An Italian Culinary Experience in New York with Zonin and Circo

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

 

 International Culinary Center, SoHo

Chef Alfio Longo and Marco Maccioni

Chef Alfio Longo and Marco Maccioni


Casa Vinicola Zonin
hosted an inspiring dinner at the International Culinary Center in SoHo highlighting wine from a selection of their wineries with the acclaimed Circo restaurant, bringing a true taste of Italy to New York City.

 

Marco Maccioni represented Circo at the event, the Maccioni family’s tribute to the woman behind it all – Mrs. Egidiana Maccioni.  He told stories of growing up with a father in the restaurant business, doing fine Italian when no one else was and of his mother who did her best to keep a traditional Italian household in the midst of it all. The food served, embodied just that – the home grown nature of the Circo restaurant and the woman who continues to call all the shots there.  Zonin’s humble and versatile wines paired seamlessly with the down to earth fare.

Tuna salad rolled into a thinly sliced pork tenderloin

Tuna salad rolled into a thinly sliced pork tenderloin


A simple tuna salad rolled into a thinly sliced pork tenderloin was a surprisingly fresh start to the meal and was paired with an equally as refreshing, yet full bodied wine – Zonin’s Vermentino Calasole –  IGT Maremma 2011 vintage.  Chef Alfio Longo was a charming addition to the presentation as he showed how to prepare the dish as we all cleared our plates.

 

Pasta paccheri all anatra, zucca, funghi

Pasta paccheri all anatra, zucca, funghi

A presentation by the DelVerde Pasta Sommelier was next, his thick Italian accent making everything he said about the pasta making process that much more believable.  Delverde’s paccheri pasta stood front and center in the next dish served, creating a bed of pasta for the braised duck, butternut squash, and mushroom delicately laid on top.  The wine featured with this course was an amalgamation of grapes from two of Zonin’s estates – The Berengario Zonin, a cabernet sauvignon and merlot blend – the dry red paired well with the richness of the braised duck.

 

Zonin’s Chianti Classico, 2009 vintage stood up to the next dish of a slow cooked Italian style tripe with artichoke, mellowing the rich flavors of both ingredients.

 

Italian style tripe with artichoke

Italian style tripe with artichoke

While I’m sure we could have all stayed far into the night to listen to more of Mr. Maccioni’s childhood tales of smuggling white truffles and salumi through customs and into the United States, the night ended with a classic tiramisu and an interesting Rosato blend of Moscato Bianco and Pinot Noir grapes from Zonin’s Castello del Poggio winery.

 

Coffee and Rum Hit it Off at Times Square Tasting

BY BETH KAISERMAN

Coffee and rum are a tasty duo. Coffee-infused rum. Rum in coffee. It looks like I’m late to the ballgame, since Pirate’s Coffee is already a concoction on drinksmixer.com.

 coffee rum resized

Coffee Bean Direct and Jersey Artisan Distilling, both New Jersey-based companies, presented a tasting at the Hilton Times Square last week to showcase their products in Manhattan.

green coffee resized

Coffee Bean Direct is an online ordering site that imports beans from all over the world and roasts them fresh daily. Some highlights of CBD’s huge (seriously endless) selection of flavors included maple bacon, which is actually vegan since it uses a bacon flavoring. That was the strangest revelation of the day. I was a fan of the holiday blend, which has caramel, hazelnut and French vanilla, according to roastmaster Al Marrone. Though I’ve given up flavored coffees because they usually leave a weird lingering aftertaste, these ones left a surprisingly clean (and not overly bacon-y) aftertaste. In fact, the bacon flavoring merely provided a hint of smoke in the brew. I’m sure the flavor would be more pronounced with a side of bacon, but don’t let me influence you.

 

The already massive selection is always growing. Check out the Zombie Cure, a fun alternative to pumpkin flavored coffee. Tea drinkers are in luck, too; the company just launched a separate brand, Tattle Tea, which offers a ton of unique and expertly crafted selections.

Located in Frenchtown, New Jersey, Coffee Bean Direct is run by a tight-knit crew that started in 2004. They now sell 1 million pounds of coffee per year, including unroasted green coffee that people can roast at home themselves. Most of their orders are made and then shipped the next day, if not sooner, CEO Andrew Esserman said.

