NYC Kosher Deli: Pastrami Queen on the Upper East Side Serves One of the Best Pastrami Sandwiches I’ve Had Outside of Katz’s Deli (Just Make Sure to Ask For It “Fatty”)

Date February 13, 2014

pastrami

I’m paraphrasing Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer” here when I say the best part of life is meeting new people because we can’t possibly experience all of what life has to offer on our own. That’s why I’m happy I stuck around after a comedy show a few weeks back to introduce myself to the very funny comedy duo Stone and Stone.  They offered two totally new experiences: their offbeat and hilarious brand of comedy AND new places to eat.  Our conversation strayed to my world of food and they praised Pastrami Queen on 78th and Lexington Avenue, a place I’d hadn’t tried.  And since we’re three Jews with a love for outlandish statements and cured meats, what better place than Pastrami Queen (one of the only truly kosher delis in Manhattan) to meet on a cold February night?

What the deli lacks in ambiance – it’s just a few small tables and a tall deli counter inside – it makes up for with its pastrami, especially if you ask for it fatty.  My overstuffed sandwich ($15.95) arrived on fresh, seeded rye bread, thin slices of machine-cut beef layered atop one another glistening under fluorescent lights.  It was one of the best pastrami sandwiches I’ve had in a while outside of Katz’s Deli.  And that’s a feat Pastrami Queen can be proud of because they key to Katz’s pastrami is that it’s hand cut against the grain of the meat resulting in bites that just crumble and melt in your mouth.  It’s the same principle you would apply to a great burger, you want it loosely packed so the fat and juices have little spaces to dwell within the meat and create extra flavor with every bite.   For Pastrami Queen to accomplishes the same crumbly, melt in your mouth quality even though its meat is sliced by machine is something to brag about.  The corned beef was equally fall-apart-tender but unfortunately the brisket was quite dry. Hand cut French fries were excellent, crisp as requested and about as thick as a diner fry so there was some actual potato inside as well.  I’m not on the Upper East Side often but thanks to the Stone brothers and Pastrami Queen, more frequent trips uptown may be in order.

Pastrami Queen

1125 Lexington Ave b/t 78th and 79th Street
New York, NY 10075
212.734.1500
Open 10AM-10PM everyday

NYC Best Nachos: A Cheese Sauce Worth Traveling For at River Styx in Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Date February 10, 2014

You know you’re either a very dedicated eater or just plain crazy when you’re walking through a light snowstorm to the edge of Greenpoint, Brooklyn on the East River for a plate of nachos.  Fortunately, my cheese-covered self loathing was tempered by the presence of my brother and fellow intrepid eater Craig, aka Lil NYC Food Guy, who dutifully joined me on our nacho mission.  Why were we so driven to eat a dish that can be found on almost every block of the East Village? Because at River Styx, the nachos are different.  They simultaneously offer the perfect balance of sinful, plate-scraping regret and thoughtful contemplation;  these are a thinking man’s nachos.  And this is not just your typical bar with food, this is a very cozy and cool-looking restaurant for friends, dates and solo revelers.  Friendly servers guide you past the long bar and wood-fired oven to a multi-level dining room where you’re fed by a kitchen who takes itself seriously while still appreciating the food we all love to eat while drunk, stoned or otherwise under the influence.

A prime example: The cheese sauce, made of the holy trinity of American cheese, heavy cream and Frank’s Red Hot.  It offers a richness that when combined with the crunchy, salty house made chips has you reaching for another helping before you’re finished chewing the first.   The need for actual thought begins when you decide how to best combine the plate’s other elements – sliced radishes, cilantro on the stalk, pickled carrots and jalapenos, and tender, sweet, Mexican-spiced pulled chicken.  If you have a true mind for nachos this will be easy.  Revert back to your base instincts and combine as many of those ingredients as you can into a single heaping pile.  And with cheese and crema dripping down your wrist and chips balanced precariously atop one another, stop thinking and do what you’ve always done best: dive in.

