Monthly Archives: December 2016

Ulivo – Meet the Widow Maker

ulivo-widow-makerAlthough I made reservations at Ulivo a few weeks ago, it wasnt until the day before when I finally accepted the difficult fact that may change Xmas for us forever.  On this Xmas eve the Ziggy family will not eat Chinese food.  Shocking, I know.  It was mainly due to the following factors:  I’ve been blessing myself with way too much Chinese food as of late (I’ve been to the new Chaan Teng in Hell’s Kitchen three times in the past 2 weeks).  We havent had a big family Italian meal pretty much since Sicily (although I’ve been desperately trying to return to Lilia with no avail).

But the main reason for my visit is to finally have a proper meal at Mercato’s vivacious sister Ulivo.  I vowed to bring the family since I first tried it in the summer.  Besides, half a year after opening is the best time to go, after the establishment figures out what works and what doesnt.  This is also why I rather take 10 recent Yelp reviews as opposed to one NYT review two year ago, right after the place opened.

But Ulivo’s main focus from day uno, its bread and butter or EVOO if you will, is the stuff that comes out from the machine pictured above.  I got an Espresso Maker as a holiday gift which I appreciate dont get me wrong.  But I do have a special room in the house that I keep vacant for that one special something.  Its nicely decorated with a blue and sailor motif.  And when I show the house I often get a “Oh, is it for a future boy in your life”, “Kind of.  Its for my Pasta machine”.  I dubbed this one the Widow Maker because I know that would be the end of me (in a very good way) once I get my hands on one of these.  Its the creme de la creme of pasta machines.  So not surprisingly Ulivo’s 12 fresh and 2 dry pastas mask much of the menu.  Though the two dry ones are not exactly the forgotten Jonas brothers.

I know those guys.  I know them from my many visits to Mercato.  They dont look to sensationalize or wow with ingredient combinations that make the “Hot Lists” or Instagram.  Although they were close with the now more subdued pasta with crab.  They just want to continue making regional, mostly southern, dishes with the best ingredients possibly.  They dont just want to attract locals and visitors, but also Italian expats seeking homeland flavors.  They are not shy to incorporate some ingredients like Bottarga (fish roe) and anchovies that some may find too strong.  And as is the case in the south and the islands (Sicily, Sardinia), fresh tomato sauce is a key ingredient.  Here’s what we ate…

*** Dark, hurried iPhone photos Alert***

Potato and Prosciutto Croquettes, Arancini.  Special app that evening.  This was an excellent starter, in particular the croquettes.  What a difference some Prosciutto make.  A nice little ode to Sicilian street snacks

ulivo-salumiSalumi and Formaggi.  Solid all around.  Properly sliced Bolognese Mortadella. Culatello from Zibello which is not commonly found in NYC.  Sopressata without that Sopressata funk that I dislike sometimes.  Silky smooth Burrata, along with other aged cheeses that fill your mouth with nutty goodness.

Polpo – This is where things begin to get interesting.  What looked like an entire smallish Portuguese Octopus, lightly fried, bathed in an addictive spicy puree of Fava ‘nduja.

Busiate – One of the only places in NYC where you can find real Busiate imported from Sicily.  They keep it simple here just like in just about every Trattoria in Trapani.  Pesto made with almonds, fresh tomato, basil, and garlic.  Similar in a way to the Trenette in Mercato.  As much as I wish to see a more elaborate Busiate (eggplant, swordfish, pistachios, etc), I do get that its very hard to get the proper ingredient here, especially fresh swordfish.

Schiaffoni – This is the pasta with crab that made my best pasta list, although its a little more subdued now as its missing much of the crab. I had a feeling that may happen as eating it was a messy affair, but they may have other reasons.  You still have a few claws and the terrific crab flavor of the Paccheri-like pasta, but wife wasnt a fan.

Paccheri – A special that night with lamb ragu and tomatoes.  No complaints here.

