Category Archives: New York

Upper West Side Brunch

I recently had brunch at two very nice spots on the Upper West Side, an area of the city where I usually do not spend much time.


One is Machiavelli on Columbus & 85th.  A gorgeous restaurant with lush decor, the menu is decidedly Italian, including brunch with dishes like polenta with parmesan and truffle oil, nutella crepes, and lemon and ricotta pancakes.  I had the frittata salsiccia with Italian sausage, goat cheese, spinach and tomato.  It was wonderful.

Another spot is Ella Kitchen & Bar on Columbus & 72nd.  Here, the brunch consists of appetizing Latin & Mediterranean variations of classic dishes like baked eggs with Argentine sausage; eggs Benedict with grass-fed skirt steak and sauteed spinach; or avocado toast with edamame, black sesame seed, scallions, radishes, and hard-boiled egg.  I got the classic baked eggs with heavy cream and parmesan.



San Gennaro Festival 2016


New Yorkers are a resilient bunch with much pride in their city.  The bombing in Chelsea on September 17 would not deter them from carrying on.  The bombing occurred only two days into the ten-day San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy, but it didn’t keep the crowds from coming.  That’s good because it’s an important year for the festival–its 90th anniversary.


September 19 is the feast day of San Gennaro and that is the day organizers celebrated with a mass and procession from the doors of the Most Precious Blood Church on Baxter Street around Canal Street and up through Mulberry Street.

Most Precious Blood Church

Most Precious Blood Church

This year’s grand marshal was Joe Causi.  A Bronx Tale‘s Chazz Palminteri also made an appearance at the festival.  (Tony Danza was the grand marshal of the parade last year, but this year,  I had my second run-in with the actor.  I was shopping in Alleva Dairy, the country’s oldest Italian cheese store, when a man said, “Excuse me, ma’am,” and brushed past me.  It was Tony.  Years ago, I ran into him on Bleecker Street and I asked for a photo to which he rudely said no.)


Before Mass, I pinned a dollar on the statue of San Gennaro and got a pamphlet about him as well as a pin and prayer card.  Inside the church, there is a large presepio (Nativity scene) from Naples on display.


Street vendors sell everything from American food to fair festival food like roasted corn,


to pizza and cannoli


to Italian tchotchkes


to traditional Italian foods like these Italian cookies, taralli, mostaccioli and biscotti.


I ate at Sal’s Pizza on Broome near Mulberry for pizza, sausage and broccoli rape.  At Sal’s, you get a side order of pasta with your entree, the traditional way.



For dessert, some cassata and coffee at Caffe Palermo.


New Taste of the Upper West Side June 3-4

The 9th annual New Taste of the Upper West Side, a two-night celebration of the restaurants and chefs of the Upper West Side, is scheduled for June 3-4, 2016.  This is an event you don’t want to miss and one of my favorite food events in the city. (I’ve written about New Taste of the Upper West Side before.) This year, event hosts include Anne Burrell, host of Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America and author of “Own Your Kitchen,” Alex Guarnaschelli, chef/owner of Butter, judge on Food Network’s Chopped, mentor on Food Network’s All-Star Academy & author of “Old-School Comfort Food,”  and Sara Gore of NBC’s New York Live and Open House.

Each night, over 45 area restaurants will be participating, some new and some returning, including Momofuku Milk Bar, Bar Boulud, Boulud Sud, Sarabeth’s, The Meatball Shop, Parm, RedFarm, Luke’s Lobster, Shake Shack, Rosa Mexicano, Tavern on the Green, and The Ribbon. Participating chefs include Sarabeth Levine, Christina Tosi, Jacques Torres, Cesare Casella, Rich Torrisi and Bruce & Eric Bromberg.

Events include:

Friday, June 3rd at 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM                                             Summer in the City: Surf & Turf
Presented by Glenwood

Enjoy surf, turf and other summer favorites from 45 area restaurants in a chic beach setting.  Try the offerings of the yet-to-be named restaurant debut from two-time Michelin-star chef April Bloomfield with partner Ken Friedman (Spotted Pig, The Breslin); and Maison Pickle, the newest restaurant from the Jacob’s Pickles team. Other newcomers include Jin RamenHan Dynasty and Playa Betty’s, along with past participants, such as Momofuku Milk Bar, The Meatball ShopJacob’s PicklesShake Shack and AG Kitchen.

Where:  Under a grand tent on Columbus Ave between West 76th and 77th Streets in the O’Shea Complex Schoolyard                                                              Cost: $105 per person or 2 for $185

Saturday, June 4th at 7:30 PM to 10:00 PM                                              BEST OF THE WEST

Best of the West is an event celebrating the Upper West Side’s most famous and celebrated restaurants and chefs. There will be wonderful cuisine, world-class wines and cocktails, and music by Joe Battaglia & The New York Big Band. Neighborhood newcomers include Crave FishbarOlma Caviar Boutique & LoungeOrwasher’s Bakery and Amorino Gelato along with returning favorites including RedFarmBoulud SudDovetailJacques Torres and Rosa Mexicano.

