Category Archives: New York

NYC Restaurant Week Reservations Open Today

NYC Restaurant Week reservations are open today.

Crumbs Closes All Its Stores

Crumbs has closed all its stores.  It’s not the end of the cupcake though; it’s the end of Crumbs.  According to a Yahoo article, it has more to do with the management of the business and not the cupcakes themselves.  I believe that because these are popular cupcakes.  Every time there’s a work function like a birthday, the office orders cupcakes from Crumbs.

Blue Water Grill

I always think of seafood in the summer time, and if you can’t get to the beach, how about bringing the beach to you?  That is, dining al fresco at Blue Water Grill in Union Square and ordering the most delicious lobster roll ever–the Maine lobster and shrimp roll with herbed mayonnaise, bacon, celery and waffle fries.

Blue Water Grill lobster roll

Sammy’s Fish Box in City Island

Now that summer is here, how about a trip to City Island?  This beach oasis in the Bronx makes for a great Manhattan day trip.

A nice seafood dinner at Sammy’s Fish Box.

Sammy's Fish Box
For starters, bread and assorted veggies.

Sammy's appetizers

I got a scungilli and calamari salad.

Sammy's calamari salad

My friend got the Italian feast with lobster, mussels, shrimp, clams, scallops and crab legs with pasta.

Sammy's Italian feast

I got the clam bake with lobster, clams and corn.

Sammy's clam bake

And of course, I can’t live without dessert–a slice of red velvet cake.

Sammy's red velvet cake

 

Dina’s Guide to NYC Old World Bakeries

I love old world bakeries.  Whenever I visit a new city, I always look for old bakeries.  I don’t care if they look dirty or grungy from the outside, or if they have outdated signs out front.  Those signs are a sure “sign” that deliciousness awaits me inside. I feel good that I am supporting a family and the local economy as well as eating something that was made with pride and craft.  So if you are visiting NYC or if you live here, when you eat at most of the bakeries on this list, you are supporting local families and businesses that represent the history and culture of this diverse city.

In this list, I’ve tried to include all old world bakeries in Manhattan.  If I missed one, by all means, tell me about it because I’d love to go there.  (I’m focusing on the more “touristy” part of Manhattan.  This list doesn’t include Mexican or Dominican bakeries in Upper Manhattan, such as Bakery el Panadero, Capri, De Colores Bakery, Dyckman’s, D’Lillian’s, El Barrio, El Manantial, El Nazareno, Esmeraldo’s, Floridita, Grinis, Kenny Bakery, Las Americas, Mi Querido Mexico Lindo or Sweet Life Bakery.  It also doesn’t include kosher bakery Gideon’s, Hungarian Pastry Shop, Asian bakery In & Out or Ethiopian Injera Bakery.  Sounds like a bakery tour of Upper Manhattan is in order!)

I’ve written about Italian bakeries in Manhattan before in Dina’s Guide to NYC Italian Bakeries.  My favorite bakeries are old school and traditional German, Jewish and Italian ones.  There is only one German bakery and only one Jewish bakery left in Manhattan.  (As far as I know–please tell me if there are more.  There are other places to get German and Jewish baked goods, ex. Zabar’s, but not other old school bakeries.  East Broadway Kosher on Grand near Kossar’s closed, but I’m not sure if it reopened?  Last time I was there, it was closed.)  In this list I’m including bakeries that have sweet bakery items.  Following that is a list of specialty old world bakeries that make bread, knishes, bialys etc.  Many of these places are cash only, so go prepared.

moishes

Moishe’sLower East Side, Grand Street at East Broadway, and East Village, 2nd Avenue at 7th Street, Moishe’s is my favorite bakery in the city–the quintessential bakery.  I am addicted to Moishe’s.  The best hamentaschen, the best black and white cookies, the best rainbow cookies.  I’ve never had anything here that wasn’t delicious.  It’s no frills with graffiti on the window, but who cares?  I’m here for the cookies, not the decor.  I’ve sung the praises of Moishe’s many times. 

Poseidon Bakery

PoseidonHell’s Kitchen, 9th Avenue between 44th and 45th Streets, At 90 years old, Poseidon is still family owned and the only Greek bakery in Manhattan, and one of the last businesses in what used to be a Greek neighborhood.  Here, you can get delicious Greek goodies like baklava and cookies.  The handmade phyllo dough strudels are a must-get.  I’ve written about Poseidon before.

Glaser's

Glaser’s Bake ShopYorkville, Upper East Side, 1st Avenue at 87th Street, Family-owned since 1902, Glaser’s is the only German bakery in Manhattan in what used to be a German neighborhood.  It still turns out amazing crumb cake, jelly doughnuts and danishes.  However, it also makes American favorites like brownies too.  This is an old school bakery at its best.  Check out the beautiful wood interior and tile floor.  I’ve written about Glaser’s before.

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La DeliceKips Bay, 3rd Avenue at 27th Street, I’m pretty sure La Delice is a French bakery.  They have many colorful macarons.  Also, they have other types of New York pastries and beautiful cakes.

