Restaurant Review: Fat Rice at Chefs Club New York

A little over a year ago we had the pleasure of attending the opening of Chefs Club Counter, the first “fine-fast” concept. Recently, we enjoyed dining at its counterpart, Chefs Club New York, an innovative restaurant concept which features a rotating cast of chefs as part of their Chef-in-Residence series. We love this concept because it gives you the opportunity to enjoy the culinary talents of multiple chefs without having to travel all over the country. Chefs Club New York is currently on its fourth Chef-in-Residence, Abraham Conlon, co-owner of Chicago-based Fat Rice. We had the pleasure of experiencing the menu from this casual eatery (founded in 2012) that focuses on a global food exploration of the modest traditions of Macau and prepared with a respect for ritual, custom, and technique. So join us as we explore the wondering cuisine of Fat Rice at Chefs Club New York.

For those of you not from Chicago, Fat Rice explores and shares interpretations of heritage recipes from Lusophone cultures found along historic spice trade routes of the maritime Portuguese. To enjoy the full menu you’d have to go to Chicago but there are lots of delightful options to indulge in at Fat Rice at Chefs Club New York. to start things off, we found our way to The Ladies Room, an intimate setting where you can indulge in a unique drinking experience. This completely red room features cocktails that highlight both global and Midwestern flavors through house-made infusions, elixirs, and potions. You will find dishes from Macau, Malacca, Azores, Portugal, Goa, and Madeira.

This gorgeous red room at Chefs Club New York offers a variety of creative cocktails, rare wines, and decadent sipping spirits. We love their concept of cocktail sharing between two and four people. The single-serve cocktails on the menu include Moonshoes (Ford’s Gin, Umeboshi Vinegar, Elderflower Tonic),  Side Hustle (Ming River Baijiu, St. George Terroir Gin, St. George Rye Gin, Punt e Mes), and O’Porto (Quinta do Infantado 10 year Tawny, House made Ginjinha, House made Shiso-Cumin Bitters). The large format (sharing) cocktails include the Thunderdome For Two (Cruzan Blackstrap Rum, Two James Dr. Bird, Allspice Dram, Fernet Branca, Gingerbeer) and the Burning Bird For Four (Santa Teresa Anejo, Cruzan Blackstrap Rum, Plantation Pineapple Rum, Contratto, Amaro Lucano). Since we were not a quartet, we decided on the Thunderdome (pictured below)

It was the perfect way to awaken our taste buds for the meal that would soon follow. Check out our Fat Rice at Chefs Club New York Instastories for more behind the scenes of The Ladies Room and this cocktail. We couldn’t help but think of (and sing) that 1980’s song “Meeting in the Ladies Room” by Klymaxx. You may be wondering why is it called the Ladies room, it turns out at the Fat Rice Chicago location, this not-so-secret room is right by the ladies room. It’s a fact that we women do go the ladies room in packs, so why not create a true escape, with cocktails, when we need one. Because this is a limited run Chef-in-Residence, the entire Fat Rice menu wasn’t available but we promise you will love the options.

APPETIZERS

Bacalhau da Vovó

This divine combination of house-cured salt cod (many know this as salt fish or bacalao) spread, topped with black olives, chili and mint, and served with Papo Seco (Portuguese bread) was something we were anticipating ever since we first laid eyes on the Fat Rice menu. And it did not disappoint! Every bite was a memory of growing up near the beach, carefree days in the Caribbean and home cooked meals. Seasoned to perfection, we hope to find a way to talk Chef Abraham Conlon into offering this as a main dish because we could have happily wolfed down a second or third helping.

Presunto + peaches

Don’t let the simplicity of this dish of Fermin Iberico ham, basil, and burnt vinegar fool you. It is bursting with a wonderful combination of sweet, juicy, and slightly salty flavors that both delight and entice your palate. Trust us when we say this will go down quickly.

MAIN ENTREES

Pork Cheek

If you’re a fan of Vindaloo, the Indian curry dish, you’re going to love this spicy vindalho eurasian achar with charred scallions. We paired it with the delightful coconut rice (see below) and every bite of this staple pork dish was delicious and wonderfully peppery. This is what our palettes were waiting for. If you love your meals with a kick, this is a must. We also loved the resulting flavor from eating it with the raba raba.

Po Kok Gai

If you are ordering this, make sure you order a side or two of the Portuguese bread to go with the coconut rice. Dipping that delicious warm bread into creamy, savory decadence is almost life changing. Those of you who don’t like spicy foods will be happy to hear it isn’t spicy although we’d love if it had a little kick. This dish boasts fall-off-the-bone chicken thighs with chouriço, potatos, tomatoes, a hen egg, coconut curry, sao jorge, and topped with black olives.

SIDES

Coconut Rice

The mild flavor and touch of slight sweetness of this rice, topped with fried shallots and sesame seeds, is a wonderful base to enjoy the multilayered flavors of Fat Rice’s dishes. The best part,it literally goes with everything.

Raba Raba

This earthy side dish boasts a collection of stir-fried mixed seasonal greens, balichāo, and trumpet mushroom (although we skipped on the mushrooms). Believe it or not, it’s is incredibly flavorful on its on but doesn’t compete with the flavors of the main dishes. Definitely a must. Vegetarians will especially love it.

DESSERT

Chocolate Mousse

There’s nothing about this dessert that we can tell you that this above photo doesn’t showcase. It is as delicious as it is beautiful. If you’re a fan of coffee-based desserts, this is for you. The mousse features single origin são tomé beans, coffee streusel, and madeira gelée. It’s one of the most popular desserts at Fat Rice at Chefs Club New York. You can clearly see why.

Bebinca

We couldn’t go to a restaurant with a Portuguese influence without trying the traditional baked coconut custard. Every spoonful divine (and licked clean). This is another dish you may end up getting two of. It is just that creamy and delicious.

DECOR

Located in the iconic Puck Building, Fat Rice at Chefs Club New York is located in Nolita. In three months, another out of this world chef will take over the kitchen for several months to offer everyone a unique culinary experience.

One of our favorite design details of Chefs Club New York (aside from the breathtaking Ladies Room) is the humongous Pink Himalayan salt boulder encased in glass above the bar and the map showcasing all the territories that has inspired the Fat Rice menu. For more information about Fat Rice at Chefs Club New York, visit and definitely make a reservation to indulge.

