Since so many of you are paying attention to this Z-List for some reason, I figured I might as well help you out with a little map. The same map appears at the bottom of the Z-List page.
Since so many of you are paying attention to this Z-List for some reason, I figured I might as well help you out with a little map. The same map appears at the bottom of the Z-List page.
August 29, 2016 Update:
The great Pasquale Jones is now experimenting with a new concept. They offer on weekends something called “Lunch”. Yes, its not a typo… lunch on weekends! No Mimosa, no French Toast, not even an eggs Benedict pizza. Just lunch. Last weekend after a quick egg sandwich and a Mimosa at home, I decided to check it out for myself and the results may shock you.
It was great! Sure, I was dreaming of bacon and eggs on occasion, but a small price to pay when the pizza is this good. And by pizza, I mean I’m essentially stuck with the Diavola and the now city wide famous LittleNeck Clam pie that is growing on me. While I much preferred the spicy Diavola last time, the clam pie with a little drizzle of the accompanied Calabrian Chili is creamy and satisfying enough to continue ordering it.
But I really come here for the pastas. Hard to pass on the pizza especially when you bring new people here, but the pastas and the whole package is why I’m adding PJ to the Z-List on the next big update (as soon as this month). What attracted me to this very experimental lunch was the Tajarin with corn and summer truffles. Knowing that Tim Caspare who spent some time in Piedmont, knows how to handle those Piedmont(ish) classics. Sweet pastas dont particularly sound very sexy to me, but this one may have changed that notion. Rich, creamy, but at the same time very summery. The “Mezze Rigatoni”, their slightly heavier version of the Cacio e Pepe was good as well. And I’m still yet to have the Pork Shank for 2 (or 3) that everyone’s talking about
If you go for lunch (or dinner), check out the new soft serve and Poke window at Seamore’s next door. They are serving now coconut lemongrass ice cream from Oddfellows which is fantastic. And/or if its open, get the chocolate chip cookie and coffee at Maman. Strong candidate for best cookie in NYC!
March 20, 2016 original post:
I rarely get them this young. As tempting as it is to move up the food blog ladder, I prefer to wait for the growth and maturation that comes at the other guinea pigs expense. After some time, they figure out where the holes are, what works, what doesnt, and suddenly the world is a better place. This is one reason that one can not simply go by early opinions from first respondents who care only about being on that elusive first Google page (I’m looking at you Infatuation). But sometimes, something jumps at you, and you feel a little anxious. In this case it wasnt so much the team of Charlie Bird behind this thing, but the third wheel, a dude from Cotogna from San Francisco that got my attention
Cotogna was the mistake from last summer. Instead of sticking to the initial plan, I substituted Cotogna with the very attractive Piedmont heavy menu of Perbacco. The kind of menu sorely missing in NYC. The result was a less than stellar meal that featured Piedmontese classics that deviated the wrong way from tradition. Irony and Redemption came seven months later when Tim Caspare of Cotogna, now at Pasquale Jones, whips a perfectly executed Agnolotti dal Plin that would make any Langhe nonna blush.
When she said “It will be around 90 minute”, Unlce Boons, Bar Goto started creeping into my head, as its about 85 minutes longer than I normally like to wait for a table in NYC. But my dining partner, aka first wife, was still 60 minutes away. And besides, I’m right by my favorite area in NYC… Little Italy! By the way, a little free tip to restaurants out there: When you say “It will be around 90 minute”, smiling is the wrong way of going about it when delivering the sad news. While smiling is generally a good idea, and the #1 rule of fight club, this is not one of those moments. Just like “your grandma died”, or “the vasectomy didnt go as expected sir”, dont underestimate the sadness of the news. Smiling while saying it, makes you look like TAO
I wont keep you in suspense. This was one of the best meals in recent memory (I started eating cashews religiously which extended “recent memory” to about a month). Pasquale Jones is essentially a more comfortable, more ambitious, better pasta, slightly less creative Bruno Pizza. The counter facing the action is the way to go, but you dont have choices here. You get what becomes available. Attention to detail starts with those super comfortable counter seats. The ones you can lean back comfortably when you feel the need to unzip. Reservations through Resy – Forget it. Only about 20% are out there. On to the food…
Charred Cauliflower – This is one those simple dishes where you get pretty much what you order. Sure there was blood orange, and some heat to go along, but the star was simple cauliflower that was still raw enough to maintain that crunchy texture. Although the dish was fine, I did have some serious small dish envy, like the Braised Leeks which looked like the sexiest grilled calamari.
Clam Pie – Good. I get the sense that this is their early signature pie. I’m not the biggest white pie lover unless its something like Marta’s Potato Carbonara where the ingredients talk back to you (I should probably see someone about this). This is not one of those, but satisfying nonetheless. Perfectly charred, chewy, flavoful dough.
Diavola – More like it, but I’m more of a Diavola fan overall. I wasnt about to order two pies but couldnt decide here. A bit more heat than the average city Diavola. Neapolitanish, very similar to Motorino which is a compliment. Some may expect more refined pizza (a la Bruno) in a place like this, so its important to adjust those expectations. Its about the total package.
Agnolotti – I already touched on this beautiful dish. This is a good example of pasta that stays true to its origin, unlike the rest of the Agnolottis out there in town. This is buttery, explosive, pillowy Agnolotti dal Plin packed with Guinea hen, sage and Pancetta. PANCETTA!
Pear dessert – Proper finish. They only offer one dessert, different each night I believe. Baked pear with Vanilla ice cream, olive oil and candied hazelnuts. The two brick ovens are utilized heavily here.
Zoe Amber Ale – Maine Beer Company. Solid hoppy, aromatic, complex Amber. Highly recommend this one
But Ziggy, in Paragraph #4 you used the word “Ambitious”. What’s so ambitious about Rigatoni, Diavola, and pear. Good question Timmy. This is where the steaks and fish come in. And by steaks I mean those huge $125 dry aged rib eyes that you can hang in your basement and practice on them like Rocky. They also offer a beautiful pork shoulder, and a Verdure section to boot. Watching them handle all that meat for two hours, gave me all sorts of impure thoughts.
Cementing the belief even more that pound for pound, Nolita is the best eating neighborhood on the east coast. This is also another no-topping establishment. I failed to talk about it, because its really a non-issue until you are reminded about it when you you get the bill. Its like Santa suddenly shows up to kiss you softly on the cheek
187 Mulberry St (Kenmare) – Nolita
Recommended Dishes: Diavola, Agnolotti, Rigatoni
Updated: June 26, 2018
The motivation behind this post can be found here so I wont go over it again. Its essentially just another top 50 list, except that its unlike any other. Only rule as explained in the previous post is $10-100 per. Meaning nothing that would cost over $100 or under $10 per person. An affordable list for the people, by the people (Ok, by one person, but you get the idea). Here we go, in no particular order. Big Mazal Tov to the winners!
