Chikalicious Dessert Bar in the East Village, NYC, NY

image of Chikalicious Dessert Bar in the East Village, NYC, NY

So, after a first tentative to go to ChikaLicious Dessert Bar and ending up in their Dessert Club, we finally made it. We showed up couple of minutes after they opened, allowing us to get a table, but also to take photos comfortably.
image of Chikalicious Dessert Bar in the East Village, NYC, NY

Minutes later, the place was packed! Know that his is small and that they only accept reservations for large groups.
image of Chikalicious Dessert Bar in the East Village, NYC, NY

This location is totally different from the other one: a more refined decor as well as a different menu. Here, no cupcake or dossant (a fusion of a croissant and a donut, competitor to the Cronut from Dominique Ansel). At ChikaLicious Dessert Bar, you get a prix-fixe for $16 that includes an amuse-Bouche, a dessert and some petits fours.
image of Chikalicious Dessert Bar in the East Village, NYC, NY

The desserts can be paired with a dessert wine for an additional $8 that we did not consider, Jodi preferring a tea:
image of tea at Chikalicious Dessert Bar in the East Village, NYC, NY

And myself an espresso:
image of espresso at Chikalicious Dessert Bar in the East Village, NYC, NY

Both served in a nice china. 
image of tea at Chikalicious Dessert Bar in the East Village, NYC, NY

That day, the amuse-bouche was Cara Cara orange (sort of navel orange) with a rosemary ice cream. 
image of cara cara orange and sorbet at Chikalicious Dessert Bar in the East Village, NYC, NY

This was a surpising start, the rosemary ice cream being very original, with only a slight taste of rosemary that worked perfectly with the orange.

Then we got our desserts of choice. Know that, as dessert choices change on a regular basis, you may not be able to order what we ate. Jodi ordered the mango-pineapple tartare on crispy kataifi with coconut sorbet and white rum purée.
image of mango-pineapple tartare at Chikalicious Dessert Bar in the East Village, NYC, NY

image of mango-pineapple tartare at Chikalicious Dessert Bar in the East Village, NYC, NY

On my side, I ordered the warm chocolate tart with pink peppercorn ice cream and red wine sauce, that looked like a smiley.
image of warm chocolate tart at Chikalicious Dessert Bar in the East Village, NYC, NY

image of warm chocolate tart at Chikalicious Dessert Bar in the East Village, NYC, NY

I admit that when the dishes came, I was a bit surprised by the small size of the desserts. Still, the presentation was beautiful and I really liked them, especially the warm chocolate tart whose center was completely liquid, similar to a chocolate soufflé. I admit however that I did not really like the red wine sauce that was served with it. 

We then got some petits fours:
image of petits fours at Chikalicious Dessert Bar in the East Village, NYC, NY

Coconut marshmallow:
image of coconut marshmallow at Chikalicious Dessert Bar in the East Village, NYC, NY

Bacardi rum chocolate cookies:
image of Barcardi rum cookie at Chikalicious Dessert Bar in the East Village, NYC, NY

Earl grey tea cakes:
image of Earl Grey tea cake at Chikalicious Dessert Bar in the East Village, NYC, NY

All were good, especially the chocolate cookies (probably because of the rum...). 

The desserts at ChikaLicious are quite good and elegant, with a fantastic presentation, the Chef showcasing a lot of creativity. However, for $16 without a coffee or tea, I find it slightly overpriced. 

Enjoy (I did)!

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5 Napkin burger in Union Square, NYC

image of 5 Napkin burger in Union Square, NYC

Our friends from Denmark, Anne and Klaus came recently to visit New York with their kids Signe, Emile and Jonas. We spent some time with them and had to live up to our reputation of foodies (I hate that word). So we picked few places, some of them really representative of Americana. So, of course, we went for burgers. We had to take into account few things: first, there needed to be vegetarian options, Jonas being vegetarian. Second, there should be, a least, a classic cheeseburger. So we de facto eliminated Burger Joint and Umami Burger (although I still salivate like a Pavlov's dog when thinking about the truffle burger there). 
image of 5 Napkin burger in Union Square, NYC

So, we picked 5 Napkin Burger. I went already to the original one in Hell's Kitchen, but never to the one in Union Square. No surprise there: the decor is similar, representing a slaughterhouse, the cleanliness indicating that it represents it after the slaughter. One cannot miss the hooks hanging
image of 5 Napkin burger in Union Square, NYC

Or the multiple scales displayed all over the restaurant. 
image of scales at 5 Napkin burger in Union Square, NYC

image of scales at 5 Napkin burger in Union Square, NYC

image of scales at 5 Napkin burger in Union Square, NYC

If you have never been to 5 Napkin Burger, let me explain to you how it was born. It all started at Nice Matin, a French restaurant located on the Upper West Side. One of their most successful dish was a burger where the meat was so juicy that you needed five napkins for your hands. The owners of the restaurant Simon Oren and Andy D'Amico then got the idea to open a restaurant where their signature burger would be the star. Since then, it has been a success story, with few restaurants in the city, as well as in other cities. 
image of milkshake machine at 5 Napkin burger in Union Square, NYC

But do not imagine that the menu offers only burgers, as it's name could lead you to: they serve other dishes, including salads and...sushi! Interesting! Not sure I would think about ordering sushi there. 

The Kroners got their burgers, but, of course, we did too...Jodi ordered the classic cheese, an 8 oz. beef patty served with American cheese, onion, lettuce, tomato, pickles, on a sesame brioche bread. 
image of classic cheeseburger at 5 Napkin burger in Union Square, NYC

It was very good, the meat being juicy and very tasty, topped by a nice amount of cheese. 

But it did not measure up with the 5 Napkin burger that I ordered. 
image of signature burger at 5 Napkin burger in Union Square, NYC

The beef patty was literally smothered with Gruyere, caramelized onions and rosemary aioli. 
image of signature burger at 5 Napkin burger in Union Square, NYC

A bit messy for sure, but who cares? Certainly not me who needed more than 5 napkins to clean my hands, the juiciness of the meat adding to the delightful mess.

To go with the burger, I of course ordered a milk shake. Usually, I order a vanilla one, but I got tempted by a cookies and cream that had little pieces of oreo cookie in it.
image of cookies and cream milkshake at 5 Napkin burger in Union Square, NYC

Everything was fantastic there and it was the perfect introduction to the next few meals we planed for our friends! I certainly did not regret the choice of 5 Napkin Burger: this is definitely one of the best in the City!

Enjoy (I did)!

