New York rss

Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the NY Chowhound community.

Williamsburg’s Italian Pantry

Not far from the coffeehouses and hipster hangs of the new Williamsburg, vestiges of the old Italian Williamsburg survive. Jack Barber and others share their favorite stops for Italian groceries:

Pecoraro sells fantastic fresh mozzarella, mostly wholesale but some through an under-the-radar retail operation. Knock on the garage door around midday Monday through Thursday. If the white van is parked in the driveway, it’s probably open.

Jack Barber gives Pecoraro the edge over the more picturesque Tedone Latticini around the corner. But Tedone remains a strong hound favorite for milky, creamy mozz made by hand by Georgia Tedone, the nonagenarian granddaughter of the shop’s founder. (Cheesemaking chops seem to run in the blood: Georgia is related to the owners of Corona’s hound-endorsed Leo’s Latticini.)

For fresh sausage and soppressata, Jack Barber recommends Mario and Sons. It may have slipped a tad—so have most places—but this remains a solid old-school butcher. Enjoy it while you can, Jack Barber advises; Mario is always talking about retiring. Another fine option for carnivores is Lorimer Street Meat Market, which stocks decent pancetta and other cured meats and also puts together a nice hero.

Among the bakeries, Napoli stands out. Its big round lard loaves, studded with chunks of bacony meat, are amazingly good, bobjbkln writes, better than those at Mazzola and Cammareri Brothers, to name a couple of Brooklyn favorites.

And for dessert, Fortunato Brothers—much-derided by hounds in recent years—still serves worthy pignoli cookies, baby cannoli, and gelato.

Pecoraro Dairy Products [Williamsburg]
287 Leonard Street (between Metropolitan Avenue and Devoe Street), Brooklyn

Tedone Latticini [Williamsburg]
597 Metropolitan Avenue (near Lorimer Street), Brooklyn

Mario and Sons Meat Market [Williamsburg]
662 Metropolitan Avenue (between Leonard Street and Manhattan Avenue), Brooklyn

Lorimer Street Meat Market [Williamsburg]
620 Lorimer Street (at Skillman Avenue), Brooklyn

Napoli Bakery [Williamsburg]
616 Metropolitan Avenue (between Leonard and Lorimer streets), Brooklyn

Fortunato Brothers Caffé and Pasticceria [Williamsburg]
289 Manhattan Avenue (at Devoe Street), Brooklyn

Board Links: Italian in Williamsburg
On LARD BREAD, in Brooklyn
Gelato Ranking

Cantonese Newcomers and Other Chinatown Tips

Brian S, intrepid explorer of Chinatown, has been checking out some of the newer joints in the ’hood.

One of the newest is Delight 28 on Pell Street, already a popular banquet destination for Chinese families. Casseroles (listed only on the Chinese menu) are well above average. One standout is fish with bean curd. “In most restaurants,” Brian S notes, “it’s a few pieces of fish and many big chunks of dofu, but here it’s mostly fish, a tender white fish neatly battered with a flavorful brown broth.” Other winners are smoked duck with taro and stewed chicken with mushroom, onion, and ginger.

On the other side of Canal is the curiously named Dining Room Management Group (the Chinese name is something like Cantonese People’s House). From the vast illustrated menu, Brian has tried only pan-fried fish “Dia Luang Style”: a heaping plate of cubes of carp belly, seared to a crisp and infused with a subtle, sweet soy-ginger flavor. “It had a sort of country flair to it,” he adds. “You could imagine a guy catching a fish and cooking it that way over a fire by the riverbank.” Also on the menu: seafood and meat standards, noodles, rice casseroles, congee, and Chinese breakfast fare.

Roasted Delights, tucked into a short block of Catherine Street, sounds and looks like a Cantonese roast meat house. But beyond the pork and fowl hanging in the window, you’ll find a brightly lit dining room and a surprisingly large menu—including a very good fish head casserole, full of mushrooms and chunks of pork, in a wine-scented brown sauce.

Two older restaurants, both Cantonese seafood houses, remain in top form. At Fuleen, Miss Needle endorses geoduck two ways: raw and salt-and-pepper fried; the spicy fried dish makes a nice counterpoint to the sashimilike slices of raw clam. Also recommended: braised sea bass in casserole, crab with ginger and scallions, and perfectly steamed carp (strewn with scallions, ginger, and cilantro).

