Posts Tagged With: NYC food

What to Eat in NYC – The Ethnic Plays

Taim falafelContinuing the What to Eat in NYC miniseries.  Part 1 is here.  Ethnic food is a big part of our daily diet hence it requires its own page.  What should you target in NYC of course depends on where you are coming from, but these are generally the areas of excellence in NYC…

Eat Thai – NYC has a thriving Thai food scene, and for reasons unknown to me the area known as Hell’s Kitchen is leading the Pad pack.  New Thai restaurants keep opening and existing ones keep multiplying right next to each other.  Yum Yum 1,2,3 all on the same block, and Wondee Siam with its three locations is another example.  But my favorites are Pure Thai Cookhouse with its vibrant menu, and fun vibe, and Larb Ubol specializing in Isan (North Thailand) cooking.  Lately however I’ve been cheating on those two with an old timer, Pam Real Thai.  Outside of HK, you got the great Somtum Der in East Village, and the popular Uncle Boons not too far.  Zabb Elee is another excellent Isan, and if you can somehow make it to Pok Pok in Brooklyn, you are in for a treat.  While not exactly Thai, the Laos inspired Khe-Yo is quite unique in itself and deserves a mention

Pure Thai Ratchaburi

Pure Thai Ratchaburi

Eat Indian – We eat a lot of Indian food, and the scene overall is fairly competitive.  Between Curry Hill and Curry Row in the East Village alone you have a slew of very good options.  In the East Village, guidebooks and TV shows may direct you to the Gimmicky Bricklane Curry House, but I suggest heading to Malai Marke around the corner.  In Curry Hill you have Chote Nawab, the vegetarian Vatan, and the southern flavors of Kokum and Anjappar.  Moving uptown, Moti Mahal Delux is part of a worldwide chain known for their butter chicken, and newcomer Awadh across in the west.  But if you are mesmerized by the Times Square lights and cant leave, Basara on 9th may do the trick

Moti Mahal Cauliflower

Moti Mahal Cauliflower

 

Eat Middle Eastern -Middle Eastern plays a big part in our Mediterranean diet.  You got a few mini empires fighting for the top rights.  Einat Admony with Balaboosta, Bar Bolonat and Taim is perhaps the biggest Israeli name at the moment.  While Taboon continues to be a strong option in midtown, especially now with its original chef coming back.  Baby sister Taboonette dishes out unique healthy[ier] street food in Union Square.  Modern Lebanese hot spot Ilili has been around for some time now.  Gazala showcases her Druze specialties in two location, Gazala’s and Gazala’s Place.  And Zizi Limona in Williamsburg is a product of three veterans who know how to treat the classics well.  Speaking of which…

Bar Bolonat - Creme Brulee

Bar Bolonat – Creme Brulee

Eat Falafel – While visitors seek that perfect New York Cheesecake, keep in mind that we New Yorkers argue more on who has the best Falafel.  Is it Taim  in the village?  Is it Azuri in midtown where watching Ezra make it is like watching Picasso paint.  Or is it the nostalgically cheap Mamoun’s.  None of the above.  Top marks go to Nish Nush which is yet to be discovered by many locals, and those who did will certainty not appreciate me touting it.  But the others, especially Taim’s marvelous platter, and Azuri’s sandwich and Shawarma will do you just fine.

Nish Nush - Falafel

Eat Ramen – We are in the midst of a ramen revolution in NYC, and I dont hear anyone complaining.  Except for Mrs Z perhaps who wants to go to Ippudo now on a regular basis including Jewish holidays.  In Hell’s Kitchen alone you can feel that craze.  Even former none ramen establishments are joining the fun.  The delicious Akamaru Modern at Ippudo is leading the pack, while the Spicy Ramen at Totto is not far behind.  Ivan Ramen in Gotham West is another option, though I would be tempted to get the Smoked Salmon Donburi, formerly known as Smoked Whitefish Donburi instead.  But to get a fuller taste of the Ivan without sounding too dirty, one must go to the downtown location.  One option that gets overlooked by many is Bassanova in Chinatown with its fiery and unusual Green Curry Ramen.  And while you ate it, give the lemon and pepper Ramen a shot as well.

Ippudo - Akamaru Modern

Ippudo – Akamaru Modern

Eat Chinese – Some folks familiar with the Chinese scene here, may be asking themselves at this point, how is this guy going to cover our entire Chinese arsenal in one paragraph.  I cant, and I wont, but I’ll offer a small glimpse just like with the rest.  Some of the best Chinese Food is offered outside of our many Chinatowns, like the Szechuan Gourmet empire (I frequent the one on 56th st).  A recent discovery for me is Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns and their addictive Shanghai style soup dumplings.  Talking of which, Prosperity Dumplings is perhaps the biggest value in town, and that’s saying a lot.  Mission Chinese Food is the hottest Chinese play in the city right now, and may even be when you read this a year from now.  Han Dynasty, a Philly chain is doing a lot of things right seems like.  And do check out at least one of our Chinatowns.  Dim Sum in Golden Unicorn, or if you feel adventurous, East Harbor Seafood Palace in Brooklyn’s Chinatown, followed by cruising along tourist free zone 8th ave.

