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I Ate • New York

May 21, 2011 by Joan Nova in Restaurant Reviews, Travel Retrospectives | 12 Comments

New York, New York…it’s a wonderful town.
The Bronx is up and the Battery is down.

On my most recent trip to NY, I ate in the Bronx and I ate in the Battery. In fact, I ate in 4 of the 5 boroughs comprising New York City. Sorry Queens…I’ll get you next time.

I have the good fortune to have life-long friends who, like me, love to entertain at home so I can’t recommend all of the places I eat in when I’m in NY. But, trust me, they do it up BIG. There was a welcome dinner party at Norma’s in the West Village…tapas, lots of wine, lots of fun! Canasta dinner party at Carolyn’s with a very interesting cream, tomato and gin pork roast and a Veracruz Corn dish, among other things. (I’ll be posting that corn dish one day soon.) Then there was a light lunch of chicken satay and shrimp salad at Katie’s in Riverdale which preceded our Arthur Avenue outing and dinner. I closed the 5 days with Sunday dinner in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. If you know the area, you know the menu. It was 5 hours of non-stop antipasto platters, stuffed shells, eggplant parmigiana, roast chicken (with mozzarella stuffing), breads, pastries…and who can remember what else?

But, I did manage to eat in 4 restaurants that I’m happy to tell you about.

Pizza in Staten Island
The night I arrived I briefly passed through Staten Island for a pizza stop. Oh, yes, and to meet up with relatives and friends. Lee’s Tavern in Dongan Hills can best (and kindly) be described as a ‘dump’. A ‘hole-in-the-wall’ denotes a certain charm that Lee’s does not have. It’s culture shock, it’s major time warp, it’s bad wines (I ordered beer) and it is thin-crust pizzas that have been packing them in for 40-50 years. Favorites are the clam pizza and fried calamari.

Mussels in Manhattan
The Mussel Pot is an attractive small spot on Bleeker Street in The Village. Like many NY eateries, it’s narrow in width but it does spill over in back to a nice patio garden. We shared a lobster, bacon + truffle mac n’ cheese appetizer that was so uber rich 3 of us couldn’t finish it.  And then we attacked 2 pots of mussels.

Socarrat Paella Bar, Manhattan

This is really nice space and concept. Narrow, one communal mirrored high-top table down the center and a really nice menu of tapas, paellas and wines. We had a red + yellow beet salad with goat cheese foam and a seafood paella with fava beans, which I thought was a strange (but tasty) ingredient. You’re instructed to eat the paella from the center outward to leave the rice extra time to caramelize and crust.

Arthur Avenue, The Little Italy of the Bronx

Fabulous bakeries, interesting meat markets with quartered lambs and lamb heads on display (capozzelli di angnelli, an old world Italian delicacy), speciality pork and cheese shops, interesting varieties of pasta and other Italian imports for sale, and outdoor stands with freshly-shucked seafood. You could even run into David Greco who you might recognize (I did) because he beat Bobby Flay in an eggplant parmigiana throwdown and recently appeared on Chopped.

Whatever you do, do not go to Arthur Avenue after lunch…go for lunch! We were killing time between lunch and dinner so all we did is gawk which I don’t recommend. The visuals and smells enticed big time. :) Beyond the food, the experience itself is a little kitschy (e.g., check out the Charlie Sheen bowling shirts and the mixed photo endorsements found in many shops (popes, cardinals, politicians, athletes, Keifer Sutherland!), but I heartily recommend it.

The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry was a fabulous find…and about the only reason we could see to ever go back to Dobbs Ferry. The town, sadly, has not stood the passage of time well. But, The Cookery is an attractive storefront restaurant serving authentic and fresh Italian food, creatively done and presented by a young Italian (also handsome) chef whose philosophy is sustainable and local. We were 7 people and tried a variety of appetizers and entrées. Some of the standouts in appetizers were shaved fennel, orange + parmesan salad, creamy polenta with egg + proscuitto, and the Easter Pizza (served every day). Stellar entrées were cauliflower ravioli with lemon brown butter, house-made pasta with pulpo, pine nuts and chilis, osso buco. They also have a nice and fairly-priced wine list. We enjoyed a couple of bottles of 2009 Nero d’Avola, Santa Anastasi – Sicily, Italy which was recommended by our waiter. Service was excellent.

And how about warm chocolate polenta with pretzels, slovenian fleur de sel and caramel for dessert???

NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!


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  1. Love your recommendations including the “dive” joint….mmm to that fennel raisin bread!
    Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul recently posted..Lime- Yoghurt and Olive Oil CakeMy Profile

  2. norma says:

    I love the dive and the bread…oh my. The mussels we shared were ok, but that mac & cheese…I am still looking for a few people to help me devour another bowl. Thanks for the mention and like your new look.

  3. Love this post for the title alone! What a fab foodie trip.
    Sally – My Custard Pie recently posted..A brush with a new market and two ways with basilMy Profile

  4. BEKKY says:


  5. Arlene says:

    It took forever for your page to load, but I’m so glad I waited. Your dine-around sounded awesome. The highlight of my studies at Fordham was the shopping followed by dinner on Arthur Avenue (okay, there WERE good classes, too). I’ll be looking forward to the recipe for that corn dish.

  6. Marie says:

    Oh my Joan, you really did eat NY! Everything looks and sounds incredible. Nothing like sharing good food and conversation with great friends, it would be so hard to leave!
    Marie recently posted..Small Plates- Long Conversations at Quartino- ChicagoMy Profile

  7. Incredible post, Joan. I have filed it for our next visit. Love the slide show pics. Great lovely peek into each place without any complication. I want YOU to be my guide next visit! Interested?
    A Canadian Foodie recently posted..Zone Three Alberta Garden May 20- 2011- May 24th Long Weekend and We’ve Only Just Begun!My Profile

  8. I am one of those people who Love New York. I will save this post for the time when I get back. All that food, sounds great!!!

  9. Nuria says:

    Wow Joan, it seems that you had a real paella… you know that the first ones, those from Valencia used to have this fava beans which only grow in that territory?

    What a trip girl! I have one in my pocket for this summer too ;D.

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