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

Date November 8, 2013


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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NYC Best Chicken Fingers: Salted Caramel, Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Fingers at Sticky’s Finger Joint Satisfy On So Many Levels

Date November 7, 2013

They’re sweet, sticky, salty, and crunchy. And that’s before you even get to the tender white meat chicken. At first glance the salted caramel pretzel idea doesn’t seem to jive with chicken, but it works so well you’ll be kicking yourself for not thinking of this concoction first.  Chicken fingers are battered in crushed pretzel, fried to a crisp, doused in caramel and sprinkled with pretzel salt. This process of frying, sweetening and salting makes them a dish best shared, perhaps as dessert chicken fingers post Buffalo Balsamic and/or General Tso’s.  Aside from the pleasing interplay of salty and sweet, the best quality may be the fact that they stay crisp almost indefinitely. Not that they’ll survive long enough to reach that point.

Sticky’s Finger Joint 31 West 8th St b/t 5th & 6th Ave, New York, NY 10011 212.777.7131

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NYC East Village Late Night Pizza: Muzzarella Consistently Gets it Done on Avenue A & 14th Street (And Is a Great Alternative to Waiting on line at Artichoke)

Date November 6, 2013

This is by no means the best pizza in New York City. It’s not even the best pizza in the East Village. What is it, however, is the best late night pizza on the Northern half of the East Village, if not for their variety of slices – they typically have between 5-10 pies with different toppings plus other pizzas with airy, crispy focaccia style crust – then for their consistency and willingness to stay open until the far recesses of the evening, until the last slice is sold, even on weeknights.  It’s always busy on weekend nights and despite being as small as Artichoke, never has a long line.  Artichoke’s up there with Crif Dogs as some of the East Village’s finest late night gluttony, but do you really need either one of those? No. What you need is something more stable, like pizza, which won’t make you regret being alive on a Sunday morning. And what you need is a good old classic New York City slice that costs more than $1 because its made with halfway decent ingredients instead of the test tube cheese in the Kraft singles commercials (I’m looking at you Two Bros). Go to Muzzarella, tip the unfriendly Mexican guys behind the counter, and order a Sicilian slice or two. Just leave a corner slice for me.

Previous Muzzarella Coverage: East Village Late Night Eats Part 1 (May 2009)

Muzzarella Pizza 221 Avenue A  New York, NY 10009 (212) 614-0905

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NYC Lower East Side Filipino & Vietnamese Food: Brunch at Pig & Khao Kind of Blew My Mind

Date November 5, 2013

So apparently Pig and Khao, the newish Lower East Side restaurant from former Top Chef contestant Leah Cohen (Remember? Cute brunette who made out with Hosea? Who? Right.), is serving “Filipino-inspired” cuisine.  I guess that just means they get to serve dishes from other Asian cuisines and not have to explain why. Works for me.  Take the dish pictured above.  It’s a traditional Vietnamese dish called banh xeo” ($13) and it’s a crispy, flaky, salty, sweet crepe flavored with coconut milk and loaded up with shrimp, bacon, bean sprouts, cilantro, and scallions. You rip a piece of it off to the best of your ability, wrap it in some lettuce, pour on some of the sweet and sour dipping sauce and go to town.  It’s a mess but it offers some serious flavor and texture. Sadly it’s only served at brunch.   Happily, it’s one of the tastiest and most interactive dishes I’ve had recently.

sisig food photo

Fortunately for pork lovers, the dish above, Sizzling Sisig ($14), is served at brunch and dinner. If you’ve been following my last few posts, you’ll know that sisig is a Filipino pork head fried rice served in a sizzling skillet. It’s typically pork belly, ear, snout and cheek mixed up with an egg and some rice on a piece of hot metal that keeps everything crispy around on the edges.  It’s a kind of heaven for pork lovers and it’s not nearly as funky-tasting as it sounds. Mix up that egg, coat everything in runny yolk, spill on some vinegar (upon request) and enjoy the fact that you’re at the top of the food chain.

photo (6)

And speaking of dishes that make you happy to be alive, I strongly recommend you order the grilled pork jowl ($13) which despite being listed on the menu as being served with watermelon, fried pork skin and toasted rice, it arrived at my table covered in a pile of crispy, perfectly deep fried Brussels sprouts, leaves gnarled, burnt and frozen in delicious pain.  There was also some fried mint leaves, which refreshingly countered the fatty pork jowl and the funky lime fish sauce it’s all doused in.  Get this. It will make you happy. And really, it’s just that simple.

