My Top 10 NYC Pastas

Lincoln StrozzapretiHi, I’m Ziggy.  I love pasta!  I had pasta last night, for lunch today, and I will have plenty of it in the next few weeks as I embark on another trip to mother Italia.  I think about pasta more than.. you know… Sports!  And before I leave you idle for a few weeks I figured to leave with a bang, a post about one of my favorite subjects.  My favorite pastas in NYC in no particular order…

Trenette Al Pesto Trapanese at Mercato.  From the port of Genoa sailors brought Trenette al Pesto to Trapani, Sicily where the dish was perfected even further with the addition of almonds.  Homemade chewy dried Trenette cooked to al dente perfection, with almonds, garlic, tomato and basil.  Its fresh, simple, and quite tasty.  I havent seen this dish anywhere else, and at $12, I feel like I negotiated something at the shuk with just a stare

Mercato Trenette

Fusilli with Octopus and Bone Marrow at Marea – One of two NYC classics on the list, and perhaps the most celebrated pasta in NYC America.  Articles, blog posts, children books (Goodnight Fusilli with Octopus!) have been written about this clasic.  The twisted homemade Fusilli is tossed with the most addictive fresh red sauce you will ever taste, with Sangiovese braised octopus, and bone marrow being the culprits.  A no brainer on this list

Marea Fusilli

Strozzapreti Con Aragosta at Lincoln (top) – Perhaps the best dish I’ve eaten this year.  Calling it simply Strozzapreti with lobster should be punishable by Italian law.  The beautiful Strozzapreti, which most likely were invented when someone envisioned a pasta shape while witnessing a priest being strangled to death (Strozzapreti means priest chokers) are made with lobster coral hence giving them the orange look.  They are mixed with not only sweet chunks of lobster but also lobster and scallop sausages (my favorite part) which is like eating the most glorious chicken skin you can imagine.  The sauce is zesty, light, and the perfect compliment to this delicate dish.  A classic in the making.  Not always on the menu, and preparation may differ based on season.

Uni Tagliatelle at Cull & Pistol – Fresh squid-ink egg noodles tossed in uni sauce and topped with tomatoes, bread crumbs, squid and Santa Barbara uni.  Marea’s uni pasta is perhaps the best I’ve had, but Marea is already on the list, and C&P’s version is pretty darn fantastic and quite different.  The sweet uni reins supreme with that rich sauce, and the smoky squid and bread crumbs add more texture to this dark beauty.  When a place makes only one pasta, its very often a good one.  Balaboosta, The NoMad come to mind as well

Cull and Pistol Tagliatelle

Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Basil at Scarpetta – Simple isnt it?  Well, why dont you try it, and invite me for a tasting.  Recipes are all over the internet.  Chances are unless you are Scott Conant reading this (hey Scott) you will not succeed in matching the flavors of this classic.  Its fresh, bright and every ingredient suddenly comes to life.  Scarpetta’s signature dish and the most celebrated Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce and Basil this side of wherever they make the best Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Basil.  Pure awesomeness.

Scarpetta - Spaghetti

Homemade Pappardelle With Sweet Sausage at Da Andrea – There are a lot of similar Pappardelle pastas in NYC with all sorts of tasty ragus (Bar Pitti makes a good one with either rabbit or wild boar), but none of them made so many locals happy for so long.  Ok, its only been 14 years but still.  A staple on the menu since they opened in another location (Hudson st).  The purists may turn up their noses at the thought of “fake truffles” when they see Truffle Oil being used, but we dont have truffles or wallets growing in our backyards in NYC.  Not yet!  And besides, unlike many truffle oil dishes I’ve had in this town, this one got that aroma which convinces your brain that you are eating the real thing.  And dont forget to order some Tigelle with Prosciutto, another Emilia Romagna specialty

Da Andrea - Pappardelle

Half Portion

Agnolotti at All’onda – This is a tricky one since its not even the most popular pasta at All’onda (that honor goes to the Bucatini or Garganelli), nor the second or third most popular actually.  But in this town, its more unique and interesting to me than the others.  Not your average Agnolotti, nor “Plin”.  They are Mortadella filled with pistachios, and a crazy homemade XO sauce made with dried shrimp, scallops and soppressata.  XO is a sauce that Cognac laden Hong Kong chefs invented in the 80’s, except they forgot to add the key ingredient, Cognac.  This version of the sauce adds a funky aroma, and  plenty of depth, to otherwise good but basic Agnolotti

