September 18, 2013
Sometimes all you have to do is ask.
I wish I could remember who told me to ask the Fresco Gelateria counter girl to open up my croissant and slather Nutella all over the inside of both halves. If I could remember, I’d kiss that person. Because this bad boy is as good as it looks. Fresco’s web site touts “daily baked pastries,” but in regard to the croissants, they actually purchase them par-baked and finish them in the shop. That means if you manage to get there early enough, you can actually have Nutella inside a fresh-baked croissant. Shit. I just realized a new possibility. Asking them to heat the croissant if it’s room temp before they spread on the Nutella. And oh yeah, they always have at least six different house made gelato flavors on the menu. So why not scoop some of that goodness into a croissant? Wow. I think I just blew my own mind. I don’t know if they would actually do either of those things, but if those aren’t questions worth asking, what are?
2nd Ave b/t St. Mark’s Pl & 9th St
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September 17, 2013
Sure it’s crispy, juicy and a little spicy. And so what if it’s unique breading involves matzoh meal. And really, it’s great and all that their fries are thin and freshly fried, their potato wedges can be loaded with bacon and cheese, their onion strings are some of the best I’ve had, and they have ice cream custom made for them in flavors like Banana Salted Caramel and “Spiked Bourbon Street” (chocolate, hazelnut and Bourbon).
But what really matters is that they’re open until 2am every night. In the East Village. And in the city that never sleeps, that’s big.
Priorities people. You may not realize you need fried chicken at 1:30am on a Monday, that is, until you do. And therein lies the beauty of New York City. Any time, any craving, it can happen.
Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken
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September 13, 2013
Clockwise from top left:
Coppelia, Blue Collar, The National, Bayard Ale House, Brindle Room, Full Shilling
“I not only think about food all day,” said Henry Miller in “Tropic of Cancer,” “but I dream about it at night.” NYC Food Guy, he dreams about cheeseburgers. Big, dinner plate-sized sandwiches filled with juicy beef patties with neon yellow American cheese dripping from the sides, please. There are few food items whose simple pleasure make me happier. And since many of New York City’s chefs fortunately share my sentiments, I’ve decided to put together a list of six burgers I’ve eaten over the last year, from sources as diverse as an Irish Pub, an Iron Chef and even a Cuban restaurant. Rest assured, these are burgers worth dreaming about.
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September 12, 2013
It may not be pretty, but no meal has excited me more in recent memory than the one I ate a few months back at Jeepney, the sibling of fellow East Village Filipino restaurant Maharlika. A huge plank of sticky rice was laid end-to-end over neighboring two-person tables covered in banana leaf. Our server carefully placed a whole fried fish in the center of the long white mound of coconut milk-flavored rice. Spreading out from both sides of the fish, he symmetrically placed chicken, smoked soft boiled eggs, two kinds of pork (one in a coconut milk gravy, one marinated in Coca-Cola), sweet longanisa sausage, sauteed bok choy, bitter melon salad, piles of fried tripe and fried bread, and grilled green onions. You get to choose two appetizers and three entrees from a set menu. Each of my three dining companions and I received two bowls, one with vinegar and chiles and another with soy sauced-spiked mayo (recommended for the tripe). The only other thing in front of me was a San Miguel beer and a napkin, the latter of which would prove useless.
It was at this point that I snapped a few quick photos because as soon as I put that iPhone down, it was time to eat.
With only my hands.
For about 30 minutes straight.
No talking, just visceral moans from all the startling intersections of flavor and texture; spicy gives way to sour then sweet. Crispy melts into fatty and tender. Maw at the sticky rice with your hand, form it into a little ball and wrap a shred of pork (or chicken, fish or sausage) around it, dip it into the vinegar, pulling up a chile as you bring it all to your mouth. Repeat until nearing food coma, save some room for the icy dessert halo halo and then prepare to not want anything to do with food until dinner the next day. I’m not used to this kind of gustatory defeat but according to Jeepney co-owner and sometimes-server Noel Cruz, his family feasted like this every night back in the Philippines. I think I know where I’m taking my next vacation.
