when I retire, approximately 40 years, I want to goto the island of Ischia and see if the food is anything close to the amazing food created by Anthony Migliaccio and his team.

Additionally there is a great interview with the owner, click this link, from Nona Brooklyn. I think you should give it a read to better understand this amazing establishment.

38 Henry Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
***Cash Only***

Photo Credit: Bored in Brooklyn

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Del Posto: Best Meal of the Year?

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As you could tell from previous posts, our trip to Del Posto was something that both Nicole and I were really looking forward to. Exactly thirty days prior to our anniversary I called at 10:00 on the dot, along with a couple dozen calls between 9:58-9:59, only to hear the pre-recorded message about the hotline being closed. When the call went through to the receptionist, I literally jumped out of my desk in excitement. The phone call was really enjoyable, we discussed that it was our three-year anniversary, and that we recently got engaged and wanted to celebrate at Del Posto. By the end of the call I setup a 7:30 reservation, on a Saturday. From that day forward, we both eagerly awaited what would become one of our favorite meals ever.

I cannot begin to describe to you how many times the both of us checked out the menu on their website. My browser history had more Del Posto links than my teenager-selfs porn history. I would sit at work, spreadsheet on one screen, Bloomberg on another, and Del Posto’s menu on the the third – drooling while thinking of the endless possibilities of what I would eat.

Since it was our anniversary, I decided to change things up and we booked a hotel room at The Maritime Hotel down the block. Even though I live in Nolita, thought it would be nice to have a perfect evening and really treat ourselves. When we woke up that morning, we had a light breakfast followed by lunch at Hu Kitchen in the afternoon. Looking back I would have skipped the lunch, as I wanted to be completely hungry by the time dinner rolled around. We even turned down meeting some coworkers at ZZ’s Clam Bar, they were stoping in before trying Carbone for the first time based off my recommendations (review here). I didn’t want any non-Batali substances in my body prior to tasting the food at Del Posto. Kind of like not eating before taking communion.

When it was time, we walked over to the restaurant. Excitement building between the two of us, both waiting to try what we have been dying to try. With each step the back of my mind was spinning with different antipasti, primi, secondi, and dolci variations. As the door man opened the doors, we were greeted by the maître d and hostesses.

Host: “Hello Mr. Hedge Fun NY, happy third anniversary and congratulations on your engagement! Welcome to Del Posto.”

Nice touch. Who would have expected a phone call thirty days prior which contained casual conversation with the receptionist would be remembered.

We made our way to the table, and our waitress came over to engage in some conversation. She explained the menu, along with wishing us a happy anniversary as well. She was extremely friendly, and we enjoyed her presence.

Next the sommelier came over, at first I thought it was Joe Bastianich due to the similar haircut, however it was not him (was missing the bright green sneakers.) He provided us with a few suggestions, and then left the iPad with us to take a look. The software was amazing on the iPad and made narrowing down our options extremely easy. We would up choosing the Castell’ In Villa Chianti Classico Riserva 2008, which was one of his recommendations to us. After the initial taste I realized how great the bottle was, and was happy we went with his suggestion.

We said cheers, and then something amazing happened. The bread mades it’s way to the table. There were three types, which included an olive-loaf, all of which were made fresh. Accompanying the bread was their butter and lardo. The lardo was mind blowing, and also a duel-edged sword. All I wanted to do was to keep smearing it across the warm bread, but I also didn’t want to fill up too quickly. I had five courses ahead of me, I did not want to sacrifice any room in my stomach.

We started our first course with the Minted Octopus and Lobster all a Cesare, which is a fancy way of saying Cesare Salad. I will start with the salad, since I was a little hesitant to try due to the fact I never eat Cesare Salad since it looks like mayo. Not the case here, the salad was great with huge chunks of lobster. The dressing wasn’t overly creamy and was well balanced with the grilled romaine and onions. The octopus was for lack of a better word, dope. Being Pulpo-Aficionados we pride ourselves on distinguishing the good from the bad, the rubbery from the perfectly cooked. This was one of the best octopus dishes I have had in a long time. I would say, neck-and-neck with Charlie Bird, and better than Toro, Carbone, and Peasant. The tentacles are served over Nduja, Giant Beans & Hearts of Palm. The njuda spread was on the bottom and gave a nice flavor to the pieces of octopus I smeared into it’s red-pasty spread. Despite the amazing flavor and tenderness of the tentacles, the best part of the dish was the size. Firstly the tentacles were not those wimpy skinny tentacles, they had some girth. Also, they must have had at least four pieces on the dish. We enjoyed each bite, how could you not? The outside was charred, the inside was juicy and cooked to perfection. Really a perfect dish.