Gourmet Szechuan 56 - Shredded beef

Gourmet Szechuan 56 – Shredded beef

Eat Mexican – Lower your eyebrows and listen up.  The notion that there’s no decent Mexican in NYC is sooooo 2013.  In the last few years a slew of exciting young chefs like Alex Stupak has given us some very cool options.  Stupak perhaps is leading the rat pack with the Empellon empire… Empellon Cocina is the flagship, Empellon Taqueria is the high end Taqueria, while the new Empellon Al Pastor is the more basic Taqueria highlighting the namesake Al Pastor.  Other options include Tehuitzingo, the fine taqueria in Hell’s Kitchen and its bigger neighbor Tulcingo Del Valle.  Visitors flock to the more polished and Toloache practically in Times Square, and while I don’t have any quarrels with it (I recommended it myself), I tend to feel more at home in the previous two.  Los Tacos #1 at the Chelsea Market is another great option if you can brave the crowds, though I would opt for something more along the lines of Otto’s Tacos which is in the process of opening a branch in Hell’s Kitchen.  Another one to consider is Mission Cantina, home to the best Burrito in NYC, not surprisingly coming from the Mission neighborhood in SF

Mission Cantina Tacos

Mission Cantina Tacos

Eat Eastern European – Perhaps this is more for the Coney Island bound tourists who should keep in mind that there’s much more to downtown Brooklyn than a Hot Dog.  The area adjacent known as Brighton Beach is loaded with all sorts of great Uzbek, Russian, Georgian and even Uzbek/Korean delights.  Consider Cafe Glechik on Coney Island Ave, sort of a Russian institution in the area.  Or perhaps Tone Cafe, aka Georgian Bread for the great Adjaruli Khatchapuri.  Uzbek/Uyghur specialty Kashkar Cafe is an absolute gem, and one of my favorite restaurants in whole of Brooklyn.  For a livelier Uzbek filled with Russians on a daily basis there’s Cafe Nargis a few blocks north on Coney Island ave.  Cant leave Manhattan but still want a small taste?  Veselka, Oda House, and Uncle Vanya in midtown should be able to take good care of you.  Unless you are a vegeterian

Kashkar Cafe - Geiro Lagman

Kashkar Cafe – Geiro Lagman

Eat Tapas – Basque, other Spanish, Mediterranean tapas galore all over.  In Chelsea alone you can Patata Brava to your heart’s delight, starting with tiny Tia Pol and ending with Toro near the Chelsea Market.  In the East Village you have the fun Cata, and lately I’ve been itching to go back to her sister AltaTertulia has its fans in the West Village, while I’ve been enjoying its sister El Colmado in Gotham West Market lately.  Many locals are in love with Casa Mono, but I need a bit more convincing.  And watch out for newly opened Espoleta, some big names behind this project

Casa Mono Razor Clams

Casa Mono Razor Clams

Eat Miscellaneous – Do you honestly need more ideas?  I didnt think so.  But all of this is just scratching the surface of what the greatest food city in the world has to offer.  In Staten Island for example, you can take advantage of the large Sri Lankan community by trying the museum-like Lakruwana, San Rasa or New Asha.  Vietnamese food, while still lagging behind other cities, is getting better.  Try Co Ba and Co Ba 53.  How about some Korean like Danji, Jungsik, HIT Korean Deli or Food Gallery 32Filipino inspired?  We got plenty of that too.. Lumpia Snack Shack, and Maharlika are just some

Overwhelmed?  Join the club.  I only live here.

Jungsik Steak

Jungsik Steak

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Categories: Brooklyn, Chelsea, Chinatown, East Village, Gramercy, Flatiron, Lower East Side, Midtown East, Midtown West, New York City, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita, Staten Island, TriBeCa, Upper West Side, West Village | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

What to Eat in New York City

 

Best Pizza

Best Pizza

Oh no you didn’t…  Oh, yes I did!  A post on.. well.. everything.  I’m not writing about pizza or Indian food, or where to get the best Cheesecake, this is a post on everything.  A one time stop for the confused visitor that knows only what he reads in his guide book, and Trip Advisor ranking.  In other words, just a tad smarter than Klauss.  I have news for you Mr visitor.  We New Yorkers don’t eat Cheesecakes, Knishes, and Manhattan Clam Chowders.  Well, the last one on occasion, but having the word “Manhattan” in it should not automatically qualify it for the guidebooks.

A month ago at our company we had visitors from Minnesota.  When we ordered food for lunch, there was a moment that shook me a little.  One member of the Minnesota gang pointed to something and said “What’s that”.  To which I replied “this my friend, is a Falafel”.  Locals eat more falafels than Cheesecakes, Knishes, and Manhattan Clam Chowders combined in NYC, but you would never guess by just reading the guidebook.  Let me help set you straight

I will try my best to make it as comprehensive as possible, and update as often as I can.  Something to chew on before I leave for yet another trip to Turks (lobsta calling my name).  But there’s a chance I may forget a few things, so I would appreciate some help via comments if that indeed happens.  Its essentially a guide to help you understand what you should be targeting in NYC.  Here we go…

Eat Pizza – Yes, we eat a lot of pizza.  Every block where I live has these 3 essentials.  Pizza, Bagels, and a pharmacy to help you cope with all that pizza and bagels.  There’s great pizza everywhere in NYC and I’m not going to even attempt to name all the best spots, but here are a few

Merilu (2)

Merilu

   Slice – You have the usual suspects like Joe’s on Carmines and Di Fara in Brooklyn, but the truth is that there are plenty of solid slices out there and the 50th best slice is not really that far behind the 2nd best slice taste wise.  Consider Sacco in Hell’s Kitchen, Prince Street Pizza, Best Pizza” in Williamsburg might very well be best with their wood burning oven slice, and for something a bit different and not very New Yorky consider the thin squares at Merilu.  BTW, for those Di Fara bound, the pilgrimage may cost you half a day of travel and waiting for quite a while for your slice.  Not worth it if yo ask me, but if you must…