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Chikalicious Dessert Club in the East Village

image of Chikalicious Dessert Club in the East Village

ChikaLicious Dessert Club is an offshoot of ChikaLicious Dessert Bar, located across the street from one another. I wanted to go there after people at work mentioned it to me. I also wanted to try the Dough'Ssant, their response to the Cronut from Chef Dominique Ansel. We decided to show up early on a Saturday afternoon, thinking that there would be a large crowd. I admit that our target was the dessert bar and not the club that we did not know exist. So when we arrived and saw the doors closed until 3pm, we were a bit disappointed. Then we turned our back and saw the dessert club, empty! 
image of Chikalicious Dessert Club in the East Village

We rushed inside of this tiny place that was empty. I like when there are not too many people, so we have enough time to make up our mind about the pastries. There are not that many in fact, but enough to make us think...
image of Chikalicious Dessert Club in the East Village

We decided to first try the chocolate chip cookie:
image of chocolate chip cookie at Chikalicious Dessert Club in the East Village

We immediately picked it because of the large quantity of chocolate that it seemed to have and we were not disappointed. Not the best chocolate chip cookie, but a decent one.

Then, we picked the TiMo or Tiramisu Mochi:

image of tiramisu mochi at Chikalicious Dessert Club in the East Village

That was fantastic: inside the mochi shell was a delicious tiramisu. I am not sure how they are making it, but it is surely successful.

Jodi could not resist ordering the coconut lychee marshmallow:
image of coconut lychee marshmallow at Chikalicious Dessert Club in the East Village

If you like coconut, this is definitely for you!

Last, was the Dough'Ssant:
image of creme brûlée Dough'Ssant at Chikalicious Dessert Club in the East Village

As I mentioned, it is the equivalent to the Cronut, but know that it is not fried, but baked, making it, suposedly healthier...Unlike the cronut, besides the demand, they offer different flavors: plain, nutella, Meyer lemon, caramel...We decided to go for crème brûlée.
image of creme brûlée Dough'Ssant at Chikalicious Dessert Club in the East Village

It was sublime, light, it did not have all the layers of a croissant, but was still airy. Similar to the cronut, there is some custard inside (all Dough'Ssant have a vanilla creme inside) that adds to the decadence of this pastry. I liked it, but would not put it at the same level of the cronut. I just consider it different.

Price wise, it was reasonable as we ended up paying $20 for all of these plus a double espresso and a tea. I liked it and already have my sight on what I will order on my next visit...
image of cupcakes at Chikalicious Dessert Club in the East Village


Enjoy (I did)!

Dessert Club, ChikaLicious on Urbanspoon

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Hot Dog Pizza at Ribalta in NYC, New York

image of Pizzeria Ribalta in NYC, New York

Ok, I admit that the only reason I wanted to go to Ribalta, a restaurant located few steps from Union Square, was to try their hot dog pizza. Yes, you read right: a hot dog pizza. I do not see any problem about having such a pizza, having seen pizza made with cheeseburger, mac and cheese or vodka sauce. I guess it is a good way to show some creativity and have something on your menu that will make people want to try and, sometimes, talk about it...like me! 

There is one thing you need to know about Ribalta: it is owned by Rosario Procino, former founder of Keste pizzeria, and Chef Pasquale Cozzolino, former Executive Chef at Dellaroccos in Brooklyn Heights and Pizza Arte, who want to stay true to the Neapolitan pizza making. 
image of Pizzeria Ribalta in NYC, New York

The place is pretty big, with high ceilings and a giant TV where people were watching the winter olympics in Sochi.

We decided to start with an appetizer and could not resist ordering the meatballs.
image of meatballs at Pizzeria Ribalta in NYC, New York
They were served in a Neapolitan ragu that was thick and had a very bold flavor, as well as some large slices of parmigiano cheese.
image of meatballs at Pizzeria Ribalta in NYC, New York

This was a delicious dish, the meatballs being perfectly moist. I admit that the star was the ragu though.

Then came the hot dog pizza:
image of hot dog pizza at Pizzeria Ribalta in NYC, New York

Called the Americana, it was simply tomato sauce, mozzarella, French fries (crispy on the outside and soft on the inside) and a sliced hot dog sausage. 
image of hot dog pizza at Pizzeria Ribalta in NYC, New York

Cooked in a brick oven, it had a nice char and the crust was crispy.
image of hot dog pizza at Pizzeria Ribalta in NYC, New York

Overall, it was a very good pizza, all the components working very well together. Would I go back just to get this pizza? Maybe for fun with friends, as it sounds like a crazy dish. But I would probably go back to try other pizza such as the Nobile, made of mozzarella, gorgonzola, truffle sauce and truffle shaving, or to try pasta. 

Enjoy (I did)!

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Brunch at Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village

Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village
Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village

I had Momofuku Ssam Bar on my wish list for a while, being a fan of other Momofuku's locations and of their creator, David Chang. Problem is that they do not have that many vegetarian dishes, catering more to meat lovers, especially pork or duck, the later being another reason I wanted to go there, my love for this bird being incommensurable. 

Chopsticks at Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village
Chopsticks at Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village

We decided to go on a Saturday for lunch, early enough to get a table as they only take reservation for large group and specific menus served for three people or more, like the  bo ssäm pork shoulder (serves 6-10 people), the whole-rotisserie duck (serves 3-6 people), or the dry aged ribeye (serves 3-6 people).

Dining room at Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village
Dining room at Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village

When we arrived, luckily, there were not that many people in this zen and modern restaurant. Twenty minutes after, it was full of people coming to try their menu made of small plates, perfect for sharing, as well as large ones.

Kitchen at Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village
Kitchen at Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village

They sat us in front of the kitchen that is located in the back of the restaurant. It was definitely busy over there, the dishes leaving the kitchen at an incredible pace. Surprisingly, our first plates came within few minutes. The first one was the steamed pork buns, one of the signature dishes of

Momofuku Noodle Bar

and this place.

Steamed Pork Buns at Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village
Steamed Pork Buns at Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village

These buns, made with pork belly, hoisin, cucumbers, scallions were succulent, the cucumber giving a nice crunch, the pork belly being tasty and heavenly fatty and the hoisin sauce giving a fantastic sweetness. Definitely a dish I recommend.

The second dish was the kimchi deviled eggs.

Kimchi Deviled eggs at Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village
Kimchi Deviled eggs at Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village

Kimchi is fermented Korean side dish made of vegetables (the most common being cabbage) with a variety of seasonings. Mixing it with the mayo and egg yolk is genius! It was not spicy as I expected and you could taste bits of kimchi that added a bit of texture to the dish. 