Next up, our primi course. Going into this course we were extremely excited, especially since we have not had pasta for close to thirty-days. We had been on a diet since we are getting married in a few months, and we figured if we were going to cheat it might as well be with some of the best pasta you can find. This was also a very difficult choice for us to decide on. I have at one point or another said in my head over the past thirty days that I am getting the 100 Layer Lasagna, or Lidia’s Jota, or Orecchiette with Lamb Neck. When we decided to order, we went with neither of the above. We chose The Spaghetti with Dungeness Crab, and the Gnocchi. Once again, two perfect dishes. The Spaghetti and Crab was probably one of my favorite pasta dishes I have ever eaten. The spaghetti was nice and al dente, and mixed into the bowl were jalapeños, scallions, and the sweet meat of the crustacean. The jalapeño definitely provided some heat, in fact I actually had to ask the busgirl for a tissue at one point, but the spice was not overbearing. The crab flavors definitely keep this bowl of pasta well balanced. This is one of their most famous dishes, as I learned after, with many pages discussing the perfect execution of this dish. There is actually a video Del Posto put on YouTube a few years back that shows the process of making this dish, CLICK HERE, and if you don’t have a seizure from the music – you might gain an appreciation for this dish. Definitely do not skip this dish. Next up, gnocchi. One of my favorite types of pastas, and favorite form of potato. As if the idea of gnocchi could get any better, especially to two people on diets who have been pasta deprived. The recipe was handed down by Batali’s Grandmother. The gnocchi was light and fluffy, unlike that heavy junk you get at majority of these so-called ‘Italian’ restaurants. Also, unlike most places who drench the pasta in sauce to compensate for the pastas lack of flavor, also not the situation here. The sauce was light, and tasted like fresh tomato. Nice and basic, and the flavoring from the Thai basil gives the dish the simplicity and freshness one would expect while eating in non-touristy areas of Italy.

Right around this point of the evening, I began to really regret getting lunch at Hu Kitchen earlier. I was beginning to get full, and the constant stuffing of my face with bread and lardo didn’t help. But we had our secondi course coming, and the excitement kept me going.

Once the food came to the table, we acted as if those past courses didn’t happen and kept consuming our entrees. I ordered the Burnt Beef, medium rare of course, which came with seared green onions, parmigiano zeppole, and tomato raisins. Everything about this dish was perfect – so much so my fiance, who is not a meat person found herself voluntarily picking pieces off my plate. I have to say, for a girl who hasn’t had meat in eight-years I have started her on some awesome places – Black Label Burger from Minetta, Steak from Del Posto… Highly recommend this dish, worth the extra money – TRUST ME. Nicole ordered the Baked Halibut, which came with mashed sun chokes, chicory salad, and smoked truffles. Once again, perfect entree. We still talk about this dish and how it was the best piece of halibut, possibly the best pieces of fish we have ever had.

To finish the meal we had some dessert, but really was hard to enjoy since we were so full – but we somehow managed to finish it. We had the Grilled Semolina Cake and Fette Biscottate, also they brought out some additional items for our anniversary – which we finished as well…

Peasant: Authentic Farm to Table, But Italian Style

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As you can see from my posts on Bacaro and Apizz, I love all places which spawned from the genius of Frank DeCarlo. Peasant, is possibly my favorite of them all. From the minute I moved into Nolita, I would constantly walk by and try to peep my head into the dinning room – with Exposed Brick and Rustic Fixtures, all surrounding the open kitchen. The place might be the most romantic place in NYC, which I would highly suggest for a first date – if if doesn’t happen, you can only blame yourself.

Peasant, like Bianca, is true Italian cooking – but rather than being just from one region, it is multi-regional menu of traditional Italian Dishes.  While using locally sourced items, along with imported products from Italy, you get the best of both worlds – without compromising quality. Also, with Chef Frank DeCarlo working in the kitchen every night of service, you can expect the food to have his passion every time you go here. Below is the breakdown of our order, all of which was unbelievable – and makes me believe this is one of the best restaurants in New York City.

Drinks:

  • Wine: Want to start off saying their wine list is extremely reasonable – a bunch of wines in all price ranges. We tend to like Montepulciano, so we ordered the Castorani Amorino Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2007. This bottle paired extremely well with all the food we ordered, and for $50/bottle – you cannot go wrong.

