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

Avocado Shakes Three Ways

Ba Xuyen, beloved for its banh mi, also whips up a wonderful Vietnamese-style avocado shake. Known as sinh to bo, it’s a simple but satisfying concoction of avocado puréed with ice, sugar, and a little condensed milk. “I’m HOOKED,” confesses Puppimus, who doesn’t see this as a problem.

Indonesians make their own version, with a sweet note from chocolate, and most Indonesian restaurants in Queens offer decent ones. Peter Cuce likes Jakarta Mie’s.

For catherine, the alluring Filipino-style shake at Engeline’s hits the spot. And bigjeff is so taken with Ihawan’s version—“incredible stuff,” he swears—that he’s been known to down two at a sitting: one with his Filipino barbecue, and another for dessert.

Ba Xuyen [Sunset Park]
4222 Eighth Avenue (between 42nd and 43rd streets), Brooklyn
718-633-6601

Jakarta Mie [Elmhurst]
86-20 Whitney Avenue (between Macnish Street and 43rd Avenue), Elmhurst, Queens
718-606-8025

Engeline’s Restaurant and Bake Shop [Woodside]
58-28 Roosevelt Avenue (between 58th and 59th streets), Woodside, Queens
718-898-7878
Location

Ihawan [Woodside]
40-06 70th Street (near Roosevelt Avenue), Woodside, Queens
718-205-1480

Board Links: Avocado Shakes … Mmmmm
Filipino food in Woodside

Treasure at the Bottom of a Persian Rice Pot

At Persepolis, they sometimes scorch the rice at the bottom of the pot. This is not a bad thing; it’s a marvelous and mouth-watering thing. The resulting browned, slightly caramelized crust—known as tah dig—is dangerously delectable, the object of fork-to-fork combat in Persian households. Persepolis doesn’t put tah dig on the menu but usually has it if you ask, Michael Ambrosio has found.

Also recommended: very good fesenjan (chicken stew with pomegranate and walnuts) and superb chicken kebabs—oniony, saffrony, tender, and delicious, sighs rose water.

Persepolis [Upper East Side]
1407 Second Avenue (between E. 73rd and 74th streets), Manhattan
212-535-1100

Board Link: Restaurants you love that are rarely mentioned on Chowhound

Rich, Robust Filipino at Pistahan

Any Filipino restaurant that nails dinuguan, the rich, saucy, pork blood stew, can be trusted with the rest of the menu, say hounds. Pistahan aces the dinuguan test, JungMann reports: “if it is this tangy and flavorful, I can only imagine how delicious the other dishes must be. Thick, adequately sour and topped with pieces of lechon kawali [fried pork belly], it far surpassed even my Lola’s [grandmother’s]!”

bokkyo, who also loves the dinuguan, endorses a couple of fish dishes as well: tilapia or bangus (milkfish) grilled in banana leaf. “The milkfish was excellent but the Tilapia, wow, this was a dish to transport its eater.”

Open since spring, Pistahan has a cheery vibe (the name means festival) and is holding its own against better-established neighborhood rivals. “While Elvie’s sat empty, Pistahan was brimming with a full house,” JungMann observes, “including 4 girls … squealing with delight over their ube [purple yam dessert], a man who was audibly moaning while eating maja blanca [coconut-corn pudding], and a lively party of 7 which ordered nearly the entire menu!”

Pistahan [East Village]
229 First Avenue (between E. 13th and 14th streets), Manhattan
212-228-9000

Board Link: New Filipino restaurant: Pistahan

Pizza with the Works at Dominick’s

Fresh toppings, lots and lots of them, are the signature at Dominick’s Pizzeria. The pizza itself is perfectly fine, made with care by the Italian owner, but those toppings—“I was dumbfounded,” confesses Cheese Boy. Want steak and peppers on your pizza? How about chicken with fresh tomatoes, or chicken with broccoli, or even chicken marsala? Or maybe Cheese Boy’s idea of a “heart attack on a plate”—fried shrimp on a slice? Go on Saturdays, when the selection is best.