The granddaddy of New York’s haute Israeli/Mediterranean, or “MiddleTerranean” as they coin it. Located on a lonely corner of Hell’s Kitchen, close enough to the theaters, but far enough from the theaters! Taboon means oven in Arabic, and that striking Taboon oven is the main greeter on arrival. A fine Focaccia, Sambusak (bread stuffed with feta) just some of the goodies coming out of that magic oven. Try the specials or classics such as the Heraim, Branzino, or Chicken Taboon with Israeli Couscous. And if you leave without properly ending with the Silan, you will leave without properly ending. 773 10th Ave (Hell’s Kitchen)
This one is a no-brainer pick. “Momofuku cool” was probably invented by someone sitting at one of those communal tables next to a tower of napkins. Perfect place for first and last date, since on both the goal is to see the other side sweat. A playful, brilliant, meat and veg heavy menu that features seasonal veggies to go along with classics like the pork buns, country hams, and one of my personal New York faves, rice cakes with spicy pork sausage ragu, broccoli, and Sichuan peppercorn. You can wait for your table at fuku owned Booker and Dax next door, and have dessert across at the Milk Bar in this all Momofuku corner of East Village. 207 2nd Ave (East Village)
Where to go for Steak? A common question on Trip Advisor. Cote is the unconventional sexy pick these days. Its one of those enthusiastic recommendations but not quite a a concept you frequent. A “Korean Steakhouse” which is essentially an elevated Korean BBQ managed by Michelin crowned people. Here you want to get the Butcher’s Feast, right after you take selfies with the red light district of meats downstairs. 16 W 22nd St (Flatiron)
Take a break from Armani Exchanging in Soho and relax in this quirky elevated Chinese. Its an offshoot from Din Tai Fung, a popular Taiwanese Dumplings chain. The Dumplings reign supreme alright but dont miss out on the ribs, Dan Dan Noodles and the sensational “Snow Crab in Chinese Restaurant”. Not to mention the great lunch specials (that sweet cauliflower!) A serious looking crew behind the glass (like watching surgeons doing brain surgery) is balanced by jokes all over the place. From the bathroom where uncle is watching to make sure Employees wash their hands, to the menu where you may find Yelp quotes as item descriptions. 177 Prince st (Soho)
Hail to the pig. I’m discovering more and more Roman eats and dishes all over town these days. But when its time to recommend just one, Maialino, the always buzzy trattoria inside the Gramercy hotel, is still the safest. The menu constantly changes, but classics like the Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe are constant and as good as anything you will find this side of Trastevere. Thats partly because chef Nick Anderer spent a significant amount of time in Rome learning the craft with the best of them. The table is still a relatively hard get after all these years, and its also popular for breakfast, lunch and brunch. This Piggy (Maialino means Pig) got your entire day covered. 2 Lexington Ave (Gramercy)
Picking a good steakhouse in NYC can be as difficult as picking our next president. This is always one of the most common questions asked on Trip Advisor forum (somewhere between “How much should we tip” and “How illegal are the illegal appartments in NYC anyway”). Since so many of the steakhouses are essentially doing the same thing while sourcing their meat from the same places, I lean toward the establishments that do things a little different. What I love about AC is not just the freakishly outstanding cuts like the bone-in dry aged, Pastrami spiced Rib Eye, but the rest of the menu. Not only you get fantastic appetizers, but they also feature some of the most brilliant sides in the business like the Brussel Sprouts infused with spicy Bang Bang sauce from half sister Khe-Yo. 363 Greenwich St (Tribeca), 109 E 56th St (Midtown East)
One of my favorite new openings of the past few years. Another one of a slew of great Italian, ironically positioned just outside Little Italy (Osteria Morini. Rubirosa on this list are similarly positioned). Many swear by the clam pie which is undoubtedly great, but so is everything else. Try the Ultra-Instagramble Pork Shank for two, braised Leeks and the rotating seasonal pastas like the sick Agnolotti dal Plin. Dont believe me? Ask my BFF KW and friends. Oh and did I mention this is a non-tipping establishment. Hmmm, wonder how that worked with the BFF. 187 Mulberry St (NoLita)
In a sea of Thai, Ramen, Mexican and Tarot card readers in Hell’s Kitchen, the most refreshing opening the past few years has been one offering exceptional good ol’ American cooking. I don’t agree with the “New American” tagline (I’m looking at you Zagat), unless “New” stands for Farm to Table. Relationships with over a dozen farms and skilled cooking allows The Marshal to offer solid Meatloaf, roasted Chicken, Mussels (some of the best we’ve had in NYC) and much more. The menu also features a a huge array of seasonal sides, and some of the best bread and butter in the business. Its a small neighborhood place, so make sure to reserve. 628 10th Ave (Hell’s Kitchen)
This is where you get your Uyghur fix. A gem like no other on this list, but you will need to schlep there. Kashkar is located in Brighton Beach, a predominately Russian neighborhood except that its becoming less and less Russian and more Uzbek, Georgian, Kazakh. And its reflected by the dining options all over. Uyghur is an Ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia including Uzbekistan where Kashkar’s cooks/owners are from, and as far as I know Kashkar is one of the first if not the first Uyghur restaurant in NY. One of the specialties here is the chewy hand pulled Lagman noodles that you can have as soup or dry with meat and veggie stews (try the Geiro). The Kebabs are always good, and if you like your plov toasty (like socarrat), try it here. Then try to figure out how to pronounce Uyghur. Part of the fun! 1141 Brighton Beach Ave (Brooklyn)
More like Pig and Wow, what took me so long. “Top Chef” Leah Cohen continues to dazzle with brilliant Southeast Asian creations, adding dishes seemingly by the day. Classics like the Sissling Sisig (third generation Sisig with pork head and egg), and Khao Soi are there to stay. But on a recent visit, its the newer stuff like a spicy Thai mushroom salad, Malaysian fried chicken, and corn that left me speechless. Because I was eating non stop. But what I like about this place is that after all those years, Mrs Cohen is still there taking care of business, instead of taking care of 5 businesses as so many celebrity chefs do. 68 Clinton St (Lower East Side)
Isan by way of Bangkok. New York has seen a Northern Thai renaissance of sorts the last few years led by this freshly Michelined Somtum Der. Quite possibly the strangest Michelin Star in history once you consider Somtum’s casualness and low prices (Bib Gourmand is more like it). But the place does rock with its bold, unbashful flavors. Dishes like the fried chicken, marinaded grilled pork, and just about the entire fried rice lineup will make you happy (and sweat). But the namesake Somtum, spicy Papaya salad is unmatched in NYC, and not for the faint of heart. Colorful, sexy place for colorful sexy readers. 85 Avenue A (East Village)
Michael White’s Osteria Morini would probably make my top 10 list. Sure Mrs Ziggy would tell you that its loud, the tables are too close, and the seats sometimes make her look short. And to that I’d say, let Mrs Z start her own blog, and she is in fact short. But she forgets all about it once we get the food, not to mention that most of the places on this list suffer the same fate on the noise and comfort level. Out of all the Italians on the list, I actually find Emilia Romagna-esque Morini the most well rounded. Some of the best Salumi in town. Great Antipasti led by the squid (the breaded version is now an occasional special), and the meatballs. A fine 60 day aged rib eye. And the always dependable pastas like the Stracci with braised mushrooms and the Tagliatelle with ragu (the closest we’ve had to the real thing in Bologna). 218 Lafayette St (SoHo)
