This old school Italian joint is known for having some great parms, whether it’s chicken, veal, eggplant or whatever. Of the three I tried, the veal with vodka sauce, peas and prosciutto took home the win and beat out both the standard chicken and veal varieties.
The meal began with an awesome platter of antipasto (probably the best I’ve had) meatballs, and baked clams oreganata.
We tried three different pasta dishes: cacio e pepe, carbonara, and linguine with clams. Of these, I will throw down with the carbonara every time.
The star of the mains, however, was not the veal parm, but, rather, a special double cut pork chop that was prepared with vinegar cherry peppers. Awesome, and cooked perfectly. The photo doesn’t do it justice.
This is definitely a place you’ll want to go to repeatedly to take advantage of both the great regular menu items as well as the daily specials.
55 E. Houston St
New York, NY 10012
The moment you step inside Carbone you are instantly transported.
The dimly lit but lively dining room is both an homage to your Italian grandmother’s house as well as the restaurant where Michael shoots Sollozzo and McCluskey in The Godfather.
The place is immediately familiar and cozy. You may even recognize furniture and light fixtures if you grew up around Italian-Americans.
The music is all the great crooner hits from your favorite mob movies like Goodfellas, with some doo-wop classics from Bronx Tale mixed in. Not too loud, not too soft. And the food is some of the best red sauce Italian-American cuisine I’ve ever had.
The sharply dressed, deep burgundy tuxedo-clad servers will first bring to the table a basket of tomato focaccia, garlic bread and sliced Italian bread.
There’s also a plate of pickled cauliflower to snack on, some locally made finocchiona salami, and of course a nice hunk of parmigiano reggiano cheese.
We started with the truffle emulsion Piedmontese beef carpaccio, which is served with some peppery arugula, walnuts, chives, coarse salt, sliced mushrooms and a generous drizzle of some killer olive oil. This was hands down the best carpaccio dish I’ve ever had.
Their baked clams are pretty great as well. My favorite of the three styles is that center one, topped with pesto and uni. Absolutely awesome.
We tried three pasta dishes, because we are savage animals. The first was the spicy rigatoni vodka, which they describe as being “part of the DNA” of Carbone.
This was perfect. Perfectly spicy sauce, perfectly cooked pasta. Easily one of the best pasta dishes I’ve had this year. This is a must order pasta dish when you dine here. Even if you split it as an appetizer or something. Get that Carbone DNA in your mouth!
Next was the orecchiette with beans and cabbage.
This seasonal pasta was mildly reminiscent of the “pasta e fagiole” that I ate growing up, only with the escarole swapped out for cabbage, and with a less porridge-like texture. This you can eat with a fork on a plate, unlike what I grew up eating, which required a bowl and a spoon. Either way, delicious.
Finally, the tortellini with meaty ragu.
I’m generally not a huge fan of tortellini, but that’s probably because I’m used to the frozen or vac-sealed grocery store products that I usually eat cold (and dense) in a salad with olives, peppers and cheese. These bundles of joy were stellar. The stuffing inside was almost creamy, without any grainy or lumpy ricotta texture. And the sauce was going down my throat by the spoonful. Loved these. Absolutely beautiful plating as well.
We had a short break after the pasta and took down a trio of beautiful meatballs.
These off-menu delights are nice and tender, and packed with flavor. Rustically formed, you can sometimes get a chunk of melty cheese or a piece of soft, roasted garlic in the occasional lucky bite. These were great. Don’t be alarmed, either; they will be served pink in the middle.
For the entrees, we had both the veal parm and the pork chop with peppers. The veal was pounded out flat, and fried to a golden crisp with seasoned breadcrumbs. The bright sauce and melted cheese (both mozz and ricotta, with some grated parm on top) were topped with crispy basil leaves to bring home that nice herbaceous pop.
What a dish! They even serve it with the breaded and fried rib bone alongside the cutlet. And if you take some to go in a doggy bag, they’ll send you home with a sesame seed bun to make a sandwich out of the leftovers.
The pork with peppers reminded me of when my mom used to cook pork chops with cherry peppers and sliced potatoes as a kid. Nothing beats the taste of nostalgia, but this was a pretty close runner up. Those red peppers and onions on the side were delicious.
We were so stuffed that we had to skip dessert, despite the selections looking fantastic. I really wanted a slice of the lemon cheesecake.
But the captain, Jared, brought over some snacks for us after he saw how infatuated we were with all the little details in the restaurant that reminded us of growing up with Italian grandparents.
