New York rss

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

Masterly Italian, Both Homey and Haute, at L’Orcio

The sublime Italian cooking at L’Orcio is worth a special trip to New Haven from just about anywhere, declares Jim Leff. “I’ve never before found this good an Italian restaurant (nor ANY restaurant that’s much better),” adds Jim, who has eaten at a restaurant or two.

Chef Francesco d’Amuri manages to balance soul and sophistication at his four-year-old northern Italian place. “This is lusty grandmotherish cooking with skill and subtlety,” Jim writes. “It’s comfort food and serious cuisine both.” One standout example is gnocchi al Gorgonzola, light and refined yet also lush and deeply satisfying. Another: veal medallions, very lightly breaded and sautéed in wine sauce. “The meat had personality, the sauce was deft, it all came together—the sum even better than the wonderful parts.” The kitchen’s attention to detail is evident even in the accompanying roasted potatoes: “I could visualize the chef peering into the oven with unbroken attention to catch the perfect microsecond of brownness,” says Jim.

The sleek but comfortable ambience matches the food: “not trying to impress,” he observes, “trying to please.”

L’Orcio [New Haven County]
806 State St., New Haven

Board Links: L’Orcio in New Haven: Best Italian Restaurant I Know

Le Petit Marche: Crowd-Pleasing Bistro in Brooklyn Heights

Nicely executed bistro standards—and, let’s face it, weak neighborhood competition—have made Le Petit Marche an instant hit in Brooklyn Heights. “It has been crowded every time I walk by. Amazing how word gets around so fast about what is good and what isn’t,” observes Fleur, who sums up its appeal: “good, solid, bourgeois cuisine, well prepared and nicely presented, at fair prices.”

Salads are fresh, tasty, and large; good choices include frisée with lardons, beets with caramelized goat cheese, and a mustardy Lyonnaise (potatoes, green beans, bacon). Recommended entrees: tender lamb shank in rich wine sauce, pan-roasted chicken (with wild mushrooms and cauliflower gratin), and steak frites, accurately cooked to order with a pleasing char, served with decent fries. For dessert, a standout tarte tatin comes with house-made cinnamon gelato.

The wine list is weak and surprisingly short on French selections. Service is gracious and professional, and most enjoy the comfortable, charming setting (though Psychobabble says enough already with the Edith Piaf).

Le Petit Marche [Brooklyn Heights]
46 Henry St., between Cranberry and Middagh, Brooklyn

Le Petit Marche in Brooklyn Heights

The Stoned Crow: New Burger Contender in the Village

At the Stoned Crow, the main attractions have been beer and pool, not chow. But that’s changed with the arrival of a cook from Corner Bistro, home of one of New York’s best-loved hamburgers.

The Crow now serves a great burger, says Sweatshirt Guy. It’s a half-pound of tasty, juicy meat on a better-than-average sesame bun. First-rate fries and wings, too. Mini-burgers, tucked into sliced-up hot dog buns and served by the basket, are flavorful but can be overcooked, cautions Bob Martinez. Try to get them cooked to order. The new cook is from Puebla, and he’s added tacos to the menu; no reports yet.

The Stoned Crow [Greenwich Village]
85 Washington Pl., between 6th Ave. and MacDougal St., Manhattan

Corner Bistro [Greenwich Village]
331 W. 4th St., at 8th Ave., Manhattan

Board Links: Cook from Corner Bistro now at Stoned Crow–Burger Alert!

Hot Chocolate Around Brooklyn

Verandah Place Deli starts with Valrhona chocolate and froths it up with whole milk. The resulting hot chocolate is thick, delicious, not too sweet, and not paralyzingly rich, like some other versions around town, reports dixieday2. A small serving, around the size of an average cup of coffee, is just $1.50. In summer, there’s terrific iced chocolate, says dimples. Take a cup next door to Cobble Hill Park, grab a bench, and kick back.

Jacques Torres pours two of Brooklyn’s best hot chocolates—both its regular and the spicy variety dubbed Wicked, enlivened with cinnamon, allspice, and ground ancho and chipotle chiles. “The best I’ve found,” declares brooklyn1966, on the pricey side at $2.50 but well worth it. Torres’ brew, as delicious as it is, pushes the richness envelope for some. bhill finds it “sinfully amazing to the point that it can almost be too intense.”

Carroll Gardens favorite D’Amico has excellent Italian–style hot chocolate, but pay close attention when you order. There are two dispensers, warns Matt M.: one that constantly whips up real hot chocolate and another that spits out run-of-the-mill stuff.

In Park Slope, Cocoa Bar makes superior hot chocolate, especially fine with mint. Offbalance gives it the edge over the pretty good version at the Chocolate Room.