River Styx

21 Greenpoint Avenue b/t West Street and the East River
Brooklyn, NY 11222  718.383.8833
Dinner every night 6-11pm, 11:30pm on Fri & Sat, Brunch Sat & Sun 10am-4pm

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Brooklyn Pizza: Creative Neapolitan Pies, Homemade Mozzarella, Fresh Pastas & S’mores Calzones at Emily in Clinton Hill

Date January 31, 2014

pizza emily

My lovely date and I emerged from the C train Clinton/Washington Street subway stop on to Fulton Street and walked one and a half blocks to “Emily,” a cozy and friendly Neapolitan pizza restaurant owned by husband and wife Matt and Emily Hyland.    After training under Luca Arrigoni of Sottocasa (Boerum Hill), a disciple of Roberto Caporuscio of Keste Pizza (West Village), Matt helped open Brooklyn Central in Park Slope where Emily joined him there as general manager. When it came time for the two to embark on their own pizza adventure, Matt named his restaurant and his signature pizza after his wife. Brownie points for life.

With sturdy, light-colored wood tables, low lighting, a tall bar, and a diverse and affordable wine, beer and cocktail list, this is a great neighborhood spot or destination date spot (just a few blocks from Barclays Center, BAM and a quick cab ride from the new Royal Palms Shuffelboard Club in Gowanus).

Start with a kale salad ($9) dressed with shaved pecorino, dried cherries and sherry-thyme vinaigrette and the crispy Brussels sprouts ($9) with worcestershire, diced apple, black sesame and some mild chiles.  If you’re feeling indulgent, order a generously portioned meat and cheese plate ($18) and make sure it includes the creamy Bleu alongside toasted pecans, dried cherries and sliced pear with honey.  If you’re in the mood for red wine, the $34 bottle of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Reserve is a slightly dry and very drinkable complement to most of the items I recommend.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Reserve, 2009, Visconti della Rocca, Abruzzo, Italy 34

Make sure to save room for pasta, bought fresh from Sfoglini, a local Brooklyn wholesale operation started by a former chef from Roberta’s Pizza.  The cavatelli (pictured above, $10) with melted ricotta, poppy seed and lemon zest is Hyland’s take on the Roman classic “cacio e pepe” and is a perfect prelude to his pizzas.  Make sure to keep the bowl on your table as the pizzas arrive because you’ll want to dip the pizza crust in the leftover cream sauce that collects at the bottom.

Two pizzas for two people is an ideal order, just make sure one of them is the namesake “Emily” (pictured above, $19) featuring mildly funky tallegio cheese and creamy pillows of mozzarella (made fresh daily by Matt) topped with pistachios and honey.  Truffle spread is also listed as an ingredient but it didn’t play much of a flavor role for us.  My lovely date and I also tried the “William” pizza ($12) topped with tomato sauce, the excellent mozzarella, olives, red onion, garlic, and fresh basil.  The sweet sauce and briny olives had a slightly overpowering effect but the mozzarella made it very easy to keep eating.  We left a few slices behind (Lovely date enjoyed the reheated pizza leftovers the next day) to save room for our gooey chocolate and marshmallow-filled S’mores calzone ($10), which like the rest of the evening at Emily – food, service and atmosphere –  was as comforting as you hope it would be on a brisk January evening in New York City.

Emily

919 Fulton Street b/t Clinton Ave & Waverly Ave

Brooklyn, NY 11238
347.844.9588
Open Sun-Monday 5-11PM, Wed-Fri 5-11PM, Sat 5PM-12AM,
Closed Tuesdays

Williamsburg, Brooklyn Cheap Eats: NYC Food Guy’s Top Picks Featured on Foodie.com

Date December 3, 2013

Williamsburg, Brooklyn may have jumped the tank as an up-and-coming hood, but despite its popularity and the arrival of big brands and restaurants, there are still a lot of amazing cheap eats to be had! Click on “See the collection” above for some of my top picks. If I missed any, please share your picks in the comments.

