Tag Archives: pizza

Flour + Water: divine pasta in rustic romance

flour

FINALLY I made it to Flour + Water, and FINALLY I know what people mean when they say this place produces THE best pasta in the city. For fear of being turned down without a reservation, my sister Justyn and I waited patiently outside the door 15 minutes prior to the the 5:30pm opening time along with the other dedicated pasta-lovers, and were able to snag a prime table near the bar. We followed a tip from one of our friends to request bread, and thank the lord that we did because I shoveled each piece into my mouth like candy – the center was warm and soft, almost sticky-chewy  surrounded by a sturdy, crusty edge that made a lovely crackling sound with each bite, indicating its perfection. And despite loading on that, we made our way to carbo-coma, starting with the special: trenette (a long, fettucine-like noodle with a ribbon-ridge on each side) with a slow-roasted veal ragu, and moving onto the funghi pizza with hen of the woods mushrooms and fontina. Not only was our pasta melt-in-your-mouth delicious, but also every stuffed and long-noodle pasta that went by me looked incredible. My food envy was raging – especially over the teleme-stuffed scarpinocc that looked like little white angels on a plate. We also finished every last crumb of the pizza, whose salty charred crust and generous toppings did not go unnoticed, but next time I’d just focus on the pasta – there’s too many good ones to say no to.

mushroom pizza

mushroom pizza

Pasta with veal

Pasta with veal

look at that beautiful stuffed pasta!

look at that beautiful stuffed pasta!

To top off the influx of dense flour-full food, we finished with the most dense and chocolatey budino that was covered in fleur de sel (to my liking) and a coffee creme. The portion size was huge, so naturally, I left the restaurant feeling like I had enough food to last me for a week. Based on my meal and the food I saw others enjoying, Flour + Water has become one of my top recommendations for those dining in SF looking for a casual but memorable meal. It’s perfect for a date or a smaller group, especially if you come without a reservation (of which they offer very few).

chocolate budino

chocolate budino

 

Grade: A+
Location: 2401 Harrison Street @ 20th Street
Website

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Filed under Italian, San Francisco

Co.: blistered 900 degree oven pizza in peace and air conditioning

co-pane

Pizza is my favorite food, and in a city like New York I get overwhelmed deciding where to satisfy my frequent cravings for it. Co. has been on my list since I learned that this civilized Neapolitan pizza restaurant was the creation of Jim Lahey, the well-known Founder of Sullivan Street Bakery. But avoiding the crazy thoroughfare beyond 23rd street always got the best of me just when I was close to testing it out. Now that I’m moving in September (to San Francisco before going to school abroad for a year – happy yet sad for many reasons, so let’s move on), I had no excuse to deny my urge to sample Jim’s pizzas when my hankering for crispy crust came on.

Fortunately, the wait-times have really died down over the past three years, and our party of 3 was seated right away. We started with a simple, tiny radicchio shiitake mushroom salad served with taleggio cheese, which was nothing more than a hunger teaser. The vinegar was bright, and the taleggio cheese was creamy and strong. We then tasted two pies, both unique in their own right: the meatball pizza with tomato, mozzarella, meatball, and caramelized onion, and the Popeye pizza with pecorino, gruyere, mozzarella, black pepper, garlic and loads of leafy spinach. I loved them both. The spinach pizza was bright, summery and healthily prepared with greens piled on top of a lightly-cheese covered pizza dough, and I didn’t miss the tomato sauce at all. The veal meatballs on the meatball pizza were the perfect addition to an otherwise plain tomato and mozzarella pizza, and the caramelized onion rounded out their saltiness perfectly. Though this pizza did come with sauce, I would have liked a little more of it.

radicchio salad with taleggio and mushrooms

radicchio salad with taleggio and mushrooms

Co.-Meatball-Pizza

Meatball pizza with olives and caramelized onions

Popeye pizza with spinach, gruyere, pecorino and mozzarella

Popeye pizza with spinach, gruyere, pecorino and mozzarella

Dough is obviously a key element to the quality of the pizza, and I have to say that the crispy, blistering pizza dough at Co. was one of my favorites. Its chew, texture, and weight and stood up to the bounty of toppings like a champ.

Co. is a great spot for those who want high quality traditional Italian pizza in a zen, pristine setting, almost identical to the aesthetic of San Francisco’s casual Out The Door. As a person who takes restaurant ambience preferences seriously, this is my kind of pizza joint, and I’ll definitely be coming back. Just keep in mind they don’t serve hard liquor.

