Category Archives: West Village

Carbone

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.

CARBONE
181 Thompson St
New York, NY 10012

Catch Steak

NYC has entered the era of Catch Steak, a sleek, trendy and sexy steak joint that has some real chops. Chef Michael Vignola, formerly at Strip House and Pomona, proves once again that he is an indispensable asset to the NYC culinary scene. And Catch Steak might be his opus.

The menu that he’s meticulously crafted is filled with both wild feats of cookery and traditional, no nonsense dishes. He exhibits both flare and restraint; fancifulness and humbleness; complexity and simplicity.

He boldly forgoes all other meat protein entrees and focuses solely on beef, save for fish and a plant-based meatless parm dish. There is no chicken. There is no lamb. There is no duck. Beef is the star of the show.

The beef selections are broken down into four sections: Japanese imports; domestic prime; dry-aged beef; and domestic Wagyu cross bred beef.

At first glance, the steak sizes may seem small and pricey. The largest steaks are 24oz porterhouses, and the average size of the cuts range from about 5oz-12oz. But there’s absolutely no waste on these cuts: no “vein steaks” with connective tissue; no gristle. Everything is high end, and trimmed to Michael’s meticulous specifications. Top quality and lack of waste means good value, so the initial sticker shock should be tempered in the mind of the savvy diner.

He sources the beef from many purveyors, but none of them hail from the usual suspects that you might know from the area. If you ask him who supplies the beef, he’ll tell you, “It depends on the cut.”

He spent months vetting each cut from various purveyors all over the country and all over the world. He spent months getting certifications to serve things like true A5 Kobe – with Catch Steak being one of just 11 places in the country that are permitted to serve it.

But the menu doesn’t stop at just one or two cuts from each section. There’s a full range of beefy selections within each, such that any one section would contain enough diversity to satisfy discerning meat connoisseurs dining at any great steakhouse. Catch Steak goes way beyond.

To put it briefly, there are almost 20 steak choices on the menu. My wife and I tried five of them.

First was a duo of imported Japanese selections. Snow beef strip steak, and true A5 Kobe deckle. The Japanese imports are all sold by the ounce, and as such they make great starters for the table to taste and share.

These are treated very simply and grilled on a beautiful hot stone platter that’s been freshly slicked with beef fat. Add fresh flake salt, pepper and garlic ponzu to your liking after it cooks, on your plate.

These were incredible. Both 10/10, but the Kobe deckle was the winner between the two. Both had a naturally buttery aroma from that marbling, which begins to render at room temperature. The deckle had a slightly more tender texture and beefy flavor.

Next was a 5oz soy caramel glazed domestic wagyu strip steak. A truly unique flavor bomb that is unmistakably Michael Vignola. The earthy and savory glaze paired perfectly with the natural sweetness of the meat. 10/10.

My favorite cut of the meal was this 6oz dry-aged deckle.

The peppery maillard crust gave it a great classic steakhouse texture, while the dry aging concentrated the beefy flavors into a walloping punch of “umami.” That aging also succeeded in transforming the most tender portion of the animal into an even more unctuous steak eating experience in this perfectly cooked steak. This was an easy 10/10, and it’s one of my top steaks of the year.

Our final beef selection was a prime porterhouse. This beauty is classic steakhouse fare, where the peppery crust serves as a counterbalance to the soft meat texture within.

While this was closer to medium than medium rare, it still held a ton of flavor and richness. Both sides were very tender, to the point where it would be difficult for the untrained palate to discern strip from tenderloin. The meat was a bit over-salted, but I chalk that up to new restaurant jitters. All of the other cuts were perfectly seasoned. 8/10.

I don’t know how we did it, but we tried a lot more of the ambitious Catch Steak menu.

We started with the roasted peppers appetizer, which is drizzled with 25yr old balsamic, sprinkled with crumbled pistachio, and topped with a dollop of pistachio cream. This was delicious, but I think it could be served with some thin slices of toasted country bread to knock back the concentrated natural salinity of the peppers.

The truffle toro sashimi is absolutely incredible. If toro is your thing, this is definitely a must-order.

