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Manhattan for 2 1/2 weeks

Recently returned from a 2 1/2 week stay on the UWS.The restaurants reviewed here were all new to us as my wife and I had not been to NYC for about 5 years. We did go to a number of our long time favorites which I will not review here other than to say that we noticed a definite change in the ages of the waitstaff. All the older staff has been replaced with young faces, the inevitability of change.

Eataly: We heeded the warning of potentially large crowds and went for lunch on a weekday, arriving at opening time to look around the entire store first. At about 11:30 we went to be seated and since only a few tables taken we were seated immediately. I expected good food and was not disappointed. We had a pizza first and then one of the specials of the day, tagliatelli made with squid ink and containing calamari and mixed seafood. Both were outstanding, done to perfection. By the time we had finished the restaurant was full and there was a long line waiting for a table. The entire store was also crowded.

Salumeria Rossi: We took a friend to dinner and enjoyed it very much. Excellent ingredients and ample portions served in the style of tapas. The half portion of meats was enough for the three of us and the brussel sprouts were great.

Fratelli la Bufala, Broadway & 76th: Relatively new, having opened a few weeks ago. we ordered a pizza which was very good and a bowl of the Zuppe Di Fave E Formaggio Di Bufala. This was really good but was a small portion for the price. They are still experiencing problems with the service. Some of the staff seems to have no clue that they should be working instead of standing around.

Don Antonio, 309 W 50th St Btwn 8th & 9th Ave: This was the worst place where we have eaten in a long time. We got there for lunch around noon and there were only 2 other tables taken at that time. I ordered a pizza and my wife ordered a panini. Seems simple enough, right? The place started to fill up and finally most tables were taken. After about a half hour I noticed that we were the only table that had no food. Upon questioning the waiter I was told that there was a problem with our order. It seemed that the cook did not know how to make the panini and someone from the outside had to be reached to tell him how to do it. The waiter then brought the pizza which we intended to share. It arrived a soggy mess, wet all the way to the outer crust. Too much sauce on tissue paper thin crust that was lacking in flavor and crispness. Before you tell me that the crust is thin in Napoli be aware that we have been to Napoli numerous times and know what the pizza there is like. Finally the panini arrived and as my wife cut into it one end collapes as it has no filling for one-third of the panini. She opened it up and the filling is not what she ordered. Now I asked to speak to the manager on duty and he told my wife that is the way they make it. I thought blood was going to shoot from her eyes and she told him in no uncertain terms that he has insulted her. They took the panini off the bill and it was returned uneaten. During our visit two other tables had complaints and sent food back. If the cook does not know how to make the menu items why is he cooking? This is ultimately a problem with management and must be resolved if this place intends to survive. As for now I think Don Antonio is over-hyped and I suggest you stay away.

Saravanaa Bhavan, Amsterdam between 79th & 80th: On previous trips we have enjoyed the food at their original location on Lexington and found the location on Amsterdam to be a welcome addition to the UWS.

Europan Bakery & Cafe, Broadway & 78th: Very good baked goods and sandwiches. Worth a try if you need something quick and simple.

Celeste, 502 Amsterdam between 84th & 85th: This was the gem of the visit. We found it on a walk along Amsterdam one evening. Curiosity was piqued when we saw the large group of people outside waiting for a table. I got a card and investigated on line for reviews. We returned the next evening early as suggested and got a table right away. The place filled up quickly. We both liked our dinners so much that we returned two other evenings, something we never do in a city with so many places to try. One of the dinners my wife had was grilled lamb chops which were tender and tasteful. I liked the pastas so much that I didn’t get a chance to try the pizza but it looked like it was done right. Prices are reasonable and service fine. I had an enjoyable conversation with the owner whom I found to be pleasant and humorous. Be prepared to do things his way. Cash only, no reservations. Go before 7 unless you are willing to wait.

Jun 15, 2012
hofame in Manhattan

Buenos Aires pizza plus

This visit to Buenos Aires, our third, I decided to concentrate my writeup on smaller pizza neighborhood places. I didn’t want to rehash the same old parillas that everyone knows by now. I do want to give a short plug to Las Cholas in the Las Canitas neighborhood. Add this to your must try list. I also say with regret that I was very disappointed with La Cabrera this trip. Their quality and flavor has slipped noticeably, particularly in their side dishes which were one of their attractions for us.