New York Eats – Restaurant Guide From A Local Food Editor | tarateaspoon

 The New York Eats essential guide from a local food editor. I tell you where to go for the best burgers, healthy options, authentic pizza, fine dining and the most delicious treats the city has to offer. 

The Tara Teaspoon New York Eats restaurant guide is a list of my favorite places to eat, stop for treats or dine with my friends! I have lived in New York City for almost 20 years and am sharing with you where I like to eat. You’ll find the best restaurants in New York City listed below (IMO!). 

There are more delicious places than are listed here, for sure. Comment below with your favorites! And if you’re coming to visit and need recommendations for a certain area of town, just click the Ask Tara link to submit your query. I’m here for you!

Let’s start with my favorite food! Donuts:

The Best Donuts in New York City

The most fun location! Right across from the Intrepid on the west side highway, nestled in the famous car wash (literally a car wash) you’ll find a tiny donut shop making amazing cake donuts. Get a few because it’s a trek over there and a trek back!

Probably in my top two for city donuts. Plus they spell doughnuts the fancy way! Always fun unique flavors, and a great balance between dough and icing. The perfect bite each time. A fave is the lemon poppyseed, but please go hungry so you can try a lot of flavors! They are awesome.

The first donut shop to start the NYC trend with cool flavors and innovative recipes. Giant square yeast doughnuts are a hit (try the PBJ) and the little cake doughnuts are often filled with some sort of heavenly filling. Like many of the doughnut shops, you’ll want to try a few.

Fun Restaurants in New York City

Everything on the menu is big and full of flavor. The atmosphere is the perfect combination of classy and fun, and the loud music they play tops off the great experience. This is a great place for either brunch or lunch.

Ruby’s Cafe has a classy, relaxed and fun atmosphere (the location in Soho is a transformed garage). The menu ranges from salads to burgers to pastas. Their breakfast is yummy too!

Their tomato soup and grilled cheese shooters are pretty much heaven. So fun to go here with friends and share several starters, they are all so flavorful and creative. The meals are solid, a bit on the pricy side, but worth it for a big night out. 

The Best Chinese Food in New York City

Hidden in the middle of Chinatown, Joe’s Shanghai is constantly bustling. The food tastes perfectly authentic, without being too exotic. The pork soup dumplings are my favorite– they are piping hot, have a great savory flavor and are so fun to eat.

Trendy and old school all at the same time, this staple for small bites and sharable plates gets locals, tourists and celebs. It’s fun to go with a few people so you can try several dishes. Go early on the weekends because there will be a wait!

Although her dumplings are a bit doughy for me, they are still pretty darn delicious, authentic Chinatown dumplings. I’m partial to the noodle soups. If you like shrimp, don’t miss the shrimp dumplings with sesame and cilantro sprinkled on top. 

The Best Burgers in New York City

The Burger Joint is hidden inside the Parker Meridien Hotel behind a curtain, giving it an exclusive and local feel. The menu is simple, yet so delicious.

A little north of where you might be in Manhattan, but some say it might be better than Shake Shack. Gasp! 

There are Shake Shacks all over the city! The original is in Madison Square Park. I used to wait in hour-long lines for this good stuff. I like these burgers because the meat is a delicious proprietary blend, the buns are soft and buttery and each Shake Shack has unique creations for that area of town. Don’t skip the fries and a concrete. 

Am I missing any of your favorite New York Eats? Comment below to add your suggestions!

The Best Italian Food in New York City

I love this place for a pre-Broadway show dinner, or when the parents come to town. The all you can eat pasta is delicious but too much for me. I usually split the meatballs with someone (they melt in your mouth!) and get an entree. Delicious and cozy.

A local haunt for upper west siders. The owner is there each night hob-nobbing with the crowd and telling them about the specials. It’s simple and delicious authentic Italian food. 

Best Greek Food in New York City

Run by my friend Maria Loi, this Midtown eatery is always delicious. I could make a meal of the tzatiki dip served with the bread basket it’s so good. Very filling and substantial main courses are good for sharing if you don’t have a huge appetite. Even the simple chicken entree is outstanding. 

Gorgeous restaurant in a great location on 21st street. Moderately to high priced food but worth it, because the food is delicious! Very sharable menu and a variety of lighter and hearty dishes. 

Located at 222 West 79th Street on the upper west side, it’s been a neighborhood favorite for years. Perfectly seasoned meatballs melt in your mouth and all the entrees deliver in flavor and substantial portions. 

There are so many delicious restaurants in New York City. Tell me your favorite! Is it on the list?

Favorite Indian Food in New York City

The best on the west side, plus it’s close to Lincoln Center, Time Warner Center and Central Park if you’re off to shows, shopping or strolling. I love the weekend and lunch buffets, so hit that up if you’re close. The regular menu is perfect too–everything is a hit.

For a splurge and a very amazing Indian meal go to Indian Accent. Each dish is prepared with amazing flavors and aesthetics in mind. The price is substantial, but if you are up for a really delicious Indian meal this is the place. 

In an area that used to be dubbed Curry Hill, Dhaba is a standout Indian spot in the city. With over 100 menu items mostly from northern India, it’s delicious and sure to please a crowd. 

The Best Tacos in New York City

Los Tacos No. 1 serves classic, authentic tacos that will have you thinking about them the rest of your trip. The stand is inside Chelsea Market. If you’re looking for fish or shrimp tacos, just walk around the corner to their sister stand, Los Mariscos. They also opened a second location near Times Square so you can hit it up before, or after a show!

Oh the combinations are heavenly. One of three Empellon restaurants, the Taqueria has a killer menu of tacos with fun combinations. 

Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurants in New York City

Everything is good at this tiny upper west side eatery. The chips and salsa is a must and their pork tinga is delicious. My favorite of all time are their Enchiladas Verde!

New location at 40 Bowery, south of Canal. Pretty great dumplings and noodles made in a hole-in-the-wall Chinatown eatery. I crave this regularly!

My Favorite Bakeries in New York City

If you find yourself on the lower east side give this place a visit. It’s just shiny and fun. They usually have a fun soft serve to go with their sugared croissant muffins and crazy flavored donuts. So so on the texture of the baked goods, but tons of points on fun, unique and experience.