Verandah Place Deli, a.k.a. Delicatessen [Cobble Hill]
264 Clinton St., between Warren and Congress Sts., Brooklyn

Jacques Torres Chocolate [DUMBO]
66 Water St., between Dock and Main Sts., Brooklyn

Jacques Torres Chocolate Haven [West Village]
350 Hudson St., at King, Manhattan

D’Amico Foods [Carroll Gardens]
309 Court St., between Degraw and Sackett, Brooklyn

Cocoa Bar [Park Slope]
228 7th Ave., between 3rd and 4th Sts., Brooklyn

The Chocolate Room [Park Slope]
86 5th Ave., between Warren St. and St. Mark’s Pl., Brooklyn

Board Links: the best hot chocolate in brooklyn

A Slice of the Past at Gustosa

The old-fashioned slice at Gustosa Pizza is a ticket back to a sweet and sunny past for hounds of a certain age—hounds like Jim Leff, who confesses to a fondness for “circa 1972 shopping mall pizza.” Gustosa, he adds, is “like a time machine, a mausoleum of extinct pizza stylings.” Its Sicilian slice is the neighborhood’s best, and occasional specials like the Caprese are also worth a sniff, says david sprague, who loves the sweet-spicy balance in the sauce.

Other practitioners of this throwback style are Sal and Carmine’s in Manhattan and Attilio’s in New Brunswick—neither a universal hound favorite, Jim acknowledges. Gustosa, too, has its detractors. “Terrible,” grumbles christocc. “Too much cheese, sweetened sauce, oily, and the worst part, a too-thick, gummy crust.”

joekarten offers up another contender for best slice in the neighborhood: Catinella’s Pizza Corner.

Gustosa Pizza [Jackson Heights]
77-09 37th Ave., near 77th St., Jackson Heights, Queens

Sal’s and Carmine’s Pizza [Upper West Side]
2671 Broadway, near W. 102nd St., Manhattan

Attilio’s Pizza and Restaurant [Middlesex County]
875 U.S. Hwy. 1, near Milltown Rd., North Brunswick, NJ

Catinella’s Pizza Corner [Jackson Heights]
95-02 37th Ave., at 95th St., Jackson Heights, Queens

Board Links: NYT Real Estate Section Article: Author Moves to Jackson Heights for the Food
Queens Pizza Crawl Findings

If It’s Sunday, This Must Be Parihuela

Clued-in hounds have long known that Peruvian is the smart order at Flor de Mayo, the “Spanish-Chinese” place on Amsterdam. They also know that this location has the edge over its uptown cousin on Broadway. But the best dishes here–less familiar than the popular ceviches, saltados, and roast chicken–may have escaped the notice of many, as they’re not on the menu. So Dave Feldman shares a week’s worth of Peruvian deliciousness from the blackboard specials:

Monday: arroz verde con pollo (Peruvian-style cilantro rice and chicken).

Tuesday: estofado de res (beef stew with carrots, tomatoes, and potatoes).

Wednesday: pollo al horno con tomillo (chicken breast baked in wine and Peruvian spices, and topped with mushroom gravy).

Thursday: adobo de puerco (essentially a Peruvian take on the Filipino pork dish).

Friday: chupe de camaron (shrimp soup) or escabeche de pescado (broiled filet of sole topped with onions in sweet, mildly spicy sauce).

Saturday: seco de cabrito (Peruvian-style lamb stew, braised with cilantro and spices).

Sunday: parihuela (traditional seafood chowder) or carne de res estofado “goulash” (another variation on beef stew).

The best bets, for Dave’s money, are Thursday’s adobo, Friday’s shrimp soup and escabeche, and Sunday’s parihuela. (That’s not to say the other choices are bad; he just hasn’t tried everything yet.) Most run from $8 to $11 (the seco de cabrito is $13.45), and portions are big. All are served with rice and yuca. In addition to these entrees, other occasional off-menu specials, especially spicy soups, are worth a try.

Flor de Mayo [Upper West Side]
484 Amsterdam Ave., between W. 83rd and 84th Sts., Manhattan

Board Links

Peruvian Specials at Flor de Mayo

Excellent Paratha at Jackson Heights’ Desi Biryani

The Bangladeshi chow at Desi Biryani is hit or miss, most say, but one monster hit is its Mughlai paratha. This griddled, stuffed flatbread–made with vegetables or meat–comes out light, crisp, and fresh-tasting. It even surpasses the version at board favorite Spicy Mina, swears JulesNYC, who hastens to add that Spicy Mina is better at everything else.

Jim Leff says Desi Biryani has a better-than-average chef whose work is regrettably undermined by the service setup. “The problem with this place is the same as at all the other Bangladeshi restaurants in the area,” he observes. “They do a steam table without steam, where stuff sits all day at room temperature, and they nuke to rewarm.”