My standard for judging is the Napolitana pizza. This is as close as I could get to the real pizza of Napoli but they are still worlds apart. I think a standard is necessary if a reasonable comparison is to be made. I grant that there are many tasty variations concocted in BA and you may have a different preference. All of the reviews here are based on pizza Napoliana.

Morelia, Las Canitas & Palermo Hollywood.Tried it but didn’t like the flatbread it is served on. Not a real pizza by my standards. Yes, I had it “a la perilla”, cooked on the grill.

Lucio, Scalabrini Ortiz & Guemas. Still one of my favorite small restaurants in BA. The pizza is very good and is tops on my neighborhood list. Good pastas also.

Bonjour Pizza, Guemas & Coronel Diaz. A small place that was always busy when I passed. I tried it and found the pizza to be very light and tasty with a flavorful crust. The only one I could eat an entire Pizzeta at and not feel bloated. Second place after Lucio.

Pizza Donna, Santa Fe & Coronel Diaz. A large place that always seemed to pack them in. A bit of a disappointment though. Not much flavor and a mediocre crust.

Kentucky, Santa Fe near the Palermo train station. In business since 1932. Crispy crust with good flavor, good cheese, good sauce. A working man’s lunch place with a stand up counter as well as seating.

Guerin was a must because we had loved it in previous visits and now wanted to test it against another old time pizzaria, Las Cuartetas, Corrientas 8347. We went to Guerin one day and to Las Cuartetas the next. Both are great with some major differences. Guerin is more standard with a thin crust. Their cheese is very salty, resulting in dry mouth which is easily solved by drinking more beer. Las Cuartetas has a less salty cheese but a quite thick crust such as is called a Sicilian style crust in New York. The judgement was that the differences keep them separate but equal in preference. BTW, Las Cuartetas does not call their pizza Napolitana but Mozzarella which is the same style there.

My final thought on the pizza shootout is that there are so many styles that appeal to so many tastes that it is unfair to rate the pizzeria and one is best and another way down the list. What appealed to me one day might be overshadowed the next and then craved again when my desire changed. Try the local pizza where ever you are; you might be surprised at finding a treasure where you didn’t expect it.

Speaking of treasures, here are a few that we stumbled upon by chance.

La Perlita, Jujuy 74. Possibly the best food in this area. Very near to the train station in Once. When you are tired of rooting through all the junk stores in Once head for this oasis in a sea of questionable businesses. Great food and friendly service.

Rodi-Bar Restaurant, Vincente Lopez 1900. A neighborhood favorite for the locals just a few blocks from the cemetery and Plaza Francia.

Lo de Juan, Charcas 2818.You did rent an apartment instead of staying in a hotel room, didn’t you? One of the benefits of doing so is that you can take advantage of the many stores that sell pre-made food to take home. Here is a real gem. Family run with a fairly large menu of very tasty dishes served out by friendly and helpful people. If you are in the area use them by all means.

Sep 20, 2011
hofame in Latin America & Caribbean

Two weeks of chow in Buenos Aires - reviews

Don Julio:

Went here on our first evening. The morcilla as a starter was wonderful, pudding-like inside and done perfectly on the grill. My wife had lomo and I had entrana. Both were tender but unseasoned. Good service. On our last night we returned there and had a half lomo each. Done perfectly. Overall our favorite parilla.

Palacio de las Papas Fritas:

Went for dinner to the location on Laprida. I had Brochettas Mixtas - really good. Both beef and chicken. Beef very tender and tasty, chicken out of this world, tender and full of flavor. Great salad and the papas were the reason to be there. Extra comps, very friendly and warm service. Matambra de tenera tender, delicious and flavorful.

Another day we were on Corrientas and went for lunch. Wife’s Merluza was incredible. A thin topping of Roquefort, cooked in the oven, served with a cream sauce. My Milanesa with egg and red pepper topping was good but didn’t compare to the fish. Of course those great potatoes made up for it. The usual friendly service and comps make the Palacio a good choice always.

