January 31, 2011

Restaurant Week: A Voce

Restaurant Week (edit--which just got extended until the end of Feb!!) is a great time to try more expensive spots for a little less coin, which is why my friend & I snapped up a late lunch reservation at A Voce in the Flatiron District.

I arrived a few minutes early so I sat at the bar and asked the bartender to recommend a good red. He pointed to a Nero d'Avola from Sicily, which is also on special--$27 for the bottle, an excellent deal. A quick sniff of this red and I smelled a basketful of fruit--raspberry, cherry, black raspberry. It tasted even better--fruity, rich, not too sweet. A stellar suggestion.

My friend arrived soon and I took my wine with me to our table. She sat ont he banquette against the wall while I took the chair. Normally the person sitting in the seat gets the short stick, but these chairs are super comfy--I could have stayed there all day!

The bread came with some olive oil that was just too bitter for me. It had a fruity flavor at first, but a long-lasting bitter finish that I did not like.

For the first course, my friend ordered the apple salad with walnuts, root vegetables. Her salad was bright, fresh, crisp, and probably one of the most interesting and enjoyable salads I've had in a while. We definitely tasted some orange zest in there, a nice touch.

I don't normally get pasta at restaurants, but I am a sucker for some mezzaluna. They're like ravioli but usually so much thinner and lighter. These were just lovely well--with just a drizzle of sage butter and olive oil, just enough of the spinach-ricotta filling. Divine. I wanted more of course, but this was lovely.

Had I not just had squab at The Modern, I'd have opted for Patty's dish: Cornish hens over sautéed Swiss chard and big beans. This was a mouth-watering medley of dark meat, crispy skin, and scintillating spices.

I opted for the meatballs in broth--a dish I'd heard was one of their specialties. The meatballs were mini-orbs of meat and spices--lamb, veal, fennel, and seriously almost-searing red pepper.

I have never seen such tiny dices--how did they do this? I ate up every bite, drop, bit of this dish.

Much like my dessert at The Modern, I opted for another chocolate bombe type--this time it was chocolate semifreddo. I wasn't expecting it to be THIS good, honestly. Imagine the childhood favorite, The Fudgesicle, then imagine it ramped up and classed up and densely chocolately. Wow. Even Patty was impressed with this! It was wonderful.

I didn't expect much of Patty's order: a cannoli made of a wrapped pizzelle cookie with blood orange sorbet. The depth of this dish blew away both of us. My chocolate semifreddo was really, really good. THIS dessert, however, was phenomenal. I would come back just for a glass of that Nero d'Avola and this cannoli.

Seriously--how did they pack so much flavor into such a tiny treat?

We were there right as lunch service was ending, so Patty enjoyed her coffee while we caught up with each other. Once again I was amazed that such small portions could have us feeling so full at the end--it definitely made me rethink how much we eat without realizing it!

The vibe at A Voce was much more laid-back than I expected. Granted, that could very much have been due to the late hour, but still, we felt very welcome, very relaxed, and we were definitely well-fed.

This was a delicious and enjoyable lunch...not enough to topple The Modern from my list of favorites, but good in its own right, and that blood orange sorbet is worth a return visit.

A Voce
41 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10010
(212) 545-8555

January 28, 2011

Easy-Peasy Pulled Pork

3 ingredients, one pot, and effortless cooking add up to one delicious dish!
How easy is THAT!?

ABF recently joined the ranks of We Who Love Our Slow Cookers. He browsed through the pamphlet that came with his appliance, and we saw a 3-ingredient recipe for pulled pork. Simple, cheap, AND delicious? Don't mind if we do!

January 26, 2011

Angelo's Pizza

After our Curls Night Out, That Sara & I stopped at Angelo's Pizza for a quick bite. It was on the way on 57th as we walked from Ouidad Salon to the subway, so why not?

I ordered a glass of cabernet to start--can't go wrong there! The wine was okay, nothing super noteworthy.

Sara ordered the pasta with sundried tomatoes and mushrooms in a cream sauce and shared some with me.

It was good, but not amazing. It was missing a little something, a little pizzazz, so I added some cracked black pepper to kick it up a bit.

Our food came quickly and our server was nice, so we did enjoy ourselves as we caught up (and often tossed our freshly-curled manes).

It wasn't bad at all, just not good enough to warrant a special trip just for this.

Angelo's Pizza
117 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
(212) 333-4333

January 25, 2011

Famous Dave's BBQ

While stranded in the city during one of our many snowstorms, some coworkers and I wandered a few steps from the office to get an actual away-from-the-desk dinner. I hadn't realized there was a Dave's Famous BBQ in Times Square. ABF & I go once a year or so to the Long Island location. Their smoked salmon dip is beyond craveable, so I thought that might be worth a trip to this one.

First thing I noticed on the menu: they don't HAVE the smoked salmon dip at this location. BLAST!

We'd all worked long days and were pretty tired after sleeping on rock-hard hotel mattresses, so two of us started with their Happy Hour specials: draft beers for 3 dollars. Yes, THREE dollars. We each got a Blue Moon (one of the few beers I really enjoy).

