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Ken Oringer at food truck in NYC [from Boston Board]

Jul 25, 2009
acidity in Manhattan

I need a rotisserie duck

Have you asked Zabars, not if they have them, but if they'll make you one?

What I'd do is call any old supermarket butcher (where they have a rotisserie) and ask for it special order. Supermarket butchers (including huge chains) are quite friendly and accommodating with special orders, whether it be sausage casings, suet, bones, etc.

You might be told "too fatty" or something, but if it's something they can do and sells a few ducks they'll do it for you (and it will be a lot cheaper than you'll expect). If you find somebody dedicated to the craft, they'll kiss you for giving them something to do outside the grind of simply weighing and repacking the boxed meat they get.

If you don't get what you want that way, try Citarella et al (or maybe try them anyway if you want an upscale duck) or an independent grocer, and ask them. Or go the other way to "ethnic" (that word always seems bigoted) grocers. Hell, ask a Chinatown duck purveyor, tell them you want "plain" or something.

I'm sure you can find somebody in this city who'd rotisserie your sneakers for a buck.

Jul 23, 2009
acidity in Manhattan

Flying to Paris For One Blow-Out Meal

just wanted to refine what I said about La Regalade so as not to give the wrong impression: I was dining as a couple with a Parisian couple and the parisienne eats more fat and meat than her husband and ditto me, so the two of us went a little crazy ordering foie gras and meat, and too much. That is not what the restaurant is about, and it's not what I'm about, but it is what I did that night.

Of course French food is not shy about fat or meat, but I'm not recommending this place because it was a fat carnivore's dream, it's just a French restaurant that is charming.

Jun 17, 2009
acidity in France

Flying to Paris For One Blow-Out Meal

I can't speak for Jim, but Jim looks for that indefinable quality that he often calls "soul" or "soulful". I don't think he was trying to put you down or define you, Souphie, I think he was influenced by what you wrote. If you look at what you say here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6264... you seem to say pretty clearly that more money means better food. If that's not the case and it didn't really reflect how you feel, that's cool!

Jim probably set the whole thing off wrong when he talked about stars and a big budget, as you pointed out, but then you did rise to the bait. I'm thinking that what he'd like are places that get one maybe two stars for the food, and particularly somewhat old school style or at least been around long enough to pick up the star, and has no pretentions to go higher, and where nobody mentions that it's less than the most expensive because it is just soooo good at what it is.

I think you are saying that you already did suggest some of these, it might have worked better if you gave them more of a backstory and less about price etc. which was admittedly not your fault. That's what I tried to do with my original post about Regalade and I'm serious, I've been to some haute places in Paris and I have to say they are not the most memorable experiences, what are memorable to me are the more down to earth culturally French places. Jim, I think you might be well served to find somebody French to dine with BTW, it can shoehorn the experience for you.

Also I think bear in mind what I have mentioned, that to a person who does not have experience dining French, some little traditional things can make a bigger impression than grand things. The people who run Regalade for example, seem to do a good job of endearing people. Another restaurant that has a good spirit (though I think the food would not be right for this occasion except maybe if you call ahead and do something) are those two over toward the Eiffel Tower, l'os a moelle or something? I have no time to look sorry. That's what pops into my head as having a certain indescribable quality.

My tastes run somewhere between the two ideas, and it's somewhat in line with what you said: Paris is much like NYC as being a modern cosmopolitan city, and the idea of artisanal restaurants where generations of experience go into the handmade food can's survive in the face of high rents. Soul is better, but if there is no soul around, money can buy food that is a good substitute for soul, and money can bring variation and newness which are nice for their own sake (and which does not explain why Per Se and Jean Georges and Nougatine just keep the same old standbys on the menu for soooo long, they do get boring even the things I like, and for price sure ingredients but I expect some effort too.)