La Cabrera:

Morcilla had good flavor but not as smooth as Don Julio. Entrana more tasty but more chewy also. Lomo perfect with good flavor. Usual great 16 sides. Upon leaving my wife forgot her purse. Our waiter found it and chased us down the street with it. He wouldn’t accept the money I offered in gratitude.

El Preferido de Palermo: Borjes and Guatemala

Our favorite for fish in BA. We shared a Casuela de Mariscos, casserole similar to paella. Scallops in shell, muscles, clams, large prawns, octopus, squid, shrimp, unidentified delicious fish over moist Spanish rice with roasted red peppers, peas and other vegetables. Great salad with tomatoes all around topped with arucala.

El Guerrin: Corrientes, Av. 1368 near Uraraguay

A BA acquantance who eats a lot of pizza in many places said that this is the best in all of BA. While I can not make the same statement from personal experience I will say that this is by far the best I have had in BA. The Napolitana was excellent. Highly recommend.

Via Via:

In San Telmo on Chile one block off Defensa. Raviola and Torta Pueros. Like a quiche with mainly onion and potatoes. Very good, reasonably priced.

El Trapiche:

Morcilla good but in third place after La Crebera. Salad completo very good. Entrana nicely seasoned but half was a bit tough. It came covered with a large roasted red pepper - very delicious. Service was quite bad, slow and impersonal, even though we were there early and the place was not yet full. We asked for butter for the bread and the waiter brought two pats which was ok but there was a charge of four pesos for it. I have never had this happen before and don’t know if it is exclusive to this restaurant or not.

Canal:

We found Canal by accident, walking down Cervino looking for a lunch place. They had a special for 24-25 May of Locro. We both ordered it and it was perfect. We had a good time along with a bottle of Malbec and enjoyable service. Highly recommend. Corner of Salguero.

La Josefina: Lafinur 3006

Ravioli Cordero, stuffed with lamb pieces and topped with a lamb sauce. Absolutely excellent. The best pasta dish I had this trip.

La Parolaccia: Riobamba off Santa Fe

Disappointing. Fish dry. Was supposed to be sole but was cod. Did they think the difference wasn’t noticable? Overpriced and pretentious.

Odisea: Olazabal 1767 near railroad tracks

We went out to Belgrano one day to explore the Chinatown. It took about three blocks and was disappointing so we wandered and found this. Very good food, attentive service, reasonable prices.

Guido: Cervino 3943

A cute place with decent Italian food. We found this one in our wanderings and decided to give it a try. Fresh salad greens. Tasty amuse bouche arrived on our table first. What spoiled this place for us was that a charge of $5 appeared on our bill for the amuse bouche. Since my Spanish is not good enough to argue the point I paid the charge but even though this is a small amount they lost any future patronage from us.

Secretos: Ugarteche 3154

Kind of average. Nothing I would return to.

Lucio: Scalabrini Ortiz corner of Guemes

Visited two years ago and liked it. Returned twice this trip. Had pizza the first lunch. Good but not as good as I had the first time. The second lunch I had Sorentinos Patagonicos Guer Aike (Ravioles rellena de hongos patagonicos acobijados en suave salsa de girgolas) and it was fabulous. A close second to the Ravioli Cordero at La Josefina. A very nice place when you want something Italian.

To walk all this food off we took a couple of free city tours. Our guide was very entertaining and I recommend these. See WWW.bafreetour.com

Jun 05, 2010
hofame in Latin America & Caribbean

Back from SF - restaurant reviews

Tadich Grill
240 California St
We had the ciopino and a grilled branzino. Excellent seafood. Original old interior. Highly recommend.

Perbacco's
230 California St
The best Italian we had in the city. Very imaginative menu, not the same old. We went for dinner and again for lunch, the only place that we deemed worthy of a repeat. Don't miss it.

Bocadillos
710 Montgomery St
Very good tapas. Very noisy.

Pakwan
3182 16th Street
Excellent cheap indian/pakistani. Absolutely great food for a low price. Be aware that there is no wait service. You must order at the front counter when you go in and pay then. You are given a number and when it is called go to the side counter and get the food yourself. Get drinks near the front counter. If you go in directly to a table you will sit there for a long time with nothing happening as the frenetic pace of the place does not encourage anyone to come to your aid. Observe for a few minutes and you will see how it works.

