Over the past few months I have been pursuing more and more freelance chef gigs in New York City working at places like Carnegie Hall, NY Historical Society, New York Botanical Gardens and more. It has been an adventure for sure and WAY out of my comfort zone.. For those of you who don’t know me well, I am well as I call it ‘directionally challenged’. I get lost in my own county I grew up in let alone a big hustling bustling concrete jungle. I swear its a thing…
Anyway, as a successful person might say, ‘growth happens on the other side of fear or discomfort’. This is certainly true with navigating my way around New York.
I’ve managed to eat my fair share through the city (well about .0003 % of the eateries in NYC) and love sharing my finds and reviews:
Pisticci– 125 la Salle St New York, NY (Harlem)
A walk down into this busy, quaint, yet lovely Italian subterranean space suggests a friendly neighborhood trattoria with a small bar, plenty of tables, and even live music on some nights. I’ve been about 5 times so far and a few dishes I love are Mussels in White Wine, Maltagliati with Lamb Ragu, and Fettucine al Funghi. Generous portions and affordable.
Toast– 3157 Broadway New York, NY (Harlem)
From the looks of the place from the outside, it’s nothing more than a bar and lounge serving typical American bar fare. And well that’s pretty much what it is! Great cocktails, wine, beer selection and awesome salads, fries and burgers done right without breaking the bank. Enough said.
Dinosaur Barbecue-700 W 125th St, New York, NY (other locations as well)
Now I won’t be that guy claiming to know the best BBQ joints around and I also won’t claim Dinosaur is AMAZING but it’s good. It’s a busy place, great bar, great smell and plenty of menu options. A good choice for BBQ if your in the neighborhood. My favorites here are the chicken wings and Syracuse salt potatoes. Sure I’ve had plenty of better BBQ but I like the atmosphere of this place.
Bahari-31-14 Broadway, Astoria, NY
From what I’m told, there are no shortage of great Greek restaurants in Astoria and this one stands out among them. Again, this place has a real family and neighborhood feel- the kid of place where the waiter asks your name and you turn around to see a table of 12, kids, highchairs and all. Things are just done right here, like Grandmas cooking- nothing fancy but just good comfort food- garlicky baba ganoush (melintzanosalata), spicy feta cheese spread (tyrokafteri) and various entrees like cabbage rolls, grilled swordfish, beef rolls with sides of lemony potatoes, green veggies and simple salads. I was there with 3 others and we ordered 4 apps, 4 entrees and 2 bottles of wine and our bill came to $130. WOW. Great value.
Landmark Diner-158 Grand St. New York, NY (SOHO)
I literally stumbled into this diner on my way to a meeting and was pleasantly surprised and humored by it. Apparently they claim to have the best pancakes around but since I didn’t try them, I’m not sure that’s just a tourist lure or what. What is great to me is that it’s your typical cheap greasy spoon diner with plates of eggs, toast and home fries for less than 5 bucks, bottomless regular coffee and amusing Chinese waitresses calling you baby and honey. It was a riot! On a cold a rainy morning it was a perfect bit of comfort and humor to camp out in before I had to get to work.
Babalucci’s– 331 Lenox Ave, New York, NY (Harlem)
Sourdough pizza…I know what you’re thinking- “Sourdough pizza when you’re in New York?? Get out of here country boy!!” And you’d probably be right..haha but it’s good and they have this lunch special called the polpette panini which is this awesome meatball sandwich on crunchy wood oven toasted bread with a nice side salad. Cozy spot, nice staff and good ‘flatbread’.
Patsy’s Pizza -2287 1st Avenue, New York, NY (Harlem)
Ok, ok I’m trying to redeem myself from the last review. Patsy’s Pizza has been a New York Pizza institution since 1933. It’s just good New York coal oven fired pie not meant to have tons of creative toppings. I did however have the recommended onion pie which is raw white onion that are cooked just enough to still retain the crispness but bring out a little sweetness. Awesome sauce..
Fried Dumpling-106 Mosco St (between Mulberry St & Mott St) New York, NY (Chinatown)
Small shop that sells only one thing- fried pork dumplings. Boy are they good!! And at the price of 5 for $1.25, 10 for $2.50 is the perfect grab and go lunch to eat while walking through the crazy sidewalks of Chinatown with fish stalls on the sidewalk, whole roasted ducks hanging in the window and someone trying to sell you a fake Rolex on every corner. These dumplings are awesome but don’t expect the woman serving them to be warm and fuzzy, she’s all business and will yell if you don’t keep the line moving.
Cafe Lalo– 201 W 83rd St, New York, NY (Upper Westside)
Out of all eateries and restaurants I’ve been to in NYC I was least impressed here. I tried, I really did! It’s basically and overcrowded, overpriced and very underwhelming cafe menu that perhaps has the only claim to fame of being the cafe from the movie ‘You’ve Got Mail’. What seemed to be a charming cafe from the outside turned out to be a headache and claustrophobic’s nightmare with staff that are pushy and just want to turn over tables. Sorry Meg Ryan and Tom fans…first and last time I’ll go here.
Well there you go! I’ve got a list bugger that my amazon wishlist of other places to check out so I’ll keep these review posts going!