Rana puts a new spin on your grocer’s pasta

Rana

Giovanni Rana and company sure have been busy lately.  With a recent NYC-wide launch of his retail pasta and sauce line coupled with plenty of personal appearances to celebrate world pasta day in October AND a one year anniversary of the opening of his first restaurant, Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina in New York City, the 76 year old Rana has his work cut out for him.
The newly launched in NYC pasta line is now available in Fairway and Gristedes locations as well as Key Food and Food Emporium.  Although the packaged stuff will never be a substitute for the real thing at Rana Pastificio & Cucina (and a pasta factory it certainly is!), the ease of picking up a package of Rana’s pastas and boiling to perfection in about 3 minutes is certainly appealing after a long day at the office on any given week day.

 

Rana’s Tortelloni

Rana’s Tortelloni

Giovanni Rana’s packaged pastas are thinner, and more delicate than other fresh packaged pastas due to a machine designed by Mr. Rana himself meant to mimic the way fresh pasta dough passes through a chef’s hands.  The US factory where all the pasta is made, imports many of its ingredients from Italy who tout the D.O.P. certificate of authenticity.

 

Rana’s Ravioli prepared with olive oil and parmesan

Rana’s Ravioli prepared with olive oil and parmesan

Try Rana’s pesto – a stand out among other grocery store pestos and a new staple in my fridge – or dress your pasta simply with olive oil and quality freshly grated parmesan.  It’s clear that ravioli is where Mr. Rana’s heart is with plenty of flavor options.  Stand outs in Rana’s pasta collection include the Artichoke Ravioli, for a subtle, fresh flavor and the Mushroom Ravioli where the earthy mushroom filling speaks for itself.  The “Delicato” cheese blend ravioli is also sure to be a crowd pleaser and is the perfect way to curb that comfort food craving you’re having!
Giovanni Rana’s pasta and sauce selections can be purchased at the above New York City retailers as well as D’agostino.  Prices range from $4.99 to $8.99.

A spirited event with the Village Voice

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

The Village Voice’s Holiday Spirits Event
Studio Square
35-33 36th Street

Long Island City, Queens

 

Mixing a vat of Tito’s Handmade Vodka

Mixing a vat of Tito’s Handmade Vodka

 

 

The Village Voice hosted its first Holiday Spirits tasting event appropriately, on the night the prohibition act was repealed in 1933.  The event featured some of the best local distilleries in the New York area, most only established in the past two years due to a huge influx in the craft/micro distilling scene.

It is a great time to be a part of this movement and most in the business agree; this is not just a trend.  Representatives from Atsby Vermouth and Greenhook Ginsmiths both agree that the huge inrush of micro distilleries will serve to weed out the weak – whose product just isn’t up to par – making way for a new brand of the hard stuff.  Produced in small batches with quality ingredients and specialized distilling methods, now is a very exciting time in the world of alcohol.  This generation’s version of the bartender, the mixologist (and home cocktail enthusiasts alike) have upped the ante in search of the new and the better (or is it the tried and the true of decades past?), propelling their cocktail making to new heights (there is after all, only so much you can do with well vodka).
Highlights from the Village Voice event included tastings fromAtsby’s Vermouth, Greenhook Ginsmiths, and Dutch’s Spirits, all featuring a new, old-world take on their respective focus.

A festive display of Atsby’s Vermouth

A festive display of Atsby’s Vermouth

Atsby’s Vermouth changed the way I thought about what vermouth is and should be – a well-balanced liquor of fortified wine and botanicals.  Vermouth is no longer a hasty splash in my martini, but instead a drink to be sipped and enjoyed all on its own.  Atsby’s two styles of vermouth, the Amberthorn and the Armadillo Cake provide a pleasing drink, whatever your mood and are a nod to both the grungy underbelly of New York at the turn of the last century (Atsby’s – an acronym for the Assembly Theaters on Broadway) and to the present (and hopefully the future) – a time when the elevated cocktail has a place – something that we can be both proud to serve AND to drink.

