Run, Don’t Walk, to Salumeria Rosi

How have I lived on the UWS and never been to Salumeria Rosi?

What a GEM! Let’s take a look:

20150408_115753 A veritable feast of gourmet and artisanal meats, cheeses, and prepared salads at the front of the store. A friendly and competent counter person offered to help me, but I told her that I was there to eat.  20150408_115800 The dining room is unexpectedly chic. Modern and sleek, with good lighting and some bar seating with comfortable chairs. It seems more like a Tribeca haunt than one on the UWS. 
20150408_123849 Large meat plate

 House made mortadella, soft prosciutto, super spicy cappaciole, and salami kissed with spicy peppercorns. This is a very good and ample meat platter. 

That’s what she said. 

For realsies, though – get this and let the chef go wild with what’s best – there’s no way to lose.

20150408_125657 Pancetta roasted Brussels sprouts. 

Simple and divine all at once. Tiny nuggets of sprouts, tender and almost creamy beneath a shattering, crispy skin. Juicy nuggets of pancetta. Salty, fatty, crunchy, cruciferous. These are a must order as long as they are on the menu.
20150408_125700 Caprese salad

WONDERFUL mozzarella elevates this classic dish. Sweet tomatoes, tangy balsamic, and a tangle of sharp greens and basil, but the glory is to that mozzarella. Luscious, rich, creamy, and bursting with fresh, milky flavor. This is a must get.

Actually, everything here is a must get. The prices are shockingly reasonable (including a hanger steak for under $20), the surroundings are lovely enough for a date or special night, and the food is just delicious. Run, don’t walk, to this very special shop. I can’t wait to come back, shop at the front grocery section, and try more dishes.

Till then, I’ll be having mortadella dreams. 

The Milling Room – Fabulous Pasta, but Will I Return?

Newsflash:The Upper West Side is now becoming  a PLACE. First, Parm. And now, The Milling Room.


This new-ish restaurant in the old Corvo Bianco space is luxe and upscale with a downtown vibe. It’s a great spot for date night and there’s a happy hour in the cozy bar up front.



It seems simple and awesome. Warm, pillow peasant bread served with wonderfully buttery, fruity olive oil. I forget how tasty bread is when it’s simply warmed. Even if you’re counting crabs, splurge for this.


Beet salad

Standard but delicious – sweet, toothsome beets, a tangle of lightly dressed, bright frisee, and some really good creamy, funky blue cheese. The blue cheese is what makes this worth ordering – so often, lesser cheese is paired with beets and this high end cheese is a reminder of how complex and tasty beets really are. The creaminess and salt bring out the beets’ meaty, minerally flavor.


Orzo mac and cheese

THE BEST mac and cheese I have had since S’mac. I wouldn’t even have ordered this – it was my friend’s choice – but now I could never NOT order it. Creamy and delicate, with no overtly sharp or salty tastes. Instead, it’s a deeply savory,m garlic and herb taste that takes center stage. It’s primarily a textural thing paired with that garlic – creamy orzo, crunchy topping, slightly spicy garlic. It’s not too heavy or salty – you eight want to order 2 dishes for an appetizer as a table for 4.


Rabbit pappardelle

My new favorite pasta dish in the hood. I rarely order pasta –  prefer to get my crabs the French fried way – and when I do order it, it had better WOW me. This did. The house made papardelle is thick and quite al dente – this is a chewy, eggy noodle. It’s served in a buttery, winey sauce loaded with diced tomato and sweet onions ND roasted garlic flavors. The rabbit is luxurious. It’s not at ALL gamey -it’s juicy and tender without any rubbery fat or unpleasant gristle. It reminds me a lot of pork – it’s more mild, even, than lamb. I would get this again in a heartbeat, and in fact can’t wait to do just that.


Apple pie

Buttery puff pastry, soft stewed apples, and a drizzle of caramel. Yeah, I knew that you would like it.

So, this place has awesome food, is fairly priced, and is right up the street…sounds perfect, right?

Hold those horses, chief,

There are service issues. Big, bad service issues. It took us FOREVER to get a cocktail list. We had to flag someone down for the bread. We waited 45 minutes in between when my glass of wine was served and when the rest of the party received their beers. What, were they brewing them in the back? The appetizers came out in an appropriate time frame and after we enjoyed we waited for our main courses. And waited. And waited. After an hour – yes an HOUR – my husband finally asked the server where the food might be waiting. The (very nice) server shrugged his shoulders and said that he would check. They were brought to our table about 3 minutes later. The restaurant wasn’t very busy and it wasn’t the first week of service. It was a 3 hour meal without needing to be one. We should have been better attended or at least given some sort of apology for the egregious lack of pacing. The isn’t a cheap dinner, and my husband was so put off by the service that he doesn’t want to return even though the food was great. I would return, but only once more to see if last week’s service was a fluke.

