New York rss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Stellar Sandwich on the Jersey Shore

Russo’s Market makes a roast pork and broccoli rabe sandwich that kills, whitestone tells us. This takeout-only deli, market, and butcher shop also offers salads, burgers, hot entrées, roast chicken, and a variety of other sandwiches—including a very good cheesesteak—all relatively cheap for a seaside tourist town.

whitestone gives Russo’s steak a slight edge over the one from nearby A & LP, a larger operation that has seating and ample parking. It’s partly about the onions: A & LP minces them, then cooks them till they lose their onionyness. Russo’s slices them, then sautés them lightly so they retain some onion bite. A & LP is also error-prone in filling orders, whitestone adds: “[I]t’s disappointing when you buy a hero on the way home and open it for dinner back in New York to find out they made it all wrong.”

Russo’s Market [Cape May County]
901 Ocean Avenue (at Ninth Avenue), North Wildwood, NJ

A & LP Italian Food Center [Cape May County]
101 E. 15th Avenue (at New Jersey Avenue), North Wildwood, NJ

Board Link: Wildwoods or Cape May in NJ

Macarons and More at Madeleine Pâtisserie

Sweet-toothed Chowhounds are talking macarons. Their current go-to spot is Madeleine, a charming new pâtisserie in Chelsea that makes them in more than 20 flavors. These are very, very good, promises vvvindaloo: “Nice crispy meringue outside meets creamy/tangy/sweet inside.”

One standout flavor is Argumes (mandarin orange zest, Cointreau, and bergamot), says MMRuth, who’s also partial to hazelnut, plum, and chocolate. “Somehow,” she muses, “they manage to be delicate and incredibly rich at the same time.” vvvindaloo favors the fruit flavors, including spectacular cassis, passion fruit, and strawberry, but faults the pistachio and coconut macarons for overpowering, out-of-balance flavors. Be sure to eat them at room temperature, advises dirtyplumcake, “otherwise the sensation of the filling is like eating cold butter.”

Well-traveled macaron eaters rank Madeleine’s ahead of others available around town, including Payard’s, Bouchon Bakery’s, and La Maison du Chocolat’s, and some even compare them to the wares of such European masters as Ladurée in Paris and Confiserie Sprüngli in Switzerland. This kind of giddy talk riles jasmurph, who sniffs that Madeleine’s macarons are too big, “entirely too sweet and lacking all subtlety.”

The owner, Pascal Goupil, has been on hound radar for several years, having won fans at Goupil and DiCarlo in the East Village and the French Oven in Chelsea Market. Beyond macarons, he’s making croissants, tarts, quiches, and other bites. HLing praises the croissants, including a nice, nutty dark chocolate one; 95-cent chocolate miniatures; and a generous-size ham-and-cheese, topped with perfectly crisped cheese blisters. Also recommended: cherry tarts, almond cream brioches, and tiny, moist coconut macaroons.

Madeleine Pâtisserie [Chelsea]
128 W. 23rd Street (between Sixth and Seventh avenues), Manhattan

Board Links: Macaroons at Madeleine- amazing!
Madeleine on 23rd btw 7th and 6th ave
bakery on 23rd btw 6th and 7th

A Burger and a Sundae in Bay Ridge

Hamburgers at the newish Yellow Hook Grille are hard to beat—thick, juicy, and satisfying, carfreeinla reports. This burger elbows aside her previous Brooklyn favorite, served at the Salty Dog a few blocks south. The cheddar-bacon-onion version is so huge that to eat it, some disassembly may be required. Fries are thin and crisp.

Also recommended: the steak tidbit sandwich (skirt steak on garlic toast with melted cheese) and a standout club made with fresh-roasted turkey. Yellow Hook, which opened in February on the site of defunct Italian old-timer Lento’s, also serves pizza, pastas, steaks, chicken parmigiana, and other entrées.

For dessert, head a block up the street to Anopoli, an old-school Greek diner that makes its own ice cream (“It’s a time warp, except there’s no irony,” The Engineer observes). Sundaes are splendid—no Reddi-wip, just real whipped cream. The counter guy, an artist at heart, might whip up a banana split made “a little different, my special way,” with the banana cut in chunks instead of split. “I think I detected a hint of *love* when I tasted it,” writes The Engineer.

