E.L. had her birthday dinner here recently. I was pretty stoked because I love Italian food (as you know from my delicious trip to Italy!) and had heard from a number of friends that it was worth going to.
Above average bread quality, but nothing to write home about.
J.L. ordered the Wood Fire Roasted Eggplant ($7.95) with cyprus black sea salt and peperoncino oil. The menu description says it “Melts in your mouth!” None of the other menu items had any descriptors beyond the ingredients, so I felt like this had to be a signature. Also, Wood fire roast anything and I’ll probably love it. Sadly, all of our expectations were way too high. It was mushy, bland, and the skin was really hard, almost like plastic. Not only was it unsavory, the eggplant also lacked its natural sweetness. No bueno!
I had the special, which was a Vongole. Can’t remember how much it was, but all the pasta prices ranged from $12 to $18 ish I believe. I’ve been on a vongole kick lately. As a kid, I never liked non-creamy or non-tomatoey pastas. As an adult, I now love the more subtle garlic and olive oil nuances and the not so subtly infused clam flavor. Deeeeelicious! Spaghetti was thinner than usual, and very al dente. Excuse me while I go wipe off the drool from my laptop… (it’s almost dinner time as I write this, forgive me). Continue reading Lil Frankies: great vongole vongole vongole!→
547 9th Ave (between 40th and 41st street)
New York, NY 10018
This charming, cozy little restaurant is just a stone’s throw away from Times Square. I’m going to be upfront and tell you that Capizzi invited me to come by and try their pizza, but I’m also going to guarantee you that I will always write unbiased reviews, regardless of who is fronting the bill. Having said that, believe me when I tell you that I was very happily surprised that this Midtown West restaurant ended up being a fantastic experience.
I started with a glass of Chianti as I waited for LAW to arrive. They have a bunch of different wines by the glass all for about $13 (can’t remember exactly).
I read the menu and really loved this little bit: “As I got older I realized it’s not just about good food. It was a passion, kind of like a sport, a love affair with food and Nature all rolled up into one.” Definitely resonates with me and the reason I even continue to have a blog in the first place.
When LAW arrived, we started with the special, which was a fresh housemade Burrata with prosciutto, artichokes, roasted peppers, and cherry tomatoes ($13.95). The platter did not look particularly fancy, more just like how you would serve something at home (everything tossed onto a very normal plate). This appetizer represented everything I love about Italian food: super simple and completely determined by the quality of ingredients. The burrata was SO creamy yet light. The tomatoes were perfect: firm, sweet, and juicy. The artichokes and roasted peppers were great as well. I could eat this appetizer all the time. Continue reading A grandmother’s home by Times Square?! Welcome to Cappizi.→
I’ve been to Eataly a countless number of times for fresh pasta, squares of focaccia, some balsamic vinegar, etc., but have never been to the restaurants. The lines are always too long and the reviews too average for me to bother. But since getting back from Italy not too long ago, I’ve been CRAVING Italian food. I’ve been wanting meats, cheeses, wines, pizzas, pastas, ugh! LAW and I were doing some shopping in Flatiron area and decided to “just go to Eataly” since it is right there and we’ve never been.
The wait for La Pizza & La Pasta was an hour so we parked at a corner of a standing table at La Piazza and decided to have some appetizers first. La Piazza is at the center of the bustling supermarket. You find an empty spot and servers come to take your order of various meats, cheeses, and wine. It feels very casual and friendly.
LAW and I shared the Grande Piatto Misto Di Salumi & Formaggi ($22), an assortment of the best meats and cheeses of Eataly. I also had a glass of the Pinot Nero 2011 ($12/glass), a medium bodied fruity red that the server suggested (great suggestion). The platter came with four types of cheeses that ranged in hardness and sharpness. It also came with a salumi, a ham, and three types of prosciuttos. Oh, and ENDLESS delicious sourdoughy bread! So worth the $22. Continue reading I missed Italy so much, I went to Eataly.→
Our final destination: Milan. Milan is a real working city. There are way fewer tourists and much more real life buzzing around. We stayed with my friend L.V., who lives in a gorgeous old Milanese home right by the Castello Sforzesco. They showed us all the sights in Milan and took us to their favorite spots for lunch and dinner.