Papa’s spicy clams are special. This is a traditional baked clams oreganata dish, but Michael has deftly incorporated spicy nduja into the stuffing, officiating the beautiful marriage between pork and shellfish with his own distinct signature on the nuptial papers. This dish is all him, and it’s killer. If you don’t know Michael’s cooking you’ll know it when you taste this.

On the side we went with three items. The first was actually listed as an appetizer, but we ordered it as an accompaniment to our steak: the potato churro.

This dish will become iconic. The potato is fried into a churro form, filled with sour cream, and then topped with caviar. What an amazing creation. A top dish of the year for sure.

The roasted maitake mushrooms dish is the perfect side to go with your Japanese beef selections. But if you’re like me, you can eat them all day, every day, on the side of whatever is around. I loved these.

Asparagus is a tough veggie to make unique. Here, Vignola has transformed them into a delicious and familiar menu item that many of us enjoy on a weekly basis when we get Chinese take-out: they tasted like sauteed string beans with garlic and almonds! In no way is that meant to be an insult or a triviality. I devoured these!

Dessert aficionados will flip their lid for this Snickers Baked Alaska. It’s large enough to share among four people, especially after going deep into beef for your mains. It’s big. It’s bold. It’s sweet.

This apple cobbler crumble is a house favorite. Inside the pecan strudel there’s a toffee flavored blondie, baked apple and creme fraiche ice cream. Awesome.

Just as impressive as the food menu is the cocktail menu. Mix master Lucas Robinson has curated one of the best cocktail programs around. We tried five drinks from the bar menu and one from the dessert menu. Here they are:

Cafe Disco: Start with this unique take on a negroni, made with cold brew coffee, gin, green chartreuse and campari.

Black & Bleu: This is a savory and earthy mix of miso-infused vodka, dry vermouth, white soy truffle and blue cheese stuffed olives. Very cool frozen copper martini glass too.

Cuffing Season: Wet your taste buds with this stiff pork rind-garnished cocktail, made with fat washed scotch, aperol and amaro. The pork rind is actually pretty friggin’ delicious.

The Glass Slipper: This spicy number is made with rye, Ancho Reyes, benedictine, sherry and absinthe. The rim is cajun salt. My kind of drink!

Up In Smoke: This delicious smoked cocktail is made with rye, yellow chartreuse, dry vermouth and mole bitters. It comes out to the table presented inside a smoke-filled glass lantern box. A delight for the senses with an earthy bottom end from the mole bitters.

Proper Irish Coffee: Lucas’ take on the classic is made with Proper 12 Irish whiskey (of Conor McGregor fame), Colombian coffee, creme de cacao, Ancho Reyes and vanilla salted cream. This hot drink is strong as fuck! A nice balance with those sweet desserts.

The bar area is awesome. Big, spacious, warm and comfortable, yet cool and sleek. I will hang out here and sip those amazing cocktails as often as possible.

The remainder of the space is massive and incredibly well designed. There are two large dining rooms and an upstairs. It has to be one of the biggest restaurants in the city. They spared absolutely no expense in building this place out. Every fixture, every wall, every table is stunning.

That about does it. I’ll be back here for sure. I need to work my way through some more of those amazing cuts of beef. I highly recommend you do the same.

Catch Steak overall score: 94

Flavor: 10
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10
Portion Size & Plating: 9
Price: 9
Bar: 10
Specials and Other Meats: 8
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8
Seafood Selection: 10
Service: 10
Ambiance: 10

CATCH STEAK
88 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10011

Pastis

I stopped into Pastis yesterday to try the burger. It was fantastic!

I have to be honest – part of me wanted to hate it. I know Pastis was loved by many back in the day, but I always despised the crowd of douchebags who went there. The place was (and is) beautiful. I don’t remember the food so much from back in the day, but this perfect chef’d-up Big Mac will definitely have me going back for more. I’ll try a steak frites too eventually. The fries are amazing, and they give you a lot with the burger.

PASTIS
52 Gansevoort Street
New York NY 10014

Intersect by Lexus

This place has some great snacks and cocktails at the bar upstairs. They’re becoming well known for their interesting cocktail glassware.

