Authentic Sichuan cuisine at Alley 41 in Flushing

Authentic Sichuan cuisine at Alley 41 in Flushing

When I received an invite to dine at Alley 41, a Sichuanese restaurant in Flushing, I realized that it has been years that we have been saying we should go in that area to try some authentic Chinese cuisine, but we never went. So I gladly accepted the offer and we went on a Friday evening. Its owner, Mr Yao Hua comes from the Sichuan province and immigrated in the US in 1999. Here, he worked in various restaurants before opening Alley 41 in 2017, doing its best to keep the flavors authentic and shipping 80% of its ingredients from the Sichuan Province in China.

Brunch at The Dutch

Brunch at The Dutch

It’s been a while since we wanted to go to The Dutch, one of the many restaurants of successful restauranteur Andrew Carmellini (Lafayette, Locanda Verde and Bar Primi to name a few). So, as we had a cooking class at Atelier Sucré (éclairs and cream puffs) in the West Village, we decided to book a table for brunch.

This big place that proposes an American fare was packed for sure, not just the dining rooms but also the bar. Food wise, there are few interesting dishes they offer like the donut tree that seems decadent, but the flavors proposed not that great for me, so we passed. And I was …

Pico Taco in Hoboken, NJ

Pico Taco in Hoboken, NJ

We recently went to Pico Taco, a small taco joint near the path train in Hoboken. Yes, small, bright with only few tables on each side and the counter in the back where you will place your order. Opened in May 2019, Pico Taco makes their own tortilla, claiming that they use fresh ingredients, although, when I asked what fish they used for their crispy fish taco, they said “frozen tilapia”. I admit that at that point I hesitated (not just because the fish is frozen, but also because…

La Pecora Bianca, Midtown East

La Pecora Bianca, Midtown East

It’s been a while since we wanted to dine at La Pecora Bianca and we finally decided to go to this bright and inviting restaurant with few locations in Manhattan. We picked the one Midtown East that was not that packed when we arrived. I like the decor that is not overdone but you could wonder if you too should come there dressed in white.

Why Osteria Francescana might be the best restaurant in the World...

Why Osteria Francescana might be the best restaurant in the World...

I wanted to go to Osteria Francescana for a while, mesmerized by the avant-garde cuisine of acclaimed Chef Massimo Bottura whose innovative mind comes out pretty well in the Netflix’s series Chef’s Table. Opened in 1995, Osteria Francescana rapidly gained popularity, climbing the ladder of the 50 World Best Restaurants (3rd in 2013 and 2014, 2nd in 2015 and then 1st in 2016 and 2018). Rapidly but not without struggling at first, the restaurant was rejected by Italian patrons who thought that the dishes served did not represent Italian classics and were even treasonous. It is only …

Florence, Italy: All'Antico Vinaio

Florence, Italy: All'Antico Vinaio

We were leaving the Uffizi Galery in Florence when we saw a horde of people sitting wherever they could to eat a huge sandwich glutinously. So we followed the line and ended up in front of All’Antico Vinaio, a popular sandwich shop that had, the same week, a pop up in New York, in front of Otto Enoteca. Opened in 1991, this place serves sandwiches made with a bread that is baked during the day, and prepared to order.

Florence, Italy: Pizzeria Antica Porta

Florence, Italy: Pizzeria Antica Porta

Our friend Allan who has been living in Florence for the past three years suggested to try Pizzeria Antica Porta, a place loved by locals with few tourists like us who you would think got lost. Located in the outskirts of Florence, on the road to Rome, outside of what used to be city walls, this place might be small in space but it is big in flavor.

We got lucky, had a table quickly and could not wait to try their pizza. We chose two: the Quattro formaggi and the margarita with mozzarella di buffala.

Florence, Italy: Borgo Antico

Florence, Italy: Borgo Antico

We discovered Trattoria Borgo Antico in Florence 5 years ago after finishing a walking tour in Piazza di Santo Spirito, right in front of the Santo Spirito Basilica and were really looking forward to going back there. We went back in fact for a dish that I love there and was kind of déjà vu: the linguine alle vongole or linguine with clams in a white sauce. There are few things I need for this dish to be successful: pasta well cooked, lots of well cleaned clams (who likes to chew on sand?) and the right amount of sauce (and of course a good sauce). Well I got all of that to the point that …

Florence, Italy: Osteria Del Gatto e la Volpe

Florence, Italy: Osteria Del Gatto e la Volpe

On our first evening in Florence, we looked up for best pasta in the city and found out Osteria Del Gatto e la Volpe (the cat and the wolf), located via Ghibellina, a charming street few blocks from the Duomo. The comment on the website where we found it said that it was one of the last typical Italian restaurants and the rustic decor seemed a reminder of the past (although not so old in the city as it opened in 1979), but …

Loquito, Taco Arabes in Hoboken, NJ

Loquito, Taco Arabes in Hoboken, NJ

Am I going to be loco of Loquito in Hoboken? I know this is an easy way to start this post when you know that Loquito is a diminutive of loco that means crazy in Spanish. Loquito opened few weeks ago on Washington street, result of the cooperation of Chef Stephen El-Hassan, co-owner of O’Bagel, his sister Helengrace and Sammy Abdo, co-founder of Michigan’s Jersey Bagel and Deli. With a name like Loquito, you would expect a taqueria, but the mention “tacos arabes” below the name on the awning makes you wonder what kind of tacos they serve. At first,…

The Rag Trader: come with an appetite, leave with a headache!

