Category Archives: Parms

Brooklyn Roots Italian

One of the great things to come out of the pandemic is Brooklyn Roots. Chef Thomas Perrone struck out on his own despite all of the fears and warnings. It started out as pick up and delivery only, but now he’s running a full-fledged old school Italian restaurant in the heart of Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

The atmosphere, the food, the smells… it’ll take you back. Nearly everything on the menu is under $30, and the portion sizes are triple what you see at other Italian joints. And this isn’t a typical red-sauce joint where you leave thinking that you could’ve made the food at home. This stuff is all done with top notch cooking technique, and high quality ingredients.

My wife and I went big, because we knew we wanted to try everything we could and bring a bunch of stuff home for the weekend. We started with the octopus and fried zucchini to start.

The zucchini was light, fried to a perfect golden crisp, and served with a bright marinara dipping sauce. The octopus was perfectly tender, and served in an amazing pesto. Definitely get these items when you go.

For the pasta dishes, we tried the “Matty Guns” special, who happens to be an actual person – he was there in the restaurant when we went. Baked rigatoni in a vodka sauce, topped with ricotta, melted mozzarella and basil. But lurking under the broiled cheese is a delicious collection of meats: sweet and hot Italian sausage, and meatballs. Amazing. Again – at $29 the portion size can feed two people for two days.

The next pasta was the linguine with corn and shrimp.

This was markedly lighter, but great for a summer pasta dish. Tons of great flavor coming in from the light tomato and garlic wine sauce.

For our entrees, we went with chicken and veal. For the chicken, we did the scarpariello preparation, with sausage, vinegar cherry peppers and potatoes. This took me back to when my mom used to make a similar dish with pork chops.

We did the veal parm. I was tempted to do milanese, but maybe next time.

This was such a great deal. Two cutlets fried to a perfect crisp and covered with sauce and cheese. Just awesome.

ENHANCE! Incredible.

We came with a huge appetite and still had no room for dessert – and we took home tons of leftovers. But from the looks of people around us, the dessert was great. I can’t wait to go back and try more.

BROOKLYN ROOTS ITALIAN
4601 4th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11220

Carne Mare

Carne Mare overall score: 90*

Carne Mare is a great Italian steakhouse down in the seaport. My wife and I went with another couple this past weekend, and we really dove in!

Flavor: 10

We had both the prime rib and the 45-day dry aged porterhouse for two. If I had to pick a favorite between the two, it would be the prime rib.

It was “porchetta spice” rubbed on the outside, and cooked to a perfectly tender and juicy medium rare inside. It floated in a shallow pool of veal jus. Amazing. This baby now ranks in my top 5 for sure.

The porterhouse was nicely cooked and served on a metal platter with bone marrow, herbs, a light watercress salad, and blistered cherry tomatoes. Great aged flavor, and even cook temp all over.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10

I wanted to take a point here because they ran out of the duck that we wanted to try, and also because the prime rib is very limited. By 8pm on a Friday, there were only two pieces left. Go early! However, I decided to restore the point, since I wanted to try the veal over the duck anyway, and that’s what we ended up having.

Portion Size & Plating: 10

The prime rib was 16oz, and the porterhouse was 45oz. Both are robust. Other portion sizes were healthy as well, especially for the carpaccio apps, which I find are typically small.

Price: 7

This joint is definitely pricey. At $66 for the prime rib and $185 for the porterhouse, you are well over the average for NYC pricing. However, the quality is top notch, so I didn’t feel too burned over it. In hindsight, I probably wouldn’t order the porterhouse again since it comes out to $92.50 per person. That’s high!

Bar: 10

The bar here is beautiful, as is the entryway into the bar room.

With views of the water, this is almost unbeatable. They have a great selection of cocktails and booze, and I definitely enjoyed the martinis they mixed for me.

Specials and Other Meats: 7

There were no real specials read to us, but I didn’t expect much from a steakhouse with such an extensive menu. We did try the veal milanese. This was good, but it could have been better. It was breaded and fried whole, without being pounded flat like a traditional milanese dish.

Because of that, it had a bit too much chew. I also expected a mix of greens to be on there as well, which is common with a milanese.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 10

What an awesome set of apps and desserts. First off, the octopus and veal carpaccio apps were probably the best apps I’ve had in a long time. Please make sure you get them.

On the side, we had a roasted and smoked beet (which was actually a veggie entree item), mushrooms and roasted carrots. All of them were great, but when you go, you should focus on the mushrooms (marsala style with porcini cream).

The baked spumoni is an absolute show stopper with layers of chocolate, vanilla, cherry and lemon inside. Save room for dessert!

