Tag Archives: kosher

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.

143 W 69th St
New York, NY 10023

Ben’s Best Kosher Deli

You can probably count on your hands the number of real-deal, old school, authentic Kosher delis that are still standing in the same place where they started decades if not centuries ago. Ben’s Best is one of those places.


Located out in Rego Park, Queens, it lacks just one thing that places like Katz and Carnegie have in spades: a massive line of tourists that trails out the door and down the block. This place is a small, quaint neighborhood spot that has withstood the test of time and NYC real estate economics for over 70 years, since 1945.

But more importantly, Ben’s Best is serving some really high quality deli fare. This was, hands down, some of the best pastrami I have ever tasted.




Better than Katz, better than Carnegie, better than 2nd Ave. They use a proprietary secret blend of spices to make it their own and differentiate their product from other delis, but the execution is really where it shines. It was juicy, thinly sliced, not fatty and super fucking tender.

I usually prefer corned beef over pastrami, any day of the week, but this place flipped my preference on its head. In fact I even put together a sandwich with both on it, because I was so torn:


Pastrami on top, corned beef on bottom:


Absolutely magnificent, and it wouldn’t be a meal without some pickles and cole slaw:


And if that’s not what gets you going at a deli, then check out this platter of beef cold cuts:


On the far left (above) is rolled beef, something you really can’t find anywhere else that I know of. It’s a deli meat made from shoulder and rib meats that are rolled into a log and then sliced for sandwiches. It’s amazing. Going from left to right (below) we also have thin sliced brisket, roast beef and beef tongue.


That tongue was outstanding, by the way. It almost tasted like really good ham. So for all you Jews out there who keep Kosher but often wonder what ham tastes like, it tastes like Ben’s Best beef tongue.

This joint also does BBQ brisket sliders, which rival any smoke house I’ve been to in the city. Crazy good.


Ben’s is clearly a meat lover’s wet dream, but let me drop some other shit on you guys too. This is a plate of cabbage stuffed with chopped meat. It has an almost sweet flavor from the tomato and carrot sauce in which the meat is stewed.



Beef goulash on egg noodles. Simple and delicious. The meat was so incredibly tender.


Chopped liver:


A mix of sweet potato and regular french fries:


And of course Jewish Penicillin, aka matzoh ball soup:


I was invited here for an Instagram influencer event, so I ate for free, but I wholeheartedly recommend this place. It was a quick 30 minute subway ride on the R from midtown Manhattan, and the subway stop is directly below the restaurant. Not too bad. I’ll definitely be back for that amazing pastrami.


96-40 Queens Blvd
Queens, NY 11374

Koshe Poke

Koshe Poke is a Kosher poke joint inside Eden Wok on East 34th Street. Poke has skyrocketed in popularity here in NYC. We went from no poke restaurants to about 10 or more, seemingly overnight.

For the uninitiated, poke is essentially chopped up raw, dressed fish with flavorful toppings. It’s actually a Hawaiian dish, so many of the flavors and toppings are Asian/Japanese inspired, like sesame oil, soy sauce and green onions.

In many ways it’s similar to tartare preparations of salmon and tuna, only it is generally cut into larger pieces and dressed with more items. Here in NYC, it is more like a “sushi salad,” since often times the poke is thrown into a bowl with rice, quinoa or greens. It’s even showing up in burrito form now, too.

In any case, I’ve had poke a few times before the craze finally made it to NYC. Back in the mid/late 90’s, my sister lived in Hawaii for a stretch of about four years. That’s really when I first became aware of the dish, just from talking with her and having the topic of food come up on occasion.

My experience with poke in Hawaii was a mediocre one. The dish I tried contained ahi that was a bit stringy in spots, so I was a little bummed out. In fairness, I probably should have tried it in more places when I was there.

Koshe Poke is the first NYC poke joint that I’ve tried since the trend took hold. I liked it. The fish tasted fresh and was good quality, and the toppings were all flavorful and highly varied.


The concept is simple, and highly customizable. You start with a choice of either brown rice, white rice, greens or a burrito as the “base” of your poke meal. While this is not in keeping with the traditional ways of Hawaii, it makes the poke more like a full meal rather than a side or salad item.


Then you choose your protein from among items like tuna, salmon, and yellow tail. You can get them grilled too if you want, and you can add additional proteins for just $2.

After, you can choose up to six add-ins from a selection of 13, one sauce, four toppings, and a choice of two crispy items from a selection of 12. You get all of this for just $12, which is a great deal.

I went with tuna and salmon on white rice, with carrot, cucumber, avocado, sweet corn, scallion and hearts of palm. I chose the Hawaiian salt sauce, topped it with wasabi, and added sesame seeds and dry noodles as my crispy elements.


I was happy with this bowl, and kept referring to it as a “sushi salad.”


