eat. shop. love. nyc.


$16 pitchers and da bomb veggie burger at Korzo Haus
September 4, 2011, 10:13 am
Filed under: Drink, Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

It makes me sad when cool neighborhood spots don’t get as much business as they deserve. It’s always a struggle, right? You want them to get a steady flow of business, but you also don’t want the place to get so busy that you have to wait for a table. Korzo Haus is just such a place. With its ever-changing daily seasonal menu, its locally-sourced grass-fed beef burgers, and its $16 pitchers of custom-brewed organic ale, it’s a wonder there isn’t a line out the door for this place on the regular.

Halušky with bryndza (Slovak feta cheese), crispy bacon bits, and chives ($6). A glorious eastern take on European mac’n’cheese. Or a Slovak feta spaetzle. Whatever makes it make sense for you. Quite rich, so good for sharing.

The Wunderwurst platter ($11.50). Not the prettiest wieners I’ve seen, but they certainly did the trick. (Badum-ching!) Hot and juicy, served with two types of mustard, housemade sauerkraut, and pickled something I can’t seem to remember.

The Haus Vegi on the night of July 7th was the best veggie burger I’ve had in my life. While Korzo Haus prides itself on using 100% grass-fed and finished Black Angus Beef from the sustainable and animal welfare approved Grazin’ Angus Acres in Ghent, New York, we opted to try the delicious-sounding veggie burger instead: walnut and black-eyed pea patty, edam cheese, caramelized onions, pickled something, and dressed greens on a made-to-order Langoš (Hungarian fried bread) bun ($11.50). The veggie burger option at KH changes based on what’s fresh at the farmer’s market, but they subscribe to an open source menu philosophy – tell Steve you really want to try this burger and let’s hope they make this a regular menu item.

A lingering dinner for 3 including some damn good beer came to $22 per person. Not bad, I say, for a dinner in a rustic little EV joint with a friendly staff and, wait, let me say it again: $16 pitchers of GOOD beer EVERY NIGHT.

Between 3-7 pm Monday through Thursday, they do a $12 burger and beer special. After you finish your free beer, you can share a pitcher with friends to make a happy belly even happier.

Eat/drink/be merry: Korzo Haus (East Village/ABCity) 178 East 7th Street, 10009. (212)-780-0181. Follow @KorzoHaus.



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.



Fancified Filipino cuisine at Umi Nom

Nom nom nom.

The deep fried oysters served with crispy shoestring fries at Umi Nom totally blew me away with their crunchy, warm, creamy, oyster-y-ness. There was no need for the creamy sweet and sour dipping sauce which was served alongside the oysters. I’m sad to report, however, that these were a daily special, and not a regular menu item, though if I lived closer to Umi Nom, I’d be petitioning their addition to the regular menu relentlessly.

Chef King Phojanakong’s Brooklyn restaurant Umi Nom is a solid second offering from the man who brought us Kuma Inn on the Lower East Side. Umi Nom’s cuisine reflects Chef King’s influences, ranging from the home cooking of his Filipino mother and Thai father to the French techniques he picked up in other esteemed NYC kitchens (Daniel, Bouley Bakery, Jean-Georges).

Umi Nom is a place to go with a group of friends and order several small plates to share family style. If you order an average of 1.5 to 2 small plates per person, everyone should be satisfied (but make sure you include a rice and/or noodle dish for something a little more substantial).

Our dinner began with a crab rangoon amuse-bouche, fried wontons filled with cream cheese and crab. I’ve never met a crab rangoon I didn’t like, so it probably means little that I enjoyed this one, but free crab rangoon? Somehow more delicious.

Next up were the Umi Nom crispy wings, deep fried wings tossed with salt and Anaheim chilies. I prefer sauceless wings to saucy ones, so these were a big hit with me, especially with the chili kick (though I wish they had given me more chilies on the side).

The Bahay Kubo fried rice was fairly standard in terms of fried rice. It consisted of chicken, sausage, and shrimp stir-fried with white rice, egg, garlic, and soy sauce. Nothing to write home about as it was not particularly memorable, but it was a good stomach-filler since some of the other small plates were smaller.

