Celebrate the cornucopia of New York's cultures this weekend: Oktoberfest and Moon Day Festival

World Yacht is proud to announce New York’s First Annual Oktoberfest on the Hudson to commemorate the first day of Germany’s Oktoberfest celebration on Saturday, September 18th.

Oktoberfest

This one day event will transform World Yacht’s Pier 81 into a Beer Garden on the Hudson with the most authentic German beers, hard to find anywhere else in New York, such as Gaffel Kolsch, Hofbrau, Jever, Radeberger and Weihenstephan on tap; and Weihenstephan Korbinian, Weihenstephan Vitus, and Augustiner Maximator by the bottle.

The party will be filled with sounds from the German Oompah Band, New York’s Spitzbuam; and food, orchestrated by Executive Chef Denis Weekes, will include hearty options such as German Sausages, several varieties of Bratwursts, Giant Bavarian Pretzels, among other German-inspired grub. [Read more...]

A French-African delight

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

abistro
154 Carlton Avenue
Fort Greene, Brooklyn

718-885-9455/Visit abistro Online

Senegalese Fried Chicken at abistro

Senegalese Fried Chicken at abistro

Perched on an unsuspecting block in Fort Greene, with an unsuspecting facade (I nearly passed right by it!) stands abistro.  An unassuming open kitchen manned by two chefs stands at the back of the tiny restaurant.  The small size of the restaurant only lends a hand to the cozy, homey feel that not only the surroundings, but the staff and food exude.

Calamari and escargot appetizer at abistro

Calamari and escargot appetizer at abistro

To start, my guest and I chose to share the calamari and escargot appetizer off the specials menu, a spicy tomato based stew of calamari and escargot served with a helping of freshly grilled rye bread.  The charred bread added a wonderfully smoky and crunchy dimension to the melt-in-your-mouth- tender escargot.  Following  our waitress’s recommendation, we also ordered the what she claimed was the most popular item on the menu: Senegalese Fried Chicken ($17 for a half order that was more than enough for one person) and the Moules Frites (mussels and fries, $16/half order). The breast of chicken was served atop a sweet rice cake and wilted vegetables and topped with a slightly salty dijonnaise sauce.  The mussels arrived in a bath of broth similar to that of our appetizer and were a pleasant and unexpected accompaniment to the lightly seasoned fresh cut fries which turned out to be the perfect thing to soak up the left over broth.

Moules Frites at abistro

Moules Frites at abistro

Abistro was a great find and I will definitely be back.  The BYOB policy adds to its charm and friendly, comfortable atmosphere.  As I have heard in the past, and now agree with whole-heartedly, this is the kind of place where you order off the specials menu.  This is a kitchen to be trusted.

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Abistro on Urbanspoon

Just Sweet’s not so sweet opening

BY STEPHANIE AMY COLLAZO

Review of Just Sweet Dessert House
83 Third Avenue, (Corner of 3rd Ave and 12th Street)
East Village – NYC
212-388-1380 http://justsweetnyc.com

Just Sweet had its grand opening July 16th, and as one of the 50+ dining options on Third Avenue it is sticking out for all the wrong reasons.

A few weeks prior to the grand opening of Just Sweet I passed by the store and quickly wrote down the name and location, positive that only something good can come of a place with such a name.  After a friend notified me of his visit to the dessert only restaurant I quickly made plans to go there a week after the opening.

Bubble Tea at Just Sweet

Bubble Tea at Just Sweet

When you arrive to the restaurant you can’t help but become excited by the bright colors and promising menu rife with numerous Asian-inspired desserts.

There are crepes with green tea ice cream, shaved ice topped with fruit, ice cream sundaes, tong shui (a sweet soup), bubble tea, sweet sticky rice and an array of special dessert drinks.

Mango Sticky Rice

Mango Sticky Rice

On my visit I ordered the mango sticky rice ($5), toast with condensed milk ($3) and taro milk tea with lychee jelly ($4).  While my companions ordered the chocolate castle sundae ($7) and strawberry delight shaved ice ($5.50).

Strawberry Delight Shaved Ice

Strawberry Delight Shaved Ice

Chocolate Castle Sundae

Chocolate Castle Sundae

The waitress was quick to take our order but the kitchen was slow to deliver.  It took over 10 minutes for the kitchen to produce my taro milk tea, it was delicious nonetheless, but a beverage shouldn’t take as long as the meal to be delivered.

