Tag Archives: NEWYORK

Gild Hall by Thompson Hotels: Financial District

What can I say about Gild Hall by Thompson Hotel that hasn’t been said about Kate Upton’s breast? Beautiful, perfect, large, comfortable, cozy and I spent a night with them… One of those is not true, but seriously this might be one of my favorite hotels in New York City.

Last week my fiancé and I had our engagement shoot, which we were doing in Dumbo and ending the shoot over by the Brooklyn Bridge. The location was perfect, as this hotel sits in the Financial District, over on Gold ST and Platt ST. If you are looking to explore downtown, i.e. The Seaport, Wall Street, Brooklyn Bridge, World Trade Center, One World Observatory …etc, you cannot beat this location. Additionally, if you are looking to explore outside the Financial District you have many subway lines within a few blocks. Even though I live a few neighborhoods north, staying in this area gave us both such a different perspective of the city.

The day prior to checking in, I called to ask them if they could assist me with some requests. Since we were doing our engagement shoot (also looking for a great photographer, check out ours here at Denise Wine Studio) we wanted to have a chance to wear multiple outfits without having to go up to Nolita and get changed. I spoke with Justine, and she was able to provide us with early check-in. Along with that, she was extremely helpful and friendly and was able to meet our requests. When we arrived, we received the same great customer service from the staff. They were quick to help us grab our luggage, and help us to our room.

The hotel itself is absolutely beautiful, from the minute you arrive to the second you check out, you will be extremely pleased. Once you make your way through the front door, you see their double-level library filled with books and artwork, hardwood floors, plush couches and really cool chandeliers. Exposed Brick surrounds the check in desk, along with distressed wood and leather couches.

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Across from the lobby you will find the restaurant, Felice, which is a New York City based Italian restaurant which specializes in Tuscan cuisine with four locations throughout Manhattan. They have forty seats, along with their upstairs wine lounge La Soffitta. The food from Felice can be ordered via room service, which we tried later on, and was unbelievable. Felice, a lot like the hotel, also features really cool chandeliers, these however are built using the jugs that are from their wine production. Along with having a bottle or two downstairs, our suite also featured a few bottles of their offerings including Felice Bianco, Felice Rosso, and Felice Rose.

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Now to our suite, The Thompson Suite, which was ridiculously beautiful. When you walk in, there was one bathroom and a hallway that lead to the bar, living room, and to the right the bedroom. The first bathroom, which was a smaller version of the master bathroom, just as nice but just smaller. The bar came fully stocked with pretty much anything you need for a good time. For liquor they had Ciroc, Buffalo Trace, Knob Creek, 10 Cane Rum. In the fridge they had a few different types of Brooklyn lager, mineral water, and some sodas. A full selection from Candy to Condoms were also behind the bar, along with some bottles of Fred Water to help chase away that hangover in the morning. The bar overlooks the luxurious living room area, which feature comfortable leather couches, a large Samsung TV, animal hides, and all the makings to host a fun party.

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Off the living room you have the bedroom, which features the same twelve-foot ceilings that run throughout the room. However the main focal point is the bed. The king size bed is wrapped in 400 thread count sheets, and finished with a fancy leather headboard. The bed itself was so comfortable, but the view of the suites decor was one of my favorite parts of my stay here.
The bedroom also featured a nice desk in the corner, along with an iHome Dock (iPhone 5 Compatible), some leather-bound books, and beautiful lighting from the lamps to the chandelier hanging over the bed.

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The master bathroom was massive! It was partially tiled with glass tiles, with chrome accessories, and marble running throughout the bathroom. When you first walk in theres a double sink and private bathroom stall. Just when you think thats it, you walk around the corner to find a large walk in rain shower, along with a stand alone clawfoot tub. They provide C.O. Bigelow products in the bathroom, and also provide a cool shaving kit from Dollar Shave Club for a small fee. I really think the bathroom was larger than my apartment, and definitely a lot nicer.

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All in all, if you’re looking for a hotel in New York thats close to everything and not the size of a shoe box, definitely consider Gild Hall. Definitely impresses the lady and set a great tone for the rest of the night.

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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PUBLIC: One of the Best Places in Nolita

The other day we were driving around the neighborhood looking for a spot, which is pretty easy in Nolita. While driving up Elizabeth Street we past some of our staple restaurants – Peasant, The Egg Shop, Fonda Nolita (Tacombi), Musket Room… the list goes on. As we passed PUBLIC, we both looked at each other and said how much we missed PUBLIC.

We went to PUBLIC about two years ago when I first moved into the neighborhood – and it is still one of my favorite places to go in New York.

It all started one night when we stopped in to see if there were any open tables last minute, which there weren’t as it was a beautiful spring day and it was busy as per usual. So we went in, asked the host – to which she directed us to The Daily. The Daily was really cool, and I was happy we were able to get a seat and hangout on one of their tufted leather couches, order some small plates and some drinks. This was our first time at The Daily, but definitely not the last.

While hanging out inside the girls couldn’t stop talking about how beautiful it was inside PUBLIC – and they were right. Don’t get me wrong, The Daily is really cool in it’s own way, but PUBLIC is a sight to be seen. Exposed brick, subway tiles, industrial lights, vintage mailboxes, cool candles, and a glass garage door that overlooks Elizabeth Street Gardens. If you took a woman here and didn’t get laid after, you are doing it wrong. I mean, the owners/designers received a James Beard Foundation award for  Best Restaurant Design @ PUBLIC. Those things don’t come easy…

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So we all decided we would come back to PUBLIC for dinner. Not feeling like waiting on other people schedules, both Nicole and myself decided screw it – we are going by ourselves.

On that night we walked up the block, and with every step I got more and more excited for this SEVEN-times Michelin Stared dinner. To win anything seven years in a row is impressive, but to win the coveted Michelin Star definitely speaks for the amazing place they manage.

We ordered two specials which included a watermelon salad with feta, and a squid ink pasta dish that was unreal. We also split the octopus, because as you can see by now we are pulpo-addicts. The eight legged creature was served with piquillo pepper purée, warm potato salad, pickled chiles and three herb pistou.

For dinner I was stuck between venison, lamb, and duck. We had recently returned from Spain, and while there I had some excellent venison while dining at El Xalet de Montjuïc, which really put me on a venison kick. Lamb, I had the week before at Il Buco, which was also delicious. Which leaves me to Duck, which the waitress assured me was one of their best dishes. She was right, this was one of the best pieces of duck I have had in a long time. I would even go as far as saying it is up there with Gramercy Tavern, which is a legendary dish to me. I have contemplated on many occasions walking up the block, sitting at the bar and ordering this dish again.

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Now about 2 years later, we actually were thinking about doing our wedding at PUBLIC. Yea, we are that obsessed. The space as I mentioned above is absolutely stunning, and the food amazing. We were both so much in love with the place that I considered cutting out some friends and family from the invite list so we can have the wedding there, but unfortunately I was over-ruled.

Since we are not having the wedding here I may have to convince her that we should join the PUBLIC Wine Mailbox Program. As I discussed earlier, there are some vintage mailboxes through out the space. Along with those, some pretty cool keys that unlock them. For $50/per month their Wine Mailbox Program brings you a bottle of wine every month in your very own PUBLIC bronze mailbox. Each artisanal wine from Australia, New Zealand, and around the globe, is hand-selected by Chef Brad Farmerie. But that is not all, you also receive tasting notes, pairings, and sometimes imported food items, and PUBLIC kitchen creations. And, if you thought this deal couldn’t get better – there is more: you will receive invitations to PUBLIC special events and private tastings. Rumor has it, you also receive some special access to their reservation line…

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Mile End Deli: The Best Jewish Delicatessen

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You hear Jewish Deli, and you immediately think about Katz Deli or Carnegie Deli. There is nothing wrong with that, they are both famous and old school – however, you should introduce yourself to the New School with Mile End Deli. They have two locations, one in Brooklyn (Boerum Hill) and the other in Manhattan (Noho), and depending on where you live, they deliver via Seamless. Another fun fact, Black Seed was created by the people of Mile End – so you know its good.

My first time there we started with the Matzo Ball Soup and their special of the night, Pastrami Soup. Both were really good, I definitely never had anything like the Pastrami Soup – have been calling them up on a weekly basis to see if they have it as a special. If you ever see this on the menu, definitely order this.

Onto the most important part of the night, The Smoked Meat Burger. Prior to ordering this, I was stuck between the Smoked Meat Burger and the Smoked Meat Sandwich. I mean, my head was spinning, and the only difference really was the word ‘burger’ in the name. The waitress, who was great, knew I was torn between the two options and advised I should go with the burger – and I always can come back for the sandwich. Apparently these two are two of the most popular choices, and being that the place is only a few blocks away – I felt comfortable with my decision. The burger is made out 30% smoked meat, red onion, pickle, fried egg, american cheese,  on an onion roll. The burger also comes with mustard-mayo, but since I despise the two I steered clear of this and stuck with Ketchup. Every time I am hungover, I debate stumbling up to Bond Street to eat one of these. My first impression when I saw this was pure shock, it was a thing of beauty. First off, anything that is served on a true onion roll – is pure genius. Second, the smell of smoked meat that comes off this burger should be bottled and sold as air freshener. Lastly, the size of the burger. It was massive, I almost had to cut it in half – but didn’t want to ruin the gooeyness of the fried egg. When I left my jaw hurt from taking bites of it, the struggle is real. Now to the taste, FUCKING DELICIOUS. It was so good, that within three-minutes (has to be some type of record) I had the whole thing down. If you have never had this burger before, I can assure you once you have it – there is no burger in the world that taste remotely similar. As I am writing this I am actually pissed off that I did not order this tonight (fucking blizzard). This may have been one of the top 5 burgers I have ever eaten, definitely the best burger with an egg on it. Another positive, they served Shiner Bock – which as you can tell from my other posts, is one of my favorite beers. This beer is a perfect pairing for the burger.

ONE REGRET: I did not order the poutine, but at least this gives me another reason to back.

Momofuku: Wedding Cake Tasting

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Last night we decided we would try out the Momofuku Wedding Cake sample kit so we can finally order the cake for our wedding, which is around the corner. Over the past two years we have pretty much made it a ritual of bringing their cakes to every birthday party we attend, something about the cakes makes even the most boring parties seem tolerable. We have had everything from Birthday Cake, Chocolate Malt Cake, German Chocolate Cake, Apple Pie (which is one of the best things I have ever had)… We also bought my two little cousins classes at Milkbar to teach them, and my fiancé, hienz make their cakes and truffles (Read My Article, it was the best idea ever).

So we bought three of their sampler packs ($25/each) and we invited over some family to help make the decision. The package comes with 12 flavors, which included: apple pie cake, banana cake, birthday cake, chocolate malt cake, chocolate chip cake, german chocolate jimbo cake, dulce de leche cake, mint cookies n’ cream cake, pineapple upside down cake, pistachio cake, pretzel cake, strawberry-lemon cake. Below are some of our favorites, which I think you should try either for a wedding cake – or their 6″ and 10″ cakes.

pretzel cake: malted pretzel crumbs, stout ganache, burnt honey frosting.

pistachio cake: lemon curd, pistachio frosting, milk crumbs.

pineapple upside down: coconut cake, pineapple upside down frosting, yellow cake crumbs, cherry-buttermilk soak.

banana cake: banana cream, hazelnut crunch, gianduja fudge.

apple pie cake: cheesecake filling, apple compote, pie crumbs.

lemon cheesecake, pickled strawberry jam, milk crumbs.

Oyster Fest in Brooklyn This Weekend

Tomorrow is going to be 79 Degrees and Sunny, so you should probably check this out. The good people at Brooklyn Crab in Red Hook are doing a Spring Oyster Fest, and for $55/per person you could get unlimited beer and unlimited oysters.

Grab ticket on there site now.

www.BrooklynCrab.com
24 Reed Street
Brooklyn, NY

New York International Autoshow: Preview of New Supercars

Tomorrow The New York International Auto Show kicks off over on the West Side at the Jacob Javits Center. I like to go every year and check out what’s new, and have pipe dreams of driving out in a Ferrari. This year I am extremely excited to see the newest offerings from Aston Martin, and the revival of an old favorite, the Acura NSX.

Aston Martin will be debuting their Vulcan this year, which is a track-only supercar. This vehicle has a 7.0 liter V-12 which is pumping out over 800+ Horsepower. With a price tag of over USD 2m, easy to say I won’t be picking up one of these limited-release models available in 2016.
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Next up, one of my childhood favorites – The Acura NSX. The last time Acura showed this, it was strictly a concept that left every 90s kid with blue balls. Luckily, this is now hitting the production line. When I was younger I would see one of these, and go nuts. Back then the NSX kind of looked like a Ferrari F50, Ferrari Testarossa, and Corvette had a lovechild. Honda/Acura even used Pininfarina to design the car, hence it’s Ferrari look. The greatest thing about these First Generation models were the price, they were actually attainable for less than half the price of Ferraris, and with half the cylinders since it was powered with VTEC V6 engines.

Acura’s decision to unveil the one labeled ‘poor man’s Ferrari’ is one of the main reason I am look forward to going. The car will house a V6 engine, pumping out 500+ HP, and will be starting around 150-160K, not bad considering the Italian Alternatives.

