I started my blog a year ago, and it's been a year of good eats and memories. I love trying new places and am often hesitant about going to the same place twice, since there are so many gems to explore in this city. However, there are always exceptions to that rule.
Sometimes there is a certain dish, or allure about a restaurant that makes it so good, that that memory or taste sticks, and I know I'll be back. These restaurants are what I call my 'NY Exceptions'. Here is my compilation of favorites from 2013, and what exactly keeps me coming back. Cheers to 2014 and thanks for following.
- Alta - Any of their tapas, namely the Avocado Relleno; and Fried Goat Cheese with Lavender Infused Honey. And their sangria.
- Beauty And Essex - The Tuna Tacos served with micro cilantro, radish, and wasabi kewpie are amazing.
- Buddakan - Two words: Edamame Dumplings. And just an over-the-top NY dining experience.
- Cafe Mogador - The Lebanese in me adores this place, and they make a killer labne and hummus.
- Cienfuegos - An East Village hidden gem featuring rum punch bowls & phenomenal food. Get the salmon tartare or Fried Avocado.
- Exchange Alley - I dream about their pasta dish in a spicy tomato and vodka cream sauce, with sweet sausage, garlic, parmesan and chilies.
- Five Leaves - My favorite brunch featuring their Moroccan Scramble and fabulous cocktails.
- Ichabods - Great cocktails and small plates. Try the Burrata made with panzanella, leeks, figs and balsamic.
- L'Artusi - A date night spot, sure to impress. The Tagliatelle in a Bolognese Bianco is perfection.
- Locanda Verde - Trendy and delicious. I'll take 10 of the Sheep's Milk Ricotta appetizer, please.
- Lure Fishbar - Chef Capon is a genius. The Tempura Shrimp with spicy mayo will be just the start to a fabulous meal.
- Maison Premiere - A classy, little gem in Williamsburg featuring absinthe cocktails and oysters.
- Minca (Kambi) - Their spicy miso ramen is off the chain!
- Motorino - My favorite Italian style pizza. The Soppressata Piccante takes me back to Italy. Post coming soon.
- Nai - The best tapas place that won't break the bank. Their Patatas Bravas are bomb.
- OTB - My new favorite bar. Some of the best cocktails I've ever had, and the best wings ever.
- Ponty Bistro - French, African and Mediterranean flavors, and the best mussels I've ever had.
- PT - Italian heaven in Williamsburg with a Lobster Pasta special to die for.
- Redfarm - A modern take on Dim Sum featuring a Katz's Pastrami Eggroll.
- Tabare - My Williamsburg favorite. Be sure to try the Provaleta or Steak with Chimichurri.
- The Brindle Room - Best burger in the city, hands down.
- Tompkins Square Bagels - My Sunday tradition: Whole wheat everything bagel with scallion cream cheese, lox, tomato and onion.
I love a place that does small plates, and Ichabods has mastered that with a few outstanding dishes, and great cocktails. While the cocktails are pricey, they offer a happy hour in which all drinks are half priced.
The cocktails are unique, and they make a damn good Old Fashioned according to Kyle. I enjoyed the Ferrand 75 made with Apple Cognac, Lemon, Cinnamon Bark, Ginger, and Sparkling Wine.
The menu offers most of my favorite things, including Oysters, Kale Caesar Salad, Tuna Tartare, Fried Calamari, Mussels, Squash Dumplings, Burrata, and Steak Frites.
Everything we had was fantastic, but my favorite dish was their Burrata, made with local burrata cheese, panzanella salad (crispy pieces of bread), fried leeks, figs and balsamic. This was one of the best dishes I've ever had. The burrata was perfectly creamy and flavorful, and the combination of sweet, salty and savory makes this dish a masterpiece.
The Roasted Truffled Squash Dumplings are also not to be missed. The dumplings are delicate and full of flavor, stuffed with squash and cooked in a truffled brown butter and sage sauce with roasted chestnuts. The mussels are served in a garlic and parsley broth, with andouille sausage and two large pieces of sourdough bread drizzled with herb mayo.
We also shared their Crane's Burger which was good. My advice is to sample a few of their small plates, though they do offer some enticing dinner plates, and a very tempting brunch.
I loved Ichabod's and can't wait to come back soon. The atmosphere is quaint and the service was great. Tucked into Irving Place, this place gets packed after work so be sure to make a reservation!
Puddin' is an adorable little shop on Saint Marks serving up delicious... you guessed it: pudding! Craving something sweet on our walk home, we decided to stop in. I tried the mini Caramel Macchiato with layered chocolate and coffee pudding, brownie pieces and salted caramel sauce. Delicious.
They offer a few other signature creations, as well as classic and creative flavors including banana, tapioca, coconut, and peanut butter.
Who knew pudding could be so epic?
I could write for days about this place (I'm recently obsessed), but there are 2 things to know about Maison Premiere: 1. It is a fabulous oyster bar; and 2. They have an absinthe fountain (yes, you read that correctly), and speciality absinthe cocktails.
If you are into oysters, this is the place for you. Maison Premiere is romantic and cozy. It is the perfect date night spot in which the waiters treat you like royalty.
The lengthy oyster list may seem daunting at first, but the waiter will go through the entire list with you, making lots of suggestions and recommendations. Try any of their absinthe based cocktails.
They also have an enticing (primarily seafood based) dinner menu. If you want something more affordable after your oyster and cocktail splurge, head to PT
across the street.
Located in the heart of the Lower East Side in the Bowery Hotel, Gemma has a rustic, Italian trattoria-like interior and is delightfully cozy. Gemma offers a great wine list, imported burrata cheeses, and a wood fired pizza oven. While I must say there are much better Italian restaurants around (think L'Artusi
), I would surely go back for wine and their truffled polenta fries; and stick with apps versus mains.
