Abboccato

ABC Kitchen

Above

Acapella

Adour-Alain Ducasse at The St.Regis Hotel

Aix

Amalia

Anthos

Asiate

A Voce Columbus

 

 

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Baldoria

Bateaux- New York

Bello Giardino

Beppe

Le Bernardin

Bette

The Biltmore Room

Bistro du Vent

BLT Market

Blue Fin

Bobby Flay's Bar Americain

Bocelli

Bolzano's

Bond 45

Bookmark Cafe (Oyster Bay Cove, L.I.)

La Bottega (Rockville Centre)

Bouchon Bakery

Boulud Sud

Breeze

The Breslin at The Ace Hotel

Brooklyn Diner

 

 

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Cafe Gray

Capitale

Le Caprice at The Pierre

Carmine's

Cascina

Casellula Cheese & Wine Cafe

Celeste

Centrolire

'cesca

Chevy's

Christopher's (Montauk, LI)

P.J. Clarke's at Lincoln Center

Coco Pazzo Teatro

Compass

Convivio

The Culinary Institute of America (in Hyde Park, NY)

 

 

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Da Tommaso

DB Bistro Moderne

David Burke & Donatella

Della Femina's

Del Posto

Dos Caminos

Dovetail

Il Duomo

 

 

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81

English is Italian

 

 

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Il Fiore

 

 

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Giuliana's (in Staten Island)

Gordon Ramsey at the London

The Grocery

Guastavino

 

 

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Half King

Hawaiian Tropic Zone

Hudson Cafeteria

 

 

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L' Impero

Insieme

 

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Joanne Trattoria

Judson Grill

Juniors in Times Square

 

 

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Landmarc (at The Time Warner Center)

Liman's on Sheepshead Bay

Limoncello

 Lincoln (at Lincoln Center)

Lobby Lounge at the Mandarin-Oriental Hotel

 

 

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Le Madeleine

Marea

Meridiana

Metro Marche

Mia Dona

Mix

The Modern (at the Museum of Modern Art)

The Montauk Yacht Club (in Montauk)

Morandi

 

 

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Nice Matin

Noche

 

 

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one c.p.s.

Osteria Gelsi

Ouest

Oyster Pond (in Montauk)

 

 

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Le Pain Quotidien

The Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel

Pastis

Patsy's

Per Se

Piano Due

Picholine

Pier 9

Pierre au Tunnel

 Pop's Seafood Shack and Grill (in Island Park, NY)

Promenade Cafe (at the New York State Theatre)

Providence

Puttanesca

 

 

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Remi

Robert

Rockville Centre Restaurants

The Russian Tea Room

 

 

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St. Andrew's

Sandro's

Sea Grill

Shagwong (in Montauk)

Il Sole (in Oceanside, L.I.)

Soma Soup

Spotlight Live

The Standard Grill

Staten Island Restaurants

Sullivan Street Bakery

 

 

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Telepan

Todd English's Olives NY

Tony Luke's Old Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches

Trattoria Sambuca

 

 

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The View

Vilar Grand Tier Restaurant at the Metropolitan Opera House

Il Violino

 

 

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West Branch

Wolf's Delicatessen

 

 

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NEW YORK RESTAURANT REVIEWS:

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "Judson Grill"

The Judson Grill has always been a beautiful restaurant with its' brass accents, high ceilings, and alabaster chandeliers, but now, it's a GREAT restaurant, because of its' new chef, Bill Telapan. Telepan takes the usual Grill entrees(Filet mignon, Lamb, Free-range Chicken, Salmon, Trout and Halibut) and, by combining unusual ingredients, creates works of art. The appetizers are all inspired. I had a Pierogi filled with Farmer's cheese and Chard, in a Green Onion sauce. Service and presentation are of the highest quality. Judson Grill is a terrific pre- and after-theater spot.

(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "Guastavino"

The two hottest restaurants in New York this season are Pastis and Guastavino. Named after the beautiful Portuguese Guastavino tiles that cover its' vaulted ceilings, this place is an engineering marvel, built as it is, under the soaring supports of the Queensboro Bridge! Left in filth for the past 70 years and inhabited by homeless "bums," this space is now one of the "must-see" sights in Manhattan. Owner Terrance Conran(yes, THAT Conran!) has spent a fortune making it into this showplace, and chef Daniel Orr has created a stunning menu to equal the surroundings. My appetizer of Escargots with Garlic and Parsley was excellent as was my quirky entree of 59th Street Fish and Chips!(I've never tasted better.) Sorbet completed this fine dining experience. It's easier to get a reservation if you eat dinner very early, or very late. Bring a camera!

(5-Stars) Back to Top

Nick

 "Il Violino"

In just five blocks on Columbus Avenue(from 68th to 73rd Streets,) there are 8 fine Italkian restaurants, and I've eaten at all of them except "Il Violino." Why I never stopped to try this one, I don't know. Now that I have, I'm happy to report that it's one of the best. The decor is quietly elegant, with walls covered with photos of the many opera stars who eat there regularly. Lincoln Center is just two blocks away. For the "old-timers" who are reading this, once-glamorous, singer-actress Polly Bergen was at the bar waiting for a table...she's still beautiful. The menu is extensive, with some variations on the usual pasta, chicken, meat, and seafood dishes. My appetizer was Spedini di Casa(bread and cheese dipped in egg batter, and cooked in an anchovy sauce.) My entree was Penne all Rustica(the house specialty sauce...tomatoes, peppers, onions.) Everything was delicious.

(4 !/2-Stars) Back to Top

Nick

"Trattoria Sambuca"

A revisit to this restaurant(across from the Olcott, my hotel in New York,) which used to be excellent, when it was "Settante Due," thern slumped terribly, is now excellent again. Portions are family style, easily shard by two. We ordered Eggplant Rollatini; Mozzarella in Carrozza; and Manicotti with Spinach. All were excellent.

(4-Stars) Back to Top

"Il Duomo"

Yet another neighborhood Italian restaurant(on West 69th and West End Avenue.) This one is run, very efficiently by a charming Ethiopian woman. The menu covered a wide range of the usual mix of Northern and Southern Italian dishes. There were six of us at the table, and no one had a complaint. I ordered Roasted Peppers with Mozzarella and Anchovies as an appetizer, and Rigatoni Arrabiatta as an entree. Both were very good.

(3 1/2-Stars) Back to Top

Nick

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "Le Madeleine"

If you're looking for an excellent French bistro with great food, fine service, and a charming ambience in the theater district(there's a lovely enclosed garden in the back,)look no further...this is it. I ate brunch there before the matinee of "Saturday Night." I had a delicious cream of mushroom soup, and a leek and gruyere omelette with mesclun salad. I haven't had a good French-style fluffy omelette in a long time. Cholesterol be damned, it was worth it. (5-Stars) Back to Top

Nick

RESTAURANT REVIEW- THE RUSSIAN TEA ROOM  (CLOSED)

Because we arrived at the restaurant a little early, we had time to tour the four floors of this newly renovated New York classic. The first two floors comprise the restaurant, and the 3rd and 4th floors are banquet halls worthy of the Winter Palace in St.Petersburg! It's clearly evident why it took 22 million dollars and 4 years to re-create this Russian fantasy of stained glass windows, stone fireplaces, samovars, sand-blasted chandeliers, a fifteen-foot bear-shaped glass aquarium filled with fish, gilded tree strung with Venetian-glass "Faberge" eggs, red leather banquettes, and a diorama of the Kremlin with moving troops on parade! The food, with a Russian flair, was excellent. I had Tsar's Salad, followed by Lyulya(lamb) Kebab and Saffron Macaroni. My dessert was something called Chocolate "purses" with Mint Ice Cream. Service was erratic, possibly due to the fact that we were caught between shifts. Also, they had run out of at least one popular dish on the menu. For that reason, I'm taking away one star from what would ordinarily be a 5-Star restaurant. Nevertheless, it's a magnificent new showplace for the city. Natives, as well as tourists will love it...if they can get in.(4-Stars) Back to Top

Nick

RESTAURANT REVIEW- SOMA SOUP

A new restaurant has opened in my Manhattan neighborhood(at Broadway and 71st) featuring exotic, and delicious, soups, and very little more. My kind of place! You pick out one of 10 different soups, and then chose a small, medium(huge!) or large(absurd!) bowl. Soups come from the Old World(Mystic Matzah!)the New World(Harvest Squash, Baked Idaho,) the Meditteranean(Casablanca Chicken,) the East (Bombay Bean,)etc. You get the picture. I chose Baked Idaho and it was excellent. The place is very attractive and comfortable as well. (3-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW- DellaFemina

Jerry Della Femina has opened a branch of his East Hampton seafood place, right on the East Side of Manhattan and it is a class joint! From the understated look of the exterior(no big name sign,) through the beautiful decor of the interior, to the wonderful selections on the menu. Food and presentation are excellent. I selected a risotto with asparagus and mushrooms, and an entree of Dover Sole "fish sticks" with caviar. A lemon pudding dessert was the finale and it was incredible. The "group"(Marty, Sue, Connie, Sal, and Diana) chose everything from venison to monkfish...no complaints! The waiters and waitresses all look great, and they actually seem to know how the dishes are prepared. Wow, that's a switch! A fun night out in a beautifil place.(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW- Chevy's

From the sublime to the almost ridiculous! This big Mexican restaurant has just opened on the new 42nd Street(corner of 8th Avenue), and its' a welcome addition. With two huge floors divided into big rooms and little cantinas, and the usual Tex-Mex selections(tacos, enchiladas, burritos) and drinks, the tourists should flock to this place before and after the movies, theater, and the arcades. With a 13-screen cineplex connected to the restaurant(on the 2nd floor), and another 26-screen cineplex about to open across the street, the salsa should be flowing freely for years to come.(2 1/2-Stars) Back to Top

Nick

RESTAURANT REVIEW- Puttanesca

During this visit to New York, I've had the occasion to revisit this "old friend" in the Lincoln Center area, twice. It's almost a new restaurant to me, because it's expanded to three times its' old size since the last time I was here over three years ago. What hasn't changed is its' excellent Italian food, its' charming and attentive service and its' low prices.

On my first night in New York this trip, I met my cousin Joe Profaci and his friend Ruth there. My food selections were Mesclun and goat cheese salad, and Rigatoni Siciliana(with eggplant, mozzarella, and olives.) Both were excellent.

On my second night there, I was with Marty, Connie, and Tory. I chose the same salad, followed by Penne Pomodoro. Again, excellent. (4 1/2-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW- Wolf's Delicatessen

If you have a craving for "deli" but want to eat in a beautiful setting, head to the new triplex on West 57th Street, called Wolf's. In spite of the fancy setting, all of the usual deli items are on the menu. I had the largest pastrami on rye that I've ever had; the kind that you have to eat half way down with a fork before you can "close it up" and eat it like a sandwich. All this for $9.95. My friend Buddy had a cheeseburger and fries platter which he said was delicious. It looked terrific. Service at our table was excellent, but the people at the next table had their meal served backwards...sandwich first, then the soup. They weren't happy! (4-Stars) Back to Top

Bello Giardino

There are so many good restaurants in the vicinity of my hotel(the Olcott) on the Upper West Side, that it's actually possible to stumble onto a "new" one.....that's been there for five years! No, I'm not losing it. In all fairness, the original restaurant, "Cafe Buon Gusto" just recently changed its name to Bello Giardino, to call attention to its beautiful garden. Under a large grapevine, with overhead fans stirring up gentle breezes, it's the perfect place to eat on a summer night. In addition, the food is very good. At least the one dish that I had was. The dish was Rigatoni with Escarole, White beans, Garlic and Oil. Prices are reasonable($11.95 for the pasta,) and the waiters are very attentive. I'll go back again with others to sample more of the food.

(4-Stars) Back to Top

 Pastis

If you enjoy the ambience of Paris while dining in New York, then try to get reservations at last season's hottest restaurant, Pastis. Under the same ownership as the still-very-trendy Balthazar, Pastis is the first major restaurant to venture into the meat-packing district, where limos blend with hanging carcasses.....only in New York! Everything here is a clone of a Parisian Left Bank cafe, from the tin ceiling to the items on the menu. Dining with my nephew Tory was a wonderfiul experience, made a bit bizarre by the presence of Monica Lewinsky stuffing her face at the next table. I'll bet that her Steak Frites was not on the Jenny Craig diet! I had Escargot au Pernod as an appetizer, and a very french-tasting Penne Putanesca as an entree. Dessert was Mango and Raspberry Sorbet. Service was excellent, as was the Bordeaux Blanc.

(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW: BATEAUX-NEW YORK
If you're in New York and looking for a remarkable dining experience, let me recommend the wonderful Bateaux New York. A sister ship to the bateaux
mouches dinner boats that ply the Seine in Paris, this unusual ship consists of two dining rooms, completely enclosed in glass (walls AND ceiling), with outdoor decks leading off of the two "rooms." The boat leaves from Chelsea Piers and cruises through New York Harbor, passing near, and under, some of the world's most famous landmarks. I, and 23 of my closest friends had dinner there on Saturday night. Boarding time is usually 7:30pm, but we were allowed to board at 7, giving us a full hour to socialize, catch up, have drinks, and roam around the dining room and decks. Our dinner consisted of Goat Cheese Terrine with Olive Tapinade (Appetizer,) Filet Mignon with Black Pepper and Port and Grilled Salmon with Truffle Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus and Baby Carrots(Entree,)and Valrhona Chocolate Torte and Vanilla Ice Cream Dessert.) This was accompanied by a fine Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. A trio and singer played while we ate. This magical journey ended too quickly. Get a group together and make your reservations well in advance. This is truly a memorable dining experience.
(5-Stars) Back to Top


PUB REVIEW: HALF-KING
>If you choose to dine on the Bateaux, you might not want your evening to end at 11pm(when the boat docks.) So, head over, as we did, to author
>Sebastian Junger's(The Perfect Storm,) brand new pub, Half King, on 10th Avenue and West 23rd Street, just a block from the pier. The drinks were
>good, the crowd is lively(but not obnoxious,) and if you reserve a table in one of the side rooms(as we did), or in the garden, you can spend
>another couple of fun hours drinking Guinness on tap and reliving the great dinner cruise. The pub will start serving food soon; right now, it's only
>drinks.
>(3-Stars) Back to Top


>Nick

Restaurant Above at the new Times Square Hilton-

On what was formerly one of the sleaziest streets in the world, 42nd Street(and Times Square,) the new Hilton hotel has opened, with its flagship restaurant, Restaurant Above. Chef-Master Larry Forgione has built his new restaurant high above the new Times Square, in the 15th-floor lobby of the sleek new hotel. The menu is Asian/Californian(isn't EVERYTHING nowadays?) and everything that we had was excellent. We ordered Tomato and Organic Mozzarella in Balsamic Vinegar for appetizers, Penne with Grilled Chicken and Vegetables, in a Creamy Basil Sauce for entrees, and Strawberry Rhubarb Torte with Peach Ice Cream for dessert. The service was exceptional; the decor is striking, with wonderful window views of the Times Square area; the prices are not high. In short, a first-class operation.

(5-Stars) Back to Top

 Acapella

My friends, Maria and John from Ft. Lauderdale, recommended this restaurant to us. Lucky for us, because this 6-year-old place in Tribeca is one of Manhattan's best kept secrets. It deserves a 5-star rating for everything from its beautiful decor to food to presentation to service. However, it's a bit pricey at about $100 per person("from soup to nuts!") but it's worth it. After some complimentary chunks of Pecorino-Romano cheese, salami, and artichoke crisps, I had a delicious Spedini alla Romana(appetizer,) followed by a wonderful Dover Dole Meuniere with Broccoli Rabe and Spiced Potatoes(entree.) Dessert was Vanilla Gelato with Raspberries, Strawberries, and Chocolate Sauce. Grappa is ladled out from a large jug, as an after-dinner cordial. Drink it at your own risk! We sat at a round table under a large reproduction of a Piero della Francesca portrait. The original is in the Uffizi in Florence. I'll try to see it next week!

(5-Stars) Back to Top

Nick

 

RESTAURANT REVIEW-"Baldoria"

If you've ever tried to get into Frank Pellegrino, Sr.'s legendary Italian restaurant in Spanish Harlem, Rao's, and have failed("ya godda know someun,") you might consider his sons newly opened Times Square offspring called "Baldoria." I've been to Rao's and aside from Rao's more colorful atmosphere(you expect a mob hit any minute,) Baldoria is much better on all counts: food(yes, you heard me,) service(much friendlier than Rao's,) and location(how many white people do you know who go up to Spanish Hartlem to eat???) I ordered Clams Oreganato(delicious) and Gnocchi with a fantastic Bolognese sauce of veal, beef, pork, and tomatoes(just like my chili!)My dessert was a sinfiul Panna Cotta(almond mocha bread pudding...sort of.) All of this, plus a glass of wine and tip, cost me $65. For the celebrity watchers in the crowd, Katie Couric and her beau were sitting at the next table. I love this place: I wish that we had a clone up in Boston. Het Frank, Jr., how about it?

(5-Stars) Back to Top

Nick

RESTAURANT REVIEW- Sandro's

Over the years, Sandro has operated many notable restaurants in Manhattan that have come...and gone. This, his latest, is arguably his best. Taking the recommendation of the food critic for New York magazine, I ordered three of Sandro's signature dishes. As an appetizer, I had Deep Fried Artichokes; as an entree, I had Spaghetti al Limone(with a creamy, cheesy, lemon sauce;) my dessert was Crema di Polenta with Raspberry Sauce. Our wine was a Pinot Grigio. Everything was unique, original, and delicious. The restaurant is a small, but nicely designed place in Chelsea, and the service was very Italian and very friendly.