I put on my helmet and designer protective cup and brave the crowds to eat in this Chelsea Market boat to table. The seafood menu constantly changes. But the high level cooking and freshness is constant, partly due to the seafood short commute, sister Lobster Place next door. Try the lobster roll (done with a lot more love than next door). Spanish or Portuguese octopus however they make it that day. Whole Dourade is fried to Thai style perfection. And if they have it, you must try the insanely good Ecuadorian prawns. The oyster bar, and its happy hour is another draw. Chelsea Market (Chelsea)
Something tells me Ignacio Mattos can take Gefilte Fish and make it into Foie Gras. Small plates in a rather strange but cozy location in NOHO (Stands for Neither Here Nor There). It may feel like you breaking into someone’s house initially so wear protective gear. Great menu, strong drinks, though dangerously approaching the $100 per person list rule. Some of the menu regulars like the beef Tartare with Sunchokes (might be best in town), lamb ribs with Moroccan spices should never be missed. Dido for the Dumplings and Burrata. And if there’s red Snapper, there’s joy. 47 E Houston St (NOHO)
I’m no longer in speaking terms with them after Ivan inexplicably removed my Whitefish (turned Salmon) Donburi from both LES and Slurp Shop locations. “Hi”, “Bye”, thats it. And contrary to the name and the Tokyo fame, I dont even go here for the Ramen. So while I would still urge you to try the cleaner, purer ramen, at the flagship LES, I would also go for the creative goodies on the menu like the pickled daikon, meatballs, and triple pork triple garlic Mazeman. Ivan, an import from Tokyo by way of Long Island, got something special in the LES and Hell’s Kitchen (Gotham West Market). 25 Clinton St (Lower East Side)
A solely Pescatarian neighborhood joint and the most refreshing opening in Hell’s Kitchen since Gotham West Market and the Marshal. The historically dreadful spot on the corner of 9th an 53rd contributed to the freshness. The days of walking by fast so the dude from the previous Indian incarnation wont see me are long gone. Its run by Contra and Le Bernardin alums but feels more like a baby Bernardin. Try the Octopus, Tartare, crab, and the glorious Skate Wing. 401 W 53rd St (Hell’s Kitchen)
I pity the fool that overlooks this Italian West Village gem. A sprawling sidewalk is prime real estate in the warmer months, with great food throughout the year. Forget the menu, and order like a regular from the specials board. You may see the Pappardelle with rabbit or wild boar ragu, or pasta with summer black Truffles. On a recent visit I had a fine Tortellini al Sugo that rivaled one I’ve had in Florence. If you must order from the menu, make it the Burrata. The very Italian staff may disappoint those looking for an all American service. But you know who doesnt care about that? Celebrities, who flock the place like there’s no tomorrow. 268 6th Ave (West Village)
The best name in NYC serves some of the spiciest dishes out there. The name serves as an anti-jinx agent – babies are commonly called ugly in Thailand so not to attract ugly spirits. Too late for me. Its BYOB, Bring Your Own Bounty due to its uninterrupted, merciless, delicious heat. The Khao Soi is legendary and got quite the following (owner owned a restaurant called Khao Soi prior), but today people also flock for the Duck Laab, Skewers and a lot more. 407 Smith St (Brooklyn)
How ‘about some proper American food for a change in this ocean of world cuisine. What happens when you combine unconventional NOLA with unconventional BBQ? An ugly duckling serving killer ribs, rice and beans, chicken wings, and one sick smoked goat neck. Or head one block over to baby sister Harry & Ida’s for a pastrami sandwich that will rock your socks off. Or do as I did one day. Do both! Ducks – 351 E 12th St. H&D – 189 Avenue A (East Village)
Reason #243 that there’s no such thing as Italian food. Its impossible to classify, and Italians will be the first to tell you that it really doesnt exists. But we have to refer to them somehow. Coastal Italian is the best way to classify Santina whose menu primarily centers around fish and veggies. Try the Cecina, a crepe made from chickpea flour, popular along the Ligurian Sea coast. You choose the “topping” like tuna or lamb tartar, and you are free to abuse it any way you like (I try to make an airplane, then form wraps). The Squash Carpaccio is Killa! One of my favorite veggie dishes in the city. Next door to the new Whitney, under the south end of the High Line, one might think “Tourist Trap”. Not this one. 820 Washington St (West Village)
With a name like that, how can it not be good. Have you heard of a place that starts with Uncle or Mamma that sucks? I didnt think so. Uncle Boons has the most picturesque website, but not the most picturesque rooms. At least not comfortable and cozy looking. But the same can be said about Pure Thai Cookhouse and many of the city’s premier Thai. The dingiest the look, the better the food. Other than the desserts, I like just about everything on the menu. Try the Rotisserie Half Chicken, frog legs, beef ribs, seafood in broth and call me in the morning. Reservations can be tough, so put your name down and take a walk in Little Italy. Count how many Ciaos you hear from the fake Italians trying to lure you in. 7 Spring St (Nolita)
While so many Italian establishments bill themselves as “Tuscan”, “Roman”, “Venetian”, and eventually get sucked into a multitude of multi-regional offerings, Pistoia only knows what to do one thing; Pistoian food! The family owns a restaurant in Pistoia, near Florence, Tuscany, and for the most part replicating some of the same Tuscan specialties in Alphabet City. Good luck finding Picci and Pappa Col Pomodoro (A Tuscan classic of stale bread in tomato soup) on the same menu anywhere in NYC. From the staff, to the menu, and wine, its as authentic as it gets in NYC. The youngsters of East Village have little clue on how lucky they are. 647 E 11th St (East Village)
Sri Lankan on the island of Staten is one reason to stick around after taking the ferry (99% of the tourists dont). Maybe its the only reason. Sure Staten Island boasts some great pizza and the famous nonnas of Enoteca Maria. But if there’s one area that it got unquestionably covered is Sri Lankan, thanks to its large Sri Lankan community. Influences from India and colonial powers like the dutch helped generate something of a cross between Indian and Thai. Quite a delicious cross. These day we are partial to Randiwa for dinner and New Asha for lunch. But you cant go wrong with any of them
One can argue that this is really the true gem of the NoMad hotel. Other than the location, and the name, the two NoMads dont really have that much in common. This bar has a lot of things going for it, starting with its striking modern, classic NY look and feel. The mixology is some of the most creative you will find in NYC (try the Start Me Up). But to me its all about the food that redefines bar cuisine entirely. The burger is perfection, one of the best in NYC. Carrot tartare, Bay Scallops and quite possibly the best Chicken Pot Pie you will ever eat are some of the other highlights. No reservations. During the week it can get Meshugenah, but not so much on weekends in this rare case. 1170 Broadway, entrance on 28th (Nomad)
Soulayphet (Phet) Schwader and Marc Forgione’s Khe-Yo is the place you bring a spice loving foodie on a first date. Chances are you’ll get lucky that night with an assortment of Laos inspired bold flavors in a buzzy, sexy atmosphere. They start you off here with a bang.. bang bang sauce, a fiery concoction of lime, chili, and fish sauce. Along with the complimentary sticky rice it sets the tone for a spice extravaganza. The complex Jurgielewicz Duck Salad, the quail of dreams, the crunchy coconut rice balls, like a Havah Nagila in your mouth. And if they happen to have the half sister American Cut inspired Pastrami spiced Rib eye that night, might as well buy a lotto ticket. 157 Duane St (Tribeca)
