Tag Archives: italian

Harold Dieterle’s new restaurant The Marrow: Opening Night

22 Dec

I had been reading about the opening of The Marrow, Harold Dieterle‘s newest restaurant after the success of his other NYC spots, Perilla and Kin Shop.  Mike and I actually visited Perilla very early in our relationship, and it was one of the first “celebrity chef” restaurants we went to. He was excited to take me there after watching Chef Harold win Top Chef Season 1, and I had not yet started watching the wonder that is Top Chef (like I said, it was early!)  After that, I started watching the show and we soon found ourselves to be the Top Chef sluts that we now are.

I really loved our meal at Perilla, and we keep talking about how we need to visit Kin Shop (though I’m nervous it may be tough with my allergy to enjoy the way it’s meant to be enjoyed).  I was very excited about this opening and was hoping we could find a reservation sometime in the next 2 weeks during the holiday. Mike called and was told that, unfortunately, they were closed on Christmas Eve but they had an opening THAT NIGHT at 8:30.  So we excitedly went to opening night.

When we go to an opening night, or even opening month, I always feel a little bad reviewing the restaurant. I am fascinated by what it takes to open a restaurant (as you know from the “A Restaurant is Born” section) and know that it must be so hard to get to Opening Night.  There are bound to be kinks and issues with service, food, and just about everything else. But it is also fun to get a first peak into something so special.

We arrived a bit early, and the hostesses seemed a bit nervous that they didn’t immediately have a spot for us. They had us wait a bit and then recommended we go to the bar.  The bar is quite small, and the table next to it leaves very little room to stand. We had to keep moving around to allow the servers to get through with food. If (or rather, WHEN) this restaurant gets packed, it will be tough to keep chairs at the table by the bar.  But that was probably the worst kink we saw all night. That, alone, is impressive.

The cocktail list had a good amount of drinks that sounded great but were like nothing I had ever heard. I ordered the Miss Roberts’ Cobbler (cognac, red jacket cider, apple butter, pimento dram) and Mike got the Oh Tannenbaum (pine infused gin, clear creek douglas fir eau de vie, lavender and lime).  I really enjoyed mine, especially the apple butter taste. Mike wasn’t as crazy about his, but it was interesting.

DSCF2368

As soon as our drinks were in hand, our table was ready.  I sat along the window with a perfect view into the kitchen, which was left open with a window of its own for kitchen voyeurs just like me.

DSCF2380

The restaurant itself is kind of small but you only notice when people try to pass each other in between the tables. The ceilings are high and it uses light wood beams and some vintage style wallpaper in a simple style.  A nice aesthetic. 

DSCF2381

When we read the menu, I was concerned. There were just too many things I wanted to try!  (Tough life… I know)  The full menu is at the end of this post if you’re curious (since I haven’t found it posted yet).  The menu was split up in a really neat way. Since the theme of the restaurant draws from the chef’s German and Italian heritage, the menu was split in two for his two families.

We decided to try one item from the Meat Plates section, one from each side of the Starters (one for each family), and an entree.

From the Meat Plates section, we got the Kobe Short Rib Crudo with aged anchovy extract.  It was a nice, delicate flavor and the anchovy added a wonderful salt flavor. It didn’t blow me away, but I’m glad we tried it.

DSCF2385

Next, from the Famiglia Chiarelli section, we tried the bone marrow, which came with sea urchin, fried potatoes, meyer lemon aioli and baby celery greens.  We really loved this. The bone marrow and sea urchin went surprisingly well together, with that similar texture but completely different flavors. The marrow’s richness was also nicely cut with the lemon aioli. The fried potatoes were like teeny tiny little nuggets of crispiness, which was the perfect texture with the rest of the ingredients.  Everything here just blended nicely and the well toasted bread was perfect with it.

DSCF2388

Then from the Familie Dieterle section, we tried the Badische Schupfnudeln.  This insane mouthful of German words translated to braised rabbit, beet greens, tarragon & creamy Riesling sauce. (I learned rabbit as hasenpfeffer, but I guess that is specific to stew… thank you Google). Sadly, this was our least favorite dish.  A whole bunch of mostly mushy things together. We keep ordering rabbit, trying to like it, but I think it’s time we give up. It’s just not my favorite. It’s too soft, too little flavor… so many other meats I prefer.  This dish needed something crispy or crunchy or just something to break up the texture a bit. The flavor was fine, but it just seemed pretty flat to me. 