Jun 17, 2009
acidity in France

Help with a "best of" list

Best inexpensive food: the idli at Saravanaas. A pizza at Difara is not in Manhattan, but it better qualifies as a food "experience" and is not that expensive.

Best ethnic... is italian an ethnicity? cuz then it ain't Babbo, man I dislike the food there. So for best ethnic, I'll go with Grand Sichuan Eastern.

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Saravanaas
81 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

Grand Sichuan
1049 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10022

Jun 16, 2009
acidity in Manhattan

Flying to Paris For One Blow-Out Meal

I went back and read Jim's criteria ("little gem ok" and "not looking for ostentation"), and as per your suggestion I read Souphie's advice, and his advice was all haute, and what he suggested he said was a compromise.

Given Jim's love of the Arepa lady and long track record of seeking out trancendent food wherever it may be found, I think Jim would appreciate suggestions that were actually blowout-category-killers within the terms of his bet/budget. I am happy to trust Souphie's (and the community's) knowledge and judgement of restuarants, I just want to make sure that the terms are understood, and he's was not limping toward a weak version of a different idea.

We in America do not often get a shot at the depth of authentic "slow food" because it is based on a whole fabric and infrastructure of tradition. We do have haute food. So, I'm trying to sell the idea that an amazing version of a lower but traditional cuisine might be a lot more fun for Jim who confesses he's never done France's restaurants. And in terms of "haute advice", highly respected people in NYC will swear up and down that foodies should go to Per Se, and I think the place is bad joke. I'd rather go to a place that got more unanimous plaudits rather than one that has detractors. For example, one meal in NY, while most people would guess per se, if you study it, Jean Georges has fewer detractors, it's a safer bet for a "this has got to go right" night, so there is room to mull over any suggestions here.

I am sorry to hear that Regalade has gone downhill a tad, but I will reiterate that if you look at people's reactions to it here (which is where I heard about it, thanks chowhound!) it does provide an experience that is a positive shock to the senses. I introduced my Parisien friends to it and they go back all the time because it fills a sense of something of France that has been lost in modern Paris. I'm not touting that one restaurant (it's just one that I know), I'm actually touting that sort of experience.

In terms of the "terrine", we are using the word differently. I cook some, so to me, "terrine" is the ceramic dish, regardless of what is served in it. I realize now that you are using the more "restauranty" pattern that "terrine" means a way of serving foie gras. In term of what is in the terrine, I introduced an error by abbreviating the foreign phrase "pate de foie gras" as "foie gras" when I meant to abbreviate it as "pate", and then I said terrine which it absolutely is, but this is what led to you being misled. The restaurant was dark and it was a while ago, but and whatever chunks there were, were soft spreadable chunks, as opposed to may de compagnes which contain a suspension of unspreadable chunks in fat. Sorry for the misunderstanding, but it was cooked and mixed fat+liver spread.

I need to say one more thing about wine, just to clarify, you say you hope I have better luck, which is fine as a polite and friendly thing to say (thanks, sentiment appreciated!). But as a realistic and factual thing to say, it falls short in a way that I will put as "you chalking my experience up to bad luck does not recognize the amount of time, attention and study I devote to wine and for my experiences to be due to probability would have required a highly unlikely series of events. I have drawn a conclusion based on a lot of history which you are rejecting. It is fine that we disagree, you can disagree with me. But what you said can be interpreted as being dismissed which I don't enjoy so much."

Jun 16, 2009
acidity in France

Flying to Paris For One Blow-Out Meal

Oh, my mistake, you are absolutely correct. My memory is clear (where clear means clear, may not mean accurate), but I was not paying attention to what I was writing. To clarify, what I should have written is that it was a terrine of liver pate (rather than whole foie gras's packed in a terrine). In terms of the ingredients, it was "liver-y" tasting and unctuous and rich, is what I'll say; I make no claim to be able to identify in pate goose vs duck vs gras vs even chopped chicken liver with a liberal dose of shmaltz. (When you have a foie gras, sear it, anything else is a waste of that beautiful "meat jello.") In terms of "de campagne", I'm not a fan of a really rough hewn de campagne which goes in the direction of chunky or variegated, so in my memory this would have been more pate than de compagne, dark and more like a coarse ground mustard in texture, rather than a completely smooth and lighter colored pate.

