Tag Archives: italian

Domenica Fiore Olive Oil

Domenica Fiore reached out to me to try their olive oil. I can always use an extra bottle of olive oil around the food lab, so I jumped at the opportunity. Here’s what they sent to me:

We used it for some sautéed broccolini and mixed it into a truffle sauce to eat with some black truffle stringozzi pasta. The result was awesome.

My wife really nailed it with that dish, and we were both very happy with the quality of the oil.

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

Cafe Fiorello

My wife and I popped in here before seeing “Darkest Hour” at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas (great flick, and too bad that the theater is closing down in a month due to high rent). The place was jam-packed at 5:45pm, but luckily my wife had a reservation locked in.

Our movie was at 6:35, so we wanted to eat quick. We ordered our drinks and pastas at the same time, and they came out within three minutes.

I had the spaghetti carbonara, which was made the right way with no cream and a runny egg.

Enjoy the yolk porn:

It was made with guanciale (pork jowl) bacon, which added nice salt content to the dish without actually using salt.

My wife had the fettuccine pesto, which had a really nice, fresh flavor to it. Delicious, though a bit garlicky.

Everything was great, but the prices were a bit steep. All in, with tax and tip, for just two drinks and two pasta dishes, we were at $95 and change. That’s pretty steep! The interesting tidbit: This was one of the fastest meals we ever had in NYC. We were in and out within 20 minutes, like a horny teenager at a whore house.

CAFE FIORELLO
1900 Broadway
New York, NY 10023

Mannino’s

Mannino’s is a local Italian joint near my parents’ house on Long Island. It’s gotten a lot of buzz in the last few years, and the food is pretty great. I’ve been there several times, but this time I decided to document the meal.

We started with octopus salad:

Stuffed and fried zucchini blossoms:

And an order of fried calamari:

The fried calamari was a bit on the small side in terms of portion size, but if you’re taking it down all by yourself, then it’s probably just the right amount. The squid was fried to a nice crisp, but still tender on the inside.

The zucchini blossoms were stuffed with ricotta and were a little more dense than I expected, but still tasty nonetheless. I wished there was four in the order, since we had a table of four. We made it work, however.

The octopus salad was good. The squid was tender, and the acid from the citrus cut nicely across the dish.

For my entree, I had pork parmesan. I’ve been dying to dig into some of the incredible looking bone-in chicken parm dishes I’ve been seeing lately in NYC, so this pork version was the perfect way to get my fix.

The meat was incredibly tender, pounded flat and fried up to a crisp. Good cheese coverage and melt, and the sauce was delicious. Great dish.

My wife had the beef braciola. This is beef that’s pounded flat and rolled up with cheeses, pine nuts, cured meats and raisins. Really nicely executed.

Get over to Mannino’s if you live in the area and haven’t been there yet. And keep an eye out for their tomahawk steak for two; they have it on special some nights.

MANNINO’S
1575 New York 27A (Montauk Highway)
Oakdale, NY 11769

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

Noodle Pudding

I stopped in this joint with some friends for a quick bite to eat. I was excited to see lupini beans on the bar menu. For $5 I thought we were going to get a buttload of them, but we only got a few dozen at most.

We tried another bar snack, olives. These were great, but pricey:

Calamarata pasta. This was nice, but not the biggest portion.

Salmon with escarole. I love escarole. This was a nice dish. At $24 it felt a little small, but I think the portion is definitely right for those who are looking to watch their calories.

They have some strange rules at this place, like no birthday singing unless someone is under 10 or over 90. Also this really strange rule about fresh pork and hot weather?

Maybe it has something to do with the meat sweats.

NOODLE PUDDING
38 Henry St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Suprema Provisions

This joint has been getting a lot of love on Instagram ever since my buddies from the Gotham Burger Social Club rated The Suprema Burger as their best, awarding it 9.3 out of 10 points.

So what makes this burger so good? Perhaps it’s the iberico jam, the black garlic sauce, or the aged cheddar cheese sauce. Maybe it’s the perfectly cooked patty, or the roasted grape tomatoes on top. Whatever it is, it’s the perfect union of flavors. And, I mean, come on… look at this fucking thing.