DSCF2392

We had to try the pan fried duck schnitzel off the Mains section. It came with quark spaetzle, hazelnuts, cucumber-potato salad and stewed wolfberries. My background is German/Austrian/Russian, so this fell right into the food I consider being akin with my family. My grandmother made awesome schnitzel so I have very high schnitzel standards.

This absolutely didn’t disappoint. The duck gave it a bit of a twist without losing the best parts about the schnitzel… the thinly pounded meat, the crispy breading, and the rich flavors.  The spaetzle with hazelnuts was especially great since it was toasted.  And the wolfberries (I want to know what a raw wolfberry tastes like now!) were really excellent adding a hint of sweetness to the dish. The freshness from the cucumber really added to things and it all was just perfect together. It was also a very nice portion (everything was, truly) so there was plenty to split.

DSCF2390

And the best part of splitting everything? Room for dessert!

Mike decided he wanted to try some cheese off their great cheese menu.  3 cheeses for $10 is nicely priced, so we went for it.

DSCF2393

The excellent toasted bread was back, and it came with a really nice honey and a date/nut cake (maybe? the server wasn’t positive).  We tried the Toma Walser, Challerhocker, and Chiriboga Blue. I really liked the Challerhocker. It had great bite and went really well with the sweet partners.

DSCF2398

And I chose the Apple Hand Pie for dessert.

DSCF2394

We asked what quark was, and our waiter compared it to buttermilk in that it is sweet and creamy with a tiny bit of a bite. The pie was very good, with a perfect crunch of the dough and nice sugared top. The apples could have been more plenty (or maybe thicker cut) but the flavors were really nice.  I also really enjoyed the caramel sauce.

DSCF2405

At the end of our meal, a fellow diner came up to all the tables and mentioned that the Chef was going to come out soon and we should all greet him accordingly.  A standing ovation quickly followed, and the chef grew very bashful and ran right back into the kitchen. It was a very sweet moment.

photo (4)

We really enjoyed our meal and we were excited to be able to dine there on opening night.  I can’t say it was a top meal of 2012, but it was a solid meal and Mike and I agreed that it would be absolutely worth returning to try more.  The schnitzel was certainly the stand out dish, followed directly by the bone marrow.  I would skip the rabbit and the crudo if I were to return, but I’m glad we tried both.  Can’t wait to try more!

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

The Menu on December 21, 2012:

MEAT PLATES:

Waygu Bresaola 10
Foie Gras Mousse w/ gooseberry 7
Light Sauerbraten Lamb Ribs w/ fried garlic 13
Kobe Short Rib Crudo w/ aged anchovy extract 14
Prociutto Wrapped Dates w/ gorgonzola & saba 6
Housemade Weisswurst w/ apple butter 6

STARTERS:

FAMIGLA CHIARELLI:
SKILLET-BRAISED CUTTLEFISH- Garlic bread, guanciale & white wine 14
HAND-CUT FETTUCCINI- Pork and sage sausage, acorn squash & baked parmesan 12
BURRATA SALAD FOR TWO- Giardiniera, grilled bread, EVOO, balsamic 26
THE BONE MARROW- Sea urchin, fried potatoes, meyer lemon aioli & baby celery greens 15

FAMILIE DIETERLE:
BRAISED DUCK & PRETZEL DUMPLING SOUP- Beech mushrooms, kale & marjoram 13
BABY RED OAK & LADY APPLE SALAD- Cambozola blue cheese & spiced pumpkin seed vinaigrette 12
BADISCHE SCHUPFNUDELN- Braised rabbit, beet greens, tarragon & creamy Riesling sauce 15
PICKLED HERRING SALAD- Roasted baby beets, horseradish cream, pistachios & baby arugula 14

MAINS:

GRILLED GAME HEN- Fennel, fried salami & brussels sprouts panzanella 24
BRAISED BEEF BRISKET “BRACIOLE”- House ground polenta, escarole, pecorino & red sauce 25
ROASTED WHOLE HEN OF THE WOODS MUSHROOM- Cardoon-creamed kale, crispy onions & truffled mushroom jus 26
SAUTEED STONE BASS “VITELLO TOMATO”- Fingerling potatoes, cippolini onions, olives, sweet breads & tuna belly sauce 30

GRILLED WAYGU CULOTTE STEAK- Cauliflower gratin, watercress & beerenauslese vinaigrette 33
PAN-FRIED DUCK SCHNITZEL- Quark spaetzle, hazelnuts, cucumber-potato salad & stewed wolfberries 28
JUNIPER BRAISED LAMB NECK- Rutabaga puree, whole roasted carrots & red sauerkraut 23
PAN-ROASTED SCOTTISH SALMON- Cabbage, pastrami & warm mustard sauce 25

SIDES:

BAMBOO RICE RISOTTO- Leek puree, steamed egg & parmesan 14
GRILLED BABY ROMAINE LETTUCE- Pecorino & warm lemon-anchovy vinaigrette 10
MASHED STUMPF- Snipped chives 10
DRY AGED BEEF FAT FRIED POTATOES- Pickled red onion & grains of paradise aioli 10

Advertisements

Grand Opening: Tavola

30 Sep

We lived around the corner from a pretty infamous place: Manganaro’s. There were 2 restaurants: Manganaro’s Hero Boy and (the late) Manganaro’s Grosseria.  They were side by side and the grocery displayed a sign very specifically stating that they had no affiliation with Hero Boy next door.  It was a very long family feud and the restaurants had both been there for over a hundred years. Anthony Bourdain had famously lived in an apartment above these restaurants before he made it big. He even featured them on a show a few years back.

I ate there once, and they had a group of Italian ladies fighting and cursing pretty constantly in the background, while cranking out awesome old fashioned Italian food that they served on floppy paper plates.  

But then, they closed. After all those years.

A new restaurant quickly started going in, and last week, the NY Times featured this new restaurant, Tavola, in an article.  Tavola opened on Friday (or thereabouts) and we went for a late night dinner.

0Sept 30 2012 Camera Card 1753

The menu is full of the classics.

1Sept 30 2012 Camera Card 1729

And they kept many pieces of the Grosseria as it was, giving it a bit of flashback to days gone by.

2Sept 30 2012 Camera Card 1731

They kept the old ceilings.

3Sept 30 2012 Camera Card 1745

And the very pretty old sky light in the back.

4Sept 30 2012 Camera Card 1750

They built a brand new oven that was quite beautiful.

5Sept 30 2012 Camera Card 1747

And they are doing their pizzas in this wood burning oven.

6Sept 30 2012 Camera Card 1751

It is a good mix of new and old, and it was instantly comfortable.  Even though it just opened, by keeping a lot of the old design, it felt somehow as if this place had been there forever.

7Sept 30 2012 Camera Card 1752

When we entered, it was pretty full and service was buzzing.  There was some confusion and we waited a bit too long for things like bread, water, and the check, but it was obvious that there were just small kinks that needed to be ironed out.

We started with hearty bread.  It was well flavored and good and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

8Sept 30 2012 Camera Card 1733

We had the arugula and fire roasted artichoke salad.  This was good, with a very nice dressing. I wanted more flavor and more quantity of artichokes, but overall it was a nice starter.

9aSept 30 2012 Camera Card 1742

We then tried the wild boar and veal meatballs, with fresh mint and pine nuts. These had a very nice flavor and the mint was a nice compliment.

9bDSCF1935

Then we had the lasagna with veal meat sauce.  I really loved this dish. The noodles were thicker and really held up to the layers.  The sauce was great and this tasted like everything you want from classic Italian.

9cSept 30 2012 Camera Card 1740

Overall, everything we had was very good and very hearty.  I can see this becoming a really nice, local place to eat on a cold night. As they iron out some of the service issues and get cranking, I can see them doing a very good business here in the section just south of Hell’s Kitchen.