Yes, the cronuts are worth the hype. Flaky, buttery, and filled with heaven. Make sure to get there early before they run out. If you don’t get there in time to snag a cronut, that’s ok, everything else is just as delicious. Hit up a DKA, it’s Dominiques’ take on a Kouign Amann. 

Making a variety of ethnic and classic baked goods and breads, this is a great stop for locals and visitors alike. From signature flatbreads to beautiful loaves and rolls, it’s delicious. 

New York City’s Best Treats

Levain Bakery is a classic. The cookies are gooey and so rich. They taste just as good as they look. The cookies are the draw here. Giant, perfect and pricey. My favorite is the chocolate chocolate with peanut butter chips! The other rolls, pastries and breads are flat out amazing, so don’t miss them!

The pretzel croissant, brownie cookie and hot chocolate are not to be missed. A classic NY spot. They have mini outposts around the city called Birdbath.

Pudding and Cupcakes!! Seriously the most delicious pudding. Might even beat out Magnolia’s banana pudding. It’s a lower East Side favorite and I think their cupcakes are some of the best out there. 

Magnolia touts multiple locations but had humble beginnings in the West Village. Rumor has it that a feature on Sex and the City put it on the maps. The assorted cupcakes have the signature Magnolia swirl, but I opt for their other desserts. The key lime pie, Snickers bar, Lemon Bars and cakes do it for me. Others swear by the banana pudding. 

Best Pizza in New York City

Fantastic Neopolitan style pizza (puffy, chewy crust). There are a few locations. Go with a friend and split two. There are so many delicious combos to choose from. Also the best GF pizza in the city.

There are a few locations in the city, and this is another great Neopolitan pizza shop. Downtown or uptown, you’ll want to try the pie with Brussels Sprouts. Surprisingly amazing! Craving that salty, chewy crust right now.

Just midtown enough for a pre-show dinner, or to take the parents to. A cozy spot in the 50’s for a great Neopolitan pizza.

Being from the Upper West Side I’m partial to the one on 74th Street, but if you’re on the East side visit the shop on 2nd Ave. The rolls with plenty of olive oil are crusty and amazing, then dive into a pie. My favorite secret order: Pepperoni, Ricotta and Roasted Peppers. Do it! The pastas and salads are solid as well. Great for a group so you can share.

My favorite neighborhood slice. There are a lot of NY slices out there, and this one is my fave on the UWS. Great flavor and fun Columbus Ave people watching from the tables if you decide to sit.

Thick crust, thick slices of pepperoni and fresh cheese. Prince Street has a hole-in-the-wall feel and almost always has a line (but don’t be intimidated, it moves quickly).  Make sure to pay with cash to keep to the workers happy!

Top Fine Dining Spots in New York City

ABC Kitchen has an eclectic and elegant feel. The food is classic-American and is very tasty. The service is also fantastic, making your experience pleasant all around. Menu items are great for sharing, which is good because you’ll want to try them all. Amazing seasonal fare.

My all time favorite restaurant. It’s just always delicious and special. Lovely seasonal menus by the amazing chef Michael Anthony. It’s a splurge, but worth it if you want a very lovely, Americana meal. The desserts never disappoint either.

Seafood forward and elegant. A place to dress up and have a very gorgeous meal. Every dish is done perfectly and the ambiance is fancy!

Danny Meyer’s newest restaurant (he owns Gramercy Tavern as well!) The service is so fun, you feel like royalty. And the views are the best in town. Go for lunch or early evening so you can see the city scapes before the sun goes down. It’s as much a spectacle as the food is delicious!

For seafood lovers this is the place to be. Exquisite dishes by Eric Ripert are as delicious as they are pretty. The menu is primarily seafood and the flavors are amazing.

Thomas Keller is one of my favorite chefs, so his restaurant Per Se stands out for sure. It’s at the top of the Time Warner center at Columbus Circle, so it’s a fun location. Lovely, high-end, French and California inspired cooking. Make sure to note the details of the dining room decor. They’re lovely.

Farm to table done high-end. A cozy and chic place for a very beautiful meal. Dan Barber knows how to create flavorful dishes with unique twists. It’s a favorite.

Recently redone, this restaurant is beautiful. They offer 8 or 10 course menus, so be ready for a food experience. Elegant and amazing, it is a classic NY fine dining event.

Great Breakfast and Brunch in New York City

If you’re looking for a decadent breakfast in the city, you have to visit Norma’s. The restaurant is tucked inside the Parker Meridien Hotel, and if you can believe it, the food is even more enchanting than the location. Their Banana-Macadamia Nut Flap Jacks (with whipped banana brown sugar butter) are pretty incredible. I just suggest that you arrive famished or take a few laps around Central Park after; the portions are impressive.

There are a few locations and all will serve my favorite tomato soup! Don’t miss it. For more breakfasty fair you can’t lose with anything. It’s all classic NY Brunch eats in an old school, lady-like setting. The bread basket is a win since Sarabeth is a master baker. (Check out her bakery in Chelsea Market too.)

For all you gluten-free eaters out there this place is fantastic. Their breakfast is tasty but so is their GF breaded chicken strips! Multiple locations, so click the link and see what’s close. 

The Best Healthy Eating Restaurants

Dig Inn is the perfect healthy restaurant because it leaves you feeling fresh, full and satisfied. You create your own meal and they throw it all into one bowl for you. It’s a great option for when you’re short on time– very quick and easy.

Sweet Green is all about big, delicious salads. The ingredients are fresh and local, and there are locations all over the city.

Not a restaurant, but a fancy cafeteria of healthy food! Right next to the 9/11 museum it’s convenient and also has gorgeous views of the water. There is something for everyone.

New York City Bagels

Amazing gluten-free bagels. They have a million choices for schmear and they always have a flavor of the week! Multiple locations too.

This Upper West Side gem touts classic, chewy, flavorful bagels Make a sandwich then take a stroll in the park or on the River.

Hands down my favorite sesame bagel of all time. Super plump with plenty of soft insides, a chewy and crunchy shell and those sesame seeds are toasted to perfection. 

Best Ice Cream Shops in New York City

Tasty ice cream that also has a bunch of vegan and dairy-free options. They are the ones that sold charcoal ice cream before it was banned. All the trendy flavors!

Not to be confused with Milk Bar that is just down the road, Milk and Cream Bar blends your cereal of choice with ice cream into a soft serve cone or into a shake. It may sound strange, but trust me, you’ll love it!