Pig and Khao 68 Clinton Street at Rivington St New York, NY 10002 212.920.4485

Brunch Sat-Sun 12-4pm Dinner starts at 6pm

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watermelon, chicharron, toasted rice,
lime-chili fish sauce, herbs

NYC Best Burgers: The secret to getting pickles and onions on your Shake Shack burger is easier than you think

Date November 1, 2013

shake shack

I love pickles and onions on my fast food style burgers and while I’ve been eating Shake Shack for years, I never knew they were an option. But sure enough, as with most requests at the customer-friendly burger Mecca, they are happy to oblige. All you have to do is ask.  Thanks to Lil NYC Food Gal, my sister Melissa, for the great 2nd photo.

Shake Shack Website

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“NYC Food Tour” on NYC TV – Episode 2: Low & Slow BBQ, Greek-Inspired Neapolitan Pizza & the Best Pork Gyro Ever in Astoria, Queens

Date October 28, 2013

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

The second 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,” – so thanks to everyone for that – but I’m even more excited about Episode 2: “Astoria”. It’s a neighborhood that whose culinary diversity is really undervalued. People hear Astoria, they think Greek food. But as you’ll see in the video above, there’s also legit low and slow BBQ, Greek-inspired, wood-fired Neapolitan pizza and of course, authentic pork gyros that are like the best BLT sandwich you’ve ever had. And of course, 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 for more video and let me know your thoughts, critiques and suggestions for future episodes. Thanks for watching!

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NYC Sandwiches: Is the Freshly Fried Buttermilk Chicken Sandwich at Van Horn & Company in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn worth $15 with tax and tip?

Date October 24, 2013

Looks good doesn’t it?  Well this food porn perfection cost me $15 including tip ($12 without tip).  And while this sandwich is tasty – a big piece of juicy, freshly fried buttermilk chicken topped with crisp cabbage slaw all inside a perfectly toasted sesame seed bun – it is a bit under-seasoned.  If I’m in the neighborhood again, I’m more likely to use my $12 a few blocks south, at Esposito’s Pork Store, where for the same price you get to choose from one of over 20 gut-busting Italian heroes made on fresh Caputo’s bakery hero rolls.  Or I may trek even further south to Court Street Grocers, where the huge, creative house made sandwiches offer bigger flavor and satisfaction.  At Van Horn, you’re paying for the restaurant experience – Esposito’s is a butcher shop and deli, Court Street Grocers is a sandwich shop – so if attentive service and JCrew catalog atmosphere makes you feel better about paying $15 for a chicken sandwich (with tip), you will not be disappointed.  And at that point you may as well get Van Horn’s grilled pimento cheese sandwich with bacon and lettuce too, because after all, you only live once, might as well make it count.

Van Horn & Company (Website)
231 Court St at Baltic Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 596-9707

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Lawrence “The NYC Food Guy” Hosts “NYC Food Tour,” a New TV Food Show Debuting Tonight (Thurs. 10/24) on NYC TV!

Date October 24, 2013

tufino screen shot

I’m finally hosting my own food TV show!

It’s called “NYC Food Tour” and it airs tomorrow night (Thurs. 10/24) at 9:30pm on NYC TV.  I’m not only the host, I also produced it, wrote it and edited it!


During each four minute episode we’ll discover unique food throughout the five boroughs and get YOU excited to go out and eat!


“NYC TV Life” is channel 25 for most New Yorkers. It also airs in Long Island and some parts of New Jersey.  Click here to find out what channel NYC TV is near you.  Since my show is only four minutes, it won’t get its own time slot on the TV Guide, but is scheduled to air at 9:30pm.


My “Smorgasburg” episode airs tonight, but in the link below you can also watch my 2nd episode, “Astoria,” which will air on NYC TV next week.

If you want the full experience, make sure to adjust the resolution to 720p HD using the little gear button at the bottom right of the YouTube video screen.  It’s ok to make this change after the video begins playing.


On all Taxi televisions there is a button at the bottom of the screen that says “Change Channel” or “TLC Channel.”  Click that button to watch the NYC TV channel in your taxi and there’s a good chance you’ll see me.


I’m currently editing two more episodes of “NYC Food Tour” as we speak and I’ll be all over NYC TV for the foreseeable future.  I hope to have a full half hour show for the summer which you’ll be able to DVR.


I’d love to hear your thoughts, critiques and suggestions for future episodes or shows.

And if you know of any bigger shows who are looking for a host (even if it’s not specifically food-related) or a food expert guest, or if you know of any websites, networks or production companies looking for food content or freelance producers, please let me know.  Your help is greatly appreciated!


Lawrence Weibman is “The NYC Food Guy.”

I’m a native New Yorker whose life is dedicated to discovering great meals wherever I go.  I’m the founder of the food blog which focuses on “NYC’s Most Delicious and Affordable Food” and I also eat my way around the country as a full-time field producer for a national food TV show.  When it comes to food, I will never steer you wrong.

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SPONSORED POST – NYC Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting: Food, Booze and… Plastic?!