Last year I didnt add this eclectic Austrian to the list partly due to the location. But now I realize that its the location that makes it so good. You can pretty much draw a line separating Brooklyn’s gentrified with the not so gentrified half and you’ll find Werkstatt positioned right in the middle. You can couple it with a visit to Historic Prospect South, Prospect Park, or Brooklyn Museum. Some flock for the Schnitzel, Goulash, and “Best Pretzel in NYC”, but these days I go for the numerous fish specials like Skate wing. Its a severely underrated neighborhood joint that should be the envy of every neighborhood. 509 Coney Island Ave (Brooklyn)
Sometimes a man just wants simple spaghetti with meatballs, and a no fuss New York style thin pizza pie. Not just any man, an American man! It would be criminal not to include a Rubirosa on a “Best” of NYC list. While most tourists spend their hard earned money in Little Italy because their guide books says so, you Mr and Mrs savvy, will head to nearby Rubirosa for a proper meal. The pizza, including perhaps the best vodka pie this side of Moscow, is top notch. The family has been serving those pies (including to yours truly) for over 50 years in Staten Island’s famed Joe and Pat’s. Besides pizza, you have the a aforementioned pastas with red sauce, chicken parm, and other classics. These goodfellas do New York Italian well. 235 Mulberry St (NoLita)
Bushwick is the Big Bang Theory of NYC neighborhoods. I rarely make the effort to visit, but when I finally, do I wonder why. There is all sorts of interesting dining in Robertaville these days, and Faro with its well deserved Michelin may be leading the pack. I’ve only been once as of this writing, but I have full confidence in this ingredient driven, seasonal farm to table Italian in a Bushwicky industrial space. The pastas especially are standouts. 436 Jefferson St (Brooklyn)
Come for the potato chips, stay for the rest of the menu in this newish Korean in East Village. The two young chefs developed a playful menu that includes one of the most talked about dishes of the year, honey-butter chips, apparently a huge hit in South Korea these days. “Most disgustingly addictive thing I ever ate” is what I said about these chips when I tried them. But I’d recommend this one even without the chips, with dishes such as the Cold Buckwheat noodles, Fried Chicken, Oxtail, and Truffle Seafood Broth. Another hit in where else, East Village. The hits just keep coming and coming like erectile dysfunction commercials. 119 1st Avenue (East Village)
One of my newer faves, little Jun-Men is quietly doing all sorts of wonderful things in Chelsea. Every time I eat here, I discover something new. Last time I discovered my Achilles Tendon (as it started to bother me), followed by some of the best chicken wings I’ve had in recent memory (two weeks these days give or take). Before that it was the fried rice, and before that the mesmerizing uni mushroom mazeman. And the ramen here, not too shabby. I’m partial to the Kimchi Ramen with bits of juicy Pork Shoulder. From the outside the place looks like a nail saloon, but from the inside it looks like a modern nail saloon with an open kitchen. Anyone knows a good Podiatrist? 249 Ninth Ave (Chelsea)
Every time I sneeze, I get hiccups, and a new steakhouse is born in NYC. The competition is quite fierce these days, and so you need to do something unique to stand out, like this modern steakhouse in the Bowery. It got a little bit of NOLA in it (broiled oysters), a little bit of Italian in it (sick Duck Lasagna for “2”), a little bit of burger in it (fan-freakin-stastic cheeseburger), and a lot of great steak. Try the Bowery Steak, a ribeye cap rolled into a hockey puck shape. Arguably the best part of any animal, and something you wont find in any steakhouse. Don’t believe me? Ask Justin Bieber. 9 E 1st St (East Village)
This is quite possibly the best Momofuku today not named Ko, headed by ex Ko virtuoso Josh Pinsky. There’s all sorts of nonsense out there about Nishi being uncomfortable, marred by identity issues, and owned by an owner everyone loves to hate. But at the end of the day, David Chang is just a boy, standing in front of a city, hungry for deliciousness, which he delivers time and time again. This is essentially a mini Ko, with some dishes resembling their smaller counterparts like the Bay Scallops or the roast pork. Other dishes like the Butter Noodles (FKA Ceci e Pepe) and the outrageous Clams Grand Lisboa show the same whimsical mastery as in Ko. 232 Eighth Avenue (Chelsea)
This is the Bar Pitti of Midtown, but different in some ways. A small Trattoria hidden somewhat on 39th off 9th, popular by locals and tourists alike, but especially popular by Italians. I frequent this place often, and I don’t remember a time I didn’t hear patrons speaking Italian. Unlike many of its competitors nearby, it feels like home, a sense of belonging. Mercato is one of the few in the city that specializes in dishes from Italy’s southern regions and Sardinia, like the Malloreddus, Sardinian Cavatelli. Other dishes like the Trenette al Pesto, the fresh Spaghetti, Gnocchi with the meaty ragu, and the daily specials like the other Cavatelli will keep you asking for more. I do, all the time, but they dont understand me! 352 W 39th St (Hell’s Kitchen)
Fresh Off the Boat (FOB) homey Filipino BBQ on picturesque Smith st. They dont make ’em like this anymore. Underappreciated places like this exists in NYC no doubt (perhaps in Queens), but I just dont know any. Not the glitziest decor around, with much of the focus on what goes on your plate. The Chicken Adobo is getting better with age (well it is an overnight chicken after all), and the Fish Inihaw is soundly in the must category for us each time. And those wings and that sauce belong in a competition somewhere. 271 Smith St (Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn)
Like Bruno Pizza, Marta is not your uncle Vinny’s Pizzeria. This is more like cousin Nick, as in Maialino’s Nick Anderer. There has been a wave of fancy pizzas opening in NYC in the last few years but none I feel are quite like Marta at the Martha Washington hotel. As with Bruno, you can have a fine meal here without even touching the pies (I’m looking at you rabbit meatballs, and then I slaughter you, chicken). But skipping the cracker like Roman pies would be a monumental mistake. I sat there when they first opened and watched Nick throw out pie after pie until they got it right, and that Patate Carbonara is one of the glorious products of that hard work. 29 East 29th Street (Flatiron)
Einat Admony and her pink scooter got yet another hit after Balaboosta and Taim (with Combina just opened). Modern, mostly small Mediterranean/Israeli plates featuring Einat’s trademarked bold flavors. Start with the Jerusalem Bagel with za’atar, straight out of the Mahane Yehuda market. Move on to the veggies like the beets and Japanese eggplant, before the heavyweight staples like the Zabzi Tagine, Shrimp with Yemenite Curry, and Hudson Street Kibbeh. And if the Halva Creme Brulee is not available, I suggest you make a scene. Thats the only way they’ll learn. 611 Hudson St (West Village)
When life gives you chicken, you make Korean Chicken Wings. This fun Hell’s Kitchen Korean is popular with Broadway show goers, tourists, and locals alike. Once you find the menu (hint: its in the drawer on your lap), go with the classics like the sliders, tofu, and the wings. And then cautiously proceed to the Bibim-bap, fried rice with egg, and whatever else chef Kim got in store that day. I like to bring out of town visitors here, vegetarians, and also out of town vegetarians. Always a good time at Danji. 346 W 52nd (Hell’s Kitchen)
There was a time when finding good BBQ in the city was as difficult as watching a constipated baby. Those days are gone. Those that still say that need to come out of the their shell, and go straight to East Village and East Village only. Yes, there are little Mighty Quinn’s all over the city these days and I suppose any of them may satisfy you. But for the purpose of this list and to maximize deliciousness, I recommend only the Mother Quinn, or the mothership if you will. As with most of the BBQ joints here, its self serve cafeteria style. Just about everything they offer is great, starting with the mammoth Brontosaurus Rib, and ending with the brisket, ribs, and pulled pork. This is American cuisine, cooked by Americans, for Americans (and tourists). 103 2nd Ave (East Village)