Bonus mention:  Sort of a bizarre marriage between the Agnolotti and the Cull & Pistol dish in a way is the splendid Bucatini with black garlic and Dungenese crab at Piora.  I didnt taste enough of it to include it

All'onda Agnolotti

Tonnarelli a Cacio e Pepe at Maialino – Open the drawer in the kitchen where you keep the pens, ribbons and paper clips (just in case that paper clip emergency comes), take a pen and write the ingredients for Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe… Tonnarelli, Cacio, Pepe!  The Romans like to keep it simple (Carbonara, Gricia).  And when I was in Rome last year, in a way I was disappointed that I wasnt exactly blown away by all the wonderful Carbonaras and Cacio e Pepes because Maialino quite frankly spoiled it for me.  If you’ve never had this dish before perhaps because “pasta with cheese and pepper” doesnt sound very enticing, now is a good time to have it.

Maialino - Cacio e pepe

Stracci at Osteria Morini – From the one who knocks I bring to you the one dish that you will not find in Emilia Romagna out of that splendid ER inspired menu.  Wonderfully chewy wide ribbon pasta inherits the juices of the succulent braised mushrooms.  I would be happy with just the mushrooms.  It was love at first Stracci at one of my favorite Italians in town

Osteria Morini Stracci

 

Pasta with White Truffles At ?? – Ok for this one you need to do a little bitsy homework.  Its white truffle season at the time of this writing and you can enjoy your Tagliatelle, risotto, scrambled eggs, pizza, car keys or anything else you desire with White Truffles from Alba, Tuscany or Umbria.  I know Lincoln, Maialino, Marta have it currently and last year The NoMad (below) offered it at cost.  Its a feast for all senses, especially the nose.  Me?  I’m not touching the stuff this season in this town, as I’m heading to the source, Alba white Truffle festival.  Buon Appetito!  Ciao, Ziggy

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Categories: Chelsea, Gramercy, Flatiron, Midtown West, New York City, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita, West Village | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I Rank Empanada Mama’s Empanadas

photo 2A Hell’l Kitchen Guide staple from day one, this mama hasnt skipped a beat since it opened.  Even when things seem slow everywhere else in the neighborhood (between lunch and dinner), these guys are busy.  I’ve gone on a special empanada diet for the past few weeks.  And for the purpose of this post, I picked 10 Empanadas which consists of all the popular ones, plus a few I was just curious about (e.g. polish).  Scoring is 1 to 10 Z’s, with 10 Z’s being the best.  Congratulations to the winners.

ZZZZZZZZZ (9) – SPICY CHICKEN.  The creme de la creme.  Chunks of chicken breast slowly cooked in mama’s special picante sauce which is reminiscent of the Israeli S’chug, a fiery delicious Yemeni spread.   This is the definition of “pleasant Heat” that stays with you for a few hours.  Fairly spicy, not for everyone

ZZZZZZZZ (8) – BRASIL – Traditional Brazilian style empanada with ground beef, olives, sauteed onions, and potatoes.  Juicy, flavor packed with excellent depth.

ZZZZZZZz (7.5) – CUBAN – Slowly roasted pork, ham with mozzarella cheese and a touch of sofrito sauce.   Very nice!  The ham and the sauce take this to another level

ZZZZZZZz (7.5) – DESAYUNO COLOMBIANO – Colombian sausage, cheddar cheese, eggs and Spanish onion.  A solid breakfast snack that’s available throughout the day.

ZZZZZZZ (7) – VIAGRA – Seafood stew with shrimp, scallops, and crab meat.  The shrimp half is a bit boring, but then when you get to the other stuff.. oooh boy!  Nice fishy flavors.  The Viagra especially goes well with the Brazil!

ZZZZZZZ (7) – TJC – Mama’s tuna melt with cheddar cheese and jalapenos.  While I didnt rate it here because I havent had in a while, the Tuna/Jalapeno Empanada (no cheese) may be even better

ZZZZZZZ (7) – MAMBO ITALIANO – Roasted Italian sweet sausage with red and green peppers, onions, mozzarella cheese and a touch of tomato sauce.  Pretty much exactly what you’d expect…  Sausage and Peppers

ZZZZZZ (6) – POLISHPolish sausage (Kielbasa) sauteed with sauerkraut.  Good if not a bit bland.  I like my Kielbasas a bit tangier.

ZZZZZ (5) – REGGAETONCaribbean style roast pork with sofrito seasoned yellow rice and peas.  I’ve enjoyed this in the past but now finding it a little dry and in desperate need of that green sauce.  Would have been better without the rice

ZZZZ (4) – CHEESESTEAKSkirt steak with mozzarella cheese and a Latin twist.  The latin twist is it squirts all over the place when opened!  Steak a bit tough, no flavor, no likey

Even though I ranked the Polish and Reggaeton at the bottom, the only one I would avoid is the last one.  Reggaeton is fairly popular.