My wife and I tried a bunch of stuff so let me get right to it.

COCKTAILS

1) Elementary, My Dear

This sweet and easy to sip Japanese whisky drink comes in a glass shaped like a pipe. It’ll go down fast so nurse it a bit.

2) Nemo

This cocktail is like an Aperol spritz without the ice, and comes in a blowfish glass.

3) Smoked Rum Old Fashioned

My favorite of the four we tried, this elevates the quality aged rum with a nice smoke aroma.

4) Black Magic Woman

Probably our second favorite, this well balanced and easy to slam cocktail is beautiful

SNACKS

1) Fluke Ceviche

Absolutely awesome. The perfectly seasoned and well balanced flavors make for a refreshing, cool summer snack. A top dish of the year.

2) Paella Croquettes

Warming, comforting, salty and spicy balls contrast with the cechive in this delicious hot snack that will have you drinking your fancy cocktails faster than you anticipated.

3) Tartare Tacos

There’s beef striploin in here but it’s a bit overshadowed by the dressing and accompaniments within the tartare itself. Otherwise tasty. A bit salty though.

4) Fried Chicken

These perfectly fried bone-in nuggets of breast meat come with a jalapeno cream sauce and a drizzle of honey. The flavors balance nicely and this is a great dish, I just wish they used boneless morsels of thigh meat instead.

5) Burger

This burger “intersects” Asian and American cuisines seamlessly with a perfectly seared beef patty that’s nestled in the folds of a warm sesame seed bao bun and covered with a miso cheddar cheese sauce and topped with pickle slices, pickled chili and crispy shallots. Lovely. Another top item of the year.

6) Cheesecake Donut

To be clear, this is a small ring of cheesecake that looks like a donut – not a donut with a cheesecake filling or something like that. It’s light, fruity and tasty. They also sell them downstairs at the coffee counter sans service charge if you want to try this on the go without sitting at the bar.

7) Melon Margarita Kakigori

This flavored ice dish is a hit with the locals passing by. There’s a little booth station beside the bar where you can get them on the fly. It was delicious, and we got ours “spiked” with tequila.

I definitely recommend this place. It’s a no-tip Danny Meyer joint, so expect a little sticker shock. But find comfort in the bill being the final number you see on your credit card (they don’t accept cash).

INTERSECT BY LEXUS
412 West 14th St
New York, NY 10014

Ardyn

I finally got a chance to check out Ardyn, the restaurant that former Charlie Palmer Steakhouse chef Ryan Lory opened in the west village.

The space is beautiful, with a rustic, woodland feel to the dining room.

There’s also a beautiful bar with great cocktails and $1 happy hour oysters from 5-7pm (along with drink specials).

We started with a couple of raw fish dishes. Hamachi tartare and fluke crudo.

Both were awesome and pretty, but if I had to choose one to go back to repeatedly, it would be the hamachi.

Chef Ryan is becoming known for his gorgeous plating – very aesthetic. He also became known for his 50/50 burger at Charlie Palmer. It’s 50% smoked bacon and 50% brisket, with some dry-aged wagyu trim and fat in there to take it over the top.

The only down side here was the thickness of the pickled tomato slice. Half the thickness would be perfect, but that acidy pop did do a great job of cutting the buttery fatness of the rich and well-seasoned burger.

Make sure you don’t neglect the fries here with your burger. They’re amazing and possibly some of the best I’ve ever had.

All the sides were nice, in fact, from the shishitos to the carrots to the greens.

The pastas here are also excellent. We tried two: ramp garganelli with morels, and squid ink cavatelli with uni cream.

It was tough to choose a favorite between the two perfectly cooked and plated pastas, so I suggest getting both if you have room.

But the mains really shined.

First, this absolutely stunning duo of duck containing crispy sliced breast and a house made sausage.

The breast was nice but the sausage stole the show – like when Lex Steele stars in a porno flick with some ugly broad that has gross fake tits.

Of course we had to try the 45-day dry-aged Snake River Farms domestic wagyu rib eye.

This thing was incredible. It had a sexy, deep brown maillard crust on the surface and a rare cook beneath. You can still see the flecks of marbling in the flesh! It could have been cooked slightly longer, but the beef was so high quality that you could eat it like this even without the fat fully rendering out. 9/10.