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Dig Inn: First Time Going In Person

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So I am on this Whole30 Diet, so as you can see from my post – hasn’t been too much about going out and eating/drinking. But I assure you, there will be a bunch coming soon.

Last night before the ALT-J Concert at MSG, the four of us decided to avoid any restaurants that would make it hard to eat healthy, so we went to Dig Inn. As you know from my previous post, I love this place. However, I have never been there in person until last night. I am so used to eating it while hovering over my keyboard, and reading news articles.

We went to the location by my office on 52nd, and when we sat down it kind of reminded me of a mix of Chipotle and Bianca on Bleecker Street. Country style decor, but with a fast moving front counter.

I got my usual Mom’s Braised Beef and it was just as great as the last thousand times I ordered it. Meat cooked perfectly, with a ton of flavor. This was also the first time I tried the Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Spicy Sunflower Seeds, which is easily a new favorite. I pride myself on being a carnivore, but I literally ate every single piece of the sprouts before I even touched my meat (that doesn’t sound right).

I really cannot stress how much I love Dig Inn, and how much I now look forward to stepping away from my Bloomberg Terminal to actually take a lunch break.

Souvlaki GR: Great Greek Food in LES

Over the past few years I have walked past Souvlaki GR a couple dozen times and never thought much about it. The other night before heading to a concert at Mercury Lounge we decided to book a table and eat some Greek.

When we walked into the restaurant I was really surprised by the decor. The place looks like you are sitting in an alley way of an Aegean Island. Really cool idea, and I guarantee I could have fool some people if I took a picture from the right angle of us eating at our table.

We started off with two bottles of wine, one Rose and one white. I decided to go with a beer and ordered a Red Donkey, which is Red Ale produced by Santorini Brewing Company. This is a great beer, which was well balanced, and had a bit of bitterness on the backend. Order two more before the meal was done.

There were eight of us, so we decided to order a bunch of appetizers for the table – and every single one of them was amazing. We started with the Mezedes – and ordered three spreads: Hummus, Melitzanosalata (Eggplant), and Tzatziki. This came with a bunch of pita, and all the spreads were great, definitely recommend all three. We then moved to Spanakopita (Spinach Pie) and Tyropita (Cheese Pie). Classic Greek dishes, which were executed perfectly. We also ordered a few salads, Horiatiki (Traditional Greek Salad) and Revidosalata (Chickpea Salad). I personally did not try the salads as I didn’t want to waste any room in my stomach on non-meat items. Apparently the salads were great, and the three girls ordered them as entrees as well and added shrimp and/or chicken. We also order a large order of Lamb Chops for the table. This was my first time ordering anything legal by the kilo, just kidding, and the 2.2 pounds of meat came with about 18 pieces of lamb on the bone. This was charcoal grilled & marinated with greek salt & extra virgin olive oil. After racking up a dish of bones in front of me, I realized this was the best lamb I have had in a long time. The dish was simple and authentic, tasting just like it did while in Croatia. The use of charcoal, salt, and evoo disproves the need for any god damn green mint jelly. For my main I got the Pork Souvlaki Pita, which were delicious. I only ordered one, which although small, was the perfect size considering how much we ordered prior. For $6, which is a great price, you get a choice of chicken or pork with tomato, red onions, fries & tzatziki. Also, we ordered a few platters of Greek Fries that were unreal. They were hand cut fries sprinkled with feta. They were crispy, they were salty, they were awesome.

As mentioned above, everything was awesome. But the items I suggest the most were the Souvlaki Pita, Fries, Lamb, Hummus, and Eggplant Dip. Next time your girlfriend says she wants to goto Greece, take her here…

Brinkley’s: Chicken Pot Pie Awesomeness

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I have been going to Brinkley’s for close to 5 years now. I even moved as close as possible to it, on the same block and a mere 0.1 miles from it. Not only do I love their beer selections, but they have great food as well.

I have had everything from their duck fat fries, to black garlic humus, to the lobster club. I even would say they have one of the best burgers in the neighborhood, along with Randolph’s. Over the thousands of hours drinking local beers, slurring words, and dropping beer on their black and white checkered floor – I never noticed they have a Chicken Pot Pie on the menu.

The Chicken Pot Pie is a special, and only served on Monday – which may cause issues with my current drinking schedule being that Monday is my off day/recovery day.

The CPP is done with Puff Pastry, Poached Chicken & Seasonal Veggies in Béchamel. When it gets to the table, it is still in the hot cast iron skillet and the size of my head. About 10 inches in diameter, I could have used this thing to play Kan Jam. Instead, I poked my fork through the puff pastry into the gooey filling and burnt the fuck out of my mouth. I have been alive for twenty-eight years, and I still have not learned to let things cool down before eating. Although I singed off a good portion of my taste buds, I was able to tell this CPP had some awesome flavors. The mix of the peas and carrots with the butteriness of the roux blended together perfectly. The pie also had generous chunks of chicken, you can tell it was chopped off the breasts of the Kate Upton of chickens. With the meal I decided to drink some Empire Amber Ale, which made a great pairing. The biscuity and caramel sweetness, mixed with the piney/hoppy bitterness on the backend.

Get over your case of the Mondays (next Monday), take the 6 Train down to Spring Street, and get some Chicken Pot Pie. Also, wash it down with an Empire Amber Ale.

Barraca: Tapas That Was Okay…

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The other night we went to dinner with my fiancé’s friends – and were supposed to goto Rubirosa, but they couldn’t accommodate us. We choose to get some tapas, and coming down from my high of Saturday Nights Toro Trip, I was excited to crush some small plates. They chose Barraca, which is owned by the Quimeria Group – also own Macondo and Rayuela. So I did what any normal food obsessed person would do, and checked around a few websites to see how the food. Saw a bunch of 4s out of 5, and a 21 on Zagat.  So I was looking forward to giving it a shot, and embarrass Nicole while I eat like a beast in front of her friends.

Once we got on to Greenwich, I knew exactly what place it was. Feel like I passed a couple hundred times, usually going to and from the Meatpacking District. Place has some nice curb appeal, decorated nicely with some plants in the windows. Once you walk in, you see the bar area which was pretty busy – large glass containers filled with their multiple types of sangria concoctions. While in the bar area we were smelling the dishes as they were coming out of the kitchen – in my head I took mental note of what items I should order.

Once we sat, the waiter gave us both their regular menu and Restaurant Week menu. Knowing we would like to do multiple dishes, we decided to go with the regular menu. The girls ordered a pitcher of sangria, and the guys ordered Mahou because Barraca ran out of Estrella. This was actually a nice change, I haven’t had Mahou since my Madrid trip two years ago and always choose Estrella when I see it.

We then began the ordering, and I tried to mask my excitement when everyone ask me to order a few things. We held onto the menus to order again after the first round of items came. The excitement started to drift away once I tasted the food, it wasn’t bad – but it wasn’t great. It was, ‘okay’ at best. Thinking it was just me, I asked Nicole and she described it as ‘just okay’ as well. The best part I would say was the Idiazabal cheese – which says a lot considering I am not a big cheese person.

Below is some of the items we ordered:

The Good

  • Charcuterie Board: We chose Jamon Serrano, Manchego, and Idiazabal. Everything was good, with the smokiness of the Idiazabal making it really standout as my favorite.
  • Suquet: grilled monkfish, clams, mussels, artichokes, shrimp, almond ‘picada’. This was good, went pretty fast since there was five of us. The fish was good, and enjoyed the broth.

The Okay

  • Patatas Bravas: Crispy home fries spicy tomato sauce, and aioli. Pretty good, definitely not as great as the Patatas Bravas at Toro.
  • Croquetas De Jamon: Croquettes with Seranno ham. Its pretty much impossible to mess up a croquette, its potato and fried. Was good, definitely nothing special.
  • Datiles con Bacon: dates wrapped in bacon with blue cheese.
  • Carne a La Brasa: Skirt Steak, salsa verde, fingerling potatoes, roasted shallot, and crispy kale. Was cooked nice and red on the inside, wish I would have ordered this solely for myself.

The Disappointing

  • Calamar a la Plancha: Grilled squid, and possibly one of the worst octopus dishes I have ever had. The presentation looked great, long tentacles with peppers. One bite into it, kind of wish I didn’t. Coming from the Octopus Plancha the other night at Toro, Barraca’s version was extremely disappointing. The seasoning was totally off, some pieces with Mediterranean spices but kind of just tasted like someone threw Frank’s Red Hot Sauce on it.
  • Canelon de Pato: tube pasta filled with duck, duck liver, orange, and manchego cheese. This was pretty bad as well, kind of felt like these were pre-stuffed and sat in a fridge for a while until some unlucky prick ordered it. I would stay away if you end up going to Barraca.

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.

 

Toro NYC: Tapas, Octopus, Paella, and Churros

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I knew from the beginning, it would be extremely hard to beat last years Valentines Day dinner at Carbone. But, I had a good feeling Toro might be able to do it – or at least get close. Toro definitely impressed me, and I already want to go back.

Last summer we went to Boston for a music festival called Boston Calling. This was held on Memorial Day weekend and included bands such as Bastille, The Neighbourhood, Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie, Jack Johnson and Brand New. Before going I spoke to some friends for recommendations – everyone came back mentioning Toro. While eating brunch the next morning at The Beehive (Great Place to check out) the bartender also said “Do not leave Boston until you goto Toro.” So we decided to call up, book a reservation and were told that is not possible. So we decided, let’s go for brunch. While there, we ordered up a storm. We started with the olives, foie gras, patatas bravas, escalivada catalana, and finished the apps up with an order of jamon serrano. We then moved to some egg dishes (since it was around 11:00) and moved to the creme de la creme, duck prosciutto and an order of Asada de Huesos aka Bone Marrow with Oxtail. As you can see from my reviews on Minetta Tavern and Charlie Bird, I hold the marrow from Toro in high regard.

When we got back to Manhattan we all said we need to make it a point to goto Toro over in Chelsea. With everyone’s busy schedules, it seemed difficult to get everyone together to book a reservation. So, I said fuck it – Nicole and I are going for Valentine’s Day. Since the day I made the reservation, I kept thinking about the absurd amount of dishes I would be ordering. Removing the romantic aspects of the day and replacing them with a gluttonous sloppy feast. As we were running around doing errands in the neighborhood, I made us stop at Alidoro to get a sandwich early – and avoid ruining my appetite.

We arrived for our reservation, and once we walked in through the maze of wind-blocking tunnels, I was amazed by the size and decor of the restaurant. There we definitely a nice amount of aspects from their Boston location, such as exposed brick, distressed wood, and open ceilings showing the HVAC system. But, they definitely threw a New York/Meat Packing vibe into the mix, which was beautiful. We spoke with the hostess, which didn’t catch her name, but she was extremely nice and she walked us over to our table. Once we sat down, and looking around, I heard the great soundtrack – some songs of Nas’ Illmatic, some Tribe Called Quest – once again, similar to Charlie Bird, it was awesome to hear some hip-hop with amazing food.

The waiter came over, and we ordered our drinks. Nicole mentioned she was looking for something similar to a Pinot Noir, and he recommended two different ones. Initially she ordered the Bodegas Ponce ‘Pino’ Bobal, which she really enjoyed. After she wet with the Cvne Real, which was a little more Old World and earthy – another winner. I went with the Estrella (couple of Estrella) followed by a Smuttynose ‘Brown Dog Ale’ with dessert.

After the first round of drinks came, we placed our order. I gave the waiter a disclaimer to stop me if ordered to much – but then disregarded it and decided to surpass his ‘rule of thumb’ of 6 plates per two people. Here is our order:

  • Pan Con Tomate: Toasted bread with tomato, garlic, Spanish olive oil and sea salt. This dish was so basic, but the pureness of it brought me back to Barcelona. I highly recommend this as a great way to start, and won’t fill you up to much for the other items on the menu.
  • Tuna Tartare: The most amazing thing about this is the way it is listed on the menu “tuna tartare with stuff that we really like“. I mean, come on – how can you not order that? The tuna is served in a anchovies tin – and was delicious. I wanted to order the Tuna Belly initially, and might go with that next time, but the tartare was good.
  • Jamon de Pato: which is aged duck prosciutto, which was great. Nice mix of fat/meat, and was really nice. Tasted even better when I threw it on my Pan con Tomate ***Make that happen***.
  • ColesBrussels sprouts with olive oil and maldon salt. Probably some of the best brussels I had in a long time.
  • Costilla de Carne: Braised beef rib with pigeon peas, farro, and persimmons. This was one of those dishes you will be scraping the dish with your fork, picking up every last molecule of the items. The ribs were nicely cooked, and went extremely well with the farro and peas. I would suggest this if you want some red-meat, but don’t want to fill up on ordering the Chuleta de Buey – which is the 40 Day Dry Aged Rib-eye. **Order this dish**
  • PulpoGalician octopus with potatoes and charred onions. This was one of the best pieces of octopus I have ever tasted. Additionally, I would like to see the size of the octopus this tentacle was cut off – as I immediately yelled in my head, in Liam Neeson’s voice, “Unleash the Kraken!” If I were to take the time to straighten out the tentacle and measure it, I would say it would be 12 inches, thats what she said. Instead, we began to cut this into chunks and devour the Galician Greatness. At first taste I got a bit of a sweet tangy taste, but once I bit threw the charred outside and into the tender inside, I picked up a smokey taste – possible paprika. The potatoes were delicious, kind of looked like mini caramelized scallops and went nicely with the onions and tentacle. Hard to compare with the pulpo from Charlie Bird Noodle Pudding, Rubirosa, or Peasant – since those are more Italian style. This octopus is extremely unique, and I would definitely say this is some premium pulpo,  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS DISH ****
  • Paella Langostino: Lobster and black summer truffle paella. This was the final item of our order, and since we ordered a lot, and I had full intentions of ordering dessert, I decided to go with the half order. This was a great choice, the pan that comes out is a great size for two people who just ate a ton of tapas. The paella was moist, and full of flavor. I highly recommend ordering the half size, which at $45 isn’t too bad considering it is a large portion with lobster and black truffle.
  • Dessert: The semifreddo was good, however the CHURROS WERE AMAZING. These were by far the best churros I have ever had – better than Barcelona, Madrid, and anywhere in Manhattan. They had the perfect blend of cinnamon-sugar, kind of like taking the bottom of the cereal bag of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It came with a chocolate dipping sauce, which is not even needed. Trust me, Order these Churros.