Good Frikin’ Chicken
# 10 – 29th Street
This was a big disappointment. The chicken was a dry rubbery patty that might have come from Costco. I had a lamb schwarma that did not standout in any way. Service was friendly but our server was on another planet. Not worth the trip.

Great Eastern
649 Jackson Street
Very good, somewhat upscale. Food well prepared.

Bund Shanghai
We tried this for the steamed dumplings with soup stuffed with crab and pork. The dough was light and translucent. Not much soup inside, just what was mixed in with the stuffing.

Bow Hon
850 Grant Ave
Fish Salad is wonderful. Other offerings delicious also. Photo below.

A16
2355 Chestnut St,
I wanted to see if the pizza was indeed the equivalent of Da Michele in Napoli as has been claimed. It is not. It looks similar when it is served but that's where it ends. The dough was flavorless and undercooked. The cheese was also flavorless. The sauce was good but not equal to Napoli. My wife had two other dishes that were nothing special. A big let down after all the hype.

Mamacita
2317 Chestnut St
Excellent Mexican. Different and inventive menu. One of the better meals we had.

The Stinking Rose
325 Columbus Ave
We stopped in for a Garlic Martini before dinner but did not eat here. The martini was very good and loaded with garlic. An interesting combo.

Trattoria Volare
561Columbus Ave
Run of the mill Italian

Original US Restaurant
515 Columbus Ave
Another run of the mill Italian

May 11, 2009
hofame in San Francisco Bay Area

Indian

My wife and I had lunch at Saravanaa kast week. She had the Masala Dosa which was very good and I had the Dried Fruit Rava Dosa which was outstanding. The memory of he tastes remained with us for quite a while. Highly recommend.

Oct 19, 2008
hofame in Manhattan

Buenos Aires food report

My wife and I recently spent two weeks in BA. Our first week was at Teresita’s B&B in Adrogue, a very nice small suburb about a half hour from downtown.Teresita runs a cooking school there which is absolutely super. Her empanadas were the best we had and the parilla is spectacular.

For the second week we rented an apartment in the Palermo area. Despite BA’s reputation for not having much fish we had very good fish at El Preferido de Palermo located on the corner of Borges and Guatemala. The restaurant entrance is on the side of the building, bar entrance on the corner.

Arguably the best meal we had in BA was at Divina Patagonia. I had roast loin of venison and my wife had a lamb dish, both flavorful and excellent.

An unplanned but interesting lunch stop found us at El Palacio dela Papa Frita. They have several locations and we were at the one on Av. Corrientas 1612. Their Papas Fritas are supposedly a secret recipe that is a souffle potato, sort of like a french fry skin, very light, without a center. Very good as were their entrees.

A big disappointment for us was La Cabrera. The lomo was tough, as was the pork that my wife had. Their side dishes are a nice touch but they didn’t make up for the meat. I don’t know what happened, perhaps they are coasting on their reputation or not buying the highest quality meats to increase profit margin. The place is definitely not worth the wait. We had great lomo at La Trapiche that restored my faith in Argentine beef. As a bonus there was no line and no wait. Mostly locals inside.

We could stuff ourselves only once a day and tried to eat one lighter meal. A really good one was found in Palermo at “a Manger” at Charcas 4001 on the corner of Malabia. Great bread, sandwiches and light entrees. Wash everything down with Malbec.

Nov 19, 2007
hofame in Latin America & Caribbean

Orlando recommendations

Tampa Bay area hound had to go to Orlando for a three day trade show last week. We try to avoid Orlando/Kissimmee if at all possible due to the generally terrible food served. Thanks to this board for recommending La Coq au Vin; it was very good and as previously described. On the way there we spotted a German restaurant, Bauern-Stube, and went there the following evening. Very good food, six German beers on tap, friendly and effiicient service, very reasonable prices (entrees $9.95-17.) No tourists, strictly locals. Located about a half-hour drive from the convention center at 8015 S Orange Ave (SR 527). Take any major road in the area heading south to SR 527, turn left (east)., restaurant on right hand side just east of Sand Lake Rd. 407-857-8404

May 18, 2007
hofame in Florida