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Our Best Bites from New York

Bar 314: A Morningside Heights Neighborhood Hangout, NYC

Responding to an invitation to this fairly new Morningside Heights neighborhood bar, I met a friend there one night to sample their menu. Co-owner and mixologist Bruno Molfetta was there to greet me and offer me a smoked negroni, one of the most unusual cocktails I've had in a long time.  The server delivers the cocktail in a smoke-filled vessel that he rotates to mix a bit before pouring the liquid over large ice cubes. Usually delicious. Do try the zucchini parmigiana ($9), a tasty app that could almost be your entree.  Also, don't miss the grilled broccoli rabe with mushrooms ($8). I liked the garlicky roasted artichokes ($10), preferring [...]

By |2019-05-24T10:32:23-04:00May 28th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

A Return to Friend of a Farmer, Gramercy Park, NY

I hadn't been to Friend of the Farmer in years. Neither had my friend. We both avoided their long lines on weekends. This weeknight, I wanted a burger and fries before leaving the country for a couple of weeks. We made a res and headed over, being seated upstairs in a spacious room. The moist cornbread topped with fruit as an amuse bouche was worth the trip! So was the grass-fed burger topped with sauteed onions, bacon, tomato and chipotle aioli ($18). It came with fresh arugula and crispy fries. Perfection. We also shared a bottle of Koha, Sauvignon Blanc ($54, Marlboro, New Zealand) and a platter of local country [...]

By |2019-05-27T10:38:29-04:00May 16th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Danji for Lunch in the Theatre District + Kiss Me, Kate

After raves from one friend, I decided to meet another for lunch at Danji, a small Korean place in the north Theatre District where Chef Hooni Kim combines French techniques with Korean foods. I did so before heading to see Kiss Me, Kate at Studio 54 on West 54th Street. Don't miss this toe-tapping Cole Porter revival starring the amazing Kelli O'Hara. For a complete review of the show, click here. Be sure you make a reservation at this 36-seat restaurant. I'd recommend the beef bulgogi bibimbap, the national Korean dish ($17), asking for the sizzling version. That one is served with hot crispy rice crust (+$3) in a castiron [...]

By |2019-05-10T08:04:46-04:00May 14th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews, Theatre|0 Comments

Finally Made it to Frenchette, Tribeca, NYC

Having read that dinner reservations at Frenchette "are scarcer than Burgundy truffles," we decided to go for the lunch they began serving in the fall. I learned that you sometimes may even be able to get at a table as a walk in. We had made a reservation. (NB: This may now be a bit more difficult as Frenchette just won the James Beard Foundation's Best New Restaurant 2019 award!) I dined with my friend, Italian winemaker Alessandro Pasqua. His publicist had asked the restaurant whether he could bring a bottle of their new Pasqua 11 Minutes Rosé (*) to sample with our meal. She was told, "we have a [...]

By |2019-06-25T12:02:54-04:00May 12th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

A Trip to Morningside Heights to Dine at Elysian Fields Cafe

Elysian Fields Cafe, a rustic-modern restaurant near Columbia University, offers Mediterranean cuisine with lots of Greek specialties. A friend and I walked up there one weekend day to sample their fare, as their publicist had invited me. We shared a bottle of the light Greek wine, the Assyrtiko, Dougos Winery, Drama, Greece, 2017 with citrus and mineral overtones ($39) as we looked over the menu. As I generally do at Mediterranean restaurants, we started with a meze. Specifically, their selection of three spreads ($13.95) with pita bread: whipped feta with smoked jalapeño (tirokafteri),  hummus and the tzatziki, yogurt with cucumber, dill and garlic — our favorite. We added a full serving [...]

By |2019-05-08T17:03:04-04:00May 10th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

A Return to Norma Gastronomia Siciliana for Authentic Cooking

For authentic farmhouse-style Sicilian cooking, I head to Norma's, a small restaurant taking no reservations.  I met a wine colleague for lunch. In addition to a glass of Barone di Villagrande, Etna Rosso, 2016 ($16), we shared two items. I'd go back for the wonderful porchetta cabbuci ($19). It's a sandwich of roasted pork, arugula and provolone on a bread similar in thickness to pita, cooked in the wood-fired oven. Half was almost more than I could finish! That cabbuci would have been enough for me, but we had also ordered Norma's pasta con le Sarde a timballo ($22) — saffron-scented spaghetti with Portuguese sardines, wild fennel, raisins and pine nuts ($22) [...]

By |2019-05-12T08:53:51-04:00May 6th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|1 Comment

A Trip for Oaxacan Food at Claro, Gowanus, Brooklyn

The trip from Union Square to Gowanus, Brooklyn took 20 minutes as the subway gods were with us. We arrived at Claro restaurant so early, the gate was still down! Once we got in, we were down to business negotiating what to order. We hadn't a clue that the portions would be so humongous that the two of us — who are really good eaters — ending up sharing one of our four dishes with the table next to us and took half of another home. We would have been stuffed with one less dish. That said, I wouldn't know which one to have given up as they were all [...]