Now THIS is a PIZZERIA! Unlike places like Bruno Pizza and Marta, Capizzi is all about the simple, no fuss, individual pies. Raw material is top priority here making every ingredient count. Consider the pepperoni that will make you go “Feh” at every subsequent pepperoni elsewhere. Its sliced nice and thick, with some kick to it. Same attention to detail with the rest of the ingredients. But what I like most about Capizzi, is the space. Unlike the more famous competitors in the area like Don Antonio and John’s, this has all the making of an old fashioned Staten Island style pizza parlor. And speaking of SI, there’s now a new bigger Capizzi sister in SI on Hylan blvd. 547 Ninth ave, Hell’s Kitchen
Out of all the city’s old-timers, this is perhaps the most distinct. Minetta doesn’t look like much from the outside on busy Mcdougal, but once you get through those red curtains, its like stepping back in time. There aren’t many restaurants out there that are consistently mentioned in various “Best” lists. The Black Label burger set the trend for fancy aged beef burgers, and the Cote de Boeuf is still one of the most sought-after meats out there. Even if you skip all that and have other menu classics like the Pasta Zaza or the Oxtail terrine, chances are high for a fine meal. 113 Macdougal St (West Village)
It took me 4 weeks to train my Google to stop showing me results for Ilili (Gourmet Lebanese) whenever I searched for Lilia. Bad Google, Bad! But once everything sorted out, it was all systems go. Lilia is across the pond (not that one, another pond) in Williamsburg’s former auto shop district so a lot more local than tourist. Missy Robbins, Barack Obama’s favorite chef in Chicago (when he was a senator) dishes out freakishly good pastas like the Cacio e Perect Malfadini and Agnolotti. The vegetables all over the app section featuring the best of Union Square Market. Great simple meat dishes, and all sorts of “Little Fish” and “Big Fish” hugging the menu. She must be a PJ Harvey fan. Or Dr. Seuss?. 567 Union Ave (Williamsburg)
West Chelsea is known for some of the city’s best Spanish Tapas joints. And Tia Pol, one of the originals, is leading the pack. You can probably play Six Degrees of Tia Pol, with the number of related Tapas spots in the area and all over town. This is the perfect spot to bring your Mother in Law as its dark and noisy. Especially if you MIL is into squid ink rice, best I’ve had in this city. Octopus salad, Patata Bravas, shrimp with garlic are all dependable, and so are the Bocadillos (sandwiches) for lunch. This is as fun as it can get in Little Barcelona (it will catch on). 205 10th Ave (Chelsea)
I almost did, but can’s leave out my most frequented. A super casual deep hole in the wall on “Little Bangkok” 9th ave. If you blink you may miss it. I used to go here when they were called Pure Thai Shophouse until two lawyers from Chipotle showed up demanding a name change (long story). There is no curry of any color on this menu, but a nice selection of regional specialties like the Ratchaburi with pork, crab and dry handmade noodles made in the “shophouse” like corner inside. The ribs are usually a hit. Papaya salad, jungle curry fried rice, and the always reliable fiery pork with curry paste. And as with any place, if there’s one dessert on the menu, get it. Coconut sticky rice with pumpkin custard, like the gift that keeps on giving 766 9th Avenue (Hell’s Kitchen)
A turbulent start is turning into a very smooth ride. This is quickly becoming a local West Village institution and one of my favorite Italian in town. No reservations is fine with me, being early lunch as my normal go to. The same menu for lunch and dinner is greatly appreciated (and somewhat rare), and the many daily specials keeps the juices flowing even more. Although many of staples like the Cacio e pepe, chicken, and the sick Funghi with smoked Scamorza makes ordering specials here virtually impossible. 51 Grove St (West Village)
I’m not one of those old Tabla devotees like many others (I’m just old), but I cant get enough of Floyd Cardoz’s current incarnation in Soho. Yes, there are delicious variations of Naan and dosas and you will pay for every item, but its the rest of the rotating elevated menu that wows every time. Like the Upma Polenta, one of the dishes that made Cardoz famous. 195 Spring St (Brooklyn)
What happens when you flood this page with Jews doing Asian food (Ivan, pig and Khao…) but no Jews doing Jewish food? You get Jewish guilt the size of a New York Matzoh ball. While tourists flock from midtown to downtown (Katz’s) for that elusive pastrami, we sneak into midtown for the same quality in a much more relaxing setting. Abe Lebewohl’s legacy lives on! 162 E 33rd St (Murray Hill)
This ingredient focused, Italian influenced ole’ timer continues to impress. Marco Canora seems to have found the right formula, creating a menu that is essentially for everyone… Meat freaks, health conscious, pescatarians, vegetarians, vegans, accountants, every one really. Some of the old classics like the Rigatoni and Gnocchi, and the impressive Spatchcock chicken are joined by new classics like Cecina and Rabbit. And that wine bible is still perhaps the NYC wine list to beat 403 E 12th St (East Village)
Confession time. I’m a little less enthusiastic about this Curry Hill pick since the ownership change. The menu is the same though spice levels took a hit it feels, and in some case missing all-together, hence off the menu. Like the Kori Gassi my favorite curry dish here is not available at the moment due to issues with getting the proper spices from India. But there is still plenty to love here like the Bindi, Biryani (get the shrimp), and Chettinad. While they no longer contain the old heat levels, the flavors are still there. And the lunch specials are still hard to beat. 115 Lexington Ave (Kips Bay)
I was passing by Totto’s original location on 52nd the other day and noticed the entire surrounding now includes signs in both Japanese and English to respect the neighbors by clearing the sidewalks and “be polite” to them. All without properly disclosing who should we unleash our frustration on instead. Well, this is no longer a problem for me now that Totto opened on 51st and 10th, but by the looks of the crowds in the original, not everyone got the memo (a whopping 5 min walk). The bonus of 51st is the excellent Dons (rice bowl) like spicy tuna which you get at half price with your ramen during lunch. The ramen is chicken based, and some of the best in town (I’m partial to the Spicy one). But if you head instead to Ippudo nearby for the great Akamaru Modern and pork dumplings, I wont stop you. Heck I may even join. Multiple Locations, two in Hell’s Kitchen
Octopus whisperer Nir Mesika lives, breathes, and showers
in Hummus Mediterranean. Though influences come from all over the world. Every plate showcases these inspirations, with unparalleled attention to detail. The rotating menu is always full of surprises, but the Kubaneh, Mediterranean Sashimi, and the legendary Bedouin Octopus continue to fight for the throne. And then you have some of the best brunch deals around, where you can sample a very proper Shakshuka. 109 St Marks Pl (East Village)
November 17, 2014 Update:
Another fantastic meal at Louro a few nights ago. The place hasn’t skipped a beat since it opened two years ago. Sometimes you get caught up with all the sexy new openings and forgetting about the current neighborhood spots that continue to hit on all cylinders. The place is packed every night seems like, with the ultra talented chef Santos still doing his thing. In addition to the constantly rotating seasonal menus, Santos continues his Supper Club tradition with the popular Monday night theme dinners like “Lobster night”, “Breaking Bad”, and “Breaking Bald” for those villagers suffering from Frontal Baldness. Ok, not really, but tonight they do have “White Man does Szechuan” which looks very interesting.