The rainbow cookies with espresso (and a splash of Sambuca!)…
The Jordanian candy-coated almonds (just like those old Italian wedding favors in the mesh bag)…
The simplicity of cotton candy grapes and walnuts (reminded me of Christmas Eve)…
And, of course, the Italian cookies and pastries from an old tin box…
It’s no wonder this place has a Michelin star and has become a tough reservation to score. I generally don’t like hyped up joints, but here it is well-deserved. We even saw Adam Sandler there. This place is worth your time and money. Go, as soon as you can! And if you’ve already been, then go back.
By now most of you who keep up with this blog or my Instagram account have seen some shit about Belcampo Meat Camp. Well, they have a restaurant in Hudson Yards and I finally got to try it out. Here’s how it breaks down:
Lamb “Bone Broth”
This stuff is spectacular. It almost tastes like an au jus or a gravy. Such deep, rich flavors with no gamey shit happening. This is also perfect for dipping bread, roast beef sandwiches, or whatever.
Eye Round Carpaccio
This is incredible. Probably my favorite carpaccio at the moment. It’s just so tender and flavorful. Hit it with some extra virgin olive oil and you’re all set.
This raw application is another winner. Excellent flavors, really great. If you prefer tartare to carpaccio, then get this.
This was my favorite of the three burgers we tried. It has a slight aged flavor to it, but the cheese coverage, toppings and bun were all great to boot. In the pic above, it’s in front.
In the pic above, the lamb burger is in back. The move here is to take an occasional bite of this after dunking it into the lamb broth. Really tasty.
The Century Burger
This 100-day dry aged burger really brings the funk. It’s thick and meaty, and unabashed in it’s protein-forwardness.
Double Fast Burger
This is my favorite of all the burgers, and it is the most humble of them all. Two dry-aged patties, American cheese, and thinly sliced pickle on a potato bun. Absolutely awesome.
We tried both the boneless and cowboy rib eye steaks. Both were great, perfectly cooked, and came with aged funk to them. 8/10.
The pork porterhouse was my favorite chop of the night. So tender, so juicy, and such a great fresh flavor to it. I can eat this regularly. I remember being very impressed with this at Meat Camp too.
These were awesome. Really nice rich red meat flavor with no game whatsoever. Perfectly cooked to medium rare.
Cookies & Cake
Wow. I didn’t except such deliciousness from such simplicity. The huge, warm, ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookies were my favorite of the two, but that chocolate cake was rich and moist.
I should also mention the great cocktails here. The duck fat washed rye drink called Midnight Cruiser was killer, with orange oil and bitters.
But the barrel rested Copalli rum cocktail called Out Past Curfew stole the show. Rum, bourbon, sherry, creme de cacao, cocoa nib vermouth and toasted pecan bitters.
Definitely give this place a shot. Everything was delicious and I can’t wait to go back.
500 West 33rd St
New York, NY 10001
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.
Dining at Bistro Pierre Lapin was probably one of the best French culinary experiences I’ve ever had. Everything I ate was either good or bordering incredible. The meal began with a “slice” of pate, a plate of butter, olives and herb truffle goat cheese, and a basket of small French baguettes that were really hard to stay away from, even though I knew I was about to indulge in a massive and decadent French feast. This may be the best table bread in the city.
Next up was a foie gras mousse, which was silky smooth and one of my favorite bites of the night.
These little guys are pig’s ear pinwheels stuffed with spicy sausage. Really nice.
This head cheese incorporated a boiled egg in the middle. The flavor and texture on this was incredible. This is a must try.
The deviled eggs were great, getting a great pop of texture and flavor from the bacon and pickle additions.
This is a bunch of pig head meat that was deep fried into a delicious patty. Awesome.
This was probably the most unique preparation of escargots I’ve ever seen. They were served with a sunny side up egg, peas, fava beans and a garlic-butter sauce.
The frog’s legs here are the best I’ve ever had, and was one of my favorite dishes of the night. If you have never eaten frog’s legs before, get them here so that you are forever spoiled.
They offer two styles of burger here. The first is a simply grilled burger with foie gras on top, sandwiched between two slices of Texas toast.
They also have an American style burger here as well, with the traditional fixings.
I preferred the American burger over the Texas toast burger, but both were very tasty.
Speaking of toast, this preparation of cognac flambe mushrooms on brioche toast was delicious. I could see this going over really well with the NYC brunch crowd.
These tortelloni are stuffed with rabbit and served with sweet peas in a carbonara sauce (you can see the yolk).
One of the best dishes I tried here was this “Shake N Bake” style breaded pork chop, served with an au poivre sauce. There’s a great story associated with this dish that goes back to when Chef Harold Moore’s mother used to cook pork chops at home. Apparently she used to overcook regular pork chops, but when she followed the instructions on the box for “Shake N Bake,” they came out perfectly every time. So Harold came up with his own breadcrumb mixture here, and the dish is a tribute to his mother’s Shake N Bake dinners at home.
