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Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Italian category.

Great For Those On A Budget: Otto Enoteca and Pizzeria

courtesy of ottopizzeria.com

Otto, Otto, Otto. Where do I begin…

At Otto, one of Mario Batali’s restaurants, you will have the most delightful and affordable dining experience providing that you know what to order. It’s not a straight across the board good restaurant sadly, but for the prices there are some wonderful things that come out of the kitchen.

Let me start with the gelatos first, simply because that’s what I look most forward to when I go there

Here we go!

Olive oil: Lots of people that I have dined with find this to be absolutely heavenly, to me it’s not bad, but I wouldn’t die over it. It’s creamy gelato that leaves a lingering olive oil taste over your tongue as it melts.

Salty Caramel: Just average, I wish it tasted more caramel-y versus burnt caramel-y

Crème Fraiche: Reminiscent of sour cream and very light

Pistachio: Wonderful in flavor (though it still can’t compare to the gelato I had in Italy, but for America it was very good)

Guinness: Exactly as it sounds, so only order if you love Guinness

Coconut sorbet: silky and beautiful in flavor, next time I’m getting this again

Tangerine sorbet: Absolutely delicious, it’s as if it were the freshest tangerine I have ever eaten

Meyer lemon sorbet: I wish it were more lemony and a touch sweeter, it’s as if it weren’t sure as to what direction to go in and kind of reminded me of dishwashing soap

Canteloupe sorbet: Ohmigosh, I had this one probably a year ago and still remember it

(On a side note: If you ever see bacon ice cream being listed on the menu at Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar, go that night. It is one of the most fantastic things one can taste if they never have before)

Their sundaes are delightful as well, but I must admit that I’ve never tasted any of their baked goods because I’ve been so focused on trying all of their gelatos. Beware if you want to get some to go though. It’s $12 a pint!

I guess we have to talk about the food right? First off, don’t get the pastas, after all, it’s not homemade so don’t expect anything to “wow” you. It reminds me of pastas that I make at home out of the box.  I was not impressed. Stick with the pizzas. They are nice, thin and crispy. The margherita is so basic, but my taste buds loved it. The clam was also very nice too, but I wish they took the clams out of the shells rather than just plop everything whole straight on to the pie. Stay away from the anchovy pizza. For someone who loves anchovies (Me!), this was bland and a disappointment. There’s a lot on their menu that really is just average, but when you go, make sure to try the brussel sprouts which are nice and savory, and if you are there on a Monday, give their eggplant bruschetta a whirl. Oh! One last thing, while I did enjoy the honey accompaniment with the cheese plate, the cheese plate was kind of pathetic size wise. Not worth it!

Otto also has a lovely wine selection, and although I’m not a  huge wine drinker when I am elsewhere I know I will be happy with their offerings. Frightened by the extensive wine menu? Simply ask your server who will suggest something very good and budget friendly.

During one excursion we ordered two sides, bruschetta, a pizza, three plates of pasta, two desserts and a bottle of extremely good wine and our bill was $113, without tip. And we had leftovers to take home! Suh-weet!

6.5 out of 10

-Juice

1 5th Ave, New York NY10003

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Family Style Italian Dinner At A NYC Institution

courtesy of carminesnyc.com

Nothing makes me happier than seeing huge portions of good food. When I’m with a large group of people who don’t have a ton of money to spend, off to Carmine’s we go. I’ve been to both locations in Manhattan and the consensus is that the service is never great, unless you get an upstairs table at the theatre district location.

Carmine’s is the epitome of family style Italian dining. You’re surround by hustle and bustle, loud talking and laughter everywhere. And you will never leave hungry.

Dishes I’ve devoured at Carmine’s:

Baked clams: Good, not great but good. Scoop the sauce at the bottom of the dish for a big hit of garlic.
Zuppa de mussels: Yummy, yummy, yum, yum. And I love dipping my bread into the leftover sauce.
Carmine’s salad: Think leafy green mixed with antipasto, chunks of salami and cheese all throughout
Ceasar Salad: It is what it says and doesn’t disappoint.
Mixed seafood pasta: Their pasta is always al dente and they do not skimp on the seafood.
Pasta with white clam sauce: Like I said, perfectly cooked, you cannot go wrong with their pasta dishes.
Chicken Marsala: The wine flavor is a bit overpowering for me, but the chicken was cooked well.
Chicken parmigiana: A very tasty dish, I probably could have eaten the entire plate if I had more time.
Broiled porterhouse: HUGE portion, great for meat eaters.
Porterhouse Contidina: This blew the plain porterhouse out of the water. I could cut the meat with just a fork and the sausages, potatoes, peppers and onions added an incredible amount of flavor. Love at first bite.
Strawberry shortcake: To me this tastes amazingly when done simple and to the point, which is how Carmine’s does it. A delicious winner.
Chocolate Torta: A must have for any chocolate lover. Think of an oversized, good quality, rich brownie that is slightly undercooked. Grab a side of ice cream to go with it.

