Posts Tagged With: Chelsea restaurants

Tia Pol – Just Basque a Move

Tia Pol Shrimp“If you want it, you got it.  You want it, baby you got it.  Just Basque a Move.  Yeah!” – Its been a while but pretty sure thats how that one goes.  Thats how I sing it it my head at least.  But the moves I’m busting these days are more like Elaine from Seinfeld-esqe.  Its more like a cross between twerking and wild prayer sways.  Still much work to be done, but I’m getting better at it.  There’s even a video circulating out there of me dancing, but there’s zero chance I’m sharing it here.  I got bullied enough as a kid.

The moves, the sways, and subsequent 911 calls get usually wilder after a fun meal.  And we had another one of those at Z-List darling Tia Pol the other day.  Its the most Spanish place I know.  Even if Rita Hayworth rolls in her grave every time someone orders a Gilda.  She rolls twice because it comes in twos (or at least everyone orders at least two).  But the fact that they even have Gilda, and things like green Gernika peppers on the menu says a lot about the place.  It may not be correct to call it Basque, as NYMag does, as it covers Catalan, Galician and other regions of Spain.  But its Basque enough, and perhaps one Galician Octopus, or Spanish style fried calamari (yep, best fried calamari is in Spain, not Italy) from covering the North of Spain rather nicely.

Tia Pol peppers

Tia Pol is tiny, and buzzy even on a lazy Saturday afternoon.  It subscribes to “If its not broke, why fix it formula”, serving pretty much the same menu since 2004.  The dishes to get today are still some of the same dishes we enjoyed 10 years ago.  New Orleans native Mani Dawes, who spent years happy munching in Madrid, knows a thing or two about Spanish food.  Madrid doesnt really have much of a cuisine, and draws much of its influences from the North, which is reflected all over the menu at Tia Pol.  Here’s a rundown of what we ate

Gilda – I’ll start with a mini (pun) rant.  Its hard to criticize a $2 snack but I’ll do it anyway.  Gilda is a popular pintxo eaten in Basque Country consisting of a single skewer of chili pepper, olive, anchovy, and pickles, usually served on a piece of bread.  The Basque people called it Gilda because its tall and skinny just like Rita Hayworth in their beloved Gilda that captured the nation back in the day.  Its not something that can be easily done here because we dont have fresh Spanish anchovies easily available, and for $2 a pop you just cant expect anything remotely close to the real thing.  But c’mon now.  This is not a Gilda, but a skinny Danny de Vito at best.  I suppose this might the best version we can come up with, but if you serve it to homesick Spaniards, they might start to weep, for the wrong reasons

Tia Pol Gilda

Pimientos Estilo Gernika – One of the more nonsensical comments that reviewers often make – “I can probably do this at home”.  Even if its true, is the point of eating out only to eat things you can not possibly make at home?  You are in full control of what you order.  But I love simple dishes, like the Miznon Cauliflower for example, that make you talk about possibly duplicating, and enhancing your life as a result.  The Gernika peppers that come blistered and simply sprinkled with sea salt, is such a dish.

Pinchos Morunos – Lamb skewers with Moorish spices, which means Cumin, Coriander, and all the goodies.  Gorgeously marinated and seasoned.  Get this!

Patatas Bravas – as solid as Bravas get in NYC

Tia Pol Patatas

Chorizo al Jerez – chorizo cooked in sherry and rosemary.  Chorizo, like Olives, is one of those things I like less than I think I do.  I keep ordering it, like olives, to see if maybe this is it, the grand chorizo, only to be mildly disappointed.  No exception here

Txipirones en su Tinta – This is it.  The dish I must get every time I’m here.  Squid cooked with its ink and a small hockey puck of rice.  It has that palatable inky sweetness, and the squid is never fishy.  Just wish that hockey puck was a little bigger.

Gambas al Ajillo – This is another dish I get all the time.  Its not going to win any shrimp in garlic awards, but its very garlicky and satisfying

Octopus Salad – Enjoyed in previous visits


Tia Pol
205 10th Ave (22/23), Chelsea
Rating: 2 Z’s (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as that.
Recommended Dishes: Patatas Bravas, Pimientos Estilo Gernika, Pinchos Morunos, Txipirones en su Tinta, Gambas al Ajillo

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Dear Diary: What to order in Scarpetta

Doctor’s Orders.  That’s what I tell people sometimes when they ask me why I’ve started a blog.  My doctor ordered me to start tracking what I eat.  Not entirely true.  My doctor cares more about what I should be snipping than eating.  But the tracking part is true.  I love the fact that I finally found a space where I can write about my eats in sort of an organized fashion, just in case I need to retrieve something.  Like the other day when I took a group of friends to Beso, I  simply looked at the site to see what we liked on our first visit.  Or when someone asked us about our Israel itinerary.  Brilliant!! 🙄

Something tells me I will need to revisit this post in the future.  When my wife and visiting friend from Boston who we shall call Milena, because that’s her name, asked me to order for everyone I was like…(insert angel sound affect).  On my second visit to Scarpetta I felt I perfected the ordering part a little more.  Here’s one way to experience the best of Scarpetta

1st Course:

Scarpetta - Yellowtail

The bread –  Still one of the best bread baskets in NYC, some of which comes from Sullivan Street Bakery I believe.  Stromboli, a nice touch.  This is like a full app and more

Raw Yellowtail  – Wow! New for us this time. Thick buttery goodness with chunky sea salt.  So so good!

