Tag Archives: italian

Don Angie

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.

DON ANGIE
103 Greenwich Ave
New York, NY 10014

I Trulli

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.

I TRULLI
124 E 27th St
New York, NY 10016

Patavini

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.

Noi Due Carne

I’m always excited to discover a good new Italian place. Noi Due Carne really hits the high mark. Let me get right into it, before I reveal a surprise that I’m meaning to save until the end.

Fried baby artichokes:

I haven’t seen these since Rome, and they were every bit as good here as they were there. Perfectly golden crisp, expertly seasoned, and garnished with a bright citrusy sauce. I could eat this by the bucket.

Grilled marinated sweetbreads:

By far the best sweetbreads I have ever had. They were tender yet firm at the same time, not mushy and watery like other sweetbreads I’ve had. No sinew. All flavor. Amazing.

Spiced lamb flatbread:

You can pass on this. The dough or bread portion is just not up to par.

Beef carpaccio:

This was nicely drizzled with balsamic and had great texture from the crispy sweet potato.

Artichoke ravioli with a lemon and white wine sauce:

These were incredible. I get excited about anything artichoke-related, but my excitement is usually tempered by shitty execution. This place nails both artichoke dishes.

Cavatelli with short rib ragu:

Cavatelli is my favorite pasta. The beef was nicely prepared, and had a pop of interesting flavor from the pomegranate. I liked this.

This baby was made for going viral.

That may look like just an ordinary large meatball, but look inside:

That’s right. Spaghetti INSIDE your meatball!

Not really my cup of tea. Both components end up being a bit off when they’re cooked this way, and I feel like the dish is really only designed for the shock value of the presentation. The meatball itself was nice and spicy though, and the sauce on the plate was well prepared. This is probably something that’s fun to order for the kids though, since kids can sometimes be really picky eaters. Adults should pass on this. Especially men.

Half chicken al Mattone:

This had a great crispy skin on it. The chicken itself was a bit dry in parts, and I wasn’t the biggest fan of the sweet potato puree underneath. But overall this dish was delicious.

Veal Milanese:

This was perfect. Pounded thin and flat, lightly breaded, and fried to a beautiful golden crisp.

26oz rib eye for two:

This is pricey at nearly $130, but there was no waste on it and no bone to beef up the weight numbers.

This was a 9/10 too. The simple olive oil and sea salt preparation really allowed the quality of the beef (USDA prime) to shine. It even tasted dry aged to me.

On the side we had some veggies and fries. Both just okay.

Dessert consisted of some kind of stacked, light, airy pastry with some sort of whipped topping and fruit…

A chocolate mousse cake of come kind, with some kind of frozen treat on top – like an ice cream…

And fondue with frozen banana, ginger snap cookies, marshmallows and strawberries:

The reason I’m cryptic about the pastry and the cake/ice cream is because, well, this place is Kosher, and I really have no idea how they pulled off pastry, whipped cream, cake and ice cream without using dairy. My wife would know, but I haven’t the slightest. Everything was really good.

But yes, that’s right: This place is Kosher. That’s the surprise I hinted about up top. This was the best Kosher meal I’ve ever had in the city, and I think I’ve had three or four? I would definitely eat here again. The fried artichoke, the sweetbreads, the artichoke ravioli and the steak were all top notch amazing dishes. Don’t PASS OVER (KNEE SLAP!) this place just because it’s Kosher and Kosher joints have a reputation for bad food.

NOI DUE CARNE
143 W 69th St
New York, NY 10023

Lioni

Lioni is a famous place in Bensonhurst for sandwiches, mozzarella, and generally any Italian food specialties.

My wife and I stopped in here on the recommendation of a friend who grew up across the street. We ordered two sandwiches:

The Sophia Loren (#12) was made with prosciutto, fresh Lioni mozzarella, stuffed sweet peppers, lettuce, olive oil, salt and pepper.

This thing was awesome. At $16 and over a foot long it can feed two people with ease. The bread was superb, and the meat quality was awesome – no stringy bits, which is sometimes common with average, run of the mill prosciutto. They only use the good stuff here.

The other sandwich was one I concocted myself – generally a no-no in here as they like you to order by number (they have about 300 different sandwiches on the menu). It was bresaola, banana peppers and provolone.

The bresaola was incredible. This one cost $19 and that’s because the bresaola was so top notch. I’ve never had better. The sandwich, however, needed some kind of sauce or hydrating ingredient. I added a spicy honey at home and that seemed to do the trick nicely.

I highly recommend this deli. Great sandwiches!

LIONI
7803 15th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11228

Gene & Georgetti

Gene & Georgetti overall score: 77

Another old timey Chicago joint that my wife and I hit on our trip was Gene & Georgetti.

This Italian place has been slinging food since 1941 with steak as their specialty.

The air conditioning was indeed comfortable, as the front of the menu suggests. In any case, we did a somewhat smaller meal here, as we were still a bit full from lunch and I knew I wanted to get another Italian beef sandwich later that night.

Flavor: 6

We shared the smaller cut porterhouse, which is generally meant for one. I think it was 24oz.

It was cooked nicely to medium rare throughout, and it was tender. Every bit of it was devoured. The down side was that it didn’t have a great char on it, and the flavor was a little weak, though it was indeed properly seasoned. There is certainly potential here.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

This place covers the four steakhouse basics and then some, with different sizing of each. Most of the beef is wet-aged, with the exception of the tomahawk special.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

Portions are good here. No complaints whatsoever. I think the plating is typical of old time steak joints: a semi-fancy plate with the item plated neatly in the center.  No fluffy bullshit; I respect that.

