Last weekend we took a quick trip to New York City, we had planned it for a long time and it finally happened. For Alicia, it was a dream realized that had long been deferred, dreaming of going to NYC for years and it finally happened. For me, it was research, I love what I do and the food I cook, Fusion dishes speak to my creativity and command attention, but they are based on a foundation of really good food. So with the help of a good friend and longtime local to the city, we went to some of the most memorable spots that have stood the test of time. Check out this Eating tour in New York guys.
Where we stayed
We arrived at midnight. We were supposed to stay at the Wellington Hotel, just down the street from Times Square but were upgraded to the Park Central Hotel, both owned by the same company and across the street from each other. It was a complete surprise to us! The staff were tremendously attentive, and the doorman even crossed the street to open the door for us and help with the check in at front desk.
By the time we got to the hotel and dropped our bags, it was midnight. Though lots of places were closed, the concierge at the hotel recommended this spot for late food. The atmosphere was sophisticated, cozy, and cool -mismatched armchairs in the lounge area deal.
What we ordered:
Steak Sandwiches, Manhattan, Old Fashioned
Order it rare. The food was good, cocktails were better. And the appeal of having a Manhattan in Manhattan at 1 am appeals to my tired funny bone.
Lots and lots of walking! I think we averaged about 15 miles every day. It was painful. And awesome. and shin splint inducing. Don’t matter. Its NYC, wear good shoes and walk it off.
A brussels restaurant with a signature communal table and a penchant for fresh, daily bread its in the name. Even though it has multiple locations, the quality was not lacking. Their focus on fresh, contemporary, french-leaning, dishes works well for breakfast.
And their signature communal table was a cool conversation piece to meet strangers. Alicia and I started a conversation with the couple next to us: the weather, new phones and technology, and careers- he works as a film consultant, she’s in Architecture. In the 60’s he picked her up on their first date in front of a barber shop, at the time a mobster was being killed, they’ve been married over 30 years.
Order: The Avocado Toast with Salmon
It’s impressive how it came on an oversized slice of rye bread. The crunch of the bread was a wonderful texture against the salmon and avocado. Needs a little more acid to freshen it up- lemon juice would have helped. The raw carrot shavings were interesting, but had they been pickled, it would have taken this dish to a whole new level.
So this is all Alicia, she’s been watching this show for years and it’s been her dream to go to Kleinfeld’s when she went to New York. That’s where her favorite designers Randy Fenoli and Pnina Tornai are located.
We met them! The receptionist told us we were lucky, they were Filming the day we went and that never happens!
The Bean is this really cozy coffee shop that doesn’t want you to think it’s pretentious. They have an excellent baked goods section and it’s nice to come in and have coffee or tea. In really obscenely cold weather, it becomes a godsend to warm up. Good luck getting a seat anywhere though, we couldnt.
We ordered: NutElla Fitzgerald: its drinking hot chocolate and nutella together. Cold weather demands it.
The country’s oldest pizzeria! Straight from the old country. Seriously, they have one other location in Napoli and it’s owned by the same family.
Pure brick ovens. Pure cash only. They have an ATM outside to help out, but the first time I came here, I thought “that’s it, I’m eating at a mafia front.”
The restaurant has 3 dining rooms! The original spot had 1, but over time, they kept expanding and turning more spaces of the building into dining rooms.
This is in the original dining room for the restaurant, you have to go through the kitchen to get here.
We ordered: BUDDY’S “CAKE BOSS” SPECIAL PIZZA
Fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, prosciutto, arugula, topped with romano and basil.
This was one of the best meals of the trip bar none! The bitterness of the arugula stands up well to the meaty prosciutto. The crust crackled as we ate it, hot, chewy, and, when catching the home made tomato sauce, brought out the sweetness of the tomatoes.
What did we do after eating pizza? Go out for more! Seriously, we went to Pomodoro down the street and chased down a slice of their Vodka Sauce pizza.
Vodka does this funny thing to food, it adds no flavor of its own, but highlights anything it comes in contact with. This pizza hit all the right notes: thin crust, cheesy mozzarella, and the sweet vodka sauce brought everything together. This wouldn’t even be the last italian spot of the night.
I will forever be thankful for Carlos showing us this spot. Its the oldest bakery in Little Italy, opened in 1892. By far the best pastries I’ve ever tasted.
We ordered: Cannoli and Lobster Tail
Eating cannolis by people who have been making cannolis for over a century speaks to me at a deep, gutral, level. Its tasting authenticity.
