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Ciano or SD26 or something better (hopefully)!!!

What do you all think. I could really use a recommendation for something different too because I am not really sold on either spot. Here are the particulars:

Group of 10
Somewhere with an upbeat vibe
Great food, preferably Italian, American or French but would consider others.
North of Houston street
$150/pp budget for food, tax and tip and a couple of cocktails. .

My first choice was the Nomad, but they are closed for a private event that night. Any suggestions would be great.

Thanks

Nov 19, 2012
Farfalle in Manhattan

The Tuscan New Canaan - has anyone been?

I went twice.. My thoughts from both times:
... The first time, the food was terrific, but the service was very mediocre. It is clear that the owners have a real passion for food and the ingredients that they are using are all top notch. I had the bolognese, followed by the veal. The veal was excellent quality, but a little thicker than I normally like it. My dining companion thought that his steak was among the best he has had for months. However, getting our food took entirely too long, the service was clueless about the menu and when they made errors on our side dishes, they refused to correct them, telling us "the kitchen is no longer talking to the servers, so you guys will have to make do with the sides we brought you. Sorry" HUH?

My wife really wanted to try it as well, and the food was good enough, so chalking up the service to opening week jitters I went back. The funny thing about the second trip was that the service was definitely better (although by no means polished yet), but the food was not as good. This time I tried the lamb ragu and it was underseasoned although very tender and well prepared otherwise. My wife ordered a fish dish (I think it was branzino or red snapper, dont recall) and the flavor was excellent, 9 out of 10 even. However, the dish arrived cold. We started by sharing the lobster salad, which was very good.

The room itself is nice, and with the bar has a great vibe to it especially in such a sleepy town. Judging by the quality of the ingredients, I fully expect that the restaurant will turn into one of the better restaurants in this area - it is just a matter of working out the kinks and getting the front and back of the house to work together. I will go back in about 6 weeks and try it again... by then it is either working or I will no longer dine there.

Oct 18, 2011
Farfalle in Southern New England

Best ice cream shop in Fairfield County?

I have tried all the best gelato's in NYC, including Gromm, Laboratorio, etc... and I think that Gelatissimo in New Canaan is better. It is the closest to what you find in Italy (i.e. not too sweet!!) For american-style ice cream, Gofer is actually pretty good but SUPER fatty.

Jul 14, 2011
Farfalle in Southern New England

Kouzina - New Canaan...good Greek?

I went last week and here is my general take. Service was so-so, but may improve since they just opened. The food quality was very mixed... they were ALMOST good, but just slightly missing on most things. Here is what we had and my thoughts:

1. Grilled octopus has great flavor, but it was rubbery, which ruined the dish.
2. The spreads were good and bad. Melitzanosalata was dark brown and chunky, almost looked like chopped liver. The taramosalata and hummis were good though. Hummis was actually great, in fact.
3. The Saganaki was super tasty, EXCEPT, that it tasted a little petrol or boozy or something. I think the problem was that the waitress did not let the liquor burn off enough or used too much.
4. The Greek Salad was fine, what you would expect but I think they could up the quality on the tomatoes OR stick them in a colander and let them drain, salted, for a while to get rid of some of the wateryness.
5. The pork and chicken souvlaki was very good. They hit those spot on.

Some of the problems above I think can easily be fixed with some time and effort. HOWEVER, the biggest problem I had was that they were not serving any whole grilled fish. This is a staple of good Greek cuisine, so I was very disappointed. I think their only real fish on the menu was salmon. Grilled salmon fillet at a greek restaurant? Really? How about Branzino or snapper or something?

In a nutshell, I plan to wait a month or two and go back. At that point, they either have things working well or they dont and that's the end of it for me.

Jul 14, 2011
Farfalle in Southern New England

Il Mulino- Food/Cost- Is it worth it?

I am in the middle ground camp, so there you go. Il Mulino make good, old fashioned Italian-American food. 20 years ago, it would have been the best barnone. That said, I think the concept of regional italian fare has changed what is on offer nowadays and Il Mulino cannot really compete. For what they do, however, the quality of the food is good. If you want something a little more interesting, I agree with other posters that recommended I Trulli. The thing about I Trulli is that their appetizers are just okay, but their pastas are to die for.

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Il Mulino
86 W 3rd St, New York, NY 10012

I Trulli
122 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016

Jul 08, 2010
Farfalle in Manhattan

Where to find ESKA water in manhattan?

