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…

 

Nobu

105 Hudson St. New York, NY 10013 • (212) 219-0500 • www.noburestaurants.com

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Now I know many people think this place doesn’t live up to the hype, and you’d be right if all you got were the normal pieces of sushi or sashimi that you would get at any other sushi joint. And therein lies your mistake. You can’t go to a place like this and just get sushi/sashimi- that stuff is only as good as what comes off of the boat. It’s not like they have some magical way of cutting the fish that makes it taste better or something.

That said, what you should be getting is their tasting menu. Quite possibly one of the best out there, primarily because it’s not the same for everyone. It all depends on how many times you’ve had it. When you go for your first time, the tasting will be completely different from when you return for your second, or third and so on. And it is here that you will see why the hype is indeed warranted. Things you would normally never even think of ordering will become you favorite Japanese dish you’ve ever tasted.

As for decor and service, I personally think the decor is better than most. Maybe with the exception of Koi and Megu- however I find the food better at Nobu. And as for service it’s always been excellent.

Also, one final word of advice, from having done this a couple of times with great success. The art of the walk-in. Most couples head to Nobu Next Door thinking that it will be easier to get a table, but I assure you that your wait will be double or even triple what you would wait if you were willing to sit at the bar in Nobu instead. I much prefer it. You get the food handed to you right from the chef himself and you’re eating at the real deal, not the Plan B.

5 teeth