Prince Street Pizza: Home of the Original Soho Square

The wedding is booked, the dress is bought – we deserve to eat like fat asses. This past Friday we decided to hang out in the apartment, due to the mild 9 Degree weather. While watching Better Call Saul we were determined to order pizza – just didn’t know from where. We were between Toby’s, Rubirosa (would of had to pick up), Piacere, Prince Street, or L’asso. The Struggle is Real. After debating the choices, and personifying the issue of First World Problems, we mutually agreed we watched a Sicilian Pie (Square to all you non New Yorkers).

When getting a square pie in Manhattan, I really think there is no better place to get it than Prince Street Pizza. I came across this gem when one of my traders who used to live in Noho said to me in disgust “You have never been to Prince Street?” I have now reformed my ways, and have been there/ordered about 10 times. The truth is, once you crave a square pie – there is no chance of not getting one. Additionally, everyone is looking to make the perfect round pie – that everyone over looks the square. That is not the case at Prince Street. They even refer to themselves as the home of ‘The Original Soho Square Pie.’

The last time we went there it was 11:00 on a Saturday night, drunk from a friends’ all you can eat sushi / all you can drink sake parties. After going out, we Irish exited to make it to Prince Street in time. I definitely over ordered for the two of us, but once we got back to the apartment we were in pizza heaven. This Friday, I some how over ordered again (surprise) and we wound up ordering 2 Prince Street Perfection slices, 2 Mercer Margherita slices, and 3 Spicy Spring slices. Also, felt the need to order two orders of Prosciutto Rice Balls, with two dipping sauces of pesto and vodka. I did try to order the Broadway Breadcrumb but they were sold out, which is the second time this happened, starting to feel like it’s not meant to be. When it was all said and done, the only thing that was left over was two slices and an overwhelming feeling that I should really start this wedding diet. The next morning when I left my room to goto the bathroom, Nicole found me sitting on my kitchen cabinet stuffing the remains of the Mercer Margherita down my gullet – it was not my finest moment.

Below are a few of the items I highly suggest. You will notice it is pretty much the whole menu, with the exception of the round pie – which one day I will try.

Prince Perfection Pie signature square. fresh mozzarella cheese and our secret sauce.

Mercer Margherita Pie thin crust. fresh mozzarella cheese, basil and marinara sauce.

Spicy Spring Pie fra diavalo sauce, spicy soppressata and fresh mozzarella cheese.

Stuffed Prosciutto Balls ricotta & mozzarella cheeses and prosciutto.

Sicilian Rice Balls With Beef & Peas beef, rice, peas and marinara sauce.

Neapolitan Rice Balls mozzarella & romano cheeses and rice.

Prince Street Pizza
27 Prince St (btwn Mott and Elizabeth)
New York, NY 10012

Charlie Bird: Even Better The Second Time Around

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This past Friday night, I had an 8:30 reservation at Charlie Bird. As you know from my previous article on The Bird – than you know I am a little obsessed with the place. I chose to go here for a small family dinner, both my sister, her boyfriend, and my cousin never ate here – and they were all probably sick of me asking them “Have you gone to Charlie Bird yet?” So I reached out to the team, and they booked me the reservation – and since that day I have been salivating, patiently waiting to eat their delicious food.

Friday morning came around, while at work I ordered lunch at 11:00 and ate a turkey burger on a whole wheat wrap from Certe. I wanted my stomach to be empty for the reservation, nine-and-a-half hours later. I literally sat at my desk punching keyboard keys, with a jovial smile of a kid on Christmas Morning. Now is it normal to get so excited for a restaurant you have been to twice, to most people probably NO, but for me 100%.

We got to the restaurant at 8:20, with my party already at the bar, and the host escorted us to our table. From the minute I walked in I re-remembered one of best  non-food features of Charlie Bird – the soundtrack. Where else can you enjoy fine-dining while listening to Black Street’s No Diggity. Another great feature, the staff. Everyone who works there seems to be extremely happy, and love their job. This definitely carries over to how they handle their guests. From the hosts, to the waiters, to the coat check – excellent service.

Now to the food. To start the meal, and to give these Charlie Bird virgins the true experience – I ordered the Octopus Saltimbocca, Farro Salad, and Razor Clams. We also ordered the Burrata Toast, Lamb Belly, and Bone Marrow. The Octopus was possibly even better than the two previous times I had it. The pieces of tentacles were large, cooked perfectly with a nice char on the outside skin. The prosciutto crispy, and sprinkled along the dish in flakes. Once the octopus was all gone I literally scraped the plate and go every last ceci bean and ounce of sauce like a teenager having the munchies for the first time. The Farro Salad, was great since it had some of the aspects I had while at Charlie Bird over the summer – but with a nice fall/winter twist, roasted pumpkin. To think I went 28 years of my life without eating farro, to eating it for the first time at Charlie Bird – and then craving it ever since – crazy. The razor clams, also were a bit different due to the season. They had fennel and pickeled chili, and were delicious. On to the rest of the appetizers, which were my first time trying. The bone marrow was delicious, and equally as good as Minetta Tavern and Toro, maybe better. The bone marrow was done with anchovies and lemon, but the true highlight was the rich butteriness of the marrow. I think, and still am pretty sure, that I was the only one who ate it – and I devoured every last bit of fatty goodness out of the cavity of the bone. Should also note, the bread they give to spread onto was amazing as well. Next up, the Burrata Toast. I personally am sick and tired of Burrata. Every restaurant has it listed on their specials board every week – and act like they are doing something different from every other place. It’s generally, all the same. However, this Burrata was out if this world. From the first bite it took me back to eating it at one of the stands in the Plaza de San Miguel in Madrid. The cheese was fresh and creamy, with some earthiness from the chanterelles mixed perfectly. Last, my certainly not least, the Lamb Belly, which was done with parsnips and salsa verde. The meat had a nice balance of fat/flavor, if it was a little larger, I would order this as a main course. I have to say, in all the places I have been over the past few months – this might have been the best ordering I have done in a long time. Every dish was amazing, the only issue I was left with was trying to figure out my favorite.

On to the main courses. Out of the five of us two people got the pork shoulder, one bass, one chicken, and I went with the rib eye. We will start with the pork, which got rave reviews from the table, which was done with salsa verde and heirloom beans. My sisters boyfriend, who just spent a few hours on a plane, finished the entire plate with in 3 minutes. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to try this, but I will take his word for it that it was a great dish. The black bass, with broccoli raab, spiced carrots, and citrus au jus was great. The fish was cooked great, with a buttery light taste. The chicken, as you have probably read on every website, is amazing. I could definitely say, with complete confidence, this is the best chicken in all of Manhattan and the five boroughs. I always say it’s a sin to order chicken at a restaurant considering most of them taste the same, or are dried out. Believe the hype, the chicken at Charlie Bird is absolutely amazing. Additionally I would also say the portion was definitely bigger than the fish and pork, so if hungry and between the three – go with the chicken.

For my main course, I was torn between the pork and steak. Going last in the ordering rotation, and seeing that two of the five ordered the pork, I felt the rib eye was definitely the better decision. I could always try their pork (or so I thought) and the server Kalen told me the steak is absolutely delicious, so the Ribeye was the winner. Once the dish came out, I couldn’t believe I ever thought about not getting it. The ribeye, which of course I ordered medium-rare, came out with a chunk of anchovy-butter on top and duck fat potatoes on the bottom. I will say if you are like me, and are not big on anchovies, do not shy away from this dish. Additionally, if you wanted I am sure you could probably get it on the side – but it was so good. The heat from the steak melted he butter, and the saltiness of the anchovy coated the steak. The nicely charred exterior and pinkish-red inside, was so delicious it made steaks I have had recently seem subpar. I really, and truly, am holding this as my new standard for how all steak should be. You could goto Sparks, Ruth Chris, Del Frisco’s, Delmonico’s … and they are all cooked the same, delicious, but the same. Try something different, get with the new age of culinary greatness, and save the old fashion steakhouse for when you fifties – referring to a night out in Manhattan as ‘Date Night’…

Charlie Bird
5 King Street
New York, NY 10012
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Kuma Inn: Filipino Food in the Lower East Side (BYOB)

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Almost exactly two years ago, my cousin told us to meet her on the LES for dinner. She told us before we came to pick up wine and beer, as we were going for BYOB Filipino Food. It was Friday and the streets were filled with the usual hipsters and frat boys, and we made our way through the crowds to a little red door next to Los Feliz. Once we trekked up the stairs, we pretty much found ourselves in an Asian Families living room. We sat in the waiting area, with our four bottles of wine – for four people, and I looked at all the press/reviews framed on the wall.  It has a Zagat rating of 25 for Food, which is pretty impressive  (12 for decor lol), and pretty good reviews from NY Times, Timeout New York, and Gothamist.

I do not remember much of that night, probably due to the one bottle of wine per person, but that was the night I agreed to move into Manhattan. Now, my two year lease is up – funny how things came full circle.

Last night as we walked over, and walking up the stairs – kind of felt like that scene in Beer Fest when they find the Underground Beer Olympics. This time, we were under prepared with only 3 bottles of wine for the six of us, we began looking over the menu. Like floor brokers on the NYSE in the 80s, we began yelling out our orders. At one point the waitress, was a little overwhelmed an walked away, and then came back.

Here was the order, and keep in kind that the dishes are tapas style.

Lechon: deep–fried pork belly lechon kawali with atchara. Probably one of my favorite dishes of the night. The pork belly was tender underneath the crispy skin. We ordered two dishes, the portions are a nice size for the lechon, and it disappeared pretty quickly.

Sausage: sautéed chinese sausage with thai chili-lime sauce. Definitely my second favorite dish. The sausage was crispy on the outside (Kind of like the pepperoni at Prince Street Pizza) and the sauce was great. I generally stay away from spicy things that have the word ‘chili’ in them – but the sauce was well balanced with a kick.

Seared Ahi Tuna: seared perfectly with nice rare inside. Good dish, tuna picks up some heat from the Thai chili and some nice flavors from the miso vinaigrette.

Tuna Tartare: Yellow fin served raw over rice noodles

Rice Crepes: steamed and pan-fried topped with kuma pork bolognese.

Pork Bun: Pretty good, comes two in an order. Definitely not the best I have ever had, but I scarfed it down.

Octopus: grilled baby octopus with pickled bamboo shoots. Wasn’t cooked right, a little rubbery.

Wings: chicken wing adobo, rice vinegar, garlic and soy. Didn’t get to try them, they flew off the table too quickly. From the looks on everyone’s faces, they seemed great.

Kuma Inn
113 Ludlow Street
New York, NY 10012

Momofuku Classes: Best Gift You Can Get Your Significant Other (Trust Me)

So for Christmas I bought my fiancé, and my two little cousins, classes to goto Momofuku Milk Bar. Unless you have been living under a rock, I will assume you know what Momofuku is – if not, I guess I can try to explain. Momofuku was created by David Chang, and their Milk Bar is probably one of the best creations known to man. They take classic desert items, and put their own crazy twist to it, and the end product is fucking amazing. So wouldn’t it be nice to have these snacks whenever you like – thats where my idea formed. BUY THIS CLASS for your girlfriend, wife, mistress, someone else’s wife … JUST DO IT. At the end of the day, you will be the one reaping all the benefits.

The classes will cost you $95/per person and I definitely suggest grabbing the Milk Bar Cookbook, so she can make these items whenever she (you) would like. Just in time for Valentines Day, I just gave you one of the best options ever. Also, even if she wants you to go with here – its not that bad, and they serve Brooklyn Lager during the class. The minute we got done with the class, both my fiancé and cousins were going on about how they can’t wait to make crack pie, cakes, truffles …etc.

Go to their link, Classes @ Momofuku Milk Bar, and look at their schedule and I can guarantee she will be extremely happy, but more importantly you are the true winner. The classes are in their Williamsburg Location, and last about 2 hours.