The green sauce is nice.  Red sauce not so much

photo 3photo 1

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Five Pre-Theater Restaurants to Target

Taboon inside

Taboon

The other day I was checking out a restaurant in the theater district for a friend and the very first line of the first Yelp review made me almost spit out the Shawarma I was eating.  “Theater District is well known for its dining”.  What? Where? Boise?  If you say it out loud to someone in the subway you will get crazy stink eye stares from the locals.  The pre-theater bunch on 46th street and around has plenty of decent options like Carmen’s, Becco, Basso56 and its not necessarily a bad idea to dress up and go to one of those.  Most likely the average place is an upgrade over Boise.  But considering the level of cooking you find everywhere else in NYC, the truth is that Theater District dining is close to the bottom of the pack.

But the point of this post is not to slam Theater District dining, though I do get some pleasure from it it seems.  The point is to make it easier for the Hell’s Kitchen’s guide followers to pick a solid, affordable but somewhat unconventional place to eat before or after your show.  The HK guide is one big mishmash of mostly cheap ethnic eats, not really suitable for pre-theater unless thats what you are after.  So to make it easier for the readers I’ve flushed out five places out of the guide where you can have an exceptional meal.  All these places are not in the district but close enough (5-10 minute extra walk on average depending on the size of your heels).  Or you can just take a 5 minute taxi ride that will add $5 to your $500 evening.  I think you can afford it

Taboon (Middle Eastern)

In that spot (10th/53rd) you gotta be good to succeed.  Nothing but data centers, a liquor store, a deli and appartment buildings surround you.  Taboon utilizes its good looking “Taboon” oven to create the type of Mediterranean/Middle Eastern dishes that will make your kids put down their phones and tell you about their day.  Yes, that powerful.  One of the top chefs in Israel help create the menu for Taboon initially.  Try any of their bread specialties, the chicken with the Israeli couscous (big and bubbly just like I like em), and the sick Silan, one of my favorites desserts in the city.

Taboon

Danji (Korean)

An instant winner with the Michelin man, this Hooni Kim’s Korean inspired tapas joint dishes out greatness in consistent fashion.  When you sit next to your new friend at the Broadway show who will boast about her Filet Mignon at Joe Allen, astonish her with the Tofu with Ginger Scallion Soy Vinaigrette, and the fiery Korean Chicken Wings, Bulgogi Beef Sliders and the Pork BibimBop you just attacked at Danji.  And after you explain to her what a Bibimbop is, perhaps its also a good time to tell her that there’s also a Joe Allen in Miami Beach where she lives and/or she can get a decent filet mignon in Boise

Danji

Mercato (Italian)

You have a plethora of Italian joints in the area.  Plenty of mediocre ones with Becco and Carmens one of the better and most popular, especially with families seeking family style dining.  But I have a different spin on “family style”.  Instead of sharing one huge chicken parm and penne alla vodka (Carmens) or order the all you can eat pastas of the day (Becco) why not share four or five different pastas that are much closer to the true south Italy cooking, vs the the south Italy cooking Americans often confuse with.  Pastas like the stupendous but simple Trenette with garlic, almonds, tomato and basil, or the rich gnocchi with finger licking beef and pork ragu, or the pasta of the day like the Cavatelli.  This is true Italian, by Italians, with Italian accents (for those with a Fish Called Wanda syndrome)

Mercato

The Marshal (American)

Sysco, Cargill, Fats R Us, are some examples of names you will see if all the area restaurants would require to print their distributors on the back of their menus.  But at the Marshal you will see the 14 local farms they deal with to produce just about every ingredient on the menu.  This is our answer to Slow Food in Italy.  If something is no longer on the menu it means its not currently grown.  A brilliant sides lineup, along with the best bread and butter in the area, followed by roasted chicken, meatloaf, best mussels this side of Newfoundland, and an amazing ice cream sundae to boot.  American food, in America, cooked by Americans (with a little bit of help by Central Americans!)

The Marshal - Bread

Ippudo (Ramen)

You may not be able to hear each other,  but you will have more fun than 96.5% of all the restaurants in the district.  Between all the shouting of the staff every time someone comes in (“welcome”), leaves (“Thank You”) or goes to the bathroom (“aim well”), and the slurping of the best noodle soup you will ever have, you wont have time to talk to your spouse anyway.  Dont be surprised if you are the only none Asian couple in the room (unless you are not a non Asian couple of course).  The best pork buns in the city (I tried a bunch) and you will be hard pressed to find better Ramen than the splendid Akamaru Modern

Happy Eating!