Wondering how I put the collection together in that neat little package above? It’s all Foodie.com, a pretty sweet new site that is like Pinterest but for food. It’s got a ton of recipes (and food porn to go with them) and now they’re starting to pick up the pace on the restaurant side and their collection feature is a great way to keep your food thoughts organized. Create a collection of your favorites or create an eating to do list, whatever you do, head over to Foodie.com and start playing around and telling me where I need to go eat next!

Check out some of my other collections like “Most Unusual Restaurants in NYC” or “Best Late Night Eats in NYC” below:

The NYC Food Guy’s Restaurant Collections on Foodie.com

NYC Best Pizza: Some of NYC Food Guy’s Favorite Pies & Slices in NYC featured on Foodie.com

Date December 2, 2013

Pizza is a pretty touchy subject in NYC so I’m sure there are some places on my list that you won’t agree with.  That’s okay. I welcome your suggestions, that’s how I’ve discovered some of my favorite places.  And besides, pizza is a personal thing, especially to New Yorkers, so this list is what I consider some of my favorite pies and slices in NYC. Click on “See the collection” for my pizza picks and please tell me yours in the comments.

Wondering how I put the collection together in that neat little package above? It’s all Foodie.com, a pretty sweet new site that is like Pinterest but for food. It’s got a ton of recipes (and food porn to go with them) and now they’re starting to pick up the pace on the restaurant side and their collection feature is a great way to keep your food thoughts organized. Create a collection of your favorites or create an eating to do list, whatever you do, head over to Foodie.com and start playing around and telling me where I need to go eat next!

Check out some of my other collections like “Best Burgers in NYC” or “Best Late Night Eats in NYC” below:

The NYC Food Guy’s Restaurant Collections on Foodie.com

Happy Thanksgiving! Today’s a Great Day to Wrap Something in Bacon

Date November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving fellow food lovers. In celebration of a holiday that celebrates gluttony, I give you the great bacon wrapped turkducken, also known as the “Turbaconducken.” That means a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey ALL WRAPPED IN BACON. I mean why not right? The turbaconducken makes me happy, so happy I decided to bring it back from the archives (shout out to King of Ketchup for the link). The recipe and photos are not mine but I feel like the excitement is for all of us to share. Because after all, that’s what this website is all about, getting excited to eat! So on this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful I can go out and eat anything I want (or at least until my doctor says otherwise) and share it with all of you. What are you thankful for and what are you doing for your Thanksgiving feast?

cooked-front

cooked-side-2

final-on-plate

NYC Best Dessert Under $10: NYC Food Guy’s Top Picks Featured on Foodie.com

Date November 27, 2013

Looking for some last minute Thanksgiving dessert to bring home to the family?  This list will definitely help without hurting your wallet!  Click on “See the collection” above for some of my favorites. And since I’m sure there are more that I didn’t list, let me know what I missed in the comments.

Wondering how I put the collection together in that neat little package above? It’s all Foodie.com, a pretty sweet new site that is like Pinterest but for food. It’s got a ton of recipes (and food porn to go with them) and now they’re starting to pick up the pace on the restaurant side and their collection feature is a great way to keep your food thoughts organized. Create a collection of your favorites or create an eating to do list, whatever you do, head over to Foodie.com and start playing around and telling me where I need to go eat next!

Check out some of my other collections like “Best Burgers in NYC” or “Best Breakfast in NYC” below:

The NYC Food Guy’s Restaurant Collections on Foodie.com

NYC Chinatown Cheap Eats Food Tour: NYC Food Guy’s Top Picks Featured on Foodie.com

Date November 26, 2013

I know Thanksgiving is not Christmas, but a day off from work is still a great reason to go explore Chinatown.  But with so many people and places it’s a wonder we can figure out where to sit down and eat!  Well if you follow my list, you’ll not only eat well, you’ll FEAST for a very low price.  You can thank me later but in the meantime, click on “See the collection” for the Chinatown intel.