Gnocchi – This is Ricotta Gnocchi.  Small, potent cubes topped with a veal Ragu. Full of flavor, just like the meaty Gnocchi in Mercato

Dessert – After a meal this rich, a nice proper Tiramisu fits the bill, and this version is as solid and light as it gets.  Though for something richer you may opt for the pictured Chocolaty Ricotta Tortino.

This is another solid option in the increasingly posh hotel district NoMad.  The main difference with this one is the lack of coverage which makes it easier to reserve even on a Saturday night.  This why you need Uncle Ziggy!

Ulivo
4 W 28th St (5/6) NoMad/Flatiron
Rating: Two Z’s (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as that
Recommended Dishes: Salumi, Polpo, Busiate, Schiaffoni, Gnocchi, Tiramisu

ulivo-gnocchiulivo-busiateulivo-ricotta-tortino

Advertisements
Categories: Gramercy, Flatiron, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Case for Private

meta-chartFull story on the still work in progress hottest, most talked about tour site in town.  As in “Hey, did you hear about Ziggy’s new web site?”  “Yes I did, I heard its still a work in progress”, “Yeah, but it looks so clean and neat”, “Yah?”, “Yah!!”

The Case for Private

 

 

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

Mission Chinese 2.0: Possible

Eating With Ziggy

Mission Chinese Dumplings

December 20th Update:

Mission Chinese Food continues to tickle and tackle my taste buds.  But at the same time its becoming more and more apparent that not all dishes work for everyone, and my ability to properly select from this menu is shaky at best.  It almost seems like its strength and claim to fame, the ultra fiery stuff, is also its weakness.  People either love the numbing heat or hate it, while the hate is strong enough to keep its Yelp score shockingly low for a place with such profile.  But even much of the love..  “The wings were KILLA, but I couldnt finish more than 3” is questionable.  In a normal world, you dont recommend a dish you personally gave up after eating laboring a quarter of it.

To me the strength lies in the more subdued plates.  Like the Green Tea Noodles, and the simple but proper fried chicken.  A less subdued solid discovery…

View original post 847 more words

Categories: New York City | Leave a comment

American Cut Burger Bar – NYC’s Best Kept Lunch Secret?

american-cut-mfcBloggers who lunch.  Doesnt quite have the same ring to it, but holds much truth.  Bloggers love to eat, and unlike many others respect and value each lunch like their life dependent on it.  There’s nothing more disappointing than a lunch fail, or checking the hours of a hot tip only to discover they open at 6 pm.  Well, I guess I can think of a few things more disappointing (current Walking Dead season feels like the writers got replaced with real zombies) but you understand what I mean.  Talking to some restaurant owners lately, like Bruno Pizza, you get a sense that they would really love to open for lunch but just dont have the talent to do so.  Not to mention the slower lunch demand in residential neighborhoods like East Village and Hell’s Kitchen.

Even Yelp is confused on how to handle the current hours of Z-List noob American Cut, as its listing the restaurant, not the bar.  But the “Burger Bar” is open in Tribeca and it might be NYC’s biggest lunch secret.  You see for a while fellow Anguilla lover Marc Forgione and American Cut offered limited burgers at the bar.  They would send a tweet each day at 4:20 to announce how many burgers were available.  As a result, people started missing parole interviews and would forget to pick up their kids from daycare, in order to get a crack at the burger.  After day care owners complained, and local senior citizens petitioned that they cant get there fast enough, American Cut decided to convert its bar into a Burger Bar with its own dedicated menu a la a less fancy NoMad Bar.

