Go Here! Eat This!

A simple food blog to help the overwhelmed foodie in a crazy big food world

Archive for the category “NYC”

A Slice of Brooklyn, A perfect slice of NY Pizza

     I know. It’s been a while. You wouldn’t believe the pictures I have of all the food I’ve eaten with the intention of writing a post for you guys and just never got around to it. But once in a while, an experience comes along that you just have to share. Yesterday was that day.

It was all kind of serendipitous really. My company put together this pizza tour and invited a few brokers and a few people from each department to come along. My boss and another colleague were supposed to go but neither could at the last minute, so there you go. I got the lucky ticket. The tour is actually one that runs regularly – they do private tours like we were on, or a public tour. They are called A Slice of Brooklyn and they offer a few different tours of Brooklyn. The one I was on was a pizza tour. Our tour guide was Marc, clearly an actor of some sort because he was on, funny, entertaining, etc. He really did make the tour. He was also a wealth of knowledge. Turns out he grew up in Brooklyn and was genuinely passionate about it (or just a really good actor) but either way it totally worked!tour

We took the Manhattan bridge – I’m guessing so we could see and take pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge and got all kinds of interesting trivia about it. You can actually walk over the BB and get yourself to the first stop if you wanted to do that instead. BB

First stop in Brooklyn is an area called DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) (Yes I learned that yesterday) Great area of Brooklyn where rents are on average more than Manhattan?! (Yes I learned that yesterday, too) Anyway – first stop was a place called Grimaldi’s.Grimaldis Apparently it is one of the top 5 pizza places in all the U.S.A. The pizza tour was about getting us to try two different styles of pizza and this first stop, the tour guide called Neapolitan (as in from Naples). Although, having eaten pizza in Italy, I challenged Marc on this, because this really isn’t the kind of pizza you get in the home country. I would call this Americanized Neapolitan pizza aka thin crust. However, by way of American style thin crust…THIS is top notch!

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It’s the real deal folks and the crust is PERFECTION. And let’s be honest, the crust can make or break a Pizza.

After stuffing our faces with the above, back on the tour bus on a drive through Brooklyn where we got to see Shore Road (like 8 million dollar homes) and every place we went they had infused with scenes from famous movies. Like Goodfellas:Goodfellas

Next actual stop was Bensonhurst at a place called L&B Spumoni Gardens.L&B

Which is apparently known for their epic Sicilian style pizzaSicilianpie

That would be sauce on top of cheese so the bread doesn’t get soggy! Brilliant! And, now, while I prefer thin crust pizza in general, this was fantastic Sicilian, probably the best I’ve ever had.

Slice

They are also known for their Spumoni – which is ice cream like – and I got it because they said we should try it, but it’s nothing like gelato and if that is what you are expecting, just skip it as you will be disappointed.Spumoni

The last stop on the tour was Coney Island and Marc, our tour guide’s favorite stop. He was full of info about how much it has been cleaned up and improved and how they are fighting for more sections of it to be land-marked and not destroyed because Coney Island is iconic. I’ve passed but, I’m ashamed to say, have never been; however, we may make an effort this summer as I really think the kids would love it.

After that we made our way back to Manhattan. The tour was about 4 1/2 hours long. It was educational and entertaining and all around yummy. You can catch the public tours out of Union Square for like $80/per person. However, we might be able to work on that price.

So my recommendation is to get one of these tours, but if you can’t, just walk over the BB and go to Grimaldi’s! Go here! Eat this!

 

Now THAT’s Italian!

My first post on this blog was about what to eat when in Rome, Italy. I mentioned a dish called Cacio e Pepe. But let’s face it, how often are most of us in Rome? For me it’s about every other year and I recognize that’s more than most. So, I’ve been promising to post about a place in NYC where you can get this yummo pasta dish so, here it is: Ristorante Rafele

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Rafele is in the village. It is just off Morton Street on 7th Ave., but you can take the 2 or 3 and walk down a block or two and it’s right there. It’s a cute, warm, rustic little place, relatively inexpensive for NYC, but the food is authentic Italian cuisine. The chef, Raffaele Ronca, is from Naples, is extremely talented and always greets with a smile.

The first time I visited was for a work dinner and we had a tasting menu for something like $45 per person. That is UNHEARD OF in NYC. Each course was better than the previous. The first of the two dishes that stood out on my dinner visit was the zucchini blossom (fried zucchini flower stuffed with mozzarella or some yummy cheese) Yes, the flower of the squash. It’s pretty common in Itlay, but you don’t see it here much. On my second visit, I asked for it at lunch, but he didn’t have them prepared yet so I don’t have a photo. However, he did say he bought them that morning at the farmer’s market and was going down to the prep kitchen to prepare them. That’s how fresh they are. SO, I don’t have a photo, and they are really only around in the summer. Seasonal is the way to go anyway, but I highly suggest you try it, if you happen to be in NYC in the summer!

The second dish that was so memorable for me on my first visit was the Cacio e Pepe. I already told you this is one of my favorite pasta dishes and I’ve only ever had it in Italy! When I saw it on this menu in NYC,  I HAD to have it.  So I made sure it was served as one of the courses on my first visit. On my second, we ordered it so I could snap a picture for YOU.

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And it really is as creamy, cheesy and peppery as it gets. Perfection.