Where:  Under a grand tent on Columbus Ave between West 76th and 77th Streets in the O’Shea Complex Schoolyard                                                             Cost: $135 per person or 2 for $250

Saturday, June 4th at 6:30 PM to 10:00 PM
Best of the West VIP Presented by 21 West End

Best of the West also offers a VIP experience, Best of the West VIP, with exclusive access to a private lounge and bar and Caviar Lounge by Olma Caviar. VIP guests receive a gift bag of goodies from Upper West Side sponsors. VIP admission starts an hour earlier than the event, so you have early access to the 45 chefs and their sample offerings.

Cost: $225 per person

This year’s sponsors include 21 West End, Argo, Glenwood, DNA Info, New York Post, West Side Spirit, Barritt’s Ginger Beer, Brusco Group, Rosa Mexicano, Cargill, Rishi Tea and Boston Beer Company.

The Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District (“BID”), a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, created the annual event and donates all net proceeds to the area for improvement and beautification projects, such as the Columbus Avenue BID’s Sustainable Streetscape project, the Wellness in the Schools program, Greenhouse Classroom, Citymeals-on-Wheels and Theodore Roosevelt Park.

Nom Wah Tea Parlor

If you want to get a taste of old New York, you have to go to Doyers Street.  It is the cutest little street in Chinatown.  Its curved, narrow shape gives you a good idea of what New York was like back in the day.  It’s also where you can find Nom Wah Tea Parlor.


The restaurant opened in 1920 with its original location being next door to its current one.  It’s a no-frills place to get dim sum.  On my visit, I got a fried tofu skin roll with mixed vegetables.  This was fried to perfection, crispy and delicious.


Also got yummy vegetarian dumplings.


And Shanghai soup dumplings.  They were good but not as good as the gold standard, Joe’s Shanghai.


Finally, got the rice roll with the fried dough.  This sounded good in theory, but it was a bit too carb-heavy for me.


Rose & Joe’s Italian Bakery

This week, I’m going to write about two New York City institutions.  Today, it’s Rose & Joe’s Italian Bakery in Astoria, Queens.


I have been wanting to come here for a long time since I’d heard so many good things.  Rose & Joe’s doesn’t disappoint.  It’s an old-school Italian bakery with the standard Italian pastries as well as bread and American cookies, cupcakes and Greek cookies.  And . . . of course, pizza.  I love a good Sicilian slice–and can so rarely find one–and that is a specialty here.  It is indeed delicious.  The only downside is there are no seats here, so I got my slice and pastries/cookies to go.

Rose & Joe's pizza

Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina in NYC

I tend to avoid Chelsea Market/Meatpacking restaurants because, for the most part, they are a bit touristy.  Although now and again, I do visit them, and Chelsea Market itself for some of the stores there.  When an acquaintance from Milan told me that Giovanni Rana ravioli was good ravioli, I had to try it.  Ravioli in the United States has been pretty disappointing.  What is available commercially in the grocery stores isn’t very flavorful, and the ravioli are small.  I tried a few of Giovanni Rana’s store-bought ravioli, and I really liked the cheese “delicato” ravioli.  So I was excited to try his NYC restaurant, Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina.  The restaurant has a large, rustic dining area with wooden tables and pots hanging from the ceiling.  The space was not so intimate, but on the plus side, with a lot of seating, there was no wait on a busy weekday for lunch.  Our waiters were friendly.  The focaccia and olive oil were good.


We came purely for the ravioli, so we didn’t order antipasto or anything else.  I ordered the Quattro Formaggi Ravioli, Walnut Pesto.  This dish was delicious.  I really like the walnut pesto.


My friend got the Truffle Mushroom Ravioli, Black Truffle Butter.  This dish was also very good.


I would recommend dining at the restaurant because the preparation of the sauces for the ravioli is very good.  So even if you make the ravioli at home, unless you are a chef, it is nice to have an expert hand making the sauce.

Two for Tuesday: NYC Bagels

OK, it’s not really fair to compare any NYC bagels to Russ & Daughters, but I just so happened to eat a Russ & Daughters bagel and a Black Seed bagel.  So I thought it would make a good Two for Tuesday.

Russ & Daughters is a classic NYC institution.  Its original location is on Houston Street and it also has a cafe nearby on Orchard Street.  I went to the original because I just wanted a bagel.  And I got a toasted onion one with scallion cream cheese.  Excellent bagel.  If you are visiting NYC and want to try the most authentic bagel, this is it.


Black Seed Bagels is a more recent newcomer to the NYC bagel scene.  It’s located in Nolita, Battery Park City and the East Village.  I went to the Nolita location.  The bagels here are a combination of New York and Montreal style.  They offer standard bagels– plain, sesame, poppy, rye, everything, salt and multigrain.  I’ve had bagels in Montreal, and I don’t think they quite measure up to Montreal’s time-honored bagels.  I had about the same style bagel as I did at Russ & Daughters–plain with scallion cream cheese.  It was a good bagel, but not special and a bit pricey.  The schtick here is the artisanal bagel sandwich like ricotta, apple, honey or smoked trout, hard-boiled egg, arugula and dijon mustard.  I admit, they do sound good, so maybe I’ll have to try one next time.