And as you can imagine, burgers dominate much of the menu.  There’s a burger of the day, a “competition” shake shack like sounding burger (perhaps thats why its called competition), and a full 8 oz American Cut Burger.  Gotta start this new relationship with the namesake, which is a proper steakhouse burger.  A perfectly cooked medium rare patty of brisket, short rib and dry aged rib eye, with bourbon onions and beer cheese.  Beer cheese!   A common thing if you are from Wisconsin, but not so much in NYC.  Some will scold at the idea, but if the option is there to add egg, I do it even on premium beef.  This burger ranks high up there with the best of them.american-cut-burger

And then there’s the MFC, Marc Forgione’s Chicken which I had on another day.  Possibly the most outrageous fried chicken sandwich in a city suddenly filled with outrageous fried chickens.  Buttermilk/Tobasco marinaded, sprinkled with a special spice blend from the spice master Lior Lev Sercarz, and coated with Chili peppercorn honey which you get more on the side.  The chicken lies between two house made everything Biscuits lightly smothered with their own ranch, and pickles.  It all somehow works nicely, with the juicy tender crispy chicken leading the way.  Only caveat is that the sandwich is a little large and to eat it can be a little laborious.  But the way I see it, to fully enjoy a Marc Forgione’s Chicken, you need to work it my friend!  Ok ok, sounded funnier in my head

Another little issue with both the chicken and the burger is that the slaw you get on the side is a little too oniony (and i love oniony).  And the fries the second time around were overcooked, otherwise they can be solid.  Go!

American Cut Burger Bar
363 Greenwich St (Franklin/Harrison), Tribeca
Rating: Two Z’s (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as thatamerican-cut-burger-bar

Categories: New York City, TriBeCa | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eating in Prague

Eating With Ziggy

Krystal Mozaika Bistro Lamb ShankPraha, what took you so long.  Such beauty, such history, such personality, such food?  Yes, apparently!  The popular notion that its not especially known for its food scene may have something to do with our hesitation all those years.  Conclusion after three days:  Color me surprised, and impressed, and.. a little heavier full.  There were beer gardens, bistros, and even street vendors, all cooking with high degree of skill.  Some meals were better than others (hint: pay special attention to the last three) but overall we did not have a bad one, a rarity during our travels.  Every meal offered something.  Whether it was the food, the Provaznice menubeverages, the location, or in some cases all of the above.  And yes, there was plenty of pork, there was plenty of beer, and there was even plenty of pork swimming in beer.

At Provaznicewe learned about what happens to cheating Real Housewives of Praha.  Nothing better than a nice meal with a life lesson…

View original post 1,007 more words

Categories: Austria/Czech Republic | Leave a comment

FOB – You Had Me at Halo Halo

fob-halo-halo

July 4, 2017 Update:

How is this place not packed every night.  Yet another great feast at FOB, this time with the family.  The chicken wings, overnight Chicken Adobo (with coconut milk this time), Fish Inihaw are absolute musts.  But there are a few other potential gems on the menu we didnt get to sample yet.  The type of neighborhood place every neighborhood should have.  But dont take it too literally chef Armando.  I like you in just that one place

December 9, 2016 Post:

If you close one eye and both ears, Brooklyn’s Smith Street during the holidays feels like a small town Main Street.  Xmas tree vendors hugging corners.  Colorful shops, bars, restaurants getting dressed for the holidays.  You can almost hear George Michael’s Last Christmas before the moment interrupted by a commuter.  A commuter who believes if he beeps long enough, Santa will come down to part the sea, before heading for some Sisig and a beer.

Homey Filipino F.O.B. is the latest to join the happy Smith Street Mishpucha.  And by the look of the Xmas tree dominated glassy front, it’s playing the part.  When you sit down, you immediately get the sense that if you drop your napkin, you may just have to pick it up yourself.  And that any service mishaps will be treated just like you would at a diner (Though some Yelpers clearly had other expectations from a two week old establishment).  The room is simply decorated, and the lighting is an Instagrammer wet dream.  In other words, my type of place.fob-shrimp

But I didnt come here for the tree, nor the home away from home family atmosphere.  I came for what looked and sounded like a promising menu by a Daniel alum, a menu that is lacking in that part of Brooklyn.  My extent of the cuisine stretches from visits to Lumpia Shack in West Village and recent visits to Maharlika in East Village where the Sisig became my go to dish.  The Sisig at FOB (which of course means Fresh off the {Ikea} Boat.  Thats the closest boat to the establishment I can think of) didnt sound too promising to my dining partner so we left it for another day.  Oh and did I mention that this meal was one of the best meals I’ve had in 2016?  Perhaps it would have been fair to start with that comment before losing 65% of my audience.

