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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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Lunch in Midtown: Charlie Palmer Steak

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The other day I was meeting with one of our banks for lunch, and decided to stay close and try Charlie Palmer Steak over on 54th Street. This used to be the old Rothman’s, and is definitely a great choice for lunch if you work in the area.

To start I got the clams casino, which were probably some of the best I have ever had. They were not over done with the toppings, that made you forget that there was a clam underneath it all. It was served with a small sliver of applewood smoked bacon, and some seasoning. They were delicious and I highly recommend this dish, below is a picture I had to grab from their website as I didn’t want to take pictures during lunch.

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For my main, I went with their Dry Aged Red Tag Burger. This was served with bacon, aged cheddar, red onion, and crispy fries. The burger was good, nothing too outrageous. Could definitely see myself making this a weekly snack. Also, the fries were dope – so they may also bring me back.

Next time I am going to come after work and check out their dinner menu, along with their 400+ wine labels. Review coming soon…

Oyster Fest in Brooklyn This Weekend

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

Grab ticket on there site now.

www.BrooklynCrab.com
24 Reed Street
Brooklyn, NY

Club A Steakhouse: Fantasy Football Dinner

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The other week we held our annual office fantasy football dinner, where the bottom half of the pool picks up the tab. We have a weekly pick em league, with over 30 guys, so it’s safe to say you want to be on the top of the table. The bill per loser can really rack up, especially when some people go for the jugular, i.e. Porterhouse for 2 for 1, or bottles of Opus One. For me, win or lose, I do it for the networking and face time.

The past few years the dinner has been held at Smith & Wollensky, but this year my boss decided to change it up. He has his assistant look into private rooms at Del Frisco’s, Quality Meats, Maloney & Porcelli, Keens… I think even at one point the idea of STK Midtown was thrown around. However, due to the dinner being scheduled around some pretty important people and the size of the group, none of the above were able to accommodate us. That’s when we came across Club A Steakhouse, which was close to the office and has a private dinning room on the second floor that we would be able to fit the group.

Earlier that morning, in true sore winner fashion, my boss sent out an email to all the winners/losers advising on how to maximize tonight’s eating potential by not filling up for breakfast and/or lunch. I definitely took note, and ordered a light lunch from Certe around 11:00, so I would be starving.

We all walked down 58th Street and saw the trees outside Club A wrapped in lights, which made me realize I passed this place the other day going back to my apartment from Home Depot. We walked in, and quickly realized this place loves the color red. There was red ceilings, red walls, red seat cushions… Also, they had a ton of velvet. They had enough velvet to make velour suits for the whole borough of Staten Island. With the decor of red, gold, and velvet, I felt like I was in Tony “Scarface” Montana’s Miami Mansion – I was waiting to see a globe with the words ‘The World is Mine’ on it. So we walked up the stairs into the ‘Living Room’ section – which could seat up to 45 people. As you could have guessed, more red and velvet, and a fireplace which was nice.

The feast was about to begin and I was starving. I ordered a Chimay as we waiting to order. Haven’t had a good Trappist beer in a while, and wanted to see what the good old Belgian monks have been brewing. As soon as the waiter took our order we saw the first rush of appetizers come to the table, thick cut bacon and seafood towers. The bacon was unbelievable, cut about 1/4 of an inch thick, and was getting some great reviews from the table. It was tender, juicy, and had a nice charred outside. From every angle I was able to see people cutting the bacon and stuffing it into their mouths. The steak sauce they provided went well with the smokiness of the meat. Since going to to Club A, I have been contemplating stoping their for lunch just to get some swine – and at $5/slice it’s extremely tempting. Onto the seafood towers, which were massive. I honestly do not remember how many of these we ordered but all that remained was crushed ice and the discarded inedible carcasses of the shellfish. The platters included U7 Shrimp (which means 7 shrimp per pound so they were huge), Lobster, King Crab Meat, and Colossal Crab Meat. Seafood was all extremely fresh and before I knew it I was ducking out of the way of pieces of shells flying from fellow employees cracking open massive lobster claws.

