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Friday, January 13, 2012

Weekly NYC Blog Post - 1.16.2012

So I've had a ton of people visiting this week and have thus been gorging myself on AMAZING food. Take a look at some of the top foodie places in NYC to indulge your sweet and savory tooth.


Mario Batali's famous Eataly is a market and restaurant in one. Literally every Italian item you could possibly want can be found here from meats, sauces and pastas to chocolate, gelato and cheeses. I haven't eaten at any of the restaurants because I heard they weren't the best but that the retail items are definitely worth it. Next time I go grocery shopping (which is never) this is going to be my new #1 choice. Anyone coming to NYC needs to take an impromptu tour through it.

Gramercy Tavern
Gramercy Tavern feels like walking into old New York even though it's only been around since 1994. The restaurant is wrapped in murals by Robert Kushner and the service is impeccable. It's on the bucket list for NYC dinner but we went for lunch. We shared the burger and pear salad both of which were excellent although not necessarily "inventive." I really liked it but probably don't need to go back. Everyone should experience it once though.

Officially in the top rankings of my NYC restaurants, Pipa is a very romantic restaurants with low lighting created by tons of chandeliers juxtaposed by exposed brick and seashells. The food is Spanish tapas and delicious. We had the Bistec flatbread (grilled skirt steak, goat cheese, tomato, red onion, cabbage, chimichurri, and jalapeño), the beef meatballs (sofrito, green pepper demi-glaze, crème fraiche, and tomato), the catalan spinach (sautéed organic spinach, figs or golden raisins, and olive oil) and finally the tres leches (coffee genoise, banana ice cream, dulce de leche foam, dark chocolate espresso beans, and cocoa powder).

The flatbread was amazing with the steak perfectly cooked and the bread not too soggy. The other ingredients combined to make this a mouthwatering dish. The meatballs literally melt in your mouth (yeah I said it). Don't let them take the dish away after you're done - the sauce makes a great dip for bread. The catalan spinach was also tasty but not as memorable as was the tres leches (I hate banana so they exchanged this for another scoop of coffee genoise). Regardless I would definitely come back here (although since then I've eaten at their sister restaurant ABC Kitchen which is even better so hard to say).

Union Square Cafe
This place felt like the brunch spot of a trendy grandma or the perfect place for a bridal party but I loved it. When you walk in there is a bar of whiskeys the color of worn musical instruments. Absolutely beautiful. We went for lunch and my dish was delicious. I had the butternut squash tortelli with cranberries, balsamic, and sage brown butter. The tang of the cranberries and the sweetness of the brown butter paired perfectly and the butternut squash wasn't too sweet which is often the case. I also tried the butternut squash soup and the lasagna bolognese with ricotta, pioppini mushrooms, and pesto, both of which were excellent. The lasagna was one of the prettiest dishes I've ever seen. I will definitely be back here for brunch.


Beauty and Essex

So this place got me excited at first! You walk into what looks like a pawn shop and then walk through the back door into a multi-level lounge/bar/restaurant. The decor is very very cool but the clientele kind of sucked. We didn't stay long...probably thanks to the whiskey shots. I might wander back at some point but hard to say.

I would've walked by this place assuming it was abandoned if it weren't for the massive line outside. Luckily, the bouncer and I had a great convo about the trials and tribulations of living in Compton and he let us in without a wait. Thank you USC. This place may teeter on having a "C" rating but I kinda liked it!


Yakitori Totto
So I'm a bit of a Japanese food snob having been to Japan and lived in Los Angeles, which I contend has some of the best Japanese food in the U.S. That being said, Totto was tasty!!!

Yakitori for those of you who don't know are essentially skewers of different foods. We also had a couple other dishes as well. Everything we tried was really good but I ranked them from favorite to least anyways.

1) Harami Skirt Steak
2) Maguro Zuke (tuna sashimi in garlic-flavored soy sauce)
3) Kawa (chicken skin)
4) Tori Dango (steamed rice dumplings with chicken meatballs inside)
5) Amakara Age (sweet spicy deep-fried chicken)
6) Bacon-wrapped asparagus

The restaurant itself is inconvenient because it's in Midtown and rather standard in terms of decoration but I will definitely come back for the food anytime I'm in this area again.

Photo Credit: Totto Website


The Dutch
I've passed this place a ton of times and FINALLY had a good reason to go. The setup is pretty trendy, the music loud, the bar crowded, but it's a fun scene. I will be the first to admit that I was pretty hungover when we came here which is a huge bummer but even with that "hanging" over my head I can say that my dish, the pecan duck with celery and organic dirty rice and the brussel sprouts with bacon and horseradish were SO good.

I also tried the spaghetti with black kale carbonara and a farm egg and the heirloom cauliflower with pear and sage which were both good as well but not the best I've ever had. I do like how you smash/stir the egg into the pasta though - that was fun. Unfortunately I wasn't feeling that great and didn't get to try the dessert here which I'd been really excited for so I will definitely be back - probably for drinks and dessert rather than dinner since the wait is ridiculous.


So I found this place by walking down the street, seeing stairs leading into a basement and walking down them. Sorry Mom; that happened. This bar is tiny, dimly lit, feels like a speakeasy (yes another one of those) and has STRONG drinks. My favorite part about it are the Bar Rules:
  1. You must enjoy yourself here.
  2. Do not take yourself too seriously.
  3. Do not sit quietly at the bar. You must engage in conversation.
  4. We drink to be merry not to be boring.
  5. If a beautiful woman/man is by themselves, you must attempt conversation and attempt courtship
  6. When an awesome power ballad is playing you must sing along
  7. Never pass up a free shot from a staff member
  8. Finally, bad decisions are celebrated here not condemned. . .No judging.
Photo Credit: Ashley S. on


Locanda Verde

Ranking right up there with ABC Kitchen (that review is coming next week) and Pipa, this restaurant combines homey with classy. It also featured some of the best individual dishes I've had in New York like the sheep’s milk ricotta with sea salt and herbs, the lamb meatball sliders with caprino and cucumber (some people order these as dessert) and the tagliatelle with bolognese.

I also tried the Locanda salad of bitter greens, dried cherries, hazelnuts and smoked speck and the fire-roasted garlic chicken (you can actually order this for one person FYI) which were also good but not my favorites. The chicken was almost too garlicky for me. We topped the night off with La Fantasia di Caramello for One which features caramel gelato, sour apple sorbetto, pieces of apple, gingerbread croutons and peanut brittle with coffee caramel drizzled on top. The gingerbread croutons were AMAZING - I kept rooting around the bowl to find them all.

Yet another great date option (if any boys are reading this figure it out!) or a fun birthday restaurant.

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