Sandro’s is a small Italian joint on the upper east side that serves up some really delicious and authentic dishes.
For example, I haven’t had a fried artichoke this good since I was in Rome.
And seeing things like porchetta and culatello in the sliced meats department took me right back to Trastevere.
Back in my wheelhouse, however, was this delicious carpaccio dish that came with white truffles.
We went a little nuts with the truffle:
It was awesome. But even this salad had me excited.
The simplicity of something like chicory and anchovy dressed perfectly with citrus is not really seen to often here, stateside. This was a totally unique salad for me, and I’m glad I listened carefully to the massive list of specials before ordering. I’m not kidding when I tell you they could open a second restaurant with just the menu items that the waiters and waitresses memorized as specials. There were about three or four salad specials, five or six fish specials, three or four meats, four pasta dishes, and a bunch of appetizers too. Oh and dessert as well. Absolutely insane.
But back to the meal. Pasta time:
This first pasta was my favorite – goat cheese stuffed cappelletti with a lemon cream sauce. This was insanely delicious.
Next up was sea urchin ravioli with a scallop tomato sauce.
And finally some rigatoni with meatballs and sausage in a nice tomato ragu.
But we didn’t stop there, because I had to try some veal dishes. First up – and my favorite of the entrees – was this stuffed veal chop.
Inside was thin sliced ham.
After that, a nice classic veal parm.
And then some giant broiled prawns.
I really didn’t think we’d have room for dessert, but I’m glad we tried this delicious pistachio cake with ricotta. This was probably one of the best desserts I’ve ever had.
And the finishing move of bringing lemon cookies with the check really took me back to being a kid and eating these at my grandparents’ house.
This place is a gem! I’ll definitely be back here to try more stuff. There is a LOT of menu to work through here.
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.
Il Tinello is an old school NYC Italian joint that’s been open for nearly 40 years. My wife and I finally got around to trying it last night. Here’s what we had:
My wife started with some fresh bluepoints, and I had this delicious seafood salad made with scallops, calamari and shrimp.
Next, we had a trio of pastas as a mid-course sampler dish. Penne with pesto, beef and ricotta ravioli, and pappardelle with a truffle and mushroom cream sauce. All were delicious, but I liked the pappardelle the best.
For my main course, I had this gorgeous boneless veal parm.
This was really nice. The sauce and cheese were top notch quality, and the veal beneath was super tender.
My wife had the veal chop, which was a nice, thick rib chop.
It was a perfect light pink inside, cooked just right.
For dessert, we had the fruit tart and the creme brûlée. Both were well executed and tasty. They pleased The Cake Dealer, so that’s always a good sign.
This place is a gem. It’s cozy and fancy inside, really classy. And the service is some of the best I’ve ever experienced. The staff are professionals, not some young hipster chumps who wait tables on the side while they try to get their crowd-funded artisanal kombucha brand up and running in Williamsburg.
This fucker is going to be short and sweet. A friend of mine alerted me to an interesting dish here that I just had to try. Chicken or veal parm with pepperoni on top like a fucking pizza:
Yup. That’s the veal. Those white blobs are extra burrata. Fuck yes. I always thought this place was a shit hole tourist trap, but apparently they’re slinging some good shit. Needless to say, I’ll be back for the chicken version, and possibly their Italian rib eye. Take another look at this thing, you savages:
Not quite as good as Tuscany Steakhouse nearby, which happens to be $6 cheaper as well (without the pepperoni). This was a whopping $56, but probably big enough to split with another person if you’re a raging pussy lip.
I went back for a full meal with my wife just a two months later. Here’s what we had:
Calamari and Braised Octopus:
Chicken Parmigiana Pepperoni:
That was fucking KILLER. Go get it.
Lemon Pie Brûlée:
Like a cross between key lime pie and creme brûlée. Very good.
900 7th Ave
New York, NY 10106
Patsy’s is a NYC institution for Italian food in the Times Square and Hell’s Kitchen north area.
This joint has been around since 1944. I’m a sucker for old restaurants like this, so I had to give it a shot. Plus, they serve some really interesting dishes that I’ve only ever had at home growing up.
For example, I rarely see escarole served anywhere, and I love it. They do it a bit differently here than the traditional “escarole and beans” soupy stew. Here, its sautéed with garlic, olives, capers, pine nuts and raisins:
It was delicious. It reminded me of the stuffing my grandmother used to make for her artichokes. And speaking of which, they had stuffed artichokes on the menu too. I hardly ever see these anywhere except for at home either:
This was okay, but very pricey at $17. Honestly, my mother makes a much better one. This was stuffed with bread crumbs, olives, capers, anchovies, cheese and pine nuts. Very similar to how my grandmother used to stuff them, and similarly a bit dry like hers often were, since they are baked (usually for too long) after steaming. My mother steams and sautés instead of bakes, and stuffs them with breadcrumbs, cheese and sauce. A bit simpler, but it tastes way better.
My grandmother on the other side used to make stuffed squid for part of our massive Christmas Eve seafood feast. She stuffed them with cheese, anchovies, moistened Italian bread and egg. Then she would stitch them closed and they were cooked in a big bubbling pot of seafood sauce that contained blue claw crabs, shrimp, scallops, scungilli (conch) and more squid. It was amazing.
Anyway I see that dish even less frequently than the others above, so I had to order it when I saw it on the menu here.
These babies are stuffed with squid and shrimp, among other things. This was a pretty nice dish, especially the sauce, although a bit pricey at $36.
The last thing we tried was the veal parm. I pretty much have to order this whenever I see it on the menu, anywhere.
This one, however, was a bit of a let down. The breading fell off almost instantly upon cutting, and was just overall a bit soggy and not up to par. The potato croquette that came with it was just okay as well. The bar, however, was a nice little stretch of mid century modern goodness where I’d love to have a martini:
To sum up, nothing tastes as good as mom’s and grandma’s cooking, but when you need a fix away from home, Patsy’s might be the right spot to get it.