   Pies – While the guide books will guide you across the bridge and make you stand for 30-90 bone chilling minutes on a long line (and fail to tell you that the real Grimaldi is actually next door dishing them out at Juliana’s), you can get similar or better quality all over the city.  Consider Capizzi in midtown, where you will not find any long waits whatsoever.  Or how about the thin vodka pies at Rubirosa, an offshoot of the great Joe and Pat’s in Staten Island.  For your fancy Neapolitan pies there are a lot of great options and I strongly suggest to try at least one.  Consider Motorino, Don Antonio, Keste, Paulie Gees, and Roberta’s at a food festival near you (if you cant Bushwick it).  You can even get a decent pie in Eataly.  Also consider the Neapolitan archenemy, the mighty Roman pie at Marta.  Well, its not very mighty with its matzoh like thickness, but its quite delicious, not to mention everything else Marta offers.  You can have a great meal here without even touching the pies

Marta Patate alla Carbonara

Marta Patate alla Carbonara

Eat Burgers – As with pizza this is a very difficult topic to cover as there are so many choices, and so many kinds.  You are not only dealing with a plethora of Burger joints but you also have them on just about every French/Italian/American, you name it menu and everyone trying to outdo each other.  For your fast food smallish burger, yes, I suppose Shake Shack will do, and the pain that comes with it (long lines, fighting an old lady for a seat).  But head to Gotham West Market, and you can find another solid burger at Genuine Roadside where you’ll find no lines, and no old ladies to fight.  Try the terrific Chicken Sandwich too while you at it.  For the middle of the road, regular burger try Corner Bistro, Island Burger and Shakes and the rest of my Hell’s Kitchen picks I outline here

Dutch - Burger

Dutch – Burger

For the fancier stuff, Minetta Tavern’s Black Label is still the king, as one of a few burgers out there where the meat is so good, you can get it practically naked.  Meaning the burger!  Also consider Minetta’s sister Cherche Midi’s much hyped burger these days.  Bowery Meat Company uses the same supplier for its excellent patty (though I wish the fries would have been better).  Other solid players include the Breslin’s terrific Lamb Burger, Bar Sardine’s popular Fedora burger, The Gender’s burger with beef aioli, and the Spotted Pig with its addictive fries.  But if you’d point a gun at my head and make me choose one, I would ask you to please put the gun down, then proceed to kick your ass and call the cops.  Once you are out, I would direct you to the NoMad Bar where you’ll find the best combination of quality burger, fries, and ease of getting a table (No reservations tho)

Spotted Pig Burger

Spotted Pig Burger


Eat Bagels, Lux
 – No shortage of great bagels all over town.  With Absolute Bagel, Pick-a-Bagel in midtown, Ess-a-Bagel, and Murrays you pretty much have all the corners covered.  And while Russ & Daughters doesn’t bake their own, their Brooklyn Supplier is as old school and solid as they come.  R&D is an icon, and so very touristy for good reason.  But once you experience it, consider something like Shelsky’s in Brooklyn, or Nordic Preserves in Essex Market, for much of the quality and none of the pain.

Russ and Daughters lox

Russ and Daughters lox

Eat Italian – In NYC, one should take advantage of our Italian dining. Even Italians coming from Italy do so, and appreciate the wide array that NYC has to offer.  From the amazing seafood of Marea, to simple neighborhood spots like Da Andrea.  Consider Mercato and its southern Italian fare (real southern, not Brooklyn southern), or perhaps Bat Pitti in the village.  How about All’onda, and Piora for some Asian influence.  Or a taste of Emilia Romagna in Osteria Morini or Salumeria RossiMarta can certainly enter the discussion, and its sister Maialino is perhaps my favorite of all.  If you need to choose one, thats the one.  Or consider Scarpetta whose menu includes many popular staples.  Babbo is possibly entering icon territory, Del Posto may be already there among the high ends, while the inventive Lincoln remains under everyone’s radar.  In NYC we also have the classic New York Italian, aka red sauce American Italian cuisine that one may try.  The Guide Books will direct you to the Theater District and Little Italy, but for proper tasting consider something like Rubirosa or Carbone

Lincoln Strozzapreti

Lincoln Strozzapreti

Eat American – This is another big topic.  The one place that always comes to mind where you can get that old quintessential NY feel is Minetta Tavern.  Eleven Madison Park light, The NoMad is another solid choice with its celebrated Chicken for two.  In Midtown consider Betony, runner up for James Beard’s Best New Restaurant award last year.  Louro is a dependable neighborhood joint with rotating menus, and theme dinners on Mondays.  Consider the Dutch and its terrific fried chicken and more, which brings us to Root and Bone where the bird reigns over a solid southern inspired menu.  The veggies reign supreme at Narcissa, and the Marshal is not only extremely veg friendly, but covers all the classics well.  For something different consider the winter game festival at Henry’s End.

You also have a slew of Asian inspired American like the inspiring Annisa, and the David Chang’s empire, especially Momofuku Ssam Bar, and Ma Peche.  Consider a visit to newcomer Tuome, featuring a young chef with an attitude.

NoMad Chicken

NoMad Chicken

Dicksons pastrami

Dicksons pastrami

Eat Pastrami – Yes, yes go to Katz’s.  That’s not a tourist trap, but the real deal.  In Midtown, Carnegie Deli keeps chugging along, while Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop in Flatironhas been raising New York’s cholesterol since 1929.  Try perhaps the Montreal Jewish style pastrami at Mile End.  Or for something completely different, consider the pastrami sandwich at Dickson’s the great meat purveyor in Chelsea Market where the pastrami is more marbled and comes with a smear of apricot chutney or however they do it that day.  Yummo!

Eat Steak – Visitors come to NYC looking to eat steak in something called a “Steakhouse”.  It’s one of the most common questions on Trip Advisor… what is the Best Steakhouse.  Well, you do have the icons like Keen’s, and Peter Luger that folks will no doubt pick over Wolfgang’s which started by an employee that worked for Luger for 40 years and offers a similar Porterhouse.  But the beauty of NYC steaks is that just like burgers, you can get great steak anywhere pretty much including in modern “I cant believe this is not a steakhouse” steakhouse.  Consider the Bowery Steak at Bowery Meat Company, which consists of the Ribeye cap (the best part of the ribeye).  The Minetta Tavern Cote de Boeuf is perhaps the most celebrated cut in Manhattan.  Though for us, that honor would go to the Costata Tomahawk Ribeye which like the Cote de Boeauf, can feed a small Armenian village.