Appetizers:

  • Prosciutto e Frutta: which happened to be figs. Great dish, prosciutto was perfect and the ripeness of the figs made dish.
  • Bocconcini: Mozzarella with speck, which is two appetizers containing this amazing cured meat. As you know from other reviews, i.e. Piacere, I am a sucker for all things speck. The balls of mozzarella, wrapped in the crispy speck, drizzled in oil and basil is a no brainer.
  • Cannolicchi: Razor Clams with white wine and breadcrumb. Such a great dish, brought me back to being in Europe. The simpleness and freshness of the dish is exactly what I tasted while eating razor clams in Italy, Spain, and Croatia. As you can see from my articles on Bacaro and Charlie Bird, these mollusk are one of my favorite types, and would go on record saying that these were equally good as Charlie Bird.
  • Polpi in Purgatorio: baby octopus with chili peppers. The octopus was perfectly cooked, and a bit spicy – hence the name. Dish was excellently executed by the kitchen.

Main Courses:

  • Porchetta Arrosto: Suckling Pig with fingerling potatoes. This is the dish I have been dying to try for a while. In my head I was debating if there was anyway this could be better than Jean-Georges’ ABC Kitchen. Then the day came. I asked the waitress how it was prepared – “nine week old baby pig” she replied, and instantly I was excited. At the same time I saw the look on my fiancé’s face as she realized what I heartless bastard I truly am. Once it came out, I was like a little kid waiting to eat the crispy piece of skin laying onto of the dish. The minute you bit into the crackling, salty, crispy skin – you know you made the right decision. Now, only issue with it was the sauce. It was good, however due to my fear of mayo – and all things that look like mayo – it at first kind of freaked me out. However, pork pulled apart, mixed with potatoes in this cream sauce was delicious. The meat is tender, the potatoes are buttery – great dish, and satisfied the craving I have been looking forward to.
  • Razza con Caperi: As you have read from my Apizz review, my fiancé is obsessed with skate – more importantly obsessed with the skate cooked by Frank DeCarlo’s brainchild restaurants.  The dish came with the fish perfectly cooked, finished with lemon, white wine and capers. Great choice if you like flounder, fluke, sole …etc.

Dessert:

  • BREAD PUDDING: Make sure you finish the meal strong, and ORDER THIS DESSERT. Large portion, with white chocolate – this was delicious.

 

Parm: Meat + Cheese + Sauce

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Although I have a long history of my obsession with Parm, this weekend was the first time I ever actually sat down and ate a full meal inside. Over the years I have persuaded my bosses to pay for catering orders on a semi-annual basis, ordered from Seamless, and picked up food for takeout. On the times we did attempt to eat there, I was turned off by their one-hour wait. So this weekend, with the snow and all, was the weekend to make it happen.

While sitting in the apartment, we noticed the whole apartment had a mini power surge. Thinking nothing of it considering Nicole was doing her hair, I had my projector and speakers on, we left the apartment. We trekked outside in the snow to head up the block to consume some meats covered in red sauce and cheese, excellent way to spend any Saturday. When we go there, I ordered a round of drinks from the waitress – to which she replied “tonight we are cash only since a power surge knocked out the servers  on our computers.” When I went to pay for the round, she paused, and then told the whole bar due to the issue the drinks were on the house and everyone would need to pay cash for their food. The bar let out a huge celebratory cheer, and we hung out until our table was ready. I have to say, you know you have a great business when it’s snowing outside, you have to last minute make the place cash only, and there is still a 45 minute wait for a table.

I started off with a Bronx Pale Ale, last mug before the keg kicked, and then moved on to an Ommegang Witte. While hanging around out the bar I noticed two of the best words possible under the Specials for Saturday ‘VEAL PARM’. Up until that night, that was the only Parm I have never tried. I was literally drooling in the corner of the bar, when Tommy, the host, came to grab us for our table. As we sat at out table for four, I felt like I was at my grandmother’s house awaiting Sunday Dinner.