About an hour away in Fairfield, New Jersey, history is being made at Jersey Artisan Distilling, the state’s first distillery since Prohibition. Busted Barrel rum is its first product, the name inspired by federal agents literally busting barrels of booze, killing the buzz of surrounding partygoers.

There is silver rum, good for drinks like mojitos, and dark rum, made of molasses, water, yeast and lemon juice aged for five months in charred American white oak barrels with a handful of vanilla beans.

“You can drink it as a whiskey,” co-founder Brant Braue said.

Along with the friendly folks at Coffee Bean Direct, Braue created a delicious coffee-infused dark rum, re-using beans that had already brewed coffee. This was a genius collaboration that I hope hits shelves soon!

Busted Barrel is only sold in New Jersey for now. On the distillery’s menu for spring is a Jersey sweet corn-based vodka and “seasonal treasures” like tomato vodka, Nick LaPlaca of R&J Public Relations said. Whiskey and bourbon should appear in 2016, according to the Jersey Artisan Distilling web site.

The event offered a really fun peek into two New Jersey businesses that are really passionate about the products they make.

What’s On… Clinton Street? (Between Stanton and Rivington)

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

What’s On… Clinton Street? (Between Stanton and Rivington)

Lower East Side

Clinton

Clinton Street’s way east address is deterrent for some, making the gentrification factor slightly less than other parts of the LES, but those who do venture to Clinton Street are pleasantly surprised to find a long a varied strip of food and nightlife destinations.  However, it wasn’t long ago that the Lower East Side’s underbelly called Clinton home.  It wasn’t until 1999 when Wylie Dufresne helped to put 71 Clinton on the map that things started to turn around.  Clinton Street’s not so recent past also warrants a tour. It was on Clinton Street that Fredericka “Marm” Mandelbaum’s original storefront stood. From here, Mandelbaum saw millions of dollars worth of stolen goods pass through in the mid 19th century. She also ran a school for aspiring pickpockets and robbers which is said to have been right next door to a police precinct.

35 Clinton Street – Donnybrook

This Irish pub seated at the corner of Clinton and Stanton can usually be caught under maximum capacity (which is more to say than for most bars in the LES) bringing those who like a casual drink with good friends back time and time again.  A 12 – 15 dollar brunch special serves its purpose in a ‘hair of the dog’ sort of way.
Donnybrook on Urbanspoon
 

37 Clinton Street – Atlas Cafe

The H & H bagels served at Atlas Cafe make it a worthwhile stop if you’re in the area around breakfast time.  Other menu offerings include quiches and paninis with a variety of vegetarian offerings. Coffee suffices and free WiFi is another selling point for most.

Atlas Café on Urbanspoon

58 Clinton Street – Temple of Ankh

Most agree that Temple of Ankh is nothing to get excited about – but really, what hookah bar lives up to the hype anyway?  Food, service, and decor-wise it’s pretty much unanimous that this place lives up to the standard of other so-so hookah places although the milk and Sprite hookah varieties do add some unconventional fun to the mix.

 

50 Clinton Street – wd~50

Wylie Dufresne’s acclaimed restaurant wd~50 celebrates 10 years this year.  In case you haven’t heard – WD~50’s Wylie Dufresne is somewhat of a mad scientist when it comes to your dinner plate.  Molecular gastronomy paired with precision and attention to detail make for a culinary experience you won’t soon forget.  To celebrate WD~50’s 10th anniversary, try a tasting menu from some of the past 10 years’ best dishes!

wd-50 on Urbanspoon

63 Clinton Street – Fatta Cuckoo

The seasonal menu at Fatta Cuckoo is all about coming together to have a good time over good food.  Comfort food focused items like fried chicken or their signature key lime pie comprise the menu and an enticing cocktail selection rounds out the scene.  The “drunch” brunch special is what keeps most people coming back – at $25 for 3 quality cocktails and an entree, who can complain? – Even when you’re sitting on top of your next door neighbor.

Fatta Cuckoo on Urbanspoon

 

63 Clinton Street – Cube Sushi

The BYO status of Cube 63 has regulars coming back for a boozy good time before a night on the town, but can’t seem to keep new clientele looking for satisfying sushi due to its lack of fresh ingredients.  Try to stay away if you’re not looking to lose your lunch.