Greenhook Ginsmith’s showing off their product

Greenhook Ginsmith’s showing off their product

The Greenhook Ginsmith’s also currently have just two products (and quality products they are); the world’s first beach plum gin (a local riff on England’s Sloe Gin) and an American Dry.  Both, the most fragrant gin I have ever encountered, sweet and inviting, due to a low temperature vacuum distillation process which preserves the aromatics in the alcohol and provides us a purer drink.  The stand out for me in this pair was the American Dry, which has since become a staple in my liquor cabinet (where I also quickly retired my tonic water).  Fragrant, smooth, and full of flavor – yet not for the faint of heart.

Dutch’s Bitters

Dutch’s Bitters

Dutch’s Spirits goes the moonshine and bitters route on the footprint of an age-old moonshine distillery in upstate New York.  Think Northerners are inept in the moonshine department?  Think again.  Dutch’s Sugar Wash Moonshine packs a punch and is quite the versatile drink (check out some recipes here).  I had the opportunity to try each of Dutch’s three styles of bitters with a bit of moonshine, and decided that I could see myself sipping on a cocktail with any of them.  The Colonial, Boomtown, and ProhiBitters each have a distinct flavor profile sure to spruce up your next cocktail.
There were so many more notable distilleries at the event, each with its own unique product – Scorpion Mezcal and Nahmias et Fils, for example – too many to list them all and too many to even try in just one night.  What I was most taken with the event was the passion which filled the room.  This micro-distillery (or whatever you’d like to call it) thing is still new enough that the scantily-clad promo girls aren’t the ones selling the liquor – it’s the men and women who have poured countless hours into crafting what they think is the perfect booze.   It’s their passion and their vision all while possessing the utmost respect for the rich history that comes with the territory.  The roaring 20s have certainly come back with a vengeance (sans the actual act of prohibition) and with it, the idea that we can enjoy the cocktail again.  Cheers.

A night at Circo with Chef Alfio Longo and Ceretto Wines

Circo
120 W 55th Street
Midtown West
212-265-6119 / circonyc.com/
 

Circo hosted an engaging Alba truffle dinner prepared by Circo’s executive chef, Alfio Longo.  A representative from Ceretto wines was also present with a well-paired wine for each of Chef Alfio’s courses.

The night started with passed canapes in Circo’s front bar area and a glass of Cerretto’s, very drinkable, Arneis Blange – a balanced, fruit forward, but not too sweet, white.  Circo’s public relations manager Jean Lee was a gracious host as was Circo’s maitre’d, Bruno – a long time member of the Maccioni family restaurant empire.
The small group of food bloggers and other food industry-types made our way over to the main dining room for dinner.  As we waited anxiously for our first course, a basket of white Alba truffles were passed around the table and dazzled us with their intoxicating scent and the sheer size of the truffles themselves.

A basketful of white Alba truffles!

A basketful of white Alba truffles!

Dinner began with a decadent frisee salad featuring a quail and foie gras stuffed puff pastry and a rich Perigourdine sauce.  The Asij, 2009 wine from Ceretto’s Barbaresco winery in North Western Italy was a fluid, spicy wine which both tamed and complemented the more emerging flavors of the salad.

 

Frisee salad

Frisee salad

A second, pasta course was served paying homage to the terrior of North Western Italy – highlighting both the porcini mushroom filling of the ravioli and the white truffles from Alba which were shaved on top.  Butternut squash dotted the plate in an elegant, yet attainable dish.  Strong tannins in Ceretto’s Bernardot, Barbaresco added to the earthy nature of the dish and was an appreciated nod to the featured ingredients – the Barbaresco winery and Alba just about 5 miles from each other in Italy!