The neighborhood is really growing with tons of new restaurants and building, and I’m glad to have Tavola as part of that growth.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

Casa Nonna

29 Jun

I had no idea what to expect when the retail space on the ground floor of my building finally got a tenant.  They advertised that “Casa Nonna” and “GoBurger” were coming.  Imagine my surprise when I did some Googling and realized that Casa Nonna was part of the BLT Restaurant Group.

0DSCF4757

I have been a fan of the BLTs for some time, and especially love the popovers at BLT Steak.  There has been a lot of press recently about Laurent Tourondel leaving the BLT chain amidst much drama, so it’s getting quite confusing about who is affiliated with what. But nonetheless, Casa Nonna was opening in my building. Score! There is one already in DC, and I hear it compared mostly to Carmine’s.

I was surprised at how big this place is. I couldn’t even get the sprawling rooms in one photo.

DSCF4753

DSCF4758

The actual bar area is smaller than I anticipated (midtown usually fills bars long before it fills eateries).

DSCF4752

There is a private room with a large TV.

1DSCF4823

Some awesome pasta jars.

2DSCF4825

A cheese case (where a waiter cleverly stood behind me and said “CHEESE!” just as I snapped this shot)

3DSCF4827

And some very cool tables.

DSCF4755

But what about the food?

The first time we went, we started with garlic bread.  This was INSANELY good.  (Strangely, this wasn’t served when we came back for dinner… so not sure what went on there)

DSCF4762

We tried a few apps, including these beautiful meatballs (which had chili in the sauce, dammit)

DSCF4761

Saffron Parmesan Risotto Balls (creamy inside, crispy outside, delicious tomato sauce)

DSCF4807

And Sheep’s Milk Ricotta, Truffled Saba, which was awesome.  I loved the truffle sauce and the ricotta spread so nicely.

DSCF4808

For entrees, one order was Tuna and Tuscan Tomato-Bread Salad, Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  When this came out, the person that ordered this immediately said “I made the right choice!”  I look forward to trying this because it looked great.

DSCF4764

Since it was lunchtime the first time we went, there were some paninis and piadinis on the table.

DSCF4765

DSCF4768

The branzino came out and both looked and smelled sensational.  It was head-on but deboned.  Nice.

DSCF4771

One person we were with ordered the tortellini, which was described as Little Hats of Ricotta, Tomato Basil Sauce, Parmesan. In the words of the orderer, “they had me at little hats.”

DSCF4773

There was also a pollo paillard salad, which was Grilled Herb Chicken Paillard, Arugula Salad, with Lemon Dressing.

DSCF4770

My first order was the squash blossom pizza.  I had tasted squash blossoms for the first time at Mozza, Mario Batali’s fantastic restaurant in LA.  The pesto on it was good and I really like the fried egg (though I wished there were a bit more.  The crust was crispy without being a cracker, but I can’t say the flavor was popping.

DSCF4766

These blossoms were tasty, but I’m not sure how much they added to the pizza.  I wanted more out of this, though it was very good.

DSCF4769

As for dinner entrees, we tried the Chicken parm, which was good and cheesy and with brocoli rabe.  It was a large serving and was juicy inside. The rabe was a bit spicy, and there was a bit of disappointment that it wasn’t served with a side of pasta.

DSCF4811

For dinner, I chose to have the gnocchi, which came with Lobster, Chanterelles, Pancetta, and Garlic Greens. It was very tasty. The gnocchi had the right amount of give and flavor, while the lobster, chanterelles, and pancetta really added a great series of flavors to the meal.

DSCF4813

For dessert, we had a trio of sorbetti (their flavor selections are Orange Hibiscus ~ Grapefruit ~ Watermelon ~ Red Grape ~ Cantalope ~ Lime Fresh Mint).  I really liked the red grape.

DSCF4814

And a trio of gelatti (flavors: Amaretto Crunch ~ Pistachio ~ Sweet Cream ~ Olive Oil ~ White Chocolate ~ Chocolate Hazelnut ~ Blackberry ~ Vanilla).  The olive oil was good, but nowhere near Otto good (you need the salt!) and the pistachio was missing some flavor. It was hard to tell the difference between the Amaretto Crunch and the Pistachio, for instance.

