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.


Let’s play darts (downtown)
December 9, 2010, 5:35 pm
Filed under: Do | Tags: , , , , , , ,

There’s something intensely satisfying about hurling a sharp, pointed object at a wall while intoxicated, especially when said activity is socially sanctioned. Enter: darts. Socially sanctioned throwing of sharp objects while intoxicated!

But where does one find a dartboard? I did a quick search on Yelp, and thought I’d share my downtown finds with you fine folks. Aren’t you lucky you read this blog, you fun seeker, you?

East Village:

  • Ace Bar 531 5th between A and B
  • Duke’s 129 Ave. C at 8th
  • Doc Holliday’s 141 Ave. A at 9th
  • The Edge 95 3rd St. at 1st Ave.
  • The HorseBox 218 Ave. A at 14th

Lower East Side:

  • Stanton Public 17 Stanton St. between Bowery & Chrystie
  • Welcome to the Johnson’s 123 Rivington between Essex and Norfolk
  • Boss Tweed’s 115 Essex at Rivington


  • Bleecker Street Bar 56 Bleecker St at Crosby (near Lafayette)
  • Puck Fair 298 Lafayette at Houston

If you want to find bars that have dartboards in other parts of the city, you can do your own, customized search on Yelp.

Don’t hurt anyone!

Go to the Yumi Kim sample sale NOW!
August 26, 2010, 4:49 pm
Filed under: Shop | Tags: , , , , , ,

The Yumi Kim sample sale is killer. Tons of dresses (maxi and mini), rompers, jumpsuits $30 each. Tops (flowy, tanks, bustier babydolls, etc.) and breezy silk skort/shorts are $20 each. Mostly size smalls (4-6), but some XS, M, and L in the mix. Lots of stuff hanging but also in boxes, be prepared to dig. Added bonus, cutie Vietnamese designer behind the label Kim Phan is actually at the sale! Follow @yumikim on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

Both dresses pictured above actually seen at the sale for $30!

Sale today till 7 pm, tomorrow (Friday) from noon until 6 pm.

Get thee to 611 Broadway (just north of Houston), Suite 816

Bone Marrow Madness in NYC

I truly love bone marrow. I grew up eating it mostly in Korean seolleongtang soup and other beef or oxtail broths or sucked out of galbi bones, but as an adult, my eyes were opened to the joys of roasted bone marrow. I had been scrolling through my Twitter feed when I saw this tweet from Michael Voltaggio:

“Colicchio and sons bone marrow with anchovy, need I say more! Great dish..

I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t post about bone marrow earlier (this blog had been saved in “drafts”), as it seems Yelpers have now beaten me to the punch and now I just look like I’m just hopping on the marrow wagon when I’ve been a longtime passenger. Whatever the case, I thought I’d get to typing and put together a little bone marrow roundup for y’all.

I recently had the bone marrow at Jo’s, which is cut lengthwise and topped with anchovies and crusty parsley bread. The anchovy adds another level of complexity that elevates the bone marrow from something that’s already great to something even better.

Still, there’s something to be said for the simplicity of roasted marrow served on its own, with nothing to detract or distract from its ooey gooey rich and fatty goodness. The marrow at Prune is served just this way, the bone served intact and upright with a side of salt and fresh parsley.

Here’s a list of restaurants in NYC where you can try bone marrow different ways. If you try any, let me know what you think! Full list of roasted marrow and marrow soup restos after the jump: Continue reading

Spicy tuna on crispy rice in NYC
February 9, 2010, 1:26 pm
Filed under: Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

[tweetmeme]Of the many things I miss about living in Los Angeles (weather being number one – duh), the ubiquity of spicy tuna on crispy rice at LA sushi joints is certainly one of the most important. Yeah, yeah, so the tuna they use for “spicy tuna” is made from leftover scraps or less desirable cuts of tuna. I don’t care. It’s delicious.

Photo credit:

The sushi rice is molded into little rectangles and then pan-fried until crispy on the outside, which adds a great crunchy texture to what is otherwise essentially mushed up pieces of tuna with some sriracha (or other spicy Asian) sauce and a jalapeno slice.

It’s much tougher to find spicy tuna on crispy rice in New York City, and some of my go-tos have closed (Sachiko’s and Sushi UO). However, the following remain (updated 8-22-11):

  • Bond St.: Tuna Crispy Rice with Korean kochujang sauce, $15.00 – This is excellent. If you want something a little different (and pricier), they also have Alaska King Crab Crispy Rice with lemon aioli, serrano chili, and micro cilantro for $22.
  • Koi: Crispy Rice topped with spicy tuna, $16.00
  • Tao: Spicy Tuna Tartare On Crispy Rice, $14.00
  • Co-op at the Hotel on Rivington: Spicy Tuna on Crispy Rice, $14.00

Hello, Restaurant Week.

So glad you’re here.

I have started working out again, and it has nothing to do with some flimsy new year’s resolution. No, no. It’s something much more serious and meaningful than that, my friends. It’s so I don’t turn into a fat tub of lard during winter restaurant week (which is actually two weeks of hard core eating) as I stuff myself with 3 course meals day in and day out.

My lineup is dictated by three key factors: (1) the presence of seafood on the menu – I am a sucker for shellfish, (2) spicy/ethnic flavors, and (3) proximity to my office – so I can sneak out for lunch without being gone for 2 hours – and home – because I like to eat and be able to walk some of it off on the way home. Makes me feel less guilty. So here it is, my NYRW lineup:

  • Today, Friday, Jan. 29, 2010: Dinner at City Crab and Seafood Company, Gramercy. They had me at “Seafood Chowder.” By the time I read “lobster” on the menu, I had already drooled a little on myself. RW menu. 235 Park Ave S; New York, NY 10003. (212) 529-3800.
  • Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010: Brunch at Joe Doe, LES. Okay, so it’s not technically a RW meal since JoeDoe isn’t participating, but it is still going to be awesome. I am stoked to try the winter beertails (or “prepared beers”)  he’s got on his drink menu now! Please let there be bourbon. 45 E 1st St (btwn 1st & 2nd Aves); New York, NY 10003. (212) 780-0262.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010: Dinner at Le Cirque. Honestly, I don’t really know a lot about Le Cirque. Only that at some point, it was a really famous, very snooty French restaurant. I suppose the food is good, since people don’t generally enjoy snooty otherwise. RW menu. 151 E 58th St; New York, NY 10022. (212) 644-0315.
  • Wednesday or Thursday, Feb. 3 or 4, 2010: Lunch at either Butter (NoHo), Lure (SoHo), or Del Posto (Meatpacking – yeah, I’ll risk getting in trouble for taking a 2 hour lunch for Mario). Hurry up and decide, Jason!
  • Friday, Feb. 5, 2010: Romantic dinner at Rayuela, LES. I had some friends who went for a birthday dinner last weekend and they said the food, and especially the paella, was amazing. Did someone say seafood and cilantro? Sold. RW menu. 165 Allen St (btwn Rivington & Stanton); New York, NY. (212) 253-8840.

Where are you eating? Tell me if you have any recommendations!