Sandro’s is a small Italian joint on the upper east side that serves up some really delicious and authentic dishes.
For example, I haven’t had a fried artichoke this good since I was in Rome.
And seeing things like porchetta and culatello in the sliced meats department took me right back to Trastevere.
Back in my wheelhouse, however, was this delicious carpaccio dish that came with white truffles.
We went a little nuts with the truffle:
It was awesome. But even this salad had me excited.
The simplicity of something like chicory and anchovy dressed perfectly with citrus is not really seen to often here, stateside. This was a totally unique salad for me, and I’m glad I listened carefully to the massive list of specials before ordering. I’m not kidding when I tell you they could open a second restaurant with just the menu items that the waiters and waitresses memorized as specials. There were about three or four salad specials, five or six fish specials, three or four meats, four pasta dishes, and a bunch of appetizers too. Oh and dessert as well. Absolutely insane.
But back to the meal. Pasta time:
This first pasta was my favorite – goat cheese stuffed cappelletti with a lemon cream sauce. This was insanely delicious.
Next up was sea urchin ravioli with a scallop tomato sauce.
And finally some rigatoni with meatballs and sausage in a nice tomato ragu.
But we didn’t stop there, because I had to try some veal dishes. First up – and my favorite of the entrees – was this stuffed veal chop.
Inside was thin sliced ham.
After that, a nice classic veal parm.
And then some giant broiled prawns.
I really didn’t think we’d have room for dessert, but I’m glad we tried this delicious pistachio cake with ricotta. This was probably one of the best desserts I’ve ever had.
And the finishing move of bringing lemon cookies with the check really took me back to being a kid and eating these at my grandparents’ house.
This place is a gem! I’ll definitely be back here to try more stuff. There is a LOT of menu to work through here.
The moment you step inside Carbone you are instantly transported.
The dimly lit but lively dining room is both an homage to your Italian grandmother’s house as well as the restaurant where Michael shoots Sollozzo and McCluskey in The Godfather.
The place is immediately familiar and cozy. You may even recognize furniture and light fixtures if you grew up around Italian-Americans.
The music is all the great crooner hits from your favorite mob movies like Goodfellas, with some doo-wop classics from Bronx Tale mixed in. Not too loud, not too soft. And the food is some of the best red sauce Italian-American cuisine I’ve ever had.
The sharply dressed, deep burgundy tuxedo-clad servers will first bring to the table a basket of tomato focaccia, garlic bread and sliced Italian bread.
There’s also a plate of pickled cauliflower to snack on, some locally made finocchiona salami, and of course a nice hunk of parmigiano reggiano cheese.
We started with the truffle emulsion Piedmontese beef carpaccio, which is served with some peppery arugula, walnuts, chives, coarse salt, sliced mushrooms and a generous drizzle of some killer olive oil. This was hands down the best carpaccio dish I’ve ever had.
Their baked clams are pretty great as well. My favorite of the three styles is that center one, topped with pesto and uni. Absolutely awesome.
We tried three pasta dishes, because we are savage animals. The first was the spicy rigatoni vodka, which they describe as being “part of the DNA” of Carbone.
This was perfect. Perfectly spicy sauce, perfectly cooked pasta. Easily one of the best pasta dishes I’ve had this year. This is a must order pasta dish when you dine here. Even if you split it as an appetizer or something. Get that Carbone DNA in your mouth!
Next was the orecchiette with beans and cabbage.
This seasonal pasta was mildly reminiscent of the “pasta e fagiole” that I ate growing up, only with the escarole swapped out for cabbage, and with a less porridge-like texture. This you can eat with a fork on a plate, unlike what I grew up eating, which required a bowl and a spoon. Either way, delicious.
Finally, the tortellini with meaty ragu.
I’m generally not a huge fan of tortellini, but that’s probably because I’m used to the frozen or vac-sealed grocery store products that I usually eat cold (and dense) in a salad with olives, peppers and cheese. These bundles of joy were stellar. The stuffing inside was almost creamy, without any grainy or lumpy ricotta texture. And the sauce was going down my throat by the spoonful. Loved these. Absolutely beautiful plating as well.