Costata - Ribeye

Costata Ribeye

Eat French – Classic french, new and old are still plentiful in the city.  You got the usual haute suspects with Per Se, Le Bernardin, Jean-Georges, Bouley, Daniel (who am I missing.  I dont want to upset anyone and get hate mail).  Then you have the bistro fair like Balthazar, and yes even Minetta Tavern which I’m adding to just about every category here (they even have a take on the Italian Carbonara, called Pasta Za Za).  Consider Benoit in Midtown, and Chez Napoleon may be as old school as it gets.  For something different however, consider Le Philosophe for a fresh take on old classic

Le Philosophe - tournedos rossini

Le Philosophe – tournedos rossini

Eat BBQ – A few years ago, the proper recommendation would be to skip BBQ in NYC.  But time, they are a changing.  In midtown if you must, head west to Daisy May’s BBQ USA, in case you forget what country you are in.  In Brooklyn you have Fette Sau and BrisketTown which also sells its sick brisket on the High Line in the warmer months.  But the mightiest of all might very well be Mighty Quinn’s which you can enjoy in both West and East village, among other more remote locations.  For the “I cant believe this is not BBQ” experience that almost no one talks about, consider Georgia’s Eastside BBQ in the Lower East Side.

Eat Ethnic – Need to take a break.  More to come after these words from our sponsors…  Are your menopause changes causing bleeding, irritation, pain during sexual intercourse?  Try Premarin, a Virginal Cream you can count on.

Ok, I have a confession.  This was not a real commercial!  But, I do need to take a break, as my arm is tired and I already used all the adjectives known to me on one page

The ethnic plays will have their own page when the time comes.  Stay tuned…

Mighty Quinn's Brisket

Mighty Quinn’s Brisket

 

Categories: Brooklyn, Chelsea, Chinatown, East Village, Gramercy, Flatiron, Lower East Side, Midtown East, Midtown West, New York City, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita, TriBeCa, Upper West Side, West Village | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Louro – Another Fun Option For the Village People

Louro - House Made Tortellini

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

Louro Kimchi Fried RiceLouro Venison

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.

The Great:

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

Louro - Piri Piri ShrimpOctopus 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…

Louro - Monkfish

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.Louro - Roast Chicken

The good:

Seafood fritters –  Enjoyed them.  Not bad at all.  Like those seafood beignets you get in New Orleans

Louro - Seafood fritters

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 mushroomsLouro - Striped Bass

The Ugly:

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

Categories: New York City, West Village | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Taboon – Magic Oven

Courtesy of Taboon

Courtesy of Taboon

March 3, 2016 Update:

Taboon is better than ever.  Our first visit since Efi Nahon came back to where it all started resulted in the best Taboon meal ever.  After leaving his marks at Barbounia and more recently at Bustan, Efi is back with a vengeance at the place he helped built back in 2004.  He got a Sicilian type offer he couldnt refuse.  There he was at the kitchen, doing his thing while us and another couple waited patiently for our table.  Best time I ever did!  Since I had the opportunity to talk to the man next to the blazing, beautiful Taboon oven, like two lovers people near a fire place.  Well, I’m sure he didn’t quite take it like that, and I already had a few drinks by then.  Ok, just one.

You can tell just by looking at the menu that its no longer the same old Taboon, even though many of the classics like Chicken Taboon, Hanger  Steak, and Heraime are still on the menu.  One big difference was the number of interesting specials that night.  And sure enough a Crab Shawarma special, featuring Lior Lev Sercarz’s La Boite Shawarma seasoning and artichokes, turned out to be one of the highlights of the evening. Other early winners were the cauliflower and a shrimp filled, harissa and paprika spiced “Red Falafel”.  The Lamb Kebab pot pie Terra Cotta was like going back to Haj Kahil in Jaffa.  A classic you don’t normally see here.  If there’s one criticism now that I’m no longer standing next to Efi (He’s bigger than me, and more importantly Israeli!) is that the Sambusak (bread stuffed with feta) this evening was saltier than usual, and didn’t pair well with the rest of the apps.  For dessert we had just about the entire lineup, and sure enough, the great Silan, was still the clear winner.  Check out this Z-List winner!

IMG_0427

February 11, 2014:

10th avenue is the new 9th avenue.  Thats what I tell visitors when I bring them to 10th ave in ethnic rich Hell’s Kitchen.  That line either prompts a smile, confusion, or in one particular instance, gas.  Among the various new eateries that popped over the last few years, which includes Peruvian, Thai, Mexican, Italian, farm-to-belly (yes The Marshall, I see you), Korean Chicken Wings, “Middle-terranean” Taboon stands as the grand ol’ daddy in this rejuvenated, gentrified, stretch of Hell’s Kitchen.  You could not open a place like Taboon 18 years earlier (Taboon opened in 2004) in that neighborhood without having a Shepherd’s Pie in the menu, or other classics from the Irish mob cookbook.
I was given a task by a group of hard to please New Jerseyans to pick a nice Israeli place in the city for a group dinner, and I immediately thought of Taboon and Balaboosta for a slightly cheaper fare.  Balaboosta’s somewhat limited group menu, and my two year absence from Taboon made the choice clearer.  A coin flip! Ok, not really.  The choice was clear and needless to say the South Jerseyans who miraculously arrived on time after carefully planning a route via Chris Christie supported towns, seamed pleased with the end results.

