AboutEating my way through the Big Apple and around the world.
Always in favor of extraordinary flavor versus saving a few calories, I’m constantly seeking the best restaurants, recipes, and random little food finds. This blog chronicles my discoveries, most of which are located in New York City, the foodie heaven I am fortunate to call home.
I am an editor at Zagat, but all opinions on this blog are mine and have nothing to do with my employer.
I take my photos with a point-and-shoot Canon PowerShot SD850. Which goes to show that if you're passionate about photography but can't afford fancy camera equipment, you can still take quality photos.
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New York Restaurants
Food in NYC
Eating Around The World
Recipes and Food Finds
Last week I finally got to dine at Osteria Morini, the new “casual” Michael White (of Marea fame) restaurant in SoHo. Never mind that it opened last fall; reservations are still difficult to come by. (Only 10:15 left on a Tuesday nite, a week out? Sheesh!) Lucky for us, the rain played in our favor and we were able to get a walk-in after a short wait.
I’m always skeptical of big name restaurants—and I’m not obsessed with Italian food—but let me tell you: this place is one of my new favorites. Every morsel was delicious, from the carefully selected cheese plate…
…to the most perfectly cooked pasta (that’s the Gramigna: macaroni in a pork sausage and tomato sauce—absolutely mind blowing, despite small portion)…
…to one of the best desserts I’ve ever had: a chocolate/caramel torte with cranberries on top and a scoop of coffee gelato. Worth coming back just for this alone.
I can’t recommend it enough. Delicious food, cozy environment, and reasonable prices for what you’re getting. Already looking forward to my return visit.
I’m always going to have something against Rubirosa, the recently-opened pizza joint serving up dependable (but not groundbreaking) Italian fare to hip young things in NoLita. (It replaced my favorite neighborhood restaurant, Lulu’.) The spin-off of Staten Island’s famous Joe & Pat’s (and managed by former Beatrice doorman Angelo Bianchi) packs a trendy/hipster crowd, who throw back cocktails at the beautiful bar and bebop to oldies music. It’s a fun yet casual Friday nite out. Just don’t get the stuffed artichoke (although I really never understood how to eat those things, so maybe it’s just me).
There were two things keeping me away from Mario Batali’s 50,000 square foot Italian food hall, which opened at the end of summer: 1.) crowds and 2.) gimmick. But a couple weeks ago I braved it all (and on a Friday nite!) and finally experienced Eataly.
And unfortunately, like I assumed, I wasn’t too impressed with my dinner at the Pizza/Pasta bar (restaurants are broken down by food type: Fish, Meat, Vegetables, Pizza/Pasta, Wine/Charcuterie, and a more formal restaurant which is the only one that takes reservations). Portions were small and overpriced, and the place was hectic (securing a table on Friday nite at 8:30 was going to take an hour and a half, but counter seats came up in 20 minutes). It felt like eating in a brightly-lit, noisy mall, and when you’re constantly surrounded by people in this crazy city, why would you want that?
The food was tasty, but nothing special in my opinion, and not worth a wait or $16 for one average-sized square of lasagna with no sides. The best thing I ate was the pumpkin and butternut squash lasagna (second to top). The pesto lasagna was meh, the pizza, which go for around $15/six-slice pie, was good but not unique.
Click through to see what I did like about Eataly.
“I made it! I made it with one minute to spare. It’s 5:59!” a dining companion exclaimed as he reached his friends, one minute before Torrisi opened for supper. Luckily only a handful of parties were gathered outside this Tuesday evening (still impressive because no one eats dinner at 6 in New York) versus the line of people sometimes queued up, patiently waiting for the no-reservations, small Italian grocer to open for dinner. We had already tapped on the door, put our name in with the hostess when she poked her head out, and were told we were guaranteed a seat when they opened.
In the cozy dining room, the nitely-changing prix fixe dinner ($50, and the only option) includes several appetizers, pasta, your choice of one of two main courses, and a dessert platter. No substitutions (not even no cheese sprinkled on top!) and choice or red, white, bubbly, or beer for an additional cost.
Trust me when I tell you the hype is true (NY Mag, The Times). Get here early, wait it out if you have to (as the Italian man sitting next to me loudly proclaimed into his cell phone “Yeah I’m in! I’ve never been able to get in, and I know everyone in this town!”), and pray they’re serving the mozzarella in olive oil (best darn mozzarella you’ll ever have).
Click through for more photos from our amazing dinner. Best experience I’ve had in New York in a long, long time.
I recently got to try Robert De Niro’s new restaurant, Locanda Verde. Anytime a restaurant has a celebrity backer I must say I’m a wee bit skeptical, but I was pleasantly pleased with this place. It’s a big Manhattan trattoria, yet somehow it feels intimate and cozy. And I had one of the best autumn meals I’ve ever had in my life, featuring Pumpkin Agnolotti with brown butter, sage and amaretti, and La Fantasia for Two (chocolate gelato, marsala gelato, tartufo di cioccolata, marsala caramel, toasted hazelnuts). I would highly recommend getting this meal (with a starter of Sheeps’ Milk Ricotta with sea salt and herbs or Blue Crab Crostino with jalepenos and tomato) before we officially make the transition to winter. Enjoy!
