Bar Pitti

268 Ave of the Americas New York, NY 10014 • (212) 982-3300

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No longer in its heyday, Bar Pitti is still trucking along, doing its thing and keepin’ it real. And by that I mean the real deal authentic Italian, not trying to cover things up with inventive culinary gimmicks or posh smoke and mirrors. This is just bare bones belissimo.

Now I want to reiterate that when I said “authentic” I meant it. Like as if you were in Italy. As in the specials menu is just a chalkboard that they prop up on your table sans translations. So, you either better be Italian, understand Italian, have Google translate warmed up and ready to go on your smartphone, or be prepared to be insulted by your waiter who will also ask if you know what lasagna is. This is not me trying to be clever, this is them being assy. And yes, they actually asked me this with a straight face. So not the kind of service that’ll give you the warm and fuzzies. The food, however, is.

Simple is the theme top to bottom here and the ingredients carry the day quite capably. For example the arugula salad with tomatoes and parmesan is so damn basic, merely dressed with a touch of garlic, oil and lemon, and yet it sings with simplicity.

The prosciutto toast is also deceptively plain Jane, but the prosciutto they use is so phenomenal it puts anything you can buy in Eataly to shame.

The pastas are also tremendous, both in taste and portion. Of the two we tried, I found the lasagna (yes, I now know what it is) to be the clear winner. So layered with flavors and ooey gooey goodness. The artichoke and leek spaghetti with olive oil, on the other hand, was a touch bland for my tastes.

But all of the above went down quite nicely with the Multipuciano they offer by the glass.

The only other miss for me was the affagato. I found the espresso to be too strong and bitter, as opposed to rich and flavorful. I MUCH prefer the one at Fortina in Armonk, because not only is the coffee better, but I love the textural addition of amaretto cookies. But all in all a very admirable showing from a long time NYC icon.

3 teeth

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il Buco

47 Bond St. New York, NY 10012(212) 533-1932 • ilbuco.com

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I’m starting to feel like maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the problem, and all of these 4 star restaurants on Yelp really are great and my taste buds are just old and crotchety. That, or maybe the value of the star has fallen drastically against the knife in the foreign currency exchange? Well, I might’ve felt this way had it not been for the fact that the three other people who dined with me were equally underwhelmed.

Dare I say it, but I honestly think NYC Italian restaurants are more often than not, not all that. I know that’s a confusing double negative, so to clarify, they suck more than they sing. I’ve had better Italian in Westchester for Christ’s sake! Seriously. I challenge anyone to eat at Il Buco and then at The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry or Fortina in Armonk and tell me Buco is better.

L.A. also has SEVERAL Italian restaurants that blow this away. C’mon New York! WTF?!? Get your Italian shit together.

As for our meal, we started with the croquettes, which proved to be nothing I would ever recommend ordering. Not cringe-worthy however, unless you consider how much money they cost, without returning to you an ounce of joy on your investment.

The kale salad came next and was painfully overrated. It’s like no one has ever had a kale salad before on the Il Buco review thread. Please people… go to The Fat Radish on the Lower East Side or to Yardbird in Miami. Both of their kale salads puts this one to shame.

The octopus was the only thing I would actually say was great. But if you truly want your eight-legged world rocked, try Pera near Grand Central, Gato in Noho or Pearl & Ash on Bowery.

As for entrees, the penne was overpowered by the cheese, so much so that you couldn’t even taste the other ingredients in the dish, such as Brussels sprouts, which aren’t exactly an easy flavor to drown.

The rabbit pappardelle was good. But a mere shadow compared to the glowing praise it receives on the Interwebs. And the homemade sorbets for dessert were so flavorless, we couldn’t even decipher what flavors they were, basically all tasting like balls of ice.

Fortunately the service was good. And the decor is quaint. But sadly, you can’t eat either of those. Unless you’re a cannibal, I suppose. Which might bode well for you, because the servers probably have more flavor than most of the dishes.

2 teeth

Mario’s Pizza

Mount Kisco Train Station1 Kirby Plaza Mount Kisco, NY 10549 • (914) 666-6338mariospizzapastamtkisco.com

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Maybe I’m a pizza snob, but I don’t see it. And trust me, I wanted to see the shit out of it. I mean to have great pizza so close to my house would be a dream. But a dream it shall remain, because while the people are indeed great as many have stated and the wood-fired brick oven is nice, it doesn’t translate to the pies. I mean it’s not like the oven just magically makes pizzas great. You have to actually put something good into it first. And the sauce and the crust just aren’t special. They wind up disappearing in a haze of cheesy blah . Even the toppings/ingredients are nothing to boast. Not so fresh it will make you swoon or so inventive it will blow your mind.

So, now I’m sure the next question will be, well, what pizza places do you like in the Chester? Well, in Upper Westchester  I’d go with Fortina in Armonk hands down. But Village Social makes a decent pie too. So does Belizzi- if you only stick to The Belizzi (their special namesake pizza). And last but not least, Old Stone Trattoria deserves a bit of love as well.

In lower Westchester I really like Polpettina in Eastchester & Larchmont, The Cookery & The Parlor both in Dobb’s Ferry and Frankie & Louie’s in Port Chester. Any one of these places makes Mario’s taste like a box of frozen pizza bagels, not the pizza bagels, the box.

2 teeth

David Chen

85 Old Mount Kisco Rd. Armonk, NY 10504 • (914) 273-6767 • davidchens.com

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Remember about 30 to 40 years ago when most Chinese restaurants were decorated like a Disney theme park? So much so, that if you saw one today and the owners weren’t actually Chinese, you’d probably accuse them of playing into racist stereotypes. Well, that’s David Chen- the dated part, not the racist part.

The place literally feels like it crawled back out of the 80’s. It also feels like they haven’t updated a single thing since. The table we were seated at was literally falling apart, sagging like the back of an old horse. The glasses, while not technically dirty, were so old, they were permanently fogged from being in a dishwasher 10 million times. Even the fish in the tanks look pre-historic.

But let’s try to look past all of this for just a second and focus on the food. While nothing was out and out bad, per se, it was very old school Chinese (shocker). Very oily lo mein. Over-cooked and under-meated crispy orange beef that would’ve had the old lady from the Wendy’s commercials of yore rolling in her grave. And shumai the size of baseballs. The only thing that rose above a snarky dig was the seafood pot, loaded with a variety of fresh shellfish. Granted I can’t say I loved that either because the sauce was just okay.

And as for service, even that was a little iffy. Beyond the language barrier, which naturally has its issues, we were served entrees before appetizers and everything came out SO quickly it gave you the unnerving feeling that it had been sitting in vats dating back to their grand opening. And as we dug in, we noticed we actually DIDN’T have the obligatory chopsticks that you’d expect to find in a place like this. We also didn’t seem to have knives either. So not sure which cultural norm they were trying to appeal to on this one, so I’ll just chalk it up to a poor table setting.

But before I leave you on a down note, as you hopefully know by now, I like to offer solutions. And fortunately this one is VERY nearby. Less than 2 minutes. Rice is FAR superior in every way. The food is cleaner, fresher and flat out better. With contemporary twists on classic dishes as well as décor. Service is better too. The only nit there is location. It’s in an inward facing strip mall. But whatevs. I’d rather have good food. From this century.

2 teeth