I was in Montreal and had a bottle of eska sparkling water. I thought it was great. I have seen eska flat water once in a while in different stores in manhattan, but does anyone know where to find a reliable supply of the sparkling variety? Thanks

Jul 08, 2010
Farfalle in Manhattan

Thai food on the east side

Been a while since I went for thai. Looking for good place, relaxed and casual atmosphere. East side preferred, anywhere from houston to 60s. Need a place where you can go and have a long, comfortable dinner though. Most of the places I know you get crammed in and they want you out asap. I used to like holy basil quite a bit, but think they have slipped in recent years, so stopped going. But, a place like holy basil in its prime would be great. Thanks

Jun 07, 2010
Farfalle in Manhattan

Stamford lunch places

I just wanted to share that so far we have tried a few places.
Fiesta - was very enjoyable peruvian food on Atlantic. It's pretty greasy though, so be prepared... this is not where you go when you want to eat healthy.

Colony Grill pizza: good, not great. ultra thin, but a touch undercooked. I would give it a 7 out of 10 for pizza

Coalhouse pizza: also good, much more traditional napoli style pizza. I would rate it 7.5 out of 10.

The Sandwich Maestro - horrible, stay away. The food here is old and nasty.

Jenna Marie deli - good for sandwiches and salads. Not incredible, but selection is solid and delivery is ultra quick.

Katies - Also good but not great. They are super close to making this place top notch, but they just miss the mark by taking some shortcuts. For example, their salads use top notch ingredients, but the dressing kind of stinks - reminds me of Kraft out of the bottle.

We also tried a pizza place on Atlantic that does chicken parm and other types of italian sandwiches. Decent but not great. I cannot recall the names right now.

We tried a few of the chain restaurants too - Kona Grill, PF Changs and they were all terrible.

Dinner at Capital Grill was horrendous. It's just so-so in manhattan as it is, so I did not expect much. However, I did not expect the worst porterhouse of my life. They have no business serving that quality of food for the prices.

Dinner at Columbus Park Trattoria - surpsisingly good pastas here. I only had pasta and a prosciutto special to start with. Both were good, but next time I will have to try some of the full entrees to get a better sense of overall quality.

Thanks for all the help everyone.

Jan 25, 2010
Farfalle in Southern New England

Stamford lunch places

Thanks a lot, everyone... this is really REALLY helpful. I think you cut my research time down to 1/10 of what it would have been.

Jan 07, 2010
Farfalle in Southern New England

Stamford lunch places

Also, I noticed a few peruvian restaurants on Atlantic and elsewhere. Any suggestions on which I should pay a visit to?

Jan 06, 2010
Farfalle in Southern New England

Stamford lunch places

Thanks for all the help. We went to a place called Katie's today and it was pretty decent. We are going to aim for pizza tomorrow when we have time to call ahead and order earlier. Someone also told me that Capriccio was good - any opinions? All other suggestions needed and welcome. Thanks!

Jan 06, 2010
Farfalle in Southern New England

Stamford lunch places

Thanks for the tips. I generally want to take out my food, so thats always one caveat. I am thinking pizza today. Should I do colony or coalhouse pizza?

Jan 06, 2010
Farfalle in Southern New England

Stamford lunch places

My office just moved to Stamford. We are downtown near the UBS building. Can you guys help me out with lunch suggestions? I feel like I am in a culinary wasteland here. I am happy to walk, drive or have delivered, just as long as its good. No preference for cuisine either since I need a bunch of different ideas.

Jan 06, 2010
Farfalle in Southern New England

craft, quality meats, or keens

Definitely not Quality Meats, thats the east part.

CRAFT has better food than Keens, hands down. The food at Keens is fine, but I think the steak is just okay. If your friend is a foodie, take him to CRAFT and skip Keens. However, it sounds to me like your buddy maybe is not a gourmet, and if you want old school, clubby and comfy, go for Keens on the atmosphere, for sure.

Dec 21, 2009
Farfalle in Manhattan

1st birthday party - need a good spot

The food is solid and as someone else said, the margaritas are excellent. It's a dark, cozy room but the bar area up front really gets a good crowd on weekend nights. I think the baby back ribs in banana leaves are excellent. I also always liked the pork carnitas - standard, but great.

Dec 04, 2009
Farfalle in Manhattan

The very strict policy of tasting menus at Jean Georges...am I overreacting?

Are you overthinking this just a bit? You'll be fine, enjoy the dinner.

Dec 03, 2009
Farfalle in Manhattan

Lupa or Marc Forgione

I'll try this again...

Which is better spot overall for a group of 10?

Dec 03, 2009
Farfalle in Manhattan

which to PICK??? Lupa, Marc Forgione or Gemma - need advice!

5 couples, all in our early 30s getting together for an xmas dinner in a couple of weeks on a saturday night. We can get into either 1. Gemma 2. Marc Forgione or 3. Lupa. I have been to Gemma and Lupa and food is good at both, never been to Forgione but I hear the food is excellent.