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Forty Four @ The Royalton Hotel: Best Old Fashion Ever

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Back around the holiday’s we were invited by LARGE BANK to goto their Client Appreciation Night at Forty Four in The Royalton Hotel. The Morgan Hotel Group definitely did not skimp on the decor of this hotel lobby, with their 20 Foot Fireplace and sunken lounge areas, this is definitely a nice place to grab a drink after work. This is the second year in a row the LARGE BANK decided to host this event there, and although I found this to lack an originality – I found the hidden gem of Midtown West.

Their Hickory Old Fashion 2.0 keeps me coming back to this venue. This made with Bulleit Bourbon, Black Dirt Applejack, Crown Royal Maple, honey water served over a large block of ice and garnished with the smoke of a cherry wood chip. Before they serve the drink, they light a piece of cherry wood and capture the smoke in a glass – covering the drink, which traps the smoke. After a few moments, they release the top cup, and serve the drink (Video Here). From the second you put that cup to your nose, you get the smell of that sweet cherry wood smoke. The taste, is fucking superb! I have had Old Fashions all over New York City, including Brooklyn Bars that specialize in the art form – i.e. Rye in Williamsburg, and Forty Four definitely has THE BEST OLD FASHION in all of New York. If you feel you have something better, please let me know. Until then, I will be getting some second-hand smoke from my Bulleit Bourbon.

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Balthazar: Most Disappointing Dinner in Months

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For the past few years I would walk by Balthazar on almost a daily basis. When I didn’t walk by it, I could see the red awnings on the corner of Crosby and Spring as I was running to/from the 6 Train. The place is always bustling, usually with people hanging outside by the entrance waiting for tables. Even when you are not in Soho, it is have to avoid the Balthazar, with their trucks driving around NYC. So last night I made two reservations, one at Saxon + Parole and one at Balthazar. Both have been places I wanted to try for a while, and after eating I regretted my decision.

The Good:

I will start with the waitress’s (Pepper) knowledge of the drink menu. For my first beer, she suggested their Balthazar Ale, which was pretty good. She mentioned it was similar to a Bass – and she was dead on. Always like to try restaurant/bar’s proprietary beers. Not really into the Pale Ale style, but I enjoyed it – however $11.00 for their own beer is a little on the high side. In terms of local Soho Restaurant Beers think Toby’s Public House’s Toby’s Cheap Ale is the better move, and half the price. For the wine, my fiancé asked for something similar to Cab Sav, and the waitress suggested Haut-Medoc, which she really enjoyed.

The fries were really good – which makes sense since this is owned by the same group that owns Minetta Tavern.

The Okay:

For one of our appetizers we chose the Kabocha Squash Risotto, which was served with duck ham, heirloom apples, mascarpone cheese, and pumpkin seed gremolata. This has nice chunks of duck, and all the ingredients went together nicely. The second appetizer we ordered was Chestnut and Ricotta Agnolotti with caramelized fennel, country ham, candied orange zest, and brown butter. This dish was okay, kind of like thinner rectangular raviolis but the orange zest was a little too stronger and overpowered the rest of the flavors. One thing I found strange was that the dishes came out almost within minutes of ordering – which leads me to believe these are pre-made and then just heated up, which if so WHY THE HELL ARE YOU CHARGING $21.00/20.00 per APPETIZER?

One of the mains we ordered the Skate, which was pretty large. My fiancé enjoyed it, came with raisins and pine nuts, which can make anything good.

The Disappointing: 

The Duck Confit! I read so many great things about this online, the waitress said it was great … and I  was really disappointed. The meat, which came over potatoes and mushrooms, was extremely dried out. The skin has no real crisp to it, the only flavor I got from it was burnt dry meat. What made it even worse was I was – I was really looking forward to eating good duck. Over the past few months I have had duck at Dirty French, Gramercy Tavern, PUBLIC, Tao Downtown, Hakkasan – all of which were delicious. After reading all the great things people had to say online, and then trying it – I can only guess maybe it was an off day?

The Bread! One of the other things I was really looking forward to was the famous Balthazar Bread. Their bread is highly regarded as some of the best in the city, so why not get excited. The bread came, my eyes light up, and the taste fell flat. It was nothing special at all. In comparison to somewhere like Il Buco, Peasant …etc Balthazar’s bread was subpar.

The Bill

So for the two glasses of wine, two beers, two appetizers, side of fries, two main courses, and one of their deserts – we are talking $201.00 before tip. I would have much rather spent this elsewhere, and I do not recommend Balthazar to anyone. Don’t buy into the hype, there are dozens of better restaurants in the neighborhood – skip Balthazar.

BareBurger: One of My Weekly Goto Seamless Orders

Over the past year, I have been ordering Bareburger on a weekly basis – but lately, its been more of a twice per week obsession. If I look at my order history on Seamless, its pretty much a shrine to the organic burger chain. It turns out I am not the only one in love with this place, but Zagat voted it in their 10 Best Burgers in NYC list for 2011-2014, and they have been Michelin Recommended for those years as well. Since their first location in Astoria, they now have 18 locations – and luckily for me, their La Guardia Place location delivers to me.

One of the reasons why Bareburger is amazing, their menu can make even the most picky eaters happy. Generally, when I order “My Usual” (details below) – my fiancé has choice between their multiple salads, sandwiches, turkey burgers, or veggie burger. This is clutch considering she does not like red-meat, and only had her first burger in ten years a few months back while at Minetta. This really makes Bareburger and easy option for us.

The second reason, you have the opportunity to eat healthy – without compromising taste. Their food is rarely ever greasy, and which different options on the menu you can make you own choices including protein, bread, cheese, sauce, veggies, etc. Also, when I am eating one of their healthy options, i.e Turkey Burger, I do not feel guilty ordering the FRY & ONION RING COMBO. If you have never had their onion rings and fries, you are an idiot. I have often realized, no matter how great a fried food is, it never transports well – by the time it comes, its soggy and losses the texture you want. Not the case with Bareburger, their fries and onion rings come *almost* as crispy as they would be if you ate them in their locations. For dipping sauces, this is a big decision I cannot solve for you – I prefer the Red Pepper Pesto, and good old fashion Ketchup.

With the upcoming nuptials, and the sad realization that I need to eat more healthy – I have been creating my own burger. I also strongly believe Bareburger should name this burger after me, maybe The HedgeFun NY Burger, but it consists of: Turkey Patty, Bison Patty, Avocado, and Caramelized Onions on a Whole Wheat Wrap. This is such an awesome combination I literally find myself looking forward to going home and ordering this – I am a sick loser, but it is awesome.

If you have never had BareBurger, definitely give it a try. If you have had it before, you know exactly what I am talking about. Great quality ingredients leads to great food.

Piacere: Real Pizza, How its Made in Italy

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About a two years ago, a new Italian place opened up right next door to Randolph’s Broome – which made me feel compelled to test out. So I decided to try it, multiple times, and then sometimes order it via Seamless – all in the name of research. The conclusion, the pizza is made and taste exactly how the pizza in Italy tastes. It comes fresh out the brick oven, with a thin, bubbly, crispy crust with fresh ingredients on top of it. The pies are individually sized, and the crust is so light – you do not feel overly full from eating a pie, so you can definitely eat one more.

Starting with their Appetizers, the best is definitely Polpo & Patate: Octopus w/ Potatoes, olive oil and parsley. The octopus is always perfectly cooked, not rubbery and the seasoning is not overdone or overpowering. This is definitely one of my favorite octopus dishes in NYC, just below Charlie Bird’s Octopus. If you go, ORDER THIS DISH. Another good choice, is their Burrata, which I hate to admit because I am sick of every waiter in NYC Waiter describing what the fuck burrata is. Their burrata comes with speck and arugula, which are two of my favorite things. The speck has a nice smoked flavor that makes this a great dish.

For the pastas, you cannot go wrong with the Linguine and Clams – but my favorite is the Cannelloni. The Cannelloni is pretty similar to manicotti, stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella w/ tomato basil sauce. If you had to choose one pasta, you could always get Linguine w/ clamsGET THE CANNELLONI.

Now to the Pizza. As I mentioned early, this is some of the most authentic pizza there is. My favorite, which is also one of my favorite pizzas in the world – The Affumicata. This pie not only has the smoked speck, but also smoked mozzarella w/ spinach. You have the double smokiness from the meat/cheese, and then the excellent flavor the pie picks up from the brick oven makes eat bite amazing. So when waiter comes over, you better make sure you remember this and ORDER THIS PIZZA. If you don’t like this pie, and think I steered you wrong – I will fight you.

Here are a few honorable mentions, I think 99% of the population would like:

  • Robiola Piacere : robiola cheese, arugula, prosciutto, and white truffle oil.
  • San Daniele: fresh tomato, mozzarella cheese, arugula, shaved parmesan cheese & prosciutto.
  • Bufalina: fresh tomato, basil & bufalo mozzarella cheese.
  • Calabrese: tomato, mozzarella cheese, roast peppers, onions & spicy sausage.

 

Claw Daddy’s: Cajun/Creole Crabs and Crawfish

As you can tell by now, I hate going to the same place multiple times – unless they have exceptional and original food. This Friday was my 4th time going to Claw Daddy‘s, so it is safe to say they fall into this category. Even though it was my fourth time, I was equally excited as the other 3 times going. With the exception of The Boil, which is down the block there is really not many places that specialize in crab legs. Yes, you can go up to Hooter’s on 57th but chances are you will get better crabs from the waitress.

We went over to Claw Daddy’s early to meet some friends, and we made it there for Happy Hour (5:30-7:30). They have $1 Blue Point Oysters and Buffalo Wings, $4 Draft Beers (great list), $5 Wine, and $6 Cocktails – pretty awesome way to start off a Friday. So we started off with dozen Blue Points and a Dozen Wings. Wings were great, crispy and spicy – had them last time I went and decided these were a necessity. The Blue Points were okay, not a big Blue Point fan – so my judgement could be off. Than again, $1 per Oyster – which is the size of my Little League baseball cup, is cool. We than ordered one of their Specials, Squid Ink Fired Rice – which was dope. Few slices of calamari mixed in white the rice and squid ink, which is given to you in pretty much a frozen yogurt to go cup. We than decided to order a dozen Kumamoto (my favorite type of Oyster) and Fried Oysters. The Fried Oysters were so good, we ordered another order – and then contemplated ordering a third order. They were crispy with the right amount of salt, brought me back to New Orleans. Then to end the appetizer session, which was a bit aggressive – we order the Oysters Rockefeller. As if we didn’t have enough oysters or enough food, this was not necessary. But then again, oysters with practically creamed spinach is never a bad thing. When they came out I had a flash back to Dirty French or Acme Oysters. But sadly they fall short of both, not because they were bad – but because the two previous mentioned happened to be some of the best things I have ever eaten.

To the mains, which by this time we already almost full – but that didn’t stop us. We ordered the Garlic Noodles, which I ordered the first time I came – and every other time I came. Picture Lo Mein, with grated cheese, garlic, and oil. If Ramen tasted like this, I would probably actually goto more Ramen places (not into the hype). For their Louisiana Boils, this time we chose Shrimp/Snow Crab Combo and the Dungeness Crab/Craw Fish combo. VERY IMPORTANT: Be very careful to check the Market Price before ordering – one time we ordered the same thing it was $75, this time is was $50. In terms of sauce selection, I always go with the Claw Daddy Special, which is a mix of their sauces, and I go Mild. The pots come out, in a bag which seals in the flavors – along with the seafood they have the potatoes and corn basking in this Cajun Greatness. So we put on the gloves and bib (yes, this is mandatory) and went to work. Cracking the shells, tearing the caucus of the crawfish, and peeling the shrimp. At one point, caught a splash to eye from the sauce – luckily it was mild. As we were eating the bucket of shells piled up like the Bridge and Tunnel crowd at Bounce. By the time we were done, I don’t think there was one piece of seafood left. Even the piece of crawfish is dropped on my Bonobos chinos was gone since I used my fork to scoop it up and eat it.

For the drinks, as I previously mentioned they have an awesome beer’s with 10 on Draft. I usually go with the Shiner Bock, Blue Point Toasted Lager, or Fire Island Lighthouse Ale. The girls order cocktails, which since they don’t have a full bar are pretty much made with Saki. After a few of them, there were definitely feeling it.

Now to the BIG QUESTION. Is it better than The Boil over on Christie Street. My answer Yes – but here is why. Both places have great food, so on a food standpoint I would say the quality of the food is equal. Menu size is definitely larger at Claw Daddy’s. In regards to the bar aspect, The Boil has a full bar and carries the wide range of Abita – Including my Favorite Abita Amber, where Claw Daddy’s carries Abita Purple Haze. But the thing that makes me Love Claw Daddy’s, is they take reservations! The Boil is absurd, and the last time I tried to go there, which was a Wednesday, the wait was an hour. Since Claw Daddy’s opened I have refused to even attempt The Boil, why be cramped and wait ridiculous times when you could have a bigger menu, great food, and nicer waitstaff? That being said, if you were to ask me which one to goto Claw Daddy’s – hands down.

Below are a few appetizers/sides I have had, and that I think you should try. In terms of the Boil Pots, you cant go wrong any which way you choose. Its all about the seafood preference, but they are all amazing.