(5-Stars) Back to Top

Nick

 

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "one c.p.s." at the Plaza

It should be against the law to take a classic room like the Edwardian Room at the Plaza, and turn it into a generic light-walled, tile-floored brasserie! Gone are the dark oak walls, and the ceiling-to floor draperies. The ornate chandeliers are still there, but now, they're covered with giant red shades! I haven't said anything about the food yet, because most of us ordered cheeseburgers and fries!!!("One c.p.s." is owned by the Smith & Wollensky group, hence our choice of meat.) The burgers were excellent....but, they were cheeseburgers and this is the Plaza! We had a fun time, but that was because of the group, not because of the room.

(2-Stars) Back to Top

Nick

 

 Todd English's Olives NY- Although the decor changes everytime Todd English opens a new "Olives" restaurant, the food remains the same....excellent in taste and beautifully presented, and the opposite of "low-in-calories!" This branch in the new W Hotel in Union Square was designed by David Rockwell, so it looks quite different from the opiginal in Boston, or the lavish one at the Bellagio Hotel in Vegas. A bit more formal...less fun. But the menu is the thing and IT remains virtually unchanged. Todd English loves to combine unusual food elements and then present them in a tower-like structure on an oddly-shaped plate, with sauces drizzled over it, like a Jackson Pollock painting. Eight of us sat at a long "farmer's table" right in front of the open kitchen, so I, at least, got to watch our food being prepared...masterfully. I always order the Olive's Tart (olives, baked in a tart, with goat cheese and onions) as my Appetizer, and I couldn't resist the Dover Sole (cut in slats and layered on foie gras and polenta ravioli) as my Entree. For Dessert, I went with the triple sorbet(mango, coconut-lime, and passion fruit.) We had an Australian Shiraz as our wine. Todd English always seems to be at the restaurant whenever I eat at one of them, wherever it is, and I told him this. I also sat behind him at the theater in Boston last month; he must think that I'm stalking him. Bring your credit card. This New York Olives is more expensive than the others...but it's worth it.

(5-Stars) Back to Top

 Le Pain Quotidien

What a nice surprise to come back to the Olcott to find that an authentic French bakery/cafe has opened across the street. Stepping through the front door is like stepping into Paris! Shelves stacked high with every kind of French bread, baked goods, and fruit tarts. It was lunch time, so I ordered a Turkey Sandwich on whole grain bread with herb dressing. What came out was a work of art! But, I ate it anyway. Delicious. Although there are lots of individual tables in the restaurant, its main feature is a huge wooden trestle-table that seats about 25 people. We sat there. In the middle of the table are open bottles of fresh milk, tubs of butter and jams, chucks of bread, and creme fraiche. Along the walls are cabinets and shelves filled with French jams, spreads, olive oils, condiments, etc. All for sale. We'll be back; a fine addition to my New York neighborhood.

(5-Stars) Back to Top

 Hudson Cafeteria

Going into a Philippe Starck-designed hotel or restaurant is like stepping into a surreal painting by Dali. Like the Delano in South Beach, the Hudson has been transformed into a brick, glass, and ivy-covered fantasy world. The Hudson Cafeteria is anything BUT a cafeteria. It's a lavish 3-storied brick-walled room filled with imaginatively-shaped tables and chairs, and surrounded by 3-story high wood and glass "cabinets" filled with wine bottles, glasses. and boxes of pasta! There's an eclectic menu with some gourmet dishes as well as comfort food. My appetizer was an Arugula, Endive, and Radicchio Salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Three of us at the table chose as our entree, Turkey and Shiitake Mushroom Meat Loaf with Creamed Corn and Garlic Mashed Potatos. (After dropping 20 pounds in the last 2 months, I hope that I didn't gain them all back today!) My dessert was a Fruit and Sorbet Delight with Pineapple Wafers. A wonderful place with excellent food and service.

(5-Stars) Back to Top

Nick

 RESTAURANT REVIEW- "St. Andrews"

Would we have gone to St.Andrews (New York's only Scottish restaurant) if we weren't going to Scotland in August? Probably not...and that would have been a big mistake, because then we would have missed an excellent dining experience. The food (and its preparation) were extraordinarily good. We walked through the atmospheric bar up front, complete with waiters wearing kilts and golf prints of the St.Andrews golf course and the Military Tattoo in Edinburgh on the walls, into the men's-club like dining room in the rear. Everything on the menu was a specialty of Scotland. I ordered Scottish Smoked Salmon for my appetizer, Seared North Sea Scallops over Barley for an entree, and Shortbread Cookies and Milk for dessert. (We had Dalrhinnie single-malt Scotch as an aperitif.) Everything was delicious. A word about the service. Our waitress from Dublin, was charming, but an idiot. She got everything wrong! Nevertheless, her stupidity didn't ruin a fine dining experience. On the way out, there was an obvious smell of marijuana in one part of the bar. What was THAT all about?

(5-Stars) Back to Top

Nick

 

RESTAURANT REVIEW-"CHRISTOPHER'S" at Rushmeyer's in Montauk, Long Island,NY

Rushmeyer's Inn sits back on a hill overlooking Fort Pond in Montauk. Owner Christopher Hewitt, whose family owns the popular Shagwong's and Hewitt's restaurants, has kidnapped Bobby Flay's former sous-chef at the Mesa Grill in Manhattan, and set him up in the kitchen of his new restaurant, Christopher's. Lucky for us! The food is superb. I went with my cousins Anth and Larease and we ate everything from a simple Tomato Soup with Monterey Jack Cheddar Cheese & Tortilla Strips (excellent,) to Roasted Chicken with Spinach & Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes. Those were my choices. Larease had the Pan Seared Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon Whiskey Sauce & Whipped Yams, and I believe Anth had the Tiki Salmon with Plum Vinaigrette, Grilled Bananas and Shallot Mashed Potatoes. The wine was a SanSerre. I'm witholding the fifth star, because of two things: the service was amateurish...local college kids, and the decor, when viewed in full daylight, looks like the dining room of a homeless shelter! All of this miraculously changes after dark, when indoor and outdoor lighting ( seen through the picture windows) transforms the place almost magically. The great jazz trio didn't hurt either!

(4-Stars) Back to Top

Nick

 

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "CENTROLIRE"
Pino Luongo's new East Side "Palazzo" takes up a big chunk of Madison Avenue, between 85th and 86th Streets. If you have the option, ride the glass elevator up from the cozy street-level dining room, to the palatial and elegant seond-floor dining room. We were greeted by Signore Luongo himself, who had some nice words to say to us, some of which were "the best table in the room," ....and it was! For dinner, I chose a Mozzarella in Carozza with Anchovies as an appetizer, and an excellent Risotto with Shrimp and Peas as my entree. Our wine was a Pepe Pinot Grigio. Food, Service, and Decor were all excellent. Our waiter, Erez, was an Israeli who was extremely friendly (in addition to being an excellent waiter,) and in conversation, we soon discovered that he and my friend Itai were friends from their days in the Israeli Special Forces from !996-1999. It's truly a small world.
(5-Stars) Back to Top

In Montauk:

Oyster Pond

I asked at the desk for a restaurant recommendation, and they suggested Oyster Pond. I had never been there. What an excellent choice it turned out to be. Right in the middle of town, this clean and attractive place is serving up some of the best food in town. I ordered a Cream of Broccoli Soup with Cheddar Shavings as an appetizer, and Macadamia Crusted Monk Fish with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Sauteed Spinach, and Lemon Beurre Blanc as an entree. Both were exceptionally good. Presentation was what you would expect in a 5-Star restaurant. Service was typical of Montauk...attractive and intelligent college students winging it for summer break. They're surprisingly good at this part-time work. I had my dessert across the road at John's, where they serve the best homemade ice cream in town.

(4-Stars) Back to Top

 The Montauk Yacht Club

The two elegant venues in Montauk are the Montauk Manor and the Montauk Yacht Club. (Although its rating places it up with these two, Gurney's Inn aims at a New England rustic beach resort quality, and achieves it.) The dining room at the Yacht Club is done up in "generic Country Club/Yacht Club" decor. with a lovely view of the yachts in the harbor. The food is excellent (as were the menu choices.) I had a very good Casear Salad(shared with my cousin Tammy,) and a delicious entree of Gorgonzola Ravioli. My cousin John chose a fine Sauvignon Blanc as our wine. dessert was a sampling of sorbet and ice cream.

(4 1/2-Stars) Back to Top

 Shagwong

This Montauk favorite has been around for 25 years, serving dependable food in a rustic New England seaman's-style setting. The food is good, the price is right, and it's conveniently located right in the heart of town. I had Cod Cakes in Tomato sauce as my appetizer and Broiled Filet of Flounder with Lemon Beurre Blanc, Mashed Potatoes, and Carrots as my entree. Dessert was Oreo Cheesecake. Everything was delicious. The only thing that was slightly disconcerting was that the bar of the restaurant reminded me of the bar in the movie that I had just seen..."The Perfect Storm." (Review to follow.) I kept waiting for the clouds to roll in! They didn't!!!

(4-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "Ouest"
Last month, when we dined at "Centrolire," I asked owner/chef Pino Luongo if he had plans to open a restaurant on the Upper West Side....my neck of the woods. He told me, "you don't need me, you have Tom Valenti's new place, Ouest. Try it; it's wonderful." We did, and he's right. It IS wonderful. There are dozens of what I would call excellent 3 and 4-star restaurants on the Upper West Side, but only about 20 that I would rate as 5-star restaurants; "Ouest" is one of them. With its dark wood paneling and round red-leather booths, there is a beautiful feeling of intimacy about the several rooms. But even this charming decor is only a backdrop for what is some of the most magnificent food to be had anywhere! My appetizer was an Endive and Roquefort Salad with Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette. (This alone was worth the visit!) My entree was a delicious Roasted Salmon with Lentils and Leeks Puree, and Roasted Potatoes. My dessert was a Chocolate Tart with Caramel Ice Cream, Strawberry Sauce and a Baked Wafer. What a terrific dining experience. Thank you, Tom Valenti, for adding another jewel to the Upper West Side's restaurant "crown!"
(5-Stars) Back to Top


Nick

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "MERIDIANA"
Yes, there is life up beyond West 72nd Street, and if you have the "courage" to venture up to the far Upper West Side, on the borders of Harlem, you'll be rewarded with a fine Italian dining experience. Meridiana is decorated in lots of trompe l'oeil windows, Roman ruins, and painted pediments. It's slightly hokey but it works. The extensive menu is loaded with a variety of interesting "grandma's kitchen" dishes. After an appetizer consisting of Sweet Roasted Peppers and Nut-flavored Mozzarella, I had an entree of Grilled Sausages with Lentils and Roasted Carrots, and New Potatoes. My dessert was (were?) Profiteroles. Our wine was a fruity Sangiovese. All of this was accompanied by a basket of exceptional breads...granular focaccia with olive oil, and beautiful Sicilian rolls. Service was excellent with efficient and friendly waiters. Sort of a neighborhood hangout with class!
(5-Stars) Back to Top


Nick


RESTAURANT REVIEWS-"NEW RESTAURANTS OF STATEN ISLAND, NEW YORK"
LORENZO'S at the new HILTON-
Staten Island has a beautiful new hotel, the Hilton, in the newly developed area called Corporate Park. Unfortunately, its restaurant, Lorenzo's,is dreadful. It's cramped, poorly designed, and the maitre'd, either (a) understood no English, (b) was just plain rude, or  (c) was incredibly stupid. Our breakfast buffet was limited, to say the least. (1-Star)
ALE HOUSE
A generic, albeit huge, beer hall/burger joint, with a standard menu, bad service, and the heat wasn't working! (1-Star)
BOCCA
At last, there's something GOOD to write about. This new Italian restaurant on Hylan Boulevard is beautiful in design, and has the kind of well-prepared (and presented) dishes that one expects in a fine restaurant in either Manhattan or Boston. Unfortunately, there were 8 children at the next table (supervised by 3 pseudo-adults,) and the waiter insisted on performing magic tricks for them, much to their screaming delight. Ah well, it IS Staten Island after all! (4-Stars) Back to Top


CAFÉ MARE MONTE
A standard "mama/papa"-type Italian restaurant with excellent service, a fine menu, and well-prepared food.  However, don't expect much in the way of décor, just standard storefront! (3-Stars) Back to Top


CAFÉ VILLA PONTE
I was in the mood for Sicilian pizza, and this place had been recommended. The pizza was good, but nothing exceptional.  This pizzeria is the kind of place where the waitress is a cute little teen-ager, and a Spanish soap-opera was playing on the TV overhead. (2-Stars) Back to Top


DESSERTS PLUS
An awfully long drive out on Hylan Boulevard, just to get some very-delicious Reese's Peanut Butter Pie. This place would be fun on a summer night. The service was very bad. Our cute waitress was more concerned with her boyfriend, who was behind the counter with her, than she was with us. (2-Stars) Back to Top


Nick


RESTAURANTS REVIEWS-"NEW RESTAURANTS OF ROCKVILLE CENTRE, NEW YORK"
BRENNAN AND CARR'S
This is a branch of the wonderful roast-beef house in Brooklyn, that I've been eating at since when I was a child; it's every bit as good as the original, although it's smaller, and less rustic in decor. But who cares about decor when there are those incredible roast-beef sandwiches dipped in gravy!!!
(4- Stars) Back to Top


MAX'S GRILLE AND TAVERN
I came for the comfort food (a mammoth meat-loaf platter, with onion rings and mashed potatoes, and a child's portion of macaroni and cheese!!!) I wasn't
disappointed. Service, however, was incredibly slow.
(3-Stars) Back to Top


GOLDEN REEF DINER
A diner is a diner is a diner. The food was excellent, and the portions are huge!
(4-Stars) Back to Top

"What do you want to eat for lunch?" my friend Marty asked me. I told him that I wanted a Swiss cheese sandwich on dark rye, with chips and a pickle. Ignoring my request, he drove us to a tiny hole-in-the-wall called "La Bottega" on Merrick Road. The interior consisted of a counter with some freshly-cooked foods in it, and a few tables up front. A young, obviously-new-waiter presented us with a menu, and that's where the fun began. The specialty of THIS house is paninis, on all types of freshly-baked breads. There were so many wonderful choices on the menu, that it took me a while to chose. All the while, in the background, I was listening to a wonderful CD of a contemporary modern Italian singer, who I found out later to be someone called Renato Zero, on his new CD, "Filli del Sole." I have to buy this one; it was terrific. Anyway, back to the food. I ordered a Krispina (sort of a ciabatta,) with Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato, Fresh Basil, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It was delicious! They also have all kinds of wonderful salads here, all of which sounded wonderful. I can only be thankful that there isn't a place like this back in my building in Boston. I'd weigh 300 pounds!!!
(4-Stars) Back to Top


Nick

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "Beppe"

Americans seem to be obsessed with the Tuscany area of Italy and its products...wine, food, gold, and of course, the culture of the Renaissance. This is the second attempt to recreate a Tuscan farmhouse in Manhattan in the past 5 years. The first was the incredibly beautiful Colina (since closed.) This new restaurant, the product of Cesare Casella, is attractive, although it doesn't look like any Tuscan farmhouse that I'VE ever seen! The menu, featuring the foods of all regions of Italy, is simple, unlike the impossibly difficult menu at the now-defunct Colina. My appetizer was a Ribbolita, the wonderful Tuscan bread "soup." My entree was a Farrotto, a risotto-style dish made with farro (a nutty whole grain) rather than rice. For a dessert, I chose a delicious Limoncello Pudding Torte. To complete the Tuscan theme, I had a glass of Vernaccio di San Gimignano. Although the food was excellent, the service was not. With four waiters (!) hovering around our table, they still managed to bring dishes late...or not at all! There is an appearance of confusion about the entire wait-staff. In spite of this, I would recommend this place when you're in the mood for "great Italian" in a slightly different setting.

(4-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW-  "Limoncello" (in the Michelangelo Hotel)

Seven years ago, when I last ate there, Limoncello was a new and excellent restaurant. I'm happy to report that it still is. Like good wine and cheese, it has aged beautifully. It was always a classy and expensive place, with impeccable service and excellent food. None of this has changed. My appetizer was a Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tart with Caramelized Onions. For an entree, I had a delicious Artichoke Tortelli over Spinach and Shaved Romano Cheese, with Truffle Oil and Balsamic reduction. I had two(!) desserts: a Chocolate Truffle Cake and a Lemon Sorbet. Everything was cooked and presented, to perfection. When you're looking for a fine Italian restaurant in the Theater District, keep Limoncello in mind. It's up there with the best of them.