We tried a variety of items again including some of the old favorites, and on this night new favorites emerged. Like the tremendously flavorful Kimchi Fried Rice (below) which comes sizzling hot loaded with calamari, mussels, shrimp, clams, and egg juice poured table side for you to mix in. Plenty of pleasant heat and plenty of joy with this one. More great flavors came out of a simple Lobster soup from its clean, well balanced broth. And then came the Venison (below). Two medallions expertly cooked, rare, just slightly seared on the outside. Because venison is so tender and lean, cooking this more will result in eating two hockey pucks. It came with some pasta (looked like Cavatelli) as part of a groovy smoked onion jus. Only the why-so-bitter Broccoli Rabe stood in the way of perfection.
The chicken last time caused me to start seeing other chickens! On other menus that is. While this time the chicken was still juicy, tender, very nicely sauced and veggied (Yummy Yam and nicely cooked Brussels Sprouts), it was missing that perfectly crisped skin. Still a very solid dish overall. The Monkfish delicate tomato sauce and rice was replaced by a wintery bean cassoulet, and the Octopus Bolognese is still the same old hearty, rich Octopus Bolognese. One of the staples on the menu along with the Piri Piri Shrimp
This is just about the most eclectic, fun, constantly changing menu I know. Each dish is well crafted with great tasting sauces and veggies, and the missing “Sides” column almost feels refreshing, as you get plenty of “Sides” with each dish. Choosing what to order from this menu is as complicated as choosing the manliest umbrella on a rainy day. Do I go with the white circles, colorful polka dots, or black with pink piggies. Why cant we have a black umbrella like normal families
April 8th, 2013 Post:
My house smells of fish! It smells of fish for the past week now. And get this.. we haven’t cooked any fish in the past 2 weeks and so don’t have the slightest idea where the smell is coming from. Wish it would smell of curry or cumin instead. Don’t get me wrong, I love fish, but I don’t want my house to smell like it. Same goes for chicken soup. When Mrs Ziggy starts making it early in the morning its as if a guest just came in, said hello, threw up, and immediately left without cleaning his mess.
What does it have to do with Louro? Absolutely nothing. I’m not even gonna make a clever transition with this like “we had to escape the house and go eat at Louro” because its not really true. I’ve been planning this meal ever since I saw the Best Dishes of 2012 thread on Chowhound. I just had to try that much talked about gnocchi dish since my family sort of became gnocchi junkies over the past few years.
5 month old Louro by David Santos is another great addition to the West Village dining scene. At first glance inside I was a little surprised at the upscale diner look. Booth tables right by a long bar. It gets less diner-ish in the back however. The food is sort of Portuguese, Italian, American and as usual we tried quite a few items. Here’s a great, good and ugly breakdown.
Piri Piri Shrimp – Really enjoyed them. Not as good as Aldea’s preparation and similar dishes we’ve enjoyed in Portugal but cooked and seasoned very well nonetheless. Not too spicy so the kids were able to enjoy as well. Love anything Piri Piri
Octopus Bolognese – So good. All about the sauce. Tiny bits of octopus and goose pancetta? (sort of a Pancetta goose blend I suppose). Anything would taste great with that sauce including car keys. Thankfully the waitress convinced us to get more bread.
Monkfish – Delicate, perfectly textured and absolutely delicious. And with that light Portuguese tomato sauce and rice, YUMMO! I couldn’t stop eating it. Until I tasted…
Roast Chicken – Wow! I did not want to order it. But wife and kids wanted to try and I’m glad I lost that argument. I suppose I forgot that the Portuguese can crank out some delicious chickens. Comes with a nice rye berry risotto and spinach, but that chicken was very flavorful and that skin was so perfectly crisped I could eat just that.
Seafood fritters – Enjoyed them. Not bad at all. Like those seafood beignets you get in New Orleans
House Made Tortellini (top) – Pleasant, light, filled with Nettles among other things. Not very memorable but tasted good.
Striped Bass – A popular dish here normally with a snapper instead. Bok Choy, shiitake, coconut ginger broth. Very pleasant dish and well done. Thank you baby Jesus for sending me a family that doesnt eat mushrooms
Gnocchi Romana – Ahhh, the irony. As often is the case the first thing I wanted to try was the least favorite. I dont think its the same dish the chowhounders were raving about. The cream sauce just tasted like a regular cream sauce to us (they call it permesan foam) and the gnocchi was semolina but had the texture of tiny breakfast potato cubes. I just kept trying it just to see what I was missing until me and the kids finished the plate.
The menu OCD chef keeps changing the menu and it did not match the menu on their site at all. Overall a very good meal and something to keep in mind when visiting the village. The wife much preferred the food here over future Michelin star Aska the day before. Check out Louro readers. Both of yous
I never had crack cocaine! Its a well documented fact that I was smoking cigarettes at the young age of 5 and wearing a patch 9 months later, but I never had crack cocaine nor do I have any idea how it tastes like. Does it taste like Strozzapreti made with lobster coral (egg sac)? Does it taste like lobster and scallop sausage with the look and texture of loose chicken skin? Or does it taste like sweet lobster meat gently floating in a delicate sauce with lemony hints? Is it like all of the above put together smelling like the sea as soon as it arrives? If the answer is yes to any of the above, where do I sign up?
Is it too early to name the dish of the year? Probably. But a few more like this bright Strozzapreti (most likely named after someone envisioned a pasta shape while witnessing a priest being strangled) this year and I will be a very happy Ziggy. The chicken skin-like lobster/scallop “sausages” especially gave me a ratatouille moment that almost made me drop my iPhone. Other dishes I enjoyed between two meals in order of deliciousness….