At lunch, since the zucchini blossom wasn’t available, we tried some other things we didn’t get the first time. I had the Melanzana (eggplant parmesan) which is one of my favorite red sauce Italian dishes

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Yeah it was as good as it looks. My friend had the Carciofi (artichokes fried with Pecorino cheese)

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These were crunchy little pieces of yum. And because I didn’t want to carb out too much, I ordered Pollo alla Milanese which is just chicken cutlet essentially served with a salad. This chicken was moist and very flavorful. I like to eat the salad with lemon juice on top of the chicken. My Italian hubby, says no, you eat it separately, but what do I know? Either way, you can’t go wrong.

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There’s a drink there that everyone raved about. I think it’s called the Neopolitan. It’s vodka, fresh basil and ginger ale. Very different and everyone loved it.

This is a great place to visit.  Rafele is reasonable, authentic Italian cuisine in the village. So far, everything on the menu has been tops, but definitely get the Cacio e Pepe. Go Here! Eat This! Now I’m hungry.

http://www.rafele.com

Pizza: THIS is IT!

New Yorkers pride themselves on their pizza and I will be the first to tell you that there is no shortage of good, no, GREAT pizza in and around NYC. This is a fact. Because of this fact, it’s very hard to pin down the BEST pizza in NY as so many claim to have it. But let’s face it, there are so many different types of pizza as well, and we aren’t just comparing apples to apples (or in this case pizza to pizza to pizza). As I’ve posted before, my husband is from Italy and we’ve had the good fortune to visit on many occasions. In America, Pizza is considered inarguably Italian, but I’m here to tell you that Pizza in Italy is very different from what we are used to eating on fridays in our homes. Now in Italy, the BEST Pizza, supposedly happens in Naples. I’ve passed by Naples, but have never actually stopped for Pizza in Naples (on my bucket list). So, my post is going to focus on what I think is the best Neapolitan, i.e. Italian pizza in NYC: Keste’

Keste' Rest

Keste’ is located at 271 Bleeker St. The chef is from Italy, outside of Naples. It doesn’t get more authentic than this folks. Real Italian pizza has a very thin crust. It’s cooked like this:

Making Pizza

And each pizza is made for one person. My personal favorite is called Pizza del Re (Pizza of the king) and is made with truffle cream. Kill.me.now. If you haven’t met truffle, put THAT on your bucket list because your life will never be the same. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the Pizza del Re. It doesn’t look unlike the following pizzas which are all to die for.

Keste’ Pizza made with Buffalo Mozzerella:

Keste' Pizza

Prosciutto di Parma (my hubby’s favorite):

Proscuitto Pizza

Want a little spice in your life, try the Diavolo Pizza:

Diavola Pizza

You might be wondering what Keste’ means. It actually means, “This is it.” It’s a fitting meaning because it really doesn’t get much better. Good news is that they have a sister restaurant on 50th and 8th called Don Antonio by Starita with a similar menu. I took some friends there at the beginning of June and introduced them to my friend the truffle. We ordered the Pizza del Re along several others. They are still raving. So take my word for it, or better yet try it yourself. Whether Keste’ or Don Antonio, Go Here! Eat This!

http://www.kestepizzeria.com

http://www.donantoniopizza.com

The Tarts and the Puffs…an East Side Story

Once a year, my BFF and I spend one day in the city shopping and eating and just spending the day together without children or husbands. We started doing this a few years ago for our birthdays, as they are only about 3 weeks apart. It truly is one of our FAVORITE days of the year. We decided to start our day off with brunch on the Upper East Side (UES) and try the newly opened Brasserie Cognac East (963 Lexington). The original Cognac (1740 Broadway) is where we celebrated my hubby’s 40th this year with a big brunch and it was fabulous, so we decided to try the new spot on the east side!

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When we were planning this, I knew which dish I wanted and what I was going to blog about. Sometimes you eat out and you remember the ambiance and the conversation, but honestly a lot of times you simply do NOT recall a thing you ate! When food is memorable, you know it’s good. I remembered!

It’s worth mentioning that Brasserie Cognac has a VERY reasonable Brunch Prix Fixe for the UES. At only $32.95 you get a cocktail (we opted for Bellinis), an appetizer and a main course.

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Now I veered a little off course of the Prix Fixe because I ordered the Tuna Tart as my appetizer which isn’t included. But TRUST me, it was worth it. The Tuna Tart is a flambe crust, kind of like a flat bread, topped with sushi grade tuna, hot mustard cream and sprinkled with pickled ginger and scallions. It is a meal in and of itself and the flavors explode in your mouth. It is DELECTABLE.

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My friend always gets the Gougeres, a basket full of warm, moist cheese puffs that are a decadent treat.

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The chef, Florian Hugo, sent out a chilled tomato soup in between courses. It was a wonderful cleanse of the palate before my Eggs Benedict and her Quiche.

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Both locations are great brunch spots, but they do have a full lunch and dinner menu. I’m a big fan of French Brasseries and Cognac certainly has the feel and food that makes Brasseries so inviting. If you can’t get to Paris, stop in for the Tuna Tart or the Gougeres. Or Both. When on the Upper East Side (or Broadway)…Go Here! Eat This!

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http://www.cognacrestaurant.com

http://www.cognaceast.com

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