We started at Convivium (Via Ponte Vetero, 21), a restaurant that L.V. goes to all the time with her parents. Apparently Mr. V goes three times a week for the truffle gnocchi (confirmed, it is that good). The V’s ordered almost everything for us so we just sat back and enjoyed the show. First up, we had this amazing warm flat bread with olive oil, salt crusts, oregano, and rosemary. It was very slightly crisp and mostly soft and chewy.
We also shared a margarita pie. It was made from the same kind of bread as above, so it was just slightly crisp and mostly soft. The tomato sauce and cheese were both very thinly spread on, keeping it light. I tend to like it when the cheese is in globs rather than spread out like this because I like bites of pizza without cheese.
Both L.V. and LAW got the steak with rosemary and pepper on top. The steak was very rare and juicy. With a great cut of meat, all you really need is some basic seasonings to enhance the flavor. Continue reading Italia Week: Milan!→
After Florence, we took a train to Rome and immediately picked up a rental car to drive south to the Amalfi Coast (don’t worry, we wrap around after the Amalfi to Rome). On our way to Amalfi (which is only a three hour drive), we stop in Naples because to visit the birthplace of one of our favorite foods: pizza.
LAW looked up the grittiest little pizza place in Naples for us to stop by for a pie: Antica Pizzeria E Friggitoria Di Mateo (Via dei Tribunali, 94). The place is consistently rated as one of the best, oldest, and most authentic pizzerias in town. The website is in Italian so I could only look at the pictures and it looks like Bill Clinton has been. If it’s good enough for Bill, it’s good enough for me. The place was literally a hole in the wall in a tiny alley.
LAW stayed in the car while I rushed to buy the freshest pies that were coming out of the oven. Two euros a pie. The pie was super simple with just tomato sauce and a piece of mozzarella (that fell off in this photo I think). The crust was very, very chewy, but not as puffy as my favorite from good ol’ NYC Luzzos. The rest of the pie was very thin, soft, and floppy. The tomato sauce tasted like fresh tomatoes mashed up into a pulp with some seasoning. Truly the origins of what pizza is today! Continue reading Italia Week: The Amalfi Coast! (and Naples)→
After playing a couple hours of pretty intense volleyball, a short but tiring game involving a soccer ball, and an hour and 15 minutes of anti-gravity yoga (a story for another time…), LAW and I were starved and so happy to hear that the rest of our crew had already been seated at Gruppo, Posto’s pizza sister located in Alphabet City. When we arrived to join our dinner family, E.C. had already ordered for us. I normally am pretty involved in the ordering process so felt that it was refreshing to have someone else take the lead.
We started with the Strawberries & Pecorino Crostini with toasted ciabatta bread, topped with pecorino cheese, fresh strawberries, fresh basil, and white truffle honey ($9). SO. DAMN. GOOD. Strawberries aren’t in season now so were a bit more tart, which was solved with the delicious truffle honey. The saltiness and creaminess from the cheese gave this crostini a delicious balanced flavor. The fresh basil added a nice herby kick. I am definitely going to make this at home sometime, perhaps with a saltier cheese. Continue reading Gruppo: thin, crisp, and chewy pizzas with lots of flavor→
Woo! New media! This is long overdue but I hope you enjoy nonetheless.
LAW, the very best director I know and my very best eating partner, put this video together for me from our November Paris trip. I’m thinking of doing more of these if people like them – so let me know!
