Scarpetta

355 W 14th StNew York, NY 10014 • (212) 691-0555 • scarpettarestaurants.com
 

Making many a blog’s hottest new haunts in the ole NYC, Scarpetta delivers on the adulation serving up some mighty fine Italian in a simple, classy dining room that is so loud you can barely hear your own “mmm’s”

Fortunately, I could still hear our waiter, who was Johnny on the spot with his recos. Including a phenomenal, velvety Morgan Boujelais that complemented everything from the baby tuna crudo, which was pretty great to the soft polenta with mushrooms and black truffles, which was “I don’t want to share” ridiculicious.

And then the short rib and bone marrow agnolotti (pictured) happened and everything in the world slowed down like a Planet Earth documentary. The ecstasy of every chew as palpable as plastering your blissful puss on the jumbotron in Times Square.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on the black cod entrée served on a bed of caramelized fennel. It’s enough to make you want to fuck a fish.

Hell, this place even nails the basics, like their spaghetti with tomato and basil. So simple. So right.

Desert held strong as well, representing with a strong chocolate cake. In fact, the only miss (and a huge one at that) of the night came along its side in the form of one of the worst tart tatins I’ve ever laid teeth on.

But I forgive Scarpetta, because it handily restored my faith in the New York Italian restaurant scene. Again. #Blanca #Eataly #Carbone

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Soho House

29 9th Ave. New York, NY 10014 (212) 627-3647 sohohouseny.com

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Although I’m not a member, I’ve been to the New York Soho House several times now (as well as Chicago) and while it is MUCH bigger and more modern than the Norwood, I find the attempts I read online to distinguish them from one another to be a fools errand, because if you ask me, I find them to be VERY similar in terms of vibe. Both are styled in a way that pays homage to a simpler time (pictured), while somehow contrasting that with a modern sense of urgency to be as cool and connected as possible.

This is not to say that I am above the scene, au contraire. In fact, I kinda love it. And if one must join a club of such upward standing, at least it is FAR cooler than some of those stuffier, crustier joints in midtown. Not to mention shockingly affordable, I have to say.

Service has always been very good every time I go, from the bartenders to the wait staff, and although the hosts can be a bit self-important, for the most part even they have been tolerable.

As for the food, I have dined her almost every way imaginable from a simple dinner for four at the restaurant to a huge private dinner with tables the size of aircraft carriers to a cocktail event with passed hors’d’oeuvres. And while all encounters have netted out somewhere between good and decent, I will give you a few of the highlights to keep an eye out for should you happen to find yourself rubbing elbows with the muckety mucks.

Of all the nibbles I’ve partaken over the course of my visits, these are the three worth standing by the kitchen for- First and foremost being the spicy crab cakes, which pack some nice kick for such little suckers. The sliders are also pretty money, and always perfectly cooked, seemingly a challenge for most sliders, being so small, they tend to come out overdone at virtually 90% of the places that serve them. So mad props to Soho on this one. But perhaps the best thing of all was a lentil salad served in a bib lettuce wrap. I know it sounds hard to believe amidst the company of lobster, short ribs and sliders, but I stand by my word. Taste and believe.

A few notches down from those would be the flank steak and fries, the charred broccoli, the short ribs with horseradish cream (mainly because they were a touch dry- flavor was good though), the crostinis, the lobster roll and the Swedish meatballs. And truth be told, the only flat out miss for me is the arancini. The risotto is just way too dry.

So with three winners, one loser and a gaggle of belly fillers, I think it’s safe to net the house out at a strong three. Never stayed in the hotel though, so don’t yell at me if I’m missing the best or worst part of the place. I’m just a the food guy, remember?

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Old Homestead

56 9th Ave. New York, NY 10011(212) 242-9040 theoldhomesteadsteakhouse.com

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This old school NY Steakhouse is so old, you’ll to feel like you hit a wormhole when you entered through the door. Suddenly it’s as though you’re back in the 1800’s from the decor, to the staff to portion control. And once you see the size of those portions, it’s kinda hard to focus on anything else- or perhaps see around your food to look at anything else. Yes, it’s THAT big. Guess no one told them gluttony is a sin.

I had a NY Strip that was about the size of my forearm, no exaggeration. A baked potato that was about the size of a newborn baby, slight exaggeration. But thing is, it wasn’t half bad. To be honest I found the food to be much better than Smith and Wollensky’s and The Palm, but that’s not saying much. And while Homestead isn’t what I would call “great,” portions withstanding, it’s definitely worth a visit for novelty sake. After all, it’s not often that a steakhouse serves portions only slightly smaller than the animal from whence they came. Almost reminds me of the Steakhouse version of an old NYC favorite of mine from long ago, the Royal Canadian Pancake House (RIP)- also insanely massive portions – pancakes the size of manhole covers, no exaggeration- but I digress.