Andre’s HungarianMidtown East, 1st Avenue at 57th Street and Upper East Side, 2nd Avenue at 85th Street, Andre’s is the place to go for traditional, handmade strudel and other Hungarian pastries and gorgeous cakes.

Ferrara2

FerraraLittle Italy, Grand Street at Mulberry,  Ferrara, a legendary Italian pastry shop, opened in 1892 by Enrico Scoppa and Antonio Ferrara.  The fifth-generation pastry shop gained fame when Enrico Caruso became a regular.   Ferrara’s became well-known for its cannoli and torrone.  Talk about being a kid in a candy store.  I take one look at the glass case of glistening glazed fruit atop an array of pastries in a myriad of colors, and I’m mesmerized.  The pastry case at Ferrara’s is a work of art.  When I talk to people who’ve never been to an Italian bakery, I show them pictures of Ferrara’s.  Everyone in my family will attest to Ferrara’s being the gold standard of New York Italian pastries.

Ferrara's pastries

Ferrara’s pastries

La Bella FerraraLittle Italy, Mulberry Street at Canal, is an old school bakery.  Walk in here and the waft of fresh-baked cookies fills the air.  Many are displayed in the usual bakery case but there’s also a table of cookies that reminds me of the dessert table at a family party.

Veniero's pastry

Veniero’sEast Village, East 11th Street at 1st Avenue, Veniero’s claims to be America’s oldest pastry shop, opening in 1894.  Veniero’s is also owned by Bruce Springsteen’s cousin.  It has a beautiful display of traditional Italian pastries as well as a cafe.

de-robertis-pastry

DeRobertisEast Village, 1st Avenue at 11th Street, DeRobertis Pasticceria was opened in 1904 by an immigrant from the Puglia region of Italy.  Today, his grandson runs the shop.  Not much has changed at DeRobertis–and that’s a good thing.  The shop has much of the original bakery’s fixtures, including a tiled floor.  They make one of my favorite pastries, the Sicilian cassatine.

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Pasticceria RoccoWest Village, Bleecker Street near Carmine, is the last man standing in this old Italian neighborhood even though the pastry shop itself is not that old.  (Rocco Generoso apprenticed with the owner of a prior bakery before purchasing it and renaming it in 1974.  Now, Rocco Jr. is at the helm.)  My family came from this area, lived on Carmine Street and went to Our Lady of Pompeii Church across the street.   The big fat cookies in the window beckon you into the bakery, but get the cheesecake.  It’s the best in the city, hands down.  (Yes, better than Junior’s.)

William Greenberg DessertsUpper East Side, Madison Avenue at 82nd Street, Rugelach, black and whites, hamentaschen, rainbow cookies and Linzers…need I say more?  Oh yeah, how about black and whites in custom colors?

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Orwasher’s, Upper East Side, 78th Street at 2nd Avenue, Orwasher’s opened in 1916 and was known for its Eastern European-style bread.  The bakery got a new owner in 2007 who added other European artisanal breads, and there are still the same wonderful pastries.  Did I mention fill-to-order jelly doughnuts and the sweetest staff in NYC?

Fay Davarious locations, While I’m not an expert in Chinese baked goods, I’ve been to many bakeries in Chinatown.  Fay Da is my favorite with consistently fresh and tasty pastries.

Specialty Bakeries

Russ & DaughtersLower East Side, Houston Street at Orchard Street, Celebrating 100 years this year, Russ & Daughters is a classic NYC institution.  It is in this category because it specializes in smoked fish and also has baked goods like babka, rugelach and macaroons.  But it also serves a bit of feminist history.  As the original owner had no sons, he left his shop to his daughters, hence the name.

Kossar’sLower East Side, Grand Street at Essex Street, Kossar’s specializes in bialys.

Yonah SchimmelLower East Side, Houston Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues, Yonah Schimmel has specialized in knishes for over 100 years.

Parisi BakeryLittle Italy, two locations at Elizabeth and Mott Streets,  Family-owned for over 100 years, Parisi Bakery specializes in bread and deli sandwiches.

 

 

Dinner: Arriba Arriba

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Today, I’m celebrating Mexican food with a trip to Arriba Arriba, the popular Mexican spot in Hell’s Kitchen.  This place is always packed and has outdoor seating if you like to dine al fresco.  It can get a little loud inside and with the low lighting and pounding music, it has more of a lounge vibe.

Arriba Arriba makes the best cheese enchiladas mole served with Spanish rice and a salad.

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The alambre–marinated shrimp, steak and veggies skewer with rice and sauces.

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And my favorite, the delicious huge burritos.

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Italian Easter Rice Pie

This year for Easter, I made an Italian Easter rice pie.  I’ve written before about the Italian Easter pies, the pizza chiena, or pizza rustica, and the pastiera, or pizza grano.  This is a variation of the pizza grano.  The pizza grano is a Neapolitan wheat pie served at Easter.  My family traditionally made this pie at Easter time.  Part of my dad’s family is from the area near Benevento, Italy, and there they make a variation with rice instead of wheat.  So he grew up with both the wheat and rice pies at Easter.