Date October 19, 2013

plastics collage

Plastics Make it Possible! Top row (left to right): Chef Robert Irvine, Plastic Maple Syrup Dispensers, Faux Metal Plastic Forks w/ Bread Pudding. Middle row (l to r): Hill Country Brisket, Plastic Makes It Possible Display, Chipotle Taco w/ Margaritas in Clear Plastic Cups.  Bottom row (l to r): Mionetto Prosecco with plastic light up mixers, Rums of Puerto Rico Drinks in Clear Plastic Cups, Wear your Wine Glass Thanks to Plastic Connector

If you’re reading this website, it’s highly likely that you love to eat, cook and imbibe.  And if you enjoy those actions the same way I do, you’re typically focused on the quality of the food and drink, not the serving dish or glassware.  But if you stop and think for a second about how your food and drink is actually served, you’ll realize it’s a big part of the experience.  And few materials play a bigger role in that than plastic.  Why do I bring this up? Well today I was asked to eat and drink my way through the New York City Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting, complements of Plastics Make It Possible, and look for cool ways plastic is used in serving and preparing food and drink.  And guess what?  Despite the fact that I got paid a few clams to do the job, I actually enjoyed my role as plastic detective.  It was fun taking a new angle on food exploration and discovering how plastic, something I generally pay no attention to, is actually integral to my edible enjoyment.  Plastics help me save food and money by keeping ingredients and leftovers fresh while lightweight plastic packaging protects food and helps the environment by reducing waste and fuel consumption in transport.  So next time you grab a meal or a drink, take a second to look around and see how plastic interacts with your experience, because after all it’s the little things that make the difference!

NYC Weekend-Only Eats: Carnitas Tacos at Porchetta in East Village (Ask for Cracklin on the side)

Date October 11, 2013

photo 1

I like weekends about as much as I thought I could. Then I discovered the weekend-only carnitas tacos at Porchetta and now weekends are the new black.  If you’ve had the namesake porchetta sandwich (Niman Ranch pork loin and pork belly stuffed with spices, rolled and roasted until moist inside and fatty and crispy outside), you know how seriously Chef Sara Jenkins and her crew take their pork.  So when you hear that the carnitas are made of rib meat and pork loin trimmings from the porchetta, you should be very happy; Jenkins’ pork trimmings are better than most other restaurants pork chops.  And you should be holding your breath as your plate of tacos (2 for $7) slides toward you across the counter, your eyes welling up with tears of joy at the first sight of juicy nuggets of pan-fried pork, their edges crispy and dark, topped with finely chopped cilantro and onion and a bright, creamy avocado, cilantro and lime salsa verde.  Exhale and ask for a side of cracklin with your tacos; crispy, melt in your mouth pork skin makes every bite even better.  Just make sure to squeeze some lime on top of each taco, the acidity is a welcome addition.  Make sure to show up before 2-3pm on Sunday because they typically run out by then.  Your weekend may never be the same again.

Porchetta Website

110 East 7th Street b/t 1st Ave & Ave A

New York, NY 10009


NYC Filipino Food: Sizzling Sisig is an Adventure for Pork Lovers at Maharlika in the East Village

Date October 10, 2013

Looks pretty good doesn’t it? Tastes pretty damn good too. Want to know why its an adventure? Because that pork fried rice-looking concoction actually contains four pig parts: ear, snout, cheek and belly.  And surprisingly, they’re all delicious in their own way.  They go through a three-tiered cooking process, first being braised to seal in flavor, then grilled over charcoal for some char and then fried to crisp them up.  What results are a melange of pork bits some fatty and crisp, some meaty yet tender, some a little funky.  If you’re skeptical, rest assured, there are so many flavors and textures at play in this dish, you’d never know you were eating all these random pieces of pork if no one told you.

The pork arrives at your table in a sizzling skillet and then you pour an egg on top and mix it up, letting it cook with the heat of the skillet, and then mix in some garlic rice.  And since Filipino food is really a fusion between Malaysian, Spanish and Chinese cuisine, this is more than just fried rice, it’s actually an amazing cross between paella, fried rice and whatever rice-laden Malaysian dish is garlicky, sweet and spicy.  Make sure to pour some of the house made chile-infused vinegar on top of your sisig, it really helps cut the fat. Head to Maharlika if you want the full intro to Filipino food, they’ve taken a lot of the Filipino basics and updated them with a modern twist.  Think Filipino versions of fried chicken and waffles and eggs benedict at brunch and amazing dishes featuring prawns in red curry and pork belly fried to perfection.  Ask for Nicole or the Chef Miguel, co-owners, and tell them Lawrence the NYC Food Guy sent you.  This place is also the sister restaurant to Jeepney, the Filipino gastropub I wrote about recently because of their incredible, hands-free feast, Kamayan Night. If you haven’t done that yet, it’s time.

