Tag Archives: italian

Cantiere Hambirreria

This Italian burger joint just opened in Soho, and we hosted an Electric Wednesday there with some ebike guys. Check that out HERE:

You can also check out my Ride & Review HERE:

But here’s a quick writeup:

I started out with what was probably the best food I’ve eaten all year. Pittule. These are fried balls of dough/fritters, like zeppole, only they’re made with olives, capers and sun-dried tomato, and then covered with stracciatella and crispy speck. UNBELIEVABLE! I’m already craving more.

I tried the Campano burger next. The burgers here are sort of like flattened meatballs, in that they are seasoned with spices, breadcrumbs, and contain other meats like pork. This particular burger was topped with mortadella, mozzarella and some really nice pistachio sauce. I very much enjoyed it as a unique way to consume all of the various delicious Italian food items. The bun is house made and almost tastes like a sweet buttered biscuit. I think it would be perfect for an Italian breakfast sandwich. And the fries are like curly thick cut potato chips. Really good!

I also tried the tiramisu, which is served in a huge coffee tin. It’s super fluffy and light.

I’ll be back here for sure!

CANTIERE HAMBIRRERIA
41 Kenmare St.
New York, NY 10012

Fiaschetteria Pistoia

First, check out my ass-kicking RIDE & REVIEW video for this restaurant HERE:

This place, whose name translates to Pistoia Wine Shop (Pistoia is a town in Tuscany), has some really amazing food.

We started with the guancia (pork cheek) and Tonno del Chianti (pork that tastes like tuna). Both were hands-down incredible.

Even their bread is a delicious mix of focaccia and country style.

Next we dove into some pasta. On was a special tagliatelle with sausage. Very good, although just a hint salty.

The other was a duck pappardelle which was lights out!

We finished the meal with the most perfect panna cotta I’ve ever had. Seriously.

FIASCETTERIA PISTOIA
647 E 11th Street
New York, NY 10009

Regina’s Grocery

First, check out my short Ride & Review video HERE:

My wife and I finally got in here for a sandwich.

The place has been around for a long time, and I have to say, there’s a reason for it. The sandwiches are GREAT! This was a little expensive at $17, but when you compare to a place like Joey Roses ($8), which are smaller, the price makes sense. The quality is great from the bread to the Calabrian chili paste to the meats and mozz.

We went with the Uncle John (mortadella being the big selling point) and we added the chili paste.

I will definitely be back.

REGINA’S GROCERY
27 Orchard St
New York, NY 10002

Via Carota

First, check out this badass Ride & Review video HERE:

My wife wanted to check this place out for their pork and pasta dishes, and I was interested in their artichoke and rabbit dishes. We tried all of it. Here’s how it started:

Two lovely cocktails, a classic negroni and a martinez, for me.

Vitello Tonnato was on special, carpaccio style. I had to try. It was great!

We also had their grilled artichokes, which were amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever had them grilled before, but I’m a huge fan.

This stracci pesto pasta was like a pile of lasagna noodles.

Fucking fantastic! I absolutely loved it.

This pork dish was belly, roasted and then grilled, with a tangy plum BBQ sauce, of sorts. Very unique.

The fried rabbit was incredible. Perfectly seasoned, and it came with a big hunk of fried sourdough. This could easily replace chicken and waffles if served with some whipped ricotta and a spicy Calabrian chili honey.

For dessert, a perfectly executed tiramisu.

We will definitely be going back for the fried calamari/fritto misto and fried zucchini. The plates coming out looked nuts!

VIA CAROTA
51 Grove St
New York, NY 10014

Bad Roman

Bad Roman is a brand new Italian concept launched by the folks from the Quality Branded restaurant group (Quality Meats, Quality Eats, Smith & Wollensky, Don Angie, etc.).

Check out the Ride & Review video HERE:

The restaurant takes over the space formerly held by Landmarc inside The Shops at the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle.

They’re serving up really nice, innovative cocktails in a chic, eclectically decorated bar.

The menu is decidedly Roman in it’s inspiration, with pasta dishes that feature cacio e pepe and alla gricia stylings. The pasta shapes are also slightly off the beaten path, with garganelli, cappalletti and mafaldine in the mix. We went with the cappelletti bistecca, which was filled with what tasted like tender short rib and topped with a delicious 20yr balsamic.

For starters, we tried the chilled artichoke. It was simply steamed and served with two sauces; a cream sauce and an Italian inspired chimichurri of sorts. A very light starter.

The real stars of our starters were these porchetta style baby back ribs. They had great texture and bite, and the flavors were nicely balanced between savory, sweet and acidic/bitter. We loved these.

For the main courses here, you won’t find a heavy steak selection like at other Quality Branded restaurants. The main reason is that there’s competition inside the Time Warner Center with Porter House Bar & Grill. Bad Roman limits their steak selection to only the filet (mind you, it can be prepared four different ways). But Bad Roman does really well with their other meat selections, like a pork shoulder chop, a veal milanese, and this massive veal shank osso buco with hand ripped and pinch-folded pappardelle pasta.