We ordered another daily special – the pork belly adobo. The heavily charred pork belly was served with a soy, garlic, tomato, and adobo chili sauce and a sprinkling of green onions. I like my pork belly slices to be thick and juicy with a nice fat to meat ratio, and while the pork belly was very good, they could have done better by making the cuts just a little thicker and reducing the char a bit. Some char is nice, but too much makes for tough meat, and pork belly should really melt in your mouth. Still, I’d order this again as I feel like ours may have been just an off-batch. The sauce was fantastic!

Let’s revisit the deep fried whole oysters here again for a moment. Maybe even observe a moment of silence.

*Silence*

Food nirvana. THISCLOSE to being as good as the deep fried whole-bellied clams I had at Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, Maine over the summer. THISCLOSE.

On to the beef. We ordered ma-banh’s beef tapa, a dish of fried, thinly sliced dried beef served with a smoked adobo (?) and chipotle chili sauce. Basically, hot beef jerky. If you’re into that, you’ll like this. If you’re like me, you might want to pass.

We also enjoyed the sauteed sweet sausage in a Thai chili-lime sauce (but it was so popular that I forgot to take a pic of the kielbasa-like sweet sausage cut on the diagonal) and a passable (but also forgettable) pancit canton.

What I really want is to find someone’s Filipina tita to make us some pancit and some chicken adobo in her kitchen at home. Anyone want to lend me a Filipina aunt/mother/grandma for a day?

Eat: Umi Nom (Clinton Hill) 433 Dekalb Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11205. (718) 789-8806.



Make the most of your Restaurant.com certificate
February 26, 2010, 11:57 am
Filed under: Eat | Tags: ,

I get e-mails from Restaurant.com all the time. For those of you not familiar with Restaurant.com, it’s a website that offers discounted gift certificates to various eateries in town, usually $10 for a $25 gift certificate. However, only suckers actually pay $10 because they have an additional discount code or special nearly every week, and the certificates are good for a year from date of purchase. For example, right now, if you enter the discount code SAVOR at checkout (hit “apply”), you get 80% off the $10, so you only pay $2 for a $25 certificate.

Here are some tips to make the most of your certificates:

  1. Buy them when they are 80% off.
  2. Read the fine print carefully! There are restrictions on day of week, meal (lunch vs. dinner), minimum purchase, gratuity included, minimum number of diners, and what you are eligible to order and every restaurant has different restrictions.
  3. For day of week, many certificates aren’t valid on weekends, so double check.
  4. For minimum purchase, obviously it’s better if you’re required to order $35 instead of $50, and it’s also better if drinks count toward the minimum.
  5. Some restos don’t allow you to use the certificates during happy hour or on certain specials or prix-fixe menus.

I’ve enjoyed my experiences at Essex (LES – drinks count towards $35 minimum and you can use the coupon on HH and daily specials), Sachiko’s on Clinton (LES – doesn’t count towards HH or sushi bar specials), Salt (SoHo – organic, rustic American), and Les Sans Culottes (Midtown East – counts toward the purchase of 2 $25 3-course prix-fixe meals). I’ve got certificates for AOC and some others lying around at home that I haven’t gotten to use yet, but it really is nice to go to dinner and have a little subsidy. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should use it as an excuse to try a couple places you just haven’t gotten around to trying.



How To Make It In America Foursquare badges
February 21, 2010, 2:09 pm
Filed under: Do, Eat, Go, Shop, Watch | Tags: , , ,

This Sunday at 10 pm, you can watch episode two of the new HBO series How To Make It In America. The first episode reminded me of a toned-down Entourage, which is not that surprising considering Mark Walhberg is an exec producer. They’ve teamed up with the folks at Foursquare to create a Foursquare badge that you can unlock at the following NYC restaurants and retailers, which I guess may be set to appear in future episodes of the show or simply exude the attitude of the show’s characters. Make HTMIIA your Foursquare friend, then check into any 3 of 20 possible New York nightlife or dining destinations. List courtesy of Eater.com.

If you’ve found yourself here wondering what Japanese restaurant Rachel told Ben he needed to move on with his life at in Episode 2, my best guess is Shima Japanese Restaurant, a 2nd Ave mainstay. The only clue I have besides the vague description “that sake place on 2nd Ave” and my understanding of the HTMIIA as a downtown kind of crew are the interior shots of the restaurant, and while I haven’t been to Shima, it seems the most likely fit since none of the Japanese restos below are actually on 2nd Ave.

If you’re looking for the Mexican restaurant where Rachel had her birthday party, it was La Esquina in SoHo.