Maharlika Website

111 First Ave near 7th Street

New York, NY 10003


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NYC Italian Sandwiches: Sergimmo Salumeria Serves the Best in Midtown West

Date October 3, 2013


You’re looking at mortadella, warm fried eggplant, a hearty later of melted and thinly sliced sharp provolone, peppery arugula, and balsamic vinaigrette on ciabatta. All freshly sliced and prepared to order. The chicken parmesan hero is also solid and I’m always tempted to try one of their other two dozen sandwich creations, or the daily special, or a bowl of pasta, or just sit down and eat a meat plate, nicely arranged on a wooden cutting board, sipping a macchiato and wallowing away the day in a sea of salty, porky goodness. Every neighborhood in New York City should have a place like Sergimmo Salumeria.  Honorable mention for 2nd best Italian sandwiches in Midtown West goes to Salumeria Biellese on the corner of 29th street and 8th Ave.  They cure their own meats, including what I consider the best soppressata (spicy salami) in the city, and that gives them some serious cred, but they lost points because as Serious Eats says, you’re better off bringing your own bread than eating theirs and that’s just not gonna cut it for on-the-go New Yorkers.

Sergimmo Salumeria Website

456 9th Ave b/t 35th & 36th St

New York, NY 10018

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NYC Wings: International Wings Factory on the Upper East Side, An Unlikely Location for the Best Sauces in NYC

Date October 2, 2013


What makes a great wing? Is it the size and quality of the chicken? Is it the frying technique? Or is it the sauces? Take a trip to the International Wings Factory on 1st Ave b/t 91st & 92nd street, and the answer is clear: it’s all about the sauces. They offer thirteen different sauces as well as four dipping sauces, all of which are hand made from scratch using fresh chiles, in order to achieve the perfect flavor and texture so the sauce will actually cling to the wings.

You don’t think of wings as a dish that a serious chef would dedicate his time to, but that’s exactly what’s happening here.  Chef Deepak Ballaney is a Culinary Institute of America graduate and has consulted in big time restaurants across almost every cuisine, from Chinese and Mexican to Indian and American.  But no matter the cuisine, the big batch of wings Chef Ballaney would cook for his staff at the end of every shift always brought people together.  Now he’s drawing on the unifying force of wings, as well as his diverse culinary background, to create some of the most flavorful and juicy wings in all of New York City.

Read on to find out which sauces I loved, what new exotic flavors are coming soon and what they’re doing to French fries that will make you drool!

Read the rest of this entry »

Gratuitous Food Porn: Gargiulo Burger at Brennan and Carr in Gravesend, Brooklyn

Date September 27, 2013

gargiulo burger

This gutbomb will only set you back $6.45.

Forget bacon, this burger is topped with freshly sliced roast beef, grilled onions and melted American cheese. It’s on the take-out menu but not on the placemat menu inside.  Fret not, just make sure to order a side of jus, slice your burger in half, dunk, wait for a second, and then enjoy what The Daily Meal’s Arthur Bovino calls “an infusion of flavor… like a riff on French Onion Soup, American style, with a burger sitting in it.” Wow.  Thanks to Matt Setton, the original intrepid eater in my life, for the photo.

Brennan and Carr

3432 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11229 718.646.9559

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NYC Mexican Food & Cheap Eats: Taco Cart at 70th Street & Broadway May Be Upper West Side’s Best Lunch Deal & Best Mexican Food

Date September 26, 2013

tacos upper west

Spicy pork taco ($2.50)

Two spicy pork tostadas ($3.00 each)

In the colorful photo just above these words, you’re looking at two carne enchilada tostadas.  Crispy, open face taco shells spread with beans, covered with freshly griddled spicy pork, and topped with lettuce, tomato, and crumbly white cheese.  They were made by an industrious Mexican woman inside a little metal cart outside the Chase Bank at the southwest corner of 70th Street and Broadway.  This cart may be providing both the best lunch deal and best Mexican food on the Upper West Side.  Each one of the towering tostadas above cost just $3.00.  $3.00! That means if you bought two of these, you would have a seriously filling lunch for just $6.  The overstuffed tacos (photo above, at top), sprinkled with cilantro, onion and green sauce are $2.50 each.  Get two of those and you’re stuffed for just $5.  The dinner plate-sized torta is just $6 and it’s easily a two-meal sandwich.  The only downside to the entire enterprise is that the food doesn’t come fast, there’s only one woman working and typically a few people on line, so leave a little time.  Forget Chipotle, Subway and whatever other underwhelming and likely overpriced Upper West Side lunch option you’ve decided on and make a beeline for what I’ve decided is the best Mexican food on the Upper West Side.  I’m already sorry I let you in on the secret.

Taco Cart at 70th Street & Broadway, Southwest corner

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