 

Circo3

Porcini mushroom tortellini

As the small group of us chatted about everything from the world of food marketing to weddings and the New York City public school system; Chef Alfio’s menu continued to delight us.  His simple preparations, highlighting the fine ingredients used to assemble each dish were a joy to consume and while a meal rich with white truffle and foie gras could cross the line of pretention rather easily, Chef Alfio’s cooking exudes the humbleness of his own person.

The third course was a melt in your mouth, sous-vide beef cheek with kale and pureed pumpkin topped with a cured ham crisp (which you can also order from Circo’s fall dinner menu, $34).  The ruby colored Brunate Barolo, was hard pressed to stand up to the full-flavored beef cheek, but brought with it fine notes of white truffle which complemented the theme of the dinner and was a full, flavorful wine on its own.

 

Beef cheek with pureed pumpkin and kale

Beef cheek with pureed pumpkin and kale

 

‘Molten’ chocolate was poured over a chocolate sphere in an entertaining take on dessert and was a great way to end the meal, especially paired with the Moscato d’Asti, Vinaioli di Santo Stefano.  Notes of caramel and apple were perfect for the autumn night and made the coldest night of the year thus far, that much more bearable!

Circo on Urbanspoon

 

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.

 

Updated menu appeals to all at Mumbles – Review of Mumbles

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

Mumbles
179 3rd Avenue
Gramercy
212.477.6066/mumblesnyc.com

 

Duck quesadilla @ Mumbles

Duck quesadilla @ Mumbles

Mumbles, a New York City stalwart since 1974 has recently revamped its dated menu with a wider selection of sharing plates including a roasted duck quesadilla ($12), fish tacos ($13) and even an ambitious quinoa risotto with scallops ($13).  The addition of an expanded craft brews list, also a way to get more new feet in the door.

Mumbles early bird special caters to their loyal patrons who have been joining them for dinner since the very beginning – from 5 – 6:30 every night enjoy 10% off your bill. Mumbles also offers a nightly special every weeknight ranging from a Tuesday night burger and pint special for $15 to a Sunday night 3 course pasta special for only $18.

On my most recent visit to Mumbles, a duck quesadilla ($12), shrimp burger ($15 with my can of Bronx Pale Ale on a Tuesday night), and truffled mushroom pappardelle ($17) were what was on the menu.  Each came with a hearty portion, especially the duck quesadillas where pulled duck, caramelized onion, and swiss chard were stuffed in between a gluten free tortilla.  The cilantro sour cream sauce alongside was lacking for the richness of the quesadilla but wasn’t really missed in the end.

 

mumbles3

Shrimp burger w/ fries @ Mumbles

 

Crispy shoestring fries accented the shrimp burger, an interesting take on an otherwise pretty standard staple, the beef burger, which would have been helped, again, by a more rowdy sauce.
It would have also aided in keeping the odd texture of, not just this one, but any shrimp burger out of mind.

 

Truffled mushroom pappardelle @ Mumbles

Truffled mushroom pappardelle @ Mumbles

Stand out, was the truffled mushroom pasta – a rich truffle cream sauce coating the ribbons of pasta topped with sautéed wild mushrooms, surprisingly tasty for a place with an otherwise pub-like feel. 

I applaud Mumbles for trying something new – a way to get the younger set of locals involved.  Mumbles’ new craft beer selections were a good start – but I would have liked to see more of them on tap, rather than bottled and canned.  Next time I’ll also stick with the tried and true – a classic burger and fries or one of their pasta selections wins every time.

Mumbles Restaurant on Urbanspoon

A Friulian Culinary Experience in New York

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

The Astor Center
399 Lafayette Avenue

East Village

 

Casa Vinicola Zonin hosted a second Italian Culinary Experience in New York City featuring SD26, Delverde Pasta and Zonin’s own Tenuta Ca’Bolani winery last week.  Chef Matteo Bergamini from SD26, a native of Northern Italy himself, prepared a menu highlighting Zonin’s wines from the Friuli region known for its stunning whites.