Then, we shared the edwards ham and egg sandwich:

Ham and egg sandwich at Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village
Ham and egg sandwich at Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village

It was a nice take on a classic ham end egg sandwich, made with a delicious biscuit (I could eat these with just some butter and honey), a sunny side egg and a red-eye gravy (no idea how they made it, but it was very good). It was served with chicharron that is fried pork skin.

chicharron at Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village
chicharron at Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village

This is another recommended dish.

The last dish was grilled duck hearts served with red cabbage, sunny side egg and toast.

grilled duck hearts at Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village
grilled duck hearts at Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village

The presentation looked very appetizing and a bit surprising as I thought that they would just serve it on a piece of toast rather than breaking the bread into pieces. What I did was to pierce the yolk so it dripped in the bottom of the plate and soaked the bread.

grilled duck hearts at Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village
grilled duck hearts at Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village

I really liked the dish, the duck hearts not being chewy and having a nice grilled taste and the cabbage adding some crunch and texture. I thought that this was a better dish than the duck hearts dish I had at

Craftbar

last year. 

We had a great brunch at Momofuku Ssam Bar. Not surprisingly, the food was original, elaborate and delicious. The only negative is the very limited vegetarian dishes, but I am sure that if you ask they can accommodate you.

Enjoy (I did)!

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Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

 Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

It has been a while since I wanted to try Brick Lane Curry House, the restaurant being on my list after I saw an episode of Man vs Food where the challenge was to eat the Phaal, a very hot curry, so hot that you need to wear a gas mask to cook it, the fumes of the ten different chili used being too intense. But it was not for the Phaal that we went, and the disclaimer below did not change my mind, even if I can get a free beer...

 Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

Brick Lane Curry House takes its name from the neighborhood in London that is supposed to have the best curry houses outside of Asia. I have never been there, maybe one day.

 Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

It is also a subway stop, so no wonder why you can see some subway signs (underground as they say in the UK) or subway maps.

 Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

The place is like a labyrinth with three different dining rooms, the two main ones being separated by bottles of wine.

 Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

As soon as we sat, they brought us some delicious papadum:

 papadam at Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

papadam at Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

For appetizers, we decided to try some classic vegetarian dishes: pakora.

 vegetarian pakora at Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

vegetarian pakora at Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

These are vegetable fritters served with a tomato chutney that had a nice kick. The pakora were good, but missing a bit of crunch.

Then, we had aloo (potato) samosas:

 aloo or potato samosa at Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

aloo or potato samosa at Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

Served with the same tomato chutney, it was just ok for me, as they mainly tasted the potato that was a bit bland.

 aloo or potato samosa at Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

aloo or potato samosa at Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

The shell however was deliciously crispy.

Then, we shared the Chana Masala (Vegan):

 chana masala at Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

chana masala at Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

It is a dish made of chickpeas, tomatoes, onions and spices.

 chana masala at Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

chana masala at Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

I usually love chana masala, but did not like this one that was missing texture and flavor.

However, the lamb madras curry was perfect!

 lamb madras curry at Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

lamb madras curry at Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

The waiter told us that it was spicy, but in fact, it just had a bit of a kick. The curry, made with a gravy prepared with mustard seeds, curry leaves and finished with coconut milk was very good and flavorful. I could have eaten that even without meat (the lamb was perfect), with just rice or better, with naan.

Both dishes were served with some rice:

 pulao rice at Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

pulao rice at Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

And we also ordered some naan that was freshly made:

 naan at Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

naan at Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

As usual, I ordered a sweet lassi that was pretty good: thick but not too much and not too sweet, it was perfect to extinguish any heat coming from the dishes.

 lassi at Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

lassi at Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village, NYC, New York

The food at Brick Lane Curry House was just ok for me and I think that it is overpriced. I definitely prefer Baluchi's or The Masala Wala over this place.

Enjoy (...)!

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Restaurant Information:

* Restaurant Name

Brick Lane Curry House

* Overall

★★☆☆☆

* Neighborhood / Cuisine

East Village

/

Indian

* Street Address

306-308 East 6th St., New York, NY 10003

* Phone

(212) 979-2900

Ramen Setagaya in the East Village, NYC, New York

image of Ramen Setagaya in the East Village, NYC, New York

It has been a while since I wanted to try Ramen Setagaya, not just because I love ramen and hope to try all the ramen places in the City, but also because it is always packed and I was thinking that there is probably a reason for it.

So we decided to go on a Sunday at the opening time, to make sure we would be the first there. We showed up at 12pm and, as planned, were there first. I should mention that it was the day of the Superbowl and so there were not that many people roaming in the street of New York.

Chef Maejima opened Ramen Setagaya in 2000 in Tokyo and few years ago in New York and Fort Lee (NJ). The restaurant in NYC is not a big place, probably sitting 25 people. with a communal table in the middle. According to them, they serve 300 ramen daily.
image of Ramen Setagaya in the East Village, NYC, New York

Their menu offers ramen with meat or vegetarian, as well as cold noodles called Tsukemen. If you are hungry, they also propose appetizers and side dishes. But if you are a fan of pork buns like me, you will be disappointed because they do not have them on the menu. Not that it is a deal breaker though!

Jodi ordered the vegetarian miso ramen:
image of Vegetarian miso ramen at Ramen Setagaya in the East Village, NYC, New York

It was made with soft tofu, a half salt tasted egg, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, cabbage, scallion and onion. When it came, it had this incredible smell that was very appetizing. The broth was good, but had a tad too much garlic.

image of Vegetarian miso ramen at Ramen Setagaya in the East Village, NYC, New York

Also, the tofu was just pieces put on top: fried, it would have given more flavor and some texture.

I went for the Shio Chasumen that is Shio ramen with extra pork:
image of Shio ramen at Ramen Setagaya in the East Village, NYC, New York

It was composed of BBQ pork, salt tasted egg, bamboo shoot, seaweed, scallion and scallop powder. The broth is made of chicken, pork and vegetables, as well as Khanh Hoa Salt, which is a natural mineral-rich sea salt from Vietnam. I really liked it: not too salty, light and tasty. The photo below shows you how much I liked it...
image of Shio ramen at Ramen Setagaya in the East Village, NYC, New York

The noodles between the two ramen were different (they have three different kinds). The one on the left was in the vegetarian ramen and the one on the right the Shio ramen. In the latter, the noodles were of a lighter color, thinner and a bit more al dente.
image of Vegetarian miso ramen at Ramen Setagaya in the East Village, NYC, New York image of Shio ramen at Ramen Setagaya in the East Village, NYC, New York

I enjoyed the ramen at Ramen Setagaya, especially the Shio Ramen: it was flavorful and comforting. I am definitely a fan of ramen and I believe this place is another good alternative to Ippudo: good and cheaper! At the time of this post, know that they only took Amex.