By |2019-05-12T08:55:30-04:00May 2nd, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Henry at the Life Hotel Brought Back to Life by J.J. Johnson

After hearing that J.J. Johnson was a semi-finalist for the James Beard Restaurant Best New York City award, I was looking forward even more to sampling his quasi-African cuisine at Henry at the Life Hotel in NoMad. Pete Wells (NYTimes), credits J.J. Johnson with bringing the small restaurant back from the dead. The chef's pan-African cuisine (a blend of the flavors of Africa, the Caribbean and the American South) is evident as you taste each dish.  We started with the shrimp and Portuguese sausage steamed dumplings in a curry sauce, garnished with a plantain chip ($16 for 4) and lamb kebabs ($18 for three) served skewered with housemade kimchi, za’atar [...]

By |2019-04-28T10:39:08-04:00April 28th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Whiskey Tasting at The Foundry at The Westin Times Square

I met a friend at the Foundry Bar for their Whiskey Wednesdays and to sample their new menu, as their guest. The publicist had shared that they'll be offering a complimentary taste of one whiskey each week through August. That night, David Bailey Jr was pouring (and representing) Jack Daniels, graciously answering any queries about the whiskey. We shared some bar food while I sipped my Jack. The beer-battered shrimp ($19 for 5) arrive over a savoy cabbage slaw, drizzled with remoulade.  The freshly made guacamole ($16) generally comes with only chips and salsa; we requested some veggies for dipping. They were quite accommodating. In addition, we received sample portions [...]

By |2019-03-25T08:45:10-04:00April 24th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Eléa for a Greek Brunch, Upper West Side

Like its sister restaurant Kyma in the Flatiron District, Eléa is an all-white coastal Greek looking restaurant with a hip downtown vibe. Eléa, which means “olive” in ancient Greek, opened for brunch earlier this year. When we arrived, the staff was quite friendly and helpful. Sadly, the service petered out once they took our order so much so we had no idea which person was ours!  I started with their Dirty Greek cocktail, their version of a bloody Mary with feta-stuffed kalamata olives in an oregano-and-salt rim. One friend ordered an Aperol Spritzer ($13, each).  The breakfast entrees were fine, nothing special. The friend who ordered the Loukaniko Omelet filled [...]

By |2019-04-19T12:13:14-04:00April 18th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

A Birthday Celebration at Simon and the Whale, Flatiron, NYC

My friend had been wanting to try Simon and The Whale, Gabriel Stulman's eclectic cooking restaurant since it had opened about a year ago. I got a reservation for us for her birthday. We selected a Mauro Veglio, Barolo, 2016 ($78), a rich wine crafted from 100% Nebbiolo with intense fruit and an aromatic bouquet. Our first two selections arrived together. Don't miss the cheese croquettes ($9/four) in a red pepper (pimenton) coulis. They are fried balls of pâte à choux dough mixed with lots of gouda so much that when fried, resulted in oozing cheese in the center. Delicious. The house cold-smoked sea trout ($16) comes tucked over a [...]

By |2019-04-20T20:51:33-04:00April 14th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Il Punto, Almost Theatre District + Yiddish Fiddler

Before heading to the uptown version of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish, I returned to Il Punto for a quick dinner. This Italian restaurant is a bit off the normal pre-theatre dining path as it's a couple blocks south of 42nd street on Ninth Avenue. I knew the food is good, the prices lower than other theatre area restaurants and that it would be a mere 5-minute walk to Stage 42. Their ziti comes tossed with oven roasted eggplant in a simple tomato sauce with a mountain of shredded mozzarella ($19); the red snapper ($28) arrived swimming in a tomato, olive and scallion wine sauce and served along with [...]

By |2019-04-20T20:54:40-04:00April 12th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews, Theatre|0 Comments

The Dining Room at the Met, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

My last visit to the Dining Room at the Met was last summer for a delicious brunch. This time I met a friend for lunch before taking a guided tour of the Islamic section. Although a Met member, my friend had not yet indulged in the food served in the dining room on the fourth floor accessed via the elevator in the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts galleries. Knowing that members can request special seating by the window with views of Central Park, we had done so. I indulged in the royal trumpet mushroom carpaccio with fennel, arugula, hazelnuts and parmesan from the John Fraser-curated menu exploring forest mushrooms. He's the chef from [...]