Dominick’s Pizzeria [Bronx]
1015 Allerton Avenue (between Paulding and Hone), Bronx
718-547-6171

Board Link: Arthur Ave detour–Try Domenick’s Pizza

Flurt Enters the Frozen Yogurt Fray

A promising new entry in New York’s escalating frozen yogurt swirl-off is Flurt, which has two Manhattan shops and counting. It’s in the same mold as the fast-multiplying Pinkberry, serving a fat-free, lightly sweetened product with actual yogurt tartness. Fans insist it’s better: creamier and smoother in texture than Pinkberry’s. Toppings include diced fruit (berries, pineapple, banana, kiwi, mango, etc.), coconut, mochi, and a couple of breakfast cereals.

luvtosnack, following the server’s advice, tried blueberry, banana, and Cap ’n Crunch and “absolutely loved it … the combo rocked!! As soon as i finished it, i wanted more.” windycity grabbed a cup to go, intending to add her own berries at home. Didn’t happen. “Could not stop eating the thing as I was walking. ... Walk, bite, smooth creamy tangy melting in mouth. Damn, I finished it before I got home.”

lfjacob puts in a word for the Yolato minichain, which serves soft-serve frozen yogurt—with fruit and grain toppings—alongside gelato, sorbets, and other cold stuff. “It is absolutely delicious,” she swears.

The yogurt avalanche continues in Murray Hill, where another newcomer, Berrywild, has just opened. No reports yet.

Hounds have long loved Frogurt brand frozen yogurt, served at Bloomingdale’s 40 Carrots café and a few other places around town. 40 Carrots is still in business, but don’t look for it in its old lower-level space near the subway station. Last month it moved upstairs to roomier quarters on the seventh floor. Same nice creamy Frogurt, though.

Flurt [Gramercy]
284 Third Avenue (between E. 22nd and 23rd streets), Manhattan
212-777-6177
Location

Flurt [Battery Park City]
300 Albany Street (entrance on South End Avenue between Albany and Rector), Manhattan

Yolato [Greenwich Village]
120 MacDougal Street (between Bleecker and W. Third streets), Manhattan
212-228-6303

Yolato [Upper West Side]
2286 Broadway (between W. 82nd and 83rd streets), Manhattan
212-580-1635

Yolato [Chelsea]
168 W. 27th Street (between Sixth and Seventh avenues), Manhattan
212-366-5960

Yolato [Bergen County]
725 River Road (near Russell), Edgewater, NJ
201-943-7799

Berrywild [Murray Hill]
427 Third Avenue (at E. 30th Street), Manhattan
212-686-5848
Location

40 Carrots [Midtown East]
In Bloomingdale’s, seventh floor, 1000 Third Avenue (at E. 59th Street), Manhattan
212-705-3085
Location

Board Link: Flurt Frozen Yogurt

Lebanese Deliciousness at Joeyness

At Joeyness in Fort Lee, the falafel says it all. “They are beyond tasty,” attests drod, who has sampled all the leading contenders around. It’s just one highlight of the stellar Lebanese home cooking at this tiny seven-month-old shop.

Salads are fresh and tasty, like green beans lightly seasoned with olive oil, garlic, and spices; other choices include tabbouleh, dandelion greens, and several lentil variations. Hummus, baba ghanoush, and other spreads also excel; some are packaged and sold in stores.

The engaging proprietor, Joey Ghazal, encourages customers to invent custom sandwiches, which might just wind up on the menu. OffTheBroiler invites us to try his own creation, the Beirut Tour Bus: kofte kebab (herb-seasoned lamb patties) with sun-dried tomato hummus, tabbouleh, and tahini. Excellent fair trade coffee, too.

Joeyness Cafe [Bergen County]
515 Main Street, Fort Lee, NJ
201-461-2700
Location

Board Link: Joeyness–Great falafels!

From Isabella’s Oven, a Classic Naples Pizza

Isabella’s Oven is making the best Neapolitan-style pizza to come along in a while. The Margherita DOC, one of around 15 pies on the menu, is exemplary: tomato, buffalo mozzarella, basil, and olive oil on a crisp thin crust. guttergourmet likens it to those at Una Pizza Napoletana and Luzzo’s in the East Village.

Toppings are topnotch; besides the Margherita, combinations include the San Daniele (prosciutto, tomato, fresh mozzarella, arugula, olive oil), the Tirolese (speck, pecorino, fresh mozzarella, tomato, olive oil), and the Tartufata (portobellos, mushroom pâté, ham, fresh mozzarella, white truffle oil). The wood-burning brick oven produces a crust that’s “light and blistered and elastic and all the things you want for a Neapolitan pie,” promises traceybell. Salads, pastas, heros, and a handful of hot entrées (chicken parmigiana or milanesa, eggplant parm) round out the menu.

On the Upper West Side, pizza pro Nick Angelis has struck again. Dean’s, open since June, is turning out regular and “grandma” pies with help from the guy behind the hound-endorsed Nick’s in Forest Hills and Adrienne’s Pizza Bar near Wall Street, among other places. The grandma (“old fashioned square pizza” on the menu) features fresh and processed mozzarella, two kinds of Parmesan, milled tomatoes, and a touch of garlic and oregano atop a nice thin crust. Round pies boast a well-browned crust with character and crunch, says dan f. He faults only listless sauce and toppings, which can be pepped up at the table with salt, red pepper, and grated Parmesan.