Along side my long awaited bubble tea was the mango sticky rice.  Mango slices and a white sauce, which I’m unfamiliar with, topped the sticky rice.   The dish was beautifully presented in a clear square bowl.  As soon as I took my first bite my expectations plummeted, though it looked beautiful it was terribly bland, the only thing sweet about it was the slightly mushy mango.

Next was the toast with condensed milk, which I waited over twenty minutes for only to be notified that they were out of bread.

After being terribly disappointed with my own order I went ahead and tried my friend’s desserts.  The Strawberry delight, which was shaved iced, topped with strawberry syrup, strawberry slices, mixed jelly and a scoop of ice cream that cost a dollar extra, was actually really good.  The flavors and textures mixed really well making their shaved ice the perfect summer treat.

The chocolate sundae was nothing special, chocolate ice cream with chocolate syrup, crushed oreos, cornflakes, and banana.  It was good and the cornflakes added a nice crunch but for at $7 I’d say go to the super market buy all of the ingredients and make these at home.

Although the service was terrible I will probably return to Just Sweet for the shaved ice, in hopes of an improvement in service.

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Just Sweet's not so sweet opening

BY STEPHANIE AMY COLLAZO

Review of Just Sweet Dessert House
83 Third Avenue, (Corner of 3rd Ave and 12th Street)
East Village – NYC
212-388-1380 http://justsweetnyc.com

Just Sweet had its grand opening July 16th, and as one of the 50+ dining options on Third Avenue it is sticking out for all the wrong reasons.

A few weeks prior to the grand opening of Just Sweet I passed by the store and quickly wrote down the name and location, positive that only something good can come of a place with such a name.  After a friend notified me of his visit to the dessert only restaurant I quickly made plans to go there a week after the opening.

Bubble Tea at Just Sweet

Bubble Tea at Just Sweet

When you arrive to the restaurant you can’t help but become excited by the bright colors and promising menu rife with numerous Asian-inspired desserts.

There are crepes with green tea ice cream, shaved ice topped with fruit, ice cream sundaes, tong shui (a sweet soup), bubble tea, sweet sticky rice and an array of special dessert drinks.

Mango Sticky Rice

Mango Sticky Rice

On my visit I ordered the mango sticky rice ($5), toast with condensed milk ($3) and taro milk tea with lychee jelly ($4).  While my companions ordered the chocolate castle sundae ($7) and strawberry delight shaved ice ($5.50).

Strawberry Delight Shaved Ice

Strawberry Delight Shaved Ice

Chocolate Castle Sundae

Chocolate Castle Sundae

The waitress was quick to take our order but the kitchen was slow to deliver.  It took over 10 minutes for the kitchen to produce my taro milk tea, it was delicious nonetheless, but a beverage shouldn’t take as long as the meal to be delivered.

Along side my long awaited bubble tea was the mango sticky rice.  Mango slices and a white sauce, which I’m unfamiliar with, topped the sticky rice.   The dish was beautifully presented in a clear square bowl.  As soon as I took my first bite my expectations plummeted, though it looked beautiful it was terribly bland, the only thing sweet about it was the slightly mushy mango.

Next was the toast with condensed milk, which I waited over twenty minutes for only to be notified that they were out of bread.

After being terribly disappointed with my own order I went ahead and tried my friend’s desserts.  The Strawberry delight, which was shaved iced, topped with strawberry syrup, strawberry slices, mixed jelly and a scoop of ice cream that cost a dollar extra, was actually really good.  The flavors and textures mixed really well making their shaved ice the perfect summer treat.

The chocolate sundae was nothing special, chocolate ice cream with chocolate syrup, crushed oreos, cornflakes, and banana.  It was good and the cornflakes added a nice crunch but for at $7 I’d say go to the super market buy all of the ingredients and make these at home.

Although the service was terrible I will probably return to Just Sweet for the shaved ice, in hopes of an improvement in service.