Seafood Selection: 6

All of the seafood we tried was great, and the selection was nice as well. The main letdown of the meal was the spicy lobster spaghetti. I just sorta fit it into this category though, so don’t let this be an indication of their other seafood entrees.

It was cooked nicely, but the portion of pasta was on the small side (lobster was large though). Also, there was no real spice to it. Meh. Good pasta, but not enough of it and not spicy as advertised.

Service: 10

Our waiter was amazing, as were the hostesses, bartenders and managers. Our first table had a leak from the ceiling overhead (it had just started to pour, thunder and lightning). They swiftly moved us to a table that had an even better view, and they graciously gave us a bottle of wine that was worth nearly $200. We were blown away.

Also worth noting: they serve amazing table bread here, in the style of pull-apart bread. They will just keep bringing it out if you ask.

Ambiance: 10

This place is really nicely appointed. I can’t wait to go back and experience a meal in the bar room. High ceilings, good music, not too loud and not too quiet.

CARNE MARE
89 South St
Pier 17
New York, NY 10038

Hancock Street

Last night I checked out the new joint from Mercer Street Hospitality Group (Lure Fishbar, Bowery Meat Company, etc.), Hancock Street. Everything was awesome, so let me get right into it.

APPS:

The sea urchin on crispy potato was a great bite to start the meal.

We followed this with an absolutely delicious steak tartare.

PASTA:

The squid ink linguine with calamari, crispy garlic, and sea beans was really unique and beautiful.

But the duck bolognese mafaldine was the better of the two.

SIDES:

Excellent fries!

I was even impressed with the veggies. Both the cauliflower and the carrots are worth your time. If I had to choose just one, I’d go with the cauliflower.

MAINS:

The short rib felt more like a grill or broil, or a very fast braise. I expected a more tender, pull-apart preparation. It was still tasty as hell though. 7/10.

The veal schnitzel was the best dish of the night. Amazing flavor profile with the capers and onions underneath, and a beautiful light and airy crisp on the breading. 10/10.

They overcooked the first steak that came out, but they made it right with a second one. It was really delicious, well seasoned, and came as a composed dish with a side of mushrooms. 8/10.

DESSERT:

The rhubarb crumble was a great finish to this great meal!

I would definitely go here again, and I recommend you go as well!

HANCOCK STREET
257 6th Avenue
New York, NY 10014

Emilio’s Ballato

This old school Italian joint is known for having some great parms, whether it’s chicken, veal, eggplant or whatever. Of the three I tried, the veal with vodka sauce, peas and prosciutto took home the win and beat out both the standard chicken and veal varieties.

The meal began with an awesome platter of antipasto (probably the best I’ve had) meatballs, and baked clams oreganata.

We tried three different pasta dishes: cacio e pepe, carbonara, and linguine with clams. Of these, I will throw down with the carbonara every time.

The star of the mains, however, was not the veal parm, but, rather, a special double cut pork chop that was prepared with vinegar cherry peppers. Awesome, and cooked perfectly. The photo doesn’t do it justice.

This is definitely a place you’ll want to go to repeatedly to take advantage of both the great regular menu items as well as the daily specials.

Emilio’s Ballato
55 E. Houston St
New York, NY 10012

Sandro’s

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.

SANDRO’S
306 E 81st St
New York, NY 10028

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

Caffe Napoli

My wife and I tried Caffe Napoli in Little Italy this week. This joint is one of Little Italy’s long standing places that many people go to for their red sauce fix. Here’s what we had:

Rosemary Focaccia Bread

Baked Clams Oreganata

I’m a sucker for this dish, and they did a great job with it here. This was my favorite dish of the meal.

Bucatini All’Amatriciana

Veal Parm

Lobster and Shrimp with Lobster & Shrimp Ravioli

This was an impressive dish. Lots of ravioli tucked under there – difficult to see but there was probably more than half dozen.

Caffe Napoli
191 Hester St
New York, NY 10013

19 Cleveland

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!

Roasted cauliflower.

Branzino.

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
19 Cleveland Place
New York, NY 10012

Atto Prime

Atto Prime overall score: 79

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.

Flavor: 8

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.

Price: 9

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.

Bar: 7

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.

Service: 9

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).

Ambiance: 8

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.

ATTO PRIME
120 East 39th St
New York, NY 10016

Isle of Capri

In my quest for all things parm, I came across Isle of Capri. With prices under $30 for these entrees, I just had to grab both the veal and the chicken parm.

At $27.25 this might be one of the best high end chicken parm deals you can find. I’ve had better at higher price points elsewhere, but this is very good for the money.

The same goes for the veal:

I was kinda hoping for a nice beautiful bone-in chop, but again just $28? I can’t complain.

I’d like to come back and try some pasta dishes soon. Everything looks good.

ISLE OF CAPRI
1028 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10065