(5-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "Blue Fin" (in the W Hotel on Times Square)

The new "W" hotel in Times Square seems to be the trendy place where "the beautiful people" gather, when they feel the urge to experience the excitement of "the new Times Square." The Ian Schrager/South Beach-like lobby on the 7th floor is all white, and filled with young beauties, lounging and drinking on low couches. The bar in the "W" is another of Randy Gerber's "Whiskey Parks." But the restaurant...ah, the restaurant...is the beautiful, sophisticated two-story "Blue Fin"...a showplace for fine dining and people-watching. The centerpiece of the restaurant is a majestic and theatrical grand staircase, set against a wall of white sculptured waves. It connects the two dining rooms of Blue Fin. (Sit downstairs for a quieter dining experience.) Although there are some meat dishes on the menu, the emphasis is on seafood, beautifully prepared and presented. My appetizer was an order of Crab Cakes with Beans Vinaigrette. My entree was a Thyme-seared Salmon surrounded by Lentils, Trumpet Mushrooms, Parsnips Puree, and Pesto Drizzle. For dessert, we ordered a Cheese Tray (Reggio-Parmigiano, Stilton and Brie,) with Figs, Dates and Grapes. Thank you Stephen Hanson, for bringing some adult class to "theme park Times Square!"

(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "Il Sole" (Oceanside, Long Island)

What this "mama-papa" new restaurant lacks in decor and ambience, it makes up for in huge portions of expertly prepared (and presented) Italian food. Chef/Owner Joe Buonocore knows what he's doing! My appetizer was a Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella Salad (stacked high, "Todd English style.") My entree was a huge dish of Orrichiette and Fusilli with Broccoli Rabe and Tiny Meatballs. Our wine was a Cabernet Sauvignon that tasted suspiciously like a  Chianti! If you absolutely hate dining at tables that are packed together so tightly that you can eavesdrop on at least three conversations at once, then stay away from Il Sole. Otherwise, it's a fine new Long Island choice...if you're in the neighborhood.

(4-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "Liman's on Sheepshead Bay" (Brooklyn, NY)

One of the advantages of the transformation of my hometown Brooklyn, from a borough of Italian, Irish, Scandinavian and Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, into an Eastern European polyglot of Russian, Syrian, and Lebanese neighborhoods, is the emergence of innumerable fine new ethnic restaurants, joining the still wonderful Italian restaurants that have always been there. One of these new restaurants is Liman's on Sheepshead Bay. Serving seafood prepared and served "Turkish style," this may just be the best seafood restaurant in an area always known for its fine seafood. Having been to Turkey many years ago, where I learned that Turkish cuisine is excellent, with the emphasis on preserving the freshness of each food's flavor, I was not surprised at the fine quality of our food, and of the way it was prepared and presented. The restaurant itself is similar to the kinds of unpretentious open-air cafes that one finds along the seafront in Izmir in Turkey. My appetizer was A Turkish Cheese Pie (and I also sampled the Huumus and Baba Ganoush.) My entree was an expertly prepared Grilled St. Peter's Fish (a rarely found-menu item that I learned to love when I first tried it at a cafe on the Sea of Galillee in Israel.) Our wine was a fine Sauvignon Blanc. We walked along the water to Lundy's, where we had our dessert of Blueberry Pie a la Mode (Vanilla Ice Cream.) A memorable evening of excellent food, impeccable service, beautiful weather, and a lovely setting...all shared with three of my oldest and three of my newest friends.

(5-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "Compass"

"Compass" is exactly what you'd expect of a restaurant that has been featured on "Sex and the City." It's chic and trendy, with sleek colorful decor, and black-clad waiters and waitresses. In appearance, it's as unlike its old-world neighbor, Cafe Luxembourg, as any two restaurants could be. But what the two fine restaurants DO have in common, is excellent food presented beautifully. After a small amuse-bouche from the chef, consisting of a tiny bite of Lobster over Roasted Peppers, my appetizer was a plate of Risotto Fritters. My entree was a wonderful Filet of Skate Wing over Artichokes. My dessert was a Bread Pudding with Peanut Butter Ice Cream. We were given a dessert amuse-bouche of Walnut Cookies with Hot Chocolate and Sambuca. The women were given "doggie-bags" of Raspberry Scones. I didn't have wine because we were drinking excellent Glenfiddich Single-malt Scotch. A classy new addition to the ever-growing hot restaurant scene on the Upper West Side.

(5-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "DB Bistro Moderne"

Daniel Boulud, one of New York's (and indeed, the world's) finest chefs, has had the daring to open his new restaurant right in the theater district, an area not usually associated with fine gourmet dining. After all, what do tourists from Idaho know about good food? (Only kidding!) To make things even more startling, on a menu filled with the usual wonderful gourmet items, the specialty of the house is the "DB Burger!" But make no mistake about it. At $29, this is no ordinary burger. The meat is ground prime rib and braised short ribs, with truffles and foie gras. The bun is freshly baked and dusted with parrmesan. Instead of ketchup, there's tomato compote on top. The dish is served with a silver cup of pommes souffles by its side. I had it...and it was delicious. My dessert was an old fashioned Peach Melba, which I haven't seen on a menu in ages. Also delicious. Fine food in a dazzling tropical red setting...a very welcome addition to the excitement that is the new Times Square area.

(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "Celeste"

High up on the Upper West Side (Amsterdam at 84th,) is a country-cottage of a restaurant, (complete with a flower-decked terrace,) decorated in gingham, and sky-blue plates in a huge cupboard. Our waitress' eyes matched the sky-blue plates...but I digress! The food is the food of Naples, and it's really quite good, although we only got to sample from the brunch menu. Our appetizer for the table (we were 4 people) was a Pizza Marguerita (tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella.) My entree was Ravioli in a Butter and Sage Sauce. My dessert was a Limoncello Tartufo. One of the reasons that  I wanted to eat at Celeste's, was to try the highly-recommended Neapolitan Meat Loaf, but it wasn't on the brunch menu. That's certainly reason enough to return. That, and the wonderfully low prices!

(4-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "Aix"

With the new trend of up-scale restaurants opening on the Upper West Side, the "twenty-somethings" in search of truly fine dining, no longer have to venture across the "great divide" of Central Park to go to the Upper East Side. The international chefs and big-name restaurateurs have discovered the UPW. Following on the very successful heels of such hard-to-get-in new eateries as "Compass," "Ouest," "Celeste," and "Meridiana," we now have Didier Virot's "Aix." Everything about Aix is first-class, from the dull red and yellow decor of its dramatic three open floors, to the attentive service of the colorfully dressed waitstaff, to the excellent preparation and presentation of each wonderful dish. My appetizer was a Gnocchi with Shaved Jerusalem Artichokes in a Light Cream/Wine Sauce. My entree was a Basmatti Risotto with White Truffles and Arugula. For dessert, I chose a Licorice Panna Cotta with Tangerine Sorbet. The chef sent several amuse-bouches to our table including Madelines, Sweetened Tomato with Melon and Mint Sorbet, and Liquored Cotton Candy! Our wine was a Pouilly-Fuse. An extraordinary dining experience.

(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "Bookmark Cafe" (Oyster Bay Cove)  (CLOSED)

This Is Oyster Bay Cove's answer to those trendy little cafe/bookstores where you eat on one side, and read and buy books on the other. With New England-like decor, and an extensive menu of gourmet selections, this ranks up there with the best of them. My appetizer was a Broccoli Bisque. My entree was a Grilled Fish with Oven-Roasted Potatoes and Arugula Salad. We chose a Cabernet Sauvignon from California to accompany our meal. Everything was delicious.

(4-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "Noche"

In an ironic chain of events, this fun and colorful restaurant rose, figuratively, out of the ashes of the tragedy at the World Trade Center. Restaurateur David Emil, former owner of the World Trade Center's rooftop restaurant, "Windows on the World," and his chef at "Windows," Michael Lomanaco, bought the Times Square property owned by David Copperfield, when the magician's planned magic-themed restaurant failed to materialize due to money problems. Emil then hired 60 of the survivors from "Windows" to work in his new place. Having said this, try to forget the sad history of this new place on Times Square, because "Noche" is all about fun, wild colors (designed by David Rockwell,) an incredible sound system that would be the envy of any club, and most importantly, great Latin food and drinks. It's a 3-story high Carnival every night. We skipped the Cuban mojitos, a drink that I found undrinkable in Cuba, and probably just as undrinkable here. Our food, on the other hand, was absolutely wonderful. My appetizer was a Field Green Salad with Fava Beans, Onions, and Peas, with a perfect Lemon-Mustard Dressing. My entree was a Seared Merluza with Green Mole Sauce, Plaintain Risotto, and Shredded Cabbage. Dessert was a Passion Fruit and Grapefruit Campari Sorbet. Our wine was an excellent Pinot Gris. Go with a group and make believe you're at Mardi Gras, Carnival, or Carnivale. We were there for three hours!

(5-Stars) Back to Top

  

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "Coco Pazzo Teatro"

Pino Luongo, one of New York's most prolific restaurateurs, has added yet another restaurant to the four, highly successful ones that he already has in Manhattan. "Coco Pazzo Teatro," as its name implies, is in the Theater District, in the new boutique hotel called "Time." Its minimalist decor is stark but elegant....glass, chrome, suede, and leafless tree branches. You get the picture. The menu is very "alta cucina." My appetizer was an Arugula, Endive, and Radicchio Salad, drenched in Balsamic Vinegar. My entree was a Pan-seared Monkfish, with Marinated Tomatoes and Capers. My dessert was a Cantelope and Honeydew Sorbetto in a Cookie Basket. Our wine was a Tuscan blend of Nero D'Avola and Cabernet Sauvignon. Everything was absolutely delicious. With its trendy upstairs lounge/bar, this place appears to be the new "in" place in Times Square right now. "Blue Fin" with an edge!

(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "Pierre au Tunnel"

There are so many excellent restaurants in New York City (the restaurant capital of the world,) that it's easy to overlook one, even though it's been around for 22 years. I overlooked Pierre au Tunnel, a beautiful French bistro in the heart of the Theater District. However, I rectified that mistake by dining there last night with five of my friends/relatives. We all loved just about everything about this wonderful place, not least of which its proximity to all of the Broadway theaters. From an authentic Parisian-bistro menu, I chose a Salad of Radicchio, Fennel and Arugula as my appetizer. My entree was a perfectly cooked slab of Sauteed Salmon in Mustard Sauce over a bed of Spinach and Pureed Carrots. My dessert was a plate of Mixed Sorbets. I had a Scotch before the meal, so I didn't have any wine. The service was impeccably French...knowledgeable and old! (Although two of the six of us never did get the extra glass of water that they asked for. Ah, the French!)

(4 1/2-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW_ "Cascina"

Some restaurants just don't have anything going for them. Cascina is one of those. Hidden away on 9th Avenue, it might as well  be in Zambia, because the theater-crowd won't venture beyond 8th Avenue for its pre- or post-theater dining. For those of us who did manage to get over there, we were rewarded with an attractive room and a very respectable menu of Italian dishes. The actual food was something else...completely bland, and virtually tasteless, with presentation right out of the Howard Johnson's school! But the worst part of the "dining experience" was the service. Our waiter, who appeared to be looking over his shoulder waiting for the INS agent to appear and whisk him back to the Dominican Republic, just couldn't get anything right. From suggesting a perfectly ordinary wine (in place of the one that I had wanted,) to mixing up dishes, to having to go off constantly to ask permission for anything that was even the slightest deviation from what was on the menu (e.g., an assortment of sorbetti instead of three scoops of the same flavor!) I had a plain-tasting Arugula Salad as an appetizer, and a Grilled Salmon (dry and tasteless) with Mashed Potatoes and Vegetable Chips as my entree. I was the one with the Sorbet for dessert!

(1-Star) 

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "Il Fiore"

Now this is what I call a fine Italian restaurant. At the moment, the hot area for new restaurants, is Columbus Avenue in the 80's on the Upper West Side. At least four new restaurants have recently opened on that stretch of Columbus (Jean-Luc, Columbus Bakery, Kitchen 82, and Il Fiore,) to join the famous ones already there (Isabella, Calle Ocho, Isola, Jacksonville, Sessa, etc.) Il Fiore has everything going for it, from its perfect corner location, beautiful sidewalk cafe, and elegant interior decor, to its fine menu, and excellent service. This brings us to the food which is, in a word, wonderful. It's perfectly and imaginatively prepared, and presented creatively. As a test of sorts, I ordered the same meal as I ordered at last night's dreadful restaurant, Cascina (see review above.) This time, the appetizer of Arugula Salad was delicious, with a tangy Vinaigrette Dressing, and presented with a Thick Slice of Toasted French Bread on top, Spread with Fresh Goat Cheese. My Baked Salmon entree was moist, and cooked with mouth-watering Portobello Mushrooms and Truffles. I didn't want it to end! The dessert was a Medley of Three Sorbets with Italian Wafers. All of the other dishes at our table were equally as good as mine. The service  was exactly as it should be at a restaurant of this quality. This waiter had his green card!

(5-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "CAPITALE"

What this luxurious, huge, palatial restaurant is doing downtown on The Bowery, I'll never know. It belongs on Park Avenue, or up near Lincoln Center, where opera-goers can parade through it in gowns and tuxedos! (Actually, it's there because someone was smart enough to buy the magnificent Stanford White-designed Bowery Savings Bank and convert it into what might just be the most beautiful restaurant in New York City.) I won't even begin to try to describe the opulence of the interior. Go see for yourself.  But you can't eat the decor, as they say, so how's the food you ask? It's as wonderful as the surroundings in which it's served. My appetizer was a White Bean, Tortellini, and Goat Cheese Salad with Arugula and Olive Oil Frisee. My entree was a Porcini-encrusted Wild Salmon with Black Truffles and Lentils. My dessert was an Apple Cobbler with Almond Ice Cream. Rather than wine, we opted for a fine single malt Scotch before the meal. To add to all of this, our charming waitress (a Sarah Jessica Parker look-alike,) couldn't have been more attentive, or likeable! In summary, Capitale is a find, and easily worth the $10 taxi ride from uptown to get to it...and don't believe the rumors that it's the most expensive place in town. It's comparable in price to other restaurants in the "expensive" category.

(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "NICE MATIN"

If you feel like having a lunch in Nice, but just can't get away to the French Riviera right now, then head over to Nice Matin on the Upper West Side. Named for the morning newspaper of that fabulous waterfront town, Nice Matin is a throwback to the days when we liked everything that was French! The restaurant occupies a large space on the corner of West 79th and Amsterdam Avenue, with a huge wraparound sidewalk cafe. Although it's colorful and tastefully decorated, the decor is more reminiscent of the South of Miami than of the South of France. Because it was lunch, I went for the cliche Provencal dish, Salade Nicoise. It was the best Salade Nicoise that I've ever had outside of Nice. I'm still trying to get the taste of garlic, olive oil, tuna, and onions out of my mouth! TMI? The bread from Pain d' Avignon was as good as it gets. The wait-staff was so slow that we had plenty of time to admire their beautiful uniforms. I'm not complaining about the laid-back service. We were looking to kill time. But, don't go if you're in a hurry...and keep your eyes on "the bread guy." He tends to disappear for long periods of time, and you don't want to be away from that delicious bread for any length of time!

(4-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW- " 'CESCA"

Tom Valenti, and his restaurant partner Godfrey Polistina, have done it again. Following the tremendous success of his other restaurant "Ouest," on the Upper West Side, Valenti has opened a super-elegant Italian restaurant in the same general area. " 'Cesca," named after Polistina's daughter, is absolutely wonderful. Who said that you need to go over to the East Side to find a good restaurant? With burnt-yellow colored walls, dark oak woods, Renaissance paintings on the walls, and velvet round booths (a Valenti trade-mark,) the new place looks more like a swanky British men's club than a "pasta parlor." It has a canopied entrance, a classy and crowded bar area, and a huge, beautiful dining room. Be prepared to be impressed. You'll also be impressed with the menu, which is filled with extravagant and unusual "not-your-garden-variety" Italian specialties. My appetizer was a Farro salad with Endive, Pignoli and Goat's Cheese. My entree was Bucatini all' Amatriciana. We had an order of Spicy Parmesan Fritters "per la tavola." (These, and/or the Arancini are a must!) We were so full that we didn't have any dessert. Supposedly, Valenti took a year to open "cesca;" it was well worth the wait.

(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "DOS CAMINOS"

This is definitely not your ordinary Tex-Mex restaurant! Stephen Hanson ("Blue Fin," "Ruby Foo's,") has created a magnificent showplace of a restaurant highlighting the very finest of uptown Mexican cuisine...the kind of food that one would eat in the best restaurants of Acapulco and Mexico City. Before dinner, I had a perfect Frozen Citrus Margarita. My appetizer was a plate of Wild Mushroom and Corn Tartlets with Anejo Cheese and Pico Verde. My entree was a Chilean Seabass VeraCruziana ( Tomatoes, Olives, Garlic, Chives and Onions) with Yukon Gold Potatoes. My dessert was a Passion Fruit and Coconut Sorbet with Cookie. If you decide to go to "Dos Caminos," before or after dinner, walk around this beautiful place to check out the decor, especially those hanging tree-trunk chandeliers (luminarias.) If you love guacamole, this is the place to get it. It's prepared at your table, and you can watch the server blend about six different ingredients (tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.) into the avocado, in a stone pot that's placed on your table. Not all Mexican food is tacos and enchiladas!