Enjoy (I did)!
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Restaurant Information

* Restaurant Name
Ramen Setagaya
* Overall
★★★☆☆
* Neighborhood / Cuisine
East Village / Japanese / Ramen
* Street Address
34 1/2 Saint Marks Pl., New York, NY 10003
* Phone
212-387-7959

Tu-Lu's gluten free bakery in the East Village - NYC, New York

image of Tu-Lu's gluten free bakery in the East Village - NYC, New York

Tu-Lu's is the first Gluten free bakery I set foot in, finding it unexpectedly next to Veniero's, one of the oldest pastry shops in America. Yes, next to Veniero's, as if it was done as a sign of defiance! Gluten free, vegan...To the regular foodie, it does not sound good and probably does not taste good. But I heard so many people with gluten-intolerance, Celiac disease or just willing to cut on gluten saying that there are great places throughout the city where eating gluten free is not synonymous with eating cardboard. That is how we decided to go back to Tu-Lu's. 
image of Tu-Lu's gluten free bakery in the East Village - NYC, New York

This place opened in 2010 by Tully Phillips, after she was diagnosed with gluten intolerance, joined by Jennifer Goodhue in 2011, who was diagnosed in 2009 with Celiac disease. Since then they opened locations in Dallas Texas, catering to the gluten free (GF) and vegan fans. 
image of Tu-Lu's gluten free bakery in the East Village - NYC, New York

It is a tiny place with only few seats inside. They offer desserts and cookies such as cupcakes, brownies, donuts..., where the wheat flour has been replaced with rice or tapioca flour.
image of cookies at Tu-Lu's gluten free bakery in the East Village - NYC, New York

For the cupcakes, they propose regular and small size, so we decided to try few of their specialties.

First was the cinnamon sugar donut:

image of cinnamon sugar donut at Tu-Lu's gluten free bakery in the East Village - NYC, New York

It was a pretty good donut, even if not the best I ever tried, with a consistency cake like rather than yeast like if I were to compare with the two kinds the Doughnut Plant proposes. I would not have known it was GF, I would not have noticed. 

A vanilla cupcake:
image of vanilla cupcake at Tu-Lu's gluten free bakery in the East Village - NYC, New York

I liked it: the cake itself was moist and the frosting light, well proportioned with the amount of cake.

The red velvet cupcake:
image of red velvet cupcake at Tu-Lu's gluten free bakery in the East Village - NYC, New York

I did not like it, whether it was the cake or the frosting. 

A chocolate and hazelnut cake bite:
image of chocolate and hazelnut cake bite at Tu-Lu's gluten free bakery in the East Village - NYC, New York

I liked it: it was very chocolaty, moist, but did not really taste the hazelnut. Despite that, I would re-order it!

Last was the vegan chocolate chip cookie:
image of vegan chocolate chip cookie at Tu-Lu's gluten free bakery in the East Village - NYC, New York

They propose it vegan or simply GF. In a bold move, we decided to go for vegan. I liked it: it is not at the same level than City Bakery, but let me tell you that it is a pretty decent one!

As you can imagine, I was quite surprised by what we got at Tu-Lu's: it definitely changed my mind about GF desserts and I am really amused that such bakery is right next to one of the most popular bakeries in New York. Tu-Lu's is the living proof that eating GF does not mean that you cannot satisfy these cravings that we all have! This is a good address whether you or your friends are vegan, need or want to eat GF...or not!

Enjoy (I did)!

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Restaurant Information

* Restaurant Name
Tu-Lu's Gluten Free Bakery
* Overall
☆☆☆☆☆
* Neighborhood / Cuisine
East Village / American New
* Street Address
338 East 11th St., New York, NY 10003
* Phone
(212) 777-2227

Veniero's Pasticceria in the East Village, NYC, New York

image of Veniero Pasticceria in the East Village, NYC, New York

Veniero's is the oldest Italian pastry shop in the US, opened and owned since 1894 by the Veniero family. During its long life, this East Village place has earned multiple awards and is said to be the best place for dessert in New York. This put the bar pretty high considering the multiple options the City has to offer. So I was very excited to try it and we decided to go after our lunch at S'Mac and right before seeing the movie Dallas Buyers Club with Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto (great performance from both by the way). When we arrived, we noticed the café adjacent to the pastry shop and decided to come back after the movie, to have some time to taste several pastries. So, chose promise, chose due (promises are made to be kept): more than two hours later, we reenter the place that is packed! I was so glad that I took few photos earlier. 
image of Veniero Pasticceria in the East Village, NYC, New York

When you enter the place, you arrive in the pastry shop where I could probably spend an afternoon looking at these fantastic desserts in regular and small size, drooling on the ornate marble floor. I thought it was great to propose the smaller size, so one can try several kinds of Italian desserts, but I can ensure you that I would have had a hard time making up my mind! 
image of Veniero Pasticceria in the East Village, NYC, New York

It can be so crowded that you need to pick a number to be served before going back in line.
image of Veniero Pasticceria in the East Village, NYC, New York

Passing the crowd, there is another display, for large cakes (you can admire the staff decorating cakes if you like):
image of Veniero Pasticceria in the East Village, NYC, New York

And then, here is the café, in the back, with its incredible stained glass ceiling and an authentic atmosphere that transports you back in time in Italy.
image of cafe at Veniero Pasticceria in the East Village, NYC, New York

Their menu was pretty large and the only regret I had was not to see some of these small pastries or a sampler. But this could not stop us from trying a few desserts.
image of cafe at Veniero Pasticceria in the East Village, NYC, New York

image of cafe at Veniero Pasticceria in the East Village, NYC, New York

Jodi decided to order a coconut cake:


image of coconut cake at Veniero Pasticceria in the East Village, NYC, New York

Not a surprising choice as it is her favorite dessert. This one was just ok and she did not even finish it. The disappointing factor was the fact that the cream on top did not incorporate any coconut: it was just drizzled on top of the cake. So far, her favorite, and I would agree, is the coconut cake from Balthazar that you can even find at its sister restaurant, Minetta Tavern.

On my side, I chose the Baba au rhum:
image of baba au rhum at Veniero Pasticceria in the East Village, NYC, New York

They propose it with or without custard. I decided to go with. It was another disappointment: the cake seemed to be a bit stale, although imbibed with the rum and there was an off taste. I could not even eat half of it.