In terms of the generalization, listen, if we don't accept generalizations, we need to say "too much" in order to make a point, and that's boring. I think it is interesting to distill ideas down to the interesting part, the unexpected part. If you want to say the expected, just don't say anything, just say "as expected".

So, as expected, French restaurants would be filled with verticals of great wine, striking in comparison to American winelists; your French dining companions would be knowledgeable about wine; and your sommelier would astonish you with his breadth of knowledge and open mindedness to understanding you. Unfortunately, in my experience it does not happen this way. I've gotten truly silly advice that I should be drinking a bordeaux because burgundy is trop fort. The French make the finest wine in the world (to my palate) and I'm certain the finest sommeliers in the world (with knowledge of the wine I like) are in France. However, the French wine industry is not the finest in the world; the vast middle underwhelms, and the average Frenchman doesn't drink great wine and moreover if he lives outside the cities, drinks what's local, and if you are a wine buff or looking to improve, their advice you'll get is of limited value: my opinion, my experience. I probably look for a different sort of conversation than you, as we see here.

But the conversation here should not be about my experience, you didn't comment on your opinion of the restaurant, whether you think Regalade is a worthy choice for Jim's trip to Paris, or if you like the basic idea but have a worthier candidate.

I think the ambiance of the place, the wonderful people who run it, the more homestyle, traditional style, country manor style cooking, along with total dedication to food (and a budget open to better wine) will leave a very strong sense of being culturally transported--"Wow, we are not in NY!"--and experiencing something truly French.

Jun 16, 2009
acidity in France

Flying to Paris For One Blow-Out Meal

small correction, i "overedited" that and wound up saying something I didn't mean. I meant that I find Paris similar to NYC in that there are a good number of gems, but the percentage is low, and there are a lot of mediocre, overpriced, etc. restaurants. I didn't mean to imply that going after a high end meal was going to be correlated with not getting one.

Jun 15, 2009
acidity in France

Flying to Paris For One Blow-Out Meal

I'm going to go for "different" sort of advice, analyzing this more along the lines of "what can I get in Paris that I can't get in NYC." NY has high end restaurants with French chefs and Michelin stars. If that's what you're looking for, OK, no prob. I go to Paris at least annually, and I'm spendy; Paris is certainly up there with NY for plentiful overpriced food and disappointing meals.

The restaurant in France that has impressed me most is La Regalade in the 14th arrdt.

In NY, we don't have country style restaurants that bring to your table a whole huge terrine of foie gras (like for a party), from which as an appetizer you are invited to start at one end as you will, and it's excellent delicious terrine for a foie gras lover (and I don't like terrine) and you gorge yourself like a dog you can't stop, and only after you scream "mon oncle" do they take it away. Then you have foolishly ordered the actual foie gras and you are presented with a Flintstone's dinosaur foie gras steak seared perfectly which you gamely finish, only toward the end of which do you realize you just pled guilty and are awaiting execution of your sentence because you also opted to go on and share the cotes de boeuf for two and it is also Flintstonian and cooked /a point/. And everything else is as it should be, potatoes, asparagus, soupes, etc.

It's nowhere near expensive enough to kill your budget, but that leaves you room for fabulous wine, which to me is worth it. I'm an American wine snob who prefers European traditional style wine. Frankly, I find it easier to get good wine and good wine service in NY than in Paris*, so I'd contact the restaurant in advance or ask a friend Parisien to help, and make sure they have a nice champagne and a bottle that's just what you are looking for.

It's not a good neighborhood to stay in. I'd recommend you stay in the 6th if you plan to spend the most minimal amount of time strolling about.