At $125, this is meant for two people (possibly even four if everyone were to get their own starter). This was a special, so if it interests you in any way, book your table now before it gets swapped out for something new!

Desserts were fun as well, with a deconstructed cannoli (like chips and dip), as well as a lemon cheesecake inside of a chocolate lemon shaped shell!

I will definitely be going back here to try more of the menu. Congratulations to Quality Branded on this new opening, and congratulations to my buddy Gaetano, who is running the joint. I met him way back when I first started reviewing steakhouses, probably in 2012 or 2013, at Quality Italian. He’s come a long way, and he’s done such great things for the restaurant group. I’m a proud fan!

UPDATE!

After a second visit, I can safely say this place deserves all the hype it gets. The pastas are all great, especially the shrimp garganelli (not pictured).

The veal Milanese is great.

As is the veal chop.

Even the fries are unique and tasty, dusted with the same porchetta spice that’s on the ribs.

The pork shoulder was just okay, but I love that it came with escarole.

We tried a shitload of starters too, all of which are great. I think the crowd favorite was the garlic babka though.

This time for dessert we tried the tiramisu ice cream cake and the sticky toffee panettone. The cake was a little too hard (needed to thaw more), and the panettone could do without the candied rinds on top. Otherwise great. And I loved that house made sambuca!

BAD ROMAN
Third Floor
10 Columbus Cir.
New York, NY 10019

Trapizzino

This little spot on the lower east side specializes in what can best be described as Italian hot pockets or stuffed pita bread. The bread itself is actually pretty unique. It’s a toasty triangle of puffy yet crispy goodness, and inside is filled with something delicious – in this case, oxtail and tomato:

I also tried their chic pea salad, which is a pass. The peas were a little undercooked. Otherwise, fun spot. The fig negroni is great.

TRAPIZZINO
144 Orchard St
New York, NY 10002

Il Monello

Il Monello is a newly opened Italian joint by some of the same folks behind Tuscany Steakhouse and Il Tinello. My wife and I came here with two other couples, so we got to try a lot of the menu! Take a look:

Beautiful little bar in the entryway. I enjoyed their negroni.

Starters: fried calamari, carpaccio, “cozze” mussels, bianco salad, and Il Monello salad.

Pasta Dishes: Orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sausage, bucatini cacio e pepe, and lobster ravioli.

Entrees: porterhouse for two (9/10), potato crusted sea bass, and Il Monello Chicken (the crowd favorite).

Mixed dessert platter:

Everything we had was delicious. For their third day being open, there was not one hang-up with the food or the service. These guys are professionals! They know a thing or two about opening and running a restaurant. This one was a few years in the making too, since COVID and then licensing and inspection processes caused them some delays. I can’t wait to go back and try more, especially the eggplant parm, the veal milanese, and any of their daily/weekly specials.

IL MONELLO
337 E 49th St
New York, NY 10017

NYC’s Top 10 “Old School” Style Italian Joints

A friend of mine asked me about Emilio’s Ballato the other day, and I realized I should probably have a list of “old school” style, red sauce -heavy, Italian comfort food spots in the city. Especially given how we lost some great ones due to COVID-19, like Forlini and Crispo.

I should note, I’m largely ignoring the panoply of mediocre tourist trap restaurants in Little Italy. Yes, there are some old classics there, but the one’s listed below are in another league, in my opinion.

So here we go. These are my favorites, in no particular order.

1. EMILIO’S BALLATO

This celebrity magnet of a restaurant is one of the best spots to score some old school, red sauce, New York Italian food. Aside from their awesome pastas, they also put serious work into their parms and antipasti. Pictured below is the spicy vodka sauce, prosciutto and peas -topped bone-in veal parm, which is commonly offered as a special and even called an “off menu” item to those in the know.

2. CARBONE

A list of old school Italian joints wouldn’t be complete without a nod to Carbone. When you walk in this joint, you feel like you might witness a mob hit! Not in a scary way – because you feel like family when you’re here (take THAT Olive Garden!) – but in a cinematic way. Everything just looks the part, from the black and white tiled floors to the decor on the walls. This place is special, and my favorite items here are the trio of baked clams and their famous spicy rigatoni alla vodka.

3. SANDRO’S

We almost lost this joint to COVID-19. It closed, and everyone was pissed off and upset. But they re-opened in a new location, and I’m so psyched to get back in there to try everything. This joint slings some of the best pasta I’ve had, and all of the good the Italian chefs in town know that this is the place to go when you want a delicious, comforting meal outside of your own kitchen.

4. SAN MATTEO

Right up there in the same neighborhood as Sandro’s is San Matteo, a noted two-time NYCWFF Burger Bash winner, of all things. While primarily organized as a Neapolitan style pizza joint, San Matteo actually serves up some of the most crave-worthy Italian food that I can think of. I regularly need my fix of this place. Everything from their apps to their aged steaks are fantastic. Pizza should be your snack when you go here. Save room for the mains, like their pork milanese!