An upper west side staple, this tiny little shop scoops up a variety of tasty combinations. I think of it as a classic ice cream shop. No crazy hipster flavors!

The Brooklyn location is always packed, but there’s a stand at the Gotham West Market in the city. They’ve got some awesome mixtures like one ice cream which is filled with potato chips, pretzels, Ritz crackers, and mini M&Ms.

I always find myself at the West Village location, but there are others. Simple flavors that get loaded with cookie crumbs, toppings or dipped in chocolate. Excessive and fun. 

Definitely near the tippy top of my list because of the fun flavors. Try a few before you get your scoops. It’s a tiny, hole-in-the-wall place that serves some delicious and fun flavors.

Guide compiled by Ruby Neff at Tara Teaspoon

Chicago’s Lago Wine Bar accused of copying New York restaurant

A newly opened wine bar and restaurant in Lakeview, Lago Wine Bar, and its owners have been sued by a New York-based restaurant and wine bar chain for infringement of trademarks.

The owner of six Italian restaurants and wine bars in New York City, Passon & Passon, alleges that former employee Lauras Grigaliunas and sous chef Andrea Soldini duplicated the restaurant group’s design and recipes to open a “copycat restaurant” in Chicago last year, including lifting the New York group’s interior and exterior design, table presentation and menu.

The restaurant concept and trade dress comprise interior and exterior design, table presentation, menu, and overall provision of dining experience of the plaintiff’s restaurants, the lawsuit says. (Read the complaint below.)

Passon & Passon claims Grigaliunas and Soldini replicated “virtually every single design detail and element,” according to the lawsuit.

Grigaliunas and Soldini are former employees at Aria Wine Bar West Village in New York, owned by Passon & Passon. Grigaliunas joined Aria when it first opened in 2010 and left in April 2016. Soldini was a sous chef and also worked in a management role at Aria from 2014 to 2016.

In this case, the ultimate question for the judge is whether similar elements between the two restaurants are functional or ornamental. If they are considered functional, the law is not going to protect the trademark, said Michael Levinson, a partner in the Chicago office of Seyfarth Shaw who focuses on patent and trade secrets litigation, and is not involved in this case.

Passon & Passon seeks an injunction to immediately shut down Lago Wine Bar, 3207 N. Sheffield Ave., and asks to be awarded “ill-obtained profits” from the restaurant.

Representatives of Lago Wine Bar were not available to comment.

New York City Restaurant Week Must-Try Spots

Where to Reserve a Table During NYC Restaurant Week

Savor the best flavors of New York City’s Restaurant Week from July 23 – August 13 at one of these top eateries

Written by Annie Caminiti

Where:Legasea at Moxy Times Square485 7th Avenue (at 36th Street)

Why: Legasea Seafood Brasserie will offer top-tier seafood dishes by Executive Chef Jason Hall in a prix fixe menu that include customer-favorites such as, Spicy Crab Beignets, Flounder Francaise, and their newest Seafood Marinara Pasta and Summer Berry Eton Mess. The venue is located steps away from Madison Square Garden and down the street from the bustle of Times Square.

Call: 212-268-1888

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Where to Reserve a Table During NYC Restaurant Week

Savor the best flavors of New York City’s Restaurant Week from July 23 – August 13 at one of these top eateries

Written by Annie Caminiti

Where:VANDAL199 Bowery

Why: Located in Manhattan’s trendy Lower East Side, VANDAL specializes in globally-inspired plates, and this Restaurant Week you can try their best delicacies at a sexy locale. Menu items like Yellowtail Crudo, Old School Chicken Parm, and Vanilla Panna Cotta will all be available for your dining pleasure.

Call: 212-400-0199

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Where to Reserve a Table During NYC Restaurant Week

Savor the best flavors of New York City’s Restaurant Week from July 23 – August 13 at one of these top eateries

Written by Annie Caminiti

Where:Beauty & Essex146 Essex Street

Why: Beauty & Essex is serving up some of the hottest dishes for Restaurant Week this year that decidedly won’t go unnoticed. Wander past the Pawn Shop to relish in dishes like Braised Short Ribs, Lemon Pepper Ricotta Ravioli and ‘Chile Relleno’ Empanadas.

Call: 212-614-0146

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Where to Reserve a Table During NYC Restaurant Week

Savor the best flavors of New York City’s Restaurant Week from July 23 – August 13 at one of these top eateries

Written by Annie Caminiti

Where:Irvington NYC201 Park Ave South

Why: Irvington offers a Mediterranean-influenced menu featuring New American classics highlighting fresh, locally-sourced ingredients from the neighboring Union Square Greenmarket. Take in dishes for lunch and dinner during Restaurant Week including Asparagus Gazpacho, Grilled Branzino and Pistachio Shortcake.

Call: 212-677-0425

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Where to Reserve a Table During NYC Restaurant Week

Savor the best flavors of New York City’s Restaurant Week from July 23 – August 13 at one of these top eateries

Written by Annie Caminiti

Where:Kingside124 W 57th Street

Why: Head to Midtown’s best New American restaurant, Kingside to indulge in classic dishes with a unique twist. Offerings such as Smoked Bass Crudo, Roasted Chicken and Chocolate Lava Cake are available to enjoy this week.

Call: 212-707-8000

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Where to Reserve a Table During NYC Restaurant Week

Savor the best flavors of New York City’s Restaurant Week from July 23 – August 13 at one of these top eateries

Written by Annie Caminiti

Where:Ai Fiori at The Langham NYC400 5th Avenue

Why: Ai Fiori is a stunningly elegant restaurant option with a winding marble staircase at the entrance. To celebrate Restaurant Week, Ai Fiori will offer both a two and three course lunch option. Boasting a Michelin star, Air Fiori serves the best of the best with choices like Pollo Arrosto, Tagliatelle Zuppa di Mais and more.

Call: 212-613-8660

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Where to Reserve a Table During NYC Restaurant Week

Savor the best flavors of New York City’s Restaurant Week from July 23 – August 13 at one of these top eateries

Written by Annie Caminiti

Where:Bodega Negra at Dream Downtown355 West 16th Street

Why: Bodega Negra, the modern Mexican restaurant located at Dream Downtown, will offer a prix fixe menu that incorporates dishes from their newly revamped summer menu. Seasonal dishes such as Seared Tuna Toastadas and Bodega Chopped Salad will be available alongside classics such as Shrimp Ceviche, Roasted Chile Relleno and more, all designed and presented by newly appointed Chef de Cuisine Victor Santibañez.

