30
Jul

NEW YORK 7/5-7/26/2015

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NEW YORK 7/5-7/26/2015

THE BIRTH OF CHARLIE SANTO PLESHETTE BROUGHT US TO THE CITY FOR THREE WEEKS IN JULY.  WE WERE STAYING IN OUR FRIEND LIZ’S FABULOUS APARTMENT ON RIVERSIDE DRIVE AND 73RD, A COOK’S PARADISE WITHIN SPITTING DISTANCE OF FAIRWAY AND CITARELLA.  BUT THE HOT WEATHER KEPT ME AWAY FROM THE STOVE, SO WE HAD AMPLE OPPORTUNITY TO DINE OUT, RE-VISITING OLD FAVORITES AND TRYING ONES WE’D NEVER BEEN TO.

THE UPPER WEST SIDE HAS PLENTY OF RESTAURANTS.  IN FACT, WALKING UP AMSTERDAM FROM 72ND TO 86TH, THERE IS NOTHING BUT RESTAURANTS.  WITH FEW EXCEPTION, THERE ARE ONLY A HANDFUL I WOULD RECOMMEND.  RED FARM, ON BROADWAY NEAR 76TH, IS UPSCALE, HIP, CHINESE, WHERE YOU FIND DUCK BREAST AND LAMB RIBS ALONG WITH STEAMED AND PAN-FRIED DUMPLINGS, SALADS, NOODLE DISHES, AND MAIN COURSES.  THERE’S A BAR IN THE BACK WHERE YOU CAN SIP MIXED DRINKS OR BEER ON TAP, WHILE YOU WAIT FOR A TABLE.  PRICES ARE HIGH FOR CHINESE FOOD, BUT REASONABLE BY NEW YORK STANDARDS.  CAFE LUXEMBOURG, BETWEEN BROADWAY AND WEST END ON 70TH, HAS BEEN THERE FOR YEARS.  IT’S A PRETTY BISTROT, WITH BRASS FITTINGS, LEMON YELLOW WALLS AND BLACK AND WHITE TILES.  THE DISHES INCLUDE STANDARDS SUCH AS STEAK TARTARE, EGGS BENEDICT, OMELETTES, AND, FRISEE SALAD AT LUNCH, WITH MORE SUBSTANTIAL FARE AT DINNER.  SERVICE IS FRIENDLY AND EFFICIENT.  PRICES, BEARABLE.  NOISE LEVEL, BEARABLE.

SOPHIE’S DOCTOR FORBADE HER FROM LEAVING BROOKLYN, WHICH WAS HARDLY A HARDSHIP SINCE BROOKLYN HAS BECOME THE BOROUGH FOR THE FOODIE REVOLUTION.  FRANNY’S REMAINS OUR FAVORITE, WITH IT’S SIMPLE, MARKET DRIVEN ITALIO-CALIFORNIAN DISHES.  VERY FEW KITCHENS DO VEGETABLES AS WELL AS FRANNY’S AND IT IS HARD TO FAULT THEIR EVER-CHANGING PASTAS AND PERFECT, THIN-CRUST PIZZA.  THEIR WINE LIST, WHICH IS ALL ITALIAN, CONTAINS A STAGGERING NUMBER OF BOTTLES FROM ALL OVER ITALY, MANY OF WHICH WERE UNKNOWN TO ME, BUT NEVER DISAPPOINTED.

FRANK CASTRONOVO AND FRANK FALCINELLI ARE THE FRANK’S BEHIND FRANKIE’S SPUNTINO IN CARROL GARDENS, ONE OF THREE RESTAURANTS, TWO IN BROOKLYN, ONE IN MANHATTAN.  I’VE ONLY EATEN AT THE ORIGINAL FRANKIE’S ON COURT STREET BUT I RETURN TO IT WITH PLEASURE EVERY TIME.  BRAISED OCTOPUS SALAD, CELERY ROOT AND FENNEL SALAD, ROMAINE HEARTS WITH CAESAR DRESSING ARE PERFECTLY-FRESH AND PERFECTLY DRESSED.  FRANKIE’S HAS AN EXCELLENT SELECTION OF SALUMI AND HOUSE-MADE PASTAS SUCH AS LINGUINI CACIO E PEPE WITH WALNUTS, BASIL AND FRESH RICOTTA, CAVATELLI HOT SAUSAGE AND BROWN SAGE BUTTER, AND PAPPARDELLE WITH BRAISED LAMB. IT’S A LOVELY HIGH-CEILINGED SPACE WITH A BAR RUNNING ALONG ONE WALL, A DINING ROOM IN BACK AND, DOWN A FEW STEPS, TABLES IN THE GARDEN.  THOUGH NOT AS IMPRESSIVE AS FRANNY’S, FRANKIE’S HAS AN EXCELLENT WINE LIST.  NEXT DOOR IS THEIR MEAT RESTAURANT.  NEXT TIME.

