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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Obica

928 Broadway New York, NY 10010(212) 777-2754 • obica.com

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From the moment you set foot inside you realize you’re not in Stuzziccini anymore. Such an upgrade from the last tenant. Cool vibe. Contemporary, yet warm décor. Love the mozzarella bar idea. Service is surprisingly on point for such a newbie as well. Usually things are a bit more herky-jerky during the waking moments, but Obica manages to stick the landing.

And stick it they did, on a great wine list with terrific options south of a C-note. Rare in NYC. The other massive hit was the parpadelle with duck ragu and orange zest. Absolutely remarkable. Cooking perfectly al dente and the zest somehow managed to brighten the duck to a level where a normally heavy dish actually felt quite light. You need this. Trust me.

But Obica is not a runaway success either. I expected more from a place with it’s own, self-proclaimed Mozz Bar, but tragically the two biggest misses for me both involved mozzarella of all things.

The first miss being the caprese salad (pictured). I found the cheese to be a bit hard and flavorless. You can get much better, MUCH creamier mozz at Eataly up the street. And the tomatoes were in dire need of salt to bring them to life.

The second miss was the pizza, and while full of flavor, it was ruined by placing ice cold burata on a piping hot pie, creating a hot-cold oral quandary.

The pineapple carpaccio closer was also somewhat unimpressive, which is more our fault for ordering it I suppose, but we were full and wanted something light, so it checked the box. Just wish the lemon sorbet was creamier as opposed to icy. A theme brewing perhaps? Guess I’ll have to investigate further on my return visit.

3 teeth

Melt Shop

55 W 26th St. New York, NY 10010(212) 447-6358meltshop.com

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Upon entering we were immediately greeted by a beggar asking for us to buy him the fried chicken melt. Not the best first impression for a restaurant.

Unfortunately second and third impressions weren’t much better. The second being the fact that they were already sold out of one of the main things I came there to get, the tomato soup. And this is before 1:00pm on cold winter day. How poorly planned can you be?

The third, was the fact that they only have about 4 tables. Which makes it primarily a take out joint- not ideal for a grilled cheese establishment.

So, with three strikes against it before I even took a single bite, this was an uphill battle in the making. And then came strike four. The Buttermilk Chicken was dry and the melt, if you can call it that, was barely blessed with cheese.

Fortunately, I split with a friend, so I also got to try the Shroom and that was actually pretty darn good. As were the tots. Granted, there’s nothing really special about them. They’re just tots. Really makes me question what impresses people these days.

In general, if you crave a good melt, I’d suggest ‘wichcraft, Eataly, Beecher’s or No. 7 Sub, all in the area and all of them MUCH better.

2 teeth

Tarry Lodge

18 Mill St. Port Chester, NY10573 • (914) 939-3111tarrylodge.com

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I have been here thrice and I have to say, other than Eataly I think I might like it the best of Batali’s restaurants. And I’ve been to all of them except Po. Granted, Batali isn’t actually the chef at Tarry Lodge, and that may be a good thing, considering it doesn’t seem like he has the time to stay on top of any of them. Perhaps that’s why Eataly works so well?

Some of the highs at Tarry are the Bellinis for brunch, the grilled corn antipasti, the strawberry and fennel antipasti, the pepper antipasti- okay fine, all of the antipastis were pretty damn good.

For the pastas the trio funghi pasta was very good and dessert was also quite toothsome, I believe it was the chocolate cake with bitter orange and pistachio. Pizzas are just okay IMO. Much better “Batali” pies to be had at Mozza and Eataly.

The location is just about the only thing I could flat out do without. It’s in a less than desirable area of Port Chester. But once inside, you’ll forget where you are as you immerse yourself in good service and great food.

4 teeth

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.

3 teeth

Aldea

31 W 17th St. New York, NY 10011(212) 675-7223aldearestaurant.com

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Sometimes I think Michelin and I aren’t on the same page. I mean, sure the place is good. But great is pushing it. The service is painfully slow. Decor is fine. Nothing special. Clean. Simple. Modern.

But the food, it just never seemed to get to that next level of transcendent foodgasm status. And I had all of the signature recommended dishes.

That said, they started strong with an amuse bouche that rocked. But unfortunately I can’t even remember what it was, because it was followed by so many lesser bites, it drowned the memory on my taste buds.

The cured meats and cheeses, for example, I found to be less flavorful than anything you can buy at most decent delis worth their salt. For example, Eataly, just blocks away.

The octopus dish, while good, is easily bested by dishes at Taralucci e Vino, L&W Oyster Co. and Manzanilla. All in the same hood. And none of which have a “star.”

And the duck. The almighty duck (pictured above). The signature dish that has more hype than a Wes Anderson movie… Was just eh. I’ve had many a better duck dish at a host of places that also get no love from Michelin.

So, by the time dessert came, I was reluctant to press on. Partly because of the slow service, but also because I hate eating wasted calories. Meaning highly caloric without being highly awesome. But since everyone else got dessert, I caved and got the doughnuts (because of their RAVE reviews). And while texturally they are wonderful. Their flavor was again, just eh. And yes, I am about to list a bunch of places that do it better, many of whom do not have Michelin stars… Craft, Manzo, Rosa Mexicana & The Doughnut Plant.