DSCF4815

I went with the panna cotta, which came with plums and a darling spiral of sugar.  It was tasty and the right texture, but the panna cotta was a wee bit bland.  I’d say the desserts overall were a bit disappointing.

DSCF4818

It was a nice touch that they served a nice ending of chocolate covered meringues.  They were pretty good.

DSCF4816

Overall, I think my opinion of Casa Nonna is swayed simply because I was expecting a BLT experience.  Compared to the BLTs, it isn’t nearly as refined nor filled with flavor, but it was good.  Bordering on very good.  It does share some resemblance to Carmine’s (though you can’t count on the portions to be gargantuan in the same way) with that big restaurant, Italian feel.

One thing I do need to say, however, is that the service was impeccable.  I think this had a lot to do with the fact that there were WAY too many waiters on staff for the nearly empty large space, so they had the time to quickly replace every fork and clear every dish.  But it was nice to see such friendly wait staff.

I look forward to seeing how this place develops.  It has definite potential, but I’m not sure if it has reached it yet.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

Mercato

9 Feb

We are fortunate at work to have a boss who is Italian and loves good food.  This ensures that we eat well during team lunches with him. 

He scheduled a team lunch around the corner at a place I always just passed right by without a notice, Mercato (on 39th Street just before 9th Ave, right near Port Authority).

It was decorated in a way that made you feel like you were dining in someone’s eclectic home.

DSCF3499

I especially appreciated the mirror frame made out of corks and the wine vault made out of old wine crates.

DSCF3497

They did a nice job of making it look inviting and simple.

DSCF3498

And the food was QUITE good.  We started with some shared apps, including meat balls…

DSCF3484

Olives…

DSCF3485

And a trio of bruschetta.

DSCF3486

We all got our own dishes including linguini with seafood.

DSCF3487

And seafood soup.

DSCF3488

And grilled skirt steak with roasted potatoes, broccoli rabe, and balsamic vinegar.

DSCF3489

I went with the branzino, which included 2 perfectly prepared fillets with raisins, spinach, celery, and garlic mashed potatoes (which I traded out for the roasted potatoes).

DSCF3491

It was very well cooked and I really liked the mild sweet contrast from the raisins in the sauce.  I expected a bit more from the potatoes, however.

DSCF3492

We put 3 small desserts on the table for everyone to split (I always find it funny how no one ever wants dessert and then when something comes out with multiple spoons… it magically disappears). 

They had a special dessert that day which was like a pound cake drizzled in chocolate.  It was pretty good.

DSCF3493

We also got the pistachio and almonds ice cream cake served with chocolate and honey.  This was my favorite.

DSCF3496

And we tried the ricotta cheesecake with vanilla beans.  It was good, but, per usual with cheesecake, I like mine better. 🙂

DSCF3494

Overall, this place serves high quality, classic Italian food at reasonable prices for the area (all pastas were $10-$16 and all the main courses were $14-$22).  I still give a slight edge to Il Punto and Carbone for Italian in the Penn Station/Port Authority/Broadway/Javitz Center black hole of a neighborhood I live in.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

Gigino Wagner Park

21 Jan

My great aunt is one of the most fabulous people you could ever meet.  She is well over 90, has an impressive shoe collection, could out-bake anyone I’ve ever met, and tells stories in a way that makes you feel like you lived them.  She is loved by every single person that meets her.  And then she got even cooler… she joined a dance class.  I was honored and overjoyed to see her perform with her troupe in Battery Park City with the family one weekday night.  After the show and our long Jewish goodbye, we tromped through a torrential rain storm down the block to the first restaurant we saw: Gigino Wagner Park (20 Battery Park… pretty much at the bottom tip of Manhattan).

It’s in a beautiful space on the water with a view of the Statue of Liberty, however, you’ll have to take my word for it since the rain was so dreadful that a picture was impossible.

We all ordered some delicious sounding Italian food, including gnocchi with a simple tomato sauce (their usual sauce was pepper ridden).

DSCF2787

The gnocchi was pretty good… but I’ve definitely had better.

DSCF2788

I had the same sauce (due to the same problem) over pappardelle.  Again… good… but not great.

DSCF2789

The rest of the family ordered items like the mushroom risotto…

DSCF2790

And the pasta primavera.

