Blowhard, Esq. writes:
In part 1 of my NYC series I ventured some thoughts and impressions on the city in general, but now let’s talk about something important. Herewith I offer a rundown of some of the more notable meals and cocktails from my trip.
Kati Roll, Midtown/Garment District, 49 West 39th St., between 5th and 6th Ave.
Fast casual Indian restaurant with multiple locations in New York and London. I got the chicken tikka and shami kabab (minced lamb) rolls, but I’d skip the shami kabab and go with the aloo masala (spicy potato) instead, which is one of the best vegetarian dishes I’ve ever had (not that I’ve had that many). A great place for lunch but get there before noon because there will be a line.
Some bar that I can’t remember south of the Cooper Union on East Houston St., East Village
One afternoon I met up with Paleo Retiree and we walked from Cooper Union to SoHo via the Lower East Side, Chinatown, the Civic Center, and Tribeca. It was pretty hot that day so we stopped at a bar on Houston Street for a Fernet-Branca, a digestive favored by restauranteurs. The bartender described it as “pepper in a glass” or “Jäger for adults,” i.e. without any sweetness. A medicinal, herbal drink.
Lombardi’s Pizza, Nolita, 32 Spring St., corner of Spring and Mott
Like I’m going to New York without having any pizza. Lombardi’s is not only one of NYC’s best known names, it’s considered the first pizzeria in America.
The place ain’t cheap. This large sausage and pepperoni pie with one beer cost $43. A large pizza starts at $27 and each topping is $4. Cash only too, so be prepared. But as you can see by the results, it’s all worth it. Try not to lick your monitor.
Top of the Strand, Midtown/Garment District, 33 West 37th Street between 5th and 6th Ave.
The rooftop bar of The Strand Hotel, this place is recommended if you’re looking for good drinks with a great view of the city.
Arpeggio, Lincoln Center, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza
Before catching a performance of the NY Phil (more of which later), we got drinks and appetizers at Lincoln Center locale. I thought the cheese plate here was especially good.
Juliana’s Pizza, Brooklyn Bridge, 10 Old Fulton St., Brooklyn
Like I’m going to New York without having a couple of pizzas. The line at Grimaldi’s was too long so we ducked into Juliana’s, immediately next door, for another pie fix. Like Lombardi’s, Juliana’s pizzas are baked in a coal oven. It was charming to watch everything being prepared by little ol’ Italian ladies. Ha!, just kidding, they were made by a bunch of Hispanic guys.
So which was better, Lombardi’s or Juliana’s? My pizza palate isn’t sophisticated enough to tell the difference, I thought they were both great. Nicely charred and chewy crust with fresh ingredients. What more do you want?
BarBacon, Hell’s Kitchen, 836 9th Ave., between 54th and 55th St.
Founded by a former chef who worked for Joël Robuchon, this loud (god, can we give it a rest with all the TVs?) gastropub specializes in, you guessed it, bacon which is then paired with different craft beers. I got the banh mi, served on two small crusty baguettes, each with a generous helping of thick cut premium bacon.
Employees Only, 510 Hudson St., between West 10th Ave. and Christopher St., look for the neon “Psychic” sign
A Prohibition-style bar, this place was the location of the super-secret UR conclave. It has a wonderful Art Deco interior, but more importantly, superb cocktails and appetizers. I highly recommend the Billionaire’s Cocktail and, pictured below, the charcuterie plate. The bone marrow poppers are also great. Plus, it has vintage pin-ups in the restroom.
Momofuku Noodle Bar, East Village, 171 1st Ave., between 10th and 11th St.
David Chang’s plebeian alternative to the patrician Momofuku Ko, this restaurant serves a variety of ramens and buns. Pictured below is the Spicy Miso Ramen which emphasizes smokiness over heat.
Stone Street Historic District, Financial District
Notable for its architecture and numerous Irish-style pubs. Standard & Poor’s is located across the street, so make sure you flip them off with both hands while walking by.
The Growler, 55 Stone St.
After taking the Staten Island Ferry we stopped at this pub for a couple drinks. The potato chips are made fresh and served with a good bleu cheese dip. Solid fare here, nothing fancy.
Dean & DeLuca, SoHo, 560 Broadway, corner of Broadway and Prince St.
Despite passing by the Times Square location numerous times I didn’t eat here, unfortunately, but I did take a quick walk through the flagship SoHo store just to check the place out. One of these was supposed to open up at Fashion Island in Newport Beach but the deal fell through so instead we just got a boring Whole Foods. That lobster was still moving when I took the snap.
Back 40 West, SoHo, 70 Prince St., corner of Prince and Crosby St.
Hipster locavore joint. The pork belly sandwich with pickled cauliflower might’ve been my single favorite meal of the trip. The fat melts like butter in your mouth.
Wallflower, Greenwich Village, 235 West 12th St., corner of 12th and Greenwich Ave.
A newish place in the Village that, as far as I can tell, hasn’t been discovered yet. Goofy and inventive cocktails served alongside classy appetizers. I recommend The Dude — cognac, cold-brewed coffee, port, cream, Demerara syrup, Angostura bitters, and a whole egg. The appetizer — brebis with chorizo, eggplant, and almond oil — was just as delicious as the cocktail.
Located across the street from MoMA, I got the Single Soul Food Mix with pork sausage which includes fried potatoes, red and wine cabbage, sautéed onions, and a small crusty roll. Food to fortify yourself with before invading Poland or taking in the Polke exhibit.
Food carts in front of The Met, Upper East Side, 5th Ave. and East 82nd St.
Got a pretzel to eat while sitting on museum steps. I’m gonna commit heresy and say that the average street pretzel is not very good. Way too salty to cover up the fact that the skin doesn’t have the signature pretzel flavor. Most bistros and gastropubs nowadays do them much better, not to mention your average grocery store now carries more flavorful pretzel rolls.
2nd Ave. Deli, Midtown East, 162 East 33rd St., between 3rd Ave. and Lexington
Along with a pizza fix, a real Jewish deli is also essential. The only other NYC deli I’ve been to is Artie’s, which I loved, and 2nd Ave. is right up there with it. This is where I paid $6.95 for coleslaw to go along with my pastrami on rye. The coleslaw was good, but the mashed potatoes are even better. The Question Lady says the delis on Pico Blvd. in L.A. are better. Blasphemy!
Cornelia St. Cafe, Greenwich Village, 29 Cornelia St., between Bleecker and West 4th St.
Speaking of The Question Lady, the last meal of my trip was at this venue where she frequently performs. I ordered a Negroni which, as PR says here, takes a liiiiiiitle getting used to, especially if you’re a cocktail noob like me. And yes, I can’t resist a good cheese plate.