 

Ippudo

 

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Somtum Der and Hava Nagila Shoes

Somtum Der BarThe other day I went to a fairly lavish wedding.  There was caviar, lobsters, oysters, and all sorts of opulence.  Heck, I even had to not only wear a suit and tie, but also the special shoes that are hidden in the hers and hers closet.  The special Hava Nagila shoes!  You know, the ones that you only allowed can take out when there’s Hava Nagila involved.  Another words, a big, special event.  So we danced, we laughed, we cried, and we met some unexpected familiar faces which was a big surprise since I came expecting to know no one.  In fact when someone asked me how I’m related, I said “you know the mother of the bride?  I know her boss”  Meaning my wife.  That’s the only person I knew.  But on this day, with all the caviar and all the wonderful things I ate, the best things I ate was fried chicken and grilled marinated pork, just 5 hours earlier at Somtum Der with none other than the Hummus Whisperer.

Somtum Der Lemongrass drinkSomtum Der is the type of place you wouldnt caught me dead wearing Hava Nagila shoes.  Meaning she will kill me if I ever attempt this terrible crime.  But the place is pretty neat.  I normally avoid eating Thai outside of Hell’s Kitchen since Hell’s Kitchen is fairly represented.  You want Isan cooking, we got that.  You want Ratchaburi, Hell’s Kitchen got that too.  But there were two places outside of HK that I wanted to try for a long time.  Somtum Der and Uncle Boons.  One down, one to go.

Somtum Der is a newish Isan, joining Zabb Elee, Larb Ubol and the great Queens Isan joints.  Isan is the historically poor Northeast Thailand region.  Normally poor means a lot of seasoning to compensate for the otherwise uneatable meats and fish.  Poor = creative = opportunity.  Like the folks in Turin, Italy back in the day, who added hazelnuts to chocolates to compensate for the great cocoa shortage, hence opening the doors to Nutella, Ferrero Rocher and every chocolate with hazelnut out there you’ve enjoyed all those years.

Papaya salad

Papaya salad

This Isan feels different than the rest.  The Papaya here is king as the name implies (Somtum means Green Papaya Salad.  Der means Dare as in “I dare you Americans to eat our Green Papaya Salad”).  In fact, “Papaya King” was replaced in the title by “Hava Nagila shoes” midway through the article.  Yes, thats how I operate.  Sickening isnt it?  But dont worry, I’m seeking help.  The menu is filled with 8 papaya salads.  Like kindergartners, we chose the one on the menu with the biggest picture, the one that says “Recommended”, while the rest of them either said “Not Recommended” or “Not Obamacare Friendly” (meaning, Thai spicy).  Our Tum Thai Kai Kem, papaya salad with salted egg was just right.  Just what one would expect from a Papaya Salad.  Some traditionalists may expect something more fiery but it was just right.

“Sharing is Caring” is the motto here, eating with forks and fingers, no knives (just like in Laos inspired Khe-Yo.  Laos is Isan’s neighbor, sharing some of the dishes and traditions.  Papaya salad was actually invented in Laos).  The Khao Moo Tod Kratiam Prik, fried garlic pork with jasmine rice and fried egg was good, Sa Poak Kai Tod Der der-style deep-fried chicken thigh was one of the highlights.  Moist, juicy, very flavorful, and not greasy at all.  Moo Ping Kati Sod grilled coconut milk marinated beef skewers was another winner.  “Moo” oddly means pork, not beef, but you can sub it with beef.  A tiny bit dry but excellent profound sweet coconut flavors.  Perhaps the dish of the day was the Moo Rong Hai Derhouse special grilled marinated pork.  Fantastic seasoning producing deep lasting flavors, with two coconut rice sticks to help cool things off.  Just about each dish came with the house made hot sauce, other than the rice dish which came with fish sauce.  The only disappointment was the Sai Krok Isan, fried Isan sausages.  Not much flavor, or crunch on those sausages.  We tried to revive them with fish sauce, hot sauce, mouth to mouth to no avail

Marinated Pork

Marinated Pork

Dont leave without trying their refreshing Lemongrass Juice, and Thai Iced Tee.  In that order.  They were sadly out of the Taro in Condensed Coconut Milk, but the Thai Tee Panna Catta was surprisingly scrumptious.  It tasted just like Thai Iced Tea.  Cant wait to try the rest of the picture friendly menu