(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "MIX"

Internationally renowned French chef Alain Ducasse made the culinary headlines a few years ago, when he opened what he proclaimed to be "the most expensive restaurant in New York"...Ducasse at the Essex House. Now, in a pique of conscience (?) he's decided to bring his food "to the masses." "Mix" is Ducasse's wallet-friendly discount restaurant. In case you're missing my tongue-in-cheek sarcasm, "Mix" is NOT cheap! Now, you will only have to spend $120 per person, rather than $400. So, what do you get for your money? You get a beautifully designed dining room, albeit one with no name or address out front! (Both are supposed to be forthcoming, we were told.) You get overly-attentive service from everyone. You get very small portions of perfectly prepared, and beautifully presented delicious food. (I thought that these small portions went out when nouvelle cuisine went out!) If that's enough for you, then read on. My appetizer was Steamed Shrimp with Tomato Syrup, Horseradish Royale, and Small Hearts of Salad. My entree was Filet of Sole "Normandie," with Leeks, Mussels, and White Mushrooms. My dessert was Fresh Fruits, Sorbet and Granite. My wine was a Pinot Noir. Did I say that the decor was stunning???

(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "ASIATE"

The glass towers of the new 2-billion dollar Time Warner Center rise up over Columbus Circle and Central Park South, transforming this once boring Circle into one of the most beautiful locations in Manhattan. As in the Bellagio Hotel in Vegas, star chefs have come from all over America, to open high-concept restaurants, making this one of the new meccas of fine dining. One of these restaurants is "Asiate," on the 35th floor of the North Tower's luxurious Mandarin-Oriental Hotel. The decor is minimalist, so as not to compete with the phenomenal views of Central Park and the skyline of the Upper East Side. Although these views are breathtaking, the reason to come here is not the view, but rather the incomparable cooking of master-chef Nori Sugie. Although Asian-fusion is a cuisine that I've long since tired of, Sugie's dishes defy description. In a word, they're perfection. My appetizer was Pan-Roasted Scallops with Celeriac Puree and Truffle Consomme. (This was followed by an amuse-bouche of Crabmeat-Parmesan Fritters.) My entree was a Cote de Kobe Boeuf with Smoked Potato Puree and Oxtail Sauce. Another amuse-bouche...this time an interesting Caesar Salad Soup. My dessert was an incredible Chocolate Fondant-Souffle with Raspberry Granite and Vanilla Creme Sorbet. Our wine was a Pinot Noir. If you're only going for the views, check out the beautiful Lobby Lounge next door to "Asiate." But if you want an unforgetable, meal and don't mind spending $120 per person, then get a reservation at "Asiate"....if you can!

(5-Stars) Back to Top

We had reservations to eat at Randy Gerber's "Stone Rose" at the Time-Warner Center, but when we got there, we found that the tables were miniature, the food selections were few AND miniature, and the prices were astronomical for the tiny finger-foods. So we said good-bye to Mr. and Mrs. Randy Gerber (Cindy Crawford) and walked over to the only other restaurant in the Time-Warner Center that was open for very early dinner (we had an early curtain to catch at the opera.) We had a perfectly fine dinner at the Lobby Lounge of the new Mandarin-Oriental Hotel, consisting of Wanton Chips and Wasabi Dip, and one of the best damn Cheeseburgers that I've ever had in my life! It came with French Fries. We drowned our frustration at changing restaurants with a Single Malt Scotch. Dessert was a Chocolate and Banana someting or other!
(4-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "DA TOMMASO"

This Northern Italian neighborhood restaurant had some of the best Italian food that I've had in ages. The menu features all the favorites, and then some, as well as lots of tempting specials. I had a perfect Spedino alla Romano for an appetizer...one of the best that I've ever had. I had a delicious Filet of Sole with Lemon and White Wine (with Potatoes and Broccoli) as my appetizer. I couldn't resist the Cannoli for dessert. The decor was the usual "cheap-paintings-of-Italian-cities" on the walls, but the service was expert and incredibly friendly...and the chandeliers were interesting, in a sort of faux-Dale Chahoully/Murano way! Not that there are any shortages of Italian restaurants in the neighborhood of West 54th and 8th Avenue, but this one is certainly worth a visit.
(4-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "THE GROCERY" (in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn)

In the Carroll Gardens area of Brooklyn, down on the newly gentrified Smith Street, something truly wonderful is taking place in the world of fine dining. Two graduates of the Culinary Institute, Charles Kiely and Sharon Pachter, have opened up a tiny 30-seater, which is serving up some of the finest food that I've ever tasted anywhere. In fact, the Zagat Survey has called "The Grocery" the "best new restaurant in America," and "one of the 10 best restaurants in New York City." Those are powerful words to live up to, and these two young people are managing to do just that. Of course the place is packed every night, and people seem to be returning over and over again...many making the trip over from Manhattan on a regular basis. After an amuse-bouche of a Cold Green Pea Soup with Truffles, I had an appetizer of Teenage Greens with Chickpea Roasted Garlic Toast and Red Wine Vinaigrette. My entree was a Pan Roasted Monkfish with Sauteed Yukon Golds,  Roasted Artichokes, Arugula and Manilla Clams. My dessert was a Chocolate Fig Cake with Coconut Ice Cream and Passion Fruit Sorbet. Our wine was a Sauvignon Blanc/Viagnier. Everything was simply perfect, including the service and the minimalist decor. I'd love to have this place in MY neighborhood.

(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "PER SE" (in the Time-Warner Center)

Thomas Keller's restaurant "The French Laundry", in the Napa Valley, was considered by many to be the finest restaurant in America. Now, Keller has moved his base of operations to New York City, and has opened "Per Se" in the imposing new Time-Warner Center. Supposedly, he's dividing his time between the two places, but the people in California are feeling short-changed. After a disastrous fire that set the opening date back a few weeks, "Per Se" opened to rave reviews, and it's virtually impossible to get into this over-hyped new dining spot. The phone rings off the hook, and the reservations person gleefully announces that "Per Se" is sold out for months. Well, does it live up to all of the hype? Yes, and no. It's a beautifully designed (by David Rockwell) two-tiered restaurant overlooking Central Park, and the service is first-rate. Everything that I ordered was prepared and presented perfectly. My appetizer was an order of California Farm Raised Escargots with Tomato Puree, Sauteed Eggplant, and Sweet Garlic. My entree was Pan Roasted Maine Sea Scallop with Sauteed Summer Squash, Runner Beans, Tomato Marmalade, and Olive Oil Broth. My dessert was a Creamsicle of Orange-Scented Vanilla Ice Cream with Valrhona Chocolate Crunch. My wine was a Cabernet Blanc. So, what misgivings did I have about this seemingly-perfect place. Only that it was relatively simple to get into "The Grocery" in Brooklyn, which is every bit as good as this overblown, over-hyped media-darling in Manhattan!

(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "DAVID BURKE & DONATELLA"
I love the West Side of Manhattan, and so I only venture over to the East Side, when enough word of mouth and critical raves build up about a restaurant. That's what happened with "David Burke & Donatela." Everyone has been raving about THIS place. So, I went over, with seven other relatives and friends, to take a look. Was it worth the taxi ride over? Absolutely. Both the exterior (all white,) and the interior (white, crimson and chocolate,) reflect the elegant look of the imposing townhouses on the block. Greeted at the door by Donatela, one of the owners, we were shown to our table in the beautiful dining room in the rear. In front of a fireplace with a huge Dale Chihuly  red glass sculpture on its mantel, we ordered and enjoyed a perfect meal. My appetizer was a Market Salad with Goat Cheese, Walnuts, Apple, Crisp Potato, Bacon and Fresh-Snipped Herbs. There was an amuse bouche of a Mushroom and Short Rib Tart. Then, my entree was a perfectly boned Dover Sole, with Tomato Mint Butter and Zucchini Chips, and a side order of Creamed Spinach Raviolis. My dessert was a David Burke specialty...a "Tree" of Cheesecake Lollipops, with Bubble Gum Whipped Cream. Everything was cooked and presented to perfection. I couldn't think of a better way to spend this September 11th, than by dining in a fine restaurant, with seven of the people that I love the most in this world.
(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT  REVIEW- "VILAR GRAND TIER AT THE METROPOLITAN OPERA HOUSE"

A perfect way to begin an evening of opera-going at the Met, is to have dinner at the very elegant and exclusive Vilar Grand Tier restaurant in the Met itself. Everything is so posh and elite there, from the beautiful decor, the old-school service, and the excellent food itself, that sometimes the dining experience there, overshadows the opera to follow! But, about the food.....My appetizer was a Potato and Chive Soup with Seared Sea Scallop. My entree was Braised Salmon over Asparagus in 36-year-old Balsamic Vinegar. Our dessert was a wonderful Cheese Tray for Two. Our wine was a delicious Pinot Grigio. Our waitress was so good, that my friend complimented her to the maitresse d'. It's too bad that you can't get into the restaurant unless you have tickets to see the opera that night. It's that good!
(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW- "THE VIEW"
In a city that prides itself on having two of just about everything, it's hard to believe that "The View" (on the top of the Marquis Marriott Hotel in Times Square,) is still the only revolving restaurant in town. The last time that I ate there was many years ago when it first opened, and I chose to revisit it for dinner, because it's just recently undergone a 4-million-dollar renovation, and new chefs are in the kitchen. The view from either the cocktail lounge upstairs, or the restaurant just below it (both revolve together,) is, in a word, spectacular...especially at sunset, when the lights of the city just coming on, make everything seem magical. But, as they say, you can't eat the view. My appetizer was the Lobster Bisque with Brandy-glazed Shellfish and Creme Fraiche. My entree was The Porcini-dusted Filet Mignon, with Ragout of Boneless Shortribs, Silver Onions, Carrots, Turnips, and Parsnips Puree. My dessert was Strawberries in Chocolate with Lemon Sorbet. Our wine was a Sauvignon Blanc. Be warned, however. It's quite pricey! But the food was excellent, and the service, although a bit in-your-face pushy, was fine. The decor is quite attractive, but it doesn't compete with "the 360 degree view."  By the way, it takes exactly one hour for the restaurant to make a complete rotation. If you're not into spectacular views, go somewhere else.
(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT  REVIEW: "THE BILTMORE ROOM"
When the old Biltmore Hotel was closed several years ago, much of what made it so luxurious in its day (the marble on the walls, the crystal chandeliers, the bronze friezes, etc.) was stripped off, and saved. A year ago, it resurfaced in a new restaurant in the Chelsea neighborhood, called appropriately "The Biltmore Room." Unfortunately, the restaurant is not large enough to support all of this gilt, and it ends up looking like a bordello in Shanghai! In addition, the attractive tables are too close together, making for a feeling of being cramped while dining. That's where the negatives end. The rest is all excellent. The menu is Pan-Asian, with dishes prepared using the spices of Asia. Everything is delicious. My appetizer was a Salad of Mixed Baby Greens, with Lettuce, Tomatoes, Radishes, and Carrot Ginger Vinaigrette. All of this was stacked high in a Todd English-style "tower." My entree was Indian-Spiced Wild King Salmon with Red Lentils, Steamed Spinach, Spicy Carrot Butter and Watermelon Pickle. My dessert was a Trio of Sorbets (Concord Grape, Chocolate, and Blueberry.) We were given an amuse-bouche Tray of Petit Fours. Our wine was a smooth Vouvray. If you don't like Asian spices, stay away from "The Biltmore Room." If you do like this style of food preparation (and presentation,) you're in for a treat. (Voted Best Newcomer of 2004 in the 2005 Zagat Survey.)
(4-Stars) Back to Top

Restaurants:NY-REVIEW "ABBOCCATO"
In the new Barkley Hotel, in the place previously occupied by the fine restaurant "Castellana," is the new and exceptional restaurant, "Abboccato." Because it's owned by the same management as "Oceana" and "Molyvos," one would expect a high-quality restaurant, with impeccable service, presentation and fine food. That's what I expected, and that's what we got. From the minute that we stepped into the restaurant, we were greeted by a charming hostess, a friendly (and funny) bartender, and an expert maitre d'. If memory serves me, the decor appears to be the same as in its previous incarnation...and that's a compliment. The menu features unusual Italian offerings, not seen in red-checkered tablecloth restaurants (lots of game, shellfish, veal cheeks, suckling pig, and exotically prepared pastas.) After a delicious amuse-bouche (sorry, but I don't remember what it was,) my appetizer was Mozzarella di Bufala ai Quattro Gusti (Imported Buffalo Milk Mozzarella, Extravirgin Olive Oil from Campania, Blood Orange, Persimmon Compote, and Aceto Balsamic Vinegar.) My entree was Pansoti con Tocco de Noxe (Pot-bellied Ligurian Ravioli Filled with Wild Greens and Herbs, in a Walnut Sauce.) We had a zesty Lacrima Cristi red wine, and it must have been strong, because I can't remember what I had for dessert! Our waitress brought us a plate of complimentary Italian cookies...just one of the many charming touches in this very high-quality addition to the West Side's Italian restaurant scene.
(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT-NY REVIEW: "BOND 45"
When I was growing up in New York, perhaps the best known of the early Italian restaurants was Mamma Leone's, a huge tourist attraction off Times Square, that flourished for almost a century, and could serve as a prototype of traditional Italian restaurants.  "Bond 45" is an attempt to revive this type of restaurant that thrived when Sinatra was singing at the Paramount Theater across the street, and for the price of a movie ticket, you could see the movie AND the stage show at Radio City Music Hall. "Bond 45" is big and lavish in the style of old-fashioned restaurants like Jack Dempsey's and Lindy's, and serves some of the best damn Italian food that I've tasted in a chain restaurant. (It's owned by the Fireman Group, who also run the Trattoria Dell'Arte, the Brooklyn Diner, Fiorello's and The Redeye Grill.) One of its specialties is Mozzarella (of  every type,) so we ordered the Mozzarella Bar Misto as our table appetizer. It consisted of a variety of homemade Mozzarellas  served with prosciutto, peppers and eggplant, and was heaven for someone who loves mozzarella as much as I do! With this I had Chef Brando's Meatballs and a Potato Tart. We all shared a Pantondo (a crispy cheese and spice-filled Ligurian focaccia...this is NOT bread, but more a combination calzone and white pizza.) For dessert, I had a Parfait of Limoncello Granita, with Berries and Rum.
(4 1/2-Stars) Back to Top


RESTAURANT-NY REVIEW: "TONY LUKE'S OLD PHILLY STYLE SANDWICHES"
Would you believe that I've never had a Philadelphia Cheese Steak Sandwich? I remedied that in New York this week, by hopping over to one of the new Ninth Avenue ("Hell's Kitchen") restaurants, "Tony Luke's," where they specialize in Philadelphia sandwiches, especially Cheese Steak sandwiches. It's  just a plain store-front, with no tables...only bar-stools and two counters. Let me say right off that a Cheese Steak sandwich makes for a very filling lunch! I had a traditional Cheese Steak Sandwich with American Cheese, and a side order of Plain Fries, and I washed it all down with a very authentic Root Beer. Yikes! (But it was delicious!)
(5-Stars) Back to Top


RESTAURANT-NY REVIEW: "BISTRO DU VENT"
Three of the most creative men involved in the restaurant business, Mario Batali ("Babbo,") Joe Bastianich ("Becco," "Esca," etc.) and David Pasternack ("Picholine,") have come together to create their version of a typical French bistro...lots of wood on tables, chairs, and floor, and plush red banquettes....in the new Ninth Avenue restaurant neighborhood near Times Square. But the important thing in a bistro is the earthiness and flavor of the foods on the menu, and maybe I just ordered right, because I had no problem with either. Because the menu is heavily skewed toward the bistro-staples of meat and potatoes in terrines (pots) and boudins (sausage rolls,) etc., and I'm not a big meat person, I opted for Goat-cheese salad and Raviolis, and they were delicious. For my appetizer, I chose Fromage Blanc avec Endives (Goat Cheese and Walnuts with Endives)  and for my entree I chose the White Bean Ravioli with Brown Butter and Banyuls Vinegar. For dessert I ordered the Profiteroles. I skipped the wine because we were going to a long opera afterward!
(4-Stars) Back to Top


RESTAURANTS-NY REVIEW: "OSTERIA GELSI"
It's hard to concentrate on the qualities of a restaurant, when the chef/owner is someone that you know, and you're surrounded by 8 of your closest relatives and friends at the table. With that in mind, let me try. Donato Deserio has opened his new restaurant in the city's hottest new neighborhood, Hell's Kitchen. A smart move. The corner restaurant is simply, but tastefully decorated in a European style. While we were waiting for our group to gather, my cousin John and I decided to order a bottle of the Sicilian Nero D'Avola Nu Har (and we kept replenishing this through our meal! After all it WAS John's birthday, and Joe and Arlene's anniversary!!!) My appetizer was a Risotto con Fagioli Rapette (Risotto with White Beans and Broccoli Rabe.) My entree was a wonderful Orato del Barcaiolo (Roasted Filet of Sea Bream, Shrimp and Mushrooms on a Crown of Broccoli Rabe and White Beans.) I certainly got my fill of broccoli rabe and white beans! But they were delicious. Because it was John's birthday, John brought his own birthday cake...a gift from a friend who's a pastry chef. It was a fantastic Chocolate Mousse Bombe. In spite of this excellent meal of fine food, the evening was really all about old friends enjoying each other's company. That's a priceless commodity and one that we all enjoyed immensely. We're all looking forward to being together in Amalfi this summer!
(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "BOBBY FLAY'S BAR AMERICAIN"
Bobby Flay and Todd English seem to be running a race to see who can open the most restaurants around the world. Todd English is the winner by far. "Bar Americain" is chef/owner Flay's third in New York (after "Mesa Grill" and "Bolo.") It's also my favorite of the three. In the large space vacated by one of my former favorites, The Judson Grill, restaurant designer David Rockwell has created a large bistro (an oxymoron?) similar to those large cafes on the Rue de la Paix and Rue de L' Opera in Paris. But make no mistake about it, the food is definitely American. It's "fish, meat and potatoes" done up in high gourmet Flay-style. Two of the people at our table (my cousin John and our friend Adeline) knew Bobby Flay through their food businesses, and so he came to the table several times to chat, and sent us a large 2-tiered complimentary tray filled with clams, mussels, oysters, etc. At one point, Flay asked John if he had a son, John, who ran track at Xavier High School in Manhattan. He forgot about "food talk" when John said "yes," and started raving about John's ability as a track star when they were both classmates and on the same cross-country team! (John, did you know that you two were classmates, and that you have a fan in Flay???) But I digress as usual. To get back to food, my appetizer was Crawfish and Dungeness Crab Cakes, with Basil, Red Pepper Relish and Polenta. My entree was Pan Seared Skate, with Smoked Chipotle Butter, Capers, Tarragon and Crispy Hominy. I had a side order of Hot Potato Chips with Blue Cheese Sauce. My dessert was a Chocolate Mousse Pie with a Large Cookie Wafer Baked on Top. Our wine was a heavy but delicious Zinfandel from the Coppola Wineries. With seven fun people around the table (all of whom are going to Amalfi in July,) and excellent food and wine on the table, it was a perfect dining experience.
(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "ENGLISH IS ITALIAN"

This restaurant is a mixed bag. Although the food is excellent, and the decor is stunningly elegant, the style of serving is annoying and very disconcerting. Chef/owner Todd English has chosen to do away with a menu (!), and instead, he asks you to select either a 2 or 3-course price-fixed dinner, and then HE decides what to bring you. There are many small platters of appetizers, pastas and meat/fish entrees, but the portions are meant to be shared and they're all too small. We kept having to ask for more. At the end of the meal, we were all quite full, but I couldn't begin to tell you what we ate. There were so many small plates going around the table at any given time, that I felt more like a juggler than a diner. Not conducive to good conversation and relaxed dining. The whole thing gave me a headache! At one point I scolded our dim-witted waitress, telling her "please bring more of these arancini and risotto, because this platter couldn't satisfy a dwarf!"  

