eat. shop. love. nyc.

Bianca NYC: it’s like having your own Italian grandma
August 23, 2011, 10:35 am
Filed under: Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Or a mini army of little Italian grandmas in the inimate, white-paneled, rustic shabby-chic candlelight that is Bianca. In reality, I’m pretty sure the kitchen at Bianca is manned by a bevy of super talented and hardworking Ecuadorians under the direction of Emilia-Romagna native and chef-owner Giancarlo Quaddalti, but I like the imagery of some sweet Italian nonna hand-shaping meatballs and whipping up a mean red sauce next to a blazing fire.

Bianca was one of the very first restaurants I checked out upon moving to New York City in 2008. It’s good, honest Italian food, nothing fancy or pretentious about it. Since then, it has remained a stalwart of my delight-your-out-of-town-guests-and-prove-living-in-NYC-can-be-affordable-to-non-believers arsenal. Nothing on the menu costs more than $15 and there are a couple bottles of wine for less than $30, so it’s especially great if you’re looking to watch what you’re spending without sacrificing ambiance or quality of food.

My go-tos at Bianca are the gnocco fritto with charcuterie (fried dough puffs with stuff-it-yourself cured meats – $9) and the insalata carciofini (artichoke salad – $8.50) to start, the tagliatelle alla bolognese (tagliatelli pasta with meat sauce – $9.50) and the straccetti di manzo (thinly sliced pan-seared filet mignon with rosemary potatoes – $15) as mains, and the tortino di cioccolata (chocolate mousse cake with dark chocolate ganache – $6.50) and the tiramisu ($6.50) for dessert. You also cannot possibly go wrong with any of their pasta specials of the day.

The artichoke salad (above) is a salad of julienned raw artichoke that’s been marinated in olive oil, lemon, salt, and pepper, topped with thin slices of shaved parmigiano reggiano cheese. I’ve never had anything quite like it before, but apparently it is a dish common in central Italy in the winter when winter artichokes are abundant. I found a great recipe for the salad on Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino, complete with a tutorial on how to trim an artichoke. I will definitely be trying out this out at home.

I veered from the usual suspects recently and tried the tagaliolini ai frutti di mare (seafood pasta – $12.50 – pictured above). Clams, calamari, shrimp, and mussels sauteedin garlic and served with a light tomato sauce. I found myself wishing this dish had some spice to it – it’s nothing a generous sprinkling of red pepper flakes wouldn’t have helped, but I was in a rush and it was a hassle trying to get our server’s attention and the dish was still tasty as it was, I just like my seafood pasta in red sauce with a little kick.

My only true complaint? They don’t take reservations. So arrive really early (they open at 5 pm daily – it’s usually not too hard to get a table before 7) or really late (like after 9:30), especially if you have a party larger than 2 people. If you don’t mind waiting a bit, sidle up to the bar at Von next door. They’ll let you bring your wine from Von over to Bianca, or you can have your food served to you at Von if Bianca’s full and you’re able to get a table at Von. Von does take reservations, by the way. If you live in the area, you lucky duck, you can also order Bianca to-go.

Note: Bianca is cash only. There’s a Chase on Bowery at Bleecker, though, so no worries if you have to run to the ATM; it’s not far.

If you’re uptown in UWS, sister restaurant Celeste on Amsterdam between 84th and 85th is supposed to be similar, as well.

Eat: Bianca (Bowery/NoHo) 5 Bleecker St. between Bowery and Elizabeth. Open daily from 5 pm.


Sunday Funday at Manitoba
April 10, 2011, 3:51 pm
Filed under: Drink | Tags: , , , , , ,

Not just Sunday. Happy hour from 2 to 8 daily: $2 domestic bottles, $3 imported bottles and well drinks, $3 drafts.image

Air hockey and bubble hockey tables downstairs. Hardcore cider on tap.


Matryoshka measuring cups
April 6, 2011, 10:00 am
Filed under: Cook, Shop | Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve been trying to class up my kitchen a bit. Going for the stainless steel finished appliances, getting rid of chipped plates and slowly replacing with clean, intact plates.

And then I spend an afternoon at the MoMA and I end up buying things from the MoMA Design Store that I absolutely do not need. Like these Matroyshka Measuring Cups. So much for a grown-up kitchen.

I paid the full $12.99 for them, but you can order them online through for $9.15 or something ridiculously cheap like that. I mean, that’s not a lot to pay for something that brings a smile to my face every time I go to measure something.