By |2019-04-20T09:01:16-04:00April 4th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Terrace at The Edition Hotel and Outdoor Gardens + Superhero

Loving John Fraser's other restaurants, especially Michelin-starred Nix, I had to sample his newest one on the ninth floor of the Times Square Edition hotel. The Terrace is a casual restaurant with super-friendly staff, especially their beverage director Maria, who I met while waiting for the restaurant to open for the evening. I arrived early from a lecture at the Society for Ethical Culture and sat in the lounge reading "White Houses," for one of my book groups while waiting for my friend's arrival. Maria — who I learned hailed from their Miami location — offered me some rosè bubbly (Domaine Bousquet, Mendoza, Argentina) to sip while I sat there. [...]

By |2019-04-20T20:56:38-04:00March 31st, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

A Return to the New Location of Balaboosta in West Village, NYC

Chef Einat Admony's much-loved Balaboosta restaurant is open again in a new space in the West Village. As I wrote when I visited the original restaurant, “Balaboosta: n. A Yiddish term meaning the perfect housewife, homemaker, wonderful mother, cook & gracious hostess."  Einat Admony is a 21st-century balaboosta (Yiddish for “perfect housewife”). She's a mother and wife, but also a chef busy running three bustling New York City restaurants... This time we went to just share some small plates. The market fish ceviche was small indeed, especially for the price. The marinated fish comes wrapped like mini tacos in thinly sliced kohlrabi ($18). Tasty but tiny portion! We also shared an unusual hummus "basar," topped  with ground beef [...]

By |2019-05-23T13:03:39-04:00March 27th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

A Return to Mamo Following Their Re-Opening After the Fire

Sadly Summer 2018, Mamo Restaurant, a Soho restaurant celebrating the flavors of Italy, had to close its doors after a fire. They made a comeback just in time for the 2018 holiday season. I was invited back to again sample their fare that I so enjoyed on my original visit. We started with the fried artichokes with lots of pepper under a mountain of grated cheese ($17) and the salad of sliced winter squash topped with avocado, beets and greens sprinkled with crumbled goat cheese and chopped hazelnuts ($24). Both worth trying. For our primi (pasta, of course!), we had the rich tiny compte-filled ravioli under a blanket of sliced [...]

By |2019-04-20T20:58:41-04:00March 25th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Saturday Brunch at La Pecora Bianca, NoMad

Brunch at La Pecora Bianca at Broadway at 28th had one of those midday vibes where you know mealtime folks are gathering.  Bright, light buzz, close tables. We lucked out on the noise vibe as we were seated in a corner with one side of our table against a wall, reducing the noise. We opted for the $18 unlimited cocktail hour — me with mediocre bloody Mary's, my friend with mimosas. After three drinks, we didn't even really have a buzz! But that's common for all-you-can-drink brunch places:  a passing of the bottle over the second on drink! My friend's scrambled eggs were soft, topped with fresh avocado. Enjoyable. My sausage and [...]

By |2019-02-16T16:22:20-05:00March 21st, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Don Angie, West Village, NYC

Don Angie is a fairly new Italian restaurant in the West Village from Quality Italian's chefs Scott Tacinelli and Angie Rito. After Pete Wells 2-star review, it became hard to get a res at one of the 60 spaces in the small corner restaurant where Monument Lane was located. I've learned that if you arrive early — about at the first seating — you can generally get one of their unreserved tables. We did. Their wine person helped us find a reasonably priced bottle of wine to go with what we were ordering: seviche, octopus and one of the red-sauce pasta dishes that Don Angie is known for. We chose the Salcheto, [...]

By |2019-02-19T17:43:26-05:00March 19th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

My Raffle Winnings at Jacob’s Pickles, Upper West Side, NYC

At one of my realtor's appreciation events, I won a dinner at Jacob's Pickles. I used the prize to take a friend out for her birthday, as the restaurant was down the block from where she lives. Do not go for dinner unless you are really hungry!  To say portions are huge is an understatement. I started with Michter's American Manhattan ($16) served straight up like a martini with a blend of Michter’s American Whiskey, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, bourbon-soaked Montmorency Cherries and Angostura bitters. My friend had a beer, specifically the Rhode Island Narragansett Lager 5.0% ($7). We split a Southern BLT (my namesake initials both pre- and post-marriage) of [...]

By |2019-03-17T09:11:19-04:00March 17th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Ex-expat Chinese New Year’s Meal at Hwa Yuan Szechuan in Chinatown

My ex-expat group organized a dinner at Hwa Yuan Szechuan in Chinatown, a restaurant that one member had been to and another had read a raving Sam Sifton New York Times review. Over twenty of us went for Chinese New Year ($100 per person inclusive). We started with their cold noodles with sesame sauce that Sam had described as the "Best cold sesame noodles Manhattan ever tasted."  They were quite good, not too peanut-buttery as at other places around town. We had a few unremarkable other cold dishes followed by their hot and sour soup, redolent of what I used to make. It was chock full of tree ear mushrooms and dried [...]

By |2019-03-17T09:55:50-04:00March 15th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments