When you live in a city as big as New York, love food as much as I do, share a shoebox kitchen with three others and work 50-60 hours a week, it’s hard to cook. It’s also hard not to feel overwhelmed and excited by the infinite number of restaurants and cuisines available (many within a close walking distance). So for the past almost four months, I have been eating my way through The Big Apple (and oh how that Hungry Caterpillar would be proud of me—thank goodness I walk everywhere!) I have some culinary highlights I’d like to share from things I have eaten thus far.
This is my dear friend John Carriani. We’re friends because we love theatre and we both get ridiculously excited about food (particularly baked goods) and will stop at nothing to track down a good pastry, no matter the distance. One evening we made a trip out to Red Hook to visit Baked. He had a $30 gift card there and wanted to use it all at once (for the both of us)! He is an incredibly generous soul. So we went to Baked…
and this is what we ate…
We were like kids in a candy store (err bakery) and we both pretty much agreed that this was the most exciting thing ever and that this is what dreams were made of (ours at least). We were very giddy (and this was before the sugar party that ensued)! My favorite were the bourbon chocolate chip pecan bar and the sweet & salty cake and John favored the whoopie pie and the cupcake. Don’t worry, we didn’t eat all of these devious morsels…at once anyway.
This Pulled Duroc Pork Sandwich from Num Pang. It was pretty stellar. It’s made with tender spiced honey braised pork, on the most luscious roll with chili mayo, cilantro (which I shamefully pick off), carrots and cucumber and it’s perfect. I enjoyed mine with a homemade blood orange lemonade which was also perfect. In the land of most amazing pork sandwiches, this baby rings in second place for me (the first being the pork sandwich I had a few years ago at El Paseo, in Seattle. Don’t even get me started on that sandwich.
-A chocolate croissant fresh out of the oven, from Charlotte Patisserie, consumed (too quickly for a photo), on a walk through McCarren Park on a fall morning. They also make different quickbreads that I love—particularly their apple & banana.
-Jay and I recently had the pleasure of having a late dinner at The Brooklyn Star and had our minds blown over the fried chicken dinner for two there. We came on a Tuesday and they normally only do the fried chicken on Sundays and Mondays (and it has to be at least three people) so much to our surprise, when we were seated and our waiter informed us they were doing it (and for two), it felt like fate. Fried chicken fate. And oh that glorious fried chicken, those good ole southern fixins and classic Rolling Stones music that soon unfolded thereafter… It was undoubtedly one of the most memorable meals I’ve had here. The chicken was so juicy, crispy and flavorful and we had these awesome pickled vegetables, crack macaroni and cheese (studded with bacon, with a tangy kick from the sharp cheddar), mashed potatoes and gravy and biscuits. (No room for dessert). I think Jay got a pic or two of our feast but I was honestly too euphoric to bother.
-We also had a wonderful date at an adorable, romantic yet laid back Italian place in Williamsburg, called Fiore. It’s candlelit with black and white tiled floors and petite tables with little vase of fresh herbs. There’s a long shelf with antiques that borders one of the walls, there’s some exposed brick and vintage photos in antique frames adorn the walls.
We shared a raw, shredded artichoke salad with lemon and parmesan, a bottle of red and two generous plates of homemade pasta (for under $10!!). Jay had ravioli with butter, chili flakes, sage and parmesan. It was simple but elegant. I had the tagliatelli bolognese—hearty and fragrant with rosemary, it was one of the best bolognese dishes I’ve ever had. I loved it so much, I went there a week later with my friend and roommate, Caitlin (who also loved it) and we shared one of the best salads I’ve ever had. It a big bed of frise with toasted pecans, warm roasted butternut squash and sautéed wild mushrooms, pecorino and a lemon truffle vinaigrette. It was heavenly and the embodiment of autumn (in food form). We also shared a tiramisu that left us speechless.
So because I love and live for this sort of thing, here is my personal guide to some of the best eats in the city (Brooklyn mostly), based on some of my favorites:
NYC Gastronomy Awards:
- Fiore, Moto, Cafe Colette and Dear Bushwick, for most intimate, romantic atmospheres
- Five Leaves for best breakfast/brunch/bacon, people watching and favorite design
- The Blue Stove for most adorable, cozy bakery and best pies
- Best cocktails go to Dear Bushwick, for “The Iron Lady”: rose-infused Junipero Gin, Lillet Rose, Aperol and lemon juice and Gwynnett St for the “Go Fig-ure”: Blackwell Rum, Averna, port, fig jam, all spice and lime juice
- Best bread goes to Commerce (everything) and Gwynnett St for their Whiskey Bread with Vermont cultured butter. It was one of the most exquisite things I’ve ever tasted.
- Bubby’s (Tribeca location) and Clinton St. Baking Company for best pancakes (sour cream pancakes at Bubby’s and the banana walnut pancakes at Clinton St)
- Best Polish food goes to Lomzynianka and Krolewski Jadlo particularly for their red Borscht and pierogies.
- Best Sandwich goes to Num Pang for the Pulled Duroc Pork
- Best cupcake goes to Butter Lane Bakery (the banana with cream cheese)
- Best appetizers goes to Locanda Verde for the blue crab crostini with jalapeno and tomato and the focaccia and Nights and Weekends for their
- Best cafe and favorite neighborhood hangout spot goes to Charlotte Patisserie
- Best Bakery goes to The Blue Stove (I may be biased but truly everything there is awesome) and also
- Best coffee goes to Cafe Grumpy (Greenpoint location just because it’s right by my apt)
- Best doughnuts goes to Peter Pan (for cake doughnuts) and Dough for yeast
- Best Pasta goes to Fiore (in Greenpoint)
- Best Bar goes to The Richardson (for their wallpaper, Bourbon selection—because they carry several PAPPY’S bottles! and also for the bartender that looks like Paul Dano). Also, to Manhattan Inn for the overall classic atmosphere.
- Best neighborhood bar that’s not in my neighborhood goes to The Double Windsor (in Windsor Terrace)
- Best cutest, smallest restaurant /most handsome chef goes to Bistro Petit
- Best brisket goes to Lonestar Empire
- Best Pizza goes to Paulie Gees, Speedy Romeo and Forcella
- Best Bagels goes to The Bagel Store (in Williamsburg)—while I’ve yet to actually step foot into the store, a wonderful girl I work with named Jackie brings these delicious bagels into the bakery where I work, every Friday morning for “Bagel Friday.” How can that not make your day amazing?
- Best fried chicken/southern food goes to The Brooklyn Star
- Best Mexican/worst service goes to La Superior
- Best all around restaurant goes to: Commerce. From the bread basket down to the dessert menu, it’s amazing (pics and review to come)!