New York rss

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

Italian-Style Sandwiches from Downtown to Uptown

At Piada on the Lower East Side, the namesake specialty is a sandwich from Emilia-Romagna–a toasted flatbread stuffed with meat, cheese, vegetables, or sweet stuff like fruit, preserves, or Nutella. “Ingredients are fresh, the sandwiches are delicious, and the owners are Italian guys who are actually always there and make your sandwiches,” reports lia, who’s especially fond of their Amarcord (prosciutto, mozzarella, arugula), and pressed ciabatta with prosciutto or mortadella, fontina, and artichoke. Salads, soup, espresso drinks, and breakfast sandwiches with egg, cheese, or speck round out the menu.

On the Upper West Side, a sleeper pick for less authentic Italian-style sandwiches is Soup or Sandwich, whose name pretty much sums up its menu. Among the dozen fusioney panini, one tasty un-Italian choice is the Chicken Tijuana: moist grilled chicken with pepper jack, roasted peppers, and spicy mayonnaise. “A really good sandwich–not fake spicy, really spicy,” says Pupster. “Nothing to make a special trip for, but if you are heading into Central Park for a picnic, a convenient place to grab a couple panini.” Other options include a Cubano, tuna melt, churrasco, and even such Italianate varieties as the Tuscan Melt (fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil, pesto mayonnaise) and San Pietro (prosciutto, fresh mozz, roasted peppers).

Piada [Lower East Side]
3 Clinton St., between Houston and Stanton, Manhattan
212-677-5415
Locater

Soup or Sandwich [Upper West Side]
265 Columbus Ave., between W. 72nd and 73rd Sts., Manhattan
212-362-6076
Locater

Board Links
best sandwiches in lower manhattan?

Rinconcito Mexicano II: Killer Quesadillas in the South Bronx

If you think you know quesadillas, try the one at Rinconcito Mexicano II in the South Bronx. “Quesadillas will never be the same again,” promises PAL, who declares this “one of the greatest little Mexican restaurants in all of New York City.” A thick tortilla of fresh-made masa encloses fresh, possibly house-made white cheese and comes with deep, spicy, garlicky red salsa. Order it with carnitas: you’ll get rich, flavorful roast pork, nicely crisped in places, reports Spoony Bard. Tacos are also good, he adds, including one with deliciously goaty barbacoa.

Rinconcito is a charming, narrow storefront joint, one of many Mexican establishments in the surrounding Mott Haven neighborhood–and apparently unconnected with a restaurant of the same name on 39th Street in Manhattan.

Rinconcito Mexicano II [Bronx]
381 E. 138th St., between Willis and Alexander Aves., Bronx
718-401-8314
Locater

Board Links
Chow-worthy Bruckner Blvd. and South Bronx?

Taco Time: Two Good Bets in Westchester

Head for the back of Lupita’s, a Mexican and Central American grocery in Mamaroneck, and you’ll find a counter where they serve tasty, authentic tacos–juicy meat (carnitas, beef adobada, chorizo, chicken, etc.) tucked into warm tortillas with a bit of onion and cilantro, reports wesfoodie. Also: burritos, tortas, enchiladas, soups, entrees like pollo guisado (chicken stew). “And you can pick up a can of iguana soup while you’re at it,” adds wes.

At El Tio in Port Chester, go for the roast pork taco, urges Amy Mintzer–“one of the tastiest pork things I’ve ever eaten.” Also delicious: chuleta de res (T-bone steak with onions) and even chicken fingers for the kids, a superior rendition, well seasoned and juicy.

Lupita’s Deli [Westchester County]
122 Mamaroneck Ave., between Boston Post Rd. and Prospect Ave., Mamaroneck, NY
914-381-5003
Map

Mexican American El Tio [Westchester County]
143 Westchester Ave., between Pearl and Broad Sts., Port Chester, NY
914-939-1494
Locater

Board Links
I Found the Tacos…
El Tio in Port Chester—Great!

Zabb Thai Comes to Manhattan; and Other New York News

Things may be looking up for Thai food in Manhattan. Zabb Thai, a Queens favorite for the rustic, fiery chow of Thailand’s northeastern Isaan region, has branched out into the East Village.

Unlike in Jackson Heights, the Manhattan menu is all in English and offers relatively few Isaan specialties, at least for now. But hounds are hopeful. “Probably need to give it time and encouragement to see what develops,” suggests jen kalb.

So far, reports on the food are mixed. However, Abbylovi says the new place seems willing to deliver full-throttle seasoning for those who ask. Her strategy: tell the server you love the original Zabb, order dishes by their Thai names, and insist you like it hot–for her, the result was delicious, robustly spiced laab and grilled beef salad.