Dessert was equally stunning. This choclate layer cake with pistachio ice cream was really rich and moist, like Paris Hilton in 2003.

This custard was light yet very satisfying.

And this asian style grapefruit/pomelo dessert was just the right kind of acidy and citrusy way to end the meal with a cleansed palate.

I definitely recommend this place. And if you want a seat close to the action, head to the back and pop your ass onto one of the stools that faces into the kitchen. Be warned though – it’s warm back there!

ARDYN
33 W 8th St
New York, NY 10011

Coco J’adore

My wife and I tried the newly opened Meatpacking District French joint “Coco J’adore” this past weekend.

This place has a really beautiful interior that’s just screaming to be infiltrated by trendy types, insta-models and brunch-drunk socialites.

It will no doubt become a big time scene place with hard to acquire tables, but contrary to what you might assume from my lead-in, it’ll be worth the effort to get in here.

Both the food and drinks are awesome. Over the course of our sweeping menu tasting, we tried four different cocktails.

1) Covent Garden

This refreshing take on a sour was made with gin, aperol, amaro, chamomile peppercorn syrup, egg white and lemon.

2) Gustavia

Rum, cachasa, passion fruit, demerara, campari and ginger beer.

3) Madison

Rye, ricard, earl grey tea syrup, black cherry and lemon.

4) Nevsky

This was a favorite. Vodka, cinnamon, green apple juice, lemon and rose powder.

All tended to be on the sweet side, but there were a few others that were more robust in profile as well. I’ll try those next time.

Okay on to the food.

First off, nice table bread with whipped butter.

This fava bean “hummus” with mixed olives and citrus was awesome. I could eat this by the bucketload.

These scallops were perfectly seared and presented in a sauce that was reminiscent of runny egg yolk. Delicious. That;’s a carrot salsa on top.

I loved the escargots. They’re served in-shell in an aromatic bowl of peppercorns. Delicious. These are top tier.

We tried two pasta dishes: the salt cod agnolotti, which was our favorite of the two, and the rabbit gnocchi. The rabbit ate more like a fall or winter dish, while the agnolotti was light, summery and fresh. Both good though.

Next up, the wild salmon with couscous and broccoli rabe. Excellent. Nice crispy skin too. This was my wife’s favorite.

The filet mignon was cooked to a nice medium rare and served on a bed of mashed potatoes with a mix of sautéed wild mushrooms. Very nicely done. 8/10.

For dessert, we had the creme brûlée and the chocolate soufflé with vanilla ice cream. Of these, we preferred the creme brûlée but both were good.

This is a great addition to the neighborhood. Go give it a shot before it gets mobbed!

COCO J’ADORE
1 Little West 12th Street
New York, NY 10014

Hudson & Charles Dinette

Hudson & Charles Dinette serves up some nice burgers with thick cut tallow fries! I tried three. In order:

1) Double “Smash” (9/10) – A classic American double with shredded lettuce and pickle.

2) Catalina Stack (8/10) – A double with catalina sauce, lettuce and pickle.

3) Foxy Burger (8/10) – A thick Korean single, with kimchi and spices.

All burgers come with thick cut tallow fries, and the prices range from $14-$23.

The first was near perfect, with a great crispy char and nice toppings. I only dinged it because it really wasn’t a smash, but this is definitely my preferred style of burger.

The other two were great but a bit aggressive on salt levels. The same goes for the fries, but I didn’t mind so much on those. I’ll definitely be back for the double, and also to try some steaks and pies.

I also tried their Korean fried chicken & waffles entree. The sauce is a mildly spicy gochujang base, heavily sprinkled with scallions. The waffle is more like a muffin or biscuit, with sesame and scallions. There was a mix of breast and thigh meat with a great crunchy breading, three pieces per order.

HUDSON & CHARLES DINETTE
522 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014

Chumley’s

I finally made it into the “new” Chumley’s to try the burger. Despite my depression over the massive change this place underwent, the joint is still really cool. I’m also happy it’s back open after all that time being shuttered.

