I'd say there were only two places that I probably wouldn't go back, and not because the food was bad, but it paled in comparison to the others. Our first night there (Wednesday), we took a tip from my sister-in-law and headed to Dell'anima in the West Village. It was a cozy little place, lit by candlelight (thus no pictures...too dark) and bustling with lots of people. Luckily we made a reservation, so we were seated right in the middle of the action.
We started with an assortment of bruschette, picking three of the four kinds of spreads: cannellini with preserved lemon and aleppo (a kind of pepper); rapini pesto with walnuts and pecorino romano; and roasted red pepper with smoked almond and pecorino romano. Then I had an oriecchiette dish that was so delish, but the star of the night had to be the side of Brussels sprouts. They were the best I have ever had, and that is no embellishment. So, for those of you living in the city, if you go here, you might just want to get a plate of those and call it a night. I kinda wish I had. :)
|Photo courtesy of Food = L.O.V.E. NYC (see that doughnut peeking from behind the glass??)|
Thursday night, after my little thrifting adventure on 23rd, we headed to the East Village and ate at Back Forty, which was recommended to us by our friend Kristi. And let me just buffer this next statement with my saying I know I sound like I'm exaggerating, but the following is true: best meal I've ever had. The owner, Peter Hoffman, is also owner of Savoy, and his goal for Back Forty, according to the website, is to bring a restaurant to the East Village that offers high-quality, reasonably priced, super local food...and I think he succeeded, big time.
Again, it was very low-lit, so none of the photos really turned out (trust me, I tried!), but that won't stop me from sharing what we had. First was one of the specials, which was a Parker loaf, and I don't think it lasted longer than five minutes. It was so light and fluffy on the inside, with an amazing, crunchy crust. And they served it with a compound butter that was to die for.
As if that weren't enough carbs, we splurged and had some of the homemade fries with rosemary and sea salt...I don't think I need to even say anymore about them. Then for an entree I had the pappardelle with kabocha squash, raisins and I think walnuts (might have been pecans). They even pureed a little bit of the squash to break up the texture a bit, and I scarfed it down. Before we got there, we had decided to get dessert somewhere closer to our hotel, but after we finished dinner, we thought we'd be fools not to stay there for a sweet treat, so we split an order of homemade doughnuts with a plum-ginger glaze and oh...my...lord...I thought I was in heaven. Throughout the whole meal, I kept looking and the hubs and saying, "This is SO good, isn't it? I can't believe how good everything is!" Eventually he just smiled and kept eating, ignoring the fact that his wife was slowly going insane.
Friday morning we went to Amy's Bread for a late breakfast, which the hubs's mom said we should try, and I'm so glad we did. We went to the location in Hell's Kitchen, which was a teeny-tiny, very narrow little bakery that had a line going out the door (always a good sign).
While we waited we drooled over scores of breads, pastries, even sandwiches, all made in-house.
I ended up going with the Manhattan Breakfast, which was two bread twists with jam and a cup of tea. I got the rosemary bread twist and one with chocolate chips (with a pomegranate-raspberry jam...yum). The hubs had the Parisian Breakfast, which was half a baguette with jam and butter, and a cup of coffee. Then for later we snagged a pumpkin-cranberry-walnut muffin and a chocolate au pait.
Lunch was at Teany in the Lower East Side, also recommended to us by Kristi. It's an all-vegetarian, partly vegan cafe, so I was totally overwhelmed. I'm not used to having my pick of everything on the menu, and when I have that option, I do some major stressing because I want to make sure I get something good! What finally catapulted me into a decision was realizing that, for once, I could taste what the hubs was eating since it would be vegetarian, too (yes!).
So, we ordered a plate of bruschetta, and I got a pot of silver needle tea, which, if you haven't tried it, you should. It's kind of rare in that it can only be harvested one day a year, and it's really, really light in flavor and color, so it's an easy drink for those who aren't used to strong tea. But I digress...
After the appetizer came our sandwiches. The hubs got the chicken salad, and I got the turkey on a baguette with apples, brie and a delicious fruit spread.
Then we spied an amazing array of pies and cakes they had in a case, so we bit and each got a slice of something (him the coconut cream, of course, and me a peanut butter-chocolate cheesecake).
Dinner was in Williamsburg at Shanghai Bistro & Garden, a really delish Chinese restaurant. We had actually been looking for a sushi place, which turns out was next door, but felt confident with this menu and stayed. We had spring rolls served fresh in a bamboo steamer, and I had a vegetable lo mein for dinner. I have no pictures of the food, but I did snap one of the lights, which I loved! They were small wooden birdcages with these industrial lights in them. I made sure the hubs got a good look, because I want him to recreate them for our dining room.
Saturday morning we stayed close to the hotel and hit up Brooklyn Diner. We got to sit at the counter, which, in my opinion, makes the whole "diner" experience that much better. This one is apparently known for having freshly squeezed orange juice all day long, so of course we split a glass of that. As far as food, I was starting to feel the heaviness of all the food we'd been eating, so I opted for the egg-white scramble with a side of black beans and rice.
It also came with three polenta fritters that were fairly bland, but I liked the idea! I'm filing it away as something to play around with at home.
After breakfast we went to MoMA (but that's another post), then hopped on the subway to the Flatiron District and Eataly. This Italian marketplace is a collaboration between several people, most notably Mario Batali and Lidia and Joe Bastianich, and it has everything you can think of: fresh produce, fresh buffalo mozzarella, all kinds of cured meat, a whole section dedicated to chocolates and truffles, and several places to sit and eat.
|So many kinds of apples!|
|Graffiti eggplant...look at how gorgeous they are!|
It was a Saturday, so it was packed, but we wandered as much as we could before putting our names on the list at La Pizza & La Pasta. We scored counter seats again, and this time got to watch the chefs to our right prepare fresh pasta dishes, and the ones to our left crank out amazing Neapolitan-style pizzas from several wood-burning ovens. We ordered a margherita pizza to split...
Then we each got a pasta dish; me the ravioli di zucca (ravioli filled with butternut squash in a butter-and-sage sauce) and the hubs spaghetti al Pomodoro. Everything was so fresh and flavorful, and we hadn't had pasta like that since our honeymoon, so it was the perfect way to end our trip!
Great, now I'm craving that pizza again and there's nothing I can do about it... :) Hope you enjoyed this little food journal! For those of you who have been, what are your favorite places to eat in New York? Cause you know I'm going to be making a return trip...