DSCF2791

Honestly, everything was just average.  The space could have lent itself to being a gem in Manhattan, but it wasn’t really anything special.  The pastas were all priced between $15 to $20, which seemed pretty over priced for food I’ve had at any run of the mill Italian restaurant for half the price.  I’m curious what their brunch is like, but I wouldn’t return for dinner.

Total Nom Points: 5 out of 10


Maggiano’s Wedding Tasting

30 Dec

Before anyone gets excited… NO… not my wedding.  This was for my MOTHER’S wedding.  She was nice enough to bring me along to the part of weddings that I think I can best contribute to… the tasting.  In my opinion, people remember 2 main things about a wedding… the music (especially if it was bad) and the food.  Honestly, wedding food is usually somewhere between poor and average.  I have been to very few weddings where I walked away thinking the food, especially the entrees, were good.  Usually the hors devours are the best part of the evening and then it’s all bland filet mignon and dry chicken from there on out.  (Or a plate of frozen vegetables when your server doesn’t understand the difference between a chili pepper and black pepper… but that is another story for another day).

So when my mom said she was having her wedding at a chain restaurant where they would be serving Family Style, I was skeptical.  But that skepticism was soon washed away.  The food was fantastic at Maggiano’s.  We went to the one in Bridgewater, NJ, however, they have many locations across the country.

We started with salads that were outrageous.  The Chopped Salad with crispy prosciutto and the Spinach Salad with gorgonzola cheese, bacon and toasted pine nuts were some of my favorite dishes all night. Unfortunately, I forgot to photograph these.

I remembered I had a camera when the spinach and artichoke dip came out.  It was good, but nothing too special.

DSCF1536

We also tried out raviolis with veal and mushrooms in a cream sauce with roasted tomatoes, breadcrumbs, and marsala wine.  It was delish!

DSCF1537

The chicken francese with crisped potatoes was surprisingly good for chicken.

DSCF1538

I’m pretty sure this was the parmesan crusted tilapia.  I’m not a huge tilapia fan, but this was good.

DSCF1539

The pesto linguine (there may have been chicken too) was one of the favorites across the whole table.  Everyone went in for seconds on this one.

DSCF1540

We were all looking forward to the garlic mashed potatoes… but we were all left wondering where the garlic was.  Someone even asked the waiter if they were sure they put the garlic in… they were.  Pass.

DSCF1542

But the side of garlic string beans was delicious.

DSCF1543

The desserts were where Maggiano’s shined even more.  We started with cheesecake, which was divine.

DSCF1544

Then we tried the apple crostada, which they said was their most popular dessert.  It was awesome.  A sweet and crispy shell with perfectly cooked and seasoned apples inside.

DSCF1546

They also ordered the tiramisu under the waitress’ suggestion.  I have never been a tiramisu fan.  It’s always just a little too mushy and alcoholy for me.  Reminds me of eating mushy bread soaked in vodka with a bit of chocolate and coffee flavoring (yes… I would go so far as to say that I usually HATE tiramisu, even though it SOUNDS excellent based on the components).  This, however, was the best tiramisu I have ever tasted.  The lady fingers weren’t soggy, the layers were all great textures, and the flavors were excellent.  Color me impressed.

DSCF1547

Overall, this meal rivaled most Italian meals in NYC.  I was unbelievably impressed that this place was a chain.

At the wedding, they chose some of these dishes and some others, but I do have to say, every single person I talked to raved about the food.

It was a pleasant surprise.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

Carbone- For Lunch

8 Nov

I have reviewed Carbone before, however, one of the highlights of working next to your apartment is getting to know the local restaurants even better.  Looking back at my review now, I’m really surprised by how underwhelmed we were there.  When I went for lunch with my coworkers, we had a great experience.  Everything felt very authentic and while not plated all fancy, was just easily delicious.

We started with fresh mozzarella with tomatoes and basil. The mozzarella was unbelievably fresh and delicious!

Everyone basically ordered a classic pasta dish. There was gnocchi..

And rigatoni…

And penne, with chicken.

One coworker got the calzone.

I went with a pappardelle special and it was DELICIOUS!