A few blocks south, the Jewel Bako mini-empire has remade itself yet again. Owners Jack and Grace Lamb have moved Jack’s Luxury Oyster around the corner into the space that used to house Jewel Bako Makimono. Jack’s now offers a recast menu of tasting plates. Some of Makimono’s signature sushi rolls and small plates have been added to the menu at Jewel Bako.

And in other neighborhood news, Mamoun’s Falafel, purveyor of cheap Middle Eastern chow on MacDougal Street since 1971, has a brand-new East Village shop on St. Marks Place.

Zabb Kitchen [East Village]
formerly Pat Pong
244 E. 13th St., between 2nd and 3rd Aves., Manhattan
212-529-8770
Locater

Zabb Queens Restaurant [Woodside]
71-28 Roosevelt Ave., between 70th and 72nd Sts., Jackson Heights, Queens
718-426-7992
Map

Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar [East Village]
formerly Jewel Bako Makimono
101 2nd Ave., near E. 6th St., Manhattan
212-253-7848
Map

Jewel Bako [East Village]
239 E. 5th St., between 2nd and 3rd Aves., Manhattan
212-979-1012
Locater

Mamoun’s Falafel [East Village]
22 St. Marks Pl., between 2nd and 3rd Aves., Manhattan, NY 10003
212-387-7747
Map

Mamoun’s Falafel [Greenwich Village]
119 MacDougal St., between Minetta Ln. and W. 3rd St., Manhattan
212-674-8685
Locater

Mamoun’s Falafel [New Haven County]
85 Howe St., near Edgewood Ave., New Haven, CT
203-562-8444
Locater

Board Links
Zabb Thai Now In The East Village
JB Makimono is gone, and…
Mamoun’s on St Marks

People’s Choice: Unbeatable West Indian Oxtails in Harlem

Do not miss the oxtails at People’s Choice Kitchen, insists Uptownflavor. Great, refreshing juices, too, at this Caribbean takeout joint in Harlem. m de p’s favorite is half pineapple, half carrot with milk.

People’s Choice Kitchen [Harlem]
2733 Frederick Douglass Blvd. (8th Ave.), between W. 145th and 146th Sts., Manhattan
212-281-3830
Locater

Board Links
Harlem? Does anyone eat uptown?

At Flushing Mall, Knockout Dumplings and Other Sichuan Chow

Recent dispatches from the Flushing Mall food have focused mostly on Taiwanese and northern Chinese bites, but there’s also a vendor of robust Sichuan chow to be found. It’s called Chengdu, and it’s tucked away in the corner of the food court. It’s on the far right as you enter the court from the south.

They serve pork-and-chive dumplings the size of golf balls in devilishly red chile oil–so fresh they’re bursting with juice, almost like soup dumplings, reports astrid. A sprinkling of minced raw garlic adds a pungent blast of flavor. Fiery beef noodle soup is another winner, says Chandavkl. Cold noodles in peanut sauce are also delicious, though not spicy. Hot and sour noodles look tempting: a giant bowl of dark red broth heaped with scallions and cilantro.

Chengdu [Flushing]
in Flushing Mall food court
133-31 39th Ave., between Prince St. and College Point Blvd., lower level, Flushing, Queens
646-201-8153
Locater

Board Links
Awesome Sichuan Dumplings (Flushing Food Court)–long

Happy Joy: Malaysian Street Food, Cantonese Seafood and More

Happy Joy is delighting hounds with its unexpectedly ambitious menu of Malaysian and Cantonese food. This modest-looking joint on the eastern fringe of Chinatown–look for a red awning whose only English is the word “restaurant”–offers more than 300 choices, from cheap rice plates to pricier seafood dishes. “We really like it, both Malaysian and Chinese dishes,” says Wilfrid, who recommends barbecued pig.

The Malaysian stuff–roti canai, rice noodles with oyster sauce, nasi lemak (chicken coconut rice with anchovy, egg, etc.)–is first rate, reports Lau. Some other options on the long menu: young tau foo (stuffed bean curd), casseroles, congees, house-made bean curd, and noodles in various forms (handmade shrimp noodles, Malaysian-style lo mein, fried noodles, noodle soups).

Happy Joy Restaurant [Chinatown]
formerly Ipoh
25 Canal St., at Essex, Manhattan
212-388-0264
Map

Board Links
LES/chinatown border

Red Horse: Inviting New Coffeehouse in Park Slope

Coffee lovers have quickly taken to the Red Horse Cafe, a pleasant spot that opened just a couple months ago in Park Slope. Beans come from Barrington, the artisanal Massachusetts roaster that also supplies the hound-endorsed Joe in Manhattan. “So far, they seem to be doing a pretty good job with them,” observes PAL, who ranks the newcomer ahead of established neighborhood favorite Cafe Regular, “where I’ve received three totally botched espresso drinks in the past few months.”

