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.
My wife and I went to 19 Cleveland – a newish Israeli/Tel Aviv joint – for a friend’s birthday. I’m not quite sure of the names of the dishes we had, as so many small plates came out and some aren’t necessarily on the regular menu. Everything was really good so I’m just going to do a pic dump and highlight my favorites with some extra words.
The falafel and starters were all great.
The hummus was awesome. Probably the best I’ve had other than the fave bean and olive -based one at Coco J’Adore.
I really liked this crispy kale, beets and farmers cheese dish. It reminded me of the one I loved at Le Turtle.
Incredible schnitzel. A top dish of 2019 contender for sure. Make sure you get this. It comes with a platter of greens too, to make it into a Milanese of sorts.
I also really loved this lemony and buttery pasta that came with a fried poached egg on top. DELICIOUS!
Awesome halva ice cream on this first dessert plate (the stone great color).
That about does it. I’d definitely come back here again and I highly recommend it. Fun spot.
19 Cleveland Place
New York, NY 10012
I tried this joint on their grand opening with a couple of food Instagram buddies of mine. This place is so new, they don’t even have a website or a menu online anywhere. Keep in mind that this place is not even really open yet, and this was served to us during their grand opening friends and family party. I have a feeling the experience will be much different and much better on a second visit.
We tried both the porterhouse and the rib eye. I actually liked the strip side of the porterhouse the best, since it packed a lot of dry aged flavor. One friend liked the filet side, and another liked the rib eye the best. So we all had our differences. Overall, though, I gave both an 8/10. Both steaks were ever so slightly overcooked from medium rare to medium, but all is forgiven when the flavor is good.
This burger is a steal at just $18.
Fries are sold separately at $7, but all in $25 isn’t too bad at all for a half pound dry aged steakhouse burger with fries.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9
The beef here, I believe, is all from Strassburger Steaks, all dry-aged and USDA prime. They have all the basics and then some.
Portion Size & Plating: 8
Portions here are on par with all the midtown steak joints, as is the plating. Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done.
With portions for one ranging in the mid to upper 40s, the prices here are under the norm by almost $10 a portion. That’s a good deal.
There isn’t much of a bar to mention here, but the cocktails are good, they have a nice happy hour, and there’s lounge style seating and occasionally live music in the hotel lobby that’s connected and adjacent to the restaurant.
Specials and Other Meats: 7
There were no specials to speak of on this occasion (aside from the haps hour specials noted above), but we did get to try the chicken parm. I wasn’t impressed with it, but I do believe they’re still working on some items. In terms of other meats available, there is both veal and lamb. A pretty fair showing. On a second visit, they did read some specials off to us.
On a second visit I asked for the veal chop but they were out (they didn’t have it on the first visit either), but we did try these nice lamb chops. Three double bones.
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8
We started with the sizzling Canadian bacon and the steak tartare. Both were very good, and worth getting again. We also tried the Caesar salad, and shared a bunch of sides: truffle creamed corn, steamed broccoli, creamless style creamed spinach, and a raw tuna dish served in a martini glass. For dessert we had a trio: a chocolate mousse type of cake, carrot cake (my favorite of the three) and cheesecake – with schlag of course (which was more like standard whipped cream than the thick, lightly sweetened stuff I’m used to).
On a second visit I tried the baked clams, which were great.
Here are those desserts:
Seafood Selection: 6
There’s a good deal of seafood on the menu here, but I was only able to try the tuna martini thing, which didn’t really make me very excited (though it was beautiful). Next time I’ll try a fish entree or some more of the raw shellfish and cold appetizer stuff. That’s really where I think they will shine as far as seafood. On a second visit I had another sushi item and was disappointed.
I imagine their proper sushi will be top notch too. They even have a sushi bar in the dining room with counter service.
The staff here is awesome. It took a bit to get our bill to us, but other than that, we were treated like royalty and all the servers and staff were attentive, friendly, and knew the menu inside and out. Table bread is a nice Italian style bread, but the butter could use a whipping or a warming. I also didn’t see a proprietary steak sauce on the table yet (which I don’t care about anyway, but it’s nice with bacon sometimes).
