Tag Archives: mussels

Ama Raw Bar

First, check out my awesome Ride & Review video for this joint HERE:

Ama Raw Bar has two locations. I met my wife here for happy hour at the alphabet city location to try some of their cocktails and discounted bites. Everything was good. We started with oysters ($1.25ea).

Then we moved on to this nice batter-fried shrimp.

This rice paper chicken quesadilla was unique, but I think it would be excellent if they fried the rice paper wrapper.

The cod cake was nice, a different sort of take on a crab cake using salt cod.

The Szechuan dry rub wings needed a hit of salt and some of that mala numbing spice to really make them perfect. Otherwise, good cook and crunch on them.

“Luscious Mussels” come with a broiled lobster tail and nori fries. These were probably our favorite dish of the night.

Definitely would go back to try the lobster ramen, and also perhaps to try their other west village location.

AMA RAW BAR
190 Avenue B
New York, NY 10009

Sagaponack

First, check out my Ride & Review video HERE:

My buddy Herb (@thesocialpause) invited me and The Cake Dealer here to help promote and take pictures of the new Sagaponack menu item for the 4th of July holiday weekend: A massive Korean inspired seafood boil, chock full of shrimp, mussels, lobster, manila clams, andouille sausage, corn and potatoes. It was a monster of a dish.

We made a huge dent in this, especially with the help of our other friends Jae (owner and chef at Nowon) and his wife Rebecca (an Instagram food buddy of ours from WAY back). We probably could have finished if we didn’t eat so much other stuff before it came out. At $35/pp this seafood boil is a steal, though. Look at this mountain:

Here’s what we had BEFORE the boil came out:

Two raw starters (fluka tartare and salmon crudo):

Some fried goodness (chicken, calamari, artichokes):

Tons of seafood (Spanish style shrimp, escargot style oysters, manila clams, and broiled oysters):

For dessert we had creme brulee topped with strawberries and a Thai tea milk cake (the cake was INCREDIBLE!).

I can’t wait to go back and try more. They have ‘nduja mussels as well as a hanger steak frites that I’d like to try in particular.

SAGAPONACK
4 W 22nd St
New York, NY 10010

Kobo by Nai

The best way to get a feel for this restaurant is to watch my Ride & Review video on YouTube:

But for the traditionalists out there, here’s a breakdown of everything we had:

STARTERS

1. Oysters

These were beautifully presented.

2. Croquettes

Seriously delicious and addictive. The outer shell is thin and crispy, and inside is a delicious explosion of high end Spanish ham and cheese.

3. Mortadella

Yes. With some creamy ricotta on the bottom, this really took the starters over the top.

4. Iberico Ham

This was some seriously high quality stuff. Melts in your mouth!

PASTA

1. Cavatelli

I really dig this spicy beef version of my favorite pasta style, cavatelli.

2. Pappardelle

Probably one of the top three dishes of the night. The Iberico pork ragu was nuts!

3. Curry Lamb Bechamel Lasagna

This is a game changer! Make sure you get this. If you like cumin lamb szechuan noodles, you will love this Italian take on it.

4. Fideua

This squid ink “pasta paella” was my favorite dish of the night. The squid was perfectly cooked, and the pasta was so tasty.

MEAT MAINS

1. Iberico Pork Meatballs

This works as a shared starter too, but I could eat this every day. This is also top three of the meal.

2. Short Rib

So tender and flavorful. Ruben does a similar dish at his other restaurants and all of them are great.

3. Chicken Milanese

This could benefit from a slightly flatter pounding, but there was a sweetness to this from either apricot or honey that was incredible.

SEAFOOD MAINS

1. Whole Fish

Perfectly deboned and beautifully presented.

2. Mussels

Save some sourdough bread to drag through the deeply flavorful sauce that comes with the perfectly cooked mussels.

3. Shrimp

These Spanish style garlic and spicy oil shrimp were absolutely perfect.

VEG

We had the broccolini with Romesco sauce. Even the veg here is off the charts good.

The radicchio salad was also really nice, with poached pears and walnuts.

I’ve said it before with Nai, Emilia and Amigo: Ruben deserves a Michelin star at his restaurants. Everything he puts out is delicious and innovative. He’s one of the city’s most under the radar chefs. So much talent! I highly recommend all four of his restaurants.