Representatives from both Zonin and SD26 families were present, including owners Tony and Marisa May of SD26 (and the former San Domenico).  Mr. May talked about his 50 years in the restaurant business, the careful consideration that goes into each item on SD26’s menu, and even his personal food preferences – a quality pasta being an integral part of any pasta dish.  As a restaurant with one of the most impressive wine lists in New York City – all visible on a touch screen tablet – it was only natural that the SD26 and Zonin families came together to create a Friulian inspired culinary experience.

 

Zonin’s flagship prosecco was served upon arrival – an important part of any day, we learned, in Italy and was enjoyed alongside a simple cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto, sprinkled with a classic Friulian frico, or cheese crisp.

 

Steamed white asparagus with poached egg

Steamed white asparagus with poached egg

A decadent steamed white asparagus first course was topped with hollandaise and a poached egg, only to set the tone for a rich and hearty rest of our meal.  Zonin’s Pinot Grigio Superiore 2012 paired well with the dish, but was better standing on its own as a well balanced, fruity, fresh tasting wine.

Zonin2

Chef Matteo and Tony May

Chef Matteo prepared a light, yet decadent, lemon risotto with periwinkles in front of us while Mr. May and Jelena Meisel of Zonin quipped about the use of butter and cheese in a risotto (our version was without).  Zonin’s Sauvignon “Aquilis” proved to be an interesting pairing with notes of sage and grapefruit cutting through the risotto and causing me to return for bite after bite. 

Wild boar ragu with pickled raisins and pine nuts

Wild boar ragu with pickled raisins and pine nuts

Our pasta course introduced the first Friulian red of the evening and with it the Delverde pasta boys who kept the women in the room more interested than they have ever been before in pasta.  Delverde’s artisanal pastas are imported from a small factory in Italy made with top quality ingredients.  Compared to other dried brands, Delverde’s slightly rough texture helps sauce stick to the pasta and a more pronounced yellow color comes from ingredients that are true to Italian pasta making – that being said, our wild boar ragu served with Delverde’s flagship pappardelle was stand out and also holds the spot for my favorite pairing of the night with the Tenuta Ca’Bolani winery’s Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso 2011.  The deep red wine tamed the acidic pasta sauce and complimented nicely the pickled raisins that garnished the ragu. 

Quail with black fig

Quail with black fig

Our last savory course, a roasted quail with black fig with a light chicory pesto was accented by a Refosco, the “Alturio” 2007, a full bodied, spicy red. 

For Dessert, the Brachetto – the only wine of the night from the Castello del Poggio Winery known for its sweeter wines – was slightly sweet, crisp, and a refreshing end to the meal only made better by an apple tortino that’d I’d love to enjoy again and again.

 

Once again Zonin and their partners hosted a lovely and informative night of fine Italian wine and food where almost, just almost I could close my eyes and transport myself out of New York City to the breezy plains of northeastern Italy.

A pre fixe lunch and a modern take on classic Indian – Review of Junoon

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

Junoon
27 W 24th Street
Flatiron
212.490.2100/junoonnyc.com

Michelin starred ‘modern’ Indian restaurant, Junoon best is known for their courteous service, grand appearance, and pricey-for-the-genre food.  Their 5 course pre fixe dinner will set you back $75, but little is known of their two lunch specials – a two course appetizer and entree selection from Junoon’s a la carte menu or a more traditional Indian tasting platter called Thali, both coming in at $19.95.

 

Thali Platter meat option @ Junoon

Thali Platter meat option @ Junoon


The 2 course pre fixe lunch special is a great way to sample some of what Junoon has to offer, but the Thali platter steals the show with its small tasting portions in katori (small bowls) which are served on a metal, semi-circular plate.