*ah, a rare internet footnote... two reasons: (1) we are generally richer and spend more on wine which they export to us (as Mondovino points out, the British market created the Bordeaux haute wine industry) while at the same time they have access to better-buy low end wine which doesn't pay to ship and (2) the average French person is born inheriting a legacy of wine taste and knowledge and unfortunately these things are not inherited, they are cultivated so the avg. tastebud and advice you'll get could fall short of what you are used to, and a lot moreso if you prefer new world wines.

Jun 15, 2009
acidity in France

Boiled Peanuts

A whole passel of southern specialties from Lee Bros. 1-843-720-8890 http://www.boiledpeanuts.com/
but specifically http://www.boiledpeanuts.com/boilnutp...

It's a little pricey, but hey, this is Manhattan.

I was once in Boston visiting some friends who hail from Dixie and I ordered some--via 1-800-BOIL-NUT which I just called and it is no longer Lee Bros.--to be delivered, and an appropriately colorfully South Carolina-accented gent answered the phone and took my order. When I got to the street address part, he said "are you in Cambridge Mass?" I said, yes, how did you know? and he said "I recognize the street, I went to Harvard." which I guess I'm trying to say was a little unexpected from a boiled nut telemarketer. Today those jobs are probably no longer available to Harvard grads, it's probably somebody in Bangalore who has trained with a South Carolina accent.

and yes, the Chinese ones are really good too, or the spicy ones anyway.

Jun 15, 2009
acidity in Manhattan

*new* Szechuan Gourmet report

Cool, that is an interesting corroboration. The downstairs at the new branch that you walk into is quite small, maybe 8 tables or something. There is a whole floor dining room upstairs (ugh, i hate upstairs at restaurants) and apparently it has a very nice front window; I did not go up, but I did see there are trees outside. Here is an opening night photo from outside where you can see a little.

I agree with the basic idea that a new chef has possibilities, but also that the flexibility and an excitement of a new place could bring out some flair from the old guard, while the daily grind could ultimately stultify the cooking. That's what I meant when i said it might be fun to track.

Jun 13, 2009
acidity in Manhattan

*new* Szechuan Gourmet report

Last night, ate at opening day of a new Szechuan Gourmet, 242 W56th between Broadway & 8th 212-265-2226 (and they say open till 11 PM weeknights, later on weekends!)

So, while ordering an interesting backstory emerged: there was hardly anybody there, just a few tables. We were seated between two tables of Chinese people, and given the attention they got from staff, we figured them to be insiders, and it turns out they were. I was trying to get the chicken with all the dry red peppers, but I wanted it bone-in, not the boneless that was on the menu. The waitress went to the kitchen to ask if they could make it, then came back and said "no"... but she couldn't leave it at that, she had to go and say that it could not be done the other way. So I had to point out that they used to do it with bones just a few blocks away at Grand Sichuan Intl back when it was open. At that point the woman at the next table leaned over and pointed across her table and said "he used to cook at Grand Sichuan". So, then they said a bunch of stuff in Chinese, and then I was told that this guy at the next table appreciated that I liked the bones, so he was going to go into the kitchen and show them how to do it... and he did!

So, I got my bone-in variety special made, and it was quite good. A bit different than I expected, slightly bigger chunks, it had less of the red peppers, and less of the Sichuan peppercorns, but it had a lot more aromatics, that licoricey sort of flavor, and a lot more of various other flavor nuggets; garlic, scallion, et al. The bigger pieces of chicken were beautifully fried. Moist!