Wondering how I put the collection together in that neat little package above? It’s all Foodie.com, a pretty sweet new site that is like Pinterest but for food. It’s got a ton of recipes (and food porn to go with them) and now they’re starting to pick up the pace on the restaurant side and their collection feature is a great way to keep your food thoughts organized. Create a collection of your favorites or create an eating to do list, whatever you do, head over to Foodie.com and start playing around and telling me where I need to go eat next!

Check out some of my other collections like “Most Unusual Restaurants in NYC” or “Best Breakfast in NYC” below:

The NYC Food Guy’s Restaurant Collections on Foodie.com

NYC Best Thai Food: “Som Tum Thai” Papaya Salad at Zabb Elee in East Village

Date November 19, 2013

Shredded papaya, vinegar, fish sauce, peanuts, fermented dry shrimp, Thai chiles, string beans, tomato, and iceberg lettuce.  Simple, fresh, sweet, sour, salty, and oh so spicy.  This salad has it all.  When you’ve eaten all the good stuff, dip pieces of sticky rice in the dressing that collects underneath and you have a second meal.   This salad is one of my favorite Thai dishes and simply one of my favorite salads in New York City.  The fermented dry shrimp add a definite funky flavor and texture which can be a bit tough to overcome for some people but you can just tell them to keep that out or on the side.  They’re happy to oblige as every salad is made fresh.  If you love Thai food but haven’t been to Zabb Elee, it’s time. They offer a Thai experience unlike any other because they specialize in Isan Thai (northeastern Thailand) where there’s not really any noodles, just lots of great salads (warm and cold) and stir fries.  At Zabb Elee you order on a five-level heat chart.  Anything above three seems to be pretty face-melting.  My favorite dish there is the Kana Moo Krob which features crispy chunks of fatty pork belly wok sauteed in soy sauce, chile and garlic along with snappy strands of Chinese broccoli. It always hits the spot.

Zabb Elee

75 2nd Avenue b/t 4th & 5th Street

New York, NY 10003

(212) 505-9533

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NYC Best Sandwiches: Sub in Grilled Chicken & Russian Dressing for Roast Beef & A1 Steak Sauce in “RB King” Sandwich at Toastie’s or G3 Sandwich at Lenny’s

Date November 18, 2013

Sometimes great sandwiches are right in front of you if you use your imagination.  Lenny’s and Toasties are two sandwich shops with multiple locations in Manhattan and near identical menus (I think some guys left Lenny’s and opened Toastie’s, taking the menu with them and renaming most items).  But despite their vast sandwich offerings, you might still want something neither place has on the menu.   In my case, a grilled chicken BLT sandwich with melted American cheese, pickles and Russian Dressing. The best way to achieve this sandwich is to ask Toastie’s and Lenny’s to take their “RB King” and “G3″ sandwiches, respectively, and swap out the roast beef and A1 sauce for grilled chicken and Russian dressing.  As I’ve stated in the past, the roast beef versions are quite delicious as well, but sometimes you just want to lighten up your bacon, melted cheese, Russian dressing sandwich and that’s where this sandwich hack comes in.

Hopefully this inspires you to push the limits at some of your favorite places.  If you have an idea that you think may make a standard menu item better, ask the restaurant to make the change for you. Maybe they’ll like it so much, they’ll add it to the menu!

If you’ve personally created any new dishes at your favorite restaurants, let us know in the comments!

Toastie’s Website

Lenny’s Website

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NYC Best Chocolate Chip Cookies: Friday Levain Bakery Fix

Date November 15, 2013

I mean really, why not post another photo of the best chocolate chip walnut cookie on the planet? Haven’t tried it yet and want to know more? Read about it here, here, here, here, and here (it’s so good I’ve written about it five times).