Grade: A- (I’ll take the minus sign off when I get a plate of free bread)
Location: 230 9th Avenue @ 23rd Street
Website

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Filed under Affordable Date, American, Chelsea, Fun Group Dinner, Italian, Pizza

Peasant: rustic and romantic in the heart of Soho

I loved the idea of Peasant – cozy, fireplace and pizzas in Soho – but the reality did not live up to my expectations. Saturday night, my boyfriend and I had a casual meal at the bar, and while the pizza was undeniably delicious (what cheese-laden flatbread isn’t?), the skate was swimming in garlicky oil, the broccoli raab was so chewy it was inedible, and the squid, which oddly tasted just like the fish, was rubbery and uninteresting. The food wasn’t blasphemous, it just wasn’t notably great. I do appreciate the simplicity of the menu – Peasant doesn’t aim to wow with originality and party tricks – but if a restaurant’s going for comfort food, it can’t be anything short of perfect (Barbuto knows how it’s done). I’m a sucker for inviting, low-lit, family-style restaurants so I’d likely return just to be back in the warmth on a winter’s day after shopping. Like Hearth, they craft the feeling of homeyness beautifully with complimentary bread and ricotta cheese, the right lighting, reddish tones and an open kitchen. Hopefully my second attempt at eating here won’t be as unremarkable.

IMG_1968

pizza bianca

Grade: B
Location: 194 Elizabeth Street between Spring and Prince
Website

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Filed under Italian, Romantic Date, Soho, Uncategorized

Sofia’s Wine Bar: hidden gem in east 50’s

The last restaurant I expected to find in the East 50’s was a cozy, authentic italian wine bar, so when my friend Ashley requested an unheard of Sofia’s WIne Bar for her last hurrah before moving to SF, I arrived prepared for a mediocre meal. That all changed the second I stepped up the brick staircase to find the native Italian waitstaff calming crowds of people anxiously awaiting tables with free prosecco. What a diamond in the midtown-east rough. It’s worth the hour plus wait for a table on a Saturday night (no reservations here), and  in the midst of an awesome blasting hipster playlist, you can chow down an array of piping hot, sharable, affordable, rustic, and delicious Italian-American eats. Our table of five devoured two orders of the addictive creamy artichoke spinach dip, burrata, arugula pizza, stuffed mushrooms, macaroni and cheese, a cheese plate, and of course, a warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. Bottles of prosecco flooded our table throughout. While I could have made more of an effort to lay off of the cheese laden dishes, I left tipsy, stuffed, and ready to come back for great energy, even better food, and even more impressive service. The space is cramped, so smaller groups are better. Regardless, this East Village transplant is definitely worth a special trip.

spinach artichoke dip

crostini

mac & cheese

pizza pizza – amazing here!

Grade: A+
Location: 242 east 50th street between 2nd & 3rd ave

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Filed under Affordable Date, Cheap Eat, Erin's Favorites, Fun Group Dinner, Italian, Midtown East, Romantic Date

La Bottega @ The Maritime Hotel

outside at lunch

Today, my manager was kind enough to take me out to an impromptu lunch to enjoy the sun and get out of the office, something we rarely do given we have 4 cafeterias at our fingertips as Google employees. We’re spoiled, but there’s really something priceless about exiting the building and disengaging for an hour for lunch. In Brazil, sitting down for lunch is not even a question – no one eats at their desk. They sit for a proper 1.5 hours, with an appetizer, main course, dessert, and coffee, and no one dares talk about work. Welcome to the US where eating at your desk is the new answer to efficiency (but really, who can really eat a delicious meatball sandwich and think strategically at the same time?).

Anyway, we decided to go to La Bottega, which is not only steps from my office, but also has a beautiful outdoor space for optimal sun exposure. I’ve been here countless times and the main thing that keeps me coming back is the ridiculous complimentary hot rounds of garlic and cheese-covered pizza dough that arrives to the table right after sitting. The pizzas are also delicious, but today we ordered two salads – the artichoke with radicchio and white truffle oil, and the farro with mozzarella, orange, and mint, both flavorful and delicious. The artichoke was served like a slaw – raw and thinly sliced, flavored with thin shavings of parmesan. The farro salad was lovely; the grains were dense, generously dressed with balsamic and olive oil, and tossed with large hunks of fresh mozzarella. Divine!

salads combined on one plate – tables are tiny

We then moved on to the tramezzini: italian finger sandwiches served with mixed greens. We got the bresaola (our waiter hardly knew what this was) with parmesan and arugula, and the tuna with mashed garbanzo beans. The sandwiches are served as three sections on soft, grilled white bread. I was a little disappointed by the straight up bagged-sliced bread, but I loved the tuna sans mayo – the mayo in most tuna is SO unnecessary, and this tuna had texture and flavor without being an oily mess. The bresaola was a little salty with the parmesan – I would have preferred it with mozzarella, but it had a flavorful bite that many cured meat and aged cheese lovers would have flaunted over.

tuna sandwich

La Bottega is the bomb. It has quick service, a beautiful al fresco setting for outdoor eating, and solid, affordable italian food. Our entire lunch was only $40. It’s also great for after work drinks – try the champagne cocktail!