  • Garlic Noodles: Read Above, Definitely Get These.
  • Deep Fried Oysters: Read Above, Definitely Order Also.
  • Brussel Sprouts: Never Thought I would say this, but really good and filled with garlic.
  • Cajun Fries: Sweat Potato Fries with Cajun Seasoning, you can’t go wrong DEFINITELY ORDER.

Parm: Super Bowl Catering

What is the best way to throw a Super Bowl Party, ordering Parm to your party. They have recently put out their catering menu, and I have already sent in my order to party@parmnyc.com. Check out their menu below, but since they come with ten rolls per tray I ordered 1 Tray of Meatball, Chicken, and Eggplant Parm. Don’t be a bad host, place your order and pick up some good beers to wash down the mozzarella and red-sauce.

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Roberta’s: This is Probably Going to Be Controversial

Roberta's Restaurant Bushwick

So a few months back, I went over to Bushwick and decided to see what all the Roberta’s hype was about. My cousin, happens to work there, so we figured we would go while she was working and we had her boyfriend meet us there (who now works there also). First of all one of the best things about this place, the Action Bronson playlist. Second, it is extremely hard to tell who works there and who doesn’t. Everyone kind of just floats on by – occasionally asking if you would like something – other times you feel like an idiot because you are trying to get someone’s attention who doesn’t really work there … So after walking in, we sifted through the bar to find the right guy with a beard, mustache, and flannel shirt – and we all sat down to order a bunch of stuff.

First we ordered a bunch of appetizers:

  • Meat/Cheese Board: Good, until someone referred to one of the cheeses as tasting like a ‘foot model’s foot’  – stayed away from that one.
  • Carrots w/ Grilled Mussel and Lime: I have never seen seafood come second to a vegetable, and this truly was some of the best fucking carrots I have ever consumed. I think I was actually against ordering this at the time, considering it was a vegetable, but felt like a dick when I realized how great it was.
  • Duck Prosciutto: I mean, two of my favorite things in one, so you know I had to order it. Great shavings and perfect mix of meat/fat drizzled with some oil and served with warm bread.  Highly suggest this to anyone heading over to Roberta’s. Also, if you are with someone who refuses to try duck – make up some story ‘that it is not really duck, they just call it that because …’.
  • Orecchiette: Pig tail ragu with ‘njuda (spicey pork sausage) with ear shaped pasta. Great to order as an appetizer, before the pizza.

There were a few other dishes that my cousin brought out, all of which were outstanding. Now with this, you are probably thinking the next course, Pizza, would top all of the below. But it didn’t, for me the pizza did not come close to Rubirosa, also would have preferred the white-pie from BEST Pizza. For starters, the crust was okay – not crispy enough and more towards the undercooked soggy feel. Could have been just that night, and next time I would request the pie more well done. Second, some of the toppings are a little out there. I get it, its Brooklyn, and everything that is cool – is also artsy, and a bit avant-grade. But sometimes, you just want something simple – thats what Pizza is, simple food. It is fine to dress it up, but to an extent – adding parsnips, brussel sprouts, kale, carrots … is overkill.

Below is the Pizza we ordered, which were definitely better than average, but to me the appetizers/pasta were definitely the best part of the meal. Some of the pies below are not currently available due to them being seasonal – but they seem to be pretty popular with the Roberta’s Cult. Also, the pies are small – so feel free to order a few so you can try multiple, and see if maybe I am wrong.

  • Margherita: their most basic pie, which was my favorite of the pies.
  • Nightman: Interesting, topped with Vermont cheese, eggplant and tomato.
  • Maiz Maiz: Pizza topped with maize, definitely more towards the out-there end of the spectrum.

I am definitely going to go back to Roberta’s soon and try more of their pies – and I will keep everyone updated.

Siggy’s Good Food: Sometimes You Need to Eat Healthy

You can’t always eat Mac n’ Cheese from Mercer Kitchen, Pizza from Rubirosa, Bagel from Black Seed, and pretty much everything else I eat on a weekly basis. Yes I would love to shove a bite-size sandwich from PARM into my face or a burger from Minetta, but I will inevitably end up fat, broke, and single. Lets face it, unless you are the Fat Jewish or Zach Galifianakis – no body likes a fat person.

So I found the perfect compromise to eating healthy, and stuff that taste great. Up the block on Elizabeth Street, between Houston and Bleecker, is Siggy’s Good Food. For my Brooklyn people, don’t feel left out – there is one in Brooklyn Heights as well. They use organic and locally sourced ingredients to pump out some great food. I generally order the Herbs Beef Stew (description below) or their Beef Ragu Pasta Bowl (also below). They also have burgers, which are presumably healthy – however I feel they use a little too much of the herbs. Despite the seasoning on their burgers, my only complaint would be that they do not have online ordering, which leads to the ancient practice of calling up and ordering.

Below are a few of their items which I have had, and I highly recommend. Check them out, and let me know what you think.

  • Herbs Beef Stew: NY Farm Beef, Lean, Tender & Juicy. Slow Cooked in Mediterranean Herbs & Seasonings in Red Wine Sauce Served with Spinach & Quinoa Grain (Gluten Free)
  • Beef Ragu Pasta Bowl: Tender braised beef in herbs wine & tomato sauce with choice of pasta
  • Organic, Grass Fed Flank Steak Sandwich: with sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, green herbs vegan mayo on ciabatta hero.
  • Parsley Hummus Plate: hummus with parsley & garlic topped with paprika & extra virgin olive oil. served with crunchy ciabatta bread.

Joe’s Shanghai: Drunken Soup Dumplings

As mentioned in the previous post, Saturday went from Chinese Takeout from 69 Bayard on the couch, to drinks @ Randolph’s, to Joe’s Shanghai. Rather than go back to my apartment, opening the fridge and eating the massive amount of leftovers – we decided to attend our second Chinese Food Restaurant in one night. As you can guess, this was my first time. After downing my glass of Thirsty Dog Brewery,  we decided to head over to Joe’s Shanghai at 10:50 – they closed at 11:00. One of my buddies ran ahead to grab a table, and once we got there we were happy he did. Once we sat down a table came in after – and was turned away. So we ordered a couple dozen soup dumplings, and I patiently waited to find out what the big deal was all about. The waiter brought over the little basket, opened the top and sitting inside were these little pouches of rat pork. Trying not to make an idiot out of myself by burning my esophagus I watched the others eat first – then figured best way to eat them: put the dumpling in the spoon, poke hole so some of the soup drains out, let it sit briefly and pop the whole thing down. Instantly got angry that I never had these before – and have been missing out. The soup inside the dumpling is similar to won ton soup, but better. The mystery meat inside, delicious – next time want to order the seafood dumplings as well. But for a drunken dumpling experience, it was definitely a fun one – and ridiculously cheap. For $6.00 you get 8 Pork Soup Dumplings.

Joe’s Shanghai
9 Pell Street
New York, NY 10013

69 Bayard: First Time Eating Chinese Food in Chinatown

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Saturday was the night I finally ate some Chinese Food in Chinatown. Which was the equivalent of going out on a Thursday, and not shnapping (the art of pretending to be going to the bathroom at work in a stall while really sleeping) on a Friday. I can’t believe it took me this long, and was happy I finally sacked-up and walked over to 69 Bayard. If you have never been, the place is the epitome of Chinatown Chinese Food Restaurant. A little dirty looking, rundown, the people working only speak a few words in English – enough to order a meal. Also, 69 Bayard takes the ‘good luck’ signed dollar bills to a whole new level. The place is covered in currency – the walls, the ceiling, the doors – wall papered in bills from patrons who risked a food borne illness here. Being the first time I was here, figured might as well over order as usual – here is my order. Also, keep in mind – was taking this order out to eat on my couch – so it could have lost some of its greatness.

  • Egg Roll: Can never go wrong with this, great proportion of egg roll wrapper and stuffing.
  • Steam Dumplings: There dumplings are definitely different looking, more long shaped with a log of excess dough – really good.
  • Fried Dumplings: just like the steamed, but BETTER!
  • Chicken Chow Fun: Great, possibly best chow fun I have ever ate – was even better the next morning. The greasiness definitely coated the stomach nicely for a night of drinking.
  • Duck Lo Mein: sometimes eating the huge noodles of chow fun isn’t enough, so you need to go for the lo mein as well. Duck chunks were good, a little scarce – and the noodles were a little dry. Just needed to add a packet or two of soy sauce to bring it back to its rightful deliciousness.
  • Wor Shu Duck: First time having this, was really in a duck mood. It was good, could tell it came out straight from the kitchen once it was done it would be better. Got a little soggy and lacked the crispiness – also, this was probably due to taking it out.
  • Honey Crispy Chicken: little nuggets, about the size of your average General Tsao, and comes with a honey dipping sauce. Pretty good, once again think it could have been better if we ate it there.

Thinking it was going to be a relaxing night, we ate this on the couch while watching Ray Donovan. We were shot from the night before, and the day’s activities, and didn’t want to move before we ate – you can imagine how we felt after. Then we got some calls from our friends, who were in the neighborhood, and the night took a turn – and we ended up at Randolph’s and a few other places …

Minetta Tavern: Best Burger in the World

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So for years I have heard of the infamous Black Label Burger @ Minetta Tavern, usually in the top-five of any Best Burger list. So looking to try not only their coveted, but some other items without paying the hefty price tag – I did what anyone on the Buy Side employee  should do, mention it to one of their brokers, and they will take you. So we scheduled a lunch, invited my boss to gain some brownie points, and the two of us – and the big whigs from [BIG BANK] and headed down to Greenwich Village from our perches on Park Avenue. It was a 2:00 Reservation, and once we sat down I waited for my bosses drink order before I placed mine (always a good idea). The bank asked what we would like to start with, and with complete carte blanche we ordered up a storm. My favorite of the appetizers, Roasted Bone Marrow – until this day, the only time I have had marrow that came close to comparing was TORO Boston. Roasted to a golden perfection, with a butter texture that smeared across the toasted bread they provided. I personally would like to thank the cow that donated it’s shin bones so we could scrape the gelatinous goodness out of. Between the four of us, along with the other appetizers we ordered, we devoured 4 orders of the Roasted Bone Marrow. Now to the main event, The Black Label Burger, which as everyone knows is absolutely amazing. My first bite, I was at a loss for words. Lets start with the meat – comes from one of the finest poureyor of meats, Mr. Pat La Frieda. Prime grade meat, blend of Short Rib, Skirt, Brisket and Dry-Aged Ribeye – which is dry aged and then finished with clarified butter. The only way to show this meat the respect it deserves is to order it up Medium-Rare, anything more would be a mortal sin. The second proponent which should not be overlooked is the caramelized onions. Some say this is done in truffle oil, others the tears of orphans, whatever is in them is nothing short of culinary genius. So take the meat, then add a healthy helping of these onions – which is then place on one of the best buns I have ever consumed. One thing I do not think gets enough praise – the fries. I am a sucker for skinny fries thats are perfectly salted – especially when they are given in massive quantities.

You would think after all that I would have a sense of accomplishment to which I could then move on. Wrong, a few weeks later I took my fiancé to Minetta. We had a 6:00 Sunday Reservation, and she was a little hesitant – which probably could have been due to the fact that she hasn’t had red meat in close to a decade. We happened to be out one day, and she mentioned how much she used to love burgers and loves the smell, so if I was going to reintroduce her – I had to do it the right way.

So she ordered their Pinot Noir, which was from Oregon, and great. I ordered an Arrogant Bastard, and we began the food ordering. We went with two of their specials, and although I would have loved to have her try the marrow – I was happy enough she was ordering the Black Label Burger and trying meat. The Verdict: She liked it a lot, she ate a half – which left me eating 1 1/2  Black Label Burgers, which quickly became one of the best eating days of my life.

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Bianca: Northern Italy, Without Passing Bleecker St

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When I first moved into Nolita, people told me about a small place named Bianca. Being young and arrogant, I refused to go due to their no reservation policy. Well I was an idiot, because since I went the first time – I went two more times.

This is the food that people think about when they say they want to try Italian Food in Italy – not the shit they actually eat when they visit Rome. I have long said, cuisine that hails from Emilia-Romagna is the best. I mean this section of Italy is blessed with Parma (Yes, where prosciutto comes from) and Modena (Balsamic Vinegar), just to name a few. There is actually an episode of No Reservations where Anthony Bourdain and Michael White drive around in Ferraris (also from this region) and eat at small places – find it on Netflix.

So back on track, Bianca. When you get to Bianca you will put your name down with the person at the door, and they will most likely tell you to goto the bar next door – which I think has no name on it, and is only in business due to Bianca’s popularity. The bar has an ATM, which you may need since Bianca is cash only. Have a drink, and wait for the person from next door to grab you for your table. When you walk into Bianca, you will notice it kind of feels like you are sitting in your grandmother’s kitchen – don’t worry, she is not there waiting to hit you with a wooden spoon.

Above I mentioned the place is cash only, but I didn’t mention how reasonably priced the menu is. The last time we went, the four of us were supposed to goto Rubirosa but they were packed, and I suggested Bianca. For $200.00 total, we had 5 Appetizers, 4 Main Courses, 3 Desserts, and oh yea 2 Bottles of Nero d’Avola.