(3-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "THE MODERN" at the Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art has almost been completely rebuilt, after having been closed for several years of "renovations." As a part of this new renovation, MoMa has added a grand new high-gourmet restaurant, noted restaurateur Danny Meyer's "The Modern," with an Alsatian chef Gabriel Kreuther. The ground-floor restaurant is quite beautiful, and in the starkly-beautiful style of the museum. It has a front Bar and Dining Room for small plates and tastings, and an expansive (and expensive) Main Dining Room behind it, overlooking the beautifully restored Sculpture Garden. The menu features dishes prepared and served in an unusual way. Although portions are small (and highly decorated,) one does come away from the meal feeling quite full. Part of this is due to the fact that several amuse-bouches are served between courses. Although these chef tastings sound awful (e.g., Pineapple Gelleed Soup with Caviar,etc.) they were all quite delicious. My appetizer was Escargots and Potato Gateau with Pearl Onions, Shiso, and Parsley-Ginger Vinaigrette. My entree was Chorizo-Crusted Chatham Cod with White Coco Bean Puree and Harissa Oil. My dessert was a Medley of Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Tart, and Chocolate Sorbet. Our wines were several whites, none of which were especially memorable, although they were all quite expensive. I didn't select them, so I can't tell you what they were. Our dining experience was an excellent one...as much for the company of 8 around the table, as for the food and setting.
(5-Stars) Back to Top

The Promenade Cafe has a grand setting...the Great Hall of the New York City Opera at Lincoln Center. There's a feeling of importance to be let into this grand lobby two hours before everyone else is allowed in. The Cafe, candlelit and elegant, is dwarfed by the high-ceilinged Hall. The menu, although limited, has something for everyone. My appetizer was Stuffed Artichoke with Goat Cheese Fondue. My entree was Phyllo-wrapped Baked Salmon, with Polenta and Puree of Autumn Vegetables. As I'm trying to lose weight for the holidays, I eliminated dessert...but they certainly sounded tempting. A fine dining experience, in a lovely setting.
(4-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "BOLZANO'S"
Bolzano's is the latest large Italian restaurant in the Times Square neighborhood, joining "Carmine's" and "Bond 45." The difference with this one is that the food is terrible! I won't even bore you with the details of the food that I ordered, and tried to eat!
(1-Star) Its decor is beautiful!

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "PIANO DUE"
In the elaborate space vacated by the overpriced "Palio," "Piano Due" is a very welcome addition to the New York restaurant scene. With nothing changed on the ground floor bar (that magnificent mural of the Palio in Siena still wraps itself around the upper part of the room,) one enters the elevator and ascends to the second floor (piano due, get it?) restaurant. The white rooms are large and beautiful, with high, vaulted ceilings. There seemed to be lots of managers working the rooms, although service at the waiter/busboy level was only adequate. The menu is extensive and exotic. My appetizer was a delicious Spiedino con Salmone (layers of baked brioche, smoked salmon, and buffalo mozzarella in a roasted pepper sauce with a marinated endive salad.) My entree was a Branzino alla Siciliana (seared black bass with a Sicilian and calamata olive broth, tomato-fennel confit and capponata.) My dessert was an Assortment of Sorbetti. Our wine was a hearty Montepulciano from Tuscany, of course. With five of my closest friends seated around our round table, this was another memorable night of fine dining and excellent conversation.
(5-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "DEL POSTO"

"Del Posto" is the hottest new restaurant in New York, and unquestionably the hardest for which to get reservations. After overcoming the major obstacle of getting a table in this new venture of chef/owners Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich, and if you're a large group as we were, one has to select a price-fixed menu, and select dinner items before you even get there. Unheard of, and most annoying! Was it worth it? The place itself is a huge, palatial space filled with marble, brass, and warm woods. It's incredibly elegant, yet very warm. If you haven't been intimidated by the size and class of this huge two-level room, or after you've  seen the prices on the menu and wine list, then you'll probably settle down to enjoy what turned out to be an incredible dining experience. Granted, with the people in our group, we would have even had a great time at McDonald's, but the service and the food WERE exceptional. The evening quickly became an EVENT, and not just a night out at a restaurant. My appetizer was a Carciofi alla Romana, followed by an order of Gnocchi! My entree was a mouth-watering Swordfish with Arugula. Desserts were a Chocolate Tarte and an amazing Apricot Meringue with Gelato. Complimentary Petits Fours were brought after the meal. Our wine was an excellent Montalcino Red. But, as I said before, this was not about the food, or the place itself...both of which were as good as it gets. It was about the company of 9 around that big round table. They are simply the best there is!
(5-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "TELEPAN"

When Bill Telepan closed his excellent 3-star restaurant Judson Grill (now completely redone as Bobby Flay's even-better "Bar Americaine,") he became a "chef/owner-without-a-restaurant," so to speak, until he recently opened his new place called, simply,"Telepan." Here, he brings his "fresh-as-this-morning" outlook to menu planning, to the Upper West Side with great success. Telepan has already become an exciting new destination for the pre- and post-performance Lincoln Center crowd. One has come to expect of Bill Telepan's restaurants, the very best and freshest of seasonal foods impeccably prepared and presented, and that's exactly what he has served up once again in this new venue. The room strives for intimacy, with its multiple fireplaces and soft lighting. The food, on the other hand, is eloquent and refined. After a complimentary "amuse-bouche" of Deep-Fried Goat Cheese, Multi-Bean Salad in Marinade and Cold Cucumber Soup, my appetizer was Roasted Asparagus with Poached Egg, Frisee, Shallots and Mustard. My "mid-course" was Stuffed Pierogi with Morels, Scallions and White Wine Sauce. My entree was Artichoke-Crusted King Salmon with Braised Artichokes, Tuscan Virgin Olive Oil, Fava Beans and Dandelion. My dessert was a Medley of Sorbet (Mango, Yogurt, and Passion Fruit.
Caveat Emptor: If you're very hungry, don't order the 4-course Prix Fix Meal. It's $55, and might save you a few bucks over ordering a la carte, but the portions are half the size. It's really a tasting-menu meal. I got full, but the guys that I was with, didn't!
(5-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT-NY REVIEW: "BOUCHON BAKERY"

Thomas Keller (of "The French Laundry" in California, and "Per Se" in New York) has opened a sit-down cafe with waiter service and a takeout counter! Why would one of the finest chefs in the world open up a sandwich joint in the same Time-Warner Center as his ultra-exclusive, pricey "Per Se?" Who knows! All I know is that I had the best $14.00 Tuna Salad Sandwich that I've ever had in my life!!!
(5-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "CAFE GRAY"

Gray Kunz, formerly the chef at the late, great "Lespinasse" has opened his own restaurant on the 3rd floor of the Time-Warner Center...Manhattan's exclusive new "Restaurant Row." Of course the decor is stunning...think elegant brasserie...with dark woods, leather, and brass. There's an open kitchen, and panoramic views of Central Park stretching into the distance from across Columbus Circle. But as I've said before, you can't eat the decor and the views. Luckily, the food is superb, and the price isn't ridiculous. After a little amuse-bouche of Celery Root with some kind of chips,  my appetizer was a delicious Risotto Alla Milanese (with Mushrooms.) My entree was a Nova Scotia Halibut Provencale (with Peppers, Tomatoes and Onions.) My dessert was Seven Kinds of Sorbet (!) with Grapefruit Ice Shavings. Our wine was a rich Chinon from the Languedoc area of France. Our group, once again, was a great compliment to the excellent food; lots of fun. I must say, however, that it's a bit disconcerting to walk out of the rich environment of Cafe Gray, into what is basically a mall! Granted, it's probably the most upscale "mall" in the world, but it's still a mall, damnit! Anyway, the restaurant was wonderful, and so was our group.
(5- Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "BETTE"

Amy Sacco, the owner of "Bette," has been called "the Queen of the Night" by "Vanity Fair" magazine, because she was the former owner of some of New York's hottest nightspots. But this, her latest venture, is not aimed at drawing the movie stars, the models and Paris Hilton. It was meant to be a wonderful neighborhood restaurant with excellent food. Well, the excellent food is there, but it's not my idea of a "simple neighborhood restaurant." First of all, it's luxurious. In the "impossible-to-get-an apartment-there" London Terrace Apartments (The "Dakota" of Chelsea,) it caters to a late night dinner crowd...at least it did last night. There were so many wonderful appetizers on the menu, that I decided to have 3 appetizers instead of an appetizer and an entree! I chose (1) Fresh Imported Burrata Cheese with Grilled Rye Bread Panzanella, Market Tomatoes and Opal Basil, (2)Crisp Parmesan Crusted Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Goat Cheese, Alfonso Olives, and served over Zucchini Puree, (3)Dunganess Crab Gnocchi with Chives, Roasted Tomatoes, Aged Pecorino and Endive. Whew! I was stuffed. But there's always room for dessert. I went light, with Three Summer Sorbets with Tiny Homemade Cookies. If you go, don't miss the bathrooms; they're a show!
(5-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "BREEZE"

"Breeze" was selected as the place where I would be having lunch with seven of my favorite relatives...three of whom weren't able to come to my birthday party last month. This Theater-District Thai/French restaurant up on 9th Avenue, is tucked away from the gastronomic hub of Restaurant Row and the big tourist trap "theme park" restaurants in Times Square. That could be a good thing. It's small, with simple decor, a good, somewhat adventurous menu, and the food and service are fine. I had a delicious order of Mushroom Dumplings and a Mixed Green Salad. C'mon; it was lunch! However, my favorite Thai restaurant is Bangkok City in Boston; it still is.
(3 1/2-Stars) Back to Top

(but 5-Stars for the company at lunch!  )
 
 

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "JUNIORS" in TIMES SQUARE)

There were so many wonderful things about growing up in Brooklyn in the 40's and 50's, not least of which was going to downtown Brooklyn to eat at "the most famous deli in the world," Juniors. It's still there, but now they've opened a large branch of the original, right in the heart of Times Square in Shubert Alley. We went to check it out, and I was ecstatic to see that the menu is the same as the one that I read as a young child, complete with all of the comfort food you would want (hot pastrami, meat loaf, mac and cheese,) including Juniors world-famous cheesecake...although the prices are considerably higher (but still not expensive by New York standards.) If my mind was not playing tricks on me, the decor even looked the same as the original, although everything had a new shine on it. After an appetizer of a Potato Pancake, I couldn't resist the Meat Loaf Platter, with Mashed Potatoes. I ordered some Mac and Cheese as a side. Of course, dessert was the magical Cheese Cake, with a Chocolate Egg Cream. It was incredible. Now having said that, I have to say something about the service, which was horrendous! The maitre d' handed us off to a "bitch-with-attitude," who looked like her afro had exploded. She sat the 6 of us at a round table for 4, and explained, "there ain't any other tables." Right after our appetizers were brought to the table, a busboy (who might have been the bitch's brother) brought all of our entrees. Neither our waitress, who was useless, or the bitch-with-attitude could explain why our table looked like a packed buffet table. Nevertheless, the food was excellent, and we had a great time making fun of the  servers, all within earshot of them, of course. Grab the kids and head down to Times Square. Juniors is worth the trip, in spite of the bad service. I'm still wallowing in nostalgia!
(3-Stars) Back to Top

It would have been 5-stars, had the service not been so bad!
 
 

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "METRO MARCHE"

In the past, whenever I arrived in Paris by train at the Gare de Lyon, I would always stop for a meal at the wonderful restaurant there, "Le Train Bleu." I always wondered, "what's an elegant, excellent restaurant like this doing in a train station?" I wondered the same thing when I heard that a serious, new restaurant, the "Metro Marche,"  had opened in New York's Port Authority Bus Terminal. Not exactly the first place that comes to mind when one thinks of fine dining! So we decided to go over and check it out. Well, it certainly looked like a Parisian bistro; even the menu did. Lots of waiters hovering about, and service was very attentive. When we finally got around to ordering and not gawking at the surroundings, I ordered a French Onion Soup for my appetizer, and a Tuna Nicoise for my entree. Dessert was a very authentic Apple Tart Tatin. Everything was excellent, so I have no idea why I'm taking one star away from the restaurant. Perhaps because of the travelers with luggage peering in at the cafe-curtained windows!
(4-Stars) Back to Top

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RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "BROOKLYN DINER"

First "Juniors," now the "Brooklyn Diner." The "Brooklyn-style" of diner dining has invaded Times Square, and it's a welcome invasion. Sometimes you just need some good wholesome comfort food in a homey setting, before plunging into your theater or opera-going. There is already a "Brooklyn Diner" in Manhattan...the fancy flagship up on 57th Street near Carnegie Hall. Now, the Fireman Group ("Trattoria Dell' Arte," "Firemans," "Bond 45," "Cafe Fiorello," etc.) has opened a branch right on Times Square. The menu is similar to that of "Juniors," with everything from Mac' and Cheese and Chicken Soup,  to Turkey and Pastrami sandwiches and fancier entrees. Beverages include Chocolate or Vanilla Egg Creams...a staple at any Brooklyn diner or candy store. Desserts included just about everything. We were there for lunch, so I had a Tuna Salad Sandwich with Fries, and a Chocolate Egg Cream. It was perfect! By the way, the service here was much better than it was at "Juniors." My only complaint was that the tables were crammed too close together. Ours was fine, but if I had been at one of the others, I would have walked out!  
(4-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "CARMINE'S"

What Maggiano's is to Boston, Carmine's is to New York. In its original location uptown on Broadway at 91st Street (where we ate,) and its Times Square location, it, like Maggiano's, is an old-school family-style Italian restaurant, where, even though it's packed every night, the emphasis is on quality food, rather than on mass feeding. Everything is huge, including the huge old-fashioned room, the huge menu, and the huge family-style platters. Because almost everything we had at our table of 14 was excellent, I'm going to list it all in this review, so here goes: APPETIZERS-Fried Calamari, Spedini alla Romana, Roasted Peppers with Mozzarella, Baked Clams, and Carmine's Antipasto; PASTAS-Lasagne, Penne alla Vodka, Rigatoni Country Style, Manicotti, and Linguine Aglia Oglio; ENTREES-Veal Scalopini alla Limone, Shrimp Scampi, Chicken Marsala, and Chicken Saltimbocca; DESSERTS- "Titanic" (Brownies, Ice Cream, Whipped Cream and Cookies shaped like the Titanic!) and a Fresh Fruit Platter. Whew!  Our wines were a Pinot Grigio, a Pinot Noir, and a Cabernet Sauvignon. Although we came away stuffed, there were some negatives about Carmine's. As at Maggiano's, the pasta and entree courses were served at the same time, making for a lot of chaos at the table, and we therefore felt inclined to rush through our meal. Our officious waiter (who lectured us for about 10 minutes before we ordered our wine, to make sure that everyone was 21,) didn't discourage this! 
(4-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "GORDON RAMSEY AT THE LONDON"