One suggestion I have is that they should have the option to get the rice served cold, that way the cold items like raw fish stay chilled and don’t warm up in the bowl from the warm rice. The main issue with that, though, is that cold rice tends to clump together and get sticky, which could be problematic. In any case, this is a good riff on poke, and I’m glad to see the item establishing a solid presence in NYC.

43 E 34th St
New York, NY 10016

Hummus 21

I recently had the opportunity to eat at this really nice Kosher Mediterranean joint over on 1st Avenue between 57th and 58th for a press dinner.


The restaurant is simply and elegantly decorated with white table cloths, white textured wainscoting on the walls, and a patterned tin ceiling. Wide glass windows open out to the sidewalk along 1st Avenue to give the restaurant an airy, street-side feel without the hassle of being on the sidewalk, in the sun, or bumped by passers by.


There’s a private room in the back for parties and events, which can accommodate about 20-25 people. The restaurant also offers daily happy hour specials, as you can see from the chalkboard below:


Although they are not yet open for lunch, they do offer a brunch menu on weekends.

Chef/owner Sam is a young man of 25 years, but he’s been working in kitchens and learning the trade since he was 15, via his father. He spent time running a restaurant in London before he opened up shop here in NYC just six months back. He keeps a small, skilled team by his side, and he runs the show on everything from the apps through desserts. Yes: he even makes all desserts in-house. Pretty impressive for someone so young. He’s truly a skilled chef, and the meal demonstrated to me that he can cook anything and cook it well, to boot.

Whenever I dig on Kosher food, I’m typically apprehensive, because I always feel like a restaurant will have to sacrifice something in the flavor department in order to satisfy the Kosher dietary requirements. That is NOT the case with Hummus 21. Everything I sampled here was incredible, and I tried a lot of stuff from the menu, as you’ll see below. Everything was fresh, well balanced, light and healthy. The short summary is that I would definitely eat here again, and again, and again.

Tables are set with a nice bottle of olive oil and some fresh olives for snacking, and the wine list features a variety of nice selections from all over the world, including a great Israeli pinot noir and a light rose.


First, we sampled four types of hummus with some fresh pita bread.


The first was topped with white tahini, olive oil and toasted pine nuts. This had a very creamy, traditional flavor to it.


The next one was topped with Moroccan style chicken, tahini and a chimichurri sauce. This was probably my favorite of the four. Each bite offered a dynamic range of flavors and textures.


The third was my next favorite, which was topped with a spicy jalapeno sauce, garlic, cilantro and olive oil. Absolutely delicious. I can eat it all day long!


The last hummus selection was topped with whole chic peas, tahini and some lemon juice. Really nice pop from the lemon.


Our next items were golden-brown falafel footballs. These came with a really nice green dipping sauce. They were perfectly cooked: crispy on the outside but still flavorful and juicy on the inside.


This next dish was beautifully presented – an appetizer sampler with six different items:


First was a lentil kofta: a lentil cake fried with chic pea flour. This was probably one of my top three selections of the night. It was so tasty, light and crispy.


Next was the bureka duo. One was filled with potato, and the other with mushroom. These reminded me of knish, only very tasty and with a nice, flaky puff pastry and sesame crust on the outside.


Third was the kibbe, which was ground, spiced beef battered with wheat flour and fried to a golden brown crisp. These were amazing. I could easily see these selling like wild if they were served on a stick from a food cart or food truck. Could be the next big craze to sweep the city!


The dolma (grape leaves filled with basmati rice) had a slightly sweet note to them, and were drizzled with tahini sauce. Very good.


Next was briwat, aka Moroccan beef cigars! These were like spiced beef egg rolls, only not greasy, and very light and crispy.


Last was this Israeli chopped salad, which was comprised of tomato, cucumber, onion, parsley, olive oil, lemon vinaigrette and mint. Very refreshing, and a great way to cleanse the palette before the main courses come out to the table.


For the entrees, we sampled three plates. First was Mediterranean red chicken: boneless chicken thigh served on a sizzling skillet with both sweet and hot peppers, cilantro and onion. This was really juicy and flavorful. Perfectly cooked, it was probably my favorite item of the night.


The second entree was sen’ya, which is a 50/50 ground beef and lamb mixture, formed into a patty and grilled, topped with tahini, and garnished with roasted pine nuts and a side of couscous. These were great; and that means something coming from a meat aficionado such as myself. I instantly started thinking of how amazing this would be if served on a bun with some lettuce, tomato, and tahini sauce: like a Mediterranean burger. The char on the patty was so perfect. It added a great texture to the outside, and the inside had such a unique flavor combination of Mediterranean and middle eastern spices. Highly recommended.