Cube Sushi Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

67 Clinton Street – Barramundi

The always crowded, kitschy bar who once called Ludlow home is now tucked away on Clinton waiting to be rediscovered. You’ll want to try their sangria and stay for their house infused vodkas.  A 2 for 1 happy hour every night until 8 sweetens the deal.  Through a door in the back lies a secret upstairs for a more refined crowd than downstairs…

Barramundi on Urbanspoon

 

67 Clinton Street (Upstairs) – 2nd Floor on Clinton

A quiet library setting for no more than groups for 4 awaits up the stairs from energetic Barramundi.  Sip artfully crafted cocktails and enjoy artisan chocolate truffles by Roni – Sue.  Ring the bell next to the door marked ‘private’ to be escorted upstairs to this haven of sorts nestled deep in the Lower East Side.

*2nd Floor on Clinton is only open Wednesday – Saturday.

 

68 Clinton Street – Pig and Khao

Leah Cohen of Top Chef fame and the Fatty crew have teamed up to create Pig and Khao – a modern take on Southeast Asian cooking.  Stop by for classic Filipino favorites like sizzling sisig (pig head) or a tasty Thai red curry.  This gem isn’t quite on the radar yet, so stop by while the waits are short!

*The $1 beer happy hour is one of the best deals in the city.

 
Pig & Khao on Urbanspoon
 

69 Clinton Street – Prosperity Dumpling

Another one of the best deals in the city – Prosperity’s pork and chive dumplings come 4 for $1 at this LES location (5/$1 at their Eldridge St. locale).  What this place lacks in decor and service, the dumplings more than make up for in value and flavor.  Stop out of your way for these things, you’ll be glad you did.

 
Prosperity Dumpling on Urbanspoon

71 Clinton Street – Izakaya DoDomPa

This Japanese pub is exactly what the doctor ordered in this part of town.  Quality izakaya at fair prices make DoDomPa a great stop if you’re looking to fill your belly and have a few drinks with friends before a night on the town.  Their Nagoya chicken wings are stand out and fans say they are just happy they can travel somewhere other than St. Marks to enjoy the food and atmosphere of quality Izakaya.

 

71 Clinton Street – San Marzano

The $40 all you can eat and drink special is what has rowdy groups coming back for time and time again, but it’s the pizza with namesake San Marzano tomatoes that keeps us coming back.

Go at an off time and enjoy the regular menu with regular people (read: not drunk and angry) or stop by on the weekend until 2am for an always satisfying slice.

 

San Marzano on Urbanspoon

72 Clinton Street – Cibao

You won’t stop by Cibao for its decor or service, but instead to sit down to a good, hearty meal rounded out with rice, beans, and tostones.  It’s a Dominican diner, unglorified and unapologetic and doing its thing for decades.  If tripe is your thing – don’t miss out on their Mondongo.

*Planning a party?  Cibao also caters.

San Marzano on Urbanspoon

 

 

Soul Food Arrives on Bedford Avenue: A Review of Sweet Chick

BY BETH KAISERMAN

Sweet Chick
164 Bedford Ave.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
(347) 725-4793 / sweetchicknyc.com/

 

Fried Chicken at Sweet Chick

Fried Chicken at Sweet Chick

Collard Greens and Fried Chicken at Sweet Chick

Collard Greens and Fried Chicken at Sweet Chick

I was thirsty, nauseous and I wanted gum immediately after.

I foraged through a bucket of chicken at Sweet Chick, the new soul food hotspot on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg. An actual bucket, not in my living room in front of the TV, but in an actual restaurant.

When in Williamsburg, I’d rather trek to the smaller streets than hang on big bad Bedford Avenue. Sweet Chick is literally steps from the L train, not enough distance for me to enjoy being in Williamsburg.

The restaurant has been busy since it opened February 19. They’re even adding a late-night (12am-2am) menu, beginning this weekend, to accommodate the demand.

Not to sound like an old lady (which happens often), but the place was so dark I could barely see the food I was eating. I asked our server afterward what was in the slaw. It was collard greens, but it was so overly dressed I could barely taste anything. I would have loved some braised collard greens, and that’s something they could easily have cooked or partially cooked in advance, versus slopping some slaw into a bowl. It was overwhelming.