Somtum Der
85 Avenue A
$$
Recommended Dishes: Lemongrass Juice, Sa Poak Kai Tod Der, Moo Ping Kati Sod, Moo Rong Hai Der, Tum Thai Kai Kem

Rice and Pork

Rice and Pork

Beef Skewers

Beef Skewers

Chicken

Chicken

Sausages

Sausages

Somtum Der

Categories: East Village, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fan Mail

One of the unexpected joys of being a popular blogger is reading all the various fan mail one receives as a result.  I never shared any of this before because I normally view this sort of thing as private matter.  But lately, the amount, and the sheer magnitude of the love portrayed in those letters is inspiring and uplifting.  And while sharing some of them with you readers, I can only hope that you may find inspiration as well.  To protect the privacy of the fans, I will only repeat the first few lines, the most important ones, along with my response…

“Jenny26 wants a booty call” – See what I mean by “Uplifting”?  I’m most touched by this, especially since I never met this person

“Ziggy Brazilian girls Have Recently Viewed Your Profile” – Thank you! I worked very hard on that profile and I’m glad Brazilian fans viewed it.

“Natalia Wants to Mary You” – If you are new to blogging, you may be experiencing doubts at this point.  This should help you erase them.  For some reason the Russian fans go straight to the marriage proposals.

“How are you sexy? Its me Adriana you remember me from Facebook? I saw your pictures today and you’re CUTE!”  Of course I remember you Adriana, dont be silly.  But I have to ask you one last time to please stop emailing me (You also mistakenly sent one to Mrs Z looks like).  What happened in the Finger Lakes stays in Finger Lakes.  Kapeesh?

“Ziggy, Asian girls are interested in meeting you”  Well, this is a little more direct than the Brazilian girls situation.  I presume the Asian girls already looked at my profile, and are now taking the next step.  Again, I’m touched

“Do You Have These Symptoms? Fatigue, Stress, Weight Gain, Bloating”  From the more concerned fans I suppose.  Yes, of course, all foodies probably experience this symptoms at some point.  Fish oil helps the bloating a little, and another fan recommended baby wipes which I should probably try.  Its almost like a team!

“Records Indicate you May Qualify for New FHA Reverse Mortgage Plans” – Ok, so I’m probably not the expert on this, but I suspect that this is spam!  Just wanted to point out the difference between spam and not.

“A Stronger, Thicker, Improved Performance P…” – Yes please.  It sure looks like I’ll need it between all of this

PS.  This is that time of the year where I send a lot of email to Italy to reserve stuff, and I wonder where the return mail is.  So I have to look at the fan folder on occasion.

Categories: New York City | 2 Comments

Great Vietnamese Combo at Cull & Pistol

Cull & Pistol Lobster PhoIt hit me, like the sharp dressed man, missing a step, stumbling on the steps of the subway today, that I havent been to Chelsea Market since spring.

But lets stay with the stumbler for just a minute.  Have you ever stumbled while walking and decided that its the perfect opportunity to start jogging so to avoid the embarrassment of stumbling.  That doesnt work very well sometimes, especially if you are wearing heels, or a suit.  The frontal balding stumbler this morning, wearing a sharp black suit, holding a suitcase in one hand and a bag in the other, stumbled on the next to last step coming off the subway into street level.  But he’s waaaay to proud to stumble.  The folks behind him, me included watched in horror as he tries to regain his balance by stumbling and pretty much jogging his way into a full blown puddle after refusing to go down initially.  I admire the baldy’s perseverance and technique but a quick fall would have been far more graceful.  His entire right leg along with the $800 Salvatore Ferragamo shoes was inside a puddle on a beautiful sunny day.  I dont know about you but this is why I go to work.

I also go to work to eat, and this week has proven very interesting so far.  I came to Cull & Pistol looking for more Uni Tagliatelle (below) but instead I got back to back visits eating some of the best Banh Mi and Pho I’ve had in NYC.  Introduced just this Friday as part of a new Fall menu.

Swordfish sandwich was simply outstanding.  Hoisin glazed, moist, meaty Swordish, pickled carrots, ginger aioli in a nice warm baguette.  Swordish is a tough fish, and I normally try to avoid after having one too many dry ones.  But this preparation nailed it.

Cull & Pistol Banh Mi

Lobster Pho the next day was even better.  Lobster stock with vermicelli, lobster and hake chunks, mussels, with strong lemongrass action.  It was served with a plate of condiments that included coriander, basil, and mint leaves.  I turned possessed while eating this thing, like eating after a fast.