We had a short break after the pasta and took down a trio of beautiful meatballs.
These off-menu delights are nice and tender, and packed with flavor. Rustically formed, you can sometimes get a chunk of melty cheese or a piece of soft, roasted garlic in the occasional lucky bite. These were great. Don’t be alarmed, either; they will be served pink in the middle.
For the entrees, we had both the veal parm and the pork chop with peppers. The veal was pounded out flat, and fried to a golden crisp with seasoned breadcrumbs. The bright sauce and melted cheese (both mozz and ricotta, with some grated parm on top) were topped with crispy basil leaves to bring home that nice herbaceous pop.
What a dish! They even serve it with the breaded and fried rib bone alongside the cutlet. And if you take some to go in a doggy bag, they’ll send you home with a sesame seed bun to make a sandwich out of the leftovers.
The pork with peppers reminded me of when my mom used to cook pork chops with cherry peppers and sliced potatoes as a kid. Nothing beats the taste of nostalgia, but this was a pretty close runner up. Those red peppers and onions on the side were delicious.
We were so stuffed that we had to skip dessert, despite the selections looking fantastic. I really wanted a slice of the lemon cheesecake.
But the captain, Jared, brought over some snacks for us after he saw how infatuated we were with all the little details in the restaurant that reminded us of growing up with Italian grandparents.
The rainbow cookies with espresso (and a splash of Sambuca!)…
The Jordanian candy-coated almonds (just like those old Italian wedding favors in the mesh bag)…
The simplicity of cotton candy grapes and walnuts (reminded me of Christmas Eve)…
And, of course, the Italian cookies and pastries from an old tin box…
It’s no wonder this place has a Michelin star and has become a tough reservation to score. I generally don’t like hyped up joints, but here it is well-deserved. We even saw Adam Sandler there. This place is worth your time and money. Go, as soon as you can! And if you’ve already been, then go back.
As soon as you walk into Rezdora you’re hit with the sharp, pungent odor of fresh garlic. Another thing you might be hit with is a plate, as waiters scurry to serve the handsome stretch of bar and tightly packed tables in the front of the restaurant. The small and crowded space would normally have pissed me off, but my wife and I managed to get seated across from each other in a corner spot in back with a circular table that was slightly larger than the almost microscopic rectangular tables for two nearby.
I had heard about and seen great things from this place. The chef, Stefano Secchi, had trained under Massimo Bottura, at the Michelin three-star “Osteria Francescana” in Modena; a place that has been crowned the best restaurant in the world a few times, if I recall correctly. Needless to say, I was not let down.
We started with some nice aperitif style cocktails and a few bites of an amuse that consisted of toasted bread with fresh ricotta and a nice Modenese balsamic. We opted to skip the appetizer menu completely. Instead, we shared three pasta dishes and two entrees.
The first pasta was a garganelli-like macccheroni with duck ragu. This was absolutely delicious. Just the right amount of salt, al dente pasta, and a really hearty sauce with properly cooked duck meat well-dispersed throughout.
Next up was my favorite dish of the night, and probably the best pasta I’ve had all year if not in all of my life. “Apertivo in Reggio-Emilia:” Doppio tortelli filled with prosciutto, parmigiano and “erbazzone” greens. These pasta pouches were pleasantly packed with prosciutto. I could eat these by the bucketload. I strongly suggest getting your ass in here ASAP to try these, because from what I understand, this particular pasta item will change with the seasons, whereas some of the others will remain the same if not similar.
The third pasta was the spaghettoni with clams. Spaghettoni is just longer/fatter version of spaghetti. The clams in this were more like cockles (in the oyster family, from what I understand) as opposed to the Little Neck variety. At first we were concerned that there would only be three clams in this dish, based on the shell count, but the sauce was riddled with these little fuckers, sans shells. This pasta was cooked extra al dente. From what I was told, this is the only pasta that isn’t made in house. I’m not sure why that is. In any case, it was our least favorite of the three pasta dishes we tried. But don’t take that to mean it was bad in any way. This was still better than most other Italian joints that sling this dish.
