Tag Archives: restaurant

Little Italy Isn’t Dead: Puglia

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.


In 1919, Italian immigrant Gregorio Garofalo opened Puglia, named after the region in Italy where he was from. The restaurant used to serve Italian specialties like capozello (sheep’s head) and tripe, but now its menu includes more standard and popular Italian favorites. Puglia is known for its entertainment. It’s a good stop during the San Gennaro festival too.

Dinner: Dirt Candy

It’s been two years since I dined at Dirt Candy, but I never wrote about it.  I found the old photos on my camera and decided I’d share them with you.  Many of the same dishes are still on the menu.  I love the name of this restaurant.  To a lawyer into trademarks, this is a perfect name!

I’m not vegetarian although I eat a lot of and appreciate vegetables.  I found that the dishes were creative but many fell flat on flavor.  In addition, although it was two years ago, I do remember being kept waiting a long time even though we had reservations.  The dining room is tiny, so if you don’t like cramped spaces, you may not be comfortable.

My friend and I got the snack–jalapeno hush puppies served with maple butter, and they were very good.

We also got the mushroom appetizer–portobello mousse, truffled toast
pear and fennel compote. The portobello mousse lacked flavor, but the pear and fennel compote was good.  In all, I just didn’t think this dish worked.

Not on the menu now, there was a study in carrot.  The carrot was flavorful and creative, using different colored carrots to make the buns.

My friend’s entrée was the cucumber, which was an excellent example of Dirt Candy’s success.

I got the corn entrée: stone ground grits, corn cream, pickled shiitakes, huitlacoche, tempura poached egg.  The grits seriously lacked flavor.  As my friend said, grits don’t have much flavor, so you really need to kick it up, and this dish just didn’t do that.


Dinner: Sant Ambroeus

West Fourth Street in the West Village is one of my favorite streets, and it has a plethora of quaint and trendy restaurants.  On a few occasions, I’ve come to Milanese restaurant Sant Ambroeus looking for a table only to find it booked.  Forget about brunch there.  I was told I’d have to make reservations in advance two weeks for an outside table.  Whether or not that is true, I do not know, but this past Friday night, I was able to eat inside without a wait.  While the outdoor tables are cute because you get a great view of the Village, the interior of the restaurant is quite pleasant.  The space is intimate–perfect for a date.

While there were many appealing items on the menu, I went with the salmon special.  This salmon dish was wonderful.  You wouldn’t think much of the spinach topping, but it was so flavorful and went so well with salmon.


My friend ordered the strozzapreti and lobster special.  Well, my salmon was delicious, but I was jealous of his dinner because this dish was out of this world good.  (A side note on strozzapreti.  Translated, it means “priest strangler.”  My grandmother used to make these, and in her Neapolitan dialect, it was a different word.)


For sides, we got sautéed Tuscan kale with tomatoes and pan roasted Brussels sprouts.  The kale was excellent.  The Brussels sprouts were blah, but we didn’t notice since the rest of the food was superb.

Yes, Sant Ambroeus is known for its baked goods, and you would expect moi to get baked goods at a place known for such things. But I was full, and in New York fashion, I wanted to restaurant-hop and get dessert elsewhere. So I have an excuse to return to Sant Ambroeus.

Christine Quinn Supports Paid Sick Leave for Restaurant Employees

Christine Quinn supports paid sick leave for restaurant employees.  I see both sides of this issue, as I know how hard things can be for small business owners.  At the same time, I know how hard it is for restaurant employees.  I do think it will benefit the public if sick employees are not cooking food while they are potentially contagious.  With the rise of food-borne illnesses and parasites, public health is a major concern.

NYC Restaurant Week

NYC Restaurant Week Jan. 14-Feb. 8 is open for reservations and to check out menus.

Dinner Club: Barraca

Last night was the first meeting of my dinner club.  Greenwich Avenue was quiet and almost desolate on the cold midweek night.  In contrast, the crowd through the windows of Barraca appeared lively and warm in the soft glow of dim lights and glasses of sangria.

A fan of Chef Jesus Nunez and his cooking at Gastroarte, I had to head downtown to try his new venture, Barraca.  The specialty here is paella, and there are many to choose from.  There are also tapas and entrees.

Our group decided to get tapas.  Here they are, in no particular order:

roasted brussels sprouts with fava beans and ham

grilled cuttlefish with parsley ali-oli, preserved lemon and kale

fondue with hazelnuts, apricots

Spanish potato omelette, ali-oli and bread with tomato

mollete bread sandwich with pulled lamb, Manchego cheese, Guernica peppers and piquillo ali-oli

grilled octopus and baby potatoes, roasted peppers and pimenton de la vera

“broken eggs” served with crispy potatoes, pork belly, fried green peppers and Tetilla cheese

crispy potatoes with brava sauce and ali-oli

pork belly and collard greens

In addition to these, we also got bread with tomato, olive oil and salt and flatbread with oven-roasted vegetables and black olives. Some of these dishes were personal orders, so we all didn’t try everything that’s pictured. My favorite dishes were the brussels sprouts–roasted to perfection, the crispy potatoes and the fondue. The fondue added a sweetness to the savory dishes on the table.  Cuttlefish was new to most of us and we thought it a bit chewy.  Pork belly seemed to be a hit for the evening along with the omelette and breads.

The first dinner club meeting was a success.  If you’d like to attend a future event (one is planned for this Saturday), please let me know.