Cull and Pistol, is quite possibly Chelsea Markets biggest gem, somewhat hidden.  Its owned by the same team that owns Lobster Place next door, and so they share some of the same fresh seafood.  In addition to the fantastic squid ink Taglietelle with Uni you also have a hefty lobster roll with fries, fish and chips, and the scrumptious Long Island Clam Toast with ham from Disckson’s a few doors down.

Check it out.  Just watch your step.  And try not to open the main door unless you dont mind suddenly turning into a door man waiting for an entire polish tour group to walk in.  Just let someone else open the door for you

Cull and Pistol Tagliatelle Cull and Pistol Clam Toast Cull and Pistol Fish and Chips Cull and Pistol Lobster Roll Cull and Pistol Counter

Categories: Chelsea, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hell’s Kitchen – What’s Up?

Pad Ped Moo Krob at Larb UbolI haven’t eaten much to write about lately.  Partly due to religious holidays where I either had to eat at the in-laws or survive the annual semi fast (eat light, not brush teeth..).  So I’m taking this opportunity to update you all that there are no updates to the Hell’s Kitchen guide.  “That’s it.  He officially ran out of things to write about”  So, so not true.  I have plenty of things to write about.  Like, about the wonderful fan mail I’m finding in my Spam box lately (Brazilian girls are big fans apparently, all sorts of Russian marriage proposals, quality of life improvement suggestions…).   Anyway, here’s what’s happening in the neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen lately

Pizza.  New gourmet pizzas are popping up everywhere these days in the area.  I already discussed Pamela… err I mean Annabel (confusing spam email fans).  Vinyl owners teamed up with NYC-LA-Back to NYC chef Jason Neroni to open B-Side (Get it? Vinyl, B-Side?  I actually don’t get it). It looks very promising and I plan to check it out very soon.   There’s another place on the Capizzi side of the area that I’m long overdue for a first visit.

Larb Ubol (above) – Big Mazal Tov to LU for joining the coveted Michelin Bib Gourmet list, awarded to best cheap(er) eats.  Although awarding the same distinction to Khe-Yo means that I dont quite understand the qualification or I should probably get half of my Khe-Yo check back

Danji – Losing their Michelin star this week.  Does this mean it should be avoided?  My theory is that the Michelin inspector sat in the same seat as I did a few weeks ago where I couldn’t open the drawer at the bottom to get the menu out as it was hitting against the side of the wall.  That’s the only explanation I have since the menu hasn’t changed since they got the star, and the dishes come out in consistent fashion

Oxtail – One of the best things I’ve eaten lately is the Oxtail soup at Pam Real Thai.  With two Thai places already on the list I’m not so quick to add a third, but this soup is tremendous.  Pleasant heat, A LOT of pleasant heat, with deep lasting flavors and a coupe of hefty meaty bones.  There are all sorts of amazing soups in the area I’m enjoying lately, perhaps worthy of a post?

No Addition – Not that I’m not trying new places.  Briciola – Feh! and awkward.  Puff Cha – Dido.  But trying desperately to like it.  I’m completely content however with the current list and dont feel the need to add anything.

Now, back to fan mail…

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Meet Dave!

DaveDave is a husky, meaty fella with a fiery personality.  He answers to no one and a master of his own domain.  When opportunity knocks and he’s not home, opportunity waits.  You get the idea?  Dave is the latest City Sandwich sandwich I tried and quite possibly my new favorite in this Portuguese Sandwich mecca.  With ample amount of fresh minced sausage, chili pepper, garlic, olive oil, melted mozzarella, and peppers for the occasional much needed acid.  This was meaty, sharp and pleasantly fiery with a great finish.  Winner!

City SandwichBut as with any other sandwich at City Sandwich, it all starts with the bread of dreams.  Naples born Chef Guerrieri who spent a lot of time cooking in Lisbon, fell in love with the Portuguese bread and spent a lot of time looking for the right formula.  Thankfully we have a large Portuguese community in NJ where he was able to find that diamond in the rough.  To me its like the perfect Po-Boy baguette.  A hollow interior, and an exterior that has just enough teeth friendly crunch.  This is as good as sandwich bread gets.