Because, like I said, the UWS is becoming a PLACE. And I would love to see The Milling Room become part of that.

Parm UWS: We’ve Been Waiting for You

Parm  recently opened on the UWS, and let me tell you…we were READY for it! An affordable, delicious restaurant that has a great cocktail menu and is equally appropriate for rowdy birthday dessert and calmer family brunch?! Sign me UP!

20150103_182044 Oh, and sign everyone else up, too. Don’t even THINK about coming here on a Saturday night without a reservation. Like…don’t do it. Don’t worry, even with the massive crowd, the hostess is excellent and will seat you within a minute or two of your reservation time.

20150103_185615 Osso Nice

My unexpected favorite of the round of cocktails that we ordered. This concoction, with rye, grapefruit, and Calabrian honey is a fabulous aperitif. In fact, it tastes like something you would  drink if you had a little cold and wanted to feel better. It’s fruity, bright, a little spicy, and has a gentle, pleasantly sweet  backnote of honey. I don’t love the taste of honey, but here it worked quite well. I recommend it heartily.  20150103_190107 Garlic bread and warm mozzarella

Destination worthy. yep, I totally mean it. At LEAST as tasty as Carbone and without the high prices or difficult reservation. The garlic bread is crunchy (but not so it cuts the roof of your mouth like lesser versions), salty, and loaded with chopped garlic and fresh parsley. The mozz is even better. Warm, milky, soft, fruity with olive oil. It’s creamy and crunchy, pungent and mild. It’s just delicious. Skip the garlic bread deluxe, just go for the mozz – it comes with the bread.  20150103_190400 Spicy broccoli

My fave of all of the veggies we ordered, though the Brussels sprouts were also excellent. The stalks could be slightly more charred, but it comes to the table chilled, tossed in a tangy yogurt vinaigrette, and interspersed with absolutely fiery slices of pickled chilis. It’s quite spicy, vegetal, and quite frankly, necessary with all of the heavy food.

20150103_191529 (1) Chicken Parmesan platter

I mean, it’s just very, very good. Not the most amazing I have ever had (don’t worry, Park Side, you still hold the key to my heart), but very, very good. A big portion (Easily enough to share) of tender chicken with crispy breading, a bright tomato sauce, and a blanket of that really awesome stretchy mozzarella cheese. The baked ziti alongside, topped with a cloud of ricotta, is just a crispy, chewy, and creamy as you could want. This is very, very tasty, and recommended. 
20150103_191540 Chicken Francese platter with Sunday salad

The standout entree. This chicken is the REAL DEAL. It’s as tender as veal,with the soft, “velvet” quality of Chinese proteins. It’s batter is extremely thin and not at all carbo-loaded or greasy. It’s served in a tangy lemony sauce with tons of fresh herbs and just enough butter to enrich the sauce. It’s served with a throwback iceberg salad dressed in Italian dressing that is a far cry from the bottled schlock in my mom’s fridge. It’s a must get.  20150103_194342 Ice cream cake

Just get it. Especially if it’s the Almond Joy version (And even if they run out of the candy bar to top your cake, it’s still delicious). The ice cream is rich and creamy, the topping is whipped cream, and the cookie crumbles are…well, they are cookie crumbles! I love fancy main dishes and trashy desserts, so this is RIGHT up my aisle.

Parm is going to do really well up here. I wouldn’t call it destination worthy fare (except for the garlic bread), but the price point and service are excellent and the food is really quite good. I would totally come here for a loud drink at the bar and an order of mozzarella cheese.

Welcome to the neighborhood.

Mini Review – Lunch at Saiguette

Just popping by before I head downtown to get supplies for New Year’s Eve.

Spoiler alert: I’m not cooking and we will be asleep by 10 pm, easy.

Anyway –  my sister treated me to lunch the other day and it was fabulous!

20141229_115520 Saiguette is a tiny storefront on the way UWS. It’s only a few stools, an L-shaped counter, a refrigerated glass case, and some of the tastiest Vietnamese food east of the Mississippi.  20141229_115526 I’m telling you, it ain’t fancy.  20141229_120240 Pork Belly Bahn Mi

but it is delicious. The bread is crunchy but not too dense – yielding but doughy. The consummate bahn mi bread. It comes loaded with lightly pickled cucumbers, cilantro, shredded carrots, jalapenos, and that smoky, sweet, sticky pork belly. It’s a little tougher than I usually like, but the flavor is out of this world. Next time I can’t wait o try the traditional version, with terrine and pate.  20141229_120245 Crispy spring rolls

Light, insanely hot, and so crispy that they shatter all over your jacket. Dip them in the accompanying sweet, sticky sauce and you won’t be able to stop yourself from inhaling the entire order. We almost ordered another set.