Price: 8

At this point I was starting to get used to Chicago steakhouse pricing. The marked up items are generally the dry-aged stuff or the specials. The single cut porterhouse came in at about $55, which is closer to NYC pricing, but it did come with a soup or salad as well as a potato. Not too bad.

Bar: 7

The bar here is a mid-century modern stretch at which I would be happy to sit and have a drink.

There’s a great plaque on the wall at the bar with an excellent quote:

And as for the drinks themselves, they’re nicely mixed. I had a negroni since this is an Italian steakhouse. It was delicious.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

They had a few items on special. Let me grab the menu for you:

Maybe we should have tried that tomahawk.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7

Aside from dessert, we really only tried the soup, salad and potato that came with our entrees. They had a shrimp appetizer that sounded like scampi that seemed interesting to me. Next time.

Nothing too impressive here, but all of it reminded me of what my mom used to make at home when I was growing up. Just not quite as good. Their “Garbage Salad” sounded way more appealing, and we should have ordered that instead. It has all sorts of meats and cheeses in it, which would have been exactly like my mom’s. The potatoes were just under-seasoned and under-crisped. Mom’s are better than these too.

Dessert was great, and it was a much appreciated gift on the house.

That’s pistachio, coconut, chocolate and strawberry ice cream. Keeping it simple! I like it.

Seafood Selection: 8

There are a bunch of seafood entrees here, but we decided to try a seafood pasta for our second main course. A classic: linguini with white clam sauce.

This was great. Not only was there an abundance of clams in the shell, but the sauce was also made with minced clams as well. Very flavorful, with perfectly cooked pasta.

Service: 10

Top notch service here. Attention to detail, nice staff, and they pay attention to what you write on your OpenTable reservations. I was also a huge fan of their bread sticks.

Ambiance: 7

I love the old feel to this place, but I think it might be time for an update. The original touches and details can definitely remain, but maybe some spit shining can happen. I wish I was able to check out the upstairs, but it seemed like there was a private event going on up there. The two dining rooms downstairs were nice though.

GENE & GEORGETTI
500 N Franklin St
Chicago, IL 60654

Scampi

My buddy from Gotham Burger Social Club organized a kickass meal here at Scampi because he loved the place so much and wanted us to all try the greatness of PJ Calapa’s cooking.

We started with a round of seafood apps:

Razor Clams

These were my favorite. They were dressed with fennel, chives and prosciutto, and they were minced up with Manila clams and placed back into the shell. You could just shoot them rather than having to pry them from the shell and eat them in one big sloppy bite.

Fluke

This was a really nice, crisp and fresh crudo dish with tomatoes, castelvetrano olives and lime. Simple but perfect.

Mackerel

Mackerel is one of my least favorite fish to eat, but this preparation was nice – even with the eggplant in there, which I also usually dislike. Pine nuts, basil and tomato really brought his together.

Endive

While this wasn’t technically a seafood item, it contained anchovy in the “bagna cauda” dressing. The parmesan, fried capers and breadcrumbs gave it a really nice texture.

Next up was a selection of four pasta dishes:

Lumache

This had Manila clams, filone and tarragon pesto. This was a great, light clam sauce dish with perfectly cooked “large semi-elbows.”

Mafaldini Scampi

Long skinny lasagna style ribbon pasta with shrimp, parsley, buttre and lemon. Classic and so good.

Campanelle

Show stopper! The trumpet pasta was served in a buttery half-red sauce with fennel sausage, broccoli rabe and parmesan. It was perfect in every way.

Mezzaluna

Half-moon shaped ravioli filled with braised pork in a pomodoro sauce with pecorino. Really nicely executed.

Now on to the main entrée, the 60-day dry-aged tomahawk:

This beauty is only $135 for 42oz, but it’s limited availability, first come first serve, so you will need to ask them if they have any left if you want to try it (it isn’t on the regular menu). Pat LaFrieda, Creekstone Farms.

Chef PJ’s cooking technique is very involved on this beast. It sees constant movement and several methods of cooking, from the pan to the broiler to a butter bath. This is a 9/10.

We also had some nice sides with this steak:

Spring Onion

These roasted onions were plated with gorgonzola, aged balsamic and crispy shallots.

Asparagus

Simply grilled but then topped with cured, grated egg yolk, toasted almonds and tarragon. Even the veggies get creative techniques applied to them.

Roasted Potato

These came with shaved fennel and castelvetrano olives in a light lemon dressing.

For dessert, we tried three items:

Cannoli

These were some of the best I’ve ever had. Very classic treatment with chocolate chips and ricotta cream.

Torta

This was an olive oil cake with mascarpone, berries, almonds and strawberry swirl gelato.

Cassata

Semifreddo, dried apricot, pistachio, chocolate and almonds.

I highly recommend trying this place out. Everything I tasted was great – not one dish fell short or disappointed.

SCAMPI
30 W 18th St
New York, NY 10011

Perdinci Meats

I discovered Perdinci Meats at a food show in the Javitz center. I contacted their representative because I was really blown away by the quality of their meats, especially the dried, cured pork loin, or lonza. They sent me a variety pack of sample meats, including salami, guanciale (pork cheek), pork belly, that delicious lonza, and some softer spreadables like nduja and finocchiola.

These babies were tucked away in my fridge for quite a while, and I was happy to see that they held up just fine and didn’t spoil with proper storage.

The lonza is still my favorite, but all of the other products are excellent. I highly recommend this stuff.

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.