Other than Dave, there are plenty of other winners here.  Todd is perhaps the most popular… Smoked Portuguese Pancetta, Tomato, Seasonal Lettuce, Honey Dijon and Yogurt Sauce.  Yogurt and olive oil is what you’ll find here generally instead of mayo.  And before you complain about the +$10 prices, just try to buy these ingredients (including bread) separately.  Besides meat sandwiches, there are also vegetarian and egg sandwiches like Bench Girl which I had a few weeks ago.  Omelet, Portuguese Alheira sausage, spinach, Melted Mozzarella and olive oil.  The egg took center stage at this one in a very good way.   They also have daily specials which at times can be seasonal like the Sofia below, with battered Zucchini blossoms.  This is perhaps the only sandwich in NYC that is destination worthy.

City Sandwich has been in Hell’s Kitchen Survival Guide from day one as the lone sandwich representative.  There’s a very simple explanation on why you dont see any Eating with Ziggy mentions on their front window.  There’s no more room.

If you check-in via Yelp while waiting for your order (you just need to install yelp and check in) you get a free Panna Cotta.  And somehow I missed the fact that they make those little Lisbon style Pastels that we’ve been munching on daily when we visited Portugal, which remains near and dear to our hearts (the country, not that pastries.  Ok the pastries too)

City Sandwich
649 9th Ave

Sofia

 

 

Categories: Midtown West, New York City | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Osteria Morini – From The One Who Knocks

Osteria Morini CalamariUpdate 9/30/14:

Another fantastic meal at one of my favorite Italian trattorias in NYC.  While the entire city is still recovering from their brunch or stands in line to see the new Central Perk, we enjoy our traditional early Sunday meal at a half full restaurant.

Breaded Grilled Calamari as good as before, except that I’ve enjoyed the little salad with the yogurt a little bit more this time.  Used the bread to “Scarpetta” the heck out of this thing.  When in Emilia you eat the Salumi which is top notch here.  Mortadella from Bologna, not upstate NY as you find in other places.    Funky aged Prosciutto di Parma, and even funkier Felino Salame.  I will be passing by the town of Felino where that Salame is made in the ER in about a month time.  Wait until Mrs Ziggy finds out that we have an hour drive for lunch that day

Osteria Morini Salumi

Had another great round of the fabulous Cappelletti and Stracci as the middle course.  The Stracci with mushrooms especially is addictive.  Its wide ribbon pasta that takes a lot of that braised mushroom juice with a little bit tomato, garlic, and rosemary oil.  I wouldn’t mind eating just those mushrooms as its own dish.  Tagliatelle Ragu is as good as Tagliatelle Ragu Bolognese can get in NYC.  The freshness of the pasta is very evident.  The only thing we didn’t care for was their deconstructed oversalted Porchetta.  Cauliflower and Escarole Gratin side dish was fine.  No dessert, 2 glasses of wine, 2 kids, one wife, $210 after tip

Osteria Morini Stracci

Original 9/24/13 Post:

Its the last Breaking Bad reference this month I promise you readers.  I have no doubt that when I will look at this post a year from now I may either not understand the title, or feel too embarrassed about it.  I already feel that way when I look at my old posts.  At the very least some posts trigger a “What was I thinking” like this one.  Did I really take that picture just so I can have a picture.  Whatever!  Sometimes, the content correlates with the mood at the time.  And when I read them with a different frame of mind I cant help but wonder.

I not only have trouble keeping up with NYC restaurant scene, I have trouble keeping up with the Kardashians, and Michael White, who is opening new places left and right seems like.  I already wrote about Costata where I met the man, and Marea has long been my favorite.  While I still haven’t made it to Ai Fiori, I finally made it to Osteria Morini today (yes with the hummus whisperer yet again).  I have to admit I was a little skeptical about this one, but boy was it good.

Calamari breaded, “cheesed” and lightly fried was some of the best calamari Ive had in a while.  Served with a yogurt sauce and a nice salad.  Fantastic starter.

Prosciutto and Mortadella Meatballs – Cant get much more flavorful than this.  Melt in your mouth tender goodness.  Well donOsteria Morini - Cappellettie!

Stracci (wide ribbon pasta) with wild mushrooms and Rosemary Oil – Delicious!  Mr White sure loves his Rosemarys.  Ive seen this pasta on some “Top 100 pastas in NYC” list.  You may think this is not saying much, but in NYC it does.  Its an honor to be nominated.

Cappelletti (above)- Basically ricotta ravioli with prosciutto and hints of truffles – Outstanding.  Airy sweet and savory ravioli, reminiscent of a similar dish at Giovanni Rana.

This is Emilia Romagna cooking at a high level.  The only other place I know that does ER well is Da Andrea but something tells me without setting foot in ER (planning next year) that Osteria Morini stays a bit truer to the region .  Here White pays homage to his mentor Gianluigi Morini owner of the famed San Domenico near Bologna.  This is the source of Mr White’s inspiration

Mr White is a trend setter.  He Is The One Who Knocks!