For the first of our mains we shared the braised rabbit leg, which came with rabbit sausage and sweetbreads, as well as a parsnip puree and some roasted baby zucchini. The leg was deliciously tender, falling apart and peeling away from the bone with just the slightest pull of a fork. The sausage was light, yet robustly flavored with spices and herbs. Almost porky but without the grease. The sweetbreads were creamy and crispy at the same time. A beautiful contrast. I highly recommend this dish.
Our next main was the “steak for two.” They offered 60-day bone-in Pat LaFrieda rib eyes in two sizes: 28oz or 32oz. Now, I know what you’re saying: “That’s for two?” Yeah – I agree. That’s small for two. They’re charging $99 for the smaller size as well, which is borderline crazy. However, I was really happy to see that it came with two sides (we chose zucchini and sautéed greens), and was prepared in such a uniquely Modenese way that I felt transported.
Okay so what makes it uniquely “Modenese?” On the bone there is a “Modenese Pesto,” which consists of pork lard, rosemary and spices. It was like sausage butter. Adding a smear of that on a bite of steak here and there made for a real treat. But the meat itself was rubbed with dried mushroom before cooking to give it a uniquely earthy crust. I also detected a hint of finishing balsamic on there as well, as I understand it is common in Modena to eat cooked steak with balsamic (I usually just use it on cold or raw meat salad type dishes). The only spots that had any real dry-aged flavor (a definitively different taste than the mushroomy crust) was along the bone, where less of the pellicle must have been trimmed away during butchery. In any case, that balsamic cut the fat nicely, and the mushroomy crust offered a very unique “steaking” experience on a perfectly cooked and tender cut of beef. 9/10.
This place is a must try for anyone who enjoys good Italian, especially pasta dishes. If you’re adventurous, get the rabbit as well. Now that Summer is over, that is a perfect dish for the Fall. Good luck getting a table though! From what I understand it’s pretty hard. We lucked out and someone gave us theirs (even though my wife had already gone once a few months ago).
My wife and I discovered Cardoncello diVino this week and so far we are loving it.
First off, they have great cocktails like the smoked negroni and grande stella (tequila, mezcal, elderflower).
The table bread is a good variety of quality breads and breadsticks, served with a zucchini puree.
To start, we had a side of Cardoncello mushrooms, salmon carpaccio and sardines.
The salmon was a slight favorite over the mushrooms, but not by much. All were very good.
The pasta dishes really shine here. This paccheri with veal ragu was absolutely perfect. Cooked to a nice al dente texture and impeccably seasoned.
This crab and lemongrass tortelli dish had a fresh pea sauce that was awesome.
For one of our mains, we had shrimp with quinoa in a sambuca sauce. It may sound weird, but I assure you it was great. Only thing I’d change is to maybe swap the quinoa for something heartier like a farro risotto, made with that sauce.
The wagyu beef cheek was braised to fork tender deliciousness. It’s very easy to mow through this dish very fast.
For dessert, we had a lemon and coconut budino (rice pudding) with raspberry jelly on top, and a goat cheese and barley tart that was a teetering balance between savory and sweet.
I’m psyched to go back and try more pasta dishes, as well as take on their extra virgin olive oil tasting.
43 West 27th St
New York, NY 10001
My wife and I strolled by this cool spot on Sunday and popped in for a beer and a sandwich. Vintner Wine Market sports hundreds of cool and unique beer selections in their fridges, as well as wines (by the glass and bottle). But what really got my attention was the roast beef sandwich.
This baby comes with horseradish cheddar, mayo and red onion. Simple and delicious. And the baguette was nice and fresh.
Good sized sandwich. We will be back here for sure.
VINTNER WINE MARKET
677 9th Ave
New York, NY 10036
This spot just opened up in the Gotham West Market food hall, and is formerly of west village fame. My wife and I tried a pair of cocktails and a pair of pasta entrees. All were great. Here’s the breakdown:
Roasted Orange Negroni:
Tastes just how it sounds. Really great cocktail with prosecco, campari and roasted orange.
Blame it on the Aperol:
Aperol, gin, lemonade and soda. Perfectly refreshing.
Perfectly cooked tagliatelle with freshly shaved cheese and a gorgeous egg yolk, spiced up and naturally salted by the generous amount of speck in the dish.