Palenta with truffled mushrooms.  Still amazing.  Definitely one of the classics here.  Very creamy, very good, and very grateful my wife does not eat mushrooms.

2nd course:

Scarpetta - SpaghettiScarpetta - Agnolotti

Spaghetti – Its almost silly calling it a signature dish since there are so many great items on the menu. But its definitely delicious and one of the best Spaghetti with red sauce and basil you will ever eat (likely).  The sauce is probably still the best Ive had

Agnolloti – They keep changing the Agnolloti.  This time with bone marrow and short rib.  Last time with rabbit.  But the main difference this time was the breadcrumby crunchy garlic chips. One of my favorite dishes here

3rd course:

Scarpetta - RavioliScarpetta - chicken

Ravioli – Still terrific.  stuffed with duck and Foie Gras with Marsala reduction.  Although enjoyable I got bored with it eventually unlike some of the other dishes.

Roasted Chicken – Wow this was good.  Nice and salty Spaetzle with some very tasty carrots.  Chicken was moist and juicy.  Enjoyed this much more than the cod last time.   Chicken is sort of making a comeback for me in places like this.  Trend started at Louro which delivered big time.

4th Course:

Scarpetta - Banana Bread

Warm Banana Bread –  much better than the previous soupy mess of the coconut pana cotta.  Great stout ice cream.

Chocolate cake – very good

Only problem was wait between courses was far from even and too rushed at times.  They gave us 10 seconds to enjoy the great bread basket before bringing the apps.  And the third course was brought in as soon as they took the plates.

Nevertheless Dear Diary, a perfect meal.  Looking forward to next visit where I try nothing new

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More Ratatouille Moments at Scarpetta

I have mentioned this phrase before.  Ratatouille moment.  What is a Ratatouille moment Ziggy? Well, I’m glad you asked Timmy.  A Ratatouille moment derives from the movie “Ratatouille” and the moment is when the tough, ugly, mean, hard to please critic takes that mega important bite of the Ratatouille.  Well, you can see for yourself

For me Ratatouille moments are a bit different.   They are not really about me reminiscing about something I ate as a kid.  Although I did have Bacalau in Portugal that reminded me of some awful Gifilte fish I had as a kid.  That would be the opposite of a Ratatouille moment I suppose.  After the 10th Gefilte fish I was the youngest member of our city to file for a restraining order against his parents.  And as far as Bacalau in Portugal goes, they say they can make it in 365 different ways for every day of the week.  We must have picked the 2 worst days.  The 2 ways they invented in days 364 and 365, well after they ran out of ideas and just focused on completing the cycle.  But I digress.
Scarpetta, tied with Marea for the meal of the year, gave us some “Moments”…
We started with a stunner.  Without a doubt the most impressive bread basket I have ever seen.  It included a Focaccia, a Stromboli (mozzarella and salami sandwich) among other goodies.  And it comes with 3 great condiments, a great tasting butter, eggplant salad and olive oil.  What a start.  After nibbling on some nice apps like the ribs, Mozzarella, and the Farmers Market with truffles, the monsters have arrived.

Creamy Polenta with truffled mushrooms – Fantastic! creamy and light polenta with those savory mushrooms took me back to Enoteca Valpolicella in Italy’s Valpolicella wine country.   I was counting the blessings of being married to a family that did not like mushrooms which includes my wife, her sister and her mom.

Polenta at Scarpetta

Cavatelli Capretto – Melt in your mouth, juicy tender Capretto. Some in our party claimed this was their favorite.

Rabbit Agnolotti – This was a personal favorite.  Nice perfectly cooked rabbit in those pillowy delicate mini raviolis bursting with flavor. Couldnt get enough of this.

Spaghetti with tomato & basil – This is one of Scott Conant’s signatures and the most famous Spaghetti with red sauce dish in NYC. Homemade fresh pasta with the most amazing tomato sauce I ever tasted. Another one I couldnt get enough of.  Reminded me of a simple pasta I had once in Varenna.

Spaghetti at Scarpetta

Duck & Foie Gras Ravioli with marsala reduction – Spectacular looking and spectacular tasting. All kinds of nice contrasting flavors packed in this one. Another must

Duck & Foie Gras Ravioli at Scarpetta

We could have stopped right there but we didnt.  What followed was a much less memorable cod, and a finish of an odd coconut Panna Cotta which had a soupy texture that I did not care for.  The Hummus Whisperer had the Sheep’s milk Ricotta from Lazio with honey which seemed like a better choice

Generally I favor the places that have a signature dish like the Spaghetti in this case.   But I especially favor places that offer many other options that are equally as good.  The experience was less perfect for my wife and her sister who will be quick to note the cramped space (for the 8 of us) and less than stellar service.  And normally I would be quick to note the same.  But when you are in one of those moments, any flaws are not only quickly forgotten, they get ridiculed


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