Corn Bibingka – A Fine semi-sweet Starter.  Rice cake with a nice layer of coconut butter that tastes like cornbread.  Reminded me of some Sweet Thai desserts like in Pure Thai Cookhouse, also cooked in Banana leaf.

Spicy Chicken Langkawas – These were quite good.  The wings are grilled, so not much of a crunch in the skin.  But the flavor is there thanks to the wonderful thick salsa of chilies, lime, and coconut milk.  The waiter learned the hard way that any sauce left on the plate is as if any chicken left.fob-chicken-wings

Peel & Eat 7-up Shrimp – The most enticing app was the most disappointing.  Some of the shrimp were limp and the sauce just didnt offer much.  I was hoping based on pictures for something closer to New Orleans style buttery BBQ shrimp

Fish Inihaw – A strong candidate for dish of the night. Delicately cooked Flounder (fish varies based on market freshness) topped with an extremely complimentary salsa.  Better than a similar fish nearby at one Michelin La Vara.

Overnight Chicken Adobo – This was surprisingly excellent (explanation to follow).  Two perfectly sized moist and deeply flavorful pieces (half a bird).  There’s another chicken on the menu that is “moms” chicken while this Abobo is “pops”.  The difference if I understand correctly is that pop doesnt like coconut, so its essentially the same thing without the coconut.  Instincts suggest going with mom, but the Adobo is getting a little buzz, coupled with the fact that Mrs Z face turns into Robert de Niro when she tastes coconut (Its quite a funny sight) means we are getting the Adobo.fob-chicken-and-sides

Sides of Garlic rice and green beans & Longanisa were fine.  Especially the Longanisa sausage which was like a delicious tease they can easily make an app from.  Better than the Longanisa at Maharlika which is a little too sweet for my buds.

Dessert – The traditional Filipino Halo Halo is bucket list worthy.  Not because its so amazing, but because its so different than anything out there.  After many attempts at Lumpia Shack where it takes the winter off, this was actually my very first.  While it didnt exactly knock my sucks off, I can see myself ordering it again.  The flan with caramel sauce on the other hand became boring after a few spoons.  Still, a solid 3 Z’s meal in Brooklyn.

FOB
271 Smith St (Degraw/Sackett), Brooklyn
Rating: Three Z’s (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as that
Recommended Dishes: Corn Bibingka, Chicken Langkawas, Fish Inihaw, Overnight Chicken Adobo, Halo Halo, beans & Longanisafob-rice-cake fob-fish fob-adobo-chicken fob-flan fob-brooklyn

 

Categories: Brooklyn, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Introducing EWZ Tours

img_7142-1Some tours developments for ya…

We have a name, a website, and the least attractive attractions on TripAdvisor (meaning the guide, not the experience)

The three tours are shaping up quite nicely.  I’ve made some changes to all three already and quite satisfied with all the routes.  I’m fairly booked for the holiday season, but not so much after January 3rd.  Yes, I’m doing the walking tours throughout the winter

I think the most painful part of this whole process was coming up with the name.  Eating With Ziggy Tours ultimately beat Angry Panda, Touring With Ziggy, and Hungry Penguin.  I was all set on the last one, but no one liked it.  Touring With Ziggy was the natural progression, but then the expectations of Drinking With Ziggy, and Sleeping with Ziggy would follow.  I would have already gotten a review on the last one, and I’m afraid it’s not good

It took about 6 weeks but we are finally on Trip Advisor, and Facebook.  On Instagram which I finally joined in the summer, I’m “EatingWithZiggy”, and on Twitter I’m still good ol’ Ziggy601

In order to get on TA, I had to quickly create a dedicated site which I’m still working on https://eatingwithziggytours.com/

Why East Village

Categories: Brooklyn, East Village, Midtown West, New York City | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.