After multiple recommendations from friends, I decided it was time to find out what all the buzz was about at L’artusi. Turns out the buzz is well deserved. Not only are the Italian small plates innovative and delicious, but the service is impeccable! I’m not a stickler for good service, but when it slaps you in the face, suddenly all you can think is, “Ah-ha! This is what I’ve been missing!” It really made the whole experience. Bravo.
My only complaint was that I was melting. Not sure if the air conditioner was out or it was the heat from the open kitchen, but I would recommend asking for a table up front or on the second floor.
Now on to the eats!
I’m not a cheese connoisseur, so I can’t remember which ones we got, but they were served with granola and golden raisins soaked in honey. The raisins in honey bit was to die for. New favorite cheese pairing.
This was surprisingly my favorite dish of the meal. Sauteed mushrooms with an egg and cheese, mixed with perfectly seasoned pancetta. I don’t normally eat red meat, but this made me feel like I’ve been missing out.
This mushroom ragu was my other favorite dish. The pasta was perfectly cooked. Another instance where you don’t know what you’re missing until you have it done the right way.
The roast chicken came highly recommended. Coming from someone who eats a lot of chicken, I didn’t think it was anything extraordinary. Good, yes. Special, in my opinion, no.
The branzino, on the other hand, was sublime! Served in honey and roasted lemons, it was a unique treat, and a must get on a return visit.
In an area starved for some classy establishments, the new Gramery/Murray Hill ‘inoteca is a fantastic addition to the neighborhood, and it shows. By 7 on a Friday nite all of the tables in the dining room were full. At 8:30 there was a line. And the separated bar room was the liveliest little place I’ve seen in a long time, rocking from six until we left at eight thirty.
I tried the original ‘inoteca on the Lower East Side about a year ago and honestly I left with lukewarm feelings. Maybe it was all the hype, or the fact that the entire menu is in Italian, but it just didn’t change my life. Now I feel differently. The food we had at the new outpost was full of intense flavor and beautifully presented. By far the best thing we ate was the pesto bruschetta, quite possibly the best bruschetta I’ve ever had.
We also had the fontina, truffle oil, spinach, and mushroom panini and the polenta with ceci and pomodoro. I would also order these things again. We finished with a nutella panino, which is good if you just want something small and sweet to finish, but to me was not even worth the $6.
My only gripe with this place is still that the menu is strictly in Italian. I get that this is an authentic restaurant. I appreciate that it’s trying to show some sophistication. But come on! Unless you hire a ridiculously friendly waitstaff that has no problem explaining what everything is, it sucks that there might be something on the menu that could totally blow your mind, yet you don’t order it because you didn’t know what it was. English descriptions would be appreciated, thanks.
Vento is not one of my favorite restaurants. I don’t think it is outstanding. I do think they offer solid food at reasonable prices, especially for the neighborhood. And when summer finally arrives, they have one of the best patios in the city.
They’re offering some great recession specials right now, and at these prices, the place is definitely worth a visit. We took advantage of the Sunday and Monday pizza or pasta + wine or beer for $13 (basically a free drink). I had the Linguine Verdi: spinach pasta, chicken, peas, mushrooms, garlic and oil. It was tasty, not mind blowing, but tasty. They’re also running a weekday (including Fridays) three course prix fixe menu for $24.
I walk past Caffe Falai’s unassuming little storefront almost daily and decided Monday was going to be the day I would give it a try. The space is small and intimate, and decorated in the style I would do my own apartment if I were rolling.
I tried to not let the ambiance overpower my opinion of the restaurant as I browsed the breakfast menu. Simple offerings include baked eggs, sandwiches, savory pastries, and of course, sweet confections. I selected the vegetable and goat cheese pizzetta, a flaky croissant-like biscuit. The flavors were outstanding, but unfortunately it was finished in only a few bites.
Afterwards, we sprung for the restaurant’s signature pastry, the bomboloni. A sophisticated crème-filled donut, the dessert was so good we ordered a second, this time trying the chocolate. But unfortunately we should have quit when we were ahead, as the chocolate filling was too heavy and overpowered the perfectly-fried dough.
But one disappointing bomboloni (heck, we still ate it) isn’t going to keep me away. Caffe Falai is the perfect neighborhood spot to stop in for light bites or a cup of coffee. Soon I hope to try the dinner menu, which looks quite a bit heartier. At nite the place is dimly lit, and might just be the most underrated romantic date destination in the city. Just ask Josh Hartnett, who was spotted there this morning.