Emily

35 Downing StNew York, NY 10014 • (917) 935-6434 • pizzalovesemily.com
 

Having heard this name bouncing around the food scene for a while, amidst a symphony of oohs and ahhs, I felt it important to either validate or debunk the worthiness of such adulation. Located in former digs of the Blue Ribbon Bakery, Emily boasts a casual-cool décor, especially downstairs in the catacombs. Granted, if you like windows, the upstairs is nice well. But don’t think two floors of seating means you’ll be getting a table anytime soon. No, this place packs ‘em in. Fortunately, they keep a certain number of tables open for walk-ins though, and if you’re willing to sit at the bar, you can get to the grub even faster. Which is what we did.

Out of the gate, Emily impressed with an inventive sprout salad, made rich with buttermilk bleu cheese and made special with miso, cashews and pickled red onions. Best dish we had.

For pizza, we went with the namesake, the Emily, and while definitely good, it was in dire need of red pepper to give some heat to cut through the truffle, honey and cheese. Also, I found the crust to be tragically chewy and doughy. Definitely not a contender for Ultimate Pizza.

Same goes for the burger (pictured). I’ve had droves of people telling me this is the best in the city and I’m sorry you people, but you have no business making such wild claims if you aren’t a purest. Because in my book, no thin-patty burger EVER has any business being considered as  a “best burger,” any more than a deep dish pizza should ever be in the running as a “best pizza.” It’s about the MEAT man!!!  Jeez!!! Ranting aside, it’s actually pretty damn good, made with dry aged La Frieda beef, caramelized onions, American cheese and special sauce, all on a killer pretzel roll. But you still have to be smoking crack to call it the best in NYC, because even as good as it is, it doesn’t hold a candle to the Black Label.

Closing strong, Emily’s bread pudding sports a nice textural contrast, being both crispy and gooey at the same time, which equals yummy according to the Pythagorean Theorem. Or, at least that’s how I remember it. Granted I didn’t pay much attention back in high school.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the MOST impressive thing of the night, however- our neighbor at the bar. To say he was a large man is like calling Trump self-confident. Doesn’t quite capture the full depths of the situation. This man, eating alone, polished off an entire pizza- the same size that my wife and I, combined, didn’t even manage to finish and got a quarter of it to go. Then he downed the ENTIRE burger, which a slider it is not. And then, when he looked over and saw us enjoying the bread pudding, he ordered that too. One person. One sitting. One mighty show of human endurance.

Less mighty was Emily’s showing, because I found it to be a tad over-hyped. That said, it was still good, so I’m gonna give it a very strong three or barely a four. But since I’m ferocious about hype, you can probably guess where I leaned…

 

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Bacino’s

75 E Wacker Dr. Chicago, IL 60601(312) 263-2350bacinos.com

bacinos1

In Chicago there are two epicurean musts, deep-dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs. Now I’m not exactly sure why, but for whatever reasons, Chicago is the only place in the world that seems to eat these two mainstream dishes differently than everybody else, and they are hell-bent on keeping it that way. Sort of like how the United States is the only hold out to adopt the metric system.

So, when in Rome (technically Sicily)… or Chicago, if you want to do as the locals, I recommend choosing Bacino’s for your authentic deep-dish experience versus the more touristy Giordano’s. It’s probably a good two inches thick, loaded with cheese and whatever other ingredients you fancy. For me, when I lived there, the go-to was the veggie with hot giardiniera, yet another very Chicago-centric concoction. It’s basically a spicy chopped up, marinated mixture of jalapeños, carrots, celery, onions, red peppers and cauliflower. It packs just enough heat to keep things interesting amidst all of that cheese sticking to your ribs. Which is a plus in terms of wintertime insulation if you think about it. But my suggestion is that you not think too much about it and just enjoy… unless you’re lactose intolerant, in which case you might want to at least think about taking a pill first.

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