If you’re going for dinner, Brian S advises, get there by 6:30; by 7:15 there might be a line out the door. And if it’s lunchtime, check out the $5.50 special: your choice of 61 entrées plus rice, soup, and fruit for dessert. TMWeddlle feasted on shrimp with peanuts and garlic sauce plus pan-fried mixed seafood (shrimp, scallops, squid, and more)—two dishes that could have fed four: “Everything was fresh, correctly seasoned, just excellent!”

Just up the block, Sunrise 27 offers a long list of elaborate seafood dishes, as well as simpler ones like a commendable stewed chicken casserole, loaded with succulent meat plus sausage, mushrooms, onion, and just enough sauce to coat the chicken, Brian S reports. Like Delight 28, this six-year-old restaurant is often booked for banquets. But if there’s room, walk-in diners are seated at tables off to the side, where they can observe the festivities and maybe feel like part of the party.

For a humbler nosh, many hounds go for a bowl of congee from Big Wong. Better than those at Congee Village or Congee Bowery, it’s denser and boasts a more intense rice flavor, says kobetobiko. claireness also recommends Big Wong’s wonton soup and (with a caveat) dry beef chow fun. The latter is inconsistent, but when it’s on, “it’s light, delicate, not oily, and a great example of simple, tasty Cantonese food done right.”

And Lau puts in a word for the unfairly overlooked Wing Huang, whose jook he judges the best in Chinatown. First-rate noodle soups and barbecued meats, too.

Delight 28 [Chinatown]
28 Pell Street (near Mott Street), Manhattan

Dining Room Management Group [Chinatown]
102 Mott Street (between Canal and Hester streets), Manhattan

Roasted Delights [Chinatown]
5 Catherine Street (between Division Street and E. Broadway), Manhattan

Fuleen [Chinatown]
11 Division Street (between Catherine and Market streets), Manhattan

Sunrise 27 [Chinatown]
27 Division Street (between Catherine and Market streets), Manhattan

Big Wong [Chinatown]
67 Mott Street (between Canal and Bayard streets), Manhattan

Wing Huang [Chinatown]
111 Lafayette Street (between Walker and Howard streets), Manhattan

Board Links: Delight 28 Restaurant, Pell Street
Dining Room Management Group—a new Chinese restaurant at 102 Mott
Roasted Delights, Chinatown (short review)
Chinatown–Fuleen Seafood Restaurant -
Chinatown: beyond GNY Noodletown
Sunrise 27—a Cantonese contender in Chinatown
I Want to take my parents to Chinatown
Good Cantonese Roast Pork Wonton Soup

For Park Slope, More French Comforts

Park Slope didn’t really need another French restaurant, most locals agree. But there’s always room for one as good as AOC Bistro. Opened over the summer by the owners of AOC in Manhattan, it delivers “very enjoyable French comfort food in a relaxed, friendly setting at affordable prices,” sums up elecsheep9.

Bistro standards—onion soup, charcuterie, escargots with garlic, duck confit (with Grand Marnier sauce and a tasty cauliflower gratin)—hit the mark. Other standouts are herring with new potatoes, bisquelike mussel and saffron soup, phyllo-wrapped seafood in saffron cream sauce, flank steak with potato gratin, and an excellent tarte Tatin. For brunch, hounds recommend French toast as well as ham and cheese baked in phyllo.

famdoc ranks AOC a cut above local competitors Moutarde and Belleville and on a par with Cocotte on a good night.

Not everyone is won over. slslaughter reports a disappointing dinner marred by oversalted coq au vin, a run-of-the-mill cheese plate, lamb shank that sorely needed a sauce, and an overgrowth of parsley on every plate, straight from “the Marriott school of garnishes.”

Ten blocks north, there’s yet another bistro: Canaille, which opened in October in the space once occupied by Red Café. Early word is scant yet promising. dah reports a fine post-Thanksgiving dinner highlighted by tender steak frites and a splendid pot de crème. A salad of arugula, beets, and lardons is peppery and fresh, and lamb chops (with sautéed new potatoes and haricots verts) are tender and flavorful, says cbking, who calls the newcomer “a lovely addition to 5th Ave.”