Courtesy of Taboon

Courtesy of Taboon

Taboon means oven in Arabic, and your host for the evening is the domed wood burning, brick oven which greets you as soon as you arrive.  This is the stuff that dreams are made off.  And pizza!  And once seated it didnt take long to get a taste of the that oven.  Focaccia that would make Italian gourmands proud.  Perfect depth, golden crispy exterior, brushed with just enough olive oil, with a touch of rosemary and salt.  But the bread doesnt just stop there.  A splendid Sambusak stuffed with feta cheese, jalapeño and onion follows.Taboon Foccacia Taboon mezzes

Along with the bread, came an army of mezzes.  Well, an army for NYC standards at least.  In any Arab restaurant in Abu Ghosh near Jerusalem this would be called “Closed till further notice”.  An acceptable Hummus, tzaziki, taramosalata (roe spread – the older I get the less I like it), baba ghanoush, green schoog (the older I get the more I like it, but I prefer it like my wine, red), red pepper spread (the older I get the more I like cookies.  Nothing to do with red pepper spread [which was lovely btw] but I thought this is as good as a time to mention it).  The lovely mezze parade then continued with a refreshing avocado salad, and salmon ceviche (I believe it was salmon, it says red snapper on the site).  But the mezze war was won by the fantastic falafel balls with an all too familiar taste (Amba – that mango condiment we enjoyed so much in Israel last year), and the crowd favorite Zucchini cakes with sauteed snow peas, cipollini onions, fresh herbs topped with yogurt/garlic/mint sauceTaboon Zucchini Cake Taboon ceviche

As for main, I enjoyed my perfectly cooked Hanger with potatos, Brussels sprouts, and garlic.  But I quickly realized that I had this steak here twice before, and a quick look to my right gave me some serious and extremely rare chicken envy.  Yes, the first time New Jerseyan ordered better than me.  The mighty fine looking Chicken Taboon was featuring my true love, Israeli couscous.

A note about Israeli couscous.  Israeli  couscous is not like the couscous you know and love and really only called Israeli couscous in America.  In Israel, its called “Ptitim”, and its essentially tiny oven toasted “Pasta balls” invented when Israel’s first prime minister asked Osem to develop a rice substitute.  For a while it was nicknamed Ben-Gurion’s rice.

Taboon steakBack to the mains.  Two fish dishes that have been on the menu for as long as I remember are particularly popular.  The whole baked Branzino, and the Heraime –  wild striped bass, baked in the taboon oven in a ragout of roasted pepper, tomato, cilantro, mild Moroccan spices, artichokes and hot paprika oil served with regular couscous (booo, but I get it).  If you like meaty white fish with red sauce, get this.  Did I mention that a top Israeli chef who happened to be owner Ayala’s uncle (I think) was brought in to help generate the menu?

Normally in Middle Eastern/Mediterranean I find my refuge in all the apps/mezzes, and the desserts, and any greatness in the middle is a bonus.  Bonus!  The desserts here are just fantastic.  The Silan in particular is a thing of beauty – Vanilla ice cream with puffed rice and date honey sprinkled with caramelized pistachios and topped with shredded halva,  I’ve had this on every single visit.  The Lava Cake however was this crowd’s fave, and the Knaffe capped another great meal at Taboon.

Taboon
773 10th Ave, 52nd Street
$$$
Recommended Dishes:  Focaccia, Sambusak, Cauliflower, Terra Cotta Lamb, Falafel, Zucchini cakes, Chicken, Heraime, Silan, Lava Cake

 

Taboon Taboon chicken Taboon lamb Taboon lava cake Taboon Silan Taboon inside

 

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

Mercato – a Diamante in the Rough

Mercato Trenette

I was never so eager to write a “Next Post” after that last one.  But work, and a vigorous Sexual Harassment training were in the way.

What do Hell’s Kitchen, Staten Island, and Brooklyn have in common? A mafia filled history, and a lot of mediocre Italian food.  Coincidentally, these are the 3 places I spend the most time in due to work and marriage constraints!  But as Bob Dylan taught us “Times They are a-Changin”  That’s right, changin without a “g” at the end.  In the case of Hell’s Kitchen, there’s still a lot of mediocre Italian food to entertain the theater goers.  But the last few years a few diamond in the rough spots emerged, biggest being Mercato on 9th and 39th.

Mercato NYCAvid followers of EWZ (both of them) already know all about this Hell’s Kitchen treasure.  Mercato (means Market in Italian) is as authentic as it gets in NYC.  Here’s why…

1) Owners from Puglia, chef from day one is Sardinian, and every waiter is Italian.  Yes, every single one.  And if I may say, all being Italian, fairly good looking bunch as well.  I dont go here for this particular reason, but perhaps a sense of belonging got something to do with it!

2) The menu is jam packed with Sardinian, Sicilian, Pugliese specialties (more on that later)

3) Italians love coming here.  I’ve heard Italian spoken here by diners on every single visit.

4) Inside it just feels like a rustic Trattoria in Florence (and Ive been to plenty of those)

5) One of these is usually parked next door

Mercato - Bread

I’ve been to Mercato about 10 times since my first time 6 months ago.  I’ve taken friends, co-workers, family, family of co-workers (not an affair, just fooling around!) and I feel very comfortable recommending it on the boards.  There’s nothing really outrageous about the food.  Its simple, honest, and true to the regions of South Italy.  While there are all sorts of goodies on the menu I come here primarily for the Primis (pasta/gnocchi)…

Spaghetti with fresh tomatoes, garlic & basil – Like on a first date, before meeting the parents and answering “am I fat” questions 20 years later, you may want to take the core product for a spin.  This is a very passable basic Spaghetti dish with profound freshness all around.  As with many of the dishes on the menu, everything is homemade

spaghetti

Homemade Trenette with almonds, garlic, tomato and basil (top picture) – Possibly my favorite pasta here. Simple, intense flavors, and at $12 the best price/taste ratio.  You will simply not find this anywhere else

Gnocchi in beef and pork ragu – Another one of my favorites.  The gnocchi are wonderfully chewy, pillowy, and on the small side.  It looks like its swimming in sauce but its firm enough to soak in just the right amount of the meat ragu.  And what meat ragu it is!