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A guide to the best of Arthur Avenue, New York City’s REAL Little Italy

BY NICOLE MANCINI

In the heart of the Bronx lies a tiny Italian community, better known as Arthur Avenue. Mere blocks away from the hustle and bustle of Fordham Road, mom and pop shops welcome you with fresh mozzarella, espresso, and homemade pasta. I live and work near this area; something that I experience as both a blessing (fresh amazing food at my fingertips) and a burden (a diet that will never happen). I like to think of Arthur Avenue as one of New York City’s best-kept secrets, and  these are my go-to places for visiting this gem of a neighborhood:

Casa Della Mozzarella, 604 East 187th Street

Joe’s Deli, 685 East 187th Street, Joe’s Deli

For mozzarella and bocconcini my family is a house divided. My parents and aunts like Joe’s Deli, while my cousins and I love Casa Della Mozzarella. They are both very good. I would get the bocconcini from Casa (either salted or not, they ask you what you want, I usually get the salted), and a regular whole mozzarella from Joe’s. Both delis have Italian goods as well (pasta, oils, cookies) but the mozzarella is the main attraction.

Addeo Gennaro and Sons, 2372 Hughes Avenue. There is another location on Arthur, just go to the one on Hughes.

Madonia Brothers Bakery, 2348 Arthur Avenue.

DeLillo’s Pastry Shop, 606 East 187th Street

Bread-wise there are two awesome places- Addeo’s and Madonia. Addeo’s sells an excellent round loaf. I sometimes have a meal of their bread with extra virgin olive oil, it’s that good. They also sell chocolate bread, but only on Saturday mornings, which if you’re lucky enough to get right out of the oven goes perfect with a cappuccino from DeLillo’s (best pastry shop in the area, next door to Casa Della Mozzarella).

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Abelson Photography via Flickr

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Abelson Photography via Flickr

Madonia’s is better known for their specialty breads, biscottis, and cannolis. They have a cranberry walnut loaf, a jalapeno cheddar loaf, and one with fennel- all delicious. They have a huge selection of biscotti, with about 12 different flavors. My favorite is the double chocolate-trust me, indulge.

Borgatti’s Ravioli and Egg Noodles, 632 East 187th Street, Borgatti’s

Borgatti’s is the go to place for everything pasta. They make homemade noodles– the fettucini are my favorite. They are also famous for their ravioli, which they have two kinds of — cheese or meat & spinach. I like the cheese best. Mario Borgatti, whose parents opened the shop 70 years ago, is usually there running the place with his son.

Biancardi’s, 2350 Arthur Avenue

Peter’s Meat Market, 2344 Arthur Avenue, located inside the retail market

For meat, head to Biancardi’s which is one door down from Madonia’s; or Peter’s Meat Market, which is inside the Arthur Avenue Retail Market. Both are top quality and have been around for generations. Biancardi’s has carcasses hanging around and offers a whole slab of prosciutto for you to buy. Peter’s carries calf brains, tongue, and all the stuff that could be featured on an episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.

Cosenza’s, 2354 Arthur Avenue
Randazzo’s, 2327 Arthur Avenue,
Randazzo

Cosenza’s and Randazzo’s are the two main fish stores. They both have raw bars out front, Cosenza’s has a bigger selection of oysters, but Randazzo has a bigger selection of seafood.

Having fun with our favorite oyster shuckers at Randazzo’s

Having fun with our favorite oyster shuckers at Randazzo’s

Tino’s Delicatessen, 2410 Arthur Avenue, Tino’s

For a quick bite to eat without sitting down in a formal restaurant, Tino’s Delicatessen does the trick. They have eggplant parmigiana, paninis, and pasta- made just like an Italian grandmother would. They also sell imported goods from Italy- this place is one stop shopping.

Arthur Avenue Retail Market, 2344 Arthur Avenue

Cerini Coffee and Gifts, 2334 Arthur Avenue, Cerini
Teitel Brothers, 2372 Arthur Avenue,
Teitel Bros.

Lastly Boiano sells fresh produce in the Arthur Avenue retail market, Cerini sells the best espresso machines, and Teitel Brothers has every Italian imported specialty you can imagine. They even sell you the whole parmigiano reggiano wheel!

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Adventurous chef’s restaurant hits a high note – A Review of Les Halles

BY BETH KAISERMAN

Les Halles
411 Park Avenue South
Flatiron / Murray Hill
(212) 679-4111/
leshalles.net

Photo courtesy of citysearch.com

Photo courtesy of citysearch.com

Some foodies might begin their New York adventures by eating at a celebrity chef’s establishment, with secret hopes of running into their white-coated heroes in the flesh.

I began my New York life by running into a celebrity chef – literally.