AOC Bistro (formerly Mekong) [Park Slope]
259 Fifth Avenue (at Garfield Place), Brooklyn

Canaille (formerly Red Café) [Park Slope]
78 Fifth Avenue (near St. Marks Place), Brooklyn

Board Links: A.O.C. Bistro–just plain bad…
New to Fifth Ave.: AOC Bistro
AOC Bistro (Fifth Ave) Brunch Report
AOC Bistro: My review
Canaille on 5th Ave, Park Slope

Spanish Explorations at El Quinto Pino

El Quinto Pino is the second tapas joint from the owners of the popular Tía Pol, but it’s no clone. This charming two-month-old bar—“lifted straight from a small alleyway in Barcelona,” suggests ADOC—offers a shorter and less orthodox menu than its big sister around the corner.

One early knockout is the uni panini: sea urchin roe in a warm-pressed ficelle, slathered with butter and mustard oil. guttergourmet pronounces it “MIND BLOWINGLY GOOD!!!!!!” Also excellent (if not upper case–worthy) are gambas al ajillo (shrimp with garlic), stewed garbanzos with spinach, Basque anchovies in tomato sauce, and the gazpacholike salmorejo, a creamy tomato soup with chorizo and hard-cooked egg.

This place does especially well by pork. Rock48nj loves the fried belly cracklings, as well as a wonderful sandwich of braised pork shoulder; “if swine is not your thing you may not be into it,” he warns.

El Quinto Pino [Chelsea]
401 W. 24th Street (at Ninth Avenue), Manhattan

Board Links: El Quinto Pino–Uni Panini
El Quinto Pino?

In Sleepy Hollow, Greek Cooking for the Gods

To understand why Westchester hounds can’t say enough about Santorini, consider its taramosalata. Lesser Greek restaurants skimp on the fish roe that gives this classic spread its oceany tang. Some don’t even make it themselves but have it trucked in from Astoria. Not so at Santorini, where EHS observes that “you can actually see (and taste) the caviar, and the minced onions mixed in aren’t bad either (nor are they overwhelming). Much more flavorful than the more generic cream ‘dip’ from the other place(s).”

That’s how it is all the way down the menu at this two-month-old restaurant in Sleepy Hollow: Dolmadakia (stuffed grape leaves) are crisp outside, and the herbed rice inside is al dente, not overcooked and mushy as at many other places. Avgolemono is fabulous—creamy, lemony, chunky, and nothing like the usual mediocre brew that, for EHS, brings to mind Campbell’s chicken soup tarted up with lemon juice. A combo dubbed the Zeus highlights four hot dishes, all first-rate: moussaka, spanakopita (spinach pie), pastitsio (pasta layered with ground meat and béchamel sauce), and a generous slice of gyro meat. With a round of excellent house-baked pita, this appetizer plate is a meal in itself, EHS says. Others recommend the falafel, tiropitakia (cheese pie),
galaktoboureko (custard-filled phyllo), delicate, well-seasoned keftedes (meatballs in tomato sauce), and a superb rendition of youvetsi (lamb shank and tomato stew).

Charcoal grilled dishes are masterly. Standouts include meltingly tender lamb or pork souvlaki and nicely charred octopus. For a broad sample, try the Santorini platter, an enormous combo comprising gyro, chicken souvlaki, and beef kebab. These and other main courses come with soup or salad and rice or potatoes, and even the sides are exceptionally strong. The salad is huge and fresh: chopped lettuce, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta, olives, and two stuffed vine leaves. The potatoes are roasted, lemony, and delicious.

Overall, hounds say, this is shaping up as the best Greek place in Westchester—outshining Lefteris in Tarrytown and Niko’s in White Plains, to name a couple. Their only concern seems to be that not enough people are making their way to this off-the-beaten-path restaurant. After enjoying a wonderful early dinner at a nearly deserted Santorini, laylag drove past Lefteris and was saddened to see a long line. “Not that I dislike Lefteris but it doesn’t compare.”

Santorini [Westchester County]
175 Valley Street (between Chestnut and Depeyster streets), Sleepy Hollow, NY

Board Link: Excellent New Greek Restaurant In Westchester

Superior Fried Onions and an Old-School Burger

Prime Burger flips a reliable old-school hamburger, just as it has for more than 60 years. But even better are the improbably crisp french-fried onions. You won’t mistake them for ordinary onion rings, thew promises: “freeform jacksonpollock fried onion beast is probably closer.”