Last was a rice and lentil dish with tahini sauce, topped with fried onions and served with a spiral cut salad of carrot and cucumber, which was lightly pickled and flavored with lemon.


Sam had stepped up his game with each item that came to the table, so I wasn’t surprised at the quality of the food when the desserts came out. Everything was beautiful, unique, and delicious. First was kadaif, a Lebanese vanilla soy cream cake served on top of shredded filo dough and drizzled with tahini. This was my favorite of the desserts. It was cold, crunchy, creamy, and sweet, with just a hint of salt that made all the flavors jump out.


My next favorite was the traditional baklava. This was executed perfectly. It was light and not too sweet or drenched in honey, as so many other baklava desserts can be. I loved it.


This malabi custard had a light vanilla flavor, topped with shredded coconut and rose water sauce that really made it stand out as one of the most unique items of the night.


The chocolate molten lava cake was rich and decadent, and came with little wedges of homemade halva, which I was excited to see! I used to love it as a child and I hardly ever see it anymore these days.


Our host ordered a Moroccan tea, which comes presented in a beautiful pot with a really fancy little cup. Very nice!


So that about does it for Hummus 21. I hope you guys get a chance to check this place out. If you’re like me, and you don’t follow any sort of Kosher dietary restrictions, I promise you will still love the food here. Everything is absolutely delicious.


Talia’s Steakhouse & Bar

Recently I picked up a Groupon for this joint when they offered a pretty sweet deal: One app, two entrees/steaks, and two sides for something like $65. I figured that was a steal at more than half off the face value of the menu items. The place is Kosher, so I went with a buddy of mine who keeps to the old ways.

Talia’s has a very neighborhood, home style feel to it. Lots of regulars come in, and they even have live music on many nights during the week.

I had read online that some people didn’t like the service in here, but our waitress was friendly and accommodating, as were the people at the host and reservation table. I guess there’s a lesson here: never trust the morons on Yelp.

So on to the meat and potatoes (literally)…

The table bread here was really unique. This fluffy, semi-flat, naan-like bread had a half-sweet flavor quality to it, but that “butter” you see on the right was incredible. It’s not butter, by the way, because butter is dairy, and, in Kosher cuisine, dairy can not be mixed with the beef. Anyway it was salty, herby, really smooth and spreadable. Perhaps based from olive oil? I was devouring this shit:

talias 3

You can even see the little oven thing where they make and heat the bread as you walk into the entrance door. It takes up some real estate at the end of the bar:

talias 7

Next was the app: we went with the hummus and mushrooms dish. This came with more of the aforementioned bread. The flavor was excellent on this. The hummus was smooth and the mushroom and onion mix on top reminded me of gravy. If this was slathered onto some fried chicken, you’d think you were eating a middle eastern or Mediterranean southern fusion dish. It may look like vomit, but I assure you it tasted great. Both of us kist kept going back into this for more. But beware – it is very filling:

talias 2

I ordered the grilled prime rib for one (16oz). It came out on a sizzling hot cast iron plate and smelled delicious. The meat was cooked slightly above how I like it (medium instead of medium rare), but that’s probably due to the residual heat of the cast iron plate. As you can see below, it came to me pretty correct in terms of temperature. The only down side was that it was slightly gamey.

talias 1

It came with a choice of sides. I went with salad since we were already getting other sides with the Groupon meal. This was a basic mixed greens type of thing. Nothing too fancy or anything, and it definitely fits with the neighborhood, home-style, mom & pop type of restaurant feel.

talias 6

My buddy got the butcher’s steak, which is a hanger. It was cooked to his liking at medium, had a great charred crust on the outside. I felt it just lacked a little bit of salt in terms of seasoning. His dish came with sautéed kale, which neither of us liked as much as the spinach (below). Something was missing on that – perhaps it needed some pepper or salt.

talias 5

talias 9

The spinach was a basic garlic and oil sautee. Pretty solid:

talias 4

And the fries were golden and crisp. Nicely done:

talias 8

Overall this place was actually pretty good given the limited menu options for a non-Kosher guy like me. I was happily surprised, as I was expecting the worst based on some of the reviews out there. I was satisfied and felt like I got my money’s worth. While it’s difficult for me to fit this into the standard steakhouse review format, I will give it a shot below.

Talia’s overall score: 58

Flavor: 6 – see notes above.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 6 – basically, we are working with only rib cuts, a hanger, and some form of knock-off tenderloin, since Kosher butchery requirements make it very difficult to extract the filet without running afoul of the system. There is no strip either.

Portion Size & Plating: 5 – basic plating with smaller than usual portions, but this is a low key, neighborhood family type of joint. I wasn’t expecting 24oz rib eyes.

Price: 7 – fair prices given the Groupon. Otherwise it may seem a bit overpriced. However they run the special quite often, so keep an eye out for that if you are considering this joint. You get a lot of food for that Groupon meal.