Jeepney 201 1st Ave b/t 11th & 12th St, NY, NY 10003 212.533.4121 CASH ONLY
Kamayan Night – Wednesday & Thursday Only – $40 per person, call for details and reservations
September 11, 2013
I know these look good. How could they not? They’re French fries, one of the hardest-to-resist foods on the planet (for me at least). But when push comes to shove, you didn’t wait in line at Umami Burger for 30 to 90 minutes for the fries, you’re here for the burgers. These fries look sinful and spectacular, but give credit to my iPhone for that, because quite frankly these are just window dressing. The fries themselves are ordinary pre-frozen shoestring and the flavor profiles of the “Manly Fries” and the Truffle fries are as basic as their descriptions imply. Sure they’re salty, sinful and easy to eat by the forkful. The burgers, on the other hand, are unique and very big on flavor. Are they worth a 90-minute wait? Not in my humble opinion. But if you happen to pass by Umami Burger and see some open seats, pop in and grab a classic “Umami Burger” AND a Green Chile Burger. Pass on the fries, you’ll thank me later.
Umami Burger Website
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September 10, 2013
What’s your first memory of oatmeal? For me it was my Dad mixing it over the stove and then offering me some to taste. My first bite was a forgettable one as my Dad uses little to no sugar and wanted to let me try it that way too. Five minutes and half a cup of sugar and cinnamon later and I was happily eating my oatmeal. Oatmeals, a small new shop on West 3rd st b/t MacDougal St and 6th Avenue, whose aim is to up the ante on breakfast’s typically boring buddy, has succeeded in their task and they do it with more than just cinnamon and sugar. Take the “Salted Caramel Apple” you see above. Cinnamon, brown sugar, cinnamon roasted apples, whipped cream, caramel, and a very smart sprinkle of sea salt combine to make oatmeal something you’re actually excited to wake up for in the morning. They offer 25 different ways to enjoy your oatmeal, some savory like the “Truffle RisOATto” which features shaved parm, truffle oil, sea salt and cracked black pepper, some sweet like the “Dulce de Leche Cheesecake” with graham crackers, whipped ricotta, dulce de leche drizzle, cinnamon, brown sugar, and whipped cream or the “Strawberry Shortcake” with graham crackers, fresh strawberries, strawberry jelly, vanilla and brown sugars, and whipped cream. However you decide to top your oatmeal, rest assured this will be the only oatmeal you’ll ever be excited to tell your friends about after.
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September 9, 2013
It all started at Smorgasburg, the weekends only Brooklyn-based food festival that was spawned by the popularity of the food vendors at Brooklyn Flea. People lined up for 20-30 minutes at a time to get a taste of Mighty Quinn’s famous brisket and rightly so, it’s fatty, smoky, perfectly pink inside, and has a just-crisp-enough bark outside. It’s everything you want from brisket. The popularity of their Smorgasburg stand led to the opening of an actual restaurant on the corner of 6th street and 2nd Avenue. And with that came a new expanded menu featuring solid pulled pork and ribs as well (the ribs are more flavorful than the pork). I’m typically a purist when it comes to BBQ, which means I generally have low expectations for the sides, salads and pickles. But while the meats were all fresh and fatty – which is what you want from BBQ – the acidity and sweetness of the various sides (burnt end baked beans and sweet potato casserole), salads (coleslaw) and pickles (red onion, cucumber and pickle chiles) complemented the meats so well, they made the entire meal more complete. Mighty Quinn’s is still rocking and rolling at Smorgasburg as well (through November), so you can head out there too for a taste of their ‘cue. If you want to see some video food porn of Mighty Quinn’s brisket, check out my Smorgasburg video for two quick but sinful shots around eleven seconds in.
Mighty Quinn’s Website
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September 6, 2013
Clockwise from top left: Defonte’s #20, Parm Turkey Sandwich, Dram Shop Double Cheeseburger, sugarSweetSunshine Banana Pudding, Court Street Grocers “Delight,” Brindle Room Steak Burger, Xe May Classic Banh Mi, Dough doughnuts at Smorgasburg, Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie
I used to love baseball season. That was until I worked in production at the Mets TV station from 2006 to 2009 and had to literally analyze all of their heartbreaking season-ending losses. Being a fantasy baseball addict didn’t help either. I typically managed two or three teams per season, from April to September, an endeavor which girlfriends everywhere readily admit leaves them lonely and deserted. As a result, I essentially retired from serious baseball fandom, finding greater solace in the past over the present. After all, with the exception of Shake Shack at Citi Field, baseball’s past offers much greener grass than the artificially enhanced, fancily manicured outfields of today. Fortunately, I still have NFL football Sundays. It’s a once-a-week (well really three times-a-week if you count Thursday & Monday) excuse to pretend you’ve never received a bad cholesterol report and “fried” is one of the major food groups. With that in mind, here’s NYC Food Guy’s list of Nine Game Day bites to eat, take out or recreate at home and ensure your NFL Week 1 kicks off in style.