The Red Horse also sells premade sandwiches, as well as sweets from Baked in Red Hook. It has comfortable leather couches, tables for laptop users, and free wi-fi. “A great place to hang out,” says Peter Cuce.

Red Horse Cafe [Park Slope]
497 6th Ave., at 12th St., Brooklyn
Map

Baked [Red Hook]
359 Van Brunt St., between Wolcott and Dikeman, Brooklyn
Map

Board Links: Great coffee in Brooklyn
New to south Slope and starving
new place on Sixth Avenue, Park Slope

Cooling Off in a Bowl of Japanese Noodles

There’s no better hot-weather meal than cold Japanese noodles, and Saburi works a delicious variation on the theme. Its hiyashi chuka–thin wheat noodles in soy-flavored broth, topped with egg, sliced chicken, shiitake, pickled ginger, cucumber, and lettuce–is a refreshing dish that nails the subtle flavors of the Japanese-Chinese fusion cuisine called wafu-chuka, reports sunnydesu. Also recommended: unagi ishiyaki don (broiled eel on rice), tender inside, sweet and smoky outside, and served hot and sizzling in a stone pot.

Rai Rai Ken, whose ramen gets mixed marks, offers decent cold noodle specials in summer. kenito799 recommends tasty (if inauthentic) cold ramen with chicken, seaweed, apples, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and ginger.

In Midtown, ramen specialist Sapporo unloads an “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” take on hiyashi chuka, says Spoony Bard: cold noodles in dark, sweet broth, topped with beef, chicken, fake crab, egg, red pickled ginger, cucumber, mushroom, seaweed, tomato, and corn. Not bad, but it may overwhelm those of more austere taste.

A relatively restrained version can be had at Menchanko-Tei, which makes more elegant broth and limits its toppings to egg, chicken, cucumber, mushroom, and seaweed. Other cold noodle treatments here include tsuke men (with pork, vegetables, and a dipping sauce) and sesame-peanut sauce with chicken.

For fans of buckwheat noodles, East Village favorite SobaKoh serves cold soba several ways–a terrific recent special paired the delicate handmade noodles with uni and salmon roe.

And in Soho, cold (or hot) soba remains a dependable specialty at Tokyo-based Honmura-An. “Pure serenity,” sighs guttergourmet. “Highly recommended to escape the heat wave.”

Saburi Restaurant [Murray Hill]
168 Lexington Ave., between E. 30th and 31st Sts., Manhattan
212-481-7766
Map

Rai Rai Ken [East Village]
214 E. 10th St., between 1st and 2nd Aves., Manhattan
212-477-7030
Map

Sapporo [Rockefeller Center]
152 W. 49th St., between 6th and 7th Aves., Manhattan
212-869-8972
Map

Menchanko-Tei [Midtown]
43 W. 55th St., between 5th and 6th Aves., Manhattan
Map

Menchanko-Tei [Grand Central]
131 E 45th St., between Lexington and 3rd Aves., Manhattan
Map

SobaKoh [East Village]
309 E. 5th St., between 2nd and 1st Aves., Manhattan
212-254-2244
Map

Honmura An [Soho]
170 Mercer St., between Houston and Prince, Manhattan
Map

Board Links: Japanese noodle bars
Honmura An

Williamsburg Taco Update: Mexican Bites at an Italian Eatery

Taco Bite is a streetside window taqueria that sprouted late last year from one wall of an Italian restaurant. Tacos are $2 each and tasty–steak, carnitas, or chicken on a pair of lightly griddled corn tortillas with onions, cilantro, and salsa, reports thievery. The benchmark for Williamsburg taco lovers is Matamoros Puebla Grocery, and a couple of hounds say Taco Bite measures up (though another finds its stuff on the dry side).

Also on the menu: burritos, a “Mexican cheeseburger,” and daily specials such as chicken quesadillas. They serve beer and have some outdoor tables for hanging out.

Another decent neighborhood spot is Mexico 2000–like Matamoros, a grocery with a kitchen in back. Its tacos are pretty good, says bill-p, though a notch below Matamoros’s.

Speaking of Matamoros, it continues to turn out great tacos, tortas, and other Mexican chow–months after the owner told regulars that rising rents were about to force him to sell the business. Seems it isn’t a seller’s market, so he’s rethinking his plans. In the meantime, pass the salsa.

Taco Bite [Williamsburg]
905 Lorimer St., at Bedford Ave., at Monsignor’s Italian Restaurant, Brooklyn
718-963-3399
Map

Mexico 2000 Grocery [Williamsburg]
367 Broadway, between Keap and Hooper Sts., Brooklyn
718-782-3797
Map

Matamoros Puebla Grocery [Williamsburg]
193 Bedford Ave., between N. 6th and 7th Sts., Brooklyn
718-782-5044
Map

Board Links: Just one taco, one at a time, in Williamsburg