After these two miss, we had high hopes on the cannoli:
image of cannoli at Veniero Pasticceria in the East Village, NYC, New York

It looked good and appetizing. The shell was very good, fresh and crispy, however, the filling was a bit bland. 

I guess the only thing I loved there was my double espresso...
image of espresso at Veniero Pasticceria in the East Village, NYC, New York

I was very disappointed by Veniero's and it is after trying three of their desserts, two of them quite traditional. Maybe the Italian cookies are better, but clearly not what we picked. If I had to compare it to another Italian pastry and propose it as an alternative, it would be Villabate Alba in Brooklyn

Enjoy (the post)!
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Restaurant Information

* Restaurant Name
Veniero's Pasticceria and Caffe
* Overall
★★☆☆☆
* Neighborhood / Cuisine
East Village / Italian / Desserts
* Street Address
342 East 11th St. (bet. 1st & 2nd Ave.), New York, NY 10003
* Phone
(212) 674-7070

Ramen Misoya in the East Village, NYC, New York

image of Ramen Misoya in the East Village, NYC, New York

I will always be amazed by the number of ramen places in New York, serving different types of this delicious soup where slurping is not impolite. I were a kid, I would definitely listen to my Mom if she wanted me to eat this kind of soup, over a vegetable one I had in my childhood. 
image of menu at Ramen Misoya in the East Village, NYC, New York

Ramen Misoya is located in an area where there are plenty of Ramen places, but trust me, they have no problem getting customers. Or I should say that their only problem is the size of the restaurant.
image of dining room at Ramen Misoya in the East Village, NYC, New York

It has probably 20 seats and, contrary to a lot of restaurants of that sort, the kitchen is in the back, separate from the dining room, so you cannot sit at the counter and observe the Chef do his magic.
image of dining room at Ramen Misoya in the East Village, NYC, New York

We went there on a Saturday night, at 6pm, and it was packed from the moment we arrived to the moment we left. 

The restaurant serves three types of miso:
  • Kome miso ramen, that they describe as: "made of rice, the standard miso. Intense flavor with rich aroma".
  • Mame miso ramen: "made of beans, dark-colored miso. Among the three miso, it has the sweetest and richest texture". 
  • Shiro miso ramen: "Compared to Kome Miso, Shiro Miso is less intense in flavor and sweeter. A light-colored miso".

If you look at the menu, there is no vegetarian option, all the soups being made with at least ground beef. In fact, they have a separate vegetarian menu that they will bring if you ask them. I am not sure though why they do not include the vegetarian options in the regular menu!

Jodi went for the vegetarian Shiro miso ramen:

image of vegetarian shire miso ramen at Ramen Misoya in the East Village, NYC, New York

It was composed of fried tofu, an egg, bean sprouts, bamboo shoot, cabbage and noodles.

image of vegetarian shire miso ramen at Ramen Misoya in the East Village, NYC, New York

Mine was the Mame Miso Cha-Shu:
image of Mame miso Cha-Shu ramen at Ramen Misoya in the East Village, NYC, New York

The presentation was very appetizing. It was made of pork cha-shu, a fried shrimp, an egg, ground beef, bean sprouts, cabbage, bamboo shoot and noodles. 
image of Mame miso Cha-Shu ramen at Ramen Misoya in the East Village, NYC, New York


Both ramen were delicious, but I admit that I preferred the Shiso miso one, although it was vegetarian. It was simply because the broth was delicious, sweet, soft and light, very milky. The fact that the tofu was fried was a good idea as it gave a bit of texture and crispiness to the dish.
image of vegetarian shire miso ramen at Ramen Misoya in the East Village, NYC, New York

But, the shrimp and pork were definitely good, the pork having this braised taste that was heaven. Let's not forget the egg: it was so soft that my chopsticks cut through without any effort and the yolk was perfectly runny. And the noodles: they seem to be the same in both bowls. However, mine were more al dente and the color darker, probably because of the dark-colored broth.

Both ramen were delicious and I can't wait to go back to Ramen Misoya. The food was good and the service efficient and courteous. I think Ramen Misoya is another alternative to the priciest and overrated Ippudo!

Enjoy (I did)!

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S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York

image of S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York

There are many recipes today with a wide variety of pasta used (check out for instance my recipe of Italian mac & cheese that uses orzo) or cheese (blue for instance), as well as other ingredients added to the mix, such as ham, or in a more elegant version, lobster or crab meat. I admit that I never had any good seafood mac and cheese, probably because the amount of seafood is not enough to let it shine. But, definitely, mac and cheese is my favorite side with a steak and I am surprised that  restaurants do not propose it more often on their menu. The best I had in a restaurant was at The Old Homestead in New York City (it was made with truffle, probably oil - sorry Anthony Bourdain) and at Dino & Harry's in Hoboken. The worst was at Nick and Steph's Steakhouse in the City: the cheese tasted like Velveeta...mac and cheese is a comfort food that is present in many countries, in different forms. In France, it is called gratin de pâtes. When I was a kid, we use to eat it as a main dish rather than as a side. The basic recipe is fairly simple: macaroni or rigatoni, cheese (my Mom used Gruyère), crème fraîche, salt and pepper. The secret being of course to put lots of cheese and crème! Everybody though has its own recipe; I remember that my cousin Sandrine was using an egg and it is not uncommon to prepare a béchamel sauce and smothered the pasta with it. The commonality of these recipes: the sublime burnt cheese crust created when broiling the cheese on top that gave the word gratiné. 
image of S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York

So, now, imagine a joint that only serves mac & cheese! This is what Sarita's Mac and Cheese aka S'Mac is all about. Opened in 2006 by Sarita & Caesar Ekya, S'Mac proposes a decadent menu: for sure, if you are on a diet, this is not for you, although they offer a mixed green salad as a side. Now, if you eat gluten free, are vegan or lactose intolerant, they also propose alternatives that I am sure is truly appreciated. 
image of brick wall at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York

The place is fun with a two tone color pattern: red and yellow, the latter being the color of the cheese.
image of Dining room at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York

You first order at the counter:
image of Dining room at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York

And then, they give you a number.
image of order number at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York

Once your order is ready, they bring it to your table.
image of Mac and cheese sampler at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York

They serve Mac and Cheese in different sizes, from small (nosh) to large (partay). But what is a fantastic idea is the sampler that we picked, allowing us to try 8 different recipes.

image of Mac and cheese sampler at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York image of Mac and cheese sampler at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York
image of Mac and cheese sampler at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York image of Mac and cheese sampler at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York