NOT FAR FROM FRANKIE’S AT 412 COURT STREET IS DOVER, A LOVELY LITTLE RESTAURANT WITH A SIDE GARDEN AND AN EXCELLENT VIEW OF THE BROOKLYN YUPPIE PARADE.  THE MENU IS RATHER STRAIGHTFORWARD FRENCH-INSPIRED DISHES OF MARKET-BASED INGREDIENTS, SO HEIRLOOM TOMATO PANZANELLA SHARES THE APPETIZER LIST WITH WATERMELON, SHISHITO PEPPERS AND FETA, WILD MUSHROOM RISOTTO WITH GREEN GARLIC, AND CRISPY CALAMARI WITH CUCUMBER AND GINGER.  LYNN WAS ENTHRALLED WITH HER DUCK MAGRET SPECIAL; I, LESS IMPRESSED WITH DOVER’S VERSION OF LOBSTER DIAVOLO.  BUT THE SERVICE IS SOLICITOUS AND THE SPACE BRIGHT AND TRANQUIL.  I WOULD GO BACK.

I WISH I COULD SAY THE SAME FOR LA VARA ON CLINTON STREET, A SPANISH RESTAURANT WITH THE BEST OLIVES I’VE EVER EATEN AND A NOISE LEVEL SO PUNISHING THAT EVEN WITH THE MUSIC TURNED DOWN, WE SHOUTED THROUGH OUR DINNER.  IN ADDITION TO THE OLIVES, LA VARA SERVES DELICIOUS STUFFED EGGS, FRIED ARTICHOKES, FABULOUS PANES (FLATBREADS AND PITAS) WITH FRESH TOMATOES, ROASTED ONIONS AND BLUE CHEESE, BIG RED CARABINEROS (MEDITERRANEAN SHRIMP), RABBIT WITH ONION VINAIGRETTE, CAPERS, SAFFRON, AND PRUNES.  THIS IS SPANISH FOOD WHICH EMPHASIZES THE INFLUENCE OF NORTH AFRICA, BROUGHT TO SPAIN BY THE MOORISH CONQUEST.  LOVED THE FOOD.  HATED THE NOISE.

WE WENT BACK TO ROMAN’S, WHICH, UNFORTUNATELY, DOESN’T TAKE RESERVATIONS, AND, AS IN THE PAST, ALWAYS UNDERESTIMATES THE WAITING TIME FOR A TABLE.  30 MINUTES STRETCHED INTO AN HOUR BY THE TIME WE SAT DOWN.  ROMAN’S MENU IS LIMITED BUT CHANGES DAILY.  MAYBE WE HIT THEM ON AN OFF DAY, BUT THIS TIME IT WASN’T WORTH THE WAIT.

BACK TO MANHATTAN AND MARKET TABLE, WHICH FRIENDS HAD HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  ON CARMINE STREET IN THE HEART OF THE WEST VILLAGE, MARKET TABLE HAS GOOD FOOD, SERVICE AND WINE LIST, BUT AN EQUALLY BRUTAL NOISE LEVEL.  SHOUTING ACROSS THE SMALL TABLE, WE DINED ON CRUNCHY CALAMARI, HEIRLOOM TOMATOES, HANGER STEAK, AND LAMB NECK.

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MANY VISITS, WE WERE MILDLY DISAPPOINTED IN OVER-DRESSED SALAD AND OVER-COOKED SCALLOPS AT THE MODERN, ALTHOUGH I’M HOPING IT WAS A BLIP, SINCE IT’S ONE OF MY FAVORITE NEW YORK RESTAURANTS.

WE’ RE RETURNING TO NEW YORK IN SEPTEMBER, SO WATCH THIS SPACE.

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Categories : RESTAURANTS

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