KOBO BY NAI
202 Avenue A
New York, NY 10009

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

Il Tinello East

My buddy Benny from Greenwich Steakhouse opened up a second location of the Italian joint Il Tinello. Benny is second from the right in this picture, next to me. Ask for him when you go, and tell him I sent you!

The menu and ambiance here are a little different from the original location. It feels like a more lively restaurant with a younger crowd. It was packed both at the bar and at the tables on a Wednesday night.

The bartender AJ has a nine year pedigree at Benjamin Prime, and he mixes up some excellent cocktails. Ask him about his mezcal negroni and “new fashioned” drinks.

Don’t skip on this meat martini waterfall thing. Great selection of olives, cheeses and peppers to go with the hand cut prosciutto.

Table bread service comes with an eggplant and tomato dip, and nice freshly made bruschetta.

We started with the special oysters Rockefeller, which were awesome. Nice crispy pancetta on top!

We followed these with baked clams oreganata and beef carpaccio.

For a mid course, we tried three pastas. The favorite of the table was probably this orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sausage. Just like mom makes.

These crab ravioli on special were incredible as well. They had a nice robust, clean crab flavor. Not too heavy with a light creamy pesto sauce.

The tagliolini with seafood is PACKED with chopped scallops, mussels, and shrimp. Great stuff.

For our mains, we tried two veal dishes. The first was a delicious glazed rib chop.

So tender and perfectly cooked to medium rare inside.

We also had the bone-in veal parm that was on special.

This was massive! Definitely something to share with your date.

For dessert, we tried the creme brulee, Italian cheesecake, tira misu and panna cotta. I think my favorite was either the tira misu or the panna cotta.

Great meal with a great old friend. I’m happy for the success of his new venture here at Il Tinello. I’ll definitely be back again soon!

IL TINELLO EAST
244 E 46th St
New York, NY 10017

Nice Matin

My wife and I were recently invited into Nice Matin to help promote their Provencal menu in their celebration of Bastille Day.

I’ll say this: Nice Matin is the best French joint in the restaurant group’s ownership among other French joints (L,Express, Cafe D’Alsace, and Le Monde).

We tried a few small bites and drinks from that menu, and, of course, the strip steak frites from the regular menu.

First, we started with some Ricard, which was sponsoring the evening’s French kick-off night. Some diners win goodie bags, and you can enter for a chance to win a trip to France.

Tapenade:

Mussels:

Squash Blossom Beignets:

Onion Tart:

All of those were on the special menu, and all were really good. I think the favorites, for me, were the onion tart and the tapenade, but the squash blossoms were really light and tasty and the mussels were really nice.

The steak was a solid 8/10. The meat was super tender, and I really only took points off because the cook was a little bit over what I asked (medium rare).

The fries were perfectly cooked, but the addition of the Provencal herbs (like lavender) was a little bit aggressive.

For dessert we tried a sesame panna cotta and an olive oil cake. Both were really great, both flavor-wise and texture-wise.

Also, really nice bread here. Warm and tasty.

I definitely recommend this joint for anyone looking for some good classic French fare in the neighborhood.

NICE MATIN
201 W 79th St
New York, NY 10024

Le Monde

Le Monde is a French bistro up on 112th and Broadway. They serve up classic French fare in a nice environment.

I went in to try their steak frites, mussels and burger. Here’s how it went down:

This is a shell steak, which is usually used to describe strip loin, though not always. Based on the shape, tenderness and quality of the cut, I’d say this was indeed a strip loin, so I’ll include it with my rankings of strip steaks for category purposes.

The meat quality is pretty good. Not much fat or gristle. Good texture and tenderness, and it even comes with marrow.

No dry aging, but I wasn’t expecting much for a $30 plate with fries and sauces. 7/10.

A post shared by Johnny Prime (@johnnyprimecc) on

My wife had the mussels. These were pretty good, and the broth is great for eating with the table bread or simply a spoon.

I also tried the house burger, which is topped with roasted tomato, gruyere, onion and lettuce. Not pictured are the fries and Bernaise sauce that come with it for just $15.50.