We ordered the Quattro Formaggio pizza which was decent, and the Orecchiette pasta with spicy sausage and broccoli rabe which was not worth $17. The tables next to us ordered a series of appetizers and salumi and formaggi and I think that's the right way to go at Gemma. They also have an enticing list of antipasti and salads, including Arancini, Y
ellowfin Tuna Tartare, Black Mission Figs with Prosciutto and Goat cheese and Shaved Fennel with Pink Grapefruit.
Their burrata was amazing, and the Special of the night included prosciutto, micro arugula, artichokes and pesto.
With over 3,000 reviews on Yelp it wasn't much of a question of if
the soup dumplings at Joe's Shanghai would be good. But I have been dying to try them for myself, and I am happy to report that they are wonderful. They are the most authentic you are gonna get on the island of NY, and the most famous spot for them. Stick with the pork dumplings as they are more flavorful than the crab.
We also tried the beef and broccoli and pan fried noodles which were good, but next time I go, I'm ordering the pork soup dumplings as my main! Make sure you poke a hole in the dumpling before indulging or you'll risk burning yourself and you are going to need each and every last taste bud working for these babies. In addition to their Chinatown location, they have another Joe's uptown on 56th.
The soup dumplings at RedFarm
are comparable, but you can't get more authentic then the ones at Joe's Shanghai.
OTB has a certain allure that I have yet to experience in any other bar. They have mastered ambiance, interior, mixology, a great dinner menu, and the best wings I have ever had.
The same dudes behind the Post Office whiskey bar have opened this glorious space whose name stands for 'Off Track Betting', hence all the horse themed novelties, and a very impressive cocktail and spirit list. Their cocktails are separated into 2 categories: Classic and Modern. Be sure to try the 'Bees-Knees' off the Classic List. It's made with Dorothy Parker Gin, fresh lemon juice and honey. Another standout: the 'Ruby Rum' off their Modern list, made with El Dorado Rum, fresh grapefruit juice, aperol and homemade mint syrup, shaken and served over crushed ice. They also make a solid Old Fashioned and Margarita. All cocktails are well-priced too, for just 10 bucks.
Kyle wasn't in an oyster mood, so I got oysters for 1. They were tiny but mighty and oh so delicious, and I WILL be back on a Monday for their $1 oysters served all night. Their wings are by far and away the best I have ever had. You can get them grilled or fried (fried, duh) and the spicy sauce will change your life.
Next time: I would skip the French Onion Soup and Mussels (both were decent, but the soup a tad too sweet, and the mussels were tiny and I didn't care for their Thai Basil broth, which I'm usually a fan of). Their burger, however, was amazing. And did I mention the wings?
The service was friendly and attentive, and I appreciated how every dish we ordered from appetizers to mains was perfectly staggered and not rushed. OTB is the kind of place I want to keep a secret, but you South-siders will discover it soon enough. Cheers!
PT is everything you have ever been looking for in an Italian restaurant. Authentic food, reasonable prices, and large pours of wine. “The kind of place you’d want to stumble upon after returning from a trip to Italy" - New
, and I couldn't have said it better myself. PT also offers a daily happy hour with half price appetizers and wine, and $1 oysters on Wednesday. Go on a Wednesday for the best of both worlds.
The best thing here: Their linguini with lobster. Now quickly get the image of a small portion of over priced pasta and five tiny pieces of skimpy lobster out of your head. PT does it right, with a 1.5 pound whole lobster over a plate of glorious al dente linguini with homemade spicy marinara, claw n' all. It's amazing. The lobster is succulent and the pasta is fresh and cooked to al dente perfection.
Be sure to try to calamari, and any of their appetizers. My favorite is the Caprese (the mozzarella is so fresh), and Carciofi, grilled artichokes with home made sausage and parmigiano. The pork shoulder and saffron risotto special they had one night was also phenomenal...
Best part of this place, is after indulging and leaving stuffed and happily tipsy on vino, the bill won't cost you more than $50 a person max.Shout out to my good friend, Corinne from Brooklyn Munch for taking me here and introducing me to a piece of Italian heaven right here in Williamsburg.
PT website: www.konstphoto.com
PT website: www.konstphoto.com
DuMont burger will cure all: a burger craving, good bar food and beers, or a hangover. Their burgers are delicious, and so is their mac n' cheese. They have outdoor seating perfect for good weather and Williamsburg people watching. Their burgers are nothing out of the ordinary, but a well executed good old fashioned cheeseburger with a heaping pile of fries. (Swap the regular fries for truffle fries). And while you are there and already being ultra healthy... order the mac n' cheese. It is the epitome of comfort food and is loaded with crispy, smokey bacon.
DuMont Burger has a decent beer list as well as cocktails. A bit overpriced, but a good Williamsburg spot. If you prefer to stay in Manhattan, head to The Brindle Room in the East Village. It is my all time favorite burger spot.
Growing up ice cream was a treat. It wasn't always readily available in our freezer like most of my friends who ate ice cream most nights post dinner. And thus I blame my love of ice cream and wanting it mostly every night on that. Or maybe just because it's just so delicious. Either way, Steve's is bomb. And it's local.
My new favorite: Fresh strawberry ice cream swirled with ricotta. Steve's also makes a New Orleans style coffee ice cream swirled with donuts (YUP, donuts in your ice cream), blackberry with wildflower honey, and Brooklyn Blackout made with chocolate ice cream, cake pieces and chocolate pudding, just to name a few. Find this gem in a grocery store nearest YOU!
My other favorites on the subject of ice cream: Starbuck's Java Chip, Ben & Jerry's Cake Batter, and Talenti Mediterranean Mint.