If you want fried chicken, you can get two pieces of chicken with your choice of waffle for $16, or opt for a bucket with the slaw and a biscuit for $17. That’s a pretty pricy bucket of chicken. I wish they had served a plate alongside to make eating it easier, but I was excited to dig in. The highlight of the meal was the chicken wing. They braise the chicken in sweet tea to give it moisture. That wing was insane! The white meat was fine, but not as moist as others (Pies ‘n’ Thighs is still a showstopper.) Also, some bites had more of a spicy kick than others. Hopefully, the chefs will work out a consistent flavor profile.

The cornbread was not crispy on the outside, and not warm. It tasted like what you grab in plastic wrap from the grocery store or deli.

The biscuit was bland, not anything close to the decadent softness I wish it had. It was hard to finish. Also it’s not served with condiments, but I used some of my friend’s butter (three different butters, actually) that came with her waffle. Still not enthused.

Some of their specials included general tso’s fried chicken with a rice broccoli waffle. A nice touch for the veg crowd, they have fried seitan as well. It wasn’t bad, though a bit soggy, the skin not as crisp as on the fried chicken.

The cocktail I had was tasty: the Sweet Chick, with house-infused watermelon vodka and a spicy brown sugar rim. They use Bootlegger vodka, produced in Roscoe, New York, for this one. Still, all of the cocktails were at least $11, a bit much to charge just because local artisan ingredients are used. (Another one has Jack Daniel’s Honey and soda from Brooklyn Soda Works.) Also, fruit-infused vodka is not hard to make.

The place is cute, with waffle pans on the walls in some spots. I think I’d be more into it if it had a more Southern feel; it still looks very Brooklyn. I hope the food gets better and cheaper; the late-night menu might be the way to go.

Now enough chirping from me, go try Sweet Chick for yourselves.

Sweet Chick on Urbanspoon

Award-Winning Daring Pairing: Short Ribs and Malbec- Recipe by Chef Gregg Drusinsky


Whether your looking for some bold original flavors for your next home-cooked dinner party or are seeking a rewarding culinary escape within the comfort of your own kitchen, Chef Drusinsky’s Five Spice Crusted Short Rib with Eggplant and Miso Black Garlic Jus Paired with Alamos Malbec can offer you just that.

This recipe recently won Chef Drusinsky first prize on ABC’s “The Taste.” Drusinsky and his co-contestant, Sarah Ashley Schiear recently hosted pop-up dinners at Old Bowery Station.

Check out http://openhouse.me/ to find out where fine dishes like this will pop up next.

Alamos

EGGPLANT:

 2 small eggplants

2 tablespoons sesame oil

Salt to taste

MISO JUS:

10 small shallots, sliced

4 cloves garlic, sliced

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 cup sake

3 cups chicken stock

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 cluster maitake mushrooms

4 oz. smoked eel

2 tablespoons white miso paste

1 head black garlic, sliced

SHORT RIBS:

1 lb. boneless beef short ribs

2 teaspoons five spice powder

2 teaspoons smoked salt

3 tablespoons grape seed oil

GARNISH:

2 teaspoons ground bonito flakes

6 green onions, white end sliced, green tops cut in chiffonnade

½ bunch cilantro, small leaves picked

METHOD:

Char the whole eggplants over a flame until black and soft. Scoop out the insides from the skin and pulse in a blender with sesame oil; season with salt.

To prepare jus, sauté shallots and garlic in canola oil in a large saucepan until soft and aromatic. Add sake and reduce by half. Add chicken stock, soy sauce and mushrooms and cook for 20 minutes. Reduce heat and add eel; simmer for 10 minutes more. Pour mixture through a fine strainer to remove solids. Place miso and black garlic in a blender. Slowly add the mushroom broth, blending until smooth.

To prepare short ribs, season meat with five spice powder and smoked salt. Heat oil in a medium skillet over high heat. Sear meat on all sides; reduce heat and cook until medium rare. Set aside for 5 minutes then thinly slice.

To plate, arrange sliced short ribs over eggplant puree then drizzle jus around short ribs. Garnish with bonito flakes, scallions and cilantro. Serves 4-6.

 

 

 

Monje Interviews The Gotham Palate on Restaurant Reviews & Future of Food Blogging

The excerpt below is taken from Monje’s  recent interview with TGP. Al Chen of Monje interviewed TGP Founder, Elena Mancini, over coffee this past February. Click on the Monje logo below to read the full interview. Monje is a new online social platform that helps users discover new restaurants and share their  tastes with their friends.