The Spongata, a superb honey and nut cake came with a satsuma sherbet that was so heavenly it could probably thrive on the dessert menu alone. Reginette, curly ribbony pasta was perfectly cooked and topped with a chunky veal, pork and beef, would most likely satisfy any Bolognese Ragu craving. A mild creamy Burrata with fava beans, peas, spring onions and a light minty sauce got a tremendous boost from the sensational prosciutto-like cured pork shoulder. The only dish I didnt quite know what to make of was a trio of Mortadella, prosciutto, and a thin head cheese slice sitting on top of a puffy fried dough on some fruity sweet sauce. Do I like it together? Separate? without the sauce? I found myself experimenting just like the chef was.
Every few months the menu changes to include dishes from a particular Italian region, although you could arrive in between regions as I did yesterday and still enjoy well crafted food. As is the case with most fine Italian in town, the strength in Lincoln is with the pasta. And long time Per Se and French laundry alumni Jonathan Benno is widely considered a pasta virtuoso. Lincoln Ristorante is of course part of the Lincoln Center complex. A 20 million design triumph includes floor to ceiling windows, 3 dining rooms, and a spectacular open kitchen. The service ranges from friendly to cold depending on the day of the week. And the open kitchen may also mean you could hear what they plan to do with you depending on where you sit…
Server just picked up first course from your table: “Number 37 is done with the first course”
Chef: “Lets give him a minute to gather himself and pick up his phone. Give him some more bread”
142 W 65th St
Recommended Dishes: Strozzapreti, Reginette, Burrata, Spongata
**** Terrible old post with terrible Iphone pictures replaced by a slightly less terrible post with more terrible Iphone pictures. I didnt take my camera to this one since I wasnt planning to make a post *******
Just the other day I was giving a food tour of Hell’s Kitchen to a young couple from the Philippines, and the subject of this blog came up. I told them something I realized lately, that this is the weirdest blog they will ever encounter as its all about eating in 3 peculiarly different places: NYC, Italy, and Turks And Caicos, a place they were not even familiar with. “Its in the Caribbean” normally follows (Although technically its part of the Atlantic Ocean really). But when my wife is often busy at work with older customers and does not have the time for 20 questions she prefers to just follow with “Turkey” instead. Its not that I had any sort of plan when I started blogging, but now over a year later I find myself trying to please 3 different audiences somehow.
In a strange way Union Square Hospitality’s Maialino in the Gramercy Park Hotel connects all 3 subjects together, at least in my mind. With TCI becoming increasingly Roman, I finally had my first Carbonara there (In Via Veneto). In NYC, I now have all sorts of Roman options including Lupa, and even Eataly where you can get a decent Cacio e pepe. But when I asked on Chowhound recently where do Italians eat in NYC, I was not surprised that the answer is A) a lot of what we call Italian food, and B) Maialino, according to one distinguished Roman and Food Author Maureen Fant.
For me to come back to the same place twice in one year is almost unheard of. But I just had to impress my Aussie friend Tanya and had to play it safe. The only thing I dislike about Maialino is the bar area. Its always packed with beautiful single people. So whenever I have to pass by it quickly to my seat in the back, it always serves as a
gruesome reminder that I never had much of a single life. @NickAnderer, any chance you could give me some back door access next time. Anyway, another exceptional meal at one of New York’s exceptional Italian establishments.
Salumi Misti – You can select 3. We’ve chosen Finocchiona, Prosciutto di Parma, and Mortadella. All very good with the Finocchiona (salami with fennel) being my favorite.
Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe – Beautifully simple, simply beautiful. Along with the carbonara perhaps my favorite pasta here. Perfectly creamy, peppery, and addictive. Having it sit there among the other pastas is like visiting the bunny ranch after trying out all the bunnies, and constantly picking you favorite. Sorry you had to read this Tanya, Mrs Ziggy,
Tortelli – Wow this was good. Little explosive mini pillows stuffed with pork and chicken liver drizzled with tasty balsamic oil and almonds. Poignant, surprising flavor. Not the type of surprise like Brian Boitano announcing he’s gay. Really surprising.
Spaghetti with lobster – Delicious! Not quite as sharp as the Lobster Fra Diavola I just had at my favorite restaurant in the Caribbean, Caicos Cafe led by a San Domenico veteran, but delicious nonetheless.
Oxtail – Roman style, slow cooked with tomato sauce. Tender, falling off the fork, absolutely scrumptious piece of meat you just want to attack. But we couldnt. We were stuffed. Just stared at it thinking how in the world I’m passing on this thing, reminiscing on the great oxtail we had at Cesare al Casaletto. Nick, thanks for correcting my pronunciation of Cesare al Casaletto at the Bonci/Parla event at Paulie Gee’s
In the past we also enjoyed the terrific Carbonara (better than the ones I had in Rome), octopus app with beans, Pappardelle, and a fine Garganelli al Sugo di Coniglio (yum). We skipped dessert this time but enjoyed the bread pudding over the more popular (I think) olive oil cake last time. Check out Maialino boys and girls
You know that you spend too much time with a couple when the following happens. You start receiving texts from them intended for each other. Such is the case with Mr and Mrs Hummus Whisperer. Examples:
From MRS HW: “I bought bananas”. Ahhm, OK?!?
From HW: “Just picture everyone naked!”. What? Oh I see. The wife is away presenting something in a conference. Ok, that took me a few minutes
Thankfully, none of the texts were about us or embarrassingly kinky. Though the last one came close. The moment I get a “Carlos Danger” type text from HW it will be pretty much over between us. Pretty much!
A few weeks ago we took Mr and Mrs Hummus whisperer to Betony for HW’s birthday. Betony is the latest brainchild of Russian entrepreneur Andrey Dellos who previously owned Brasserie Pushkin in the same space. This time he brings with him 2 Eleven Madison Park veterans. Bryce Shuman is no stranger to the kitchen and according to his bio, an enemy of cats! Eamon Rockey is formerly with new Michelin star Aska and EMP, and his bio is not clear where he stands in regards to cats. Betony is now a tough ticket after recently getting 3 stars from the New York Time. Many will kill for just one star. And Betony most likely just missed the Michelin 2014 cut, but there’s always a 2015, I think (I dont have the Mayan calendar next to me at the moment)
I must say I was a bit in awe when we entered Betony. A mature, sophisticated vibe that quite frankly we are not used to. But we were comfortable. Not only we were comfortable but the ladies bags were comfortable. You know that you are at a high end place where your bag has its own seat. And I dont mean this. I’m talking about real furniture. The menu is designed for you to spend a little, but eat very very well. They advise you to share the first courses, and to have your own middle and main. Sorry, not gonna fly with us. Sharing is for caring! (Yes I’m looking at you Mrs HW) Something I learned a long long time ago. So imagine our surprise when we ordered just 3 middle courses for the 4 of us, we all get our plates and the birthday boy is the one stuck with a beautiful empty plate. Overall however, good, knowledgeable service and the food delivered big time
Foie Gras Bonbons wrapped in cashew – Quite good. Though the salt from the cashews was a little too dominant, this was enjoyable.