Gnocchi

Orecchiette pasta with broccoli rabe, anchovies, bread crumbs, garlic and olive oil – A Pugliesi without an Orecchiette dish is like Roman without Carbonara.  Its very simple, if you like anchovies get it.  If you dont, dont.

Orechiette

Fave E Cicoria – Its the Pugliesi Hummus.  Popular especially in the winter months.  Purée of fava beans, chicory, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Deliciously salty and quite good

Mercato - Fave

Pay special attention to the pasta specials here.  Yesterday I had a terrific Cavatelli with spicy short rib ragu.  Same goes for the Fusilli (below) with slow braised pork ragu I’ve enjoyed in the past

Mercato - Fusilli

The one dish I really want to try but always get disrupted by a special is the Malloreddus which is homemade Sardinian cavatelli-like “Gnocchetti” with braised wild boar ragu

I’ve had plenty of other dishes here like the Octopus, Sardines, Tagliata (sliced steak), but chose to highlight the selective ones

Mercato

$$

352 west 39th st

Recommended Dishes: Spaghetti, Trenette, Gnocchi, Fave E Cicoria, Pasta Specials

Mercato - Octopus Mercato

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

Henry’s End – Game of Thrones

Henry's End - CharcuterieWinter is coming!  An odd thing to say in mid January.  Game of Thrones has made “Winter is Here” or every other phrase with the word Winter in it(e.g. “Winter Coats for Sale”) sound uncool.  Besides, you could be reading this post in the Summer or Fall, and as long as our moon is intact, winter will be just around the corner.  Imagine for a second Planet Earth without a moon, or a much smaller moon.  The earth’s rotational axis would pretty much not exist, hence no fixed seasons.  It could be Turks and Caicos weather for 7 years, or Antartica for 9.  Imagine having to wait years or decades for Henry’s End Winter Game Festival.  Its like imagining the unimaginable.  Like Kim without Kanye.  Hooray for moons!

File this one under the I cant believe I haven’t done this before.  We were again with Mr and Mrs Hummus Whisper, a prenatal eating tour if you will for them.  Turns out HW is still recovering from catching his former nanny wearing his boxer shorts.  Knowing the former nanny, I now join in the recovery efforts.  It was also very cool meeting Steve from the Chowhound board finally after first meeting him on the Italy board.  The rustic Henry’s End by the Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn was packed on a Friday night as it should.Henry's End

Enjoyed the Turtle Soup.  Got it lukewarm but it was just fine.  Finely chopped turtle meat, nicely spiced.  Recipe originally came from Paul Prudhomme when he was with Commanders Palace, incidentally the last Turtle Soup I had.  The CP soup nowadays is a bit different, with chunkier meat, which could be turtle or not.  Turtle soup to me is not so much about the turtle meat.  It could be veal, pork or rubber ducky meat as far as I care.  But the manager at Henry’s assured me it was real Turtle from Louisiana.

The Game Charcuterie Plate was something else.  Great Buffalo, venison, duck pate.  Venison sausage was nice and earthy, almost mushroom like.  My favorite however was the rabbit with ginger sausage.  So tender and flavorful.  Wife enjoy her corn chowder.

For main we shared a few dishes.  Nice Rabbit Strudel – a bit too sweet for my taste but enjoyable.  The Pappardelle with Buffalo short rib ragu was one of the best Pappardelle with ragu I ever had and certainly one of the the meatiest.   Melts in your fork, super tender, tasty meat which looks a bit one sided in the picture but it wasnt.  The New Zealand Elk Chops however stole the show.  Huge, rich, lean tender chops, herb and breadcrumb crusted on top of a very tasty Madeira wine sauce.  Just excellent excellent stuff!  I was giving a food tour to a couple from New Zealand right before dinner, so it was a NZ kind of a day for me

Dessert was fine.  Liked the homemade banana gelato.  Another memorable meal in Brooklyn

Henry’s End

$$$

44 Henry St, Brooklyn (Right near the Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO)

Recommended Dishes:  From the Game menu: Turtle Soup, Game Charcuterie Plate, Elk Chops, Pappardelle

Henry's End - Turtle Soup Henry's End - Strudel Henry's End - pappardelle Henry's End - Elk Chops Henry's End elk

Categories: Brooklyn, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Piora – You Had Me at DM

PioraYou know the place is popular when you show up and the door is locked.  You’ve been trying to make reservations for the past 3 months until you finally score a “senior citizen” slot of 5:30 and show up at 5:15 courtesy of zero traffic (Thanks to our borough presidents who endorsed Chris Christie).  A locked door was a first for us.  Hearing DM (Depeche Mode, aka “Greatest group in the history of greatest groups) as soon we walked in was a first as well.  I knew right there and then that this will be a fun evening.  And it was!

Piora is as refined and polished as they get in this class.  Its not quite Italian, not quite Korean, not quite “Fusion” (why everyone hates you “Fusion”.  I say you are misunderstood).  Hence, the default “New American” tag applied.  Does anyone eat “Old American” anymore?  Piora (“Blossom” in Korean) is the strange, but hey it works, combination of an Italian-American executive chef and a Korean owner/manager in the West Village.  A cozy back room overlooking a stunning snow dusted garden (a rarity these days).  The atmosphere almost seemed odd which sort of worked in our favor, if it makes sense.  You just dont expect alternative/clubby music in a place like this but it worked.