The Rag Trader: come with an appetite, leave with a headache!

Food is stronger than common sense: why did we decide to go to such place as The Rag Trader when we know that we hate noisy places, preferring quieter ones so we can enjoy a nice conversation while having a great dinner? This place kept popping up on Opentable.com and their menu was mouth watering, offering lots of dishes to share inspired from a wide range of cuisine. When we arrived, we realized our mistake, the place being packed and loud, but had few minutes of hope when they told us our table was upstairs. Yes, I thought that maybe upstairs was quieter, more geared towards diners.

Taco Dumbo in NYC, NY

Taco Dumbo in NYC, NY

We passed in front of Taco Dumbo few times and decided to try it on a Friday evening. This casual place with a busy bar was packed and we were lucky to find a seat after the ordering at the counter.

The tacos and guacamole came fairly quickly at our table, but I had to ditch the classic margarita I ordered, realizing that they forgot it in my order. The guacamole, house made was pretty good, with chunks of avocado, but needed a small bit of salt. It was not bland though, but the tacos were! Bland and dry were the beef short-rib and the rotisserie chicken Tinga that I was really looking forward to as I love rotisserie chicken.

Simply Chai in Hoboken, NJ

Simply Chai in Hoboken, NJ

I am a coffee drinker: there is no doubt, although I severely reduced my intake when I realized that 14 espresso was a bit too much. So, tea is not something I would drink on a regular basis except at Chinese or Thai restaurants. One exception is Chai that I discovered many years ago during a trip to India. Chai means “tea” in Hindi so you should never say “Chai tea” the same way you would never say a “coffee espresso”. It is black tea that is mixed with spices like cardamom, clove, ginger, etc. and is said,…

Guest Chef's Night at Soul Curry in Hoboken, NJ

Guest Chef's Night at Soul Curry in Hoboken, NJ

When we got invited to Soul Curry in Hoboken 2 Saturdays ago to attend a Guest Chef Night’s event, I was really excited: we love this place and we are often going there, the last time being right after being back from Europe, as we were craving Indian food. At Soul Curry, the menu proposes innovative and classic dishes crafted by Chef Hari Nayak that I met again, 7 years after our first encounter when the place was called Matt and Meera. It is always a pleasure to meet with Chef Nayak: his love for his cuisine and hospitality being undeniable. I told Chef Nayak that we were sad to see Matt and Meera close, the concept of American-Indian fusion being unique in Hoboken, and he explained that after 5 years, …

Garam Masala in Ridgewood, Queens

Garam Masala in Ridgewood, Queens

I was recently invited at Garam Masala, an Indian restaurant located in Ridgewood, Queens. Its owner, Saiful Islam, who previously managed Tandoori Masala in Bushwick and Mahal Kita in Williamsburg wanted to open his own place, catering to a crowd hungry for Indian flavors, but as he says, flavorful does not mean spicy and he and his team ensures diners get the right level of heat.

Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream in NYC, NY

Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream in NYC, NY

I discovered Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream few years ago, while watching a TV show, Unique Sweets, that unfortunately does not run anymore. It was in 2015 and the flagship parlor on the Lower East Side was like going to heaven. But a crowded heaven unfortunately and I admit that I have a limit to my patience when it comes to food, especially in hot weather...So we were excited when we saw that Nicholas Morgenstern decided to open a second, larger location on West Houston. Although also packed, it is usually fine to go there and have some of the incredible flavors they are proposing: burnt honey vanilla (great in a milk shake, it …

800 Degrees Woodfired Kitchen in NYC, NY

800 Degrees Woodfired Kitchen in NYC, NY

When we went to 800 Degrees Woodfired Kitchen, it was it because Chef and founder Anthony Carron partnered with two NBA players, Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem. No, actually we just found it on Opentable.com and thought it would be a good idea to try this place, the concept (cooking food on an open flame) being quite interesting, especially after our dinner at The Marshal in Hell’s Kitchen last year where they really embrace this way of cooking.

Shaka Bowl in Hoboken, NJ

Shaka Bowl in Hoboken, NJ

When Shaka Bowl opened a little over a year ago, I did not know what to think: Poké seems a bit of a trend that may not last as long as ramen. For me, I may crave ramen that I find comforting in the winter time (no hot soup in the summer please), but never craved Poké, even if I love raw fish. Go figure. So it took us time before going to Shaka Bowl, and I admit that it is the tacos they offer that persuaded us to go on a Sunday. And we did not go just once.

Patisserie Tomoko in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Patisserie Tomoko in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

We were in Williamsburg for a street art exhibit called Beyond The Streets and so, decided to find a place after seeing the amazing work from the artists. Looking for a place, we stumbled upon Patisserie Tomoko. It was interesting to find such place there, a bit of the beaten path, serving French and American dessert with a Japanese touch, creation of Chef Tomoko who I admit has an impressive resume, having worked at Le Bernardin, Bouley and The Russian Tea Room.

Ocean Prime in NYC, NY

Ocean Prime in NYC, NY

Seafood or steak restaurant? When you go to Ocean Prime, you might be a bit confused. This place is not unknown to me as I went there few times, often for lunch or a drink, their bar being quite busy in the evening. This time, it was Jodi who wanted to go as she wanted to try a dessert I have been talking about for quite some time. So here we are on a Friday evening. As we did not have any reservation, they put us on one of the side tables in the mezzanine, overlooking the dining room: it was a bit dark, but I was quite happy as the noise level was much lower than on the main floor.