But, you do not pick: what is in the sampler is already defined. So we tried:
  • All American, made with American cheese and cheddar.
  • Cheese burger: American cheese and cheddar, with ground beef.
  • 4 cheese: cheddar, munster, pecorino and gruyere.
  • Cajun: cheddar, pepper jack, andouille sausage, green pepper, onions, celery and garlic.
  • Alpine: gruyere and bacon.
  • La Mancha: manchego cheese, fennel and onions.
  • Parisienne: brie, figs, roasted shiitake mushrooms and rosemary.
  • Napoletana: fresh mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic and fresh basil.
To help us know what was what, they gave us a sheet of paper:
image of Mac and cheese sampler at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York
Sampler content
image of 4 cheese Mac and cheese at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York
4 cheese
image of cajun Mac and cheese at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York
Cajun
image of cajun Mac and cheese at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York
Cajun
image of Alpine Mac and cheese at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York
Alpine
image of 4 cheese Mac and cheese at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York
4 cheese
It was very good: the macaroni was perfectly cooked and there was a lot of cheese. My favorites were the classic All American, the 4 cheese, the Alpine and the Parisienne. My least favorites were the cajun (too much celery, although I loved the andouille sausage that was a bit spicy) and the Napoletana that had too much garlic.

S'Mac is definitely a great place: simple concept, good food at a reasonable price that would put a S'Mile on your face. If you go there, I definitely recommend the sampler.

Enjoy (I did)!

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Pie Face Union Square, NYC, New York


image of Pie Face Union Square, NYC, New York
Has my mind been tricked or are there Pie Face restaurants everywhere? Is it the Starbucks syndrome? Well, it is true that the owners have a target to open 60 locations in NYC, but I am amazed by the pace!

So, my last try was at Union Square, where they opened the biggest I have seen so far. 
image of Pie Face Union Square, NYC, New York

There, no surprise in term of menu as it is standard. So we decided to share few pies...

The first one was the cheesesteak one:
image of cheesesteak pie at Pie Face Union Square, NYC, New York

Pretty interesting creation, marrying the pie concept from Australia with one of the most famous sandwiches in the US! For sure, the presentation was not as nice as for the other pies, but I loved it! It was really like eating a cheesesteak, without the bread. The meat was delicious and tender, the onions soft with a nice sweetness and there was a lot of cheese. 

The second pie was a BBQ pulled pork:
image of BBQ pulled pork pie at Pie Face Union Square, NYC, New York

We ordered the small size for that one. It was also very good, although completely overwhelmed by the generous amount of BBQ sauce. I liked it but I am not sure I would have eaten an entire regular size pie. 

We also tried the spinach quiche that was good, but did not have anything that made it unique. 
image of spinach quiche at Pie Face Union Square, NYC, New York

Last was dessert of course! We went for the cherry pie
image of cherry pie at Pie Face Union Square, NYC, New York

And the pear and ricotta tart. 
image of pear and ricotta tart at Pie Face Union Square, NYC, New York

As I mentioned in previous posts about Pie Face, I love their cherry pie! In fact I love their desserts: succulent, they are not too sweet and the fact that they serve them in small size is perfect to end a meal on a sweet note. I should add that the combination pear / ricotta is fantastic and has an inherent freshness to it. 

I am a big fan of pie face and I guess I have no other choice than trying each and every location...for the blog of course!

Enjoy (I did)!

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Revisit: Table Verte, French vegetarian restaurant in NYC, New York

image of Table Verte, French vegetarian restaurant in NYC, New York

I was recently re-invited to Table Verte, a French restaurant that serves only vegetarian dishes.I am definitely a carnivore and, most of the meals I had when I was a kid, growing up in France, had a dish with either a meat, fish or poultry. My wife Jodi, loves burgers and filet mignon, but have an inclination to order vegetarian dishes. It is with her, when we were dating, that I went to my first vegetarian restaurant: Zen Palate, at their location in Union Square that since closed. Then I went to others, like Gobo or Angelica kitchen, the latter being the worst vegetarian meal I ever had, the food being bland and mushy.  I discovered Table Verte beginning of the year, and it made me realize how we easily get stuck with labels. Think about it: in Italian restaurant, we may order pasta with a tomato and basil sauce. We do not call that vegetarian. A cheese pizza is not called vegetarian. A ratatouille is not called vegetarian. etc. etc. I could go forever with dishes that we love but never think about associating them with being vegetarian. 
image of Execute Chef Ken Larsen (left) & Sous Chef Matt Roth from Table Verte, French vegetarian restaurant in NYC, New York
Execute Chef Ken Larsen (left) & Sous Chef Matt Roth
So, what makes Table Verte different from other vegetarian restaurants?  Over there, Ken Larsen, the Executive Chef (who lived and worked in France) crafted a menu where he did not try to replace the meat or fish by other soy based proteins such as seitan or tofu. In the years he worked in France, he understood the importance of the garnish on the plate. In France, everything has to taste good: the garnish included. So, he decided to eliminate the meat and make the garnish the star of the dish. He also does not try to recreate a specific dish, but rather be inspired by it and make his own creation.

The difference between my last visit and today was, besides new dishes, that they replaced the a la carte formula by a series of prix-fixe menus. I admit that I prefer when both a la carte and prix-fixe are available, as we sometimes just want to have one dish each. 
image of Table Verte, French vegetarian restaurant in NYC, New York

So, here we are at Table Verte (the green table), in the dining room, where all tables are...green.

We decided to share some dishes and started with appetizers. We started off with roasted Brussels sprouts with balsamic glazed strawberries.
image of roasted Brussels sprouts at Table Verte, French vegetarian restaurant in NYC, New York

I rediscovered Brussels sprouts few years ago, after eating a couple in a restaurant, regretting not to have more on my plate. Yes, when I was a kid, I hated it, but it might have been the way my Mom cooked them (Sorry Mom!) or maybe my palate evolved...What was interesting with this dish was the pairing with strawberries, not a sweet and salty combination because strawberries are not that sweet, but rather adding a different texture and maybe a delicate sour taste that made this dish successful.

The second dish was beets with a horseradish sherbet:
image of beets with horseradish sherbet at Table Verte, French vegetarian restaurant in NYC, New York

Chef Larsen thought about this dish after a trip in France back in August where he tried some crepes with savory flavored sherbets. Although it was very creative, it was my least favorite dish, the sherbet being a bit too icy and not having that much taste.