Call: 212-229-2336

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Where to Reserve a Table During NYC Restaurant Week

Savor the best flavors of New York City’s Restaurant Week from July 23 – August 13 at one of these top eateries

Written by Annie Caminiti

Where:The Stanton Social99 Stanton Street

Why: This Lower East Side hangout is offering up everyone’s favorite shared plates this Restaurant Week. Head to the Stanton Social and dive into delicious dishes like Crispy Hard Shell Fish Tacos, Spiced Sesame Salmon and a Caprese Style Ravioli crafted by celebrity chef and Stanton Social co-owner Chris Santos.

Call: 212-995-0099

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Fans gather outside New York restaurant to remember Anthony Bourdain

CNN — Anthony Bourdain’s fans turned the restaurant where he shot to fame as a chef into a memorial, leaving roses and notes at New York’s Brasserie Les Halles.

Bourdain died Friday at 61.

He was in France working on an episode of his CNN series, “Parts Unknown,” when a friend found him unresponsive in his hotel room. The cause of death was suicide.

As the nation mourned the celebrated chef turned TV host, fans taped tributes on the door and walls of the shuttered French brasserie, where Bourdain worked as a chef in the 1990s. They placed printouts of his pictures outside, along with messages and the hotline for a suicide prevention network.

“Thank you for what you gave to this world, a deeper understanding of culture and food,” one note said. “You have changed our lives forever. Love you forever.”

Others said he changed the way some of the most marginalized countries are viewed.

“Thank you for bringing a respectful view to the people of Palestine, Libya, Iran and more. You brought people together,” another note said.

Bourdain’s award-winning series, “Parts Unknown,” brought the world home to CNN viewers. It showcased the extraordinary diversity of cultures and cuisines, and how much we all have in common — all through the simple act of sharing meals.

Before he got into television, he worked as a chef at the New York restaurant. While there, he wrote an essay on the behind-the-scenes of the restaurant world, which led to the memoir “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly,” turning him into a celebrity chef.

The gifted chef and storyteller used his books and later television shows to explore culture and cuisine. He spent years as a line cook and sous chef at restaurants in the Northeast before becoming executive chef at Manhattan’s Brasserie Les Halles.

Car crashes into New York restaurant injuring several people

MAMARONECK, N.Y. (AP) — A car has crashed into a restaurant in suburban New York, injuring several people.

It happened at Enzo’s Ristorante in the Westchester County village of Mamaroneck (muh-MEHR’-uh-nehk) just after 8 p.m. Sunday.

Mamaroneck Mayor Tom Murphy tells The Journal News that multiple diners inside the restaurant were hurt and taken to a hospital. Their conditions were not immediately known.

Photos from the scene show a wide section of the floor-to-ceiling windows in the front of the restaurant smashed in.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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10 New York Restaurant Employees Share Their Wildest Stories

Photo: Jon Pack/Starz Entertainment, LLC

Sweetbitter, based on Stephanie Danler’s coming-of-age novel of the same title, premiered on Starz yesterday.* Like the books, the show follows the misadventures of a young woman named Tess (Ella Purnell), who starts working at a fancy New York restaurant and gets a rapid education in the world of New York haute cuisine — and the whirlwind of drugs, booze, sex, and debauchery that accompanies it. Inspired by Tess’s misadventures, we asked ten people in the upper echelons of the New York restaurant world to share their wildest stories on the job, from out-of-control guests to on-the-job coke binges to kitchen meltdowns. Their tales are far better than anything fiction could come up with.

Interviews have been edited and condensed. Names have been changed to preserve anonymity.

“She deadpan tells me to spit in her mouth.”

One time we’re in service and it’s pretty busy, but I notice this girl sitting at the bar staring intently at me through the window every time I would look up from what I was doing. Fast-forward and I’m closing the kitchen before I move to the bar for my routine shift drink. The girl, who is still there, promptly gets up as I sit down and walks out the door. Strange, I think to myself. But about five minutes later she returns and walks straight to where I’m sitting and pulls out a stool. I’m about to say hi because things were getting a little awkward at that point and just as I open my mouth she slides a condom toward me, gets up, and bee lines for the bathroom. Sounds crazy in retrospect, but I got up a few seconds later and followed her. We immediately start making out and things were moving along quite quickly: her dress is up, my provided condom is on, and then she freezes. I think something’s wrong but before I could ask if everything was all right she deadpan tells me to spit in her mouth … I did. About four minutes later, we parted ways and I never saw her again, with “Spit in my mouth” and “Sure” being the only words we ever exchanged. —Sebastian, chef

“For a night, the bar is your fiefdom.”

Cocaine use in the hospitality industry is pervasive. Former managers of mine would find small bags, with only remnants of their former substances, left on the tops of urinals or on dance floors. These came to be known affectionately as “ground scores.” Other nights, customers would attempt to pay for their drinks with cocaine. This tends to happen on slower nights, Sundays and Mondays. One particular evening I had a group of seven or eight guys come into the bar. They sucked down hundreds of dollars’ worth of vodka-sodas and just before they left, the ringleader shook my hand with a small bag tucked between his fingers, and said “We good?” The booze bartering committed by bartenders is one of my favorite aspects of working in a restaurant. None of the alcohol is yours, but for a night, the bar is your fiefdom, and booze is your currency. You can trade alcohol for drugs, cigarettes, a hookup. Or my personal favorite, for food from the kitchen — essentially trading one commodity that isn’t yours for another.

One particular cocaine-fueled evening, I ended up hooking up with my manager. He was straight, and I was high. After hooking up with me, he had effectively hooked up with every staff member at the bar, male and female. After drinking and doing coke for hours (at work), we both went to his place, took some benzos in his room. A few minutes later, he looks over at me, then gave a suggestive glance at his erection. Then boom, we were bisexual. —Brett, bartender

“He just wanted to be the poor waitress’s sugar daddy.”

One time I was chatting with a guest about music and great concerts, and he told me that Paul McCartney would be playing the MetLife Stadium in just a week or so and I should go. As if I had that kind of money. But when I told him exactly that, he said I should give him my email address and he’d be able to get me in. So I did. Why not?