Gordon Ramsey is London's most prominent restaurateur/chef. He's been searching for a place to open in America for years (he was considering the Time Warner Center, and one of the new hotels in Las Vegas,) and the opportunity arose when New York's Righa Royal Hotel went under extensive renovation and new management and reopened as the super-lush, exclusive "London." Gordon Ramsey opened two restaurants there...the somewhat casual "London Bar," and the formal dining room, the beautiful "Gordon Ramsey at the London." The room is extremely elegant, with the walls covered in chocolate-colored, carved wood panels for lunch, which revolve into celadon-covered glazed-glass panels for dinner. I couldn't even begin to tell you about the excellent service at the restaurant. It's impeccable... very European, and so efficient, that I felt the need to compliment everyone from the maitre d', through the waiter, to the sommelier, and the busboys. Now, about the food. It's incredible. After ordering, we were brought amuse-bouches of White Truffle Cappucino. My appetizer was an Artichoke Veloute with Potato Dumpling and Parmesan. My entree was a delicious  Pan Fried Daurade with Risotto and Winter Vegetables. My dessert was an order of Sorbets with an Assortment of Cookies and Freshly Made Candies. Yum, yum. Our wine was a smooth, dry Pinot Gris. This place is class. Go, when you're feeling very elegant, and feel the need to feel like visiting European royalty!
(5-Stars) Back to Top

 
 

RESTAURANT NY- REVIEW: "BOCELLI" on Staten Island

There are lots of fine restaurants on Staten Island, and a few truly excellent ones. One of these excellent restaurants is "Bocelli," and it's certainly comparable to the best of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Operated by Marie, Stefano and Vincenzo, whose motto is "simplicity and true flavors are the key ingredients of great Italian cooking," I must disagree with them on one fine point. Their restaurant's delicious food is anything but "simple!" Everything is prepared magnificently by Stefano, Staten Island's only "Master Chef." My appetizer was one of the best Spiedini alla Romana that I've ever had...anywhere. I also tasted some of the other appetizer plates that were on the table (Baked Clams; Fried Calamari with Cherry Peppers, Sausages and Potatoes Marinated in Honey; Crab Cakes, etc.) Everything was tastefully prepared and presented. Our entree was Homemade Papperdelle prepared in a wheel of Reggiano Parmegianno with Brandy, Zucchini, Shredded Carrots, and Prepared Parmigiana Cheese. This was one of the best pasta dishes that I've ever had, anywhere. Our wine was a San Stefano Chianti Ruffino...black rooster quality and delicious. My dessert was a Coconut Sorbetto. I was the guest of my cousin John Profaci, (as were the other eight people at the table,)  and you couldn't ask for a more generous host. If you're ever on the island, this place is a must.
(5-Stars) Back to Top

 
 

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "AMALIA"

Adjacent to the newly re-designed surrealistic hotel, now known simply as "Dream," a restaurant called "Amalia" has opened. The restaurant is dark, elegant, and dream-like, with leather-clad vaulted ceilings covered with framed prints of classic art works. The overall effect is dark and brooding...appropriate for a place named after Sigmund Freud's mother, Amalia! Its menu features foods of the Mediterranean, concocted by chef Ivy Stark (formerly of "Dos Caminos," and "Rosa Mexicano.") There are dishes from Turkey, Greece and Lebanon, along with unusual dishes from the usual countries...Italy, France and Spain. I LOVED THIS PLACE! From the minute that you walk in the door, the service is charming and impeccable. The decor is elegant and beautiful. Sit up on the raised rear portion of the restaurant under those fabulous paintings. I chose the following from the pre-theater menu: My appetizer was a Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Dried Black Olives, Smoked Baba Ghanouj and Yogurt. My entree was Wild King Salmon Charmoula with Cucumber-Lime Yogurt, and Herbed Couscous. My dessert was a Warm Hazelnut & Polenta Torte with Praline Hot Fudge and Ricotta Gelato. All three dishes were presented beautifully and were delicious. All this for a fixed price of $42. My waitress was a charming music student at Julliard, who knew enough about opera, to engage me in conversation about the opera that I was going to see tonight. As I said before, I LOVED THIS PLACE! As you leave, don't miss the "light show" on the front of the "Dream Hotel."
(5-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "HAWAIIAN TROPIC ZONE"

David Burke, the noted restaurateur, is known for his 5-Star East-Side gourmet restaurant, "David Burke & Donatella." It's hard to imagine why a man of his classy reputation would chose to open a huge Times Square theme park-type eatery, complete with a 2-story waterfall, palm trees, 30-foot video wall, and waitresses in skimpy bikinis (in nightly beauty contests,) other than to cash in on the lucrative tourist bucks in the Times Square area. It's sort of like Todd English opening a "Hooters!" Putting aside Burke's reputation, the restaurant is big, colorful, fun, and in the bargain, it has damn good gourmet food. This is not a burgers and fries joint. My appetizer was an Artichoke and Goat Cheese Tart with Frisee, Kalamata Olives and Haricot Vert. My entree was Wasabi Crusted Sea Scallops with Edamame, Cucumbers, Tomato, and Orange-Tomato Jus. If you want to have a relatively relaxing dinner, ask to be seated away from the bar area, which was filled with horny middle-aged men wearing baseball caps, watching the "beauty contest" on the runway above the bar. So much for class ! The second Hawaiian Tropic Zone is about to open in Vegas at the new Planet Hollywood Hotel (formerly The Aladdin.) If you don't mind the pleasant distraction of some tits and ass with your dinner, this is a good place to come for a gourmet meal in the Theater District.
(4-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "PROVIDENCE"

The new restaurant "Providence," is now occupying the historic space that was most recently "Le Bar Bat," and before that, a recording studio (where Frank Sinatra and The Beatles recorded some of their songs,) and before that, a Baptist church. The elegant interior still shows traces of the former church, with its high-pitched ceiling, and organ loft. Now, however, it's covered in dark woods, marble, tall mirrors, leather banquettes, and one of the largest, most beautiful Murano Venetian-glass chandeliers that I've ever seen. There lies a tale. When I asked the maitress d' if that was indeed a Murano chandelier, she said, "I dunno, but the owner got it at an option." (I assume that she meant "auction.") Neither our Russian waiter, nor the owner himself, had any idea of the expensive work of art that was hanging from the ceiling, being bathed in inappropriate cheap-looking colored lights! That says a lot about the management of the beautiful restaurant. The kitchen is safe from all of this lack of knowledge, because Robert Cangelosi (formerly of the Waldorf Astoria,) is in there doing the cooking, and the cooking is fine. My appetizer was an Artichoke and Fava Bean Salad. This was followed by an oyster amuse-bouche. My entree was House Made Spinach Ravioli with Fresh Tomato Sauce. Our dessert was a Coconut and Raspberry Sorbet, which for some inexplicable reason took 15 minutes to get to our table! If you're in the Lincoln Center area, and are looking for good food at very reasonable prices, this is your place. But on the way in, or out, don't forget to look up at that beautiful chandelier!
(3 1/2-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "MORANDI"

When restaurateur Keith McNally ("Balthazar" and "Pastis,") opens up a new restaurant, it's an event. This one, his first Italian restaurant, was long anticipated, and now that it's opened, it's become the hottest restaurant in town, and one of the most difficult to get in. In fact, I almost gave up trying to get the damn reservations, but then they finally came through. Was it worth the hassle? Absolutely. This place is wonderful! First of all, it's a beauty. It's done in a sort of Tuscan countryside trattoria-style, with everything aged to look as though they've been there for decades...aged bricks in archways under aged beamed ceilings...Italian ceramic tile and old wooden floors. Walls lined with chianti bottles, and loaves of delicious looking (and smelling) breads. You get the picture. It's a knock-out, and a beautiful addition to this corner of Greenwich Village. But, as they say on Broadway, "you can't eat the scenery." So how's the food? Wonderful. This is not the usual red sauce and meatballs stuff. Leaning heavily towards the Sicilian, it's difficult to chose; there's so much good "stuff" here. I stayed away from the more exotic dishes...my friends didn't! My appetizer was Fried Artichokes with Lemon and Capers, done in the Roman Jewish style of the ancient ghetto in Trastevere in Rome. My entree was a dish of Gnocchi (simple Basil and Tomato style,) that surpassed any gnocchi that I've had in a long time. I shared a Bruschetta of Ricotta and Tomatoes, with my friend Krys. It was delicious. I had a large cheese tray of unusual cheeses, followed by a dessert consisting of Lemon-Mint Granita. It was as good as anything you'll find in Capri! As I said, my friends went for the exotic, with Baccala, Bream, Pesce Fritto Misto with fish with heads on them, and they all loved everything. Our wine was a hearty Sangiovese, followed by my favorite white, a Vernaccia di San Gimignano. The service was impeccable (most of the young aproned waiters are from Italy. Ours was from Verona.) Did I mention that Susan Sanandon was sitting in a party just a few tables away from us, and they seemed to be enjoying everything as much as we were. Anyway, this ones a keeper. Get over there if you can, and bon appetito!
(5-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "SPOTLIGHT LIVE"

Part karaoke bar, part "American Idol" show, part high-end classic comfort-food restaurant, and part "Hard Rock Cafe," this new theme park restaurant in Times Square is the brain child of Iron Chef Kerry Simon. If you've been here in its former existence as "Noche," you know that the space is big, colorful and on multi-levels. (There's an elevator.) At the street level, is the bar, gift-shop, and recording booth. Up a flight of stairs, is the huge, balconied nightclub-restaurant, with a ceiling covered with oversized disco balls,  and a stage for the "entertainers." On each table, is a laptop, with a menu explaining the various things that you can do here, in addition to eating. You can sign up to sing on stage karaoke style (and your image may appear on the Jumbotron outside;) you can vote on the singers; you can buy merchandise, etc. In short, it's a great place to come with the kids of all ages! As for the eating, the menu is a compendium of classic comfort foods. I ordered Iron Chef Mini Burgers with Cheddar Cheese and Lettuce and Tomatoes, with Truffled Frites. They were delicious. I had a Guinness with them. Come for the fun, and the good food, and maybe you'll find yourself on-stage, and on the giant screen overlooking Times Square, singing something by the Stones. You can't do THAT in your neighborhood restaurant back home!
(4-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "INSIEME"

Marco Canora, owner of downtown's "Hearth" restaurant, has taken over the spot vacated by "Limoncello" in the Michelangelo Hotel, halfway between the Theater District and Lincoln Center. In its place, he's opened the starkly beautiful, modern-decor, "Insieme." The word means "together" in Italian and that's the theme of the restaurant. According to Canora, it's meant to be a place where friends can come together and enjoy each others company and good food. The menu of "Insieme" carries out the theme, by bringing together traditional, "old-school" Italian dishes and contemporary spins on those dishes, using modern Italian cooking ideas. So, on one side of the menu, you might find a Seafood Risotto, and on the other side a Cacciucco all Viareggina with Risotto, an old-school version of the same dish. For starters, there were two amuse-bouches: a Bana Cauda and a Goat Cheese on Brioche with a Fava Bean (both very small, ) and a small cup of Stracciatella. My appetizer was an Insalata di Misticanza (from the old-school side of the menu.) It was basically a very delicious lettuce and vegetable salad, with 3-year-old parmesan and balsamic vinegar. Then, also from the traditional side of the menu, my entree was a Lasagne Verdi Bolognese (spinach pasta lasagne, with bechamel and meat ragu.) The portion was very small. I could have eaten three times as much! I had no wine or dessert because I was going to a 1 hour and 40 minute opera, with no intermission! Yikes!!! However, there were complimentary biscotti. Four of them, but so small that they equaled one real one. Are you getting the picture? Although the service was excellent...friendly and knowledgeable..., and the food was delicious, the portions were ridiculously small. I mentioned that fact to the waiter, who said that he would tell the chef. Maybe.
(4-Stars) Back to Top

Only because the portions were too small. Otherwise, it's a 5-star restaurant.