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Del Posto

85 10th AveNew York, NY 10011(212) 497-8090 delposto.com

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Having been to a gaggle of Batali restaurants I have to say he is all over the map for me, his record being 5-2. Del Posto just barely making it among the 5, as opposed to the 2. The 2 are Osteria Mozza in LA and Babbo in NYC. I found both to be highly inflated and mediocre at best, especially in light of the money you’ll be throwing down. The other 4 wins, all more handily than Del Posto, are Eataly, Lupa, Pizzeria Mozza and Tarry Lodge.

But I digress. Back to Del Posto. I find the décor to be very stuffy, particularly when you consider the neighborhood it’s in. It feels like it belongs in midtown or on Wall St., not the trendy Meat Packing District. But it is far from bad. Just out of place, if you ask me.

Now for the food. I was certain to do a little Yelping research before I arrived, and we did in fact do the lunch prix fixe adding one extra course and wine parings. So, we “did it right.”

The first thing to come was the amuse bouche, which definitely got things off on the right foot. It was in three parts, a gazpacho that was quite good, a fritter of sorts, that was excellent, and a crab puff pastry, that was a little salty, but I liked it.

For my anitpasti I started with the lobster, based upon a few Yelp recos and I have to say it was just eh.

For my primi, I also went with the Yelpster hype and chose the garganelle, which was definitely good, but not 5 star good.

For my secondi, I had the duck and shared some lamb both based, once again, on Yelp acclaim. The duck was just okay. But the lamb was fantastic.

And finally, for my dolci, I had the chocolate tortino- and yes, I Yelped that too. And that also, was just okay (further confirming why I left Yelp). HOWEVER, it was all of the other little desserts they brought that were incredible. There were these mini ice cream bar things that were a wonderful surprise as they exploded in your mouth. White chocolate oat clusters that made me wish I had just ordered a vat of those, and macadamia nuts rolled in chocolate and other goodness that I can’t seem to recall either, but keep in mind I was pretty tipsy by that point from all of the wine, which was well paired and quite good.

So, the final tally for me on Del Posto is that I liked it. Would I rush to go back? No. But I’m glad I went. I had a great time with great people. And the service was excellent.

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Spice Market

403 W 13th St. New York, NY 10014(212) 675-2322 • spicemarketnewyork.com

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If it’s one thing Jean-Georges knows it’s decor. I’ve been to ABC Kitchen, Jean-Georges, The Inn at Pound Ridge and Spice Market and each and every one of them is stunning in its own way. Guess he and Thomas Keller don’t see eye to eye on decor’s place in a culinary experience. I’m partial to Jean’s side.

That said, there does come a point when looks can only take a place so far, and thus you are left with a great looker, but little substance. Sort of like with Megan Fox. Granted if I had the chance to go on a date with Megan Fox even just once, I obviously would have, because I’m just as shallow as the next guy. But, I firmly believe that the cracks would quickly show as we tried to carry out a conversation. That’s Spice Market.

The moment you step in, you are transported. Smacked upside your head by a decor so thematically well done, you forgive it for being a “theme.” And while your neck and eyes will hurt from looking around you to see all of the rich details and the beautiful servers as well as guests, your nirvana will soon come crashing back to Earth as you take a bite of their samosas, spring rolls and various other Asian small plates and realize that it’s nothing better than Baluchi’s or Pongsri or Mee Noodle. So, my advice to you, have lowered expectations along with a few drinks and happiness will in fact be the truth. And you and Megan will live happily ever after.

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The Standard Grill

848 Washington St. New York, NY 10014(212) 645-4100 • thestandardgrill.com

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Decor and service were both great. LOVE the pennied floor and the scalloped tile ceiling.

As for the food (brunch), the portabella mushroom sandwich was the stand alone winner. Absolutely delicious. Granted the arugula salad it comes with leaves much to be desired… For example, the fact that I even called it a “salad” is being VERY generous, as it’s really just a pile of arugula.

The octopus app was the next best thing. A solid good. Not amazing.

The chicken palliard was just okay, but it’s not like it’s ever an incredible dish or anything. Still, the dressing could’ve stood to be a little more lemony or something.

And last but not least, the bread pudding dessert, of which I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur (French for “snob”)- and thus, this fell very short. Didn’t even bother to finish it. Granted it’s not bad, but not exactly worth the calories either.

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