Lamb Kolhapuri @ Junoon

Lamb Kolhapuri @ Junoon

During my lunch at Junoon I started with the lahsooni gobi ($12), fried cauliflower in a sweet tomato sauce.  It was a flavorful way to wake up my palate and begin to acquaint myself with the Indian flavor palate, which at Junoon seems to have a more international appeal rather than strictly Indian.  For the main course I sampled the meat option of the Thali platter (a vegetarian option is also available).  Six small bowls greeted me, each with something different to offer and each with its own warm hue, a visually stimulating experience. The platter consisted of Chicken Lababdar, Lamb Kolhapuri, and Piri-Piri Shrimp while jasmine rice, yellow daal, and raita (a cooling yogurt cumin sauce) helped to round out the meal.  Stand out for me was the Chicken Lababdar, moist chicken pieces in a tomato and onion sauce which finished slightly sweet and smoky while the Lamb Kolhapuri had just the right amount of spice and gave off a more earthy flavor.

  

Chicken Lababdar @ Junoon

Chicken Lababdar @ Junoon Service, to be expected, was practically flawless – attentive and knowledgeable but not overwhelmingly so.

Though you probably won’t stumble in to Junoon for your midday lunch on a dollar slice kind of day, it would be a great place to take those clients you want to impress, or even that co worker you’ve been eyeing at the water cooler.

 

Junoon on Urbanspoon

An Italian culinary experience in New York – Review Italian Culinary Experiences Series

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

Zonin

The Italian Culinary Experience in New York

Casa Vincola Zonin hosted its first in a series of “Italian Culinary Experiences” in New York City last week at the Astor Center.  Zonin teamed up with Le Cirque to create a 6 course luncheon highlighting some of their finest Tuscan wines.  Although this event was meant to be an informative, educational experience, the importance of family in both the Zonin Wine House and the Le Cirque restaurant empire shone through loud and clear.  Representatives from each were present to talk about their business, their family, and their product.  Both family businesses have had much success and have grown into respective wine and restaurant giants while still presenting the feel of a small family run business through a hands-on approach.

 

Zonin is Italy’s largest privately held wine company, exporting to 109 countries.  Zonin has 7 distinct wineries across Italy and one in the United States in Barboursville, VA.  Each specializes in the production of different wines, exercising great care in understanding the land in each region to produce an effortless tasting wine.

Mauro Maccioni of Le Cirque and Chef Matteo Boglione did an amazing job with the menu for this event staying true to what they do best while at the same time highlighting the Zonin wines and prosecco.

 

First course – Pappa al pomodoro and fried zucchini flower

First course – Pappa al pomodoro and fried zucchini flower

 

Pasta – Osso Buco ragu featuring Delverde pasta

Pasta – Osso Buco ragu featuring Delverde pasta

The meal started with Zonin’s signature prosecco, Cuvee 1821 NV, and a stuffed, fried zucchini blossom. Both were light and crisp with a clean finish, the perfect way to start off the day.  An heirloom tomato and farro salad was next, followed by Delverde’s (truly) artisanal pappardelle with a rich osso bucco ragu.

Fish – Branzino with artichoke and fingerling potato

Fish – Branzino with artichoke and fingerling potato

Our fish course delighted with branzino garnished with fingerling potato and artichoke.  Zonin’s flagship wine for the Rocca di Montemassi winery, Rocca di Montemassi (2010), a merlot, cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot, syrah blend – my favorite wine of the day – held its own against the artichoke without overpowering the fish.

Zonin3

Meat – Stuffed rabbit with black truffle

My favorite pairing, the stuff rabbit paired with Zonin’s Castello D’Albola Chianti – Classico Riserva (2006).  At risk of overly idyllic about the experience, the two melded perfectly with each other, blurring the line between solid and liquid, meat and grape, enhancing each other to their fullest potential.