I am not sure what to expect in terms of atmosphere though - does Forgione lend well to a group of 10? If you had to choose between these 3 places, which would you pick for a group of 10?

Dec 02, 2009
Farfalle in Manhattan

Holiday dinner for 14, East side, $100 pp all-in?

Any ideas for locations away from the upper east side? I'm open to midtown, all the way down to Tribeca and I can up the price slightly to $125 per person all-in. Thanks

Nov 30, 2009
Farfalle in Manhattan

1st birthday party - need a good spot

Thats a great idea. El Parador is one of my favorite neighborhood spots and the host, Jack, is a real gentleman. Thanks for the suggestion.

Nov 30, 2009
Farfalle in Manhattan

1st birthday party - need a good spot

Thanks, appreciate it. It's amazing how difficult it is to find something like this in Manhattan. Any other suggestions welcome.

Nov 30, 2009
Farfalle in Manhattan

best italian rainbow cookies?

You are going to have to trust me on this one, because it requires a real effort. Growing up, these were my favorite cookies and a few years ago, I compared my favorite with all the big name Italian pastry shops in Manhattan. None compare to a place in Brooklyn on Avenue N in flatbush. Palermo Pastry Shop, its 5517 Avenue N, at the corner of East 55th Street.

The cookies have no sprinkles, they are incredibly moist, made on the premises and have all the right flavors. I make a special trip out there for them at least twice a year, usually around the holidays - they are that good.

Nov 30, 2009
Farfalle in Manhattan

1st birthday party - need a good spot

Hey gang,

My son is turning 1 and I want to book a place for a birthday party on a Saturday afternoon. We will have about 50 people. Food is definitely important though since we have lots of foodies and some cooks in the group. It has to be somewhere casual too because, while most will be adults, there will be at least 5-10 children as well. A place with a private room or a restaurant that we could reserve would be ideal. Italian or American food preferred, but I would be open to others, just not asian or indian. As for location, anywhere below 59th street on the east side or below 34th street city-wide. Thanks for the help!

Nov 28, 2009
Farfalle in Manhattan

NYC Wine Shoppes

Yes, those sales get their prices down to about what you could pay at any other store. *Bargains*

Aug 20, 2009
Farfalle in Manhattan

NYC Wine Shoppes

USQ has possibly the worst pricing in Manhattan. With so many wine stores out there, no reason to go here. Maybe... MAYBE I would go to USQ for German wines though since they tend to have a good selection.

The truth of the matter is that most wine stores in Manhattan are priced poorly. Many stores improperly store their wine because of space constraints. The combination of the two leaves you very few that you could consider a good deal.

My top picks in Manhattan:
1. Astor Wines - generally a very good selection and pricing that is usually at least competitive. Free delivery is good too.

2. PJ Wines - only buy in person, do not have wine delivered from them. A good number of their wines are not stored properpy. Stick to more recent vintages, but the prices are great. If you spend enough at the store during the year, you get access to their annual clearance sale, where prices are unbeatable.

3. Zachys - not in manhattan, but great selection, great customer service. That said, only buy when they have sales, because when they do the prices are often hard to beat, especially within the boundaries of Manhattan.

Aug 20, 2009
Farfalle in Manhattan

What is as good as daniel...but not as stuffy?

Daniel "not stuffy"? cmon!! Only way for it to be stuffier is to make it black tie!

Aug 12, 2009
Farfalle in Manhattan

Fun and unique idea - birthday dinner with ten girls in their twenties!

Buddakan.

Aug 12, 2009
Farfalle in Manhattan

Yasuda Sushi~reservations essential?

On a Monday in August, you are probably okay as a walk in but I live and work a few blocks from Yasuda and have had problems with walking in a few times, so make a reservation to be sure. As for prices, they are not cheap, but I would tell you to forget about the lunch special and order what you want. You will want to try the many different types of tuna, eel and others. The lunch special gives you a choice of the more standard types of fish, and since you are in from SF, might as well go all out.

Aug 12, 2009
Farfalle in Manhattan

Manhattan butcher as good as Biancardi's?

Bianciardi's in the bronx is the probably the best butcher shop that I know of. I am just getting tired of making the trip up there everytime I want great veal, pork or steaks. I'm willing to pay manhattan prices for the convenience, but I cannot find the quality. Anyone have suggestions for a great butcher that stacks up to the 80 year old meat temple on arthur avenue?

Aug 12, 2009
Farfalle in Manhattan

Any recommendations for old fashioned lobster dinners??

Funny, I read the first line of your post and thought "he should go to the Palm." You already figured that out though. I would highly recommend you do just that. The lobster there is always excellent - really among the best I have had in the city.

Aug 11, 2009
Farfalle in Manhattan