This place isn’t worth a schlep form another part of town, but if you are within 10 blocks, you should totally head there! It’s cheap, clean, and the food is tasty!

Come by tomorrow for the last post of 2014 – the year’s epic fails!

Picholine – A Luxurious, Delicious Gem of a Restaurant

My photographs from my recent dinner at Picholine are terrible, but that’s because the lighting is soft and romantic.

Make no mistake…the food is nearly as good as it is at Daniel. I was shocked at how amazing it is.

The service is comfortable and friendly, and with very few missteps (forgetting a spoon here, misplacing a dish there), quite good.

Now, let’s get into it, shall we?

First off: the room.

A jewel box. A symphony in dove and lilac. Sparkling crystal chandeliers. Cozy banquettes where lovers, old and young, are seated cheek to cheek over sparkling glasses of rose champagne. Old fashioned and lovely.

The clientele: Your parents. Possibly your grandparents. And, on this night, Alan Alda. Yes, America’s national treasure, Alan Alda.

The food: Any number of set courses or tasting menus. Here are a few of the in every way flawless morsels that we devoured:

20141219_194227 Olive and fennel financier

Warm and subtle, with no overt licorice or olive tastes. Merely yeasty and fragrant with a vague earthy sweetness, studded with salty, juicy bits. My husband, who likes neither olives nor fennel, calls this “the perfect amuse bouche.” 20141219_195245 Bread

At first I thought that this was a misstep, but later, I saw that the bread is served room temperature on purpose. It’s a surprisingly, salty, savory baguette, with briny green olives and a yeasty interior, but if it were warm, it would take away from the exceptional cheeses served on the cheese cart.  20141219_195558 Warm apple cider with veggie crisp

Like a hug from a very wealthy grandma. Decadent and comforting.
20141219_200154 Seared foie gras

At least as delicious as that served at Daniel and Jean Georges, if not a million times better. Served in a delicate miso broth that is sweet, complimenting the foie’s delicate flavors, this is what foie should be. Soft, salty, buttery, creamy, melty, luxurious. It requires no overt ingredients, like truffle or sweet accompaniments, to make it shine. As you spoon off each bite of foie, its flavor infuses the broth and at the end you are left with a foie flavored miso broth that is pretty much what heaven would taste like. Please don’t miss this foie. It even makes versions in Paris cower at its glory.
20141219_200232 Uni panna cotta

One of Picholine’s signature dishes, and with good reason. Ever y bite is like a visit to the seashore. Smooth, creamy custard over wonderfully fresh and briny uni. Teh topper is a heaping quenelle of caviar, each tiny egg popping with a savory salinity that juxtaposes the sweet custard. They don’t skimp on the luxurious ingredients, which helps make the hefty price tag seem justifiable.  20141219_202126 Pastrami skate with mustard and sauerkraut

Unexpected, uninhibited, and delicious. Crunchy, breadcrumb crusted skate, seared until it’s still juicy but with a crispy exterior. When paired with the warm, punchy sauerkraut and the cool mustard remoulade, it’s a well-balanced melange of flavors, textures, and temperatures. It’s exactly what I didn’t expect at this elegant, French influenced restaurant.  20141219_205250 The cheese cart

Terrance Brennan’s piece de resistance. The best cheese cart in the city, I’mn now convinced – Artisanal be damned. This doesn’t rely on any fondues or nouveau accompaniments. It’s just fantastic cheese. Stinky, creamy, mild, sharp, grassy, cow, sheep, pasteurized, teeming with delicious bacteria…whatever you want, it’s here! The excellent cheese sommelier is helpful and evocative in her descriptions. Don’t miss the wonderful, soft, orange-scented raisins with at least one full fat, creamy  cheese.  20141219_210937 Mignardises

I mean, are these little afer dinner sweets ever not exactly what you wanted? None of these stand out as memorable, but hat could be because I was still in a cheese-fueled lactose haze.

Picholine is a special occasion restaurant hat deserves way more accolades than it gets. It’s as expensive as top-tier restaurants and just as delicious. The service is perhaps a tad less polished than its more illustrious counterparts and the cocktail list is very sad, but the food is exceptional.

Thank you so much to my incredibly romantic husband for surprising me with a date night that I will remember for many years to come.

It almost makes up for that time that you made me watch “How it’s Made: Heated Flooring.”