Prime Burger [Midtown]
5 E. 51st Street (between Fifth and Madison avenues), Manhattan

Board Link: Best Hamburger

Red-Gravy Italian Without Shortcuts at Giovanni’s

Those hungry for red-gravy Italian will find it hard to beat Giovanni’s in Stamford. Pastas, chicken or eggplant parmigiana, Italian-style wedges (that’s what they call sub or hero sandwiches up there)—all are dependably delicious, promises jfood; “talk about an independent. three guys in their 50-60’s making everything by hand … Love those guys.”

Giovanni’s Italian Gourmet [Fairfield County]
109 North Street (at Franklin Street), Stamford, CT

Board Links: Slew of Chain Restos coming to Stamford…
Favorite ‘Secret Hole In The Walls’

At Hakata TonTon, Porky Heaven on the Hoof

More than any other restaurant in town, Hakata TonTon puts pig’s feet through their paces. This month-old Japanese place does trotters, or tonsoku, every which way—in stews and salads and pastas and dumplings and gratins and more. But Chowhounds find that less can be more. A strong early favorite is one of the simplest preparations: tonsoku grilled with salt. Deeply flavored, sheathed in lovely crunchy skin, and served with an austere yet amazing accompaniment of citrus-infused salt. “Pig’s feet heaven!” exults misschopsticks.

In contrast, sugar and spice sing out in a robust Korean-influenced hot pot where pig’s feet swim in a roiling broth spiked with kochujang (chile bean paste). As it cooks down, fat and skin and other piggy oddments melt into a thickening sea of porkiness, observes xigua. Other winners are tonsoku consommé—thick, intense, and unexpectedly refined, its richness cut by a touch of vinegar—and tonsoku nimono with sweet potato, a simple boiled dish that delivers pure homey comfort.

Tonsoku shumai are large and subtly flavored, benefiting from a dip in the ponzu sauce that comes with them. They may be most notable for their appearance, which is an eye-grabber: a spear of toenail curving out of each dumpling. This may not be everyone’s idea of an appetizing bite, misschopsticks notes. Which raises the question: Can a restaurant with such an unusual focus gain a toehold in Manhattan? Seeing how pork belly has become a menu staple, xigua figures, “pork trotters may not be as scary sounding as people think. Wish them luck.”

Hakata TonTon [West Village]
61 Grove Street (between Bleecker Street and Seventh Avenue S.), Manhattan

Board Link: Hakata TonTon

With These Tortillas, You’re in Good Hands

As adamclyde observes, there’s something very different about handmade tortillas. Thicker, chewier, and more rustic, they give a huge lift to the tacos at La Herradura in New Rochelle.

The signature “Herradura” is tremendous, filled with guacamole and strips of deeply flavorful grilled steak. (It joins adamclyde’s pantheon of superior New Rochelle tacos, alongside the carnitas at El Michoacano and Taqueria El Chino and the al pastor at Little Mexican Café.) Herradura’s carnitas is nice and moist, though not the most flavorful. Table salsas—extra-hot fresh chile or chunky roasted-tomatillo verde—are fiery and delicious. And, adamclyde adds, “Big, big points for those tortillas.”

La Herradura [Westchester County]
563 Main Street (between Centre Avenue and Division Street), New Rochelle, NY

Board Link: La Herradura in New Rochelle

From the Corner Deli, Turkish Takeout at the Ready

A corner deli across from Central Park changed hands not long ago. Now, alongside the familiar sandwiches and salads at Park West Café and Deli, there’s delicious baklava and other Turkish food. That baklava, made with pistachio, is a standout, says hcd: fresh, complex in flavor, not cloyingly sweet like many other versions.

But there’s more than dessert here. The new proprietor, a courtly Turkish fellow proud of his wares, might steer you toward savory cheese boreks, mucver (zucchini pancakes), or stuffed eggplant, peppers, or grape leaves, among other things—all made in-house, and all nice takeout options for Upper West Siders.

Park West Café and Deli [Upper West Side]
477 Central Park West (at W. 108th Street), Manhattan

Board Link: Grocery stores near 105th and Central Park West