Chickpea Panisse – Liked this one a lot.
Fried pickles – Surprisingly a bit greasy but pleasant nonetheless.
Beet amuse – A bit on the salty side surprisingly as well. So far a bit of a salty start including the salty bread sticks which I didnt care for at all.
Gnocchi with corn – Smokey, super large, very soft and tasty. A bit too soft for me but still enjoyed this.
Chicken liver mouse – Rich and decadent.
Marinated Sardines – Oh this one was quite good. Lovely with that tomato “salsa” Broke a mini streak of stinky sardines
Short Ribs – A revelation! Best of show. Tender and full of flavor. It takes 3 days to make them we were told and HW was please to find out that it doesnt mean we needed to stay there for 3 days. We were free the next day, but not the day after.
Poached lobster – Very tasty as well, but very light (to me at least). Great broth.
We opted to skip dessert on this night. A fine and enjoyable meal overall. Hard to say if I will be back partly because I’m allergic to that location, but I would like to sample that chicken and anything else Mr Shuman got up his sleeves.
Dear Readers, it is official. Tribeca is now a culinary hotspot. A few Years ago I wouldnt touch the area with a 10 foot pole (mainly because of the difficulties involved) but now I found the area refreshing. I can now have a great Falafel in Nish Nush, amazing Korean in Jungsik, and now Khe-Yo. Just like Jungsik, the first modern Korean to hit NYC, Khe-Yo is the first place purely devoted to Lao cuisine. But Lao cooking has been around here for a while now. In my best Troy McClure voice…
“Hi, I’m Troy McClure! You may remember this Laos dish from movies such as Yum Yum, An Officer and a Thai Dish, Yum Yum 3, Eat Drink Man Woman Tranny”
What I’m trying to say is Lao dishes like Larb and the spicy papaya salad can be found in many Thai restaurants all over town. But in Marc Forgione’s Khe-Yo things get a bit more inventive. I visited Khe-Yo about a month a ago, 2 days after it opened and since then Khe-Yo has gained a lot of media attention. Marc now has places in both Duane and Reade streets! Ok, it sounded much more meaningful in my head. Executive chef is Laos born Soulayphet Schwader (AKA better call Saul!)who will occasionally come out to serve the main course himself
They start you off with a bang here. Sticky rice comes with 2 fantastic condiments and a prolonged explanation on how to best enjoy the sticky rice. Eating with your fingers. Dip it in the Heirloom puree or the addictively sick spicy Jeow made with 4 different Thai chili, cilantro, fish sauce and garlic. I was dipping everything in that thing including car keys
I love small menus. This one only has 5 apps, 5 entrees, and a few salads. Crunchy coconut rice with spicy kafﬁr lime Sausage was good and original. I just wished there was a bit more sausage. Jurgielewicz Duck salad was even better. Nicely done, freshly butchered (24 hour) duck along with lightly fried crunchy duck tongue, lemongrass, nice palm sugar vinegar, and jalapeno skins to balance things out. Nice start
Berkshire Spare Ribs were just ok. A bit fatty for my taste and on the salty side. But I liked the accompanied cold long beans salad. Pork Jowl Red Curry was more like it. Like a super delicious mild pork stew with tasty grilled shiitake mushrooms and baby eggplant on the side.
Dessert menu consists of coconut rice pudding with sliced peach and cashew bits which was fine, and a pricey but promising native cocktail ($13). A fine meal overall. I would love to come back and explore the rest of the menu, like the whole black bass and the chicken. Marc Forgione told me since they opened 2 days ago 15 Lao natives told him how thrilled they were with this place. They also recently opened “Khe-Yosk” for lunch. Get it? Khe..yosk. Its a Banh Mi Sandwich takeout place, and I hope to to try it next week
5.7 pounds (and counting) and 3 months later it is time to update this beast. But first a word from our sponsors… oops we have none. But, I do want to say a few words about this list because it became more popular than the original intent.
This list is not for everyone. If you are looking for the prototypical pre-theatre dinner where you are nicely dressed, most of these options are not for you. This list is all about the food, mostly on the casual, cheap side, and mostly really its about what Hell’s Kitchen does best – ethnic food. If you want to eat at a “Nice” place than I suggest picking a different area. If you are looking for that special pre-theatre meal and really care about the food than I would suggest looking at places that are not in the area but not too far. i.e. Betony, Marea, NoMad, The Modern. You are already spending $300 for a show, surely you can afford a $5 cab fare to add. Although after a nice long meal, I rather take a nice long walk.
The complete guide is here…
Here’s whats being added to the guide…
Italian – Mercato. This is quickly becoming not only my favorite Italian in the area but my favorite restaurant in the area. I cant quite explain how I missed it all those years. Truly flavorful, mostly authentic southern Italian dishes like the excellent homemade Trenette with garlic, almonds, tomato and basil. Check out the simple spaghetti, and the flavor rich gnocchi. Owners from Sardinia, chef from day 1 from Sicily, good looking all Italian wait staff means I fit right in.
Thai – Larb Ubol. My favorite is still Pure overall but this new kid on the block is quickly gaining traction. Larb Ubol is an offshoot of Zabb Elee in the East Village, specializing in authentic Isan cooking. Like Pure, some of these dishes not for the faint of heart. Even more so here actually. If you want your typical American Thai dishes this is not the place. Go to something like Kare Thai on 10th or Wondee Siam 2 instead. In Larb Ubol what you get is complex flavors like you never experienced before (unless you did!). Try the Pad Ped Moo Crob – Crispy pork, thai eggplant, basil, peppercorn, ginger, and spicy curry paste
Ramen – Ippudo Westside. Perhaps the most exciting HK opening in 2013. One block away from Totto making HK a NYC Ramen powerhouse. Just like Totto, this is an experience but quite a different one, starting with all the yelling in Japanese every time a new guest arrives, leaves, a dish on its way, or a guest going to the bathroom. I have no idea what they are yelling but its fun, and after a few minutes you start to yell as well. Clearly my favorite here so far is the Akamaru Modern, but you must add the egg, and for a little more spice add the spicy miso paste. Highly recommend this one
Chicken Over Rice Guy – 11th and 51st (Northwest corner). Every neighborhood has a favorite chicken over rice guy. This one is mine. Try the chicken over rice!
Tried a few other new places like Nook… Feh!
Randon tidbits on existing places…
Szechuan Gourmet 56 – I had my first terrible meal here, followed by an excellent meal. Keeping it on the list for now but inconsistency will not fly
Gazala’s Place – I’m not big of the Bourekas overall, but the cheese and sun dried tomato Bourekas here is the bomb. The bomb I tell ya
Sullivan Street Bakery – Quickly becoming one of my favorite breakfast places in the area. Discovering all kinds of bread goodies lately
Guelaguetza – Spicy chicken burrito is now officially my favorite Burrito in the area. Readers, its official!
The Complete Guide…