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "CASELLULA CHEESE & WINE CAFE"
What a fun little place this is! This funky new little bar/restaurant in the ever-trendier area of 8th & 9th Avenue hot spots (my God, do you remember when this area used to be a dangerous "ghetto" area?) is the place to go if you love cheese and beer or wine. Every item on the menu incorporates cheese into its ingredients. Really! There are about three dozen varieties of cheese on the menu (now THAT'S a cheese course!) so I had a tough time choosing what to get, but choose I did. I chose a Bruleed Cabrales Blue with Cherries and Parma Ham, and Asparagus, with Pecorino, Duck Egg, and Truffled Vinaigrette. Both dishes were delicious, filling, and inexpensive. My dessert was Apple Pie with Keen's Cheddar. My beer was a Chipotle Ale from the Rogue Brewing Co. This a a novelty dining experience, but one worth trying, if you're in the mood for CHEESE!
(3 1/2-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "LE BERNARDIN"
It's been at least ten years since I last had the pleasure of eating at, what is arguably, New York's finest restaurant, so I thought that it was time for a return visit. Nothing has changed. There are restaurants that are more beautiful and more lavish, but from the minute you step through the front doors you know that you've stepped into a world of first-class dining. Maybe it's because its reputation is so great, or maybe its just that certain something (what the French call "je ne sais quoi," ) that makes you know that tonight will be special. And it was. It's still one of the classiest rooms in town (all that wood, and those beautiful oil paintings and floral arrangements,) but it's still all about the food and the service, and these can't be beaten. We chose the Prix Fixe menu, and these were my choices from that menu: for starters, there was an amuse-bouche of Lobster and Citron. Then, as an appetizer (which is called "almost raw" on this menu,) I had Flash Pickled Scallops with Sea Beans, Cucumber and Pink Radishes.  The next course is something called "barely touched," from which I chose Warm Peekytoe-Maryland Lump Crab Cakes, with Shaved Cauliflower and Dijon Mustard Emulsion. For an entree (called "lightly cooked,) I chose Wild Alaskan Salmon with Daikon, Snow Peas and Enoki Salad, with Sweet-Pea Wasabi Sauce. For dessert I had Coconut Sorbet with Cookies. Complimentary little Chocolate Candies were then served. Our wine was a light Sancerre. Sure it costs a fortune for such a meal, but every once in a while, it's nice to be pampered with the best of everything. Real class is not common nowadays. "Le Bernardin" has it!
(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "GIULIANA'S" in Staten Island
Sure, there are more pizzerias and Chinese restaurants on Staten Island, than there are good restaurants, but there are some really GOOD restaurants there as well. One of these is "Giuliana's," which my sister had recommended to me. It's all the way out on Hylan Boulevard. The decor is modern, and the menu looked promising, and my sister's recommendation was the lasagna! The specials sounded wonderful, and I decided to select an old favorite as an appetizer (Spedini alla Romana,) and a special (Rotini Pasta with Light and Dark Beans, Capers, Artichokes, and Tomatoes) as my entree. The Spedini was good, but it was cooked in a Marinara Sauce, rather than in the traditional way (without a red sauce gooping it up.) All of us really loved the food that we ordered, which ranged from Octopus Salad to the aforementioned Lasagna. In fact, my cousin asked to see the chef, in order to compliment him. My dessert was an old-fashioned Biscuit Tortoni. Delicious. Our wines were a Cabernet and a Pinot Grigio. If you're in the neighborhood, drop in. You won't be disappointed...and thanks for the tip, Elena!
(4 1/2-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT REVIEW-NY: "ANTHOS"
This very hot new restaurant is supposed to be a Greek restaurant, but don't go there expecting Moussaka and Grape Leaves! Chef owner, Michael Psilakis and his partner, the ubiquitous Donatella ("David Burke and Donatella,") are going for a sophisticated version of Psilakis's Greek "mom's rustic home cooking." Mrs. Psilakis must have lived in the very sophisticated and chic neighborhood of Kolonaki in Athens, because "Anthos" is anything BUT rustic. We were greeted at the door by a charming maitress d', and by my friend Pete, who works there (while he's getting his doctorate in music,) and who was going to be our waiter. The decor is beautifully minimalist, but the menu is not. So many wonderful dishes from which to chose. While we were choosing, Pete brought us a parade of amuse bouches, consisting of: Dory, Duck Rillete with Tomato Jam & Pita Chip; Chilled White Corn Soup with Peekytoe Crab and Fig Marmalade, etc. For an appetizer I selected Sheep Milk Ricotta Dumplings with Market Vegetables. My entree was Heirloom Eggplant-Stuffed Manti with Charred Eggplant and Tomato Jus, topped with Graviere Cheese. My dessert was Loukamades (doughnuts!) with Bergamet Cream, and Blackberry, Champagne Peach and Strawberry Sorbets. Do you see what I mean about it not being your average Greek menu? Our wine, however, was a delicious Greek wine, called Tselepes (Moschofilero) Mantinia. I'd love to find that on another menu somewhere; it's THAT good. Our complete dining experience was made exceptional because of Pete's thoughtful ministering to us as though we were visiting dignitaries. God knows who Pete told them that we were. He probably told them that we WERE visiting dignitaries! In any case, I'm sure that everyone is treated as well as we were. It's that kind of a place. We loved it!
(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "LANDMARC" in the Time Warner Center in New York
The Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle didn't need another 5-Star restaurant. It's got so many already ("Masa," "Per Se," "Cafe Gray," "Bouley Bakery," etc.,) that it rivals "Bellagio" in Vegas! Whether it needed it or not, it's now got another one..."Landmarc." Next to "Bouley Bakery's" take-out counter, is this brand new luxury restaurant. The decor, although dark and attractive, is nothing exceptional...modern and minimalist. But who needs decor when your windows overlook Central Park and the Trump International Hotel? On the menu, one finds lots of steak and seafood dishes, all accompanied by your choice of sauces. There are also lots of salads and pasta specials. No shortage of choices on this eclectic menu. From these choices I selected the following: for an appetizer, I chose the Warm Goat Cheese Profiteroles with Herbs and Roasted Red Pepper Salad. My entree was a mouth-watering Rock Shrimp Risotto, with Lobster Butter. They were delicious. Too full for dessert. Did I just say that??? The Time Warner Center has become one of the prime destinations in town for fine dining. Do you remember, as I do, when the block was filled with the hideous Colosseum and its awful trade shows? What an improvement.
(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "L'IMPERO"
Scott Conant's classic Italian restaurant, is tucked away in the East Side residential enclave known as Tudor City in Manhattan. It's on Tudor City Place, up above 42nd Street, and it's simply marked on the exterior, and even more subtle in its simplicity on the interior. A series of intimate rooms, filled with tables and banquettes, epitomizes understated elegance in this restaurant, which features the food, not the decor (although I did like the ceiling to floor white curtains, and the dramatic lighting.) In Italy, a restaurant this good, might look like the interior of a Medici palace. There, it would not be out of place. But, to the food. The menu features dishes prepared with thought to fresh ingredients, combined in unusual ways. The emphasis is on how best might this dish be prepared and served. As an antipasto, I had the Parmigiana di Melanzane con Buratta, Prosciutto e Basilico (eggplant parmigiana, buratta cheese, prosciutto and baby basil.) For my pasta dish and entree, I had Gnocchi di Ricotta di Buffala con Funghi e Rosmarino (buffalo milk ricotta gnocchi, braised wild mushrooms, scented with rosemary.) Although the portions were not large, they were quite filling and it was all excellent...in preparation, presentation, and taste. I opted for the Cheese Tray (Mozzarella, Pecorino and Roquefort) instead of a dessert. Our wine was an elegant Sicilian Nero D'Avola. Save this restaurant for a special occasion. Oh yes, I must mention that it's very pricey....but worth it. (I shouldn't really sat that, because I was treated.) Anyway, it's a beautiful place, and any meal becomes a festive occasion there. Ours did.
(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "BLT MARKET"
Parisian chef Laurent Tourendel has opened four fine dining establishments in America,  in just the past few years, the most recent of which is the much-acclaimed "BLT Market," in the elegant confines of The Ritz Carlton Hotel on Central Park South. Although the hotel is plush and intimidating, the atmosphere in the restaurant is a casual, inviting one. The emphasis is on the freshest food products from local producers, similar to the concept of "T.W. Food" in Boston, and the menu changes monthly. I was meeting my friend Tom, who I hadn't seen for over a year, and when he got there, we joked a lot with the waiters, read over the appetizing menu, and ate the amuse bouche, "pigs in a blanket." That's right! They were so delicious that I ordered more. We finally got around to ordering. For my appetizer, I had The Nantucket Bay Scallop salad, with Watercress, Endive, Jasper Hill Blue Cheese and Caramelized Walnuts. My entree was an Acacia Marinated Alaskan Black Cod with Celeriac Puree and Wilted Spinach. Our wine was a very hearty, full-bodied Nero D'Avola. I really love this wine, especially when it's not fruity. After a few glasses of the wine, we were laughing a lot, especially when we realized that there were about six different waiters taking care of us! Then came the Cheese Tray. I was halfway through one of the cheeses when I realized that it was butter! Yuk!!! My dessert was a selection of Sorbets (Mango, Raspberry and Cherry.) Everything was delicious, and it was a really fun time.
(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "ADOUR-ALAIN DUCASSE" at The St. Regis Hotel
Alain Ducasse may be one of the world's most famous French chefs, but his two former restaurants in New York had a strange history. His first, the overly expensive and fussy "Ducasse" at the Essex House (where you got to choose which pen you wanted to use to sign the bill,) opened to great acclaim, earned three stars from the prestigious Michelin Guide, and then closed 6 years later. His next, "Mix" a much-scaled-down version of his high-end restaurants, came and went even faster. I liked both of them for what they were. Now, several years later, he's taken over the space formerly occupied by "Lespinasse" at The St. Regis (one of New York's most opulent hotels,) and with the help of designer David Rockwell, has transformed the space into the beautiful, but comfortable "Adour." (I think that it's the name of the river near his birthplace in Southwestern France.) Anyway, the place reeks of class. (Unlike "Mix," the no-class restaurant that he recently opened in Vegas, where all of the female personnel are dumb, and look like sluts!) The menu is filled with a variety of international dishes, from which I chose the following: my appetizer was Tender Ricotta Gnocchi with Sauteed Lettuce, Crispy Prosciutto, and Xeres Vinegar. My entree was Australian Baramundi "Au Sautoir," with Roasted Fennel, Vegetable Jus, Olive Oil, and Lemon. My dessert was an incredible Dark Chocolate Sorbet with Coffee Granite, Caramelized Brioche Croutons, Edible Gold Leaf (!) and Melted Hot Chocolate on Top. Everything was absolutely delicious...prepared perfectly, served in style and looking beautiful on the plate. The waiter was knowledgeable and extremely professional. A really class operation. Bravo Ducasse!
(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "THE PALM COURT" at the PLAZA HOTEL
The Plaza Hotel in New York City had always been my favorite hotel in the world. I stayed there; I dined there countless times, I was in weddings there, and so it sickened me when it closed several years ago to be converted into condos! I felt better when I heard that only two-thirds of it would be condos, while the other one-third would remain as a hotel, and be restored back to its original turn-of-the-last-Century grandeur, including all of the world-famous restaurants (The Palm Court and The Edwardian Room) and bars (The Oak Room and The Oyster Bar) on its first floor, just off the grand lobby. The first of these restaurants to be restored and reopened was the beautiful Palm Court, and so it was only fitting that we would rush over to check it out. Just entering the magnificent hotel from the Fifth Avenue entrance into the Grand Lobby is still a thrill, and seeing The Palm Court in all its restored glory (including a newly-discovered  two-story-high glass-domed ceiling) would impress even the most sophisticated diner.  But there's something sad about the present state of The Plaza. Picture if you will, a beautiful large elegant apartment, with Baccarat chandeliers and ornate marble floors...but no furniture! That's what The Plaza looks like now. Maybe they just opened too soon. Anyway, The new Palm Court looks good. After all of the ooh-ing and aah-ing was over, we studied the extensive menu, and ordered our dinner. My appetizer was a Goat Cheese Terrine with Spring Vegetables. My entree was a Braised-Shallot-Encrusted Halibut with Potatoes and Tiny Vegetables. My dessert was a Creme Fraiche Cheesecake with Pineapple Cubes. Our wine was a delicious, but strong, Sauvignon Blanc. Service was excellent, as was the preparation and the presentation of the food. Although The Palm Court seems to be in good hands, I'm worried about the rest of the Plaza. To be continued......
(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "DOVETAIL"
How does a restaurant that's only been open for 6 months, become one of the hottest, trendiest, most popular places in town, and in an area (the Upper West Side) that's not friendly to new restaurants? First of all, the owner/chef should be a well-respected name, with impeccable credentials. In this case, the owner/chef is John Fraser, who cooked at both "The French Laundry" in Napa, and "Taillevent" in Paris. How's that for credentials? Secondly, the food should be above reproach, with excellent preparation, presentation, and unique qualities. Once again, "Dovetail" scores highly. Third, the service should be professional. Everything was in order on this count as well. Last but not least, the room(s) should look good. The decor in "Dovetail" appears to be deliberately unpretentious, with brick and wood walls, and tables with no tablecloths. It works. We studied the menu for a while, because so many dishes looked tempting, although I was somewhat restricted, because I'm not particularly fond of lamb, duck, oysters, and fishy-tasty fish! But there were other dishes that I wanted to try. While we were waiting to order, the waiter brought us SEVERAL amuses-bouches including: Salmon Caviar with Vodka Gelee, Capers, Sour Cream and Chives; Raw Turnip with Chive Pesto and Shaved Parmesan; and several slices of White Cheddar Corn Bread. My appetizer was Maine Sea Scallops with Grapefruit, Parsley Root, Almonds and Hollandaise. My entree was Grilled Red Snapper with Pineapple, Cashews, and Banana Curry Gelee. My dessert was an order of Sorbet (Blood Orange, Coconut, and Passion Fruit,) on a Bed of Pineapple.  My wine was a Greek White...Assyrtiko. While we were having dessert , we were brought a few more small amuses-bouches...Peanut Butter Granola, and Chocolate-covered Macadamia Nuts. I was so full, that I practically had to be carried out...and I had to sit through a 3 hour performance of "Macbeth" at The Met after dinner! All in all, one of the best new restaurants in town. Make your reservations WELL in advance!
(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "P.J. CLARKE'S at LINCOLN CENTER"
First there was "O'Neal's Baloon." Then, there was "Iridium." Now, occupying that very-desirable corner of West 63rd at Columbus, overlooking all of Lincoln Center, is the newest branch of that 120-year-old venerable pub, "P.J.Clarke's." I hesitate to call anything as upscale as this a pub. Where are the drunks up front at the bar? Where is the sawdust on the floor, and the dartboard in back? Instead, there's a $40 tiny filet mignon on the menu. Now, that's upscale! Outrageous prices aside, it's nice to have a place like this so close to Lincoln Center, for those of us who don't feel like having fois gras and duck before the opera, ballet or theater. Actually, there's quite a range of foods for each course on the menu. I settled for the following: two of us shared the Maryland Jumbo Lump Crab Cake as our appetizer. My entree was a delicious Pan Seared Skate (think thin Sole) with Brown Butter, Haricots Verts, and Mashed Potatoes. Light, but filling, even with the mashed potatoes. Hardly pub fare, but I just wasn't in the mood for a burger, or mac and cheese! Even though I had Key Lime Pie for dessert, I was still not too full while at the theater later. Our wine was a light, fruity Pinot Grigio. A nice addition to the already crowded neighborhood of restaurants surrounding Lincoln Center. I'll be back.
(4-Stars) Back to Top

(The rolls were stale, and when asked to do so, the waiter never brought fresh ones.)

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "MIA DONA"
Noted restaurateur Donatella Arpaia ("David Burke & Donatella," "Anthos," etc.) has partnered with Michael Psilakis ("Kefi," "Dona," ) to open what is now one of the hottest new restaurants in New York, "Mia Dona." It better have been, to get me over to the East Side for dinner! I wasn't bowled over by the homey decor when we walked in. It looked like we were in someone's house. Then I was told that the ambience was "...meant to evoke the experience of a Sunday dinner at Donatella's home." OK. Now, it looked much better. I was the guest of my friends Pete, and his fiancee Liz. (Pete is the bartender there...moonlighting while he's finishing up his doctorate in music in New York.) They're two of my favorite people. The menu looked enticing...lots of Italian dishes prepared in unique and unusual ways. It was hard to choose. While I looked over the menu, Pete made me one of his concoctions...a Ginger Derby (Jameson's, grapefruit, honey syrup, Pete's ginger beer, and twist.) After that you could have fed me anything!!! For an appetizer I settled on the Gnudi with Fava Beans, English Peas, and Ricotta Salata. Delicious! My entree was the Grilled Swordfish with Cauliflower Caponata, Fiddlehead Ferns, and Capers. Again, delicious. One complaint...the portions are too small. Who cares, though, I was in food heaven! Our wine was a Nero D'Avola. For dessert, I had the Cannoli...three tiny ones! When I was finished, I was thoroughly delighted with everything about the place, especially the food and the service. But, the best part of it was hanging out with Liz and Pete...and the food!
(5-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "81"
I had been hearing a lot of buzz this year about a relatively new restaurant that opened on the Upper West Side (my favorite neighborhood in Manhattan,) and so I thought that it was time to check it out. After the opera, my friend Pete and I walked up to West 81st at Central Park West to "81." Chef/Owner Ed Brown had previously been either a sous chef or chef at places like Le Parker Meridien and The Sea Grill in New York, and a couple of upscale places in Paris. The decor of the interior is simple, but has been tarted up with a lot of red velvet curtains on the walls and banquettes...elegant bordello style. It looks pretty though. Chef Brown earned his Michelin star here, by sticking to the freshest Greenmarket produce, available from nearby farms, and also brought in from overseas. Before we even started, we were treated to FOUR amuse bouches: Polenta Soup; Vegetable Salad with Root Vegetables, Yogurt and Hazelnuts; Spanish Mackerel with Mache and Duck; and Nantucket Scallops with Apples, Mustard, Quince and Cider Vinegar. Yikes! I was full before I started. Nevertheless, I decided to go with the Autumn Prix Fixe menu, and from this I chose the following: French Lentil Soup, with Fois Gras Royale as my appetizer, and Organic Scottish Salmon with Cranberry Beans, Titan Parsley, and Preserved Tomatoes as my entree. My dessert was a refreshing Sorbet. I had a tasty blended Cabernet Sauvignon from Peter Paul Orchards in Napa, as my wine. Throughout the meal, we were treated like royalty, and even asked to come back to meet the owner and chef, and tour the kitchen. I can't understand why, except that Pete knows some of the same people as the maitresse d' and the chef. In any case, the food was excellent as was the company. All in all, a fine post-opera dining experience. I recommend it highly.
(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "WEST BRANCH"
Tom Valenti was highly instrumental in bringing Michelin-star-style fine dining to the Upper West Side, when he opened his excellent "Ouest" there many years ago. Following up on the great success of "Ouest," he's just opened his scaled-down version, which he's called "West Branch." It's more of a bistro, and it doesn't have the elegant look or the high prices of "Ouest," but the food is certainly as good as what you'll get in any other bistro in town. For starters, (actually for starters, I had a Jack and water at the bar chatting with a lovely lady from France, and another from Florida, and I got pretty wasted waiting for my friends to arrive!) I digress. My appetizer was the Mushroom Arancini (four delicious mushroom-risotto balls.) Then I had a so-so Caesar Salad (where were the anchovies??) My entree was one of the West Branch specialty dishes, Fish and Chips (as good as any outside of London.) Our wine was a fine Sangiovese, and for dessert, I had the Cookie Tray (ten mouthwatering fresh-from-the-oven cookies.) Another fine addition to the Upper West Side's ever-changing dining scene.
(4-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "CONVIVIO"
Follow 42nd Street almost to the East River, and you come to that unusual enclave of elegant apartment buildings known as Tudor City. Here, in the place once occupied by "L'Impero," is Chris Connor's new restaurant "Convivio." Same owner, same location, almost the same decor (only more sleek and minimalist,) new concept. The cuisine now is Southern Italian and it's quite extraordinary. From the upscale menu, we chose the 4-course prix fixe dinner. As an appetizer I had the homemade Mozzarella di Bufala Molisana, with Creamed Broccoli Rabe and Pane. My pasta was the Cicatelli al Ricotta with Asparagus, Fava Beans, Roasted Tomato, and Battenkill Farm Cream. My entree was a Roasted Alaskan Halibut alla Putanesca. For dessert I ordered the Three Sorbetti (Berries, Lemon Yoghurt, and Mango.) Our wine was a Sangiovese Blend. I have to say a word about the excellent service. Our young waiter was attentive and knowledgeable...far beyond his years. Getting to and from "Convivio" can be an adventure (we took a pedi-cab from Times Square!) but it's definitely worth the trip.
(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "REMI"
David Rockwell and Adam Tihany are the two most famous designers of restaurants in America, and possibly the world. Remi, that grand Venetian cafe, is not only designed by Adam Tihany, but he's the owner as well. From the minute that you walk in the door you can sense that this is Tihany's loving homage to the second most beautiful city in the world. The striking 120-foot mural of The Grand Canal could be an homage to Canaletto, and to those huge oil paintings that hang on the walls of the various scuoli throughout Venice. Of course the chandeliers are Murano glass. The classy look of the place is matched by the attentive service. We were given the choice of a noisy table up front, or a table out in the outdoor cafe area...a charming area covered by a three-story-high glass vaulted ceiling, with plantings separating the tables from the rest of this atrium. We chose the latter. The impeccable service continued at the table, where our waiter was an intelligent charmer from the Puglia region of Italy. I was thankful that the menu included specialties from other areas of Northern Italy in addition to Venice. Most of those restaurants in Venice consist of nothing but very exotic seafood dishes (e.g. octopus testicles...not really!) As an appetizer, I chose Roasted Sea Scallops with Braised Endive and Orange Dressing. I chose a pasta as my entree...Pappardelle con Funghi Misti with Aglio e Olio di Oliva. Absolutely delicious. You know how I LOVE pappardelle! For dessert, two of us chose the Cookies Venetian Style, with Chocolate covered Strawberries and Bananas. Our wine was a Chianti Classico Riserva. Altogether a meal fit for a Doge!
(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "MAREA"
For a while now, I've been reading about, and hearing that this hot new restaurant had opened in the fancy neighborhood of Central Park South. It was being touted as the best seafood restaurant in Manhattan, and also, the most expensive. Although I wasn't crazy about the latter, I was intrigued by the former, and so we decided to check it out. We were heading to a Broadway play after dinner, as well as a 50th Birthday Party and Housewarming, so we had early reservations. Marea is in one of those elegant old buildings that almost smell of money. But as we entered the restaurant, the smell was garlic, not money. My taste buds had already started to salivate. The decor is tasteful and elegant, but simple. As we were presented with our menus, I could see that the hype was right. This menu had more seafood on it (flown in fresh from all over the world,) than I've seen on any restaurant outside of "Oceanaire" in Boston... and it's very expensive. Because we were going to sit through a play afterward, I opted to do away with appetizers, and wine. I went straight for the main course, and it was Dover Sole...at $57 per pound!!! It was prepared with, Sicilian capers, and Olives, and served with Fingerling Potatoes and Rosemary. Of course, it was absolutely delicious. Dover Sole is my favorite fish dish and this was one of the best that I've ever had. I cleansed my palate with a dessert of Three Sorbetti. All in all, it was an excellent dining experience...but bring your checkbook!
(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT-NY REVIEW: LE CAPRICE at The PIERRE
Le Caprice, one of London's finest restaurants, has opened a branch at the Pierre, and it's quite beautiful. All black and white marble and leather, it replaces the former Cafe Pierre. The service was very fine, as expected, and the menu had selections that seemed to be more suitable to a dinner menu than a lunch menu, but who cares, I was starving. I ordered a Dover Sole with Bearnaise Sauce, and an Endive Salad on the side. It was perfect.
(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "A VOCE COLUMBUS"
If you ate in this space when it was Gray Kunz' "Cafe Gray," you'll notice some major changes. For one, all of the tables have been relocated to the front of the restaurant, near the huge windows overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park. Smart move. There's also a large open kitchen to the side of these tables, so that you can alternate from checking out the preparation of your food, to the sights outside. The rest of the space is designed in a simple, modernistic, yet artistic, decor. Here, it's all about the food, and that is magnificent. For an appetizer, I had Cassoncini con Prosciutto di Parma. (Cassoncini are Swiss Chard and Crescenza Cheese-filled Fried Dough, with Prosciutto di Parma on the side.) Incredibly delicious! My entree was Pesce Spada (Swordfish, with Fennel, Chives, Olives and Panelle.) Yum, yum! My dessert was Lemon Granite to cleanse my palate of all that great stuff that I just ate! (Why would I want to do that???) Our wine was one of my favorites, a Nero D'Avola Arancio from Sicily. This wine keeps getting better and better. I love it. All in all, this was a memorable dining experience...great friends, great food, great ambience, and great service. Who could ask for more?
(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "ROBERT"
When it comes to restaurants, the general rule of thumb is, if a room has a view, the food and service are probably going to suck! "Robert," in the new Museum of Arts & Design on Columbus Circle (the old Philip Johnson-designed Huntington Hartford Museum,) is one of the several exceptions to that rule. If you're planning on dining there, and you should, let me suggest that you take a window table in the Lounge, rather than a table in the Dining room. The view from your table, of all of Central Park and beyond, and Columbus Circle, a dizzying nine floors below, will be truly breathtaking. The decor of the rooms is contemporary, colorful, and comfortable, with lots of glass and decorative plastic. From a fairly extensive menu, and keeping in mind that we were going to the opera afterward, I ordered a nicely-dressed Mixed Green Salad, and Lightly Breaded Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter, Sage, and Shaved Pecorino. Dessert was a Lemon Sorbet, and my wine was a light Coppola Pinot Noir. Everything was delicious.
(5-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "THE BRESLIN at the ACE HOTEL"
In reviewing this new place owned by chef/owner April Bloomfield ("The Spotted Pig,") all I can say is trendy, trendy, trendy...funky, funky, funky...beautiful young people, beautiful young people...great food, great food, great food!!! I had a Broccoli Rabe and Ricotta Frittata (it was lunch.) For dessert, we shared a Cookie Board, consisting of Nine Freshly-Baked Cookies (Ginger Snaps, Shortbread, and Chocolate-covered Mints.) Yum, yum. Get over there and check it out for yourself. I'm sure that you'll love it, as we did. Beware; they don't take reservations.
(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "THE STANDARD GRILL"
"The High Line" is the long-awaited new park in Manhattan, that was created on a half-mile of the long abandoned elevated railroad tracks, that run for miles on the West Side near the Hudson River. Designed by Diller & Scofidio (Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art,) it consists of plantings, train tracks, wild grass, places to sit and recline, trees, viewing areas, The Standard Hotel (built over it,) where some guests have been flashing the viewers below, and The Standard Grill, built under it. We went to The Grill today for Sunday Brunch. The large, packed to overflow, trendy restaurant is very beautiful, with bright white walls, large red leather banquettes, marble-tile floors, and windows on the street, overlooking a spacious sidewalk cafe. They don't take reservations for Sunday Brunch, so you might have to wait a little, but it's worth it. I had a delicious Omelet with Goat Cheese and Fine Herbs, Herb-roasted Potatoes, and Toast. The menu has standard brunch items, as well as some special items. The service is very good, and they'll let you stay as long as you want. Food was excellent. After brunch, we took a walk on The High Line above, to check it out. Great fun, and it appears to be a very popular destination for European tourists, and people who live in the neighborhood...the meatpacking district.
(5-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "LINCOLN" (AT LINCOLN CENTER)