Once the shared appetizers were cleared from the table, we received our personal appetizers. I went with the Tuna Tartare since the waiter talked it up so much, and it didn’t disappoint. The portion was massive, which was worrying me as I had a huge steak coming soon. Then I realized I am a bottomless pit, and ate the heaping mountain of raw tuna. We had a nice pause so we can all digest, and continue drinking before the main courses came. I drank another Chimay, followed by some Red Wine since the waiters kept refilling my glass – I mean, why not, I did come in the top 15 of the pool, and I was not chipping in for the bill.

Prior to the main courses, a slew of waiters came into the private room like something out of a movie. They were dropping down on the table the family style sides, which included 5 Cheese Truffle Mac, Onion Rings, Creamed Spinach, Jumbo Asparagus, Mash Potatoes, Garlic Herb Fries, and Hash Browns. Then came out the meat, I ordered Prime Dry Aged Porterhouse Steak for 3, to split with someone. The steak was good, however was a little over cooked – more towards medium, which was a little disappointing. This is something I could expect at a regular restaurant – but not somewhere with ‘Steakhouse’ in the name. I didn’t let this ruin the experience as the steak was still pretty good. I would say I ate my fair share of the Porterhouse, would even go as far to say I ate around 65% of it. The sides were all great, the best were definitely the hash browns and onion rings – definitely recommend ordering them.

After dinner we finished with some dessert and a Lagavulin 16, was going to order the Laphroaig 10, but as mentioned earlier I wasn’t paying…

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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Claw Daddy’s: Cajun/Creole Crabs and Crawfish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Bachelor Party Guide: New Orleans

Went to New Orleans for an awesome bachelor party a few months back, should have been two but had to back out of one due to no more vacation days. Here is a guide to ensure you have an awesome time out there – we got you covered.

Getting There:
Flight is only 3 hours direct from New York, and fairly cheap around $330 for a round trip leaving on a Thursday and coming home on a Sunday. Flew JetBlue, which had some flights leaving after work which was an awesome option.

Where to Stay:
The Royal Sonesta is located on Bourbon Street and Conti Street, smack in the middle of where you want to be. Definitely look into the suites, we had the two corner suites that ran along Bourbon and the side street – great place to watch/throw beads and pregame before going out. There is also a pool in the courtyard, decent size and can get pretty wild depending on the crowd. We packed coolers of beers and hung out there during the day, there is also a bar there which serves food – could get a couple dozen crawfish for dirt cheap.

Where to Go:
Bourbon Street is filled with bars, which are next to strip clubs, which are next to souvenir stores, which are in turn next to bars, and then to strip clubs ..etc. There are tons of places you could stumble into, and you are sure to have fun. You can drink in the streets, so go for their best beers from Abita Brewing Company and stay far away from those grenade drinks.

Penthouse Club is definitely the best of the strip clubs out there, with a couple of dozen women walking around and on stage (Quality and Quantity) – it is where you want to be. They have a VIP Area in the back, which you could order bottles and cigars – also they have packages for groups  which you can check out prior to getting there on the Bachelor Party Link. This is also a 0.1 mile walk from The Royal Sonesta – so even if you walk out @ closing time of 4:00am – there is a good chance you can make it back to your hotel without getting lost.

Harrahs Casino for  gambling, if you want to throw the dice or play some cards they have a casino which gets a little shady a night.

Where to Eat:
Acme Oyster is the best place to eat some seafood, do not miss going there. They serve a couple thousand oysters a night, there specialty the Charbroiled Oysters. They come out hot w/ melted cheese, creole seasoning, and some other ingredients – definitely the best oysters I have ever tried – Dirty French, was a very close second. Also order some Boo Fries, which come with roast beef gravy and melted cheese.The line is usually pretty huge, and depending on how late you go, only gets worse.

Mother’s Restaurant is pretty close to Harrah’s Casino, about a three minute walk. When hungover, order The Famous Ferdi Special which is ham, roast beef, ‘DEBRIS’ and au jus. If you don’t know what debris is, doesn’t matter – just order it. It will soak up all the poison you ingested a few hours earlier.

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

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

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

Before You Order Complimentary:

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

Appetizer:

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

Pasta:

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

Sides:

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

Main Course:

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

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

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

181 Thompson St.
New York, NY 10012