Bar: 5 – there are only about three or four spots at the bar.

Specials & Other Meats: 7 – there was definitely an entire page of special menu items and even cocktails. As far as other meats go, there was definitely a selection for those not wanting beef (lamb, chicken, etc).

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 6 – a good showing, but nothing to really go bonkers about. The hummus was nice though.

Seafood Selection: 2 – There’s only two salmon dishes, so it’s sort of a weak showing. However, certain items that you typically find in steakhouses, like shellfish, are not Kosher, so they can’t be on the menu.

Service: 8 – Service was good. I don’t know what all the Yelping was about. We enjoyed our meal, the people were nice and we felt warmly welcomed. There are no waiters sitting around preparing themselves to swap your fork out or fold your napkin when you get up, but the water glass was always full, and we never felt like we were waiting around for service. Everything was as it should have been.

Ambiance: 6 – It was crowded, which is not a bad thing, but the tables were a little cramped. Since this is a local neighborhood joint, you are not going to get the crazy, opulent steakhouse vibe like you would down in Tribeca or midtown.

668 Amsterdam Ave.
New York, NY 10025

Kosher Steak

NYC has seen a recent spike in high end, good quality Kosher restaurants, particularly of the steakhouse variety. I’m talking about places like Prime at The Bentley Hotel on the east side, and Prime KO (Japanese inspired) and Talia’s on the west side. Shit, even Strip House offers a Kosher steak on the menu in midtown. I was intrigued by some of the things my buddy was telling me while we chomped away on the tasty Kosher beef at Prime at The Bentley Hotel. He now keeps Kosher, and he knows I’m a steak man, so a Kosher steakhouse was naturally a perfect fit for this bro-date. I had always thought to myself that Kosher simply meant a Rabbi had to bless the slaughter according to a specific process, and of course the prohibition on certain foods, but there’s much more to it than that. I have to hand it to those who make the effort to keep Kosher. I applaud your willpower and your dedication. I’d have serious trouble with several of these. Read on to get the basic Johnny Prime primer on what Kosher looks like through the eyes of a meat-loving gentile.

Clean Animals vs Unclean Animals
An animal is considered clean, and therefore okay to eat, if it “chews the cud” and has a cloven hoof. That means no pigs, rabbits, squirrels, bears, camels, elephants, etc., among others. Wait, wait, wait a second, Moishe… no pigs? EVER? Yeah, that’s right. NO PORK, which means NO BACON! Which means NO FUN! I kid. Beef bacon is a really fucking nice alternative, and so is duck bacon.

Ritual Slaughter
Shechita is the method by which the slaughterer severs the jugular vein, carotid artery, esophagus, and trachea in a single continuous motion with an un-serrated knife. Think Patrick Bateman.

Then the carcass is checked for diseases and injuries to make sure it wasn’t going to die within a year, which would make the meat unsuitable. It is forbidden to consume certain parts of the animal, such as certain fats and the sciatic nerves from the legs. As much blood as possible must be removed, but blood inside the meat is okay – YAY FOR MEDIUM RARE! However only the fore-quarter of the animal is used (front). That means no loin/short loin, flank, sirloin, or rump. Dayummm!

“Winged Creatures”
No bats, birds that eat fish, or birds of prey. More Patrick Bateman, I mean Bruce Wayne, references.

“Creeping Things”
No bugs other than locusts or whatever may be living inside a fruit. I immediately wondered if this included fungus, mold or bacteria. If so, that would be bad news for the aging process of beef, and anything with mushrooms or truffles. The answer is that those are all okay. Whew!

Meat & Cheese Combo
No Meat & Cheese together – DOH! But you CAN have cheese either 1 or 6 hours (depending on how safe you want to be about it) before eating the meat – just don’t mix. Apparently you can’t have the meat before the cheese, because the meat takes longer to digest and will ultimately be mixing with the cheese in your gullet. So get cheese in the app, not in the dessert. Biggest problem here: NOOOOO CHEESEBURGERRRRS, MAAAAAAN!

Shrimp? Oysters? Clams? LOBSTER?!??
Of course, the Bible says no Shellfish – DOH!


“Torn by Beasts”
Another interesting item for discussion is how the Good Book also says that people shouldn’t eat already-dead animals that have been partially eaten by other animals. I’d say it’s probably a good idea to avoid carrion anyway. I suppose there should be exceptions for starving people wandering through the dessert, like Bear Grylls.

But the upside is that it looks like Moses was wise enough to bring some non-perishables with him on that whole Exodus thing. Yes… Twinkies are apparently Kosher.

Serious photo credit goes to The Internet on this post. I’m not that funny. These images, however, are. The drawing at the top of the page was done by my brother. You can see more of his sick artwork at DeviantArt.