In the word’s of Arnold Schwatzenegger on Opposite Day, “I will NOT be back.”

2 teeth

Babbo

110 Waverly Pl. New York, NY 10011(212) 777-0303babbonyc.com

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I know I’m going to start losing people soon if I keep dropping deuces (double entendre intended) on icons like Eleven Madison Park, Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern and now Babbo, but the fact remains, these places are so inflated by a reputation long gone by, coasting so hard they aren’t just resting on their laurels, they’ve fallen asleep there. And I’m not just saying this based on a myopic sampling of one-offs visits either.  I’ve been to Babbo three times. Once it was good and the other two times were just “eh” at best. In fact, I had one dish, a ravioli in balsamic sauce (pictured), that was so inedible it made me wince and cough my way through it. Not the normal reaction you’re going for in the fine dining category.

I am truly baffled on this one Mario. I fail to see, or taste, what is so great about this place. It is far from your best restaurant. I would put Tarry Lodge in Port Chester or Pizzeria Mozza in LA way above this place. Or any one of the seven restaurants in Eataly. Or Lupa. Okay, the horse is officially tenderized, so I’ll drop it. But just one last dig before I part, Babbo’s coat check also  lost my cashmere scarf. The only place to have done so in my entire life. Granted they reimbursed me for it, but only after a healthy dose of bitching and moaning.

2 teeth

Manzo

200 5th Ave. New York, NY 10010 • (212) 229-2180 • eatalyny.com

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Having eaten at literally every other restaurant in Eataly, it was time to bite the bullet. And by bullet I mean absurd amounts of meat.

To start, just a quick nod to the excellent service. As for decor, it’s Eataly. So, unless you are prepared to sit amongst the chaos, you will not find this particularly nice or romantic. That said, it is offset in its own little corner, so it’s not quite as chaotic as the rest of the restaurants there.

Okay, now for the food… First, the the wine by the glass, the Montepulciano was excellent and went perfect with our meal. Gotta give a huge thumbs up to Eataly as a whole for offering solid “by the glass” options. So few places do. Also, the bread and olive oil were excellent. And the best part, you can go buy both in the market right after your meal.

Now for the main event: The Carne Crudo is a very solid good. So buttery and creamy. But I actually found that the crostinis competed with its flavor and that it went much better with the house bread, which allowed the quality of the dish to shine even brighter.

Next we had the Agnolotti and I practically melted in my seat along with the pasta as it exploded with beefy goodness in my mouth.

And for entrees, we split the pork belly and the NY strip. And while the strip was perfectly cooked with wonderful compliments, the pork belly was sheer artistry.

And last but not least, for dessert we had the bambolinos (beignets) and the chocolato. Both are great, but I’m a sucker for beignets, so they won as far as I’m concerned.

The only downside was that I was so full after lunch I didn’t eat again for the rest of the day. Or maybe that’s a good thing, because I’m not sure my arteries could’ve handle much more.

5 teeth

Tappo

49 W 24th St. New York, NY 10010 • (212) 807-9200tappothincrust.com

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I hate to be incendiary, but- Okay, who am I kidding. I LOVE to be incendiary. And I know a lot of people really love this place, so I’m sure to piss off a few Tappo-lovers here,  but I honestly think their pizza sauce tastes like the acidic burn you get in the back of your throat after you vomit.

I mean, if you’re going to be a pizza place in New York City, where the people are obsessed with it, you gotta bring it. And not only does Tappo not bring it, they drop it. From the sauce to the boring crust. No idea how they can stay in business with kick ass pies like Grimaldi’s, La Pizza Fresca and Eataly all within a matter of a few blocks. That said, their sandwiches are pretty solid, so maybe it’s the sandwiches that keep them afloat.

2 teeth

 

Bo’s

6 W 24th St. New York, NY 10010(212) 234-2373bosrestaurant.com

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Such a great addition to the area. However, an unfortunate street to be located on for certain. But, assuming you can both literally and figuratively make it past the mounds of Eataly’s garbage to enter Bo’s, you will feel immediately transported to something that feels like it belongs in Soho or The Village.

Beyond decor, service was also excellent and the food was quite good as well. Not stellar. But very respectable.

First, the cocktails, of which we had three. The Antebellum, The B-Stupid and whatever wifey had. Can’t remember the name. Probably because the B-Stupid was working. Anyhoo, they were all a solid good, but no game changers.

As for the gator, while many seem to rave about it, I would like to remind them that if you bread and deep fry virtually anything it’s bound to be good. Hell, you could fry human fingers and I’d probably chew them to the bone. That said, they were good. But “amazing” is a bit of a stretch.

As for the entrees, the strip steak was also a solid good. But the Red Fish, now we’re talkin’. Such an artful mix of flavors and textures. Loved every last bite. HIGHLY recommend.

Then, last but not least, the winner of the night, the Pumpkin Beignets with maple ice cream- off the charts! I felt like the food critic in Ratatoulli being brought back to my childhood. Except he was from France as opposed to the South. And I grew up in Florida, which is technically not the REAL South. Oh, and I’m not a food critic. Just some schmuck with opinions who likes to eat.

4 teeth