Popshop at Tammany Hall
April 1, 2011, 10:43 am
Filed under: Drink, Go, Listen | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

On the first Thursday of every month, LES nightlife newcomer Tammany Hall hosts three floors of rotating musical guests, dancing, and general debauchery with its monthly Popshop party. Next Thursday, April 7th, Walk the Moon, Savoir Adore, and ANR will be playing live with Lightwaves rocking the DJ booth all night. Free after midnight.

Entire Venue

Popshop is back at Tammany Hall. This month, SXSW darlings Walk the Moon headline with help from Brooklyn indie poppers Savoir Adore and Miami psych kids ANR playing live. Lightwaves is back and will be spinning all night long. Like every past Popshop, this event is expected to sell out, so get your tickets NOW!
Doors are at 8pm. Advance Tickets are available here

If you show up early, you might even catch happy hour. $3 beers, $4 cocktails, $5 wines.

Drink-Dance-Listen: Tammany Hall (LES) 152 Orchard Street between Stanton and Rivington. (212) 982-7767. Follow Tammany Hall and Popshop on Twitter.

Baohaus $10 TV Dinners
March 1, 2011, 6:16 pm
Filed under: Eat | Tags: , , , ,

You probably already know that Baohaus makes some mother-flipping delicious baos. What you might not know is that Baohaus started making a $10 TV dinner and lunch special avaiable a few weeks back. They’re now in Week 7, and it’s going strong. Eddie‘s in the kitchen and he’s cooking up some dericious ish. Available Monday through Thursday from 11am to 11pm, in-store, takeout, or delivery.

This week’s special is Eddie’s version of the Railway Box served on Taiwanese trains: fried pork chop and bok choy with minced pork gravy over rice.

Also, it’s the infamous PopChef’s birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, EDDIE! Here’s to getting better every year.

Eat: Baohaus (LES) 137 Rivington Street, NY, NY 10002. 646.684.3835. Sun-Thurs: 11:30am-11pm; Fri&Sat: 11:30am-2am.

Solid breakfast sandwich at Zaitzeff
January 28, 2011, 11:01 am
Filed under: Eat | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Zaitzeff is best known for its juicy Kobe beef burgers, but what you probably didn’t know is that they have a really delicious egg and cheese breakfast sandwich that is $4.75. It’s made with organic eggs and melted cheddar cheese, and you can request tomatoes, avocado, or bacon. I just requested Tabasco.


The bacon here is not nearly as delicious as the bacon at Frankie’s/Cafe Pedlar at 17 Clinton St. just on the other side of Houston, but the eggs are cooked much better than at Frankie’s (just cooked, not overcooked), and I like the Portuguese bun better than an English muffin or biscuit any day. On a street where you have several excellent breakfast sandwich options (Clinton St. Baking Co., Frankie’s/Cafe Pedlar), Zaitzeff is definitely one to try.

Eat: Zaitzeff (EV/LES) 18 Ave. B at 2nd St. Sun – Thu, 12 pm to 11:30 pm; Fri & Sat, 12 pm to 1:00 am. There are also locations in Financial District and Midtown.

Party for good on Australia Day

It’s January. It’s snowy, slushy, and miserable in New York. But you know where it’s not cold right now? Australia. And since Australia Day is coming up this Wednesday on January 26th, you can plan your escape from this NYC winter (staycation!) and pretend you’re partying down under in warmth and sunshine while doing a good deed.

Australia Day is the Australian national holiday commemorating the arrival of the eleven British ships comprising the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788. In Australia, I understand it is a day of boozy mayhem (I say that in the best possible way). You, too, can participate in this boozy mayhem with hordes of impossibly good looking Aussies at any of Australian-themed sister restaurants The Sunburnt Cow (East Village/Alphabet City), The Sunburnt Calf (UWS), or Bondi Road (LES). (Side note: have you SEEN the bartenders and wait staff at these places? What is in the water over there?! And such cute accents. Hubba hubba.)

You may have heard about the widespread flash flooding in Queensland that has been wreaking havoc since Christmas, resulting in evacuations, damaged property, and a state of crisis. This Wednesday, a $2 entry fee will be taken as a donation to the relief and cleanup efforts in Queensland. So then you can reward yourself for being a kind and caring person by guzzling drinks and snacking on free meat pies and lamingtons from Dub Pies in Brooklyn. Doors open at NOON! Specials include $5 milk bar menu items, $20 all-you-can-drink well drinks for 2 hours, or $30 for premium all-you-can-drink madness for 2 hours.

In case you feel like being the Aussie Martha Stewart one afternoon, here’s a recipe for lamingtons for you to try at home.

Party like you’re Australian: