Monday, February 8, 2016

Happy Hour at Naples 45

One of the biggest gripes I have about working in midtown are the insane prices for an average lunch.  I've walked out of numerous different delis with a $13 sandwich in hand wondering what in the world just happened.  It's hard to find any deals in this area but when I hold off just a little bit longer for lunch I head to Naples 45.

Every day at 2:00 Naples drops the price of slices to-go to just $1.75.  This means ALL slices; pepperoni, mushroom and broccoli rabe, red pepper and sausage; whatever is leftover from the lunch rush gets the special price tag.

The pizza isn't life changing but it's damn good.  Super thin crust with a slightly charred bottom and fresh ingredients.  They do struggle a bit with consistency. I've had pieces so cheesy I could barely see the dough while others have had almost no toppings at all. However simply pointing to the exact slice I want from the display has worked beautifully and it's been easy street ever since.

200 Park Avenue @45th Street
New York, NY 10166

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Momofuku Nishi

Dinner Saturday night was at Momofuku Nishi; the brand new Korean Italian spot from Chef David Chang.  Obviously getting a table was no easy task.   At 6:00 pm the restaurant was already at full capacity and a line had formed around the block just for a chance on the waiting list.  We hung out at nearby Bar Veloce and about two hours (and two bottles of wine) later we finally got the "table ready" text.

The space at Nishi is similar to the original Momofuku with simple wooden tables in front and a long bar along the back end.  This isn't a place to marvel at decor; it's all about the food coming out of the kitchen helmed by Chef Josh Pinsky and Carey Hynes. 

The meal began with a flashback to our dinner at Ko years ago with a bowl of Fried Whole Shrimp, meant to be eaten with both the head and shell intact, seasoned with salt and sancho pepper.  

Next up Black Bass Crudo in tiger's milk and shio kombu.  I love a well made tiger's milk and this was perfect...refreshing smooth with just the right amount of acidity. Onto the pasta dishes Spicy Beef Sichuan flat noodle with tofu and yacai.

I absolutely loved the texture of the beef and hot spicy peppers in this dish.  It was a complete contrast to the crudo and really set the stage for the intensity of flavors which would come over the next two courses.

Chicken & Dumplings with hand torn noodles and shiitake.  Good lord this was soooo thick and rich.  The mushroom broth was like one incredible umami bomb that just kept going. Our entire table was silent upon tasting this dish; the elements so all consuming it was difficult to gather any external thoughts.

The final pasta of the night was the Ceci e Pepe with chickpea hozen and black pepper. The Parmesan cheese had been replaced by the fermented chickpea paste creating a subtly sweet, buttery flavor that was outstanding.  As full as I was at this point I longed for another bowl, maybe even two.

Of course Nishi being so new there were a few hiccups here and there.  The beers were poured with the vigor of a frat boy during a Flip Cup tournament and the Panna Cotta dessert was oddly unset.

However the deep nutty sweetness of the Pistachio Bundt Cake and the genius Limoncello Slushie made up for those small quibbles and we left excited and already planning our return trip.   

Momofuku Nishi is currently open for dinner 7 days a week and reservations just became available on their website 15 days in advance.

232 8th Avenue between 21st & 22nd
New York, NY 10010

Monday, February 1, 2016

Tastes of Doughnut Plant Japan

The tastes of Japan are currently taking over the menu at Doughnut Plants around the city in all kinds of wonderful creations.

There are five different flavors: Black Sesame, Green Tea, Shiso, Azuki & Kinako and Yuzu all available as the big fluffy yeast doughnuts, the more compact cake doughnuts or the stuffed doughseeds. 

We checked out the Black Sesame and Yuzu doughseed in addition to our regular Creme Brulee order.  All three were covered in a thick delicious glaze then stuffed full with sour yuzu cream, rich black sesame and creamy custard.

All three were delicious but the yuzu stole my heart.  Ahhhh...Mornings that begin with Doughnut Plant can never be bad. 

Various locations throughout NYC

Friday, January 29, 2016

Brunch at Cooper's Craft & Kitchen

The last weekend in January is always nice and slow.  The holidays are completely over, the weather's freezing; there's really no reason to accomplish much of anything.  It's the perfect time to just chill out and enjoy a long relaxing beer brunch at Cooper's Craft & Kitchen. 

