Tag Archives: NOLITA

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.

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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Friday 7/24/15: Last Minute Reservations and Recomendations

Charles Tyrwhitt - End of Season Sale
Here is a list of some last minute available reservations for tonight, Friday 07/24.

Open Table
Mercer Kitchen 7:45 8:00 8:39
Lure 7:30
Peasant 7:00 8:30
Batard 8:30
Gato 8:30
The Musket Room 7:45 8:00 8:15
PUBLIC 7:45 8:00 8:45
The Standard Grill 7:30
The Gander 7:45 8:00 8:15
Aquavit 8:00

RESY
Sant Ambroeus Soho 9:00 FREE
Maison Premiere 7:30 $5x
Bowery Meat Company 9:30 $6x
Navy 7:30 $9x
Empellon Tacueria 8:00 $10x
Frankie 570 7:30 $7x
Toro 8:00 $10x
Hunt & Fish Club 8:30 $7.50x
Bar Bouloud 8:00 FREE

Peasant: Authentic Farm to Table, But Italian Style

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

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

Drinks:

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

Appetizers:

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

Main Courses:

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

Dessert:

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

 

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.

The Grey Dog: Bring Back the Chicken Florentine

Let me start this by saying, I am in love with the food from Grey Dog – which is probably why I order it at least once a week. But, it has been a while since they have had one of their best dishes.

imageSince the weather began getting cold, which feels like decades ago, I would call on a nightly basis to see what their soup selection is – to which I would generally get in response “Texas Chili, Root Vegetable, and Carrot Ginger.” These are not bad choices, and from time to time they would have the Chicken Meatball which is delicious. However, the Chicken Florentine has been gone for some time.

This tomato based soup of chicken, spinach, and cheese was one of the best soups I have ever tried. When Grey Dog would have it, I would be like a squirrel getting ready for winter and stock up. But, my arsenal of soup has been depleted and I am now left with nothing. Yes I still order my usuals – either a Turkey Burger, Roast Beef Press, Grilled Chicken Press, and/or Philadelphia Cheese Steak – but something has been missing, and it is the Chicken Florentine Soup.

Similar to the time I requested Rubirosa to bring the Clam Pie back via Twitter, and they did, I am hopping for the same outcome here. Grey Dog, make it happen. Also, please send me some of your homemade potato chips ASAP.

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.

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.

 

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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Randolph’s Beer: A Few Dark Beers …

On Saturday, after eating some takeout from 69 Bayard and feeling full, we decided to go meet some friends out for some drinks. Not looking to leave my usual 5 block radius, decided to have them meet us @ Randolph’s Beer across the street. It was nice and early, and we grabbed a table in the back before it go to crowded – and I began to start ordering some beers. Before you go and order these, want a little bit of a disclaimer – I LOVE DARK BEERS.

  • Nitro Milk Stout by Left Hand Brewery: Not my first time having this, and possibly one of my favorite milk stouts. Dark jet black color, with some chocolate and coffee taste to it – a little smoked taste to it. With 6.0% ABV, great way to start the night.
  • Java Head Stout by Troegs: Similar to the Nitro Milk Stout, smooth medium body – with some tastes of coffee, toasted malts, and a little bit of vanilla. Beer has 7.5% ABV, and would definitely drink again.
  • Kelso Nut Brown Ale: One of my usual go-to beers at Brinkley’s down the block. Definitely lighter than the Java Head, and being more similar to a traditional brown ale. Brewed in NYC with 5.75% ABV, you get some tastes of the malt, nuts (no jokes please), and hops – without the bitter after taste of Indian Brown Ale.
  • DBA by Firestone Walker: Close to an Octoberfest, definitely more carbonated than there others with a nice oak/wood flavor. Was a little thrown off when the bartender handed it over due to its color – kind of a burnt orange. Good beer to drink if you are feeling full from the darker stouts, and at 5.0% – very drinkable.
  • Maduro Brown by Cigar City: This was my favorite of brown ale of the night. Light feel to it, and nice carbonation with tastes of porter mixed with a brown ale. Coffee, molasses/toffee (but not to sweet), with some nutty-maltiness. With 5.5% ABV, I could definitely drink a few of these.
  • Peace Loving Decoy by Gigantic: Don’t really remember much of this one, but it has 6.0% and was towards the end of the night.

By this point, I had all of the above – and in some cases multiple of them. When I went up to the bar to get one more, the Bartender recommend one of there newest beers – Wulver by Thirsty Dog. At a whopping 12.0% ABV, this beer had a kick to it. The beer came in a wine glass, which is not cool, but has a dark color to it – which could have passed as a Malbec. From the first smell, and taste, you pick up the bourbon from the aging process. Behind the bourbon you have some caramel, toffee and malts. Drinking a few of these will definitely knock you on your ass – but for 12.0% its very drinkable.

Just when you thought the night was over, we ended up going to Joe’s Shanghai …

Alleva: Great Place to Grab an Italian Hero

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Alleva claims to be the oldest Italian cheese store in America, which I can neither confirm or deny, but I can say they make a great sandwich. Established in 1892, and located on Mulberry Street and Grand Street, this place sits in the heart of Little Italy. I strongly feel this is one of the few places on Mulberry Street I can recommend (below Broome Street) due to the over-commericalization of the neighborhood. The food generally stinks in Little Italy, where tourist are lured in by employees pretending to be Italian and trying to shove their shitty pasta down your throat.

Back to Alleva, they carry a huge assortment of Italian Foods – cheese, meats, pasta, olives … etc. The main reason I come here, other than getting that nostalgic feeling of being in a real Italian Salumeria, is for their sandwiches. Off the bat, under any circumstances – do not ask them if they have domestic or imported prosciutto, you will offend them and you will look like an idiot . I usually order a hero with Turkey, Prosciutto, Fresh Mozzarella, with some balsamic on a semolina loft of bread. Amazingly, the hero is about twelve inches – and cost around $10.00.

Next time you are in neighborhood, walk down Mulberry – pasted tourist – and walk into this store and get some real Italian Food.

Alleva of Little Italy
188 Grand Street (Mulberry St)
New York NY

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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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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

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

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

Your Aunt’s Thanksgiving Dinner Will Suck Compared to This: PARM Catering

I am not saying I know your aunt, or that I know she is a bad cook. But even if there is a chance she is a good cook, she cannot compete with PARM. For $90 you could pickup from their Mulberry Street location Turkey, Cranberry Sauce, and Gravy – which feeds 4-6 people. Pretty awesome deal, especially if you are looking to do one of those douchey friends-givings parties. If you are interest, send them over an email for more details.

PARM Mulberry
248 Mulberry Street (bwtn Spring and Prince)
New York, NY
party@parmnyc.com

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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