Tag Archives: italian food

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

Rezdora

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-Emelia:” 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).

REZDORA
27 E 20th St
New York, NY 10003

Cardoncello diVino

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.

CARDONCELLO DIVINO
43 West 27th St
New York, NY 10001

Dell’ Anima

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.

Speck Carbonara:

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.

DELL’ ANIMA
Gotham West Market
600 11th Avenue
New York, NY 10036

Lincoln Ristorante

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.

LINCOLN RISTORANTE
142 W 65th St
New York, NY 10023

Ristoro del Cinghiale

This week I had the opportunity to meet and dine with Dario Cecchini, the world famous Tuscan butcher from Panzano.

You may have seen him on food and travel shows. The man truly loves life, and, of course, meat.

He, alongside Montefili wines, hosted an amazing meat fest at the new Tuscan restaurant Ristoro del Cinghiale. Each course was paired with one of Montefili’s wines.

This first course was simple but delicious. That’s ricotta and “tuna” made of pork. Somehow it tasted like really great tuna. Amazing!

There was also some really flavorful salumi.

Next was a pair of pasta dishes. Gnocchi with sage and mushrooms, and garganelli with a wild boar bolognese sauce. The garganelli was one of the best pasta dishes I’ve had in a while. Very tasty.

Next, the meats! The first dish to come out was a rack of wild boar that also included spare ribs.

The chops were absolutely incredible. Such a nice flavor. But the ribs stole the show. They were seasoned with a dry rub that included cayenne and fennel seed, which just blew me away. Best ribs ever.

And this “Bistecca Fiorentina” porterhouse was one of the most perfectly cooked steaks I’ve seen in my days of eating beef.

Here, the preparation and flavoring is all about the wood-fired oven and the herbs, the true Tuscan style.

If the steak was aged, I couldn’t sense it. But the tenderloin was incredibly tender, and the strip side was delicious. Again, perfectly cooked – great grilled crust and pinkness from end to end. 9/10.

Now that’s what I call a high protein plate! There was also some spinach and crispy potatoes, as you can see. I really shouldn’t gloss over those potatoes – they were so fucking good!

Dessert was a delicious slice of pecorino cheese topped with black truffle.

I’ll be going back here in the next week or so to try more of their menu; perhaps the half pig head and the sweetbreads parmesan. I think it goes without saying that I highly recommend this place. Their chef seems to be really nailing the spirit of Tuscany. He definitely did Dario proud.

On a second trip here, my wife and I had the tripe and polenta, as well as the sweetbreads parm to start:

This tripe was incredible. Easily a top dish of the year.

Next up, we tried the pappardelle with wild boar ragu. Wildly delicious sauce and meat, and the pasta was perfectly cooked.

The wild boar mixed grill was nice too. It comes with belly, sausage and those delicious ribs.

On the side we had some wild mushrooms. Also really great, and I love the wildness of every dish.

For dessert we had a chestnut tart/pie, and rosemary doughnuts. Both were really tasty. I fucking love this place.

One very special dish you can get here, off the menu, is the roasted pig head.

It’s usually available about 75% of the time, but you have to ask your waiter if they have it. It’s slow roasted for hours, so you get that crispy pork skin on the outside, sticky sweet fat just beneath the skin, and all that tender meat on the inside. Especially the cheek.

Give it a shot. This is probably one of the best pig face dishes I’ve had, and I have definitely had more than a handful.

I really like this rough chop beef tartare.

And the new rib eye on the menu is a nice and tender fucker, 8/10.

RISTORO DEL CINGHIALE
122 E 27th St
New York, NY 10016

Patavini

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS CLOSED

Patavini is a shop that’s dedicated entirely to gnocchi. My wife and I stopped in to try some and we were blown away.

My favorites were the mortadella and pistachio stuffed, and the tomato and mozzarella stuffed. You can buy this stuff to go by the pound (or by the quarter pound, as little or as much as you want), or you can have them cook them for you and dress them up with their house made sauces, which are all pretty good.

They even have sweet/dessert flavored gnocchi, and a sweet sauce so you can have pasta for dessert. We tried both the tira misu and the cannoli flavors. Give this place a shot!

PATAVINI
1794 Broadway
New York, NY 10019

La Pecora Bianca

My buddy from the Gotham Burger Social Club and I came in here with the intention to split a burger and a pasta dish, but things escalated quickly into a pretty big lunch.

We started with an Aperol spritz, still desperately clinging to the last tendrils of summer.

We went with the gramigna pasta (short n’ curlies). This is made from the einkorn noble grain.

It was served with grumbled sweet Italian sausage, red pepper flakes and broccolini. I loved this! So much better than the popular broccoli rabe and orecchiette versions that you see a lot lately. Here’s a shot of it after a light parmesan cheese snowfall.

We also had a side of eggplant parmesan to go with it. I typically despise the skin on cooked eggplant, but this was a unique preparation in which the skin on the ends of the eggplant acted like cups or little bowls for the cheese and sauce. Delicious.

Here’s that beautiful burger:

It’s two patties made of short rib and brisket, then topped with fontina cheese, crispy pancetta, pickled pepperoncini and calabrian aioli. The bun is outstanding here. It eats like a soft, pillowy ciabatta roll. Perfect for an Italian style burger. It also comes with crispy smushed and fried rosemary potatoes.

I highly recommend this burger. It’s right up there with Ai Fiori and San Matteo as my top three favorite Italian style burgers.

Last up is the hanger steak.

This was a nice and simple preparation. Nothing too complicated. Great flavor, super tender. I only wish it had a better char on the crust and some more seasoning. 7/10.

Great spot. I will definitely be back for more pasta and that burger.

LA PECORA BIANCA
950 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10022

*Note there is another location in NoMad as well.

Zio Ristorante

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS NOW CLOSED

I came to Zio to help promote their Meatball Monday special, where you get three meatball sliders for $10.

My favorites are the lamb with ricotta, veal with mozzarella, and chicken with fontina. But you really cant go wrong with the spicy chorizo or even the veggie pesto sliders.

I also tried their lamb ragu pappardelle, which was really nice. The lamb was tender and juicy, and the pasta was perfectly al dente.

I also tried the chicken parm. This was breast meat, and the cheese is home made mozzarella. Nice crisp on this.

Looking forward to going back to trh their veal chop.

ZIO RISTORANTE
17 W 19th St
New York, NY 10011

Central Grocery

This legendary Italian deli in New Orleans is world famous for creating the muffuletta sandwich.

Muffuletta is technically a massive sesame seeded bread, but the name has been coopted here to describe this particular sandwich. When I first saw them back in 2009, I thought they were giant burgers.

So what exactly is in the sandwich? It’s essentially an Italian hero (high quality Italian meats and cheeses) on that circular shaped muffuletta bread, but with one special ringer: the magical olive and giardiniera salad (pickled cauliflower, hot peppers and carrots).

There are lots of joints serving this sandwich all over New Orleans, and even now in NYC.

But the one and only, the original, is Central Grocery. It’s either $10.95 (half) or $20.95 (whole). Below is a half on top, and a whole in my hand.

If you can’t find a place serving muffuletta near you, and if you can’t hop on a jet to NOLA, I highly suggest making one at home. Olive salads and giardiniera salads are usually available in jars at gourmet grocery stores. If you can’t find the bread, just slap those salads on top of a regular Italian hero and you’ll pretty much have it sorted out.

CENTRAL GROCERY
923 Decatur St
New Orleans, LA 70116