Then, we got my favorite appetizer: truffled mushroom duxelle.
image of truffled mushroom duxelle at Table Verte, French vegetarian restaurant in NYC, New York

Chef Larsen wanted to add a spread on the menu, similar to a pâté that is a traditional appetizer in France. The presentation was identical, with cornichons and mustard, but, instead of bread, he made a pâte sablée that is a rich crumbly crust.
image of pate sablee and truffled mushroom duxelle at Table Verte, French vegetarian restaurant in NYC, New York

The way you eat it is by putting a some duxelle on the pâte sablée, with or without mustard.
image of pate sablee and truffled mushroom duxelle at Table Verte, French vegetarian restaurant in NYC, New York

I have to say that I loved that dish. When it came to the table, we could smell the truffle, and the taste of the mushrooms was divine.
image of pate sablee and truffled mushroom duxelle at Table Verte, French vegetarian restaurant in NYC, New York

Then, for the entrées, we picked the eggplant lasagna:
image of eggplant lasagna at Table Verte, French vegetarian restaurant in NYC, New York

It was made of goat cheese, Swiss cheese, spice roasted eggplant, harissa chickpea ragu and sautéed spinach. The pasta was cooked al dente. Jodi loved it to say the least! I liked it, especially because there was lost of cheese and was expecting a little kick from the harissa, but it was not the case.

The second entrée was Olive Polenta, made with an onion confit (fantastic!), roasted peppers, artichokes and cippolini onions with parsley caper sauce.
image of olive polenta at Table Verte, French vegetarian restaurant in NYC, New York

The presentation was sensational and it was as if the delicious olive polenta was like a piece of meat, soft, but not too much, perfectly paired with the onions that gave some sweetness to the dish and the haricots verts some crunch. 
These two entrées are the perfect example of dishes that do not need meat or fish and left us satisfied. But of course not enough to skip dessert! We ordered the Banana Brûlée made of French pastry cream, sweet cookies, with a caramelized sugar coating:
image of banana creme brûlée at Table Verte, French vegetarian restaurant in NYC, New York

If you like banana, you cannot miss this dessert that is between the banana pudding and the creme brûlée.
image of banana creme brûlée at Table Verte, French vegetarian restaurant in NYC, New York

It was creamy and not too sweet; so good that we finished it!

The second dessert was the tarte au chocolat:
image of tarte au chocolat at Table Verte, French vegetarian restaurant in NYC, New York

I had that dessert last time, but it slightly changed: the crust was made with raisins this time and you could definitely taste it. 
image of tarte au chocolat at Table Verte, French vegetarian restaurant in NYC, New York

The chocolate part was rich, dense with a strong chocolate taste and if you wonder how they make it, I know that they replace the butter with avocado that is a perfect substitute and a vegan dessert. 

I had again a nice dinner at Table Verte, a restaurant that more carnivores should know!

Enjoy (I did)!

Table Verte on Urbanspoon

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Please note that I was contacted directly by the restaurant or a PR and that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!

My nephew culinary visit: day 4 / part 2: Luke's Lobster in NYC, New York

image of Luke's Lobster in NYC, New York

So, after Katz's and the Doughnut Plant, we wanted to eat light (!) and went to the original location of Luke's Lobster, one of my favorites for Lobster rolls. I was very excited because it was a first for Valentin. In France, lobster is still considered a luxurious ingredient that you will mainly find in expensive restaurants, although few spots in Paris have been trying to impose this delicious lobster sandwich. 
image of Luke's Lobster in NYC, New York

The place is very small, with a tiny kitchen and a decor that is all about fishing, and we got lucky to find a spot to seat. 
image of Luke's Lobster in NYC, New York

We decided to go for their lobster roll, too full to try their trio (shrimp roll, crab roll and lobster roll).

image of Lobster roll at Luke's Lobster in NYC, New York

We got served fairly quickly. There was a lot of lobster and there was a buttery smell emanating from the sandwich. It was fantastic! I clearly prefer a lobster roll served this way, not smothered in mayonnaise. 

With The Red Hook Lobster Pound, Luke's Lobster is my favorite spot for Lobster rolls in NYC! 

Enjoy (I did)!

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My nephew culinary visit: day 3 / part 2: Kambi Ramen House in the East Village, NYC, New York

image of Kambi Ramen House in the East Village, NYC, New York

We decided to bring my nephew Valentin to a ramen place and picked Kambi Ramen; not that we already went there, but I heard they serve good food. Well, Kambi means "perfection" in Japanese, so it was the perfect occasion to see if their were perfect!
The story of this place is interesting: the owner, Shigeto Kamada, a Japanese musician living in NYC, was disappointed with ramen noodles in the City and decided to open his own restaurant, after learning the secrets of cooking these dishes!
image of Kambi Ramen House in the East Village, NYC, New York

When we arrived (a Sunday night at 8:30pm), the place was packed. It is small anyway, but still, it was very crowded, from the moment we arrived to the moment we left. So, we gladly accepted their offer to sit at the bar. It was the perfect spot to see the kitchen, where the cooks were preparing dishes flawlessly, cooking in concert with no need to talk to each other.
image of Kambi Ramen House in the East Village, NYC, New York

They have different kinds of noodles that seemed to be fresh, although pre-packed. 
image of Kambi Ramen House in the East Village, NYC, New York

They propose noodles from thin to thick and you can choose which one you want when you order your ramen.

We decided to start with some appetizers. I admit that I was a bit disappointed that they did not have the pork buns, one of my favorite appetizers in this type of places! So we ordered gyoza, thin dumplings that are either proposed fried or steamed. I prefer fried because I love the char it creates!
image of pork gyoza at Kambi Ramen House in the East Village, NYC, New York

We went for the pork gyoza (photo above) and the shrimp gyoza.
image of shrimp gyoza at Kambi Ramen House in the East Village, NYC, New York

Both were delicious: thin shell, perfectly cooked, with one side soft and the other one, deliciously burnt, a bit crunchier. They were both tasty, but my favorite was the shrimp one, probably one of the best I had so far. Why? Because, there was a whole shrimp in it, so you could really taste it!

Then, Valentin and I decided to order the Kambi ramen, made with a pork and chicken broth.
image of signature ramen at Kambi Ramen House in the East Village, NYC, New York

The broth was flavored with soy sauce, probably giving this darker color and fortunately not too salty. It was served with an egg (half - fully cooked), vegetables and some sliced stewed pork that was melting in my mouth. We decided to go with the thin noodles that were perfectly cooked and brought us to a heaven of slurpiness. 

Jodi ordered the Shoyu, that was similar, but the broth base was only pork.
image of shoyu ramen at Kambi Ramen House in the East Village, NYC, New York

It was good too and the broth was quite similar, maybe with a less strong taste than the other one.