5. BROOKLYN ROOTS

Relative newcomer to the “old school” scene is Brooklyn Roots. This place is the only spot I picked that’s outside of Manhattan. I know I’ll get some shit for that, since there are lots of amazing places out in Queens and Brooklyn that garner a lot of love for this cuisine. But Chef Tommy is really dialed into the food that I grew up eating. Check out his “Matty Guns” pasta dish. It’s basically a baked red sauce and mozz rigatoni dish that has every kind of meat you can imagine. Incredible portion sizes and wildly affordable prices can be found here. You can’t beat it.

6. ARTHUR & SONS

Another new “old school” style joint is Arthur & Sons. This place is red sauce to the core, and it has quickly become one of the hardest places to score a table. Everything with red in it is a hit here. The Parms, the meatballs, the subs, the pasta sauce… They even use cans of tomatoes as planters in the dining room. This is definitely the place to carb-load before a big competitive sporting event.

7. DON ANGIE

This joint is the only Italian restaurant to actually inspire me to go home and cook one of their recipes. Their “Broken Meatball Ragu” is absolute perfection, and it reminds me of Sunday visits to my grandparents’ house when I was a kid. I immediately went home and made it myself the following weekend. They use giant garganelli pasta for the dish, the perfect big floppy noodle for sopping up massive amounts of sauce. Also noteworthy here is the chrysanthemum salad and the lasagna, pictured below.

8. OSTERIA MORINI

This place was famously known as the home of $9 Monday night pasta dishes. I’m sure the price has gone up since I enjoyed that special, but it would be worth every penny even at double the price. This place is part of the Altamarea restaurant group (Marea, Ai Fiore, etc.), but it is markedly obvious that it is meant to be their rustic, home cooking style restaurant. They do great burgers and aged steaks here as well.

9. IL CORSO

My friend turned me on to this place just recently. I was blown away to learn that his wife’s cousin owns the joint. They’re from Capri. Let me just tell you: Their lemon cream pistachio paccheri is probably one of the best pasta dishes in town. It’s an absolutely delicious combination of flavors. I could eat this every day, with a side of their fried zucchini and fried castelvetrano olives.

10. IL TINELLO

The owners behind Tuscany Steakhouse also own Il Tinello, which recently just opened a second location on the east side. The move here is to get the trio of pastas as a sampler dish, of sorts. We ordered it as an appetizer because I needed to try some of the meat-focused items from the mains menu. They do a really nice veal rib chop here, if you feel like eating something more meaty.

That’s all I’ve got for you right now. Maybe I’ll update this if I ever get out to those old and somewhat infamous joints in Queens and Brooklyn. But other notable mentions here for old school style Italian food would be Isle of Capri, Becco, Patsy’s, Scarpetta, Marc Forgione, Ornella Trattoria and Parm.

Oh yeah – and it’s always SAUCE. Gravy is BROWN!

Ainslie Bowery

Ainslie Bowery is a newly opened Italian joint that has a huge selection of beer.

The place is enormous inside. So big, that I really don’t know how they’re going to stay in business if they aren’t packed out every day.

Anyway, I was excited to try this new spot by us, so my wife and I went last weekend. We started with the rosemary wings and salt and pepper ribs. Both were really great. I preferred the ribs but my wife liked he wings better.

For our middle course, we split the “diavola” pizza. Spicy salami and kalamata black olives on top of fresh mozzarella and a nice tomato sauce. This was a bit too salty, but otherwise good. As you can see, one side of the pie took a little more heat than the other.

The pasta dishes were very good here. We tried the orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sausage, as well as the pork ragu pappardelle. We both preferred the orecchiette.

For dessert, tiramisu. This was nice. It’s rare for one of these to stand out among so many others in town, but it was perfect.

We will definitely be back to try more.

AINSLIE BOWERY
199 Bowery
New York, NY 10002

Joey Roses

Joey Roses dive bar/social club on the Lower East Side that was recently featured on Eater as a spot where you can still get some cheap, good eats. After reading the article and seeing how close it was to home, I had to try it.

The thrust of the article was that, from 5pm-7pm and from 10pm-12am, they offer “buy two get a third free” deal on their sandwiches. Their sandwiches are regularly priced at $8. Can’t beat it!

They’re nicely packed Italian sandwiches, filled with mortadella, beef, salami, you name it. They have a few different selections you can make. My wife and I picked up three different sandwiches. All were good, but the mortadella sandwich was king. It comes with mozz and sweet cherry peppers on it. Killer.

Make sure you also get some of their crispy fried Brussels Sprouts. The touch of agave syrup on them really sets them apart from others. They’re perfect!

This place is so close – we will definitely be back.

JOEY ROSES
174 Rivington St
New York, NY 10002