Anyway... while waiting for that, I was talking to them and they said this new Szechuan Gourmet is actually a joint venture between the owners of Szechuan Gourmet, Grand Sichuan, and Wu Liang Ye (I admit I couldn't help think to myself "ah, the Triad!") so we kept talking and they'd ask my favorite dishes and I'd reply with the differences between versions at different branches, what was available where and why couldn't I find the krinkle kut french fries like they used to have at GSI 9th @ 50th, with the pickled vegetable seasoning somewhat akin to chinese black beans but different. They knew the seasoning, hadn't thought to put it on french fries, and were amazed at the level of detail that I keep track of menu items which are (or even had been) available various places. I in turn was perplexed that restaurant owners and chefs would unaware of the fanatic food communities.

So to start wrapping up as you are interested in the food, we ordered #13, #14, #16, #17, #94, #105, #109, and #113. The food was definitely Szechuan Gourmet inspired, but where SG on 39th is good, but so busy to me it's got a bit of a "dialed in, heavy food factory" (compared to GS East which I find sprightlier), this food I thought was a little better, more nuanced, smokey flavors here, aromatics there, more standout ingredients in the seasonings; they sent out unrequested a bowl of extra hot sauce which was a very garlicky fresh red relish with also a LOT of fresh cilantro in it: very good, and my "there should be more cilantro in everything" sentiment was shared by my neighbors, the girl and I said simultaneously "it makes everything seem fresher".

Oh, I was teasing about the numbers, those are (somewhat abbreviated) szechuan pork dumplings, chilled noodle with spicy sesame (nice sesame or is that peanut, but flavorwise too spicy), chef's szechuan pickles (best I've had in a long while, usually way over sour, these were fresh), spicy cukes (very good smoky spicy), wok tossed chicken (except special made), ma paul tofu (very tasty sauce, and it killed when I added the cilantro they gave me), shredded potato, and pan seared sea bass with hua jiao (might have enjoyed it more had it not been preceded by so many).

This branch on this occasion was definitely better, but I think I prefer the unexpected variations from a new kitchen to a kitchen that's been grinding the same dishes by rote for too long. Of note, I was told the chef who will ultimately be cooking here is now in China, not due back for 10 days, so right now chefs from other restaurants are filling in. Which means if you go for the next week or so, you will be getting a worthwhile experience (unique?) but whether it will be representative of what's to come can't be known; interesting to track, actually.

So, these nice folks themselves said they were from a chinese restaurant in NJ called China Chalet http://www.gochineserestaurant.com/ch... which I highly recommend on the basis that they were nice people who know food. But at their table were several chefs who I was told had cooked at various of the Manhattan restaurants we are all so familiar with, so it's apparently a small tight community (who knew?).

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China Chalet
184 Columbia Tpke, Florham Park, NJ 07932

Jun 12, 2009
acidity in Manhattan

Blazer and Jeans @ Per Se

Depends what you mean by "jeans". I always wear black jeans there (zegna, armani). Blue denim, that's tougher, though a denim "suit" would fly. I recommend it, now that I think of it.

About respect, etc. well I respect other people, and I appreciate when people return the courtesy. I don't think per se is even the best restaurant in Columbus Circle, but I do respect them. I don't really respect what they wear, but I respect them.

If you want to appear classy to people who actually come from class, I wouldn't recommend wearing business attire to dinner, but I'll respect you anyway, and I hope they do too.

Oh, and it's fine to get a survey of dress code tempered by experience at chow.com, but I would not recommend getting fashion advice here. Lightning generally doesn't strike twice in the same place.

May 24, 2009
acidity in Manhattan

Help me narrow down my pizza choices...

I do not understand the love of the square slice, not at all. But I do agree that Difara's is a better square slice. Didn't chime in just to say that though.