Below are some of the highlight dishes I remember from trips there – it’s actually a surprise I remember much due to the amount of wine consumed – but the food is that awesome. It is authentic Italian, which sometimes is rare to come by…

Appetizers:

  •  Gnocco Fritto: Fried piggy dough Rectangles with Imported Cold Cuts or Stracchino Cheese
  • Saute di Cone: Mussels Sauteed with White Wine and Garlic
  • Carciofi Fritti: Fried Baby Artichokes with Crispy Parsley ***DEFINITELY ORDER

Mains:

  • Ravioli di Ricotta con Burro e Salvia: Butter and Sage
  • Lasagna: Bechamel and Meat Sauce
  • Brodetto di Pesce: Adriatic Fish and Shellfish Stew
  • Starccetti di Manzo: Pan-Seared Thin Slice of Filet Mignon with Rosemary ***DEFINITELY ORDER

Bianca
5 Bleecker Street (Between Elizabeth and Bowery)
http://biancanyc.com/home.html

 

 

Toby’s Public House: Most Underrated Pizza in NYC

This Sunday I got back to my apartment from a snowboarding trip around 8:00 PM. While sitting there watching Season 2 of Ray Donovan we got hungry and I decided to order one of my favorite pies in Manhattan, possibly even all of NYC. So we went to Seamless, put in the order and within 20 minutes – buzzer rang. This was my first time ordering from Toby’s Public House, which I was worried this pie would be ruined due to it being freezing outside – but it was not, box was steaming from the heat of the brick oven. I opened the box, starred down at the work of art I ordered and breathed in the white truffle oil. So I have had a few different pies at Toby’s, including their Eggs Benedict Pizza served during Brunch – and they are all great. However my favorite, The Spinach Pie. The pizza had pecorino and mozzarella baked onto the dough, the finished with clumps of ricotta, spinach, and white truffle oil.  The crust and bottom were a nice brown, thin but not floppy (impressive since the ricotta is a heavy cheese) charred perfectly from the wood fired brick oven.

So if the Spinach Pie was enough to make you want to goto Toby’s – you need to see their beer menu. They carry over 20 Beers on Tap, including their own Toby’s Cheap Ale. Also, if you join their beer club – you receive your own mug, which the keep hung over the bar, and you get invited to their monthly private parties. When you go, ask the bartender – members come and go, and you could secure an opening – and the beer gut that will ensue.

Here are some things I have order over the past few times, definitely give them a shot:

Pizza:

PROSCIUTTO DI PARMA arugula, parmigiano reggiano, olive oil
QUATTRO STAGIONI parma cotto ham, crimini mushroom, artichoke hearts, olives
QUATTRO FORMAGGI mozzarella, gorgonzola dolce, parmigiano reggiano, pecorino toscano

Small Plates:

ARTICHOKE SPINACH DIP parmigiano, pecorino toscano, mozzarella
BEER BATTERED PEARL ONIONS cayenne ranch sauce
POLENTA FRIES sharp cheddar cheese-bacon (or no bacon) fondue

Toby’s Public House
86 Kenmare (Corner of Mulberry)

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Apizz: Great Italian Food in the Lower East Side

As mentioned in my article on Mercer Kitchen, I hate going to the same places and I hate ordering the same thing twice. But like I have always said, Apizz is definitely an exception to those feelings. Apizz (pronounced ah-beets) is located over on Eldridge, and one of the places I always recommend when people are looking for good Italian food around the Lower East Side. Everyone assumes they will goto dinner, and then go out after – but trust me , you will be stuffed.

The first time I went to Apizz, it was a few weekends after my fiancé and her cousins went for the first time. They all came back raving about it and telling me how much I would love it. So, I decided to book a reservation. Let me start by saying, any restaurant that brings out ricotta and sauce with their bread (Peasant and Bacaro, as well) automatically gains a spot in my favorite restaurants. So we started with a few appetizers, Apizz Rocket Pizza and Insalata di Polpo. The pizza which is about maybe 12″ long and 6″ wide, came topped with arugula, prosciutto, parmigiano, and fresh mozzarella. All the ingredients complimented each other nicely, with them definitely not skimping on the beautiful meat from Parma. The polpo was good, not my favorite surprisingly – could have just been an off day though.  Then for the mains my fiancé was torn between the Lobster Risotto and the Skate, which I could tell up until the entrees came she still was debating which was the better choice. She chose the Skate, which she had a few weeks prior when she went with the girls and couldn’t stop talking about it. The skate was filleted, with white wine, breadcrumbs, and potatoes. The fish really soaked up the lemon flavor along with the other seasonings, with the capers being a nice added touch. I have to admit, she was completely correct about how delicious this fish was – and I am not a flounder, fluke, sole ..etc kind of person. Now the waiter, who could tell she was between both dishes has the kitchen whip up a small order of the Lobster Risotto so we could try it. When I say small, it was not small – it was enough in size to be featured at another restaurant with a $40.00 price tag. The dish was amazing, creamy and possibly the best risotto I have had in ages. I still cannot believe the waiter did that for us, I really made the experience even better then it already was.

Now, my main course – which was the best gnocchi dish of 2014, the Short Rib Gnocchi. The plate of pasta is massive, so much pasta and meat it could fill up Chris Christie prior to his Lap-Band operation (also, check out the video of him celebrating Dallas’ win the other night). The sauce is so different, it only compares to sauce I had in Croatia – which they refer to as ‘dirty sauce’ due to its spreads of beef and cinnamon. The ragu is filled with the ribs, and boasts a dark red almost brown color. Each bit you taste the hints of honey used while they braise their short ribs. To describe how much I love this, and to put it into terms you would understand, I have been to Apizz three times – I ordered this as my main course ALL THREE TIMES. I can guarantee you, other than Spaghetteria Toni in Dubrovnik, you will not taste a sauce like this.

Now, as I mentioned above – I have been there three times before, below is a few dishes I think you should checkout and order.

Appetizers:

  • Pera con Prosciutto: Pears, Prosciutto, Walnuts, Shaved Parmigiano-Romano, and Balsamic Glaze.
  • Gambero: Lemon/Garlic Shrimp with chorizo and breadcrumbs
  • Quatro Formaggi: White Pie, amazing blend of the four cheeses.
  • L.E.S Special: Flatbread pizza with chorizo, onions, and fresh mozzarella – GET THIS FLATBREAD.

Main Courses:

  • Razza: Skate, mentioned above
  • Short Rib Gnocchi: Also mentioned above, don’t be an idiot – ORDER THIS.
  • Ravioli Con Zucca: Open faced ravioli, ricotta, mascarpone, caramelized butternut squash, with browned butter and sage – DELICIOUS.

Also, Apizz was created by Frank Decarlo – one of the partners of Peasant and Bacaro. So with the above, and the amazingness of the other two restaurants, you should feel 100% comfortable with the fact that you will have a great dinner leaving completely satisfied and stuffed.

Laphroaig 10: The Smoky Single Malt

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It is currently  19 Degrees in New York City, and dropping down to 10 degrees around 10:00PM. Cold weather means no happy hour, straight back to apartment for binge watching Netflix and binge drinking Single Malts. Over the past few years I have been drinking some peaty scotches/whiskeys. The best, and most reasonably priced, is by far Laphroaig 10.  The minute a glass is poured you can see most people’s reaction to the strong smoky scent – kind of like huffing a camp fire. Definitely keeps you warm and makes you feel that smoke – with some tastes of seaweed. I either drink neat, or with one or two cubes which helps open up the flavor.

It is definitely an acquired taste, and you will either hate it or love it – so keep that in mind before buying a bottle.

In regards to a similar bottle, you could pick up a little older of a bottle and get Lagavulin 16 – but it will run you an extra $30, for a very similar taste. Both are made in Islay, and are made next door to each other – so save the money and go with Laphroaig 10.

Lunch in Midtown: Dig Inn Seasonal Market

Definitely good to switch it up here and there when ordering food to your desk, working through lunch, and watch the time slowly go by. So on Seamless I order a few different things from Dig Inn, which according to their site are ‘locally sourced, and reasonably price’. Here is what you should order from them, which is possible via Seamless.

  • BRAISED BEEF: Comes with two sides, and pretty much shreds apart like pulled pork. The dish is pretty healthy, and I usually order it with SICILIAN ROASTED CAULIFLOWER W/ CHICKPEAS and BROCCOLI W/ ROASTED GARLIC & ALMONDS.
  • SPICY MEATBALLS: Lucky for me, its not that spicy so I am able to order this regularly – also comes with sides, try it with FALL COUSCOUS W/ LOCAL BUTTERNUT SQUASH

With ten locations throughout NYC, including both Midtown and Downtown, you should be within their delivery range – so check them out on Seamless and place your  order.

Mercer Kitchen: Second Time Around, Same Delicious Food w/ Subpar Service

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Going to start off by saying I hate going to the same restaraunt  (with the exception of Grey Dog, Rubirosa, Parm… Etc) and I especially hate people who order the same thing twice (with the exception of  the Short Rib Gnocchi at Apizz). That being said, I returned to Mercer Kitchen for the second time, ordered The Mercer Burger again, and added more blockage to my arteries by stuffing my face with their fries and Mac and Cheese – again. With a combination of that, plus a Stone Brewing Company Levitation Ale, it was a pretty nice way to start off my Sunday.

To move away from the feeling of Groundhog Day, we decided to go with the Peekytoe Crab Fritters and the Warm Salad of Squash. The crab was an awesome way to change it up, perfectly fried up and full of taste. The crab balls come with a side of aioli which just looked like a bowl of mayo – and due to a childhood phobia or mayo – I did not fuck with it. The fritters were good enough as is, would order again. The Squash Salad came with a few clumps of squash (kind of more like mashed-potato style) with Pecorino Romano shavings and some strips of prosciutto, then finished with balsamic vinegar. At first wasn’t crazy about the idea or ordering this because it had the word ‘salad’ in the name – but that feeling went away once I started scooping it up like ice cream.

So sounds like an awesome meal so far, different/out of the normal appetizers, juicy burger… But it wasn’t, the meal was kind of ruined by the staff – whom only were attentive when I received the bill and was about to leave a tip… Frustrating.

To begin, we arrived one time for our 2:00 pm reservation – and the host said the table will be ready shortly. After hanging out at the bar, they tried to seat us at the communal tables – which bothers me. Communal tables should only be for walk-ins, sitting with 3 inches of space on each side of your elbows isn’t the best way to eat trying to enjoy while some girl with a Nassau County accent who just moved into Murray Hill speaks about how she is ‘over kale‘. Than we were seated – and the waiter didn’t come over for approximately 20 minutes – which I could understand due to the place being busy. Once we ordered the drinks, we didn’t see him or our drinks for another 20 minutes. When we finally ordered, we ate our appetizers and finished up our drinks. Waiter never came back to the table to ask if we would like another round of drinks (didn’t see him until the check came). You would think with alcohol having such a high profit margin, which would in turn increase the bill, and in so facto his tip, he would ask – but that didn’t happen. We asked the runners for a drink menu, which never came. Then the Mac and Cheese, one of my favorite items on the menu comes out – Ice Cold. Add in waiting another 20 for the check to come, it definitely put a few negative thoughts in my head.

Would I go back again, probably not – not because of the service but because I have been there twice already. Would I recommend, definitely. The food is delicious, it has a great atmosphere, and it is in Soho – win/win scenario. My experience with the service may have been an one-off, and I would like to say the last time I went for dinner, it was perfect. So go, check it out for yourself and let me know what you think.

 

Mercer Kitchen
99 Prince Street (Corner of Mercer)
New York, NY 10013
www.themercerkitchen.com

Charlie Bird: The Obsession Continues

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Back about a year ago, the Whythe Hotel hosted one of the best days of my life – Prosciutto di Parma Palooza. At this amazing event, different chefs from all over NY had to make a dish that evolves around everyone’s favorite pork product. To name a few, Danny Bowien w/ Mission Chinese (at the time), Sara Jenkins  of Porchetta/Porsena, and the people of Charlie Bird. Although all dishes were great (second favorite, was Porchetta) my vote for Charlie Bird helped them grab the trophy for the best dish. What did they make? Octopus Saltimbocca w/ Prosciutto  and Ceci Beans.

Now, for months after I have been meaning to go and eat in their actual restaurant. However, that became increasingly difficult. In November 2013, EATER named Charlie Bird the presitigious Restaurant of the Year – beating out Carbone, Estela, The Elm, and Betony. Chances of getting a reservation at a decent time was like trying to get into NYU with a GMAT score of 400 – unless you know someone. So, I went for lunch – and I ordered up a storm:

To Start

  • Farro Salad w/ Mint and Pastaschio  *****
  • Razor Clams w/ Fennel *****
  • Octopus Saltimbocca ***** (you probably saw that coming)

Main Course

  • Veal Pastrami Salad ***** (I had no idea you could do that with Veal – DOPE)
  • Grilled Long Island Squid ****

Sides

  • Carmelized Cauliflower *****
  • French Fries w/ Rosemary *****

So that was the food, which was one of the best meals I ate all year. Now, the music – best soundtrack I have heard in a long time. There is a nice mix between Nas, The Beastie Boys, and Run DMC. The staff is completely down to earth, especially considering they are one of the best restaraunts in NYC. I think everyone should check out Charlie Bird, and if you don’t like it – you don’t know food.