Everything about it just works.

My readers know me, though: I always want a crunch element, and that’s the only thing that was missing in my eyes. But this is nearly perfect, and definitely has a spot on my top five list for restaurant burgers.

Interesting quirk: the burger comes with roasted Brussels sprouts rather than French fries. I didn’t see any fries on the menu, but they’re not very popular in Italian cuisine anyway. Perhaps some fried polenta would satisfy the starch pairing/craving for this burger though. In any case, this burger kicks a whole lot of ass.

But the burger isn’t the only thing that kicks ass at Suprema. Check out this menu and see what items cause your undies to bulge.

We tried a bunch of shit when we went, in order to help promote for the restaurant. Cheers to that.

Realistically though, ever since Gotham Burger Social Club posted their review, the restaurant has seen a big influx of customers. They’re doing just great without my pictures. But here we go…

Braised Octopus

This had a great green olive tapenade and more of those delicious roasted grape tomatoes. The octo itself was super tender, crispy, meaty. On the bottom is a pair of black crispy fried polenta squares. Perhaps they’re colored with squid or octo ink, or maybe even the black garlic that we saw in the burger. Either way – tasty.

Crab & Uni Fettuccine

This was my least favorite of the night. But since it was still a good dish, that’s not a knock in the slightest. For my taste, it was a bit fishy (likely from the warm uni) and lacked a bit of salt. The crab was excellent, however, and the pasta was perfectly cooked.

Photo Credit: Mike Puma of Gotham Burger Social Club

Lasagna

Braised pork, bechamel sauce and ricotta are layered into this shit, and everything is baked into individual cast iron dish-pans. The very bottom was a bit watery and didn’t “set” properly, but that’s nothing a few minutes of waiting will cure before diving in. We savaged the fuck out of this very quickly. Excellent dish.

Meatballs

These are pretty great, and I’m a harsh critic when it comes to meatballs. It’s tough to beat mom’s. Firm, but not hard. Tender, but not mushy. Rich with flavor and properly cooked. A little bit of crusty sesame Italian bread to sop up the delicious sauce here, and you Paisans out there are all set.

Roasted Chicken

Most people like me would cringe at the idea of ordering chicken at a restaurant when there is clearly a pork or beef option available, as well as shitloads of salumi. But I, and those like me, would be missing out at Suprema if we ignored the chicken. This shit was fantastic. It’s brined for many hours, so the flavor penetrates deep to the bone. Not only is the flavor good, but the meat is juicy and tender – like Kim Kardashian’s ass cheeks, only less fatty. The skin is rubbed with a spice mix and roasted to a delicious crisp. Even the tit meat is on point, and not even one bite was dry. This fucking dish is mint.

This joint reminds me a lot of the salumeria spots in Italy that I loved so much. I’m sure I will be here a lot in the weeks to come, taking advantage of the delicious Summer cocktails they mix up, and enjoying the open air but shaded tables along 7th avenue in the West Village.

In summary, get the fuck over to this place as quickly as you can. Go. Don’t be an asshole.

SUPREMA PROVISIONS
305 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10014

Bella Luna

My wife and I were recently invited into Bella Luna, and upper west side Italian joint, for a complimentary meal in exchange for an honest review of the food. The menu looked pretty great, so I was excited to get in here.

The restaurant was jumping on a Thursday night. I don’t think there was an empty table in the joint. It makes sense, given the attractively priced pasta dishes ($12 for their long list of classics) set in a beautiful dining room.

We started with an order of mussels. These babies are cooked in a garlic, white wine and tomato sauce.

The sauce was awesome. In fact, we kept asking for extra bread to soak up the goodness. I was happy there was a spoon on the table, because I was eating the sauce like soup.

Next up was one of their special pasta dishes: lamb pappardelle.

Pappardelle is one of my favorite styles of pasta: long, wide ribbons. This stuff was fresh made, and the lamb ragu was great. The meat sauce also contained some diced carrots, onions and peppers. It reminded me of the Sunday meat sauces (aka “gravy,” in some circles) that my grandmother used to make when my family would visit each week. It was boldly flavored, yet not too heavy where you feel bloated after. This was definitely my favorite dish of the night.

