Category Archives: Restaurant

Little Italy Isn’t Dead: Vincent’s

Periodically, there’s an article about how Little Italy is dead or dying. Yes, it’s more of a tourist destination and less of a neighborhood where Italian people live. There are still some Italians there, and there are Italian-American-owned businesses there. A recent article in the New York Times made me want to write a series on Little Italy Isn’t Dead and feature some of the businesses there.

Vincent’s

In the late 1800s, Italian immigrants Giuseppe and Carmela Siano sold clams and other seafood from a cart on Mott and Hester Streets. In 1904, they created a restaurant in the same spot and named it Vincent’s Clam House, for their son. They are famous for their calamari, which they serve with a hot tomato sauce. Their tomato sauce is also famous and available at stores nationwide.

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Little Italy Isn’t Dead: Umberto’s Clam House

Periodically, there’s an article about how Little Italy is dead or dying. Yes, it’s more of a tourist destination and less of a neighborhood where Italian people live. There are still some Italians there, and there are Italian-American-owned businesses there. A recent article in the New York Times made me want to write a series on Little Italy Isn’t Dead and feature some of the businesses there.

Umberto’s Clam House

Umberto Ianniello, who came to the United States from Naples in 1934, opened his clam house in 1972 and the restaurant is now run by his son, Robert. The restaurant started out selling only seafood, but now it has a full menu with pasta and meats as well.

The Best Pizza in New Jersey: New Jersey Pizza Tour Results

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What is the best pizza in New Jersey?  This post ends my New Jersey pizza tour, where I tried eight popular New Jersey pizzerias.  I tried Trenton-style tomato pies, bar-style pizza, coal-fired pizza and classic-style pizza.  My friend thinks that Star Tavern in Orange was the best, delicious and unique.  I agree, but I also think it’s a tie with Brooklyn’s Coal-Burning Brick-Oven Pizza in Hackensack.  But you can’t go wrong at any of these pizzerias.  Most are family-owned businesses, many started by Italian immigrants.  Kudos to them for keeping these businesses open in the ever-increasing corporate culture we have going on in America now.  There are pizzerias in Italy that date back a couple of hundred years, so should there be here in America.  Long live apizz’, long live the Jersey bar pizza, long live the Trenton tomato pie, long live coal-fired pizza, and long live the classic American slice.

Tie:  Star Tavern in Orange, NJ, and Brooklyn’s Coal-Burning Brick-Oven Pizza in Hackensack, NJ.

I just want to add one thing since I posted this.  There was only one pizzeria that I visited that had an excellent-tasting, traditional, old-world dough.  That is Papa’s Tomato Pies in Robbinsville, NJ.  They know how to make pizza dough.  For my taste, it was thinner than I like it, but it was a great example of how pizza dough should taste.  In my book, dough is the hardest component of pizza to master.  Papa’s masters it.

 

Stay tuned:  The next two weeks, I look for the best ice cream in New Jersey.

Poole’s Diner

I have been wanting to try Poole’s Diner for a long time.  I’d been to Beasley’s, one of Ashley Christensen’s other Raleigh restaurants, and I thought the food there was very good.  I got fried chicken and waffles.  It was delicious–and I don’t even like fried chicken.  However, I was not crazy about the uncomfortable seats and the chalkboard menus.  Poole’s has the same chalkboard menus but normal seating.  We got here early, one of the first customers, and we waited until the restaurant officially opened.  We were seated quickly then and the dining room took no time to fill up.  I did notice that, despite the fact that we were one of the first people there, food kept coming out of the kitchen and going to other tables while we waited for our order.

We started with the pimento cheese appetizer.  Both of us thought it was a little hotter than we like pimento cheese.

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Of course, we got the famous mac and cheese.  I really liked it.  I love a creamy mac and cheese.  My friend was hoping for a more traditional mac and cheese.  But I think the blend of Jarlsberg, Grana Padano and white cheddar is fab.

Poole's Diner macaroni and cheese

We also got the root vegetable au gratin, and maybe it was because of the mac and cheese, but I wasn’t tasting the au gratin part very much.

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I got the special of the night, a pork chop with escarole and bread pudding.  The pork chop was a tad dry, which is better than undercooked pork which I sometimes get when I order pork chops.  I liked the escarole.  The bread pudding tasted a bit like Thanksgiving stuffing.

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For dessert, we shared a chocolate church cake with hazelnuts.  This cake was great.  If you like rich chocolate ganache, you’d love it.

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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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Dinner: Sparks Steak House

I’m rounding out famous New York City steakhouses with Sparks Steak House.  From the moment you are greeted by the host, you feel the classic, upscale feel of Sparks.  The dark wood and large-framed Hudson River school landscape paintings on gold and burgundy walls evoke a time gone by.  The bar has quite a hopping after work suit crowd.  Clearly, it’s still a place where the good old boys do business meals and deals.

On my visit, I got a steakhouse classic, the sliced tomato and onion salad.

sparks tomato and onion salad

For sides, we shared the creamed spinach and hash brown potatoes.

creamed spinach and hash browns

I got a filet mignon.

Sparks filet mignon

My friend got prime sirloin steak.

Sparks sirloin

For dessert, I got the house special, strawberry Romanoff, a special cream made with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream and Grand Marnier.

strawberry romanoff

My friend loved his steak and the sides.  My steak and salad were good.  The dessert wasn’t as great as I’d hoped it would be by the sound of it.  But I highly recommend Sparks as it is a great steakhouse with a classic New York atmosphere and good food.

Breadmen’s

Breadmen’s is a diner that’s a local favorite in Chapel Hill, NC, serving classic American food.  It’s also a family favorite in my family.  While I’m not an onion ring fan, my family says Breadmen’s makes the best.

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At a recent visit, I opted for an egg-white omelet.  It came with Southern breakfast classics–a biscuit and grits.

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We also got French toast

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a mushroom and cheddar omelet

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and a cheesesteak sandwich

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