Archive for the ‘Restaurant Reviews’ category

It’s the tastiest sandwich you’ve never had

October 11, 2009

Just a hungry thought on a lazy Sunday…

I’ve eaten so many sandwiches, so many ways…  heros, grinders, subs, wraps, paninis, and more, I’ve rocked ’em all. I’ve written about cheesesteaks from Philly, Pastrami from New York, BBQ from Austin, Hot Dogs from Chicago, Burgers from just about anywhere, and of course, Roast Beef and Mozz from Hoboken.

Yet, after all my searching, there may be no finer sandwich in all the land than the much-discussed Num Pang pulled duroc pork spiced with honey, topped with cucumber, pickled carrots, cilantro and chili mayo on fresh baked Parisi bread.

It’s become impossible to visit Union Square in NYC without eating one… or two.  Go try ASAP — 21 E. 12th St. (near University)

Small sandwich, powerful flavor

Small sandwich, powerful flavor

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Mex Recs from the Summer of ’69

September 6, 2009

One part randomness + one part Canadian + a splash of tequila equals the first truly good Manhattan Mexican recommendation I’ve received to date.

It was Bryan Adams… yes, that Bryan Adams…  Summer of ’69 Bryan Adams who more than two years ago suggested to me that the tiny West Village eatery, Mexicana Mama, was perhaps the best Mex joint in the City. Doubting the Canadian rocker-turned-photog’s (is that an oxymoron?) knowledge of south-of-the-border fare, I brushed it off and continued dining with friends at the standard city Mexican restaurants (Dos Caminos or El Rio Grande for hallucinogenic margs).

It’s important to note that prior to my visit to Mexicana Mama, I was fresh off a trip to perhaps the Tex-Mex capital of the U.S. , Austin, Texas (where I was treated to a delicious Tortilla Crusted Tilapia… another post for another day), making me that much more skeptical.

Well today I swallow my pride, and wash it down with a Dos Equis Amber… apologies to you Mr. Adams, as your recommendation was correct…  Mexicana Mama, with only a handful of tables and a limited menu serves up an incredible bounty of flavors through its dishes.  Extra points here for eliminating margarita mix and opting for true Tequila and Fresh Lime Juice Margs!

Keeping with the music theme, a trip to the bathroom actually requires a backstage pass… well, not really, but it does force a trip through the kitchen offering a behind-the-scenes look at some fresh meats, veggies and melted cheeses adjusting to their floury tortilla homes..

Chihuahua Cheese and Chorizo for all… and well, the guacamole could be all for one, or one for all

Not Much Room To Rock...

Not Much Room To Rock...

Back in the kitchen

June 15, 2009

Dear blog of mine, it’s been far too long and miss you, I do.

Since we last spoke, I dined at CulinAriane, food-modeled for La Fonda Del Sol, toured the Upstate New York wine country, chowed on the best that the Bahamas had to offer and pigged-out at the NYC BBQ block party… and yet, despite all of that,  I’ve found no reason to share my experiences with you?

My apologies for having been missing in action for so long, it won’t happen again! I’m back and believe me, I’m hungry.

More to come, including updates on the previously mentioned culinary experiences.

Why? Because IAteItMyWay… That’s why!

Strikin' a pose at one of NYC's hottest new Tapas Spots

Strikin' a pose at one of NYC's hottest new tapas spots

All bow to Eric Ripert… the true Top Chef

February 4, 2009

I don’t think this episode deserves the standard Top Chef recap.

What we saw this week was not a culinary competition… it was culinary education. Since early-December I’ve wanted to write about Le Bernardin, specifically to discuss the unbelievable dining experience I had there. Unfortunately, until now, I simply didn’t know what to say.

Of all the episodes this season, I felt that this was the most interesting from both a viewing and learning perspective. To see how nervous and excited the chefs were, kind of said it all. Even the judges seemed elated to be given such a unique experience. Mr. Ripert himself even seemed surprised at the praise of Toby Young, a critic typically known for his harsh rhetoric and not his endless praise.

Food Mecca at 155 W. 51st St.

Food Mecca at 155 W. 51st St.

I was pleased to see Fabio applauded for his job of  mimicking the Red Snapper dish. I have tried this dish and can tell you first hand that I’ve simply never had a better cooked piece of fish. From the sauce to the razor-thin slice of sourdough that serves as the faux-crust, the dish is flawless.

All-in-all it appeared that the judges were impressed with the chefs understanding of each dish. Let’s face it… no one is going to do it quite like Mr. Ripert… then again, how easy is it to recreate a Michelin 3-star, NYTimes 4-star and Zagat 28 menu?

Should I get the opportunity to return to Le Bernardin, you can bet that I’ll be trying that Lobster/Asparagus. Hopefully, that opportunity will be sooner, rather than later!

2 dudes, 8 chins, 12 slices

January 26, 2009

Should you be a regular visitor to my blog, you may have caught a recent post where I reference some of my favorite pizza joints around Jersey… today, with great respect, I bow down to my neighbors to the east in what I must deem: The greatest pizza I’ve ever had.

I was told over and over again by a group of insistent Staten Islanders  that I need to trek out to Bensonhurst (Bklyn) and give L&B Spumoni Gardens a fair shot… well, I finally did, and, needless to say, for the past three days I have not been able to stop eating… and apologizing for my ignorance.