Last June while watching the Stanley Cup Final at Milady’s in SoHo, my friend saw Anthony Bourdain walk by. Naturally, I had to see where my meat-loving soul mate was going for his nightly imbibing and feasting. His destination would surely be a place worth checking out.

Unfortunately, that plan was cut short when I ran straight out of the bar and into Bourdain. As passersby looked on, he responded with a cool “No problem” and moved on with his evening. I did my best fake-casual walk down the street the opposite way. A block later my face cooled off, and I returned to the bar to watch my Pittsburgh Penguins clench the Cup. Needless to say it’s one of my most bizarre (and treasured) celebrity interactions.

Over a year later, I finally landed in the right place: Bourdain’s French brasserie, Les Halles. [Read more...]

Small Joint’s Tacos Hit a Homerun: A Review of Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos

BY BETH KAISERMAN

Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos
271 Starr St.
Bushwick, Brooklyn
718-456-3422

Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos, a little shack in Bushwick, cooks up the cheapest, most delicious tacos I’ve found yet in New York City. The ingredients are fresh, from the house-made corn tortillas to the crunchy lettuce that complements the spicy Mexican flavors. [Read more...]

The best pie in Brooklyn! – A review of L & B Spumoni Garden

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

L & B Spumoni Garden
2725 86th Street
Gravesend, Brooklyn
718-372-8400/spumonigardens.com

I went to Spumoni Garden for what everyone in their right mind goes there for, the Sicilian pizza and the spumoni.  I had heard about Spumoni Garden from many reliable sources, all with the same verdict: delicious.  Despite the one hour subway ride on the N train to the 86th Street stop, I was excited to try out what my boyfriend and best friend grew up on and what super foodie (and fellow New Yorker) Adam Richmond from Man vs. Food raved about.

spumoni

L& B Spumoni Garden's Sicilian Pie.

The first pleasant day of the year spelled lines upon lines at the outdoor seating window at Spumoni Garden, where you order your food and then take it to your seat at one of the red picnic tables, fast food style.  The outdoor tables were probably the more authentic way of enjoying a Spumoni Garden Sicilian pie, but we opted for a seat in the dining room where we were greeted by a basket of fresh Italian bread complete with cheese and pancetta baked right in. [Read more...]

The best pie in Brooklyn! – A review of L & B Spumoni Garden

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

L & B Spumoni Garden
2725 86th Street
Gravesend, Brooklyn
718-372-8400/spumonigardens.com

I went to Spumoni Garden for what everyone in their right mind goes there for, the Sicilian pizza and the spumoni.  I had heard about Spumoni Garden from many reliable sources, all with the same verdict: delicious.  Despite the one hour subway ride on the N train to the 86th Street stop, I was excited to try out what my boyfriend and best friend grew up on and what super foodie (and fellow New Yorker) Adam Richmond from Man vs. Food raved about.

spumoni

L& B Spumoni Garden's Sicilian Pie.

The first pleasant day of the year spelled lines upon lines at the outdoor seating window at Spumoni Garden, where you order your food and then take it to your seat at one of the red picnic tables, fast food style.  The outdoor tables were probably the more authentic way of enjoying a Spumoni Garden Sicilian pie, but we opted for a seat in the dining room where we were greeted by a basket of fresh Italian bread complete with cheese and pancetta baked right in. [Read more...]

Clucking its way into hungry hearts: Review of Pies-n-Thighs

BY BETH KAISERMAN

Pies-n-Thighs
166 S. 4
th St. at Driggs Ave.
Southside Williamsburg
347-529-6090/
piesnthighs.com

As my knife sank in, I could hear the juice flowing inside. The meat was perfectly tender, moist and flavorful, and the coating had the ideal crispy, slightly salty bite. Yes, this is the fried chicken from Pies-n-Thighs, which opened its new 60-seat location this week in Williamsburg.

Fried Chicken and Creamy Mac and Cheese - Photo by Beth Kaiserman

Fried Chicken and Creamy Mac and Cheese - Photo by Beth Kaiserman

I paid $11.98 for a plate piled with three huge hunks of juicy fried chicken and a heap of creamy mac and cheese with a shot of hot sauce on top. Hard-earned dollars were well-spent on this truly amazing  Southern-style fare (so Southern that the operation was shut down in January 2008 for having a pork smoker that’s illegal in New York.)

This chicken is crispy fried heaven. [Read more...]