I wanted to be ambitious this Easter/Lent and make a lot more, but I haven’t had the time.  I had wanted to make hot cross buns, but instead just got some yummy ones from a bakery.  I’m also going to make a pizza chiena.  My grandma has a variation of the pizza chiena that is vegetarian, using mashed potatoes.  I don’t think I will be making that one this year though, as I don’t have time.  Now, I do have a homemade crust recipe, but I can’t publish it or else I may get the malocchio from my aunt.

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Italian Easter Rice Pie

1 1/2 cups whole milk or 1 cup skim/1/2% milk and 1/2 cup light cream/half and half

1/2 cup rice

5 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 pound ricotta (I use Calabro brand.)

1 tablespoon orange blossom water  (You can find this at any Italian specialty shop like Di Palo’s or order it online.)

1 teaspoon vanilla

8 oz. candied citron  (You can find this at any Italian specialty shop like Di Palo’s or order it online.)

1 deep dish frozen pie crust

1 regular frozen pie crust

Cook rice according to package directions (with water).  Add milk and cook on low until milk is absorbed.  Cool.  Beat eggs and beat in sugar.  Add ricotta, orange blossom water, vanilla and citron and stir.  Stir in rice.  Put into deep dish pie crust and top with top crust.  (I used a regular pie crust for the top and cut strips with a pastry cutter.)  Bake at 350 for 1 hour.  Cool and serve.

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Little Italy on Its Way Out

Today, there was an article in the New York Post on Little Italy’s becoming extinct.  Of course, this saddens me.  The first stop in America for both sides of my family was Mulberry Street.  But this brings up a larger issue for me–the gentrification of New York City.  I do not like it.  The great thing about NYC is that it used to be the place to find everything, but as a friend of mine said, who is a published, well-respected economist from the Greatest Generation, NYC has lost its relevancy.  I don’t think it is lost yet, but I do think it is happening.  As New York becomes a homogenized city of the young and wealthy from around the country, it will lose its character.  NYC is a mecca for many–in acting, theater, music, writing, finance, etc, but it’s also a home to the many people who lived there and whose families have lived there for generations.  And it will lose its essence if it becomes generic.  Of course, this is happening in a lot of cities in the United States–not just NYC–but NYC is known for having a certain character–and its tourism depends on it.  If NYC becomes generic, why would anyone pay the incredible hotel bills to visit?

New Taste of the Upper West Side

2014-New-Taste-Logo

New Taste of the Upper West Side is coming up in May.  I’ve been to this event, and it is a great way to try food from the area’s top restaurants.  The 7th annual event runs from May 27th through May 31st.  It includes A-list talent such as Travel Channel’s Adam Richman and Food Network’s Alex Guarnaschelli, who will host Comfort Classics on Friday, May 30th, and TODAY show contributor and New York Knicks broadcaster Jill Martin, who will host Best of the West on Saturday, May 31st, with honoree Daniel Boulud.

photo used with permission

photo used with permission

Participating chefs include Jacques Torres, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Christina Tosi and many more.  Some of my favorite places will be represented, such as Gazala’s, Big Daddy’s, Treat House, Sugar and Plumm, The Meatball Shop, Bar Boulud, Blue Ribbon, Porter House NY and Rosa Mexicano.  I have yet to try Red Farm, The Smith, The Lincoln, THE LEOPARD at des Artistes and Parm, so it will be an opportunity to try them.  The event is presented by the Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District, the area from West 67th Street to West 82nd Street, including the American Museum of Natural History and the New York Historical Society.  New Taste of the Upper West Side celebrates chefs in the area, and all net proceeds from the event go toward neighborhood projects.

Theodore Roosevelt Park photo used with permission

Theodore Roosevelt Park photo used with permission

Favorite Foodie Season

I love the Lenten season in New York City.  That’s a religious definition for the time between Mardi Gras and Easter, but I’m using it as an easy way to define this point in time.  For a foodie, this is a great time of year.  I love the overindulgence of Mardi Gras.  I love the joviality of the St. Patrick’s Day parade, and I love the accompanying corned beef and cabbage and Irish soda bread.  I love hamentaschen for Purim.  I love hot cross buns.  I love St. Joseph’s Day zeppole and sfinge.  I love matzo for Passover.  I love Easter pies, the savory meat and cheese pie and the wheat pie.  I love all these things, even though I don’t culturally identify with all the religions and ethnicities.  These are all very New York, though many are old traditions that come from the old country.  I like this time of year because I associate these traditions with the immigrants who came at the time my family came to this country.  It’s what I grew up with and what I remember eating from childhood.  Not just the food, I love the cold grayness in the air this time of year.  I love Catholic churches in the city, so solemn, so graceful, so beautiful.  It’s just a certain feeling, one of reflection, one of mourning, ready for the rebirth that is spring.