Via Carota

51 Grove St. New York, NY 10014 •  viacarota.com

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Trying to get lightning to strike twice in the same spot isn’t an adage because it’s false, and while Jody Williams of Buvette fame, certainly has skillz, the proverbial lighting “missed it by that much” (to be read like Maxwell Smart).

The space, like Buvette, is quaint and endearing, with a little more size to its beautiful exposed brick dining room. But unlike Buvette, it is MUCH easier to get a table, especially if you go to dinner on the early-ish side (translation 6/6:30pm). I recommend this not just because it’s easier to get a table, but also because once the dining room fills up, it becomes noisy as all hell, with sound ricocheting off of those brick walls like a son of a bitch.

Speaking of profanity, the other thing that will have you cussing is the painfully slow kitchen. And when it’s that early, and the restaurant isn’t even that full yet, I can’t even begin to imagine how bad it must get once the place is packed. Fortunately they comp’d an extra glass of wine for wifey and I, so the cursing would abate.

The other gripe with service is that their recommendations deserved condemnation. The first of them being the chicken liver crostini, about which she gushed. It is so ho-hum that we left half of it stranded on the plate. For a truly memorable chicken liver dish, be sure to get the off-menu chicken liver pasta at Osteria in Philly. Not exactly down the street from Greenwich Village, but worth the drive nonetheless.

Her other adamant winner was also a bit oversold for my tastes, the homemade gnocci, sauce in a family recipe marinara. Now I don’t want to shit on anyone’s family, but I think running away from home might’ve served the chef wall, because then they might’ve come across some better recipes. For example I’ve got at least three other gnocci’s that blow this away. Try Bar Lagrassa in the Mini Apple and Blue Hill or Elan in the Big one.

Sadly, I can’t only blame the waitress, however, after all, we went rouge on a few choices, like the underwhelming raw artichoke salad. From eyes-dropping on other tables I think the grilled variety would’ve been the better way to go, but I think deep down we were hoping for a dish reminiscent of the one we had at Osteria San Marco in Venice. Not so much. But like any good story, now comes the twist.

Just when all hope was lost, like phoenix from the ashes Via Carote rose, delivering two flavor-packed entrees. The first being the spicy grilled tuna with carona beans, perfectly cooked and far more balanced than any of the previous dishes. The other was a pork braciole, which was touch over cooked, but was such a unique preparation that I forgave it for the overcookage. Rather than a tomato based sauce, they used cream and greens and herbs. Sliced and folded through and through. It’s a hearty portion, so if you’re not famished, I recommend skipping it or skipping the starters.

What you shouldn’t skip however, is the chocolate, hazelnut mousse parfait with roasted hazelnuts, fresh whipped cream and biscotti. This threepeat of winners was such a winning combination it actually managed to raise the Titanic for me.

3 teeth

99 Miles to Philly

94 3rd Ave. New York, NY 10003(212) 253-270099milestophillyeastvillage.com

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As you wrap your chomper around this cheesesteak, your lips will practically jump off your face and run up a flight of stairs, Balboa-style. You, on the other hand, will remain firmly planted in your seat, because damn is it heavy. And I mean, maximus heavius. But lord is it worth it. Like little Liberty bells of joy ringing in your ears as you chew. I’ve had Cheesesteaks in Philly that should be ashamed to have been beaten so badly by a NYC joint.

Then there’s the chili cheese fries. I couldn’t even finish half of them, but they were equally gut-busting delicious, in a I-know-this-is-killing-me-with-every-passing-bite sort of way.

And while you’ll probably wish you were in Philly, so you could jog the 99 miles back home to help burn it off, it’s also nice that you can get your Philly finest in less than 99 meters.

4 teeth

Shorty’s

66 Madison Ave. New York, NY 10016(212) 725-3900shortysnyc.com

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I’ve never spent any quality time in Philly, but I have had my share of brief visits to the City of Brotherly Love, and I have to say, those cheesesteaks have nothing on Shorty’s. Especially when you’ve got sharp provolone in your wheelhouse. Not to mention broccoli rabe. Yes, I like mine fancy. But I also can appreciate the purest whiz. And both are VERY on point.

Additionally, there are a host of great beers, in bottles, cans and draft. As well as some awesome fries and onion rings, just the way I like them- crunchy on the outside, tender inside.

Also, the place is perfect for a sports outing with a TV on practically every surface but your chair.

And last but not least, the lunch special – cheesesteak & a draft beer for 12 bucks, I mean faggetaboutit!

4 teeth