It was very good and we finished full! These ramen dishes were packed in flavors and perfect for this weather!

Enjoy (I did)!

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Luzzo's in NYC, New York


After discovering Luzzo's during one of Scott's Pizza Tours, we were eager to go back to try some other pizzas! Just thinking about the slice we got the first time we tried it, I am still drooling!

So we went back twice, on Sundays. The staff was very courteous and sat us at a table close to the back room. We could not not notice the paintings that were upside down and when we ask the waiter, he simply said: "look, everything is upside down!". In fact it was. Interesting decor I have to say!!!

In the two times we went, we tried the following dishes: meatballs appetizer.


It came in a thick tomato sauce that was divine: slow cooked, it had a fully bodied flavor. A bit salty though. The thickness was perfect to stick to the perfectly made and moist meatballs.

Fortunately, they gave us a nice soft focaccia bread that we ate with the sauce and with the olive oil that is on all tables. It was heaven!!!

Then we tried the eggplant parmesan appetizer or Parmigiana di Melanzane:

That was a great dish! Not greasy, the eggplant were skin on; often, the skin is removed because it can have some bitterness. This was not the case. Also, the eggplant was not breaded, maybe to let that succulent vegetable be the star of the dish. And for sure it was! I think it is a good idea to offer that dish as an appetizer and that portion is perfect for sharing.

Then, we got the Tartufata Pizza. 

It was made of tomato sauce, truffle paste, mozzarella di buffala and basil leaves. You could definitely smell the truffle but it was similar in a way to the one we had last time (pizza di buffala); not that it was bad, because it was a stunning pizza: the crust, very thin, was a bit crunchy although floppy, with this heavenly good char taste, especially on the outside. 

The other pizza we tasted was the 4 formaggi pizza or 4 cheese pizza!

The 4 cheese pizza is one of my favorites when I eat pizza. Hey, do not forget that I come from the country of cheeses! The cheeses were gorgonzola, mozzarella, ricotta and parmesan. There was no tomato sauce.

It was perfect: they are not cheap on the amount of cheese and there was a perfect balance as too much gorgonzola can overpower other cheeses. It was also creamy. To conclude: a must have!

I am definitely a big fan of that place! They have great pizzas and I cannot wait to go back to try their homemade pasta! 

Enjoy (I did)!

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Cupcakes at Butter Lane in the East Village, NYC, New York

image of Cupcakes at Butter Lane in the East Village, NYC, New York

After we went to Molly's cupcakes and did not like it, we decided to find a cupcake place in the East Village. Thanks to the internet, we found Butter Lane Cupcakes. The place is quaint and its configuration can change whether or not they give a class or not (the second time we went, they were giving an icing course.
image of Cupcakes at Butter Lane in the East Village, NYC, New York

There, similar to lots of places, they offer to build your own. I love that because that way, although the choice is limited, you eat what you like and do not feel too limited by the choices they propose.
image of Cupcakes at Butter Lane in the East Village, NYC, New York

The first time we went, we built our own. The ritual is always the same: you pick the cake, then the frosting.

I went for a banana cake with sea salt chocolate.
image of banana cake with sea salt chocolate Cupcake at Butter Lane in the East Village, NYC, New York

Jodi went for a vanilla cake with coconut icing.
image of vanilla cake with coconut icing Cupcake at Butter Lane in the East Village, NYC, New York

Both cakes were very good, airy and moist. The icing was perfect: not too sweet, on the one I ordered, the combination of chocolate, caramel and sea salt was succulent. Not to mention that banana and chocolate are the perfect pairing too!

Then, the second time we went, Jodi got the chocolate cake with coconut icing and I got the vanilla cake with lemon icing.
image of chocolate cake with coconut icing and vanilla cake with lemon icing Cupcake at Butter Lane in the East Village, NYC, New York

There again, it was good, although the cake was dryer than the previous time and the icing a bit sweeter, but with a nice ratio cake/icing. However, they should put a bit more coconut on top.

I think Butter Lane Cupcakes is a great place for cupcakes, but overshadowed by the more trendy Big Gay Ice Cream Guy. We definitely have to go another time to try some other creations and why not attend a class!

Enjoy (I did)!

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Sandwiches at Bite in the East Village NYC, New York

Image of Bite in NYC, New York

Continuing our exploration of the cheap eateries near Union Square, we ended up at Bite, a small restaurant that serves Mediterranean / Middle Eastern food.

Their menu offers and interesting variety of dishes: salads, soups or sandwiches, chili (???)...I was surprised however that they did not serve falafel!

We decided to order two sandwiches. The first one was the Middle Eastern mushrooms:
Image of Middle Eastern Mushroom sandwich at Bite in NYC, New York

It was composed of sauteed mushrooms, hummus, goat cheese and Middle Eastern salad. The bread was ciabatta. The first bite was good, especially because they put a lot of goat cheese, but I could not get past the texture of the mushrooms that were probably canned. They would have used fresh mushrooms, this sandwich would have been fantastic!

The other sandwich was the Sabih:
Image of Sabih sandwich at Bite in NYC, New York

It was composed of sauteed eggplant, hard broiled egg, hummus and Middle Easter Salad. The bread was also ciabatta. I really liked it! Sauteed eggplant is fantastic: it has this particular pleasant bitter taste and a spongy texture that will absorb the oil, oil that will then deliciously absorbed by the bread.

What we realized only after is that we could have picked pita instead of ciabatta bread; they did not ask and served bread by default. I think I would have preferred the pita because you have to press the sandwich when made with bread and then it becomes messy to eat because all the ingredients start to ooze from it!

Anyway, I could not not order their nutella and banana sandwich!!!
Image of Nutella and banana sandwich at Bite in NYC, New York

It was incredibly good! Look, you do not need to be a master Chef to make this sandwich good: banana and Nutella pair so well together, it would be a crime to separate them! Then, when served on a pressed ciabatta bread, it is heaven! Between the crispiness of the bread and the warmth of the Nutella that starts to melt, you cannot stop eating, carefully paying attention that no drop of Nutella will end up on your white shirt!

With this meal, we got also a homemade lemonade that was pretty good, a bit too sweet though.
Image of Homemade lemonade at Bite in NYC, New York

The total for this meal was $23 that is a good price considering the amount of food we ate. It is definitely a place to know in the area! But, if I had to choose, for a great, cheap, Middle Eastern food, I would prefer Taim (check out my review of Taim).

Enjoy (I did)!
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And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!