I should be clear that I 100 percent know that I flirt with my guests. It gets me higher tips, particularly when they’re men or lesbian/bisexual women eating alone. I always keep it professional, but I know what I’m doing when I look a guest in the eyes as they’re talking, smile, lean in, and keep my hands or my body touching the table. Understanding that, though, I also know that people don’t often remember their waitress after the meal, and that’s okay. So when I wrote my email address down for this guy, I didn’t think he’d actually remember or go out of his way for me. That made it a real surprise when, two days later, I got an email from him saying that he’d gotten an extra pass for me, and all I had to do was turn up at a specific gate of the MetLife Stadium to meet him.

Obviously, I went. When someone offers you a free ticket to see Paul McCartney, you go. I went to the gate he specified, and he met me there with an all-access pass. Holy shit. I was very psyched about it, but then he opened the door to the stadium for me and led me in, putting his hand on my hip. It’s pretty obvious what that means. So I go in, very excited to see this concert, and suddenly he can’t keep his hands off my arms, shoulders, and waist. Oh. He just wanted to be the poor waitress’s sugar daddy. —Amanda, server

“He told me his whole life story.”

I was 21 and it was my first sommelier job. One night, the whole restaurant was packed, and there was one table with these two guys who told us they worked in the aviation industry — a very handsome older guy and a very handsome younger guy. They drank some very nice bottles from the wine list and bought me and a female waiter that I was working with drinks at the end of the night. They were kind of the last people in the restaurant and were really, really convincing us to go out with them. The woman I was working with politely declined, but I decided to go. So we went to some fancy bar downtown and had a drink. At this point it kind of felt the night was winding down.

I forget how, but the younger guy had made some excuse to get my phone number from me — like maybe he wanted to come back to the restaurant at some point and contact me directly. So we said our good-byes and I was in a taxi going back to Williamsburg, and I had a call from a number that I didn’t recognize. It’s the guy asking if I want to go back to his hotel room with him. And so I did, and we ended up drinking a lot of tequila from the minibar, he told me his whole life story about being in the closet and being an executive and how he had a wife back home. It was a very interesting, eye-opening experience — [the hookup] all kind of happened very quickly and very drunkenly. That was the only time that I personally ever went home with a customer from the restaurant, early on in my career. —Ben, sommelier

“He had thrown the four quarts of blood at the sous chef.”

I was working at [a now shuttered Michelin star restaurant], where we had incredibly militaristic standards for cleanliness in the kitchen. We had made our own blood sausage, so this guy is unpacking produce in the walk-in and he knocked the four-quart thing filled with blood and spilled a couple of drops on the floor. And the sous chef walked in and was in a really shitty mood that day, and you hear screaming from inside the walk-in. Then we heard something smash. He had thrown the four quarts of blood right at the sous chef and it was streaming out of the walk-in into the rest of the kitchen. —James, beverage director

“Within minutes someone was fired.”

I work at a two Michelin star and there’s quite a lot of financial bros that come in. One time, a bunch of guys come in with one lady, she’s very well dressed, and they’re probably each four or five vodka-sodas deep, as would be expected. That’s the obvious finance guy drink. America is run on vodka-sodas. Three deep at the bar, it’s a little crazy. They bump into another group that’s also pretty vodka-soda’d up. The other group bumps into the girl, one of the guys says ‘Watch it, slut.’ Obviously no good in any form, but in a Michelin star restaurant where vodka-sodas are 20 bucks a piece, and has that pedigree of person that has to be able to afford this — Goldman Sachs, Amex, the works. There’s a little shoving, one guy gets into another guy’s face, and phone calls are made, to the extent that this guy is fired on the spot, he slams down his glass, breaks it, and runs out. They were calling each other’s bosses, taking pictures of each other, identifying each other, using LinkedIn to find out where they worked, the works. Within minutes someone was fired. —Evan, bartender

“They used to keep a little party drawer in the bathroom.”

Drug use is everywhere. There would be people going into the bathroom and doing rails. I knew of one place that used to keep a little party drawer in the bathroom: the bathroom had a table in it with a few drawers, and one of them people used to hide drugs in the back of, so in the middle of service you could just pop in and have a little bump and then pop out and no one would notice. It’s definitely something all the servers knew about. I’m surprised none of the guests ever found it— that would be a fun discovery. —Georgia, cook

“No one needs to ever see or smell that.”

Back in the day when I was still a budding sous chef, I used to work at this one restaurant that accommodated gluten-free diets. Unfortunately, this meant that many of our guests were not only celiacs or gluten insensitive, but also had generally crazy dietary needs and were a little bit demanding, which resulted in a few people being absolute horrors. One week in fall, we were running a dish with a pork chop and roasted beets. We had one lady order this dish for her little kid. Since it was for her kid, I was asked if I could make sure that the pork was thoroughly cooked until it no longer resembled anything anyone would actually want to eat.

Fast-forward a couple days, and we see this woman again. She doesn’t look happy. She tells us we undercooked her son’s pork. We’re trying to get our floor manager to talk to her, but she insists that we take a look in this Ziploc bag she brought. From this bag … she pulls out the most ungodly, rank, and putrid diaper I have ever smelled. We were horrified. We told her to put the diaper away. She was unrelenting. She opens the diaper up and shows to us her kid’s excrement, pointing to us how it was a reddish hue and how she was absolutely convinced this was because of our uncooked pork. We were all extremely grossed out about this but we did our best to explain to her how the dying power of beets worked, while trying to please make this woman put away her kid’s dirty diaper. Man, we were scarred. No one needs to ever see or smell that. —Jack, chef

“I’m pretty sure they both participated.”

It was Christmas Eve and I was worried about getting out on time because I spend Christmas Eve with my family. And then one of our bartenders who was kind of a sad sack was like: ‘The only Christmas gift I’m getting is the one I’m getting right now.’ And this white Hummer shows up and a bunch of super crazy dudes get out and they give him like eight grams of cocaine and a bottle of Moet, because he’s their best customer. And he’s like ‘This is my family’ and they’re like ‘Um no we’re not,’ and they left the bar. They were like, coke dealer bloods. And there was only ten people in the entire place and he decided to do almost all of the coke with another guy, then they brought a girl downstairs together, a customer, and fucked this girl downstairs on shift. I’m pretty sure they both participated. And I was like … I’m going to go hang out with my grandmother, bye. —Emily, waitress

“I yakked immediately, it was so gross.”