September 5, 2013
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Among my crew of fellow foodies, Ample Hills Creamery gets talked about more than Miley’s twerkin. The flavor everyone raves about is the aptly named “Salted Crack Caramel,” because once you start eating, it’s very hard to stop. If you love the intersection of salty and sweet, this is the flavor you’ll be telling the kids about back in Manhattan. All you need to know is that the creamy caramel ice cream is loaded with crunchy bits of crushed Saltine crackers, also covered in caramel. Still unconvinced? Watch the video. Figuring out what to put on top of your ice cream is always a slight conundrum, but expertise must equate to proximity because my friend Suzanne, who lives right around the corner from Ample Hills, recommended hot fudge and she was spot on. Her favorite flavor is “Ooey Gooey Butter Cake” but sadly they were out of that when I arrived. If they have it when you’re there, get it. She has a track record after all.
Ample Hills Creamery Website
September 4, 2013
Clockwise from top: Mushroom tacos, chips and guacamole and stewed pork tostada. My favorite bite of the night is not pictured: the black bean and sweet plantain cheese quesadilla. It hit the salty-sweet, melty-crispy notes in all the right ways. Overall, not life changing Mexican food and definitely not destination worthy, but if you’re in Prospect Heights and in the mood for Mexican, your stomach and wallet will be satisfied. Cash only.
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September 1, 2013
via @nycfoodguy Instagram
In order to experience these wings in their full greatness, make sure to get them tossed first in BBQ sauce and then in Alabama white sauce. Hands down best wings I’ve had that aren’t the Wango Tango at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. Special thanks to Lil NYC Food Guy for the photo.
Martin’s BBQ Joint Website
September 1, 2013
Looks better than it tasted. Mustard and French fries make everything better.
Hot House Website
July 27, 2012
In the opening intro of ABC’s hit food TV show The Chew, Chef Mario Batali says “There are two types of people: Italians and those who wish they were Italian.” If you’ve ever wondered what this means, eat a meal cooked from scratch by a real Italian nonna (grandmother) and you will understand; it’s pure food bliss. You can taste the years of practice and tradition, passed through the generations from some quaint Italian village, in every bite. And thanks to my friends Eric and Caterina Cook, I was privy to a home cooked meal from Caterina’s Calabrian Nonna and now, I don’t think I ever want to go out for Italian food again.
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July 23, 2012
Michael White is a seriously high class Italian chef. But now he is diverting his attention from octopus and bone marrow fusili to “Wisconsin style” pizza. And he’s doing it in my neighborhood, the East Village, which means it’s my obligation as a borderline pizza addict to sample some. The best barometer for a new pizza place is the symbol of pizza porn: classic pepperoni pizza. Now I’m not sure what “Wisconsin style” actually dictates, but at Nicoletta, I found an airy, dinner plate sized pizza with slightly crisp and buttery end crust, a thin layer of smooth tomato sauce, a thick layer of mozzarella, a lot of dried oregano, and tasty pepperoni, small, burnt around the edges and cradling their own little pools of oil. Just how I like it.
My pizza was tasty – not a game-changer – but good enough to put Nicoletta on the consideration list when someone asks “Where should I eat pizza in the East Village?” My first and only visit came late on a Sunday night after beers, Jameson shots and fried pickles at open-air haunt Bua on St. Mark’s Place. Not the steady base you would want to approach the menu of rich pizzas, topped with everything from porchetta and pork cracklings (Porchetta, $21) to Wisconsin bacon and potatoes (Patatona, $19). But steady base or not, the question in my mind as I departed was whether or not I’d want to come back at all for one of those gut-busting pizzas. Not a good sign in a neighborhood overrun with quality pizza options. Motorino, Artichoke, South Brooklyn Pizza, and even Vinny Vincenz (for Sicilian slices only) offer pizza heads more alluring options. Then again, Nicoletta is open until 3am and crazier decisions than indulging in Carbonara pizza (cream, pancetta, pecorino romano, egg, black pepper, and scallion, $19) have been made after twilight.
Nicoletta 160 Second Ave at 10th Street, New York, NY 10003 212.432.1600 Mon-Fri, 5pm-3am Sat & Sun,1pm-3am