If only I had a connection to get reservations whenever I wanted …

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Best White Pie: Best Pizza in Williamsburg

A few weeks back I was over in Williamsburg checking out my cousin’s new apartment – and playing Catan for the first time (still have no idea how to play or what I was doing). Once we got hungry I asked where the best place to order a slice from would be, and they suggest BEST Pizza. I normally stay away from anywhere that puts the word ‘best’ in their windows – so when I found out the place was named ‘BEST Pizza’ I was skeptical. We ordered a Regular Pie, and a White Pie. I remember the regular being good, but the white pie was unreal.

The white pie has ricotta, mozzarella, and caramelized onions. The onions were perfectly sautéed, brown and full of flavor – on top of piles of ricotta, melted mozzarella, and shavings of pecorino romano (nice touch). Now to the crust … I always said there is a ring in hell devoted to people who waste good crust. This was probably the most interesting aspect of the pizza. Rather than leaving the crust naked, they put toasted sesame  seeds.

It is extremely rare that I say any pizza is as good, or possibly better than Rubirosa, so take this review very seriously. Goto BEST Pizza, get white slice, thank me later.

BEST PIZZA
33 Havemeyer Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Website: Best Pizza

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From the Good People at Major Food Groups, Dirty French (Spoiler: F***ing Awesome)

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With the exception of ZZ’s Clam Bar, Dirty French was the only Major Food Groups establishment I did not stuff my face at. That all changed a few weeks back when my girlfriend turned another year older. Going into it, read some negative reviews on Eater and other foodie websites – which bothered me, but we didn’t let that jade our opinions. We had a Friday night reservation at 8:30 (Thanks Katie) which was the 2014 equivalent of Patrick Bateman getting a table @ Dorsia, so I owe my friends at Parm big time. Thought it would be hard for us to top our Valentines Day date @ Carbone – this is equally great, possibly better. Do yourself a favor – call up their reservations hotline and make a reservation.

Below is the play-by-play of what we ordered – and I highly recommend getting it all (with the exception of broccoli gratin – was okay but nothing special). You will see the asterisks next to each item, they are my shitty rating system due to not being computer literate – 5 Stars (* * * * *) is the highest mark something can get. Keep in mind there was two of us, and she is tiny …

To Start

  • Half Dozen Grilled Island Creek Oysters * * * * *  (Probably one of the best things I have ever ate)
  • Jamon Special w/ bread and Jam * * * *
  • Tuna Tartare w/ Birdseye Chili and Crepe * * * * *

Main Course

  • En Papillote: Black Basss w/ Clams and Pistou * * * * *
  • Duck al Orange * * * * *

Sides

  • Bacon (Thick Cut) * * * *
  • Pommes Frites * * * *
  • Brocoli Gratin  * *

Dessert

  • Beignets * * * *
  • Gateau * * *

Dirty French
180 Ludlow Street (Ludlow Hotel)
New York, NY

 

Website: www.dirtyfrench.com
Yelp: Yelp Dirty French
Zagat: Zagat Dirty French
OpenTable: Make Reservation

Randolphs: Beer and Brunch

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I have been to Randolph’s a few times, doesn’t hurt that it is literally across the street from the apartment – and to have an extensive beer list, makes it even better.

Going to start with the beer:

They have a huge list on a daily basis, many of which you can’t find any many bars. Their beer menu has a breakdown of what types of beer they have on tap, and a long list of seasonal beers. Started with the Indian Brown Ale by Dogfish Head, have seen it around but never ordered it. First thoughts, kind of a mix of Brown Ale, IPA, and a Scotch Ale – with 7.2% alcohol.  A little to hoppy, but I would drink it again. Tried on of their seasonal beers, recommended by the waitress, Dark Horse 4 Elf – tasted like if the Indian Brown Ale fucked a Christmas Tree – not for me. No matter what kind of beer drinker you are, you can find something on their list. You cannot leave here without enjoying one of the dozens of different beers and different styles.

The Food:

  • Breakfast Nachos: Two Cheeses (Cheddar and Jack), Baked Egg, Black Beans, Ranchero Sauce. Great way to help out the earlier hangover, soaks u up all the night before’s horrible choices.
  • Burger w/ Fried Egg: Never got the fried egg unfortunately, and the burger did come with mayo even though I asked for no mayo – but it was a juicy burger. The size of a hockey puck, cooked perfect medium-rare with waffle fries – I was like a little kid eating it. Would even go on record saying might be one of the best burgers in the neighborhood – up there with Brinkley’s.

Conclusion:

If you are in the neighborhood, definitely go. If you are not – but are in the mood for excellent beer lists, diverse music (Vampire Weekend to Zeppelin), and laid back atmosphere make the trip. No matter how you look at it, still beats spending a night in Murray Hill.

Radolph’s Beer/Randolph’s Broome

343 / 349 Broome Street

New York, NY 10013

Bacaro: Think Peasant in an Italian Dungeon

imageWe went to Peasant a few weeks back, after wanting to go for a long time, and we really loved it. We knew we would, I have been tracking the menu changes for the past year – but more on that in my post for Peasant. Before I got engaged I looked into renting out the bottom floor of il Buco and Peasant – and stumbled across Bacaro. People always ask me, how is it living in Chinatown – which I don’t not consider Nolita being Chinatown – especially after walking to Division Street and Canal. This is real Chinatown, but tucked in there is one of my new favorites, which being related to Peasant I should have guessed this would have been the verdict.

First thoughts, from looking at the pictures I thought the downstairs was only for private parties or large groups. Didn’t realize it was pretty much the majority of the restaurant – and after walking past the building with no sign – we made our way down. The basement cellar was really nice, and made you feel like you were back in the Catacombs in Italy. The name, Bacaro, comes from the Venetian spubs which serve small dishes – think Italian Tapas. This place definitely got it right.

I have been wanting to go here as well for a while, but due to the limited menu on their website I would always cancel the reservation since we would be going with people who aren’t as open to trying new foods. This time it was just me and the fiancé (yea that happened) and we were ready to order some food with no people complaining. We started with the Razor Clams (Amazing – breadcrumbs and peppers), Artichoke Special (cheese with a great broth, dip some bread in it) and the Fried Oysters. The first two were amazing, really fresh and done correctly. The Fries Oysters, weren’t my favorite. Instead of being fried and crispy – they were more similar to a fried Oreo or Zeppoli. With all the batter, makes it hard to really taste the oyster. Wasn’t bad, just not my favorite.

Main courses, we split the Pasta in Duck Ragu, and the Garlic Shrimp over Polenta. Both dishes were fucking delicious. I will start with the Duck Ragu, didn’t realize until just now the pasta was whole wheat. It was so good, I would have bet my bonus it was regular pasta. Served up al dente with a chunky red sauce with nice pieces of duck swimming in the bowl. Complete bowl was scraped clean, any remaining bread was used to soak up whatever sauce was left. Next the garlic shrimp, which was amazing as well. Came with six shrimp, cooked perfectly with great seasoning. The polenta was a perfect side dish, was creamy and easy to scoop up the shrimp, sauce, and polenta in each bite. Think at one point I might have licked the plate. We held one menu in case we wanted to order some more, and I definitely could have ordered one more item because everything was great. Decided to go with flour less chocolate cake, surprise – it was great as well.

Bacaro has a nice wine list, saw many names which I saw from Peasant. We went with a carafe of Pinot Nero and I had three Menabrea Ambers (my favorite beer since I came back from Italy a few years back). So for the three appetizers, two mains, drinks, cake and double espresso – total bill 127.38! Great value for such amazing food.

I highly suggest this place and put it on my recommend list. Definitely an awesome first date spot – great atmosphere, great food, great drinks menu – and if you don’t like the girl, you at least have a great meal for relatively cheap.

Ruby’s Cafe: Tight Fit, Good Burgers

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I have never been to Ruby’s Cafe, which is up the block from the apartment, prior to today. Every time we would walk by, it looked packed – with people waiting to get in standing on the side walk. The recently expanded, doubling the size of the pre-existing location, which left me wondering all through out lunch – how small was it before the expansion? It must be crazy being a waiter in there, sitting on the end of the bench was like sitting on the aisle seat on an airplane – getting hit by the people going to the bathroom or the occasional drink cart. All in all, this place was good – and exactly what I was looking for today. I originally started the day with making my weekly stop at Grey Dog, but due to a large crowd waiting to order and lack of seats – figured we would give Ruby’s a try.

I ordered a burger (Bells Burger) w/ no mayo and my girlfriend ordered the avocado toast w/ an egg. Ever since Two Hands, which is ironically also Australian, she has been obsessed with avocado and egg. The burger was good, not greasy and perfectly medium-rare, served on an awesome piece of bread. The fries, also really good – with truffle aioli which I did not eat due to my fear of mayo. The egg toast was nice, good amount of avocado with some red pepper flakes. We both cleared our plates, she probably won’t be happy I mentioned that – but the food was really good. Best part, the bill came out to $35.00, which is almost unheard of now a days, especially in Soho/Nolita. I highly recommend giving this a try, yes the lines are pretty large and it always is packed, but it was really enjoyable.

 

Ruby’s Cafe

19 Mulberry St (between Spring St & Prince St)
New York, NY 10012

http://www.rubyscafe.com

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The Rubirosa Chronicles: Clam Pie

Back a few years ago, I landed from Madrid Airport, dropped off my luggage and went straight to Rubirosa. This was the first and only time I had their ‘Razor Clam Pie’ which I than talked about to every single person I knew once the topic of pizza came up. This than turned into me calling on a daily basis to check to see if they had the specialty pie. In August, I threw a tweet up stating I would trade my first child if Rubirosa brought back the Clam Pie – on 10/30 my prayers were answered when they tweeted me back ‘Ask and you shall receive. Clam Pizza is back …”

We tried to go that following Sunday, but the place was packed and the wait was  closed to two hours. So we tried again the following Thursday thanks to some help (Thanks J.) and we sat down with two other couples who heard for years how they will some day have the best pizza of their life, the clam pie @ Rubirosa. We started with my usual order of starters:

Appetizers:

  • Bracciole * * * * *
  • Octopus * * * * *
  • Rubirosa Antipasto * * * * *
  • Fried Calamari * * * *

From their we moved on to the main event – Clam Pie, along with the Classic Tie Dye Pie. So it wasnt the same as the one I had back a few years ago, this was a straight up clam pie in garlic and white wine sauce – and it was dope. If this moved from a special to a daily pie, I would actually even be there more than I already am, The only thing I can compare it to is Lee’s Tavern in Staten Island (Google It) – which up until this point was the best white clam pie I ever ate. When it was all said and done, Rubirosa – as i expected, was the undesputed champion.

If you have never been to Rubirosa, do yourself a favor order the appetizers i mentioned above and if they do not have the Clam Pie order yourself a Tie-Dye and a Vodka pie. TRUST ME.

RUBIROSA Ristorante
235 Mulberry Street (Btw Spring and Prince)
New York NY 10013

 

Website:  www.rubirosanyc.com
Yelp: Yelp Rubirosa
Zagat: Zagat Rubirosa
Open Table: Make Reservation

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Black Seed: Long Wait, Small Bagel, Large Bill

I have been to Black Seed twice, both times I left with the same opinion. Living outside the city, you become accustom to great bagels. Inside the city, it becomes a difficult task to find a decent bagel. Either they have the consistency of Styrofoam or lack any sort of taste. When I learned these veterans of the food business were cooking up fresh hand-rolled bagels, coming out of a wood-burning oven – I was excited. So lets start with my two experiences:

The first time I was running to catch a train out of Penn Station and figured I would grab a quick bagel before heading out to Montauk. This is when the place first opened, and the weekend prior they sold out of bagels early in the day. The line was pretty big, took about seven minutes to order and another ten or so to pick up the bagels. When we go the bagels, they were delicious – for the first time I wanted to try a bagel as is and not with any of their more out-of-the-box toppings. Did notice they were small, but no big deal – its Manhattan.

The second time, it was painful. First, I was hungover (visciously) from my buddy’s engagement dinner. When I woke up, I needed a bagel – and that was going to be the only thing that would cure this. So I left my girlfriend in bed, threw on some shorts and ran up the block. Line was out the door. When you finally get in the door, and are on line, you are constantly being bumped into the people exiting. Now, after 15 minutes of waiting I finally place my order. I ordered 3 bagels – The Salmon, The Avacado/Tomato, and the Ricotta/Honey. I originally ordered one Stumptown Ice Coffee figuring I would take it back with me, but after waiting an additional 15 minutes for the food, I had to order another one. So all in all, three bagels and two ice coffees – with a thirty minute wait – Total Cost was around $50.

Don’t get me wrong, I really do LIKE Black Seed – and if they came up with a better ordering service (i.e. calling it in and picking it up) I would put up with the high cost. But until then, I am staying away.