A while ago we had a line cook who we were pretty sure had a substance abuse problem of some sort — I learned pretty quickly that when you get paid on Fridays you don’t make him work Saturdays because he’ll never be there on time and he’ll be miserable, because he’ll have been up till 8 a.m. the night before. After a while I had a long talk with him and I said, On Sunday I really need you because we have a buyout for a wedding, you’ve gotta be good. And he comes in, he’s probably 32 or 33, and he’s crying. He’s a pretty tough kid; I wouldn’t have fucked with him. And he comes in crying and is like, Chef, I need to borrow $2,000 and I’ll be back in an hour. And he’s talking weird — his speech was off. And I’m like, Are you still fucked up or something? And he’s like No, I blacked out last night I don’t know what happened, but I have dentures — and he smiles, but there’s no teeth. He’s like, Well, when I was younger I was a heroin addict and my teeth went to shit, and I partied all day Friday and yesterday and some point I lost my teeth. So I’m like, Here, take my credit card, go get some temporary dentures and get your ass back here. He comes back and he’s got his teeth in, so I’m like great, awesome.

At the end of the night we go out for a drink, he comes too, we go out to the regular bar we always go to and the bartender comes over with a pint glass and he puts it down and it’s got Guinness in it — that’s what that other kid drank. And when he starts drinking it, something smacks him in the face, and I look over: His fucking teeth were in the fucking cup at this bar! He’d left them on the bar on Friday and they put them back in his glass. I yakked immediately; it was so gross. And now he had two sets of teeth, even though he’d just spent $1,800 on the new ones. He was like, Maybe I can return them! I was like … there’s no way you can return dentures, bro. I couldn’t stop laughing for like a year. —Andrew, chef

* This post has been corrected to show that Sweetbitter premiered yesterday on Starz.

Israeli Chef Re-Opens Flagship New York Restaurant | The Tower

Chef Einat Admony is familiar with the stress of opening a new restaurant, having opened 13 restaurants throughout her career. But the days leading up to the reopening of her latest eatery, Balaboosta, felt more intense than usual.

”We had a short amount of time to pull everything together. But with our brand-new menu and beautiful setting, we are excited to continue the Balaboosta institution,” Admony tells ISRAEL21c.

In late September, the Israeli-born chef and her husband reopened Balaboosta, which offers New York City diners a selection of dishes that express Admony’s unique take on modern Israeli cuisine.

“Balaboosta has been an institution for nine years,” Admony explains. “It’s not just a restaurant. It’s a kind of community where people create memories – that first date, birthday celebration, anniversary and so on. We wanted to keep that energy going after a short hiatus,” she explained.

Admony enjoys exploring new ideas, playing on Israeli and Middle-Eastern classics while continuing to innovate with ingredients, flavors, and techniques. “This is what makes my Israeli cuisine so exciting.”

Located in New York’s West Village, home to her Taim Falafel and Kish-Kash restaurants, the new Balaboosta finds inspiration in Admony’s Yemenite and Iranian roots.

Indeed, Balaboosta’s website features a photo of the chef’s mother, Tziona, originally from Iran, riding a motorbike in Tel Aviv in 1968. “Balaboosta” is the Yiddish word for the ideal mother and homemaker.

“I started cooking at a young age, helping my mother with Shabbat dinner,” she recalls. ”I have always found myself cooking from [the time I was] a young girl and then as a cook in the Israeli army, and after, when I was traveling around the world.”

She grew up with Yemenite and Persian food, in addition to Moroccan dishes introduced by their neighbors, and even Eastern European classics.

“I can even remember my mother learning how to make kugel. Israeli moms, in general, learn to make a wide variety of different foods thanks to the diverse culture,” she notes.

Admony’s new Balaboosta menu features dishes such as lamb neck with preserved lemon, dates, chestnuts and freekeh (roasted green durum wheat common in Levantine cuisine).

”It’s a very diverse but personal menu for me,” commented Admony.

”We have all-time favorites such as the cauliflower with lemon, currants, pine nuts, parsley and crushed Bamba (an Israeli peanut butter-flavored snack), and fried olives with labane and harissa oil.”

New creations include the short rib zabzi with hand-rolled couscous, herbs and almonds; and red snapper with pickled okra tempura and sour Fresno chili in okra chraime sauce.

Customers can also choose from an extensive wine list including Israeli wines. The dessert section features malabi and halva creme brulee.

“Our goal was to make this Balaboosta younger and fresher,” Admony said.

”It’s hard to keep a restaurant exciting for a long time, especially in a city like New York, which is oversaturated with restaurants and fast-paced trends. Places tend do well within the first few months but then the trend fades away.”

Together with her husband and business partner, Stéfan Nafziger, Admony worked with designer Silvia Zofio of SZProjects to design the new Balaboosta in the space that was formerly Bar Bolonat, which was also run by Admony.

While Admony opened her first restaurant in Miami, New York has served as her base for much of her career. She first opened the falafel joint Taïm (tah-eem) with her husband in Manhattan’s West Village in 2005 and in 2010, launched Balaboosta. In 2018, she opened Kish-Kash, a West Village Moroccan couscous bar-eatery named after one of the kitchen utensils, a sieve, used to hand-roll couscous.

In addition, today there are four branches of Taim, which was aided by last year’s financial investment and new management, originally from Chipotle, the Mexican fast-food chain.

Admony, who grew up in Bnei Brak, authored the well-received cookbook, Balaboosta: Bold Mediterranean Recipes to Feed the People You Love. Her restaurants have been positively reviewed by The New Yorker, New York Magazine and the New York Times and she has also made television appearances.

Alongside her restaurants, Admony makes sure to spend time with her family. “I’ve never felt that I was treated differently as a woman in this business. But once I had my kids, it became a lot harder to juggle career with family. I love spending time at home with my kids,” she said during her interview with ISRAEL21c, which was punctuated by cheers for her son as he played basketball.

When asked if she would like to see her kids continue in her culinary path, Admony responded with a vehement no. ”Look, I will support my children no matter what career they choose for themselves but my line of work is very tough,” she said.

”In any case, my son wants to be an NBA basketball player, so I don’t have to worry yet.”

(via Israel21c)
[Photo: Israel21c ]

Your Summer 2018 Guide To New York Restaurant Week

New York Restaurant Week (July 23 – August 13) is almost upon us which means it’s time to start booking reservations at the hottest spots in town now!