Dean’s pizza leaves some hounds cold. “If you have to travel more than five blocks,” Cpalms advises, “it’s not worth it.” There’s also a full menu of salads, pastas, and entrées. Fallon recommends rigatoni Bolognese or bucatini with meatballs. Daniel76 says stick with the pizza. “Airplanes serve better pasta,” he shudders.

Isabella’s Oven [Lower East Side]
365 Grand Street (between Essex and Norfolk), Manhattan
212-529-5206
Location

Dean’s Restaurant & Pizzeria [Upper West Side]
215 W. 85th Street (between Amsterdam and Broadway), Manhattan
212-875-1100
Location

Board Links: Isabella’s Oven
Alternatives to Una Pizza Napoletana
Isabella’s Oven
Dean’s Pizza Square Pie

In Kew Gardens, the Popcorn Is Boffo

Two big thumbs up for the fresh-made popcorn at Kew Gardens Cinemas: pellegrino31 loves the theater’s indie-leaning programming but also keeps things in chowish perspective: “[T]he best part is the popcorn—it’s excellent!” abu applesauce (a name that belongs in lights) readily agrees.

Kew Gardens Cinemas [Kew Gardens]
81-05 Lefferts Boulevard (at Austin), Kew Gardens, Queens
718-441-9835

Board Link: Just moved to Forest Hills—Looking for recommendations

Delicious Mexican Explorations at Móle

Chowhounds from parts west and south often complain that Mexican food in New York City doesn’t measure up to the stuff of their salsa-steeped memories. But for some, five-month-old Móle comes close. “[I]f you like Mexican—you must eat at Mole!” insists erstwhile Texan oliver_selwyn. It is the “best Mexican in the city!”

Much of the regular menu is unsurprising: tacos, tortas, burritos, enchiladas, and the like. Instead, check out the daily-changing “Lupe’s specials.” Lupe—that would be Lupe Elizalde, chef and co-owner—is from Mexico City, but her dishes range from all over the country. One recent winner was Yucatán-style cochinita pibil: achiote-marinated pork, baked in banana leaves, shredded, and served in dark, rich, nutty/garlicky sauce. It was “decadent—definitely worth the $16 price tag,” says CalJack. Others to look for: octopus ceviche, guajillo-braised rabbit in parchment, and Veracruz-style battered fried fish, marinated in tomato-onion-lime salsa, and topped with jumbo shrimp.

From the regular menu (which is much like the one at the owners’ Upper East Side restaurant, Taco Taco), ex-Californian bweb recommends carnitas, burritos, and chicken enchiladas with mole poblano. “It is the closest thing to the Mexican restaurants I once knew,” bweb adds, “except for the premium prices.” About those prices: They’re higher than at bare-bones places but, says jhdan, lower than at the upscale Rosa Mexicano or Village favorite Mercadito. The room, while tiny, is comfortably done up, and the mood is casual and festive.

Some are unimpressed. Misfires have included a tired shrimp ceviche, pork tamales and chicken enchiladas that were light on meat, and duck enchiladas marred by dryish duck and a timid salsa verde.

Móle Mexican Bar & Grill [Lower East Side]
Formerly Win 49
205 Allen Street (between Houston and Stanton), Manhattan
212-777-3200

Board Links: Móle review: best Mexican in the city!
Mole Restaurant on Lower East Side–Who has been?
tacos de cochinitas pibil—anywhere?

Dueling Kielbasa in Linden, New Jersey

For Polish-style cured meats, bmacqueens makes the trek from Hoboken to Pulaski Meat Products in Linden. Kielbasa, hams, and deli meats—head cheese, bacon loaf, and the like—are first rate. This is also a good source for smoked fish, pastries, European-style rye breads, and Eastern European packaged and canned foods.

Around the corner, C&C Polish Delicatessen has a smaller deli section but a wider selection of sausages; grilowa sausages, perfect for grilling, are a highlight. And unlike Pulaski, C&C is open Sundays, making it a convenient stop before a backyard cookout or an outing at the Jersey Shore.

Pulaski Meat Products [Union County]
123 N. Wood Avenue (between Price and Elizabeth), Linden, NJ
908-925-5380
Location

C&C Polish Delicatessen [Union County]
11 E. Price Street (at Wood), Linden, NJ
908-486-2860
Location

Board Link: Pulaski Meats (and other stuff), Linden, NJ