The Best Neighborhood Sushi Joint in NYC


The one with plenty of seating.


The one that takes reservations.


The one where native Japanese speakers sit elbow-to-elbow with pre-theater diners ordering California rolls.


The one that is on a random street in a seemingly so-so atmosphere – rather suburban and tired.


The one that has a small cult following on Chowhound.


The one that has incredible uni – clean and creamy, from Santa Barbara.


The one that has an omakase, with 12 pieces and a cut roll of rich, buttery toro, for just $45.


The one where you should avoid the fishy, oddly crunchy herring, but to everything else, say “Yes, please.”


The one where the seared scallop is so undeniably sweet, so mouth-meltingly tender, that it would be at home at Nakazawa.


The place where I am scared to tell you the name. I don’t want this place to blow up and become ridiculously crowded and expensive. It isn’t 15 East, but it’s SO FAR ABOVE PAR, with excellent rice and truly fresh, well cut fish.


Want the name?

Give me an email and I’ll give up the goods.

And when I tell you the name…ssshhh…mum’s the word.

Tolani Wine Bar’s Surprisingly Delicious Menu

If you need a place on the UWS that isn’t brunch, cookies, or over the top fancy, your options are somewhat limited. Luckily, Tolani is on 80th and Amsterdam to fill that girls-night-out void.

It’s a South African influenced wine bar  with a dark, cool vibe that is sexy enough for a date but elegant enough to take the parents for brunch. with a hefty by the glass list as well as an extensive selection of Pappy Van Winkle bourbons. Better yet, it has a food menu. Not just bar food, but real sharing plate, restaurant food. The kind of food that makes you salivate just looking at it but that doesn’t require a foodie degree to enjoy. Catch my drift:
20141028_194335 Tuna carpaccio with olives, fried garlic, and arugula

An interesting, savory take on tuna tartare. The tuna is paper thin, reminiscent of beef carpaccio but with an even more velvety texture. The garlic is crispy and a little spicy and the olives provide a Nicoise-esque punch of salinity. This is light and a great way to start the evening.

20141028_200943 Fish tacos

Best dish of the night, hand down. This taco is so far superior to many other grilled fish tacos in town. The grouper is meaty but mild, perfect for its spicy (but not overly so) tomatillo salsa. Crispy cabbage, buttery avocado, and a quick spritz of lime all complete the package in a warm corn tortilla. It’s juicy, crispy, spicy, and fresh…all of the things that make Mexican food great. Best of all, it’s simple. It relies on awesome ingredients so here isn’t any weird crema or nouveau wrap to muck up the clean tastes of the food. There is only one to an order here, so be sure to order enough for the table.
20141028_200949 Lamb, beef, and veal meatballs with ricotta

Delicious and so satisfying on a chilly night.  The meatballs are spicy and robust, with the lamb bringing out some earthy flavors. The sauce is long cooked and sweet; richer and more wine-y than light summer sauces. A sprinkling of salty Parmesan cheese and some creamy ricotta make this more of a stew than a meatball. Be sure to ask for more warm bread to sop up the delicious sauce.  20141028_211707 African bread pudding

I don’t know what makes this African, but it’s delicious – like a deep-fried bread pudding with a spongy texture. Crispy, light,a nd positively soaked in a thick vanilla-y creme anglais.

Tolani is well priced with excellent service and really good food! The portions are tiny, so don’t take big eaters here, but there’s a great happy hour and the food is really worthwhile. Finally, a place on the UWS that fits the bill for a relaxed night out on the town.

Andanada 141 – Hidden Tapas on the UWS

In New York City, you have to look down or you will miss stuff.

You will miss a pile of dog poop you are about to step in, a dropped 20 dollar bill, or sometimes a hidden neighborhood gem.

I mean, have any of you even looked into the basement level of 69th Street near Broadway, into the charming restaurant Andanada 141?

It’s a tapas place with live flamenco dancers and music twice a week, a beautiful covered garden out back, and a jovial, upbeat atmosphere that is perfect for a date with a loved one or close friend. It’s lively but not too noisy and the by-the-glass wine list is varied. The rose cava is especiallydelightful.

20140826_193855 Patatas Bravas

Not the best version of the dish, but it fits the bill. The potatoes are peeled and very creamy with an exterior that could be a little saltier and crisper. The tomato sauce is weirdly sweet, but the mayonnaise is clearly homemade. It’s rich and eggy – the perfect foil for those hot potatoes.
20140826_193422 Cod Croquettes
On the money. Be sure to dip them in the accompanying red pepper sauce, which is smoky and a little sweet instead of spicy, or they will taste too fishy. The sauce eradicates any note of fishiness or funk. All you are left with is a thick, crispy crust and soft interior. Don’t miss the garlic shrimp either, which come snappy and swimming in garlicky oil that is the perfect bread dip.