I know, I know, I complain about the service at tons of other places, why don’t I let it affect about how I feel about Carmine’s? Part of it is because it’s a family style restaurant so it’s very laidback in my eyes. Another part is that the restaurant is simply understaffed. They should bring on more waiters, but at the same time if they do, the waiters would make less money. One more part. The cost of the food is extremely reasonable. One bowl of pasta can feed 4 people and have them leave full. I can’t complain about that.

8.5 out of 10

Various locations

-Juice


Supper In New York, Anyone?

courtesy of supperrestaurant.com

Supper will definitely be seeing me again for dinner. Delicious and well-executed dishes come out of this Northern Italian influenced kitchen and is definitely a must try for those who haven’t been yet. The restaurant is cozy and very tight, but is rustic in the way that you would imagine a restaurant in Italy would be like. The second you sit down you are hit with wafts of sauces, meats and cheese and wondering what everyone ordered and hope that everything tastes as good as it smells.

I sipped on a glass of prosecco and nibbled on bread with a white bean sauce while we ordered and after a while put down the bread and started eating spoonfuls of the beans when no one was looking. Soon, our aromatic appetizers were placed in front of me and my friends. We decided on grilled calamari, burata mozzerella and veal meatballs. The grilled calamari? I barely remembered it was even there when I tried the other two. It was good, but not memorable. On the other hand, the burarata mozzerella was one of those dishes where you thought you might orgasm with each bite that you took. It was a rich flavor explosion in your mouth and one of those dishes where you would come back to Supper just to eat this dish. The veal meatballs? Simple, savory and fantastic. This was a wonderful start to our meal. I was really praying that our entrees wouldn’t let us down.

Sunday gravy is one of my favorite things to eat so I knew I had to try their version. I got their grandpa pasta (long thin tubes) with Sunday gravy and ricotta. Basic and tasty. It wasn’t mind blowing like the meatballs and the burata, but I definitely was not disappointed and was wishing I had another bowl of it later on in the night. As you know, I love dishes where the ingredients really stand out and are the stars of the dish. Buried flavors make me sad. I don’t need an entrée that has 20 ingredients and has fireworks coming out of it to be satisfied.

I cannot wait to try the other restaurants that the owners of Supper also run and I can’t wait to return to Supper as well.

My only one complaint? Community tables. Maybe it’s because I grew up in New York, but I don’t like sharing tables with people I don’t know because I feel like someone is always trying to steal my wallet.

156 East 2nd Street
New York, NY 10009-7719
(212) 477-2732

8 out of 10

-Juice


Perfection = Cannoli.

I am a sucker for good cannoli.

What is there not to like about this Italian dessert? Tube shaped shell of fried pastry dough. Sweet creamy filling made of either ricotta or marscapone.  And if you are so inclined… a dash of pistachios and chocolate chips. Great thing to picture, no? Cannoli can come in different variations, so I thought it was fitting to discuss two places I found recently where it is, as the Italians say, “perfetto”.

The first is a place in the East Village that has been around since 1894 called Veniero’s Pasticcera & Caffe. Here, you can get the cannoli not just in its original form, but also in chocolate – 2 ways!  The  normal chocolate covered pastry shell with regular filling and  the regular pastry shell with chocolate filling. If you are going to go there, my recommendation here is the chocolate filling. It is just the right amount of chocolate to not get carried away with that dash of pistachio to offset it. It’s available in mini and in regular size – so indulge! You are paying for the pastry per pound anyway.

Now for the traditionalist cannoli lovers out there nothing beats Rocco’s Pastry Shop & Expresso Cafe in the West Village. Talk about wanting to buy every single thing you see in the glass case! I dare you to not order more than one thing. Too many delectable decisions!  The cannoli though is a must have, because here – it is made to order. Yes, you read that right. That shell for the cannoli is filled when you order. With chocolate chips, without, pistachios, whatever – it’s your choice. You can watch them fill that empty cannoli shell right in front of you at the counter, and then devour it in the next minute. Your cannoli is fresh with a capital F. The filling is creamy, sweet, and it’s light enough that you can’t stop at just one. So I say don’t. And if you are craving a chocolate filling here that the cannoli can’t fill in you, I recommend  the Lulu, a light pastry shell filled with chocolate custard. It is as amazing as the cannoli, I promise.