Grade: A-
Location: 88 9th Avenue between 16th & 17th
Website: 
http://www.themaritimehotel.com

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Filed under Chelsea, Italian, Meatpacking

Pulinos

It’s pretty obvious that I love trying new restaurants, but this week I devoted time to visiting old favorites with my friend Sarah, who was visiting from San Francisco. Considering she’s a fellow foodie, I didn’t want to take any risks. Yesterday we had an awesome brunch at Pulino’s. Pulino’s is my go-to place for quick seating, a large menu, and a fun, bustling atmosphere without the typical New York scene-y swanky vibe, but yesterday was my first time visiting for brunch. The most impressive part about the experience is the menu, which can be overwhelming if you’re starving but amazing if you’re feeling adventurous. You can choose from regular wood-fired pizzas, breakfast pizzas (small or large) with a sunny side up egg, enchiladas, simple egg dishes, a burger, or standard italian dishes like baked ziti. There really is something for everyone here, which is why Pulino’s has just won a place on my list of best “visitors-in-town” brunch spots (along with The Standard Grill and Grey Dog).

Keith McNally, Pulino’s restaurant owner, is well known for his delicious pastries at Pastis and Balthazar, so we couldn’t resist ordering a medley for the table. The basket arrived filled with insanely flakey croissants, a prosciutto and currant scone, and a strawberry danish that remained untouched. Within minutes the carbo-loaded treats were consumed. We also shared the salsiccia pizza which arrived piping hot with cracked eggs, sausage, pancetta, mozzarella, and caramelized onions. Though we agreed to share it, of course  I practically ate the entire thing.

breakfast pizza

Then, though I want to say I am adventurous, I buckled under pressure and went with my go-to breakfast choice, two poached eggs with toast, potatoes, and bacon. Simple, classic, and hearty.

American breakfast

A brunch accompanied by mimosa drinking can easily win me over, but Pulino’s executed quite well on all fronts – food, service, and ambience. I’ll definitely be back to try the smoked salmon and eggs in the near future.

Grade: A

Location: 282 Bowery Street at East Houston

Website: http://www.pulinosny.com

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Filed under American, Italian, Lower East Side

Pulinos, again

This week has been the week of repeats and last night I had the pleasure of dining at Pulinos, one of my go-to spots for good food, vibrant atmosphere, and readily available outdoor seating. The menu has changed since my last visit, so I decided to go for the newbies: shredded zucchini salad with ricotta salata and black olives, assorted crostini, baked ziti with meatballs, and insalata verde with beans and tomatoes. Save for the mayonnaise-excessive egg salad crostini, everything was absolutely delicious. The zucchini salad was surprisingly unique, and blue crab crostini was delicate and addictive. It takes restraint not order pizza at Pulinos, but it’s actually worth the sacrifice if you get to sample solid plates like these.

zucchini salad

crostini

baked ziti with salad

Grade: A-

Location: corner of Bowery and East Houston

Website: http://www.pulinosny.com

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Filed under Affordable Date, Drinks & Apps, Erin's Favorites, Italian, Lower East Side

Featured Post: Coppa in Boston

I’m not prone to boasting about random restaurant jaunts in other cities, but when I leave a place utterly enthralled by the quality of the food service, I can’t help but share my experience with my readers. Tonight was such a night. My colleagues and I took our client out to dinner at a small italian tapas place (a la inoteca in Manhattan) in Boston that reminded me of the quaint yet bustling spots that line Chestnut street of San Francisco. With a full bar, a great italian wine list, and a wide array of sharable small plates, Coppa is perfect for a fun communal gathering with good friends or even fun-loving clients. My only complaint? The pace of serving – once you order, expect to have the entire list on your table within minutes.

To start we sampled a few crostini, but most memorable was the ricotta, mint, and sweet pea crostini. At one per order, at least two orders is a requirement for any party size. The white bean crostini was also a great, with buttery, soft, hummus like spread and fried basil atop a thin, crusty piece of italian bread. With creamy burrata, fresh grilled peaches, crunchy cucumbers and sweet heirloom tomatoes, the summer tomato salad combined a gorgeous mix of flavors and textures.

crostini

grilled peach and burrata salad

The menu is chock full of drool-worthy dishes, and not one failed to impress. The trofie pesto and cavatelli with chicken sausage could definitely hold a candle to Locanda Verde, a major feat in the food world. And with buttery, thick white flakes brushed with a subtle olive tapenade, the cod could have come straight from a five star restaurant.

cavatelli

cod

wood fire oven pizza

Of course we had to get a pizza as well, which although on the smaller side packed a punch with deliciously fresh mozzarella and arugula.

I think I’ve found my little niche of favorite restaurants – italian tapas places. Next time you’re in Boston definitely give this one a shot.