20140826_191248 Fried Artichokes

Crispy and dense with a flurry of nutty Parmesan cheese. It needs some acid and salt – maybe a Caesar-like vinaigrette would help? But as it stands, I wouldn’t get these again.
20140826_191230 Ham Croquetas

Hit of the night. A thin, crunchy breadcrumb shell outside soft, mashed potaot-meets-Ibercio-fatty-porky-goodness inside. Steaming hot and the right mix of hot, soft, crunchy, and salty. We should have ordered another dish of these!

Andanada 141 isn’t going to win the best tapas restaurant of the year. But the food is very good, the prices are great, and the service is friendly. Sit there for hours or get out of there in an hour flat – it’s up to you. I would totally come back here, get the shrimp, potatoes, and both croquetas again.

See what happens when you look DOWN to smell the roses?

Bites to Savor This Weekend and Beyond!

Food I’m enjoying around town:

20140525_195750 Chocolate mint ice cream bar from Treat House

Generally, I find these gourmet Rice Krispy treats overpriced and dry – nothing beats licking the spoon of some still warm, freshly made treats. But this ice cream version does surprisingly well. The ice cream is what kicks it up the notch – it’s really, sharply minty 0 this is a grown up’s treat. It’s coated in a thick layer of crisp chocolate and the “cookies,” which are really Rice Krispy treats, provide a crunchy, chewy counterpart. This is a fun, light ending to a meal out on the UWS.
20140809_115858 Haul from Tucker Square Greenmarket

SUNGOLD TOMATOES SUNGOLD TOMATOES SUNGOLD TOMATOES. This year, the sungolds are INSANE. Sweet, light, juicy, firm…they are perfect raw and even better slowly roasted. The peaches are just going out of season now, but you can still find some wonderful late season ones – yellow peaches;  the whites have been super mealy. Tiny bell peppers and sheep’s milk cheeses in pungent blue and tangy yellow. This farmer’s market is never too crowded and never too expensive – the vendors are lovely and invite you to try anything that looks delicious and the variety is usually excellent. Give it a go, and say hi if you see me! 20140819_184057 20140819_191126 Mexican food at Dahlia’s

Nothing groundbreaking, but there are strong margaritas, fair prices, and an adorable patio looking over Harrison Street – worth the price of admission! You have to savor this sunlight as long as you can – September is upon us and this lovely weather will be but a memory sooner than we can imagine. The guacamole is plentiful and not crazy expensive and the menu is full of lots of familiar Tex-Mex fare – order up and enjoy!

Skip These Dishes at These Excellent Restaurants

I tend to only write about the restaurants I love. Because, unless the errors are really egrigious or a restaurant htat has been lauded is so not worth your time and money and I think that you should actively avoid it.

However, many good restaurants – even great restaurants – have one or two clunker dishes. Dishes that, if you orer them, may color your view of an otherwise excellent restaurant.

So, when visiting these restaurants, you should avoid these dishes:

20140601_182341 Red Farm fried lobster and cheese sticks

To be honest, this whole meal was kinda a disappointing. But these cheese sticks were by FAR the most miserable item that we ordered. Yes, miserable. Fishy lobster. I can’t even remember any other taste, because the lobster was so offensively awful. It tastes fake, rotten, foul…ugh. And maybe that’s why the rest of the meal was disappointing. I need to go back and enjoy a meal without the gross taste of bad shellfish in my mouth.
20140609_192830 Fabrick red snapper ceviche

Loved this meal – hated this dish. Weird, fishy, off taste (in case you can’t guess, anything less than totally pristine seafood is my major gustatory bugaboo) and the fish skin was not crispy enough so it turned rather soggy. By all means, skip this and order the lovely flatbread or the addictive candied bacon.
20140704_184348 Minetta Tavern oxtail and foie gras terrine

High end cat food. Bizarre, slimy texture that is so dense that the meat itself almost gasps for air. The flavors are muddied and it seems like a waste of excellent ingredients. Do yourself a favor and order a different appetizer from the excellent menu.
20140705_114241 Russ and Daughters Cafe new Holland herring

This just tastes like a big ole slimeball with a visually displeasing tail and some rather tickly bones. I so badly wanted to love this. I know that all over Asmterdam this is considered a delicacy and that these particularly tender and mild herring only come in for a few weeks every year. The lines can wrap around the corner of the Russ and Daughters shop when word comes in that this stuff is in stock. And…yet…I just couldn’t get into this. Oh well, more for you.