Fresh, hot, cold, re-heated, microwaved…it just doesn’t matter. This pizza is the truth. It’s safe to assume that below a layer of tomato sauce, beneath a hidden layer of cheese and a crisp, well-done Sicilian crust are the answers to some of the world’s greatest questions.

24 slices... 12 to eat, 12 for later

24 slices... 12 to eat, 12 for later

Do yourself a favor, take the Lincoln to the west side, to the battery park, down the belt, past the Verrazanno,  beneath the D Line and down 86th St.  for a guaranteed appetite pleasing experience. It’s well worth the $25+ in tolls. WoW!

Pie-O-My

January 13, 2009

So Midtown Lunch decided to compile a list of the best pizza in Midtown Manhattan. Because I work in the area, I can assure you from first hand experience…  although these may be the best, they are nothing to write home (or a blog) about.

Of course, as most things do, this got me thinkin’… what pizza is worth writing about? 

Naturally, I crossed the Hudson River to prepare my list of the Best Pizza in New Jersey. With respect to Pete Genovese and the Star-Ledger Munchmobile, below are my choices for Jersey’s top slices…

  • Pizza Town USA– Recently re-introduced to the tasty and seemingly always open stop just off exit 157 in Elmwood Park
  • Grimalidi’s– So maybe we stole it from Brooklyn, but this pizza has brought the brick oven to Hoboken
  • Carmine’s– The pizza I grew up on… way out in Netcong, NJ
  • The Godfather – Stop in East Hanover for the ultimate toppings from Bruschetta to Baked Ziti
  • Pete & Elda’s/ Carmen’s Pizzeria – After the beach, a stop in Neptune City  should be the first order of business down the shore… paper thin XXL
  • Lodi Pizza – Another great stop along Rt. 46
  • Rocco’s – It got me through college and greatly improves the Madison food scene
  • Lido’s Pizza – Back to Hackensack, my birthplace, for more paper thin crust
A slice of heaven! Rarely a leftover at Pete  & Elda's

A slice of heaven! Rarely a leftover at Pete & Elda's

While I’m not an expert, I do have respect for pizza from the 5-boroughs… for more info check out I Dream of Pizza… hoping for some L&B real soon (ya hear that, pags?)

Il Mulino: 3rd and Sullivan, New York City

December 21, 2008

Quick hit thoughts: An absolute food orgy, consult your accountant first

  • Food: A :The freshest I have ever tasted. You could still hear the moo from the meat and taste the dirt on the veggies (well, not really, but it was damn fresh)
  • Service: A+ : 20 tables and about 20 waiters/bus boys. ’nuff said
  • Decor: B+ : Romantic but dark. A little cramped up front
  • Price: $$$$$$ – consider refinancing your house before you order

It didn’t take long to realize that this was going to be a special dining experience. Perhaps not the easiest place to get a reservation, and from what I hear, sometimes reservations still warrant an hour or two wait in the small, cramped and dark bar area… however, once at your table, let the games begin.

Upon being seating, you are introduced to both your waiter (who is merely a player on the extensive team of servers you will deal with… a team so good they could compare to Jordan’s Bulls in the 90’s) and a plethora of food, bread and cheese to sample. Our table’s tastings included chunks of Parmigiano-Reggiano, bruschetta with mussels, fried zucchini, and a bread basket that could rival a laundry basket… just for sitting there, this was not ordered.

After the first course (a meal for some) we opted for a pasta, a salad and an entree each.

  • Porcini Mushroom Ravioli ($25 for half order (6) $50 for full (12) – Unbelievable taste… If it wasn’t apparent earlier, the food is the freshest I have ever had.
  • Tomato/Mozzarella (2 slices of Fresh Mozz an 2 slices of Tomato $18 pp) – The rip-off of the evening. I’ll make it simple for ya… Was it good? Yes! Was it worth it? No!
  • Entrees: Stuffed Veal Chop ($55) and Pappardelle w/ Tomato and Homemade Sausage ($39) – The veal chop was incredible. On the plate it looked like something right out of the Flintstones, stuffed with Fontina cheese and covered in mushrooms. The Pappardelle was great, the sausage was sausage… definitely good, but not something I would consider a must.

I tend to do most of my dining in Jersey, however, on occasion, certain New York restaurants interest me enough to cross the river and try. Three things I try to keep in mind when dining in the Big Apple…

  • Don’t trust the reviews
  • Bring your wallet
  • Prepare for poor portion sizes

With Il Mulino, the portions were as big as you could imagine, my concerns about price applied more than ever and the reviews, at least regarding the food/service, were dead on.

Total bill for two was nearly $275 (incl. tax/tip)… we only had a glass of house Sangiovese each ($18 pp). For some this may be nothing, but it was a bit steep for classic Italian dishes. I will be back again, hopefully on someone else’s dime the next time!

A concern: They have also started opening these up around the country… Miami, Vegas, Atlantic City, etc… this scares me. I assume quality will remain the same, but buyer beware.

 

il-mulino86 W 3rd St (West Village)
New York, NY 10012
(212) 673-3783

www.ilmulinonewyork.com