But it no longer feels like a bar. It feels like a restaurant, and the menu reflects that.

As you can see from the menu description, this baby is rocking bone marrow, crispy shallots, “Chumley’s sauce,” and good old American cheese. The burger itself is two large patties. Although it’s a bit unwieldy to eat with your hands, it’s huge on flavor. It was absurdly delicious. Rich, heavy, and robustly flavorful.

 

The marrow really adds a depth of beefiness that’s unrivaled in other burgers, and the Chumley’s sauce tastes almost like a gravy of sorts. I think this would be fine as a single patty, but at $29 you’re certainly getting your money’s worth. Especially considering that they give you a mountain of delicious, golden-crisp French fries that have been tossed in beef fat after they come out of the fryer. Awesome.

This burger is definitely worth getting.

CHUMLEY’S
86 Bedford Street
New York, NY 10014

Don Angie

I went to Don Angie with a group of friends, so we tried almost half of the menu. I tried two cocktails; the Uncle Jimmy (Islay scotch, amaretto, bitters and lemon) and the Pinky Ring (bourbon, carpano, galliano and campari). Both were really nice.

We started with the stuffed garlic flatbread for the table.

This was delicious, especially when eaten simultaneously with their chrysanthemum salad, which is probably the best salad I’ve ever had. Easily one of the best dishes of the year (a salad!) – so good, we ordered a second.

The tonnato vitello was really nice and refreshing, made with spicy veal tartare and tuna carpaccio.

For pasta dishes, we first tried a special Sardinian dumpling in a creamy cheese sauce, topped with shaved white truffle.

Next up, caramelle.

These candy packages were a nice mix of sweet and savory. Beautiful too.

We also had their famous lasagne pinwheels. Also beautiful. And with such a thin noodle, they are actually light and delicious.

But the star of the show was the giant garganelli in broken meatball ragu. This was fucking incredible.

It reminded me of my grandma’s Sunday sauce, only with better quality homemade pasta. I crave this daily, and it is at the top of my list for best dishes I tried this year. We also ordered a second one of these since it was so incredible.

We also had the charred octopus. This was a small portion to share among six people, but it was indeed tasty.

The veal “da pepi” was like a Milanese chop. Very tasty and crisp.

Let down of the meal goes to the prime rib braciole.

It was somehow a bit dry, under cooked in parts (the center), and stringy in others (the outer edges). Bummer. I was really looking forward to this. The stuffing tasted like my dad’s stuffed cherry peppers, which was nice. 5/10.

We also had some sides: potatoes and polenta.

For dessert, we tried a bit of everything. The sgroppino was bright and acidic, the fior di latte mochi was unique and tasty, the tiramisu was perfect, and the honey zeppole were nice little versions of the fried belly bombs I loved as a kid.

This place is worth the struggle for a reservation. Get the salad, the garganelli, and the lasagne. You’ll be happy.

DON ANGIE
103 Greenwich Ave
New York, NY 10014

Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina

My wife and I stopped in this nice Italian joint for a quick meal. We kept it light here, and shared a meat and cheese board, along with a pasta dish.

Finocchiona, mortadella, cooked prosciutto, taleggio and another kind of cheese that I currently can’t remember. All were great, though I expected the finocchiona to be more like a roasted pork roll as opposed to a salami. Five items for $25.

The pasta was awesome. It was pricey at $36, but there was enough to share. Squid ink linguini with Maryland lump crab.

Before cheese:

After cheese:

This reminded me of Christmas Eve dinner with my family. Mom always made bucatini pasta with blue claw crabs that we caught ourselves at the docks along the Great South Bay. Ours was usually spicy as fuck though. This one did have a slight kick with some jalapeños, so cheers to that. I’d eat this dish every day if I could.

The reason I also have this marked off as a product review is because you can buy their uncooked pasta to go from a counter up front. My wife brought home some squid ink pappardelle once and it was incredible. Really nicely made, not too fishy, and great texture when cooked to al dente. She made it with prawns in a lobster sauce.

GIOVANNI RANA PASTIFICIO & CUCINA
Chelsea Market
75 9th Ave
New York, NY 10011