Go to the Totonno's website and look at the picture of the pizza. That's pretty much what it looks like and you'll be able to tell if you'd like it (I didn't really) However, they do have a tendency to char different parts more than in that picture, like places where the crust bubbles up in the middle. It gives it a nice old fashioned look, but charring on a pizza doesn't taste good. (Hate it when they sometimes char at Una Pizza, cuz that pizza is small and pricey, it's like a $1 wasted per burn patch.)

http://www.totonnos.com/Pizza.html

May 22, 2009
acidity in Manhattan

Tough Sushi Choice

Just throwing this out there, others can chew it up:

I always veeeery much enjoy my meals at Blue Ribbon Sushi downtown, where I order lavishly (and go way over $50), but where I notice that it's way less way over than I usually go (so it's gotta be "inexpensive") but some of that enjoyment is the non-sushi sides.

btw uptown Blue Ribbon Sushi on W 58th I think is a dud, hotelly, and not "strangely delicious". I guess it's not that hotelly, what it feels like to me is Suisse chalet ski lodgey, which I'm also not looking for. Atmosphere on Sullivan Street is sooo nice.

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Blue Ribbon Sushi
119 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012

May 22, 2009
acidity in Manhattan

Trendy & Romantic?!

There's gay friendly and there's gay friendly, because you did mention you would appreciate being around similar people which I'm not sure what you mean (similar gay or similar tolerant). I tend to agree with the "it's Manhattan, it's not a problem" school of thought, but I also realize I don't really know what I'm talking about as I can't comment how "accepted" you feel in this or that circumstance and you might be looking for something extra to set a mood or make it seem like an occasion; I sometimes notice when a room has an unusually high percentage of gay couples, so right there I see room for different perceptions even if it is unintentional. Trying to be helpful here. Depending on your circumstances where you live, or the atmosphere you seek, you might get a kick out of an "extra gay" place?

So my point is that people here with "local knowledge" could be perhaps more helpful with more specific positive info (rather than simply suggesting that certain populations might be intolerant, a view I can agree with while also recognizing it is bigoted in reverse). As examples, I feel like I've been to Grand Sichuan on 7th Ave on gay guy night, and lesbian night at August restaurant. But neither fits the description so we don't have to consider them further.

Oh speaking of American avec French flair, I've never been and can't comment on the atmosphere or food, but that Steak Frites place on 7th Ave might fit the bill foodwise, and certainly the neighborhood demographics would support your preferences.

May 22, 2009
acidity in Manhattan

looking for quick dinner, 57th between Lex & Carnegie Hall

Burger Joint in Le Parker Meridien 57th between 6th and 7th (near 6th). I recommend the cheeseburger.

Men Kui Tei Japanese noodle shop. Good and cheeeeeap.

Park Blue small plates.

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Burger Joint
118 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019

Men Kui Tei
60 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

Park Blue
158 W 58th St, New York, NY 10019

May 22, 2009
acidity in Manhattan

Burger Joint creeps downhill

Burger Joint kitchen crew continues to overcook. Burgers ordered medium rare come out medium, and they don't care to be informed of it. They simply don't care. Fries seemed worse too, more fakey.

Still better for me than ShakeShack where the burgers never get the char flavor, and where the fries were never good.

May 21, 2009
acidity in Manhattan

Private Dining Room (10 guests) in Manhattan

Freemans Alley has a cool private dinging room, very cool vibe, moderate (for NY) prices.

WD-50 has a private dining room.

May 21, 2009
acidity in Manhattan

Felidia or Bar Boulud

Felidia's winelist is among the strongest in the city http://www.felidia-nyc.com/pdf/WineLi...

Out of all NYC, people ask me where to go, I recommend Felidia as outstanding, me I love the food there (I don't think it holds appeal for what I'll loosely call "Babbo lovers" though).

People ask specifically if they should try Bar Boulud, I say skip it. I wanted to like it, but the charcuterie is better up the street at Salumeria Rosi and the atmosphere/service just doesn't cut it for me. I actually have more objections, including sartorial, but I'll let others speak.

May 21, 2009
acidity in Manhattan

Help! Last minute group dinner!

You didn't say how many people, so I'm mentioning places that could accommodate a group on short notice rather than focusing strictly on food. If it's just 6 of you, that's not really a group. Including tax, tip... and alcohol in the $40? Or no drinking? I'm just thinking, the more you are willing to spend, the more accommodating they become.