Piora - Leaves FallingBefore I dive to the food though, mad props to one particular drink here.  “Leaves Falling” — Plymouth gin, Calvados apple brandy, Earl Grey tea, maple syrup, lemon and apple.  I want to try making one of those at home, when I’m down, or watch Turkish movies.  All I need now is all those ingredients and a bartender.

Some of the dishes were a little on the salty side, though thanks to the Falling Leaves I cant remember what they were.  All by design of course, and all still quite complex and enjoyable

Monkey bread – With Lardo and seaweed butter.  This was pretty good as expected and a no brainer starter but so are a lot of very interesting bread baskets all over town that cost $6 less

Piora - Monkey Bread

Carrots – Perhaps the most memorable dish.  Wonderful array of different flavors and textures with pistachios, yogurt, showered with pink “ham snow”.  A glorious dish.

Piora - OctopusBarbequed Octopus (left) – Quite nice.  Tender octopus prepared with Gochujang (a Korean Chili paste), pine nuts and basil.

Egg – Very Good!  Poached with 3 succulent deboned chicken wings, potato, and artichoke Barigoule.  Is it me or every “New American” menu these days must include a dish called “Egg”

Bucatini – Perhaps the most celebrated dish on a menu that includes 3 pastas.  A very unique blend of squid ink Bucatini, black garlic (The Korean black garlic, not the feh! kind), Dungenese crab, Maitake (yum) and chili

Gnocchi Special –  Excellent!  Picture below is half the normal size (they split some dishes for us).  Not your traditional Gnocchi.  Texture closer to fried potatoes in Gnocchi shape.  With lobster (not skimpy), sitting on a bed of artichoke puree, with some hints of French black Truffles.  Meaning, its the kind of truffle that surrenders to the rest of the ingredients rather quickly!

Piora - Gnocchi

Rigatoni – Very Good!  Red wine, duck sausage, fig and spigarello (a distant cousin of broccoli.  The one that never calls because you don’t call)

Rohan duck – A great dish!  Nice and crispy skin, peking duck-like, faro, and yet more of that lovely black garlic

Trout – Tasted fine according to the Hummus Whisperer.  BTW, we were joined again by the Hummus Whisperer and his wife the Hummus Punisher.  (That’s what he calls her, don’t know why and frankly don’t want to know.  Whatever they do at home in their spare time is not my business)

Olive oil potatoes beat out the Sunchoke hazelnut in the extras match.  Desserts weren’t memorable (damn you Falling Leaves) but the meal overall was indeed.

Piora

$$$$

430 Hudson st

Recommended Dishes:  Monkey bread, Carrots, Egg, Bucatini, Gnocchi (Special), DuckPiora - Carrots

Piora - Duck Piora - EggPiora -Rigatoni Piora - Bucatini

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

NYC – Top 10 dishes of 2013

NoMad breadAnother year, another amazing eating year in the city of New York.  Keeping up with all the new and excitement here is like keeping up with the Kardashians.  But 2013 proved to be one heck of a year, probably the best ever.  And if there’s ever a post on EWZ that could be helpful to visitors or locals seeking great chow in NYC, this is IT!

Ma Peche – Fried Chicken (with a side of the Brussels Sprouts).  I’ll start with the last great dish.  Haute Fried Chicken doesnt get any better than this.  Habanero, coriander, black pepper and other spices used to create this fried pieces of awesomeness.  Its a large shareable whole chicken at $48, but for lunch you can get half for $24 which can still feed an Armanian village, or 2 Americans.  And the amazing Brussels Sprouts dish are worthy of their own spot here.

photo (4)

Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop– Smoked Whitefish Donburi.  With salmon roe, sweet soy dashi, cucumber, scallion over rice.  Need I say more?  I probably should.  Tell me if you heard this story before.  A Jewish man from Long Island opens a Ramen shop in Tokyo which becomes critically acclaimed, then comes back to NYC to open a Ramen shop in the New Gotham West Market in Hell’s Kitchen.  Sounds familiar? The Donburi is a nice clash of the 2 cultures (Japan meets Jew)

196

Momofuku Ssam Bar – Spicy Sausages & Rice Cakes.  Second Momofuku mention already (Ma Peche is the first)   This dish is insane.  Plenty of heat and plenty of joy.  Its a beautiful medley of ground sausage, Chinese broccoli, Sichuan peppercorn, and the awesome rice cakes which were essentially Korean Gnocchi made from rice flour.  Puts the Mssion Chinese rice cakes to shame.  Photo courtesy of Never Too Sweet

Betony – Short Ribs.  A revelation!  Tender, full of flavor goodness.  It takes 3 days to make them we were told.  We told the waitress that we cant stay that long, but we quickly understood the meaning.

Betony - short ribs

Maialino – Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe.  Its so simple, it shouldnt be here.  But along with the carbonara perhaps my favorite dish at one of my favorite Italian spots in the city.  Perfectly creamy, peppery, and addictive.  Having it sit there among the other pastas on the table is like visiting the bunny ranch after trying out all the bunnies, and constantly picking your favorite.

Maialino - Cacio e pepe

The NoMad – The Chicken.  This is a no brainer, and a top dish nominee even before it reached our table.  Once you get over the facts that a) is costs $78 (for 2) and b) its freakin chicken, you will enjoy this one no doubt.  Perfectly crispy skin, moist juicy white meat, along with some foie gras and black truffles (all cooked) nicely tucked beneath the skin.  Each bite of that combination together was a Tour de Force.  But that’s not all.  Add a glorious plate of the dark meat with garlic espuma (foamy light garlic goodness) in the middle to share.