Desi Biryani [Jackson Heights]
formerly Grameen
75-18 37th Ave., between 75th and 76th Sts., Jackson Heights, Queens

Spicy Mina [Woodside]
64-23 Broadway, at 65th St., Woodside, Queens

Board Links

tasty dish to try at Desi Biryani in Jackson Heights

Surprising Sichuan Flavors at the Newest Ollie’s

At Ollie’s, of all places, they’re doing some solid Sichuan cooking. The newest outpost of the Manhattan mini-empire–known among hounds for uneven, all-over-the-map Chinese food–has a distinct regional focus, unlike its sister restaurants.

Sichuan dishes turn up here and there on the long menu, including a section labeled “New Wave Sichuan.” One satisfying choice is thin-sliced beef with diced red chiles and a strong, welcome dose of cumin, advises Striver. Another is tender lamb and light-fleshed fish in a deep-flavored broth with notes of star anise and fennel as well as chile, topped with a handful of dried peppers. Under “Traditional Sichuan Flavors,” you’ll find a decent version of water-cooked beef (“sliced beef Sichuan style” on the menu): tender meat in fiery, ruddy broth powerfully seasoned with red chile and Sichuan peppercorn.

Among the smaller dishes, Ollie’s dan dan noodles “won’t put Grand Sichuan out of business,” Striver notes, but they’re good, as are other choices, including a selection of cold spicy meats. Mung bean noodles are reminiscent of Wu Liang Ye’s, suggests small h–fresh, springy, and clean-tasting, flavored with scallion, cilantro, chile oil, and a load of crushed garlic.

While it’s an option for theatergoers, Ollie’s Sichuan (which succeeds the troubled Bistro du Vent) is somewhat out of the way and less frenetic than the 44th Street Ollie’s. “It will hopefully stay that way,” adds Striver.

Ollie’s Sichuan Restaurant [Clinton]
formerly Bistro du Vent
411 W. 42nd St., near 9th Ave., Manhattan

Board Links

Ollie’s on 42nd between 9th & 10th

Morning Masterpiece – Brooklyn Label’s Chile Colorado

If Brooklyn Label’s chile colorado is not the finest brunch dish in New York, at least it belongs in the conversation, suggests MarcInSunnysideGardens. Here’s how this newcomer in Greenpoint builds a soul-satisfying weekend morning entree:

It starts at the bottom of a capacious bowl with a foundation of polenta, “soothing and dreamy and perfect.” Then comes the chile: slow-roasted pork butt, stewed in deep-flavored, agreeably oily green chile sauce, with roasted red pepper adding a sweet vegetal touch. Atop the chile, two perfectly poached eggs. And framing the eggs, four halves of toast, each smeared with better-than-average butter. “Good heavens,” sighs Marc, “the best breakfast I’ve had in this town.”

It delivers a gentle chile kick, he adds, but mainly “that mellow braised quality that I adore but I’ve never really had at breakfast before.” It’s also quite filling, holding Marc’s admittedly large appetite at bay till dinnertime, and could easily sate two people of lesser capacity.

Other brunch choices include oatmeal, omelettes, biscuits and gravy, steak and eggs, waffles, challah French toast, and a curried tofu-potato scramble. Brooklyn Label, open since December, serves breakfast, lunch, and weekend brunch, and will be open soon for dinner.

Brooklyn Label [Greenpoint]
180 Franklin St., at Java, Brooklyn

Board Links

Is Brooklyn Label’s Chili Colorado the finest breakfast offering in all of New York City?

Chocolate Souffles That Rise to the Occasion

LCB Brasserie Rachou makes a memorable chocolate souffle–light, cakey, creamy, perfectly balanced, rhapsodizes akowit.

Cafe Gray has another exceptional version, enlivened by fruit and nut accents that change with the seasons. From the current menu: pistachio, amarena cherry, and raspberry coulis. Recent combos include Grand Marnier-orange-Grenadine, burnt orange-hazelnut, and passion fruit-pineapple.

Others recommend the chocolate souffles at La Grenouille, Le Perigord, Capsouto Freres, and perennial favorite La Petite Auberge.

LCB Brasserie Rachou [Midtown]
formerly La Cote Basque
60 W. 55th St., between 5th and 6th Aves., Manhattan

Cafe Gray [Columbus Circle]
10 Columbus Circle, in Time Warner Center, 3rd floor, Manhattan

La Grenouille [Midtown East]
3 E. 52nd St., between 5th and Madison Aves., Manhattan

Le Perigord [Midtown East]
405 E. 52nd St., near 1st Ave., Manhattan

Capsouto Freres [West Village]
451 Washington St., at Watts, Manhattan

La Petite Auberge [Gramercy]
116 Lexington Ave., between E. 27th and 28th Sts., Manhattan

Board Links

Who makes the best Chocolate Souffle in NY?