Grade: A

Location: 253 Shawmut Ave at Milford Street, Boston, MA

Website: http://www.coppaboston.com

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Filed under Feature Post, Fun Group Dinner, Italian

Lievito

My family and I wanted something simple and easy after a weekend of big meals, so after considering every possible restaurant in the neighborhood, we decided on Lievito at the glance of their homemade pizzas and abundant table availability.  With a house full of native italian waiters, an italian-english menu, and absolutely no air conditioning, I only had to close my eyes to imagine I was in the center of Florence’s Piazza della Republica, waiting patiently for my waiter’s attention.

Lievito front

Lievito attempts to impress its diners with classy table settings and a sophisticated menu, but simultaneously screams casual with two flat screened TVs live with soccer and somewhat lackadaisical service. Regardless of the setting, the menu prices mirror the $18+ entrees that surround the area, so don’t expect a reprieve from inflated costs and refined food.

Mom looking at the menu

Despite the lengthy menu of unique appetizers, my mom and I decided to split the radicchio salad with candied tomatoes and the pizza vegitariana with parma ham. The salad was fresh, well dressed, and subtly sweet. The pizza, however, lacked flavor, requiring relentless additions of salt and pepper that turned my meal into an arm and shoulder workout. Fortunately, the freshness of the mozzarella and tomato sauce helped the situation.

fatty parma ham on our vegetable pizza

homemade italian bread with flavored butter

The most memorable part of the meal was surprisingly the homemade complimentary bread, probably the closest rendition of Tuscan bread I’ve tasted in the US. My assessment of the pizza in one word, however? Fine. Definitely not the best, and considering this place resides between Keste and Co., two of the best pizza spots in the city, I doubt I’ll return.

Grade: B

Location: 581 Hudson Street and Bank Street

Websitewww.lievitopizzeria.com

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Filed under Italian, Pizza, West Village

Trattoria Zero Otte Nove

When my manager mentioned that the Bronx Botanical Orchid Show was just off of the famous Italian Arthur Avenue, I didn’t hesitate for a second to buy tickets and plan a Saturday around food and flowers. With the sun shining and the birds chirping, it felt like the perfect spring day as Sonia and I schlepped up to 198th street, cameras in hand.

orchid show

After walking through dozens of beautiful orchids (which has over 20,000 species) and throughout the garden, we had worked up a serious appetite for a good Italian meal. Not knowing what to expect about this renowned Arthur Avenue, we were a little taken aback by the blasting 1980’s radios and the worn out awnings of the first two blocks. But I had arrived with a plan, and after reading dozens of Yelp reviews about Zero Otte Nove, nothing could stop me from having an old school Italian lunch in an apparently Tuscan setting.

the walls of Zero Otte Nove

We were instantly reminded about our displacement from Manhattan when we were greeted with a smile and seated immediately. And with all of the Italian waiters and the wood-fire oven in plain view, if we really concentrated and tried to imagine, we sort of felt like we are in Florence. Sonia and I attempted to eat lightly by ordering three antipasti: the antipasti freddo with meats, cheeses, and eggplant, the bufala caprese with a cannellini bean salad, and an insalata di arugula with pear and goat cheese. Considering we were starving, we did an awesome job of shoveling two baskets of fresh, salty focaccia before our food arrived just minutes later.

mixed meats and cheeses

look at that cheese!

insalata

Everything we ordered was straight forward and delicious, especially the massive green olives on our antipasti plate, but we couldn’t get over the fact that everyone around us was tearing apart piping hot, fresh and crusty pizzas. Everywhere we turned, a long strand of cheese stretched from plate to mouth, and we couldn’t help but feel we ordered wrong. Just as we were close to tears, the waiter came to talk to us, and after a little back and forth, he said something that was like an answer to our prayers. “Would you like to try a little pizza on me?” Before he could finish his sentence, Sonia and I shrieked in happiness as if we had just won the lotto. And the pizza was as good as we had expected – he kindly brought out both the fresh pizza margarita and the pizza caprese with fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and arugula. We had no intention of eating the entire thing but of course, who were we kidding.

pizza!

Lesson learned: don’t try to eat lightly and avoid eating what you really want – you’ll end up having to rely on the waiter’s good intuition to make you happy! Zero Otte Nove was absolutely delicious and exactly what I had hoped for: a laid back environment, a family Italian feel, and a perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I definitely recommend it to anyone who happens to be in the area, or as a piggy back event for the Botanical Garden visit. But if you’re not – don’t fret: they’ll be opening one on 21st street in just two weeks. Fortunately, living in Manhattan you never have to wait too long for anything.

Grade: A (mostly for the pizza)

Location: 2357 Arthur Ave off of 187th St

Website: http://www.roberto089.com

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Filed under Bronx, Fun Group Dinner, Italian, Pizza