NoMad Chicken

Ippudo – Akamaru Modern (with egg).  “Welcom”, “Goodbye”, “Aim Well”? I have no idea what they are screaming in Japanese at Ippudo every time someone arrives or goes to the bathroom.  All I know is that this is my favorite dish here.  Rich, complex pork broth, along with hefty pieces of pork belly.  Add the egg and spicy miso paste for even richer flavors

Ippudo - Akamaru

Costata – The Costata.  Perhaps the dish of the year.  A mammoth 44oz $120 very shareable Tomahawk Ribeye cooked to perfection.  Basted ever so beautifully with a rosemary brush, this beast was a feast for all senses.  Add some Black truffle butter, fries and asparagus, but good luck remembering the sides in between bites of perhaps the best steak in town

Costata - Ribeye

Nish Nush – Falafel.  I know Falafel.  I grew up with falafel.  My car runs on falafel (its the trade-in period while waiting for the new car so dont want to use the real thing).  This is good falafel.  Fresh pita from the oven, and free (great) hummus can only help

Nish Nush - Falafel

Kashkar Cafe – Geiro Lagman.  Little Asia in little Odessa (Brighton Beach) and perhaps the only Uyghur spot in town.  I’ve had this dish 3 times in the last 8 months.  Nice and chewy hand pulled noodles with lamb, veggies, cumin, garlic, other spices and herbs make up this highly palatable dish.

Kashkar lagman

Special mentions:

Malai Marke – Chicken Xacuti (and Bindi Sasuralwali)
Sakagura – Maguro Tartar
Pure Thai – Wok Curry Paste with Pork
Mercato – Trenette
Jungsik – The rice dish that comes for free for b-day boy 😉
Louro – Octopus Bolognese (tie with monkfish)
Mission Chinese – Kung Pao Pastrami

Categories: Brooklyn, Chelsea, Chinatown, East Village, Gramercy, Flatiron, Lower East Side, Midtown East, Midtown West, New York City, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita, TriBeCa, West Village | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Balaboosta – Vey Zmir What Flavors!

Balaboosta - HummusThis is gonna be a goodie and a quickie.  Or maybe just a quickie, we’ll see how it goes.  I’m just a little busy lately with all sorts of things going on including an invitation to the latest Jean Paul Gaultier collection.  Yes, another thing you didnt know about me I suppose but I am a Jewish Fashionista of sorts.  When I’m not busy travelling and eating, I am busy checking out the latest fashion trends.  Jean Paul (or JP as we friends call him) latest tells me that I need to get a new buyer (wife).  She keeps buying me black and I’m starting to suspect that this is her way of calling me fat.  But at the same time, JP’s Rabbi Chic collection at the Brooklyn Museum yesterday tells me black is still the new black and my buyer will be kept.  For now.

Balaboosta (which loosely translates in Yiddish to “She who will drop the lobster remains on your shoulder during dinner time if you say anything negative about her mother again.  Next time will be your head”) is one of those places that’s been on my list for a while.  Pretty much ever since seeing owner Einat Admony won Chopped.  I’ve been a fan of Taim for a while now, even while enduring the suffering of seeing them misspell S’chug over the years.  And of course, after all that, Einat was not there to receive the complaint directly as she had a family function to attend.

As I explained recently to a friend, I dont write posts about bad meals.  If I have a bad meal I simply dont write anything (which happened quite a few times this year).  Balaboosta is Israeli/middle eastern at its best…

Crispy Cauliflower – With lemon,​ currants, pine nuts.  Sweet, savory and delicious.  This is sort of a celebrated dish here, mentioned on forums, various websites, cookbooks.  Children books written about it; “Goodnight Balaboosta Cauliflower!”

Hummus “Mortar and Pestle” – tahini, roasted garlic, za’atar pita – We know our hummus and this is damn good hummus.  As with Taim pitas, love the use of za’atar.  No surprises here, like Brian Boitano announcing he’s gay

Homemade Swiss Chard Spaghetti – With heart of artichoke, ricotta, crispy garlic and walnuts. Simple and delectable.  Kids, wife attacked it like its the last day of the Mayan calendar.  Leaving almost nothing for Ziggy

Yemenite Pizza – shaved fennel, caramelized onion, feta, arugula.  Put this one under “why did I order this category”  not a fan of this combination to begin with.  Oldest child proclaimed “Interesting”

Braised Short Ribs – sauteed okra, oven dried tomato, spinach, chickpea cake,   hawaïj & white wine reduction – Meaty and tender.  Chickpea cake’s texture a little off, mushy, but tasted fine

Lamb Kebabs (special) – Excellent.  Tasty, herby, like a nice cross between Adana and Indian kebabs.  Sitting on top of crisped pita on a bed of eggplant tahini (fancy for babaghanouj)

Moroccan Curry Seafood – seared fish filet , shrimp, scallop, eggplant, baby carrot, kale, bokchoy.  Terrific, though not quite sure how its Moroccan or “Curry”.  Mild bright sauce, letting the well cooked seafood do the talking.  My Balaboosta thought it was too bland but probably due to trying this after the well spiced kebabs.  I liked it

I must say the desserts here were exceptional.  Banana Bread pudding is NOLA quality!  For those who’ve been to New Orleans know what I’m talking about.  Knafeh, or as we called it while touring Israel, “The Hairy Baklava” is quite good as well, with rose water ice cream which was a pleasant surprise.

Special thanks the young French waitress helping us out.

Balaboosta

214 Mulberry St

Balaboosta - cauliflower Balaboosta - Pizza Balaboosta - Spaghetti Balaboosta - Kebabs Balaboosta - Seafood casserole Balaboosta - Knaffe Balaboosta - Bread pudding Balaboosta

Categories: New York City, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Maialino – When in NYC do as the Romans do

**** 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 *******Maialino - Cacio e pepe

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, ex girlfriends.

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

Maialino Salumi Maialino - Tortelli Maialino Spaghetti Lobster Maialino - Spaghetti lobster Maialino Oxtail

Categories: Gramercy, Flatiron, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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