VANDAL

Photo Credit: VANDAL

VANDAL, located in Manhattan’s trendy Lower East Side specializes in globally-inspired plates, and this Restaurant Week you can try them out. Dishes like Yellowtail Crudo, Old School Chicken Parm, and Vanilla Panna Cotta will all be available for your dining pleasure.

Legasea

Spicy Crab Beignet

Photo Credit: Justin Levy

Legasea Seafood Brasserie will offer top-tier seafood dishes by Executive chef Jason Hall in a prix fixe menu that include customer-favorites such as, Spicy Crab Beignets, Flounder Francaise, and their newest Seafood Marinara Pasta and Summer Berry Eton Mess. The venue is located steps away from Madison Square Garden and down the street from the bustle of Times Square, making it the convenient stop after a Broadway matinee, and before a concert or sports game.

Boulud Sud

Daurade a la Plancha

Photo Credit: Boulud Sud

Mediterranean delicacies are abundant during Boulud Sud‘s restaurant week offerings. Stop by during lunch or dinner to feast on dishes such as Daurade a la Plancha, Andalusian Tomato Gazpacho, Lemon Saffron Spaghetti, Harissa Lamb Burger, Lucalli’s Ricotta Cheesecake, and more.

Philippe Chow

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Photo Credit: Philippe Chow

Philippe Chow, the renowned Chinese restaurant, has created a lunch and dinner special in celebration of Restaurant Week. Lunch highlights will include the famous Chicken Satay; Wok Seared Branzino served with eggplant and sweet & spicy sauce; and Crispy Beef with a sweet orange and carrot sauce; and more. Round out your meal with the choice of ice cream or a Warm Brownie topped with coconut sorbet, whipped cream and strawberries.

Dinner highlights includes Vegetable Lo-Mein made with hand pulled noodles; Dumpling Sampler with hand rolled and steamed shrimp, chicken and vegetable dumplings; Slow Roasted Pork Butt coated with a honey barbeque sauce and paired with sugar snap peas; and more. End on a sweet note with a Coconut Mousse with a black sesame cake topped with strawberry rhubarb compote and lemon curd.

Bodega Negra

Shrimp Ceviches

Photo Credit: Bodega Negra

Modern Mexican restaurant Bodega Negra located at Dream Downtown, will offer a prix fixe menu that incorporates dishes from the newly revamped Summer menu which officially launched on Wednesday, July 27th. New seasonal dishes such as Seared Tuna Toastadas and Bodega Chopped Salad will be available alongside classics such as Shrimp Ceviche, Roasted Chile Relleno, Churro Sundae, among others; all designed and presented by newly appointed Chef de Cuisine Victor Santibañez.

The Stanton Social

Crispy Hard Shell Fish Tacos

Photo Credit: The Stanton Social

Lower East Side hangout, The Stanton Social is offering up everyone’s favorite shared plates this Restaurant Week. Munch on delicious dishes like Crispy Hard Shell Fish Tacos, Spiced Sesame Salmon and a Caprese Style Ravioli that can’t be missed.

Beauty & Essex

Photo Credit: Beauty & Essex

The luxurious Beauty & Essex is serving up some of the hottest dishes for Restaurant Week this year. Wander past the Pawn Shop to relish in dishes like Braised Short Ribs, Lemon Pepper Ricotta Ravioli and ‘Chile Relleno’ Empanadas.

TAO Downtown

Photo Credit: TAO Downtown

Don’t miss out on a meal from one of the trendiest spots in NYC. TAO Downtown is offering up countless dishes for restaurant week this year. Relish in your favorite classics like Hot and Sour Soup, Mongolian Beef, and a Sushi Platter if you’d like some variety. Delicious desserts like Matcha Crème Brûlée and Warm Chocolate Cake will also be available.

Kingside

Roasted Chicken

Photo Credit: Kingside

Swing by Midtown’s best New American restaurant, Kingside this Restaurant week and enjoy classic dishes with a unique twist. Offerings such as Smoked Bass Crudo, Roasted Chicken and Chocolate Lava Cake are available on the menu.

LAVO

Photo Credit: Warren Jagger

Enjoy Italian favorites for lunch and dinner at LAVO this restaurant week. Start with plates like Watermelon Feta Salad and Satuéed Mussels Marinara, and move to Chicken Marsala and a Ribeye Steak for the entrée. Mouth-watering desserts like New York Style Cheesecake and Oreo Zeppole are available as well.

Westchester Living: Polpettina Restaurant in Eastchester New York

PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMANDA ELLE

I’m absolutely a creature of habit when it comes to restaurants. I can be quite indecisive when I have to decide what and where to eat. But who isn’t?! As much as I love trying somewhere new, an old favorite is always an easy choice. On today’s edition of Westchester living, I’m sharing an old faithful, Polpettina restaurant in Eastchester New York. Self-described as a “place you want to be on your day off–your home away from home” and I couldn’t describe it any better myself. Polpettina offers casual Italian American food that tastes homemade. There’s a lot of competition offering great Italian food in Eastchester so here’s why I love Polpettina…

The restaurant itself has a cozy ambiance and is never too loud. I hate it when I can’t talk to someone over my meal because I can’t hear myself. Amanda and I arrived around 4:30 p.m. right as they were opening for dinner. Did you know its common for small restaurants to close for an hour in between lunch and dinner to clean up? For me, this just adds to the at-home feel. I have quite a few favorite dishes at Polpettina. So first, Amanda and I had to start will my all-time fave, the truffle parm fries. They also offer bacon and egg fries and trust me they’re a game changer.

Next up I had to have some spaghetti. Not only because it’s a great prop, but because their sauce is delicious! Another fun fact for you – did you know gravy contains or is made with meat whereas ‘sauce’ is not. Since I’m Italian, I call all red sauce gravy out of habit. To add on the being Italian piece, call it what you may, but that fact of the matter is that you can 100% trust my judgment on a red sauce. And Polpettina’s is A1. Amanda and I had to wash all the carbs down with something green so we went for the caesar salad. I know this defeats the purpose but the croutons are the best part!

Check out the food and fun we had below! A big thank you to Polpettina for the amazing meal! Be sure to check out Polpettina Restaurant in Eastchester, New York and also Larchmont, New York!

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