-Jules

Veniero’s Pasticcera & Caffe  – 7.5 out of 10 stars
342 East 11th Street & 1st Ave.
New York, NY 10003

Rocco’s Pastry Shop & Expresso Cafe – 9 out of 10 stars
243 Bleecker St.
New York, NY 10014



My Faith Has Been Restored In Bona Fides

courtesy of nerowolfe.org

courtesy of nerowolfe.org

I had one of those meals last night that really awakened my taste buds. It was at Bona Fides in the East Village. Have you been? It was always one of those places that I had thought was cute, but had always walked past because I was always on my way somewhere else. Finally, a friend of mine took me there about two years ago because it turns out that one of his friends owns it. I’ve been there for the food a total of four times since. The first time, like I said, I was with my friend and my pasta dish was good, but it was so long ago I can’t remember what it was. The second time I went was also with this friend and I ordered the filet mignon, medium-rare and it was around $20 and came with two sides, great price and great meal. The third time I got the fettucine with smoked salmon and peas. That night made me sad because that dish wasn’t very good, and even though they advertised the brut by the glass, they didn’t want to open up a new bottle to serve just a glass. Which was a very silly mistake on their part because if anyone knows me, I probably would have ordered a lot more than one glass. And anyway, retail, that bottle of brut is only around $10 at a liquor store, so I don’t know why he didn’t want to serve me a glass since he was charging $9 a glass for it. You can’t fool me, I know what cheap alcohol is! That third night I didn’t go with my friend, does his presence affect my food there? But last night, I did have my friend with me and my meal was superb! I got one of their specials, it was a pappardelle with sweet Italian sausage, onions, sundried tomatoes and garlic in a rich lemon sauce. You need to go get it right now! I hoovered that bowl. All the flavors were perfectly balanced and the lemon sauce was done very nicely and was like a gravy on the pasta. My friend gave me part of his shrimp parmesan after he saw me eyeing him. What can I say, the plump pieces of shrimp were calling my name. That was scrumptious as well. So I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that my third visit there was a fluke. Hopefully the good food didn’t have anything to do with me dining with my friend there. Worth a visit!
60 2nd Ave # 1
New York, NY 10003-8620
(212) 777-2840
7.5 out of 10
-Juice

I had one of those meals last night that really awakened my taste buds. It was at Bona Fides in the East Village. Have you been? It was always one of those places that I had thought was cute, but had always walked past because I was always on my way somewhere else. Finally, a friend of mine took me there about two years ago because it turns out that one of his friends owns it. I’ve been there for the food a total of four times since. The first time, like I said, I was with my friend and my pasta dish was good, but it was so long ago I can’t remember what it was. The second time I went was also with this friend and I ordered the filet mignon, medium-rare and it was around $20 and came with two sides, great price and great meal. The third time I got the fettucine with smoked salmon and peas. That night made me sad because that dish wasn’t very good, and even though they advertised the brut by the glass, they didn’t want to open up a new bottle to serve just a glass. Which was a very silly mistake on their part because if anyone knows me, I probably would have ordered a lot more than one glass. And anyway, retail, that bottle of brut is only around $10 at a liquor store, so I don’t know why he didn’t want to serve me a glass since he was charging $9 a glass for it. You can’t fool me, I know what cheap alcohol is! That third night I didn’t go with my friend, does his presence affect my food there? But last night, I did have my friend with me and my meal was superb! I got one of their specials, it was a pappardelle with sweet Italian sausage, onions, sundried tomatoes and garlic in a rich lemon sauce. You need to go get it right now! I hoovered that bowl. All the flavors were perfectly balanced and the lemon sauce was done very nicely and was like a gravy on the pasta. My friend gave me part of his shrimp parmesan after he saw me eyeing him. What can I say, the plump pieces of shrimp were calling my name. That was scrumptious as well. So I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that my third visit there was a fluke. Hopefully the good food didn’t have anything to do with me dining with my friend there. Worth a visit!

Bona Fides

60 2nd Ave # 1

New York, NY 10003-8620

(212) 777-2840

7 out of 10

UPDATE: SO IT REALLY TURNS OUT THAT THE SERVICE IS MUCH BETTER WHEN I GO WITH MY FRIEND WHO KNOWS THE OWNER. MUCH, MUCH MUCH BETTER. CHANGING MY 7 OUT OF 10 TO A 6 OUT OF 10.

-Juice