…….

“The Monje team collaborates closely with various food and photo bloggers in the NYC to learn about the restaurant scene. We are sitting down with our favorite food bloggers to get to know the person behind the blog, how the blog got started, and what the future holds for the blog.

Kicking off the first episode for this series entitled “Coffee with a Blogger,” we sat down with Elena Mancini from The Gotham Palate to hear the story behind her awesome blog. Here is what we learned: 

Can you give our readers a brief bio?

I was born in NYC, and have always loved food. Growing up, I was exposed to Italian cuisine since both of my parents are from Italy. I have lived in Berlin, Bologna, and now NYC. Aside from food blogging, I am a professor of German studies, I work at a German grant giving organization, and do freelance writing. I am one of those people who all my friends go to for restaurant recommendations, and when I go out with my friends to eat somewhere, we like to debate and create arguments for places we want to try. Needless to say, I love trying new foods and restaurants in NYC. Click here to read more.

monje

 

Home of Manhattan’s Best Banh Mi Sandwich – Review of Sao Mai

BY ELENA MANCINI

203 First Ave.
East Village
(212) 358-8880 / Sao Mai 

East of the East Village bustle and trendiness, this family-run East Village Vietnamese restaurant serves traditional Vietnamese fare and the best Banh Mi Sandwiches on the Manhattan side of the East River.

Vegetarian Bahn Mi

Available in six varieties including pho, sliced pork, grilled chicken and vegetarian, these sandwiches make a quick, nutritious, flavor-packed meal that’s easy on the wallet (priced between $6-$7). The Bahn Mi are prepared on baguettes are consistently fresh and crusty with a soft and chewy middle. Independent of the filling you choose, the kitchen always strikes the right balance between bread and ingredients. Their vegetarian Bahn Mi is among my favorite comfort-food lunches. Prepared on two warm halves of choice baguette, they’re stuffed with toothsome strands of sauteed bok choy, straw mushrooms, seedless cucumbers, shredded carrot and abundant swaths of cilantro, the sandwiches and seasoned with lemongrass,  sriracha mayonnaise, that provides a subtle and reverberating pitch of complex heat. In sum, it’s a light, filling lunch that delivers high-flavor rewards.

Pho’ Sao Mai

Front: Summer Rolls; Far: Spring Rolls

Lest one think Sao Mi is just about Bahn Mi, flavor mavens and fans of traditional Vietnamese fare will find other  sections of its menu will prove well worth exploring. The Pho Sao Mai will not disappoint. A flavorful broth, rich in tender strips of brisket, sprouts, rice noodles and a medley of herbs will consistently hit the spot. Adding appeal to  Sao Mi’s attractions is its steal of a lunch menu, which includes the choice of an appetizer, entree and a soft drink, all for $10. Sweetening things further,  both the Bahn Mi and the Pho are included in this deal!

Ga Gary – Chicken Curry

With a wide variety of vegetarian options on its menu, Sao Mai is also a smart choice for a low-key dinner that guarantees value, quality and flavor. Pity that wait staff has not yet mastered the walk-in dinner crowd on weekends. During these times, the  friendly service  can turn into a source of frustration for those who do not suffer extended waits and uneven food delivery times lightly.

Sao Mai on Urbanspoon

What’s On… 2nd Avenue? (between 77th and 78th Street)

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

What’s On… 2nd Avenue? (between 77th and 78th Street)
Yorkville, Upper East Side

2nd Avenue gets a bad rap these days, with construction of the 2nd Ave subway underway those who don’t live up in Yorkville would rather stay away.  Keep the small businesses alive in their time of need and make the trek, there are still some great food finds to be visited.  While you’re in Yorkville, stay a while – visit the beautiful Gracie Mansion for a tour or relax in Carl Schurz Park, overlooking the Hell Gate section of the East River.

1481 2nd Avenue – Lenny’s
This NYC lunch chain serves a wide variety of sandwiches for any taste, making Lenny’s a solid choice for a workweek lunch.   Be prepared for a wait during busy lunch hours, and keep an eye on whomever’s making your sandwich – with so many options they’re bound to make a mistake on yours.