Then we shared a pizza.

We ordered the “Bella Luna” pizza, which is topped with wild mushrooms, truffle oil, onions and fontina cheese.

As you can see, we added some prosciutto and olives to the party.

This was a really great pizza! The dough was puffy and light, but still had a good crunch with an airy, doughy bite. They’re working some magic back there in the brick oven!

Dessert was impressive, as they were offering slices of a special praline ice cream cake from the bake shop that used to be located next store (Grossinger’s; a neighborhood classic for many decades).

This was so rich and decadent. Such awesome flavors going on, and I even thought I tasted some halva in the mix, which I love. I highly recommend a slice of this if they have any left when you go.

My wife’s choice was tiramisu, her favorite, but with a scoop of their toasted pistachio gelato on top.

A genius idea, if I may say so. The tiramisu was soft, and nicely coffee flavored. The lady fingers weren’t soaked in too much booze, and it was overall very creamy and tasty.

I definitely recommend this place. It’s a great neighborhood joint with extremely reasonable prices, set up with gorgeous exposed brick and rustic wood decor.

BELLA LUNA
574 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10024

Crispin’s

My wife and I grabbed a Groupon for this place that scored us a bottle of wine, a shared app, two entrees and two desserts.

When we stepped into this joint it felt like we had stepped into a wine bar meat shop in Rome. The warm wood decor was inviting and cozy, and starting our meal with some red wine and salumi just brought us right back to our Italy vacation.

There were no offensive limits to what we could choose from the wine and app selections, by the way. And the meats were high quality and consisted of salami, prosciutto, mortadella and brasaeola. This was my favorite item of the night.

Our entrees were both good, but my wife’s lamb shank was the winner between the two. We were limited in our selection to items that were listed for $24 or less.

Interesting though – instead of a bed of orzo, as is traditional, this featured as bed of roughly mashed potatoes. They were tasty.

I had a pork chop. It was pretty big at 16oz, T-bone style.

It was nicely cooked and tender.

For dessert we did a chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream, and panna cotta. The panna cotta was great. Super smooth, light and flavorful.

Overall this is a good deal and I recommend picking up the Groupon if they’re still offering it.

CRISPIN’S
764 10th Ave
New York, NY 10019

The Food of Italy

I just got back from a trip to Italy, and, as you can imagine, the food was, on the whole, pretty fucking incredible. My wife and I did three stops: Rome, Venice and Milan.

This could get crazy long so I’m just going to jump right into my truncated reviews.

ROME

L’Archaeologie

We hit this place for a quick lunch after touring the catacombs. Excellent pasta dishes, and this was technically our first meal in Italy. We only had two pasta dishes.

Pici carbonara:

Tagliolini with porn cheek and artichokes:

Osteria Barberini

This place had some amazing pasta. This was our first dinner in Rome, and it was a joint that was highly recommended by friends and family who had been here before.

We tried two pasta dishes; cacio e pepe, served in a bowl made of crisped cheese, and a chitarra pasta with shrimp and a ground pistachio pesto.

We also had a stuffed artichoke, and dessert…

Roscioli

This salume joint turned restaurant was highly recommended by friends and fellow foodies.

It was pretty crowded, so we sat at the bar. We kept it somewhat simple, with a plate of meats and cheeses, pasta and meatballs.

We also took in some dessert, because “when in Rome.”

Baladin (Local Brewery Bar)

This place had a great selection of local craft beers.

Bonci

Anthony Bourdain featured this pizza joint on his layover show, so we had to check it out. It was pretty fantastic.

My favorite slices were the traditional and the onion with ham.

La Prosciutteria

One thing you see a lot of in the cities of Italy are meat shops that offer amazing platters of salume for very good prices.

This is one of them. I was pretty much in heaven here, and I was annoyed that we had just eaten and couldn’t do a bigger platter.

Da Enzo

Nestled on a small street near the river, this Trastevere staple was known for their fried artichoke (which was incredible) and their ox tail. We got both, of course, along with some lasagna.

Tonnarello

I had to stop into this place just because I saw that they had “chocolate sausage” on the menu. I was thinking “Lexington Steele,” but what came out was like fudge and cake pressed into a delicious dessert log and then sliced up, served cold.