Yellow Hook Grille [Bay Ridge]
Formerly Lento’s
7003 Third Avenue (at Ovington), Brooklyn

Anopoli Ice Cream Parlor and Family Restaurant [Bay Ridge]
6920 Third Avenue (at Bay Ridge), Brooklyn

Board Links: Great Burger in Bay Ridge!
Best Hot Fudge Sundae in New York

Small-Town Pleasures

Hudson Valley visitors will find fresh, well-prepared food—and a helping of small-town charm—at Gardiner’s Village Market and Bakery. Breakfast and lunch fare, much of it made from local produce, includes omelets, sandwiches, salads, soups, and a buffet spread that leans toward comfort food: roast pork, macaroni and cheese, sweet chile-glazed chicken, and more. Look for first-rate Italian standards—lasagne, sausage and peppers, and the like. “[P]leasant surprises every day,” notes markp.

bob gaj, longtime devotee of co-owner Kristin Dietrich’s baked goods, singles out her cream cheese cakes, especially apple and blueberry, and Chocolate Nightmare (chocolate cake filled with chocolate ganache and frosted with chocolate buttercream). And his five-year-old daughter loves the pig cookie, though this may be less about the cookie and more about its pinkness and pigginess.

Village Market and Bakery [Ulster County]
125 Main Street (at Arch), Gardiner, NY

Board Link: Village Market & Bakery

Big-Time Deliciousness from a Smaller Shopsin’s

Shopsin’s is not what it was. But even what’s left of it, in its new pocket-size quarters in the Essex Street Market, offers plenty for hounds to chew on. The famously exhaustive menu, which ran to 10 pages of tiny type in its old Village locations, has been edited to two pages of tiny type, still well over 300 items. Most beloved favorites made the cut, including cheeseburger “slyders”: “3 little beauties on potato rolls with caramelized grilled onions, so good I forgot to ask for ketchup,” confesses guttergourmet.

Other enduring hits include pancakes of all kinds—with berries, or macaroni and cheese, or the amazing “slutty cakes” (with pumpkin, pistachio, peanut butter, and cinnamon), tasty enough on their own that you won’t need butter or syrup. Many of Kenny Shopsin’s numerous Mexican-influenced dishes also survived the move; of these, DavyTheFatBoy recommends Blisters on my Sisters (tortillas, beans, rice, and vegetables, covered with fried eggs and cheese and briefly run under the broiler). Sleepers include a killer chocolate malt, delicious house-made ice cream, and a little-discussed but exemplary egg cream.

The new space—cramped yet bare-looking, compared with the old trinket-cluttered digs—is next to Saxelby Cheesemongers, a happy development that has resulted in some new menu items, including a superb breakfast sandwich of fluffy scrambled eggs and aged cheddar on a crusty roll. Even Shopsin’s condensed menu “could take a lifetime to go through,” guttergourmet observes. “I will start now.”

Shopsin’s General Store [Lower East Side]
Essex Street Market, Stall 16, 120 Essex Street (between Rivington and Delancey), Manhattan
No listed phone number

Saxelby Cheesemongers [Lower East Side]
Essex Street Market, Stall 17, 120 Essex Street (between Rivington and Delancey), Manhattan

Board Links: Shopsin’s in the Essex Street Market
Shopsins for Pancakes/ French Toast
Best milkshakes in NYC?
Shopsin’s at Essex Street is open now

Fresh Middle Eastern Flavors at Brooklyn Pita

Early this year, Park Slope hounds spied a tantalizing sign advertising shawarma on Seventh Avenue. Then they waited … and waited. Finally their patience has been rewarded: Brooklyn Pita, open for about a month, turns out to be a promising Middle Eastern spot and a welcome addition to the neighborhood, Peter Cherches reports.

Salads—around 10 of them, laid out at an open bar—are fresh and appealing. Eggplant and marinated carrots are particularly good. Other choices include beets, cucumber, and cabbage done several ways. Load up a good-size salad container, which is $3.50 à la carte or included with grilled meat sandwiches on pita ($7) or in a wrap or baguette ($9). Meats are flavorful and served in generous portions, though the kitchen still seems to be tweaking cooking times. Peter says lamb shawarma is tasty and improving; lamb shish kebab can be disappointing. Condiments include tahini, hot sauces, and a don’t-miss version of amba (spicy mango chutney).

This is mostly a takeout joint, but there is some counter seating. The Russian-Israeli owners are personable and trying hard to please.

Brooklyn Pita [Park Slope]
301 Seventh Avenue (between Seventh and Eighth streets), Brooklyn

Board Link: Brooklyn Pita Finally Open