Grand Central Oyster Bar

Grand Central Station89 E 42nd St. New York, NY 10017 •  (212) 490-6650 •

To quote someone on Yelp “Anyone giving this place a bad review must be incredibly difficult to please!” Well, guilty as charged Susan M. from Philadelphia (the culinary mecca of the world). But, to be fair, perhaps it is you who is easy to please. I mean yes, the space is unique and expansive, with history oozing out of its arched tile ceiling. And sure, it might be good for people watching. Even the service, as you stated, is pretty good. But considering that it is a restaurant, and a restaurant’s primary purpose of existence is to create food, than one can only give so much credence to the former. And thus, my issues lie with the latter.

Let’s start with its namesake offering, the oysters. Sure they have scads of them, but oysters are really only as good as their sourcing so let’s not sprain anything patting them on the back for picking the right fisherman. I mean, apart from shucking, the only other thing they could take credit for are the accoutrements, and sorry to say it, but they aren’t particularly special.

And speaking of special, nothing else is either. The lobster rolls are just okay and the New England clam chowder tastes on par with something you might expect from a diner in New Jersey. But  I suppose one can only ask so much from a seafood joint located inside a train station. Then again, when they’re charging the kind prices they do, you’d like to think you’re getting your money’s worth, not just subsidizing their rent.

2 teeth

The Ultimate Pasta Dish


Piccolo – Venice, CA

Unlike the other pastas on this list, Piccolo’s Venison, Clove and Cinnamon Pasta is a bit on the wintery side. And after the insanely brutal winter we just endured I’m sure about half of you just skipped to the next one. Well, your loss. This pasta is truly something special. And unique. I haven’t had anything like it anywhere. Nor have I ever even seen it on a menu since. But I can tell you this, shitty winter or not, next time I’m at Piccolo, I’m getting it again.

Capo – Santa Monica, CA

The Quattro Fromaggi is like a pillowcase stuffed with dreams. Only the case is made of pasta and the dreams are made from four of the creamiest cheeses to ever explode in your mouth. It’s literally as if fireworks made of cheese are putting on a show for your taste buds. And it’s about a dozen other metaphors I could think of as well, but some of them are sexual and gross, so perhaps the single most compelling thing I can say is this: One time my wife couldn’t make the trip to LA with me, so I begged the chef to vacuum seal an order of the pasta, so I could fly back with it and she could have it at home. Yes, it’s THAT good. And yes, I remind her of that every time I do something stupid… So about once a day.

NoMad – New York, NY

The crab pasta is so deceptively simple that you’ll likely overlook it on the menu. Well, that is, unless you heed my advice. So what makes this pasta all that? Balance. Proportions. It is a clinic on the alchemy of cooking, made effortless by the way its impeccable ingredients come together. The spicy hit from the black pepper. The acidity from the lemon. The tender, meaty, saltiness of the crabmeat. And the starchy, crunchy bed of al dente pasta. It’s simply divine.

Osteria – Philadelphia, PA

You won’t find it on the menu, which only makes it that much more fun to order, because you’ll impress anyone else at the table who’s not in the know. And impress them you will, because it’s easily the best thing they make. Now, for some of you, here’s the rub. It’s chicken liver pasta. But wait, wait, wait! It’s friggin’ awesome chicken liver pasta. So rich and savory. I mean if there was ever a time to give chicken livers their day in court, this is it.

Manzo – New York, NY

It’s not often that you come across a pasta that can hold its own in the company of steak and pork belly. But the anglionotti at Manzo does so quite handily. As if the juices from a perfectly cooked rib eye were somehow magically injected into the dumplings, so when you bite into them, it’s that exact same sensation you get when you bite into a wonderful, medium rare cut. Bellissimo!