I ordered the Devil's Spit (what a name) burger because it claimed to have quite a kick. It had the Devil's Spit BBQ sauce, pepper-Jack cheese, jalapeno bacon and "Hell-Fire" pickles. However, the burger was not really spicy, and the pickles were sweet--feh. I removed the pickles and ate most of the burger, but didn't think it was noteworthy by any stretch.

Speaking of Devil's Spit, that's just one of the names of their house BBQ sauces, and one of my favorites. But my all-time favorite? The Rich N Sassy!

Yeah, that's a keeper.

Patty ordered the pulled chicken sandwich, and she liked it, but wasn't over the moon for it. It sure did look super cheesy and tasty to me.

Our friend Melanie (of Epi-Curious) ordered the salad with crispy chicken. It was a huge, fresh serving, with a tiny corn muffin on the side. She seemed to really enjoy it, and they got her specific order (dressing on the side, no this, no that) just the way she wanted it, including extra tomatoes (even though the server accidentally wrote down NO tomatoes!), so that's good.

Our server was great and attentive, the food came quickly, and it was fine. It wasn't outrageously priced either, which is rare for that area. I still prefer the Westbury (Long Island) location, but if you're desperate for a meal and in that normally overpriced area, stop in for a bite, especially during Happy Hour!

Famous Dave's BBQ
171 West 47th Street
New York, NY 10036
(212) 764-1899

January 24, 2011

RW: Thoroughly Modern Deliciousness

**UPDATE! Restaurant Week has been extended until February 27th--it's not too late to get a delicious meal at a delicious price. **

The Modern is one of my favorite spots for a transcendant meal in New York City. Despite the sleek, chic surroundings, you can get a really good value at this spot, especially during Restaurant Week! And even if it weren't reasonable, this place qualifies as worth the splurge, any time of year.

January 23, 2011

Applejack Diner

I finally stopped in for lunch with a friend at a place I've passed for years: Applejack Diner. I walked by it every day for 4 years when I worked at the talk show, but never went inside. I met my friend L for lunch on a cold, snowy day and she suggested this spot!

The menu is overwhelming: page after page of distractingly good possibilities (and breakfast all day!) It took me a good while to settle on the green salad with turkey, veggies, and bacon. I think you know what clinched it for me (psst! It was the bacon).


L ordered the French onion soup, and it looked cheesily fantastic. One look at that super-tempting tendril of cheese and I swore to come back and order this myself.

Doesn't it look absolutely divine?

She also ordered the meatloaf special, which came with a generous serving of brown gravy on the side, green beans, and a baked potato. A feel good Sunday dinner on a weekday. I tried a bite of the meatloaf and it was oniony, tasty, and not at all dry. Plus? Gravyyyyyyy....

Even better than the food was the service--our server was really insistent that we enjoy our food--when I wasn't sold on the salad she told me to try it, and promised that if I didn't love it, she'd whisk it away and bring back something I would like. Her assuring tone sold me, and I was quite happy with the fresh, crunchy, satisfying salad.

If you're wandering around Midtown, stop in at Applejack and enjoy!

Applejack Diner
1725 Broadway (at 55th St)
New York, New York 10019
(212) 586-6075

January 19, 2011

Via Quadronno

I met a friend on the Upper East Side, which at times can be, yes, pricey. This gem of a cafe, however, is not!

It is narrow, though. Don't come in with a backpack or a large dog! We tucked ourselves into a tight corner and started with steaming lattes ($4.50). These were piping hot and expertly prepared, from the strong, powerful flavor to the pretty foam touches.

We each got an apricot-filled croissant($3.50)...mamma mia. They do NOT skimp on the lush, bright filling, and I love them for it.

My friend ordered the ham and cheese pressed sandwich ($5)--look at the oozy, cheesy goodness! I should have gotten this.

I ordered the prosciutto and cheese (also $5), and it was okay, but I so would get the ham next time. The prosciutto, obviously, was much drier than the ham, and I think I would have preferred the velvety texture of my friend's sandwich.

While I don't normally spend $4.50 for a latte, this splurge was worth it, and the rest of the meal was quite affordable/worth it to me. If you're in this area, definitely pop in. I'll have to come back to sample the eye-catching desserts.

Via Quadronno
25 E 73rd St
New York, NY
212) 650-9880

January 18, 2011

Birthday Dinner at Cabana

Happy Birthday, ABF! For my Awesome BoyFriend's birthday this year, I took him to one of our favorite restaurants. He really wanted their shrimp fritters and some chimichurri-slathered skirt steak. The Seaport location was closed for a private party (WHAT!?), so we trekked to the Upper East Side, the location where I first sampled their wonderful, wonderful food when I moved here 10 years ago (10!!? Already?!?)

January 16, 2011

Clovis Point Vineyards

Welcome to all my new visitors! After reading this post, feel free to browse my other Long Island Vineyard posts--just click here...and won't you add my blog to your daily reading?? Thanks for visiting, and come back often!