Levain Bakery Website

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NYC Best Pizza: Cafe Duke’s Spicy Chicken Pizza May Be My Favorite Lunch in Midtown West & I’m Not Ashamed to Admit it

Date November 14, 2013

Hey, good food is good food. Doesn’t matter where it’s from, even if it’s Cafe Duke, the pinnacle of NYC we-have-it-all “gourmet” food shops. You know the kind of place I mean, they have pizza, sushi, sandwiches, soup, udon noodles, salads, a hot food bar, and snacks and candy bars from all over the world. I don’t care about the rest of that stuff at Cafe Duke though, just the brick oven pizza. The “Spicy Chicken” is topped with grilled chicken tossed in Sriracha, mozzarella, feta, red onion, and scallions post-oven. Ask for it well done, give it a few minutes to settle and then enjoy the spicy, salty, tangy, smokey, and sweet flavors complemented by the crunch of the red onions and charred crust. I’m usually a pizza purist, eating it only at places that specialize in pizza, but this is one non-traditional pizza I will always consider when I’m looking for lunch in Midtown West.

Cafe Duke – 140 West 51st St b/t 6th & 7th Ave – 212.445.0010

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NYC West Village Pizza: John’s Of Bleecker Satisfies In That Perfectly Greasy Bar Pizza Way You Want (And Goes Great With Cheap Beer)

Date November 13, 2013

I’m not much for food and wine pairings. I like to save my space for food and then drink after.  But sometimes I get really sophisticated and have an epiphany, like at John’s of Bleecker last week.  I realized that this may be the perfect pizza to pair with cheap beer. It’s super crispy because of the coal oven, super cheesy because the cheese is laid down onto the dough under the sauce and baked right in, and perfectly greasy from the milky little squares of fresh mozzarella and puddles of oily tomato sauce.  Would I wait on line at this place for a seat inside? No. Is it the best old school pizza in Manhattan? No, that’s Totonno’s in Coney Island or Patsy’s up in Harlem. It has history on its side as it was born in 1920 and was one of the first pizza restaurants in NYC after Lombardi’s (the first in the US), where the original John of Bleecker, John Sasso, used to work.  And it’s also one of the few remaining coal oven pizza restaurants in Manhattan.  But that’s not why I wrote about it.  I wrote about it for two reasons: First off, because I ate it and took a picture. And second, because you’re sitting at your desk at work and you want to pass the time reading about pizza and imagining the the moment when the steam whistle blows and you can leave the factory and eat pizza and drink beer.  Now this blog post seems pretty inventive, doesn’t it?

John’s of Bleecker 278 Bleecker St (b/t 6th and 7th) New York, NY 10014 212.243.1680

No Reservations, Cash Only

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“NYC Food Tour” on NYC TV – Episode 3: Unique & Exotic Cuisines in the East Village

Date November 11, 2013

For the maximum food porn experience, change the resolution to 720p HD using the gear button above.

The third episode of “NYC Food Tour,” the food TV show I’m producing, hosting and editing begins airing this week on NYC TV. It was a big thrill to receive so much positive feedback on Episode 1: “Smorgasburg” and Episode 2: Astoria, Queens – so thanks to everyone for that – but I’m even more excited about Episode 3: “East Village”.  If you haven’t had a memorable meal in a long time, one that really stopped you in your tracks because it was so unique and flavorful, then it’s time for you to head to the East Village.  In this episode I conquer Filipino food, Georgian food and a Montreal, Canada twist on classic NYC deli.  Every episode is jam packed with mouth watering food porn, but since it’s only four minutes long you won’t be able to find it on your DVR, so watch it here instead! Share it with your friends, subscribe to my YouTube Channel below for more videos and feel free to provide feedback and offer suggestions for future episodes. Thanks for watching!

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NYC Best Chocolate Chip Cookie (with walnuts): Why you need to go to Levain Bakery NOW

Date November 8, 2013

levain

This is very simple. Do you like chocolate chip cookies? Do you enjoy having your life changed for the better? Do you look at the photo above and think dirty thoughts? Don’t lie.  Why do you need to go to Levain Bakery NOW? Because if you answered “yes” to any of those questions, Levain Bakery offers consistent cookie perfection EVERY visit. And if by some chance your cookie is not warm, ask them to put it in the oven for a minute and get those chips melting. Thank me now, thank me later. Whatever. Just go get a cookie. It may be the most delicious $4 you’ll ever spend.

Levain Bakery Website

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