Oyster Mushroom Pappardelle:
This was the winner. Amazing texture in the wheat pasta, nice pop from the Aleppo peppers, and great earthy flavors from the garlic and mushrooms.
We will definitely be back to try the other pasta dishes for sure, and likely for the apps and main meats as well.
Gotham West Market
600 11th Avenue
New York, NY 10036
Il Tinello is an old school NYC Italian joint that’s been open for nearly 40 years. My wife and I finally got around to trying it last night. Here’s what we had:
My wife started with some fresh bluepoints, and I had this delicious seafood salad made with scallops, calamari and shrimp.
Next, we had a trio of pastas as a mid-course sampler dish. Penne with pesto, beef and ricotta ravioli, and pappardelle with a truffle and mushroom cream sauce. All were delicious, but I liked the pappardelle the best.
For my main course, I had this gorgeous boneless veal parm.
This was really nice. The sauce and cheese were top notch quality, and the veal beneath was super tender.
My wife had the veal chop, which was a nice, thick rib chop.
It was a perfect light pink inside, cooked just right.
For dessert, we had the fruit tart and the creme brûlée. Both were well executed and tasty. They pleased The Cake Dealer, so that’s always a good sign.
This place is a gem. It’s cozy and fancy inside, really classy. And the service is some of the best I’ve ever experienced. The staff are professionals, not some young hipster chumps who wait tables on the side while they try to get their crowd-funded artisanal kombucha brand up and running in Williamsburg.
Lincoln Ristorante is now part of the Patina Group of restaurants. These guys are awesome, because if you sign up to their newsletter, they send you $50 off for your birthday. You can use the discount pretty much any time within a month of your birthday. So my wife and I decided to check this place out since it was just her birthday the other day. This joint offers a four-course meal for $94, which I thought was pretty awesome, especially considering how great the food is.
I was impressed with the cocktail menu, which sports a prosecco bar and an entire menu of negronis. We tried the caffe negroni, which, later on, was perfect with our desserts. Here’s a pic of it (I kinda made it look like a pussy on purpose):
The meal begins with some complimentary bread sticks and house made focaccia bread with whipped ricotta. This shit is addictive. If you eat a few rows of this stuff (they will bring out more), then you can just get the three course meal for $78.
Then a small dish of smoked trout came out for us, compliments of the chef. This was great.
I started with an escarole salad, and my wife had the octopus. The salad was awesome. I love escarole, and I loved seeing it used raw rather than the usual sautéed or braised. This salad had shaved, truffled sun chokes, sliced apples, radishes and grated cheese. It was delicious, and very large.
The octopus was nice. It came in a spicy tomato ragu with some perfectly cooked beans. I was happy to see more than one tentacle given. As far as portion sizes go, this place is way above average.
For my pasta course, I had conch pasta with octopus and guanciale. This was really nice, and the toasted breadcrumbs gave it a great texture.
My wife had lobster risotto with an arugula pesto. This was herbaceous and fresh, and contained lots of lobster meat. It ate a bit more like a thick soup than a traditional risotto though.
My wife went with the lamb shank for her main course. This was tremendous, and really tender. We couldn’t finish. It had pancetta, roasted chic peas, and other goodies underneath.
I had the venison loin, which was probably one of the best meat dishes I’ve eaten in a while. Certainly the best rendition of venison I’ve ever had.
I highly recommend giving this a try if you can. It was perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned, and it had none of that typical iron flavor that you normally associate with game meats. It was mild yet full of flavor. I loved it!
Dessert was incredible. My wife had a trio of gelati. Pistachio stracciatella, toasted faro, and prune. The toasted faro (middle) was our favorite of the three, and tasted like the flavor of the cone of an ice cream cone. The prune was like an elevated rum raison, and the pistachio stracciatella was creamy and rich.
I had the creme fraiche coffee cake, which came with anisette gelato, crumble, bitter lemon coulis and ricotta pasticcera. This shit is crack! I fucking loved it.
Then, a pair of tasty marzipan coconut bites came out with the bill.
We can’t wait to go back. I think we will do the three course meal next time, since we were really full after four courses.
142 W 65th St
New York, NY 10023