The chicken for two is a great way to go if you’re looking to share:
But I would recommend the leg of lamb if you are going with a group:
This beauty is deboned, stuffed with herbs and spices, rolled back onto the bone, covered with sauce and roasted for hours.
The result is a prime-rib like texture and some dangerously tender and delicious meat. You have to request this a day in advance, and it will feed four to six people with ease.
As for sides. I tried both the clarified butter fries and the truffle fries. Both were excellent, but I think I preferred the truffle fries.
Both the potato gratin and the potato puree were delicious. Between those, I prefer the gratin.
The broccoli was pretty good too. That brown plate at the bottom is actually foie gras stuffing for the roast chicken dish. That stuff is crack.
I will definitely be back here to try more dishes from the entrée menu, and most certainly the artichoke salad. And don’t forget to try one of their tasty and beautiful cocktails. This is their French margarita:
BISTRO PIERRE LAPIN
99 Bank Street
New York, NY 10014
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.
1575 New York 27A (Montauk Highway)
Oakdale, NY 11769
This place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is set up like the inside of a mid-century modern 1950’s or early 60’s home. Lots of round-screen tube television cabinets are playing clips of old shows from the era, and there are sea-foam green appliances and furniture, wood paneling, checkerboard floors, etc. I loved it.
Plus the food was pretty fucking great too. Everything is home-style cooking, like stuff that your grandma would cook for you. I ordered a smoked gouda stuffed pork chop. It was absolutely awesome. Juice inside, crispy outside, good stuffing. I demolished it.
I also got to try the fried chicken. Same deal – crispy on the outside, juicy inside. A great thigh!
Their PB&J ice cream shake is incredible too. Not too heavy on the PB so that you get instantly full either, as the base is vanilla.
My wife had a great pork osso buco. While I liked my dish better, her’s was fall-apart tender and beautifully plated.
She also had a crazy soda concoction drink with a glowing ice cube, and they sang Happy Birthday to her and gave her a cupcake for dessert.
Check out the mixed plate, with chicken, meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Not bad!
NOTE: THIS PLACE IS NOW CALLED BILL’S TOWNHOUSE AND MAY FEATURE A DIFFERENT MENU AND CHEF.
I grabbed a Groupon for this place: $55 for a three course meal for two. Not bad. At first I was almost going to include this in my steakhouse reviews page, but after speaking with the waiter I got the sense that their aim was to go for American restaurant as opposed to just steak. They’ve trimmed the steak selection from five cuts to three, so don’t be fooled by the paintings of steaks on the walls – that ain’t necessarily their main aim.
I really liked this place. Great atmosphere, cool decor: taxidermy, framed old timey maps, and odd portrait paintings in a grand ballroom type of room with a massive fireplace and ornate mirrors.
The bar was jam packed for the after work happy hour, and I noticed that they even have a piano for live music performances down there.
So here was the menu for the three course price fix deal:
We started with drinks, and by far the two best cocktails were the lowlands old fashioned, and the Spanish gin and tonic. Really expertly mixed by the bartender. Then the bread came out – warm and toasty on the outside, soft and hot on the inside, and great smooth butter.
I had the roasted beets and my wife had the fennel and arugula salad with citrus. Both were really great. Mine was hearty, and her’s was light and fresh.
The entrees were both pretty much perfect. I had the peppercorn sauce strip steak. It was very slightly overcooked from how I ordered, but it was delicious nonetheless. The truffle herb fries were some of the best I’ve ever had. The addition of crispy fried basil on top was a great touch.
My wife had the Berkshire pork chop. This thing was THICK, and perfectly cooked. I’ve never had a pork chop like this that wasn’t dried out in some spots. This was juicy through and through.
Dessert was okay. I had a pumpkin cheesecake and my wife had a chocolate cake. The chocolate cake was like a very dense mousse; very rich, almost too sweet for me. It was a very big portion too – like a brick! The pumpkin cheesecake was light and fluffy, with a chocolate-based crust as opposed to graham cracker.
Here’s the total bill:
I definitely recommend this place. I will be back for sure. They have a rib eye for two on the regular menu that needs to be eaten…
On a second trip I tried both the wild Alaskan salmon and the roasted chicken. Both dishes had incredibly crispy skin, tons of flavor and perfect execution in terms of cooking temperature and juiciness. This place is fucking great.
The garbanzo bean soup was a little bit thin and light, but the smoky pork meat in it gave a flavor that reminded me of a split pea soup.
Dessert was soft serve ice cream. Simple but really hit the spot.
BILL’S FOOD & DRINK
57 E. 54th St.
New York, NY 10022