Not too bad at all! Though it was a bit too tall for regular “by-hand” eating.  used a fork and knife, otherwise it would have been all over my beard.

We also tried their house made foie gras terrine.

You can tell this was home made due to the chunks of organ meat within the terrine. It wasn’t as smooth as I had hoped, but my wife liked it very much and she’s more of a traditionalist on this stuff.

For dessert, the chef made us some special custard-filled crepes that were topped with an orange mango glaze.

Overall this was a good meal. I recommend this joint if you’re in the area and looking for a classic but casual French joint.

LE MONDE
2885 Broadway
New York, NY 10025

Esperanto

Esperanto is a fun, brightly colored Brazilian and South American food joint on 9th and C.

The open and inviting bar boasts a nice selection of unique cocktails, like the mazcalita, made with mescal, lime juice and ginger (right).

There’s even some hard to find Brazilian beers available, like Xingu and Itaipava.

For just $2 you can get these all served michelada style (with lime and tomato juice, which I love).

The first thing that Chef Cesar brought to the table was this really nice country style bread with their house made dipping oil, which is also available for sale by the bottle.

It’s infused with peppercorn, garlic, fennel, red pepper and herbs. It is absolutely delicious. I’ll definitely be going back to buy a bottle of this delicious potion.

My wife and I started with two apps. First was the fried goat cheese salad with cashew pesto.

This was really awesome. I’m usually not a huge fan of goat cheese, but this was so smooth and creamy inside. It was a great contrast to the crisp outside. And that pesto? Green gold!

This next app is far and away the best preparation of mussels that I’ve ever eaten. They’re roasted in a half shell and baked with garlic, paprika, butter and parmesan cheese.

Similar to escargot, this dish really packed a wallop of flavor, especially when you hit it with some of the fresh lime and cilantro. The parmesan turns into a really nice, crust over the top, adding another textural element of crunch.

It’s funny, too, because I was just explaining escargot to someone the other day who had never eaten them. I described it as being like mussels, but baked with butter, garlic and herbs as opposed to steamed in a pot.

We tried two entrees. First was the moqueca, a traditional South American stew made with coconut milk, ginger, cashews and spices.

We chose shrimp as the main protein, but you can also choose snapper or a mix of snapper and shrimp. This dish reminded us of a Thai or Indian curry dish, but less spicy. However, the “fixins” will set that distinction aside some, as this dish comes with a jar of pickled hot peppers and farofa (cassava meal starch, for thickening the stew is desired). Add one or both to your desired levels of spice and/or thickness.

We also tried the Argentinian style grilled hanger steak.

This comes with homemade guacamole and chimichurri sauce, a side of rice, and a side of stewed black beans.

The steak comes out pre-sliced and cooked to a nice medium rare. When you slather the sauce and guac onto a slice of steak, you’re entering a blissful and exciting meat eating experience. The flavors really pop!

For dessert we tried two items; the homemade coconut flan and the chocolate lava cake. I’m usually not a fan of lava cake, mostly because it is never executed correctly and the middle firms up too much. That wasn’t the case here. The inside was warm and ooey-gooey, and the vanilla ice cream was the perfect way to cool down after each mouth-warming bite.

The coconut flan was awesome! It had a really nice firm, custardy texture. It had threads of fresh coconut mixed into the custard too, to offer an additional pop of coconut flavor with each bite.

This was a great meal, and I look forward to going back. Esperanto has daily happy hour specials, and nightly entertainment like bands and DJs. It’s really a great place. They even have a fresh juice bar off to the side of the restaurant.

Give this place a shot!

ESPERANTO
145 Avenue C
New York, NY 10009

Jubilee

Jubilee is a gorgeously decorated midtown east French restaurant that was founded by Eric Macaire, and is co-owned with Chef Luc Holie and his spouse Ilda. When you step into this joint, you feel like you’ve entered someone’s home, and are dining in their living room. Not only is the decor and atmosphere inviting, but the staff is very warm and friendly as well.

Jubilee is known for offering a variety of fresh steamed mussels in delicious sauces. There’s even a special, separate menu that’s dedicated to just mussels! If you’re like me and you can’t decide between the nine sauces, you can get a trio of mini pots to try. I suggest going with a group of people, that way you can get three trios to share as an app; you’ll be able to try all nine varieties!