Website: www.blackseedbagels.com
Yelp: Yelp Black Seed Bagels
Instagram: @BlackSeedBagels1310903119988_ORIGINAL

The Best Shave You Will Ever Get

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Working in an office, it is important to look clean shaven every morning. But I found a hack this, if you get an excellent close shave on Monday – you might not have to shave until Wednesday. Just like that, you saved yourself a few minutes on Tuesday. So to accomplish this, I ditched those Big Company razors and bought my self a single-blade safety razor. There are a few options out there, I mean even Rick Harrison from Pawn Stars is selling one on infommercials.

I decided to walk up Elizabeth Street to New York Shaving Company and pickup one of theirs. They have a few options to choose from – short/long handle, different metals , and finishes. So for $30 I purchased the Long Handle razor, with a gunmetal finish (because I am a badass). I also purchased some blades, and received some tips from the woman ringing me up on how to use the razor properly.

They had a ton of different products available, including Shaving Cream, Pre-Shave Oils, and Aftershaves – all of which come in different scents. They also sell sample packs in which you could test out there creams/oils – which I bought as well.

If you are interested in a better shave, I would suggest checking out one of their Shaving Kits/Setts. For $70 you can get their kit which includes shaving cream, brush and razor – which is a great deal. The place has kept the old school vibe, and makes you feel as if you time warped back into 1900s. They have two barbers onsite, which can give a range of services from skin care to shaving to haircuts.

Oh, best part – a package of razors will cost around $2-5 for a 5 pack of razors – which will last you about 25 shaves. Yea, good bye Gillette and your Fusion bullshit. You can also say good bye to ingrown hairs, yea that happened.

NOLITA/Soho Location
202 B Elizabeth Street
New York, NY 10012

Midtown Location
146 East 49th Street
New York, NY 10017

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Cafe Select: The Snooty Ski Chalet

We went to this place based off the recommendations of people I usually trust, and I was not impressed by this place. It could have been the douchey guy at the door who made it seem like he was doing us a favor seating us. It may have been the waitress seemed like she didn’t want to be there – and seemed bothered by me asking for a second round of drinks. But, I could look past that considering that is most of the restaurants lately. But the food, was only okay. Below is what we ordered, and nothing really impressed me. Best part of the night, they had an awesome beer called He’brew Beer – which had an awesome tagline “The Chosen Beer”. The only reason I came across this was due to them having outdated menus that  stated they had New Castle – which they didn’t. Now on to the food…

Appetizers:

  • Ricotta Fritters: Interesting, not as heavy as it sounds, but pretty good.
  • Zucchini Chips: Probably my favorite thing we ate, came with eggplant, tzatiki, humus … and I really did enjoy this.
  • Charcuterie Board: meats were good, cheeses were okay – not my style.

Main Course:

  • Veal Schnitzel: Okay, definitely not the best that I have had. I think Schnitz (East Village) blows this out of the water, and the lack of any good sides kind of made it just okay.
  • Half Chicken: Was pretty good, juicy and not dried out.

If you are on Lafayette and looking for a place to go, I would suggest you choose Jacks Wife Freda or Brinkleys – or walk a few blocks over and check out Ruby’s.

Website: www.cafeselectnyc.com

The Eggshop: Sometimes You Just Need Some Eggs

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When i first moved into Nolita, the one thing I realized is there was no where to buy a old school bacon, egg and cheese – which is frustrating. Then a few months back, THE EGG SHOP opened! Before it was this my new home, it was Piex which pretty much gave me the worst stomach pains – I almost didn’t make it the 73 steps back to my apartment to avoid ruining a pair of pants. Now thats gone …

So back to The Egg Shop, it was started by two self-proclaimed ‘Egg-Heads’ and it is awesome. I have been there three times (once I went in to take-out due to being hungover) and the other two times sitting down like a decent human-being. I haven’t had one thing I didn’t like yet, and I have not one complaint. The photo above is from the first time we went, which as you can see for the two of us – we ordered a lot. Below are the items I had, and that I recommend. Next time you are looking for a great breakfast sandwich – check them out.

Some of What I Ate, and What You Should Eat:

EGGSHOP B.E.C: BROKE YOLK, SHELBURNE CHEDDAR, BLACKFOREST BACON, TOMATO JAM, FRESH PICKLED JALAPENO, PANINI ROLL

THE BEAST: PULLED PORK CARNITAS, SUNNY UP, FRESH CILANTRO, PICKLED ONION, CHIPOTLE BOURBON KETCHUP, FRENCH HERO

PEPPER BOY: SOFT SCRAMBLE, GRUYERE, BELL PEPPER,MAPLE CURED PEPPER BACON, CARAMELIZED ONION AIOLI, (IN A BELL PEPPER OR ON A PANINI ROLL)

STEAK AND EGG : GRASS FED TENDERLOIN, SUNNY UP, CHIMI-CHILI, FARM GREENS, FRENCH HERO

EL CAMINO :POACHED EGG, AVOCADO, PULLED PORK CARNITAS, TOMATO, FRIED TORTILLA, CILANTRO

FRENCH TOAST: RONNY BROOK CHOCOLATE CREAM, FRESH BERRIES, MAPLE SYRUP

Also, while you are there – order some sides:

FRIED CHICKEN
HASHBROWNS
BUTTERMILK BISCUIT WITH HONEY BUTTER
BACON
Instagram: @EggShopNYC
151 Elizabeth Street
New York, NY 10012

Went Twice in one Week: Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina

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Known also as Rana NYC, we came across this venue to throw a private party in the near future. The first time we went, we sat down and had a full dinner (details and ratings below). The second time we went we brought both my family, and the girlfriends family (first meeting of the families) for brunch. Not sure if we mentally convinced ourselves we liked the food so much because we were excited to throw a party there – we used all thirteen of them as judges on the food and atmosphere the second time around. Final Survey – everyone thought the food was great, and they really liked the atmosphere. There is a pretty large list of things we ate, and our rating (best score 5 stars, i.e. * * * * *). Also wanted to mention, they make the pasta daily – and have huge selection of raviolis…

Dinner (First Time, just the two of us)

  • Rock Shrimp Bruschetta * * * *
  • Crostini Trio * * * (Best thing was the truffle honey)
  • Buratta * * * *

 Main Course

  • Eggplant Ravioli * * * *
  • Chili Pork Sausage Ravioli * * *
  • Squid Ink Pasta * * * *

Dessert

  • Chocolate Ravioli * * * * *
  • Tiramisu * * * *

 Brunch (w/ the family)

  • Crispy Cauliflower * * * *
  • Charcuterie Board * * * *
  • Ravioli Carbonara * * *
  • Cappelletti al Proscuitto * * * *
  • Scrambled Egg w/ Proscuitto * * * *
  • Rana Benedict * * *
  • Pandoro French Toast * * * * * (Best I ever Had)
  • Steak and Eggs * * * * *

Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina
75 9th Avenue (Chelsea Market – 9th & 16th Ave)
New York, NY 10011
Website: www.RanaNYC.com
Zagat: Zagat Rana NYC
Yelp: Yelp Rana NYC
Open Table: Make Reservation Here

In The Land of Coffee Shops – Two Hands is the Best

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I used to be a ORO loyalist, and don’t get me wrong I still go often – but ever since we found Two Hands, we find ourselves wanting their coffee and food over Gimmie Coffee, Nolita Mart, and Happy Bones. So in the above picture, you will se their Avocado Toast w/ Egg – which was insane. You see them behind the counter opening up fresh avocados and spreading them over the bread, you can easily taste the freshness in the sandwich. We also ate the Banana Bread toast, with fresh ricotta and honey over it. The bread, which was great, was baked daily.

The coffee, I guess i will start with the fact that I drank three from there in one sitting. I had two while eating the above mentioned items, and then one more on the way back to my apartment. Granted, I drink a lot of coffee – but their coffee is great. My girlfriend ordered a latte, which was massive – and she has been talking about their latte’s ever since.

This place is great, and I highly recommend everyone to go out and give it a try.

Website: http://www.twohandsnyc.com
Instagram: @TwoHandsNYC

 
164 Mott Street
New York, NY 10013

Carbone – On Valentines Day, My Reservation Game is on Point.

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One of My Favorite Restaurant in Manhattan. Any negative review you see on here is due to people complaining about the money – but trust me it is worth every penny. 

Purposely didn’t eat all day to prepare for the below dinner, so here is a step by step guide to what to order.

Before You Order Complimentary:

  • Prosciutto (5/5)
  • Cauliflower (4/5)

Appetizer:

  • Octopus Pizzaiolo (5/5): By far the best Octopus I have ever ate.
  • Meatballs (5/5): Better than my grandmother’s

Pasta:

  • Spicy Rigatoni (5/5): Usually never would order something like penne vodka at a restaurant but the waiter recommended it and it was incredible.

Sides:

  • Squash Agrodolce (5/5): Extremely hard to describe, but it is served with mascarpone and ridiculous.

Main Course:

  • Ribeye Diana (5/5): Cooked medium-rare smothered in rosemary out of the charcoal grill.
  • Zuppa di Pesce (5/5): Once again, best I ever ate and unlike any other zuppa di pesce I have ever tasted. If you like clams, muscles, and calamari – you need to order it.

Wine:
Sommelier recommended a great bottle of ‘Comptche Vineyard Pinot Noir, Mendocino County CA’ went great with the meal and was worth every dollar.

Is it expensive? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes
Website: http://carbonenewyork.com
Yelp: Carbone on Yelp
Open Table: Make Reservation Here

181 Thompson St.
New York, NY 10012

Vendy Awards: Dough Doughnuts

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While at the Vendy’s – I ate which was probably the best doughnut I have ever ate. Going into the Vendy’s I was excited to try Cinnamon Snail’s Crème Bruele doughnut, Dough blew it out of the water. They were walking around with an assortment – some of which I thought were impossible to be good, i.e. Passion Fruit. After eating the different options I was hooked. I tried the Dulce de Leche, Passion Fruit, Hibiscus, and one other. All were great, later that night I began to follow them on Instagram – it is safe to say I cant wait to go back. They have two brick-and-mortar locations in Brooklyn and Flatiron, which I think you should check out.

Dough Brooklyn
448 Lafayette Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11205

Dough Flatiron
14 W. 19th St.
New York, NY 10011

Website: http://www.doughbrooklyn.com
Yelp:  Dough on Yelp
Instagram: @DoughDoughNuts
Twitter: @doughbrooklyn

Great Date: NY Vintners Club

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A while back my girlfriend found an awesome dinner, which was a Crawfish Boil and Wine Paring. At the time, I was just getting back from New Orleans and obsessed with the little bastards, so I was definitely into the idea. When we arrived, it was a wine store in Tribeca with a kitchen and dining room in the back. The table sat about 25 guests, and the host began pouring the wine as the chef prepared the crawfish. During this, we got tanked – as did the rest of the crowd and the host. The pairing was not stuffy and a ton of fun, and the food was great. By the end of the night we were all taking shots of Tequila out of the crawfish caucuses while we tried to remember the difference between old-world and new-word wines. Since then, I have been tracking their website and have come across some great dinners – such a Television show themed dinners, i.e. Game of Thrones, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad.

This is something I highly recommend, whether it’s a first date or night out with the wife. You can check out their calendar via their website below and enjoy.

 

Website: http://newyorkvintners.com

 

Lunch in Midtown: Certe

For the past few years I have become a Certe loyalist, both their regular location and their pizza location have some of the best food you can find on Seamless. Here is what I suggest you give a shot:

  • Craving Steak? Glazed Sirloin Sandwich – with crispy onions & romaine on grilled flatbread.
  • Feeling Crazy? Chubby Chinese Girl – 5-Spiced Duck Breast, Pickled Vegetables, Cilantro, Hoisin, Sriracha on Toasted Baquette
  • Case of the Mondays? Brisket of Beef w/ vegetable sides.
  • Hungry on Wednesday? Irish Stew w/ Spinach Mash Potatoes and Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts.

Yeah, find them on Seamless and make that happen …

Website:  www.certenyc.com
Yelp: Certe on Yelp

 

Vendy Awards: Dub Pies

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DUB Pies, which I just found out while writing this stands for Down Under Bakery – since they specialize in Australian/New Zealand style meat pies. First off, the woman dumped a scoop of mash potatoes on top of mini-pie stuffed with Steak and Cheddar cheese – AWESOME. I also tried their Chicken and Vegetable’s also good – but I prefer the red meat. While we were waiting on line their staff came over with shots of ice coffee, so between that and the Meat Pies, they earned my vote Rookie of the Year.

The truck is all over Manhattan and Brooklyn, which included guest spot at Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in Gowanus. Follow them on twitter to see all their locations, along with their brick-and-mortar location In Prospect Park.

Website: http://www.dubpies.com
Instagram: @DUBPies
Twitter: @DUBPies

 

You Need a Real Barber Shop

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When I first moved into my neighborhood, there was a little old Italian man who would give me a cut and a shave every other week. The place gives you that old school feel of something your grandfather would have went to, possibly even in the same neighborhood, a few decades back.

Unfortunately, Sal the barber has died, however they still have some great people working there. In terms of the value, for $26.00 (plus tip) you can walk out with a haircut and for an additional $24 – you can get a hot towel shave. The have a great appointment system on their website (below) which you can book all services.

 

Barbers Blueprint
181 Mulberry Street (Between Broome and Kenmare)
New York, NY 10013
Phone: (212) 810-7649
Website: http://www.barbersblueprint.com