There are two Cooper's in NYC one in the East Village and this one in Chelsea which just celebrated its one year anniversary.  The food is classic pub fare with breakfast specials like the BSE&C; one fried egg with bacon, sausage and American cheese on an English muffin and the Brewers Breakfast of two eggs any style, bacon or sausage, hash-browns and toast.  Both dishes are a delicious and a solid base for all the wonderful beers on tap.

On our last visit we enjoyed Vietnamese Speedway Stout, Project Pam, Plead The 5th and Hop Hands.  This weekend the list look like another winner with Hill Farmstead George, Other Half Suparillo and Rushing Duck Gimme Somoa That on tap.  There's also $5 Mimosas and Bloody Mary's for those not so beer inclined.  It's the perfect place to just unwind and close out the 1st month of the year.

169 8th Avenue between 18 & 19th Street
New York, NY 10011 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Arthur Avenue Eats

Mr. T and I took a trip up to the Bronx over MLK weekend for some Italian eats. We had a LOT to fit into one day...we may have overdone it a little bit.

We started at Cafe el Mercato for a couple slices.  All the pies here are done Sicilian style with a thin, buttery crust cooked to a crisp golden brown and fresh tomato pomodoro.

We could have gone crazier with the toppings like broccoli rabe and pesto, spinach and peppers or even a prosciutto with green fig but we stuck to the basics. There was something so simple and pure about this pizza.  I've honestly never enjoyed a Sicilian slice so much.

After the pizza we walked around the Arthur Avenue Retail Market a bit scoping out all the wonderful displays then stopped into the The Bronx Beer Hall, located in the center of the market for a flight of beers.

Everything's a little bigger in the Bronx right?  Well even the beer flights fall into this category where the usual 4 oz pours were replaced with half pints!  Most of the beers were from NY state breweries like Southern Tier, Sixpoint and Finback and even though we were still inside the market they had big TVs set up around the bar creating the perfect atmosphere for watching the Rangers game.

The next stop on our crawl was going to be Mike's Deli but then I realized we could order Mike's sandwiches right to the bar- BONUS!

First up the Michelangelo with layers of prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, lettuce and tomato all on an incredible sesame seed roll.  Next the Big Mike's Combo- two fluffy squares of focaccia stuffed with luxurious slices of mortadella, ham, salami, capicola and provolone.


Wow- both of these were delicious but the Big Mike's was incredible.  The meat was so tender and not overly salty; easily the best Italian combo I've ever eaten. 

When the Rangers game ended we headed to the actual Mike's Deli for some arancini to go then it was across the street for dinner at Dominick's...because obviously the goal was to see how much we could eat before exploding.   

We began with an insanely delicious order of Baked Clams stuffed with garlic, olive oil and breadcrumbs toasted golden brown.

Then onto the Chicken Scarpiello, an incredibly tender plate of bone in chicken cooked with lemon, rosemary and hot peppers.

(wine by the glass options)

Dominick's was awesome but it definitely has some quirks. Here's a few things to know before dining:

1.  There's no menu.  You either know what they serve already or the waiter will read off the nightly specials and you pick whatever he chooses to tell you about.

2.  The seating is communal and it's tight.  Don't come here expecting to have a romantic night out because chances are you'll be elbow to elbow with two other people trying to twirl up their big bowl of pasta with a spoon just like you.

3.  Don't come expecting a bottle of Brunello.  Dominick's offers only two kinds of wine-red or white.

4.  It's cash only and don't expect a check either.  The waiter usually just reads the final amount at the end of the meal.

We were getting so full we ended up taking most of the chicken home to enjoy later that night then moved back onto the streets of Arthur Avenue in search of dessert at Madonia Bakery.  We picked up a thick vanilla creme cannoli piped to order...

...and some delightfully cake-like Rainbow Cookies that shamed just about every sad, stale version I had growing up.   We were actually spending the next day with friends out east so we picked up some extra cookies for them and then walked over to Calandra Cheese for something I've always wanted to try Burrino.

Burrino is the sister to more well known Burrata; however in place of fresh mozzarella cheese the outside casing is Provola (aged mozzarella) and instead of cream inside there's a big round of butter.  I'll admit when we sliced it open the next day everyone found it a bit odd at first but something about that firm fleshy cheese and deliciously creamy butter really hit the spot.  I can't wait for the next great excuse to slice open another one.

So there you have- an incredible Arthur Avenue Saturday in the Bronx.

2331 Hughes Avenue

2344 Arthur Avenue

2344 Arthur Avenue

2314 Arthur Avenue

2348 Arthur Avenue

2335 Arthur Avenue
The Bronx, NY 10458