But look at the fried artichoke they had on display outside.

Gelato Shops: Giolitti and Fatamorgana

Giolitti was in the main part of Rome, and Fatamorgana was in the Trastevere neighborhood. Both served up some amazing pistachio gelato, and we even tried some Sicilian Cream flavors as well. So good. Giolitti was a full-on pastry shop as well, while Fatamorgana was just gelato.

Pasticcerie (Pastry Shops)

Pasticceria da Te is small Trastevere shop goes almost unnoticed, as there is no signage out front. We tried some chiacchiere or crostoli, which are crispy fried snacks that are often eaten when celebrating Carnivale.

 

At Forno Campo de Fiori, we tried some little doughnut balls and other patries, like sfoglie.

VENICE

Un Mondo Vino

Happy hour is big in Venice. Wines are even cheaper than usual, and they serve up “chichetti” – which are pre-prepared savory snacks – to go with the wine.

We found this little hole in the wall, called “A World of Wine,” as we were walking around. It was filled with locals, so we knew we were in a good spot. We warmed up with some hot mulled spice wine, as it was below freezing and crazy windy that day.

Osteria Ai Promessi Sposi

This little joint, tucked away down a lonesome alley, was recommended by friends of ours as a great place to eat.

Venice is known for seafood, so that’s what we were after (though the steak on the menu was really tempting). We came here at 6pm, right when they opened, and it was still crowded. Usually people don’t eat dinner until about 8pm or 9pm. But now I know why it was so crowded – the food was amazing.

Super tender braised cuttlefish with a rich, buttery black ink sauce. Usually I hate ink sauces because they taste way too fishy. This was amazing. I was slurping it up.

My grilled calamari just didnt compare to that cuttlefish dish, but it was still excellent.

Starters were burrata and mixed seafood in broth.

Gam Gam

We stopped in this joint when another restaurant nearby that we wanted to try was too crowded. This is Israeli Kosher food. I wasn’t overly impressed, but the artichoke heart dishes were delicious. One fried, one sauteed.

We also had some meze type dips, and a pappardelle pasta dish with mushrooms.

La Cantina

This joint sort of fell flat for us. The meat platter was expensive, although it was good quality and all hand cut. The seafood platter was nice too, but way overpriced. Perhaps they were trying to recoup some funds after their flood a few years back.

Alla Palazzina

After meandering around Venice looking for a late night spot to eat, we stumbled across this corner joint. Ravioli with mushroom and truffle, and a scallop and shrimp dish.

Rialto Market

What an amazing market. Fresh produce and fresh fish. And the artichoke hearts!

And all around the area are cheese vendors and butcher shops, too. My kind of spot!

Yeah – that’s horse salami.

Coffee & Pastries

These coffee shops could put Starbucks out of business if they were in the US.

And the frittelle in Venice are fucking outstanding. They’re like zeppoli, kind of, but they are often made with a flavored dough or filled with raisins, nuts, etc.

Cookies that look like fish.

A lot of these shops also sell savory items too, like pizza and panini sandwiches. Venice style pizza is more like NY thin crust.

So freaking good.

MILAN

Meucci Pizza

This was a quick lunch. We each ordered a mini pie and shared. The pizza styles are different in every city. Rome was like puffy square (what we would call Sicilian), Venice was circular and flat (like NYC style, as I mentioned above) and Milan was somewhere right in between: circular and slightly puffy.

Salsamenteria di Parma

This is another one of those wine and meat shops I mentioned above. This one was incredible. We got so much food for $20, along with free amaro afterwards. I want to go back right now.

Osteria di Brera

For our last meal in Italy, we had to try the osso buco in Milan, which is supposed to be one of the region’s specialties. It was pretty tender and flavorful! Also hit some pasta as well.

Pasticcerie (Pastry Shops)

We did a lot of browsing in these hops. I think we had a bite at one spot but I can’t remember what or where.

Like all over Italy, the bakeries also sell savory breads.

Conclusion

Italy is absolutely amazing. On our next trip, we plan to hit six more distinct locations: Amalfi coast, Sicily, Tuscany, Florence, Lake Como and Capri.