Tag Archives: octopus

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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Kellari Taverna: Greek Food in Midtown

The Greek Economy is a disaster, we are waiting for a Grexit – and all I wanted last night was Greek food. It was kind of like both CNBC and Bloomberg TV had subliminal messaging to my brain. Every time I heard Alexis Tsipras, Varoufakis, or default I would just think of hummus, lamb, and more lamb.

After work a few of us headed over to Kellari Taverna on 44th between 5th and 6th. The place is known as a popular spot for business lunches, and I came here once before which I vaguely remember due to Greek wines I could barely attempt to pronounce. I did remember the food being good, so was happy to go back there yesterday.

Below are some items we ordered which were really good and I highly suggest:

Spanakopita: Phylo pies with spinach, leeks and feta. Traditional Greek dish, Kellari Taverna makes probably one of the best I have ever tried.

Kellari Veggie Chips: Crispy eggplant and zucchini chips with tzatziki spread. I personally am not a huge Tzatziki person (nothing personal Greek people) so I dipped my chips on their hummus – which was unreal. There is something about frying vegetables that makes them so much better …

Authentic Saganaki: Graviera cheese flamed with brandy. Once the flame was extinguished with the freshly squeezed lemon, and I fought back every urge of screaming “opa”, I devoured this fried sheep cheese. Not sure if it was the presentation, or the fact that the cheese was really good, but I really liked this appetizer.

Octopodi: Sushi grade charcoal grilled octopus from the Mediterranean. Great pulpo, and a large serving. The whole table enjoyed this.

Black Sea Bass: Wild bass, mild flavor and flaky. Not over-seasoned or drenched in oil, the dish was pretty much as authentic Mediterranean as you could get. It was served as a whole fish, and reminded me of being in Croatia.

***BEST DISH OF THE NIGHT***
Paidakia: Grilled lamb chops with olive oil and oregano roasted potatoes. I always thought Greek people’s obsession of lamb was a stereotype – until I started eating copious amounts of Greek food. This may have been the best lamb I have had in a long time.

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.

 

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.

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.

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

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.

 

Charlie Bird: The Obsession Continues

Charlie Bird

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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