A traditional Tuscan Carnival cake, Schiacciata alla Fiorentina, was served for dessert alongside a rich Vin Santo gelato and paired with Zonin’s own Vin Santo (2003).  This caramel colored wine stole the show with its maple and fig tasting notes and sweet caramel scent and could have been left on its own to end the day.
This “Italian Culinary Experience” in New York was great way to taste some new (to me) wine paired with stellar food and was an even better way to spend my Tuesday afternoon than the alternative (work).  I couldn’t help but to walk away with a sense of sentimentality after the event, listening to Mauro speak about growing up with his two brothers in the restaurant industry and soaking in the energy of these two successful family businesses, both of whom are passionate and fruitful in what they do.

 

Drinkable Art and More – Review of Little Fox Cafe’

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

62 Kenmare Street
310-637-2301/littlefoxcafe.com
Nolita

 

Inside Little Fox

Inside Little Fox

Little Fox has the cool kind of Nolita vibe that one would expect from a cafe in, well, Nolita.  It doesn’t try too hard – the interior is minimalist yet homey and reclaimed wood from the recently demolished Kenmare Hotel comprises the, rather excessive, all-wood interior which may be why that although this spot hasn’t been open for a year yet, it feels lived in – tried and true. A counter chock-full of baked goods and a few taps (one even has their signature cold-brewed coffee flowing from it!) welcomes and entices, while the chalkboard menu and cardboard cutouts on the wall let you know just what you’re in for – all the cafe basics: lattes, cappuccinos and teas, croissants and muffins, and a selection of salads and sandwiches for lunch.  Wine and beer are also available all day at Little Fox.

 

Latte art! – by Mike Breach

Latte art! – by Mike Breach

Stop by Wednesdays from 9:30-1:30 and watch latte artist Mike Breach create some pretty amazing art… in your latte.  Mike will “paint” your portrait in your latte foam, a feat so amazing that you won’t even want to drink it once he’s done.

My latte at Little Fox did not have my portrait in it, but alas was a solid latte nonetheless.  And my everything bagel with cream cheese, although decidedly not adventurous, came delightfully grilled instead of toasted and was all I could have hoped for in a bagel; salty, nutty, creamy… and slightly charred.
Aside from the likenesses drawn in latte foam, you’ll also get some interesting characters who frequent Little Fox.  The Nolita address has young up and coming entrepreneurs, DJs, actors, and the like filtering in and out of their neighborhood spot ensuring some supreme people watching at any time of the day.  

 

Little Fox Cafe on Urbanspoon

What’s On… East 20th Street? (between Broadway and Park Avenue South) Gramercy

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

Gramercy

Gramercy Tavern may make this block a cut above these days, but before the famed restaurant called East 20th home, Theodore Roosevelt did.  Stop by the Teddy Roosevelt Museum on this block and take a tour of the house in which he was born.  The site pays homage to the life and times of America’s 26th president.   The aptly named Performance Studio also called E 20th home at number 23 and saw a very green Ramones play their first show in 1974.  Today, E 20th Street between Broadway and Park is a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of Broadway and the high-society feel of Park Ave.  Great food finds without the crowds or the attitude await!

 

900 Broadway – Beecher’s Handmade Cheese

Its entrance is basically on E 20th, a catty-corner door facing neither E 20th or Broadway.  Beecher’s makes its own cheese, hence the name of the store, but also carries a variety of other artisan cheeses, salumi and anything else you’d like to go along with the two.  Stop by The Cellar downstairs to indulge in Beecher’s famous mac and cheese or a selection from their dinner menu.  Don’t forget the wine… and more cheese.

 

27 E 20th Street – Rohm

Rohm Thai sits down a few steps from street level just enough to duck out of sight and keep Rohm a quiet spot where you can bring a date.  The music is fun and upbeat, and the food and pricing right in line with other Thai offerings.  Though most may find it rather un-sensational, those who dig it are loyal and come back for more time and time again.

Rohm on Urbanspoon

 

 

Rohm’s exterior

Rohm’s exterior

29 E 20th Street – Mizu

It’s Japanese and Thai at Mizu, whose menu sports all the basics (with options heavier on the Japanese side) and can call itself a solid spot when you’re in the neighborhood.  Don’t expect a glorious experience here, but do expect consistently fresh fish and reasonable rates at this area go-to.