The decor here is still in the process of coming together. They’re awaiting some wall art (and hopefully new chairs). The space is in the back, behind the hotel lobby, and sunken down a few steps into a grand dining room. Really beautiful spot, cozy yet elegant. There are even a few tables out front for dining outside.
I look forward to coming back to try some more dishes in a few weeks.
Karvouna Mezze is the new Greek tapas (“mezze”) joint and meat house that just opened on the Bowery, headed up by the former chef from Merakia, Giuseppe Scalco.
I came in with a group of Instagramming bastards to try out some dishes and to feature our favorites on our profiles. Here’s what we tried:
Peinirli (Greek Pizza Boat)
I like the idea of this, I just wasn’t a fan of the flakey, dry dough. The fillings (bacon, herbs and cheese) were all great though.
This was nice. As a mezze portion, this is actually pretty sizable.
Generally I’m not a big fan of eggplant, but this was great. I really liked the presentation in a scooped-out and halved eggplant. You can even still see the stem on the top end. Great Mediterranean flavors on this; semi-Italian and semi-Middle Eastern.
This was simple and delicious. A must order. Perfect and fresh.
This was tender and flavorful, but I found myself going after the stewed greens underneath more than the actual pork belly. The ouzo and honey marinade was interesting though.
These are amazing. I loved them at Merakia, and I love them here. They’re perfect as a mezze snack with three to four ribs per order. Great spice on them, expertly cooked, nice fat and tenderness levels.
This was a bit of a let down. I really enjoyed the Kleftiko at Merakia, which was served like a stew in a bread bowl. Here, there was just too much bread and not enough of that stewed sauciness. It came off a bit dry, unfortunately, and the bits of lamb inside just weren’t tender enough to recall the stew format of the traditional dish.
This was awesome. So tender and flavorful, and sitting on a bed of braised greens and lentils. I could eat this every day.
Mixed Grill For Two
This was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the pork and sausage. It comes out on an actual grill, though you aren’t really cooking anything since it isn’t hot enough. It’s more of a show piece and meat warmer.
This is great for a group meal to share. Even the veggies on there were tasty, and it comes with some nice lemon potatoes too.
Red Velvet Halva
This was my favorite of the three desserts we tried. But don’t expect the texture and flavor of halva just because halva is in the name of the dessert. This tasted more like a gelatin or stiff mousse. Really delicious.
A beautiful and tasty take on the classic dessert. A nice balance of sweet and savory, and it comes with a slab of rose jelly, which looks invisible in the pic above.
Chocolate Covered Digestive Cookies
This was like a chocolate covered biscotti. Interesting, but not something I would get again. I just didn’t love the flavor combination. A nice thing to have with coffee though, for those of you who are into it.
I would definitely go back here for the eggplant, ribs, mixed grill and short rib. Go give it a shot! I should also note that when we were there, the health inspector gave a surprise visit and fucked up the entire flow of the kitchen for a good hour or hour and a half. This place is brand new and the chef is very talented, so I have no problem recommending this place to others.
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.
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.
This place slings some really nice food that mostly takes inspiration from the Puglia region of Italy. Everything is really nicely crafted, from the mains and apps to the bread basket (with ricotta and focaccia) and cocktails.
We started with the grilled octopus with fennel, and the stracciatella (fresh mozzarella with tomato, kiwi and prosciutto). Both were awesome, but the stracciatella really stole the show. Amazing balance of flavors.
Next we had a pair of pasta dishes. First was a saffron and sausage pasta called Malloreddus. These were like a cross between cavatelli and gnocchi.
The other was Cappellacci with sunchoke, crab and jalapeño. I didn’t get that much of the sunchoke or jalapeño flavors, but the pasta was perfectly cooked and the crab was fresh and delicious.
The main courses were nice. First was the pork collar milanese.
This was perfectly breaded and crisped. I actually enjoyed eating this with some of the leftover ricotta from the bread basket.
The roasted rabbit was really nice as well. It was almost like a parmesan dish, but with some potatoes as well.
For dessert, we had apple strudel, which was beautifully presented like a beggar’s purse, and pumpkin bread with flan. Both were really nice and unique, but we liked the apple strudel best.
I highly recommend this place, and I plan to go back to try the rack of lamb very soon.