1483 2nd Avenue – Vero
This wine and Panini bar is best known around the neighborhood for their Monday special featuring a free Panini with purchase of a drink, but the other menu selections are solid choices for any other day of the week.  Be sure to try a glass of one of their specialty sangrias – they’re not only delicious, but may help you stomach the vivacious (read: loud) atmosphere inside the tiny space.
*If you like this uptown location but the trek is a bit much – try their Midtown location at 2nd Ave and 53rd Street

Vero on Urbanspoon
1484 2nd Avenue – Al Forno Pizzeria
Pizza is the way to go at this family friendly Italian.  Although gourmet pies aren’t what they’re after, Al Forno serves a solid pie cooked in the brick oven on premise. The friendly, neighborhood atmosphere paired with reliable pizza is what gives this place 2 thumbs up with the locals – and that’s all that really matters for business!

Al Forno Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

1485 2nd Avenue - Brother Jimmy’s
It’s “Bro J’s”, fondly to the regulars who pack the place most nights, but don’t expect much class at this UES location of NYC BBQ chain Brother Jimmy’s where the liquor runs freely until you get kicked out cause you’re causing a scene.  The food will do in a pinch, but it’s not the food that brings most back for a rowdy good time.

Brother Jimmy's BBQ on Urbanspoon

1486 2nd Avenue – Uva
Uva is the perfect first date spot if you’re looking to romance your date over fine Italian wine and food. Most menu items pay homage to the motherland (Italy, of course), using either homemade or imported direct from the source ingredients. The bruschetta is a can’t miss, just don’t get caught sharing a plate with someone other than the date you took to Uva last week!

Uva on Urbanspoon

Pastrami on Rye at Sable’s

 1489 2nd Avenue – Sable’s
It’s all about the smoked fish at Sable’s.  You can’t go wrong with the smoked salmon, or the lobster salad, a sweeter version than found on your classic lobster roll.  Pricing beats the competition from the Upper West Side or the Lower East Side, so most find the trek up to Sable’s worth every stop on the 6 train.

Sable's on Urbanspoon

1490 2nd Avenue – Doc Watson’s
Head to Doc Watson’s for brunch or to catch a weekend afternoon game.  Burgers or eggs benedict are always a safe bet here; otherwise it’s just standard pub fare.  The evening crowd can get a little fratty, so unless you want to get up close and personal with the polo team stick to the day shift!

Doc Watson's on Urbanspoon

1491 2nd Avenue – MXCO
When you’re in the neighborhood and craving Mexican, MXco is a solid choice, every time.  Service that makes you feel like you’re at you’re abuela’s and margaritas that will knock you flat keep the neighbors coming back but most agree that portion sizes aren’t in line with pricing.
*Try the braised short rib taco!

 
MXco on Urbanspoon

1492 2nd Avenue – Vermicelli
Vermicelli is a favorite with the locals, for comforting Vietnamese dishes at comfortable prices. Try the chicken with ginger and scallions in honey sauce (Ga Xao Gung), a favorite at Vermicelli or the grilled pork chop (Suon Nuong), a house specialty in many restaurants featuring Saigon food.

Vermicelli on Urbanspoon

1494 2nd Avenue – Lusardi’s
Lusardi’s has been a neighborhood staple since it first opened in 1982 and regulars have been visiting ever since.  Worthy of a special occasion, Lusardi’s service is top notch with prices to match.  While the menu options aren’t there to wow you, Owners Luigi and Mauro Lusardi have been at it for 30 years and they stick to what they know works.  An extensive Italian wine list rounds out the meal, but not before setting you back a few $$.

Lusardi's on Urbanspoon

1496 2nd Avenue – Bocca East
With a slightly more updated menu than Lusardi’s next door, Bocca East appeals to the younger set of UES patrons with a clean, wine cellar esque design sense and even a late night menu.  Best for some wine tasting from their considerable list paired with a few select antipasti, Bocca East will impress almost any date.

What’s On… Lafayette Street (btwn Spring and Kenmare)

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

What’s On… Lafayette Street (btwn Spring and Kenmare)
Soho

In uber trendy Soho, there are plenty of places that are all trend and no substance. Fortunately for us, Lafayette Streethas some can’t miss food finds – a welcome break to the plethora of shopping in the area. Stop by the Cleveland Place park for a second (that’s all it’ll take to check out this small piece of green), named for President Grover Cleveland who was also at one time the governor of New York City. Other noteworthy, if not morbid, places of interest on the block include former bar, The Falls, where graduate student Imette St. Guillen was last seen leaving with the bouncer who later raped and murdered her and the home of famed NYC DJ, DJ AM who was found dead in his apartment at 210 Lafayette.