The girls began the ordering and decided to start with a few appetizers: Charred Broccoli, B&G Chickpeas, Brussels Sprouts, Spicy Rabe, and Beets Aranciata. Initially I was a little pissed they only ordered vegetables, since none them were smothered in mozzarella or gravy (Italian American for Red Sauce). It was the equivalent of going to Peter Lugers and just ordering a salad. Once the food came, I was no longer angry – the broccoli was charred and delicious, the spicy rabe out of this world, and causing me to grab some water due to the spice level. I cannot leave out the chickpeas, since I was eating them up like a waspy-human version of Hungry Hungry Hippos. Once the empty dishes, where greenery once sat, were cleared – the items I ordered were brought to the table. First up, the Ricotta Toast which has been a staple in my Seamless and Pickup orders. Toasted prosciutto Italian bread with a generous helping of ricotta, olive oil, and a little bit of basil. As always, a phenomenal appetizer and great way to start the meal. Best part was trying the bread, as it was meant to be, fresh out of the oven and crispy and smeared in the cold ricotta. Next, the baked clams. One of the corner stone dishes out of any red-sauce joint, and these were great. My only regret was not saving some bread to dip my bread in to the remaining sauce. Lastly, the fried calamari – which was unbelievable. Apparently the non-marinara sauce, which was an aioli, was mind blowing. Since I do not eat mayo, aioli included, I cannot advise on that aspect of the dish – however the other people I was with, said it was great. The squid was perfectly fried, not rubbery, not just rings but tentacles as well – great dish.

Now, as I have previously mentioned I was extremely excited to try the veal. However, from my past dozen experiences, I did not want to miss out on the meat ball and the chicken. I also wanted some eggplant, but that was the least of my worries – and I knew there was an easy chance of having some from one of the girls.So here I am, decided between three different meats, being told by everyone I can only choose one. However, I had a good feeling I would be able to accomplish both. The girls decided upon splitting a hero of the Eggplant Parm. This was easy for me, knowing that they would not be able to finish even more than half of their dish.Next up, my cousin’s boyfriend ordered platter of veal – which I negotiated with him, to split half of my pending order, for half of his. So I ordered the Chicken Parm roll. While everyone was receiving a refill of wine, at this point our second bottle, I spoke to the waitress and discreetly ordered a Meatball Parm roll as well. Mission Accomplished, technically I won and got to have everything. The veal, was possibly the best veal I have ever ate. While at Carbone, I originally had a little bit of buyers remorse for choosing the Ribeye over the coveted Carbone Veal. At the time I couldn’t pick Veal Parm over a Ribeye, especially when the Veal was $13 more and the ribeye was smothered in rosemary (so amazing). But here I am, a little bit over a year since my trip to Carbone, and I am eating some Major Food Group Veal Parm – it was a great night. The veal was a little thicker than I was accustom to, but was fucking delicious. I literally might march up to my grandmother this week, and let her know she was feeding me subpar veal parm for the past 28 years of my life.

Alidoro: Best Sandwich Shop in NYC

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The other day before going to Toro, we decided to stop for lunch at Alidoro. I have been living in Nolita for over two years, and I am pissed at myself for not knowing about this place sooner. Located on Sullivan Street, this is their original location which opened up in 1986 – with their Midtown location opening a few months back. With forty sandwiches on their menu, and the opportunity to customize the sandwiches, I guarantee anyone would love this place.

Back in 1995, Seinfeld released their Soup Nazi episode – which may really be based off this Italian Sandwich shop. When you get to the counter, know exactly what you want. In the words of the owner, Walter Momente, he is trying to keep the place “as Italian as possible”, so to the left of the menu you will see a long list of things not to ask for. Some of these items include: mayo, ketchup, turkey, roast beef, free cup of water, avocado, mustard ..etc. Additionally, there is some more signs such as “Do Not Ask Me What My Favorite Sandwich Is” and “If You Don’t See It We Don’t Have It”. That being said, know what you want before its your turn to order.

We ordered two sandwiches, not realized they are massive. The first item we order was the Alyssa on their Italian Bread, which was about 15 inches long. This sandwich comes with smoked chicken breast, fresh mozzarella, arugula, and dressing. The second item we ordered was the Dino, which we decided to do on the focaccia. The Dino has prosciutto, smoked mozzarella, sun dried tomato, and arugula. Once we sat down, we were lucky it was a slow day and none of the tables were occupied, we went to work on these sandwiches. In one of my recent articles I mentioned how great the sandwiches are at Alleva, once I had Alidoro – I immediately forgot Alleva existed. Alidoro prides itself on using the best Italian ingredients, and with each bite you taste it. They should get used to seeing this face every weekend, because we are now obsessed.

I have not yet ordered from the Midtown Location, which is on 39 Street, but I look forward to heading over there soon.