ABF & I ventured out east to visit a new spot: Clovis Point Vineyards. I'd purchased a private tasting/cheese plate/tour combo from them via Living Social, but we hadn't been able to get out there until today. We ended up getting there just about 20 minutes before closing, and Brian, the sole worker at that point, told us we could easily reschedule. They have been incredibly nice about extending the coupon and accomodating us, and they really didn't have to be. ABF & I appreciated that.

January 14, 2011

Eat like a VIP

We got the VIP treatment this week, and I really, really enjoyed it. WHAT a difference it makes when a restaurant really makes you feel welcome...this spot is already in the running for Best of 2011 on Stuff I Ate!

My friend Jen A invited ABF & me to join her and her BF, Tom, at their favorite Italian spot in Williamsburg ( the so-called 'hipster' area in Brooklyn). Williamsburg is fun; they have great bars, restaurants, clubs, etc, but the one (and major) drawback for me is that the L train is pretty much the only way to get there. When that L train is not running well (like it was that Friday night), getting there can be a ROYAL pain in the butt. All that drama, however, IS. WORTH. IT...if you go to Patricia's Pasta & Pizza.
The first thing I noticed: big ol' bottles of red wine on every table. Oh yes, this is my kinda place.

The traditional red-checkered tablecloths were a nice touch, too. Red wine, red checks, we have liftoff for a good old Italian ambiance!

Also already on deck: heavily, wonderfully-spiced olive oil and bread fresh from the wood-fired oven. The oil had tons of oregano, basil, cracked black pepper and other spices...sooooo good.

Our server greeted us immediately and asked if we'd been there before. Jen & Tom definitely have visited more than once, but ABF & I admitted it was our first time. The server suggested we have the Kitchen tastings, in which they just bring you dish after dish of deliciousness at the chef's discretion. Um, YES!

First up: burrata cheese with roasted tomatoes, red onion, and roasted red peppers. This was wonderful, and it went to a new level of awesome when spread over a piece of olive-oil brushed bread.

Next came what was one of my favorite dishes of the night: Seafood salad--so fresh you could hear the waves on the shore. Tender squid and delicious octopus--I could have stopped here and been sooo happy.

I'm more than a little obsessed with octopus these days. My trip to Niko's just fueled the fire---THIS dish at Patricia's made the flame burn eternally.

Next up? The most perfect, tear-inducing, breath-taking artichoke I ever did taste. Each treasured bite was beyond belief.
Have you ever had an artichoke damn near melt in your mouth? *sigh*

And then we moved on to buttery broiled shrimp paired with amazing eggplant rollatini. Yes...scrumptious.

Continuing with our seafood theme, calamari coated in rich, mild tomato sauce...another high point of our meal! Jen & I kept going back for 'one more forkful' of this. Tender, not rubbery, so tasty.
We had no sooner had our third forkful of calamari when out came a steaming plate of lobster, fresh from the wood-fired oven.
We tore right into this dish, too!
And look! Hot towels and lemon wedges for post-crustacean clean-up!

And this, dear readers, was one of the most delectable dishes I ever did have--somehow we called these 'money bags,' but I might be getting the actual name a bit wrong. They were tender, soft pouches of pasta around melty, cheesy goodness in a vodka sauce with mushrooms. Oh my word.

The final pasta dish was my least favorite--orrechiette (ear-shaped) pasta with a tomato-based sauce. This was fine, but it wasn't as notably awesome as everything else we'd sampled. I only took a bite or two of these before going back for more money bags.

At this point, I wasn't sure I could eat one more bite of food. Lord have mercy. Then we got the dish o' meat: chicken cacciatore and marvelously-marinated steak. As full as we were, we still managed to eat a few bites of these two dishes.
Mamma mia--I needed a breather at this point. We did have a little time to sit back and start digesting...but it wasn't long before a plate of desserts arrived...
We all groaned a sort of 'no way can we finish this' groan when we saw Oreo cheesecake, nutella turnovers, and a tortoni (ice cream with a cherry in the middle, wrapped in a chocolate shell). Holy showstopper. Opinions varied on these dishes.

I wasn't crazy about the tortoni, but I've never been a fan. It wasn't bad at all, it's just not my thing. ABF loves them much more than I do, so after I took a bite or two, I gave the rest to him. I'd rather save my calories for something else, like.....nutella!

I was MUCH more interested in the nutella crepes/turnovers. Holy moley. Melty, nutty Nutella in buttery layers of pastry. What's not to like? The Oreo cheesecake was good, too, but not as outrageously melt-in-your-mouth heavenly to me as this crepe. I noticed I was the only one really kvelling over the crepe, and that's fine with me!

When our bill came, we all inwardly cringed, but it was shockingly, and I do mean shockingly, affordable. This FEAST and wine for 50 dollars a person! I know it's not cheap, but what a deal considering the stellar service and superlative samplings we ate. I cannot wait to go back here, and I cannot wait to go back again after THAT.

Patricia's Pizza & Pasta
35 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 218-9272

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