 
Nick Valenti's classy and elegant, architecturally dramatic, new restaurant, adds a spectacular new dynamic to Lincoln Center's fine dining scene. Star architects Diller and Scofidio (New York's "High Line," and Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art,) have designed a soaring v-shaped wing, with a sloping rooftop covered with grass (on which the students from the adjacent Julliard School will probably picnic when the weather finally warms up,) and with glass walls overlooking the Plaza's diminished reflecting pool with its Henry Moore sculpture. From the moment you set foot in the door, you're met by a charming, kind, and diner-friendly staff. After being seated in the minimalist, contemporary, beautiful dining room, we were given our menus. (We told the waiter to go slowly because we had lots of time before we head over to the opera next door. He said, "the table is yours for as long as you want it.") From the extensive, pricey (meat and fish entrees in the $30-$40 category) menu, I chose, from the Primi Piatti, a Puree of Fava Bean Soup with Ricotta Dumplings.  Because I was eating lightly due to the opera, I chose, from the Piccoli Piatti, the Gnocchi in Tomato Sauce. The presentation of all of our dishes was perfect, as was the food itself. My dessert was the Sorbetti plate (Blood Orange, Fennel, and Spiced Pear.) No wine. Don't want to fall asleep at the opera! Everything about this huge, gorgeous restaurant is 5-Star, and that's what I'm giving it.
(5-Stars) Back to Top

 

 

RESTAURANT-NY REVIEW: "ABC KITCHEN"
The hottest restaurant in New York, and the hardest to get in, is chef-owner Jean-Georges Vongerichten's latest, "ABC Kitchen." There is virtually no signage on the exterior of what appears to be a deserted warehouse building. In fact, my driver, Francois, refused to let me out, unless he checked the correct address first! Once inside, the restaurant is beautifully decorated to look like a very elegant rustic countryside trattoria, with glass chandeliers, beamed ceilings, wooden plank floors, and polished tree sections for tables. The effect makes for a dramatic background for fine dining...and fine dining it is. Leaning heavily on the seafood side, the menu features some of Jean-Georges's signature dishes. As an appetizer, I chose Crab Toast with Lemon Aioli (absolutely delicious!) My entree was a Crusted Salmon with Fava Beans, Puree and Snap Peas. My dessert was an Almond Bread Pudding with Almond Ice Cream. My wine was a Cabernet Sauvignon from Provence. As with last week's "Recognition Dinner" in Boston, this dinner party consisted of nine of my closest relatives and friends, seated around a huge round table. The discussion was lively, there were lots of hugs, and love was obvious and plentiful all night. I couldn't have been happier. 
(5-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "SEA GRILL"
Everyone knows the setting for this New York classic restaurant. It's the sunken plaza at Rockefeller Center, with its golden statue of Prometheus, and its dancing fountains. Where the ice skaters skate in Winter, and where, in the Summer, the Sea Grill restaurant expands to the outside, with tables and umbrellas, for diners who wish to eat at Sea Grill but who wish to dress more casually while dining. We were going across the street to Radio City to see a show, so we were dressed more formally, and we ate indoors. Of course, the restaurant is beautiful, and the food is impeccably prepared and served. The menu consists primarily of every type of seafood, but as soon as we heard that the special was Whole Dover Sole (my favorite,) three of the four of us ordered it. It was served over spinach, and it was delicious. For dessert I had Chocolate and Coconut Sorbet. Perfect anytime but especially after a dish of seafood. It's been years since I've been to the Sea Grill and it was a pleasure to revisit it with dear friends.
(5-Stars) Back to Top

If you're in the Island Park/Long Beach/Atlantic Beach area of Long Island, and you're looking for a place on the water where you can have a nice seafood lunch or dinner, this is not the place! However, if you're looking for an atmospheric place with an active bar scene on the water, this is it! Sort of a "Hooters on the beach." The place is very attractive. It's a big open-air beach shack on the water near the Long Beach bridge, surrounded by lots of sand, fire-pits with seats around them, fake shop-fronts, and large wooden seating areas, where you could easily seat a group of 10 or 12 drinkers. We went for lunch. Big mistake. The maitresse'd informed us that they didn't open until Noon, even though their web-site said 11:30am. It was distracting to listen to her scold us ("You can look around but you can't be seated",) as she had a blood-shot eye and an ill-fitting dress over a shapeless body. I hated her instantly! When we were finally seated, at one of only three tables that wasn't being baked by the sun, we were handed three-page printed menus, that looked like computer hand-outs. It was a glorified bar menu, with burgers, shrimp on skewers, salads, etc. The menu sucked as did the food. The wait-staff consisted of what appeared to be dumb, high-school kids in very skimpy cut-off jeans. Why go on. The place is a mess for diners. Go with a fun group, get drunk, and enjoy yourself.
(1-Star)

 

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: THE CULINARY INSTITUTE OF AMERICA (in Hyde Park, NY)

We just returned from a fabulous trip to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. The beautiful campus, with its Georgian buildings, overlooks the Hudson River. We were guests of my cousin John Profaci, who has been a generous benefactor and friend to the C.I.A for years. In fact, we had dinner in the John Profaci Tower last night...a large balcony room overlooking the Caterina De Medici dining room, in the Colavita Center for Italian Cuisine. Prior to the dinner, John was our tour guide through the many kitchens, classrooms, restaurants, library, bookstore, etc. on this sprawling campus. All along the way, John was greeted by students and maitres d' as a visiting dignitary. Our dinner began with a Prosecco toast, and then proceeded on to the most extensive platters of appetizers that I've had in ages. Needless to say, I was full after the appetizers. But I did go on to have an entree of delicious Spedini, followed by a Lemon Sorbetti and Cookies. Our wine was absolutely delicious, but I had so much of it that I don't even remember what it was. There were sixteen of us in our group...all friends and relatives dating back to my childhood years, and some more recent friends as well. It was truly a memorable occasion. Did I mention those spectacular Murano chandeliers hanging above, and the Tuscan furniture, hand-carved and inlaid in Italy? There's so much to describe but I'm still in a food coma, so please forgive me if I end abruptly.

(5-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "BOULUD SUD"
One of New York's three most famous chefs, Daniel Boulud, (the other two being Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Thomas Keller,) has taken over half of the block facing Lincoln Center, and opened up a bar/restaurant, "Bar Boulud," an epicerie (baked goods, sandwiches, cheeses, olive oils and candy,) and the hottest new restaurant in town, the de luxe "Boulud Sud." We got our reservations a month ago, and it wasn't easy. So, after the opera, two of us trudged across the snowy/icy plaza to meet our friends for dinner. The restaurant is simple, but elegant, with high ceilings, lots of arches, and colorful large photographs of classic paintings by Provencal artists. While sitting at the bar waiting for our friends to arrive, we had a fine glass of Sicilian Terre Nere, and a delicious Tunisian pizza-like flatbread. When our friends arrived, and we were seated at a very nice table in the heart of the restaurant, we studied the very Mediterranean-Middle Eastern menu, from which I ordered the following: my appetizer was a Chickpea and Eggplant medley of tabbouleh, felafel, and hummus. Not my favorite appetizers, but it was delicious. My entree was a Dourade (Sea Bream) a la Plancha with Romesco Sauce. We shared side orders of Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli Rabe. My dessert was Three Sorbet...Lemon, Grapefruit, and Chocolate. For our wine, we continued with the Sicilian Terre Nere, very different in taste from my favorite, the Nero D'Avola, and very delicious. Service was excellent, as was the presentation. The food was exactly what you'd expect it to be in a Boulud restaurant. A great addition to the Lincoln Center neighborhood.
(5-Stars) Back to Top

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "PICHOLINE"
For almost 20 years, this restaurant has been one of New York's finest, and most expensive, restaurants, specializing in French haute cuisine, and earning the coveted Michelin 2 stars (out of 3.) From the minute that you step in the door, the word is elegance. Style and class also come to mind. Everything about Picholine is perfect, from its beautiful decor (oil paintings and crystal chandeliers etc.,) to the professionalism of its entire staff, to the perfection of the food itself...preparation, presentation, and taste. From the Preludes (appetizers,) I chose The Nantucket Bay Scallops with Citrus-Soy Dressing, Jalapeno, and Sesame Crumble. The chef sent over an amuse-bouche of Crunch-encrusted Goat Cheese, and something else but I can't remember what it was, although it was delicious! My entree was a Wild Mushroom Risotto with Pumpkin, and Black Truffle Butter. One of the best that I've ever had. Our wine was a fine Sicilian Red. My dessert was a plate of Citrus Sorbets. Then came a selection of Chocolates, Macaroons, and Candies, as another amuse-bouche from the chef. It was a perfect dining experience, and I'm sorry that I haven't been there in about 15 years. Thanks Mae and Joe!
(5-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT REVIEW: "SULLIVAN STREET BAKERY"

New York Magazine has just proclaimed Sullivan Street Bakery as "the best bakery in town," and based on my limited knowledge of New York's bakeries, I'd have to agree. They supply bread and rolls to all of the best restaurants in town (including all of the 3-star Michelin restaurants.) People come to buy bread and rolls, but there are 8 seats in there for those who come to eat their specialty pizza-bread, the Pizza Bianca (white, thick and puffy, with salt, pecorino, and rosemary.) That's what I did, and I loved it!
(5-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT NY-REVIEW: "PIER 9"

This relatively new restaurant has been voted one of New York's 10 best seafood restaurants. Since it's so close to my hotel, I thought that I'd check it out. It's a casual, but somewhat pricey place, with fancy nautical decor, and an extensive menu filled with lots of dishes, prepared with unusual sauces and ingredients. There were five of us, and we were seated at the high-top tasting table in the rear. I hate high-tops, but it was fine. We ordered our appetizers. I chose the Crab and Shiitake Arancini with Spicy Tartar Sauce. Because the portions were so big, two of us decided to share our entree, the Grilled Pacific Swordfish with Zucchini Puttanesca, Arugula, and Oven Dried Tomatoes. My wine was a Cabernet Sauvignon. For a dessert, I cleansed my palette with the Sorbet Platter...Mango, Asai, and Guava. Everything was delicious, and if you go, I would certainly recommend sharing.
(5-Stars) Back to Top

 

RESTAURANT-NY REVIEW: "JOANNE TRATTORIA"
Joe and Cynthia Germanotta just opened their first Italian restaurant in the space formerly occupied by "Vince and Eddie's" on West 68th Street on the Upper West Side. Is it good? Yes. Is it great? No. So how come it was packed last night for dinner? It was probably packed because the Germanottas are Lady Gaga's parents, and this was her gift to them. Fame does have its rewards. Just ask the Germanottas! After being seated by a very sweet maitress d', we were brought a plate of complimentary Garlic Foccaccia Bread. That was nice. But then there was no other bread served for the table for dipping, etc. That wasn't nice, and it's one of my pet peeves. The menu leans towards dishes from Southern Italy, so I ordered two of my favorites. For starters I had Pasta e Fagioli. It came in a small cup and it tasted like it came from a can of Progresso's. My entree was Aunt Josephina's Meat Lasagna, which I called Aunt Jemima's Meatloaf when I ordered it! (The waiter thought that was funny, but he was an idiot!) It was good, but I can make a better lasagna. Too much meat and cheese and not enough sauce. Maybe that's why there's no bread for dipping. Our wine was a nice fruity Valpolicella. For dessert, I had a $9 Cannoli. Just curious to see what makes a cannoli worth $9. It was good, but I've had better for $3. So, that's how it went. In a city filled with hundreds, maybe thousands, of very good Italian restaurants, this was just another one. Nothing special. Not even with Chef Art Smith, Oprah Winfrey's former personal chef in the kitchen. There is no Lady Gaga memorabilia (or music, thank God) in the place, just a few family photos up front. Now that's a blessing.
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RESTAURANT-NY REVIEW: "PATSY'S"

The one and only Patsy's has been serving its traditional, signature, old-school Italian food for over 65 years. Its clientele has always consisted of celebrities (from the days of Sinatra and his Rat Pack friends, who used it as a home away from home,) to tourists from all over the world, to ordinary folk like us! Fourteen of us descended on it Saturday night to stuff our faces with some of the best food in town. A few of us had been there as recently as last week, some of us (like myself) hadn't been there in decades, and others in our group had never been there. It was a wonderful reunion with a great group. I settled on two dishes that I love, but don't often get to see on menus in even the best of places. My appetizer was Mozzarella en Carrozza. It was cooked perfectly. My entree was a Veal Rollatine alla Marsala with a Potato Croquette on the side. To all of you old Brooklyn folks, remember when we used to get these two dishes at Fra-Mar, Romano, and Villa Vivolo? I didn't realize that, in the 65+ years of its existence, there have only been three chefs at Patsy's...Patsy, himself, his son Joe, and his grandson, Sal, the present chef. Oh, and by the way, our wine was a hearty Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. If you plan to go, make your reservations well in advance. You won't be disappointed.
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Last modified: December 03, 2013