My wife and I had the dijonnaise, curry and truffle chicken sauces. All were excellent but we liked the truffle chicken the best. What’s cool about the trio is that they remove all the mussels from their shells, so the juicy bivalves are swimming in pure flavor. And there’s a LOT of them in each cup; don’t be deceived!

A full size order of these will come with shells on, in a pretty metal pot. That’s more traditional. But I think the trio is a better value.

They also have some excellent prix fix offerings, both for lunch and dinner. For example, the dinner prix fix includes two courses and a beer/glass of wine. Not bad at all, considering they don’t cut corners on the selections or portion sizes. I’ll take mussels, a hanger steak with fries and a beer any day for under $30. That’s great!

Speaking of steak and fries, they serve up a pretty great boneless “cote de boeuf” rib eye frites here.

That’s a lot of fries! And they are perfectly golden crisp, to boot, and well seasoned. The steak is about an inch thick and 14oz. It had a great sear on the outside but maintained a perfectly pink medium rare on the inside. 8/10. Better than many midtown steakhouses.

Add the complimentary green peppercorn or bernaise sauce on top and you’re in heaven. Those sauces are great for fry dipping too.

Speaking of dipping, I couldn’t stop myself from dipping the fresh country style table bread into my wife’s platter of escargot that she got for her app. The buttery, garlicky, herby sauce was addicting!

And speaking of the bread, it was served with a smooth, spreadable soft butter. I hate when the butter is hard!

But I can’t forget to tell you about my app: the foie gras terrine. It was so incredibly smooth and flavorful, and so incredibly velvety and decadent. I highly recommend it.

We also sampled the grilled leek salad, which comes topped with a pair of fried quail eggs for good measure. I’m typically not a fan of leek texture – a bit too woody for me – but these took on an almost braised quality, and, as such, were super tender and flavorful.

Not only was the food good here at Jubilee, but it was also beautifully presented and plated. For example, take a look at this sea scallop and orzo dish.

Absolutely stunning, not to mention the perfect sear on those babies. And that sauce you see around the risotto was an earthy truffle and porcini blend that was drinkable.

No French meal would be complete without some house made French desserts. For me, creme brulee is an old standby that never disappoints. Here, it was smooth, rich with flavor, and perfectly caramelized on top.

But, rarely seen on menus is a Paris-Brest. I was excited to see it here. It was so light and airy, yet it still packed a walloping punch of flavor. That might have been my favorite of the desserts. It was really pretty, too.

And finally, warm chocolate cake with ice cream. Pure decadence. It was so soft and chocolately inside. It was kind of hard to pull away from this and eat the other stuff.

Dessert also came with these tiny little soft lemon cookie/cake hybrids. There’s a fancy French name for them, but a big, doofy, arrogant, proud American ogre like me doesn’t know it off hand and is too lazy to go looking for it.

In any case, this place is one of my favorite French restaurants now. They have weekly specials mapped out for the entire month. Right now is coq au vin, and later in the month there’s a beef bourgignon. I may have to go back very soon! I hope you go as well.

JUBILEE
948 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10022

75 on Liberty Wharf

Brunch in Boston, at the Fish Pier, needs to consist mainly of seafood. Despite being directly across the street from Del Friscos, we had to hit this joint and see what was what.

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Everything we tried here was excellent. The first thing we sunk our teeth into were these little doughnut/croissant/danish things that come to the table in a metal basket.

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There were amazing. Sticky, not too sweet, bite-sized and covered with nuts of some sort.

I ordered the mussels, which came in a really nice, spicy tomato-based broth with chorizo. Seriously some of the best I’ve had.

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My wife ordered lobster eggs benedict, which came with breakfast sausage and hash browns as well. This was a lot of food for $20. The lobster was supple and juicy, and the eggs were cooked nicely.

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My wife’s uncles split an order of fish and chips and an order of the seafood stew. Unfortunately I didn’t get a shot of the golden, crispy-fried cod and french fries, but I did get a pic of one of the bowls of stew (they split it out into two bowls).

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75 ON LIBERTY WHARF
220 Northern Ave
Boston, MA 02210