And we were served some great little cookies at the end.

Every single person raved about this meal.  It was really tasty, reasonably priced for midtown NY Italian, and everyone left completely satisfied.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

The New Montenapo

11 Sep

I was completely blown away last time I went to Montenapo (in the NY Times building on 41st between 7th and 8th).  So much so, that I nominated it for the #4 meal of all of 2009.

They closed down for a few months when a new owner came on board.  I’m not sure what they changed, however, I was so excited that it opened back up that I ordered take out.  Very expensive take out to be exact. 

I chose the Pappardelle alla Genovese (with braised pork, beef, and veal).  It sounded great, but I was kinda bummed when I opened up the lid to find… this…

I mean, you pay $20 for pasta from a restaurant that you were blown away by last time, you expect more than this lump of goo.  And it was fine… just… fine.  Nothing even remotely interesting about it.  I still had hope for Mike’s dish…

Linguine alle Vongole e Zucchine (with littleneck clams and zucchini).  It was… fine.  Fair… Okay it was boring. 

And the side of sauteed spinach? Also… bland.   

I was beyond disappointed.  It was SO good in the restaurant before and this was just so bland.  For a $50 delivery, I expect more to begin with, but to have such a great place turn to so boring just sucks.  Maybe it was an off day… or maybe they just don’t do delivery well.  I MAY try to give them another try by dining in… but this was so uninspired I might just throw this on the “give up” list.  Bummer.

Total Nom Points: 5 out of 10

Bond 45

17 May

Times Square doesn’t exactly have the best reputation for good dining.  Sure, there is Restaurant Row, but most people associate the Broadway District with being over priced.   While some are, there are some gems around.  Bond 45 is one of those gems… contrary to its appearance.


(Photo is not mine)

What kind of establishment puts that much neon onto their restaurant?  I shake my head at this, however, once you get past the neon, it’s fantastic.

First, the inside used to be a theater (made famous by Ziegfeld Follies) and it’s beautiful. 

Second, of course, is the food.

We started with roasted cauliflower.  It was good, but I like mine better. 🙂

We also tried the Artichokes alla Giudea which are fried “Roman Jewish” style.

Fantastic flavor and perfect crispness.  The worst part about these is when they are over.

When I was there last, one of my coworkers got the chicken parm and it was sensational (and HUGE!)  Mike went with the Veal Parm and it was absolutely fantastic (and still HUGE!)

I went with the Branzino, which was roasted with herbs, olives, and tomatoes and with a side of parmesan potatoes.  It was SO good.  And the whole plate for 8 points? Score!

Then there is the final cherry on top (which I unfortunately didn’t get a picture of).  They have a big bowl of English Toffee for the way out. I saved Weight Watchers Points for this… that’s how good it is! 

Overall, Bond 45 is so surprisingly good it almost gets more points just for being so surprising.  I have now eaten there twice, and both times have been exceptional.

It’s a bit pricey, but what isn’t in Time Square?

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Classic Tello’s

16 Sep

We were walking up 8th Ave in Chelsea looking for Italian.  The menu at Tello’s looked good and it had an old fashioned Italian eatery look to it. So we tried it.

I ordered the “Tello’s Favorite” which was Braciole & Gnocchi consisting of rolled beef stuffed with prosciutto, parmesan, garlic, bread crumbs, braised in a fresh tomato sauce.  The gnocchi was some of the best I’ve had. Texture and flavor were perfect.  The rest was just okay.

Mike got the Veal & Shrimps Milano with sauteed veal scaloppini and shrimp, with lemon and white wine.  The sauce was really phenomenol and probably the stand out part of the meal.

As we ordered our entrees, our waiter (who, by the way, was a bit of a douche) asked if we wanted a souffle for dessert.  He said if we did, he had to put it in immediately.  They had a few options, and it sounded fun so I went with the praline.  It wasn’t… exactly… what I thought it would be.  It was a plain (very plain) souffle that they poured a praline sauce over.  This melted out the full center and made it have the consistency of not quite baked cake.  Bland cake.  With delicious praline syrup over it but never the less… It just fell completely short for me.

Overall the food was decent, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat there.

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10