Freemans has at least one private room, so instead of a la carte overspending why not call in advance, maybe you could put together a "catering" menu there that costs what you want.

Tailor too, they are operating in bankruptcy from what I read, so maybe they'd appreciate the business on an off night. http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.co...

Hearth, depending on the night they'd have space.

Then there is Landmarc at TWC where you could to it. It's not cutting edge by any means, but I'm throwing it out there if you have trouble finding a spot

May 21, 2009
acidity in Manhattan

Craving Chilaquiles!!

Tulcingo del Valle, they make green and red, and also have a "with steak" option that you should pass on, unless you just happen to want a decent piece of meat. They always say the red is spicier, but the green is. I like the green cuz it's tangier.

(if you don't already know, chilaquiles is "mexican lasagna made with corn tortillas instead of pasta and spicy salsa instead of red sauce", mexi-cheese on top)

At Tulcingo, they come with excellent refried beans. BTW, the food is widely acclaimed to be truly authentic, but I will point out that this dish is vegetarian friendly and therefore is not made with lard. Has cheese though, so not vegan.

If this is "a trip" for you, while in the neighborhood be sure to walk a half block up and try the tacos in the back of the quirky bodega called Tehuitzingo. Be sure to get the potato, with and without meat, both are sooooo good; without meat is also vegetarian friendly. (acutally, I'd go to Tehuitzingo first, grab just a couple of tacos, then walk down to Tulcingo, is how I would do it.

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Tulcingo del Valle
665 10th Ave, New York, NY 10036

May 21, 2009
acidity in Manhattan

Help me narrow down my pizza choices...

yeah, I don't get all these complaints about soggy middles.... the "nose" of a NY slice is supposed to "droop", and when it does, melted cheese, sauce and oil will slide off... if it does not, you are doing it wrong.

May 20, 2009
acidity in Manhattan

Help me narrow down my pizza choices...

Here's the thing: Difara is (or seems to be) unique in the world and incongruously, if you like it you can't help but wonder, why isn't all pizza just like this? He makes it seem so simple. Then in addition to that, you get to watch Dom make it, something that is quite a ritual. (He goes slow, he grates the cheese right on, he grates a different cheese right on, he handles hot pies in the oven with his bare hands, he snips the fresh basil with scissors, he's grating another cheese...) So, I can't endorse leaving it out of an itinerary.... but it is a long ride out there, and you could get a long line... If pizza is really your thing, you gotta go, but I wouldn't insist that everybody go there.

Franny's I like quite a bit, and as somebody mentioned, it has a lot of other good food too. It's casual, but it's a sit down table waitress knife and fork restaurant, not an old school pizza joint, and other cities have restaurants like Franny's (not all as good).

hmmm...

May 20, 2009
acidity in Manhattan

Help me narrow down my pizza choices...

I can only tell you what I like, in each of the categories I would use, Neapolitan, NY, and modern artisinal:

To me, Una Pizza Napoletana is the best of the Neapolitan's in NY. It is a expensive, 2 small pizzas and a bottle of wine will set you back a hundred bucks with a generous tip... but I don't care, I think most of the rest of the pizza in NYC sucks so I have no choice to get something I want. They have 4 types, which I will describe as straight up pizza (margherita), pizza without cheese, pizza without sauce, and pizza with tomatoes instead of sauce. Their straight up margherita pizza is easily their best.

Luzzo's around the corner is also Neapolitan style has a lot of rustic charm, but the pizza is boring tastewise, not worth the calories if you ask me. The "other" Neapolitan place worth a try is Keste which is relatively new. Near Luzzo's is Artichoke which many people swoon over, but which I dislike as being ... clumsy, that's what it is, and stylistically it they don't fit in the categories, they should be termed round clumsy and square clumsy.