Mizu Sushi on Urbanspoon

 

30 E 20th Street – No Idea

This dive on E 20th is a favorite of the after work crowd, the cheap doubles (or so) served in a pint glass will leave you feeling fine after a tough day at the office. Find your name on their calendar and you’ll feel like it’s your birthday when your name is the chosen one for the night – drink free from 5-11 and bond with others who share your namesake!  A pool table rounds out the experience and most agree this is a solid neighborhood kind of place.

E.20thSt

A margarita pizza @ La Pizza Fresca

 

 31 E 20th Street – La Pizza Fresca Ristorante

La Pizza Fresca flaunts the membership rites of being only one of two restaurants in New York City to be part of the VPN (La Vera Pizza Napoletana), a rigorous membership process which includes the training of pizza chefs and a strict ingredient list whose components can only be imported from Naples.  If pizza isn’t your thing, indulge in the seafood dishes from seasoned chef Alessandro Cargiolli, a native of famed seafood region of Liguria, Italy.

*Think this place couldn’t excel in anything else?  Wine Spectator has awarded La Pizza Fresca a Best of Award of Excellence every year since 2001.

La Pizza Fresca Ristorante on Urbanspoon

33 E 20th Street – Moore Brothers Wine Company

Moore Brothers stands a cut above the rest with an attention to fine wine from France, Italy, and Germany.  The owners import and select all wine directly from the vineyards themselves, ensuring a quality bottle (with reasonable price tags to match) every time.  A friendly, knowledgeable, and down to earth staff round out the oenophilic experience.

*Other locations include a close-to-Philly New Jersey locale as well as one in Wilmington, Delaware.
36 E 20th Street – Parea Prime

Parea Prime takes classic Greek specialties and the American steakhouse and makes them their own, pleasing everyone at your table with its something-for-everyone offerings; attentive service and a pleasant atmosphere round out the overall pleasing experience of dining here. Try the grilled octopus and the zucchini tempura to start!

Parea Prime on Urbanspoon

40 E 20th Street – Flute

Ok, so the Champagne bar thing is kind 90s but Flute manages to own the theme and bring it home with a knowledgeable, friendly staff and a well thought out champagne list.  Small bites are offered and can be hit or miss so come early or late depending on the type of celebration.

*In Paris?  Visit Flute’s third location near the Arc de Triomphe.  This location touts a “New York” lounge atmosphere.

Flute Gramercy on Urbanspoon

 

41 E 20th Street – Mari Vanna

The interior @ Mari Vanna

The interior @ Mari Vanna

Mari Vanna’s opulent decor will take you to your babushka’s house (the one who still lives in Moscow) complete with black and white family photos, floral wallpaper, and knickknacks.  The classic Russian specialties here like their borscht and pelmeni will warm you heart and soul, while their selection of Russian and house infused vodkas keep you toasty on a cold winter night.

 

Mari Vanna on Urbanspoon

 

42 E 20th Street – Gramercy Tavern

For nearly two decades Gramercy Tavern has been the gold standard for new American fare and supreme service in New York City.  The seasonal pre fixe menu curated by executive chef, Michael Anthony is timeless and poignant, creating a meal that will surely transport.

*Pre order a copy of the Gramercy Tavern cookbook (being released later this year) to enjoy some of the classics at home! 

Gramercy Tavern on Urbanspoon

 

43 E 20th Street – Veritas

The wine list at Veritas is not merely a list, it is a collection.  The collection of Park B. Smith, a textile entrepreneur, accounts for much of the wine list at Veritas and is yours to peruse while you enjoy the offerings of executive chef, Sam Hazen.  The kind of experience you should expect at Veritas doesn’t come cheap – for a more affordable option grab a seat at the bar and snack on a selection of sumptuous contemporary American small plates.

Veritas on Urbanspoon