Osteria Morini
218 Lafayette St
$$$
Recommended Dishes: Meatballs, Calamari, Salumi (choose 3 or 5), Stracci, Cappelletti, Tagliatelle with Ragu

Osteria Morini Taglietelle Osteria Morini Porchetta

 

Osteria Morini meetballOsteria Morini

Categories: New York City, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Marta – Roman Rule, Stage 2

Marta Patate alla Carbonara

Important Update Below!

In Rome, a tourist can come and go back to the boat or hotel room without ever experiencing the true Roman Pizzerie.  And there’s a very simple explanation to that.  It’s closed!  The tourist may have seen pizza by the slice (Pizza a Taglio) at some stores or bakeries and may have enjoyed some of those, and perhaps a pizza Bianca or 3, but for the true Roman Pizza experience you need to seek out the wood burning oven joints that are normally open at night only.  Some open as late as 8.  I can go on and on explaining why pizzeries are open so late and that Italians take their lunches more serious than Americans, and historically even more serious than dinner… But I have to make this post quick because I have to go feed the kids and check their homework, and yell at them for not vacuuming the kitchen (I have muffin crumbs stuck to my feet.  Tastes like chocolate so its them).

Marta's Nick AndererSo while Romans have to wait until 8 to eat their pizza, new Yorkers can now have it starting at noon.  It would have been just as odd to make this one evenings only for New Yorkers, as taking away a free bread basket at the Italian restaurant near you.

Roman Pizza is Matzoh-like thin.  Danny Meyer and Nick Anderer’s second Roman venture Marta opened 5 days ago in the Martha Washington hotel.  Nick is there mopping the floor and inspecting every pie coming out to make sure its Kosher.  Get a seat at the bar to watch the team in action including Rabbi Nick inspect every pie coming out of the wood burning oven.  He lifts the pies up as he looks for consistency, a crisp bottom (dont we all) and to make sure he sees the ceiling light fixtures through it.

Started with the Popettini di Maccheron, a pair of aromatic fried pasta balls with tasty tomato pecorino sauce.  The balls had a hard solid exterior which provided a nice crunch, unlike your average Arancini that break apart when you just stare at them

Marta Pasta Balls

I broke my own rule and started with something other than Margherita (I do it often these days and I’m not liking it).  This is the Salsiccia – Mozzarella, Tomato, Pork Sausage, Crimini Mushrooms.  Very good overall.  Not soggy whatsoever, cracker crisp at the edges and fairly crispy thoughout.  No forks were hurt or needed in the process to scoop up ingredients trying to escape.  Nicely done!  With Roman pies I found that less is more, meaning the more ingredients and toppings you add the less exciting the pie gets.  This was simple enough with good flavor, but I do want to try the Margherita next.  And the rest of the good looking, fried filled menu.

Update 9/28/14:  Two more fantastic meals at Marta.  Patate Alla Gricia – Good amount of potato with Guanciale, Pecorino, Black Pepper, and egg which was a supplement at that time.  The Gricia was later replaced with Patate Alla Carbonara.  Same potato, Guanciale, Pecorino but now with lovely egg “juice” poured all over the pie.   While I missed some of the original black pepper this was still quite fantastic.  Another must is the Rabbit Meatballs with fresh Ricotta – Some of the best tasting meatballs I’ve had in NYC (though I fully admit I’m saying it quite often lately).  The plain Margherita is where you can really appreciate the thinless of this thing.  Any thinner than this and you get an Olsen twin.  Once done with the pies dont let them take the tray away until you have a chance to play with the crust crackers leftover.  By play I mean eat (for the bread fetish readers).  The chicken here is delicious as well.  Its what every family BBQ chicken should taste like.  Its beer brined and the result is super moist, juicy, and very flavorful.  Gelato sandwich is more than a respectable finish.

Marta (Martha Washington Hotel)
29 East 29th Street
$$
Recommended Dishes:  Rabbit Meatballs, Patate Alla Carbonara, Chicken, Ice Cream Sandwich

Marta Rabbit Meatballs

Marta Rabbit Meatballs

Marta Patate Alla Gricia

Patate Alla Gricia

053

impeccable concentration

Marta Margherita Marta Crsut Marta Chicken Marta Ice Cream Sandwich Marta Smile Marta 077

Marta - Pizza

Sausage Cremini Mushrooms

Marta - Pasta Balls

Categories: Gramercy, Flatiron, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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