337 E 10th St
(between Avenue B & Avenue A)
New York, NY 10009
I had a slice of Gnocco’s pizza a few months ago when we needed just a snack before drinks at Evelyn, a new “mixology” bar a street over. I was ravenous so wolfed down my slice and thought it was one of the best slices I’d had, comparable to my absolute favorite Luzzo’s. A week or so later, I practically dragged L.C. over, along with B.A., E.C., D.T., and A.P., because I wanted to share my delight in finding a new go-to pizza place in our part of town. This second time around, no less ravenous than last time but far more in the mood to formally critique my food, I found Gnocco just a tad disappointing. We shared some pizzas and pastas and left feeling pretty good, but not Luzzo-tastic.
Pictured above is the Al Salame Piccante ($14.95) with fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, and spicy hot salame. We shared two pizzas as a group and this was one I suggested because it was the one I had tried before. The mozzarella was melted but still slightly springy. It was not too salty, which was fine, because the salame provided the perfect meaty savoriness to the pizza. The edges of the salame were crisp and burnt – delicious. Tomato sauce tasted fresh and was liberally applied. Crust was… good. Crust may have been the only sub-par item compared to Luzzo’s. It was floppy the way I like it but it was not chewy enough. It didn’t have the springy texture that Luzzo’s crust always has. Continue reading Gnocco, exploring Alphabet City.→
211 1st Ave
(between 12th St & 13th St)
New York, NY 10003
I’ve mentioned my favorite pizza place a number of times on my blog because pizza is one of my favorite food groups and to this day, Luzzo’s still amazes me every time I go. It’s not even a comfort food. Every time I take a bite out of the Campana (pictured above: tomatoes, mozzarella, shaved parmesan, cherry tomatoes, and basil for $17), it tastes even better than I remembered. Every time! It’s always juicier, more flavorful, crust chewier, basil more pungent than the last time. So effing good.
But I’ll stop at that and focus on the other dishes now. This here has become one of my favorite pastas in the city. It is the Pappardelle Speck E Porcini, which is made with homemade pasta, speck, porcini mushrooms, and truffle oil. I actually blogged about it briefly before but my experience was not as good. I’ve now had this pasta three times and I think that first time was just an off-day for Luzzo’s. The next two times I had the pasta, it was perfectly al dente and deliciously creamy. The porcini mushrooms had a nice bite to them and of course a very strong shroomy flavor (highlighted even further by the truffle oil) which contrasted nicely with the cream sauce. Speck is very similar to prosciutto as they both come from the hind leg of the pig. However, speck differs in that it is cured after it has been deboned. It is also smoked with a variety of spices, which prosciutto is not. As a result, the ham is slightly less tender than prosciutto but much more complex in flavor. The smokiness went very well with the mushrooms and egg noodles. Definitely one of my favorite pastas.
349 E 12th St
(between 1st Ave & 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003
I’m always on the search for the best pizza in town because it is on my list of favorite foods and New York just has so many “best pizza in town” kinds of places. Bread and tomatoes are some of my most favorite things in the world so you can imagine why pizza would be on that list. Having tried to make pizza many times myself, I know how little they cost to make and how easy it is once you have the right pizza dough recipe (ingredients and timing, both very important!). But between the thickness and consistency of the crust, the the sauce, and the ingredients, the world of pizza is actually pretty damn large. Like people, they come in all shapes and sizes and can vary greatly based on where they come from.
After a long day of volleyball and boardgames, we ordered in so we could… continue playing boardgames. Motorino is the last East Village “best” that I had not tried so we ordered from there. Pictured above is the Brussels Sprouts ($16) pizza with fior di latte (aka. mozzarella made from cow milk, and not buffalo), garlic, pecorino, and smoked pancetta. Brussels sprouts tasted FRESH, not the frozen kind out of a bag. Smoked pancetta was super tasty and crisp along the edges. Cheese was very mediocre and lacked a little flavor. Their crust is pretty thin and becomes very soggy pretty quickly (it might be better to order in at the restaurant for their pizza). The edge of the crust was sort of puffy but lacked the chewiness of Luzzo’s crust. BUT, this pizza was much, much better than L’asso EV’s brussels sprouts pizza.