Ok, eating this is an experience. A crunchy, creamy mess of bavarian cream and THIN rolled pastry dough. Its basically a thin cone full of custardy bavarian cream. As you bite into it, it starts breaking apart, and that cream goes everywhere, so does the powder sugar on top. Doesn’t matter, nothing matters while you’re eating this-except the next bite.
I wasn’t aware of this but Alex Guarnaschelli featured it on Best Thing I Ever Ate. After seeing the video, I wholly agree with her. It’s the best pastry in NYC.
Exit Grand Central Terminal to Vanderbilt Ave. Go to your left. Enter the double doors and go up a flight of stairs to your right.
Your reward is this
A tini hidden lounge and one of the best bars in NYC. We got there around midnight, last call is at 1:30 so things were settling down. The menu isn’t long and focuses more on whiskey and bourbon based drinks. Don’t order a Zombie or a Piña Colada, the bartenders prefer you stick to the menu, but they did a perfect, off the menu, Cosmopolitan for Alicia. Carlos and I had the Smoked Old Fashioneds.
We ordered: Smoked Old Fashioned, Cosmopolitan
Jewish Deli History!! Established in 1888, Katz’s has been doing traditional deli fare. Fun Fact: if you’ve seen When Harry Met Sally, the famous orgasm scene was filmed there.
I had their pastrami sandwich. Why? Because I’m a glutton for having any excuse to fit a pound of meat between two slices of bread, call it a sandwich, and shovel it in my mouth as unceremoniously as possible. There’s no sugar coating this, it was gluttony. Sweet, luscious, I’m in New York and diet starts on monday, gluttony.
And it was awesome.
I’ve had good pastrami sandwiches before, but their pastrami was out of this world. Fall apart tender like you wouldn’t believe. I didn’t, and it was in my mouth listening to my disbelief! Doing a little research, turns out they cure the meat for at least 30 days. Most delis cure pastrami for 24- 72 hours. The end result becomes this tender, not-oversalted, nuanced meat that doesn’t need anything else but two slices of white bread.
Alicia and Carlos had the Bagel and Lox.
She got full off half. I ate her other half of the sandwich. It didnt matter that I was full, or that we shared a matzo ball soup beforehand, or that this was brunch and we ate the equivalent of a turkey dinner in calories.
The big dra
Last month when I was in New Orleans, we went to the oldest bar in the South. Blacksmith Bar was built by 1732. This is one of the oldest bars in the North, White Horse Tavern was built in 1880 and it’s cash only.
We ordered: Sidecars
Cognac, Triple Sec, Lemon Juice. They follow the same procedure as the Kamikaze and the Margarita, and are all in the Sours family of cocktails. It was our first time trying them. It’s less sweet than a kamikaze and the Cognac adds a complex, dry, flavor to the drink.
I’ll be honest, I came looking for this restaurant for about a year before the trip. On a random night I see an episode of Beat Bobby Flay- and this tough new yorker- Chef Paul Denamiel shows up challenging Bobby Flay on burgers with this: The French Onion Burger. Which, coincidentally, won New York’s Burger Bash 2 years in a row.
This is probably the coolest dish conception I’ve ever seen. Pure fusion of two dishes, two cuisines.
It was served with bechamel sauce, caramelized onions, emmental cheese, and the burger cooked rare (yay!) served in a toasted english muffin. Bechamel, onions, and cheese offered this creamy, nutty+ sweet flavor to compliment the meat. The english muffin was smart, it did not allow for the bottom bun to get soggy and kept the focus on the burger itself. Still, use a fork and knife, its a mess.
We ordered: French Onion Soup, French Onion Burgers, Seafood Bake Crepe
Last day and we were meeting a friend of my mom’s for brunch at this trattoria he recommended. It was right by the hotel and across the street from Carnegie Hall. First impressions, it’s art focused: there are prints of Michelangelo’s sketches on the walls, but not a place that takes itself too seriously- there’s a giant, singular, porcelain breast hanging off the wall at the host’s station.
The menu is upscale elegant, and the best thing we ordered were the eggs benedict with prosciutto. Perfectly poached, over thick slices of ciabatta and hollandaise sauce. The italian version of the french classic.
Perfect for a close on this vacation and the flight back home.
And now I’m closing on this already enormous blog post! Overall it was a wonderful experience creating inimitable memories and tasting authentic dishes in one of the metropolises of the world. If you’ve been to NYC, and have any places or dishes I should chase after, leave me a comment!
I’m not above flying across the country for a good bite of gluttony!