Linguine with Clams at Café Select

212 Lafayette Street – Cafe Select
This European style bistro attracts the European style hipster set. The pleasant atmosphere complements the solid menu and carefully selected wine list, making Cafe Select a hot spot no matter what the time of day. Stop by for brunch and try the Croque Monsieur, but don’t forget your reservation or you might be in for a long wait!

Café Select on Urbanspoon

 218 Lafayette Street – Osteria Morini

This upscale Italian is the brainchild of talented chef Michael White . The rustic Northern Italian fare pays homage to Chef White’s time spent under his mentor, Gianluigi Morini in the Emilia-Romagna region ofItaly. Don’t leave without trying the pasta (any dish is worth your time), or any one of the antipasti and leave full – very full.

Osteria Morini on Urbanspoon

222 Lafayette Street- Subway
This sandwich chain is slowly taking over the city. Where there was once a Starbucks on every corner, there is now a Subway on every block!

222 Lafayette Street – Ed’s Lobster Bar
The lobster roll at Ed’s Lobster Bar rivals most that can be found on the New England coastline. It’s a bold statement, but when you take the first bite you’ll surely understand. Chef/owner Ed McFarland creates other New England Summertime favorites such as clam chowder and whole bellied fried clams at this flagship location as well as two other smaller outposts (Battery Park City and Lower East Side).

Ed's Lobster Bar on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

224 Lafayette Street – Jack’s Wife Freda
Jack’s Wife Freda’s cuisine can only be understood by looking at where husband and wife team, Dean and Maya Jankelowitz have come from. The menu blends Israeli and South African food in a way that only your grandmother could. The understated, simple (yet not cold) decor lends itself to the young and beautiful who romp Soho, but should be enjoyed by all. Great for brunch (try the Shakshuka), but go for dinner if you want to avoid most of the crowd.

Osteria Morini on Urbanspoon

62 Spring Street – Spring Street Natural
While this sprawling restaurant calls Spring Street home, its windows and outdoor seating take a good chunk of real estate fromLafayette. Established in 1973, Spring Street Natural has been a fixture in the diets of Soho residents for longer than most can say – which is a good thing; Spring Street Natural focuses on minimally processed, organic whole foods (a step ahead of its time, I’d say) with reasonable prices to boot. No wonder why this place is always crowded.

Spring Street Natural on Urbanspoon

Chef dishes out tales in bare-bones memoir

BY BETH KAISERMAN

Blood, Bones & Butter Event at 92Y

 

Gabrielle Hamilton


Gabrielle Hamilton
never dreamed of being a celebrity chef. In fact, she never dreamed of being a chef at all.

Her popular East Village restaurant, Prune, seats 30 people, as Hamilton fills bellies with the type of food you want when you’re hungry, she said. Simple, well-made food so fulfilling it attracts lines of people for weekend brunch before the place even opens.

In the highly-acclaimed memoir, Blood, Bones & Butter, Hamilton shares her food memories, from her father’s epic lamb roasts to monotonous catering kitchens to her mother-in-law’s inspiring Sunday lunches at her house in Italy.

In a lecture at 92Y last week, Hamilton talked about the process of writing her book compared to running a bustling small kitchen. It wasn’t like the restaurant, where food has to be ready at 5 p.m. for hungry patrons to arrive at 6. She had trouble reaching deadlines at first, but after losing her first contract, she realized it was time to write.

In her experience earning an MFA in fiction at the University of Michigan, she found that many of the writers “didn’t have life to write about.”

Hamilton, who began working at 13 and hasn’t stopped, writes about food, but also intricate emotions, including ones sparked by her marriage to the man she had two children with. Her book is a mashup of defining moments, with a welcome sprinkle of expletives throughout. And yes, it will make you hungry.

What makes Hamilton stand out is the fact that she doesn’t want to. She isn’t out to become the next Anthony Bourdain or Ruth Reichl, and is perfectly content with her tiny, lovely East Village restaurant, she said. She is currently writing a cookbook.

“I’d like to move further in the universe,” she said.

“My goal is to be the 60 year-old nonna in a specialty shop, helping you buy olive oil.”