Grimaldis is good, but it's just NY pizza. If I lived near there or I'm around I would eat it. I find Difara (in Brooklyn) to be the great pizza worth travelling for. I have uncovered no interest in their "square slice" but if you love pizza a lot, you will probably like it. I don't think Difara is magic (though it is magical). You can watch him make it, and the trick is clearly in the EVOO poured all over. Good crust, good cheese, good tomato sauce, all are essential, and the fresh basil is a nice touch, but I think the trick is in the EVOO. I have had one "bad boring" one, but ever other time I've had a great one. I always order a whole plain pizza.

I have not tried the other three you mentioned, but I have tried Johns, Arturos, and Lombardis, all of which are NY style pizza and which I might eat at if I lived nearby but not to travel to, but if you plan to eat pizza every day here, you should try them also, and Totonno way off in Coney Island (not sure if that's worth traveling to, but it's not worth traveling past Difara's, that is for certain.

The other pizza I've tried and like is Franny's in Brooklyn, which is not NY or Neapolitan, but more modern artisanal style. In that case I would get the clam.

May 19, 2009
acidity in Manhattan

UES wine bar next to Etats Unis?

And thanks, retracing my searching steps for that listing, I learned a bit about how google works. I've always heard that information in the title of the page is important, and chow.com puts the address in the title, and yelp does not. so, now that the listing is on chow.com (and referenced from a thread), it shows up in the search where it did not yesterday. Yelp is still way down on the address search.

In the future, searching for restaurants by address, need to include site name for the major sites and try them individually.

May 19, 2009
acidity in Manhattan

UES wine bar next to Etats Unis?

I like to try to solve little puzzles like this, so I tried searching by sequential numeric addresses on google maps, and I tried google street view, zoomed in... still no luck.

So, I would suggest, call the Bar at Etats-Unis (212) 396-9928 and ask them.

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Bar @ Etats-Unis
247 E 81st St, New York, NY 10028

May 18, 2009
acidity in Manhattan

Take a chance on Babbo?

Hi jlrobe, since I share both your enthusiasm for pasta, and "ugh on the balsamic reductions" reaction to Babbo, perhaps I can help you better than can people who like the food at Babbo. (This sensible idea will no doubt be greeted with jeers.) Convivio and Scarpetta also do not make the cut for me.

Felidia I have always found to make excellent quality pasta, generally better than I make at home and I'm no slouch, and the sauces strike my palate as nice subtle marriages of classic Italian flavors and methods. Picking all the appetizers and primi that strike your fancy and skipping the secondi is a good idea.

This is not a risky suggestion, the restaurant has looong been recognized as one of the top restaurants in NYC, and the founder, Lidia Bastianich, is the mother of one of the owners of Babbo. So, it has pedigree, history, acclaim, and most important, the endorsement of the Babbo-doesn't-fool-me community.

May 18, 2009
acidity in Manhattan

quest for a historical spot

Barbetta

One of the few restaurants featuring a menu primarily from Piedmont, Italy. Some of the classic dishes need to be ordered in advance (like bagna cauda, and in the winter) so it's worthwhile to call ahead if you are looking for the full Piedmont treatment. Beautiful outdoor garden in good weather.

I don't think this is what you meant, but the restaurant and building are "historic". There is a bunch of info if you click around their website. http://www.barbettarestaurant.com/hom...

Food is perhaps not a great as it could be, but it is not bad, better if you are familiar with classics and are looking for them, less good for people who want a modern Italian blow-out.

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Barbetta
321 West 46th Street, New York, NY 10036

May 10, 2009
acidity in Manhattan

Tourist Seeking Advice: Small Plates, Gastropub and American New

BTW kathryn, I've never been to Kuma so I'll take a look at it, but in the original question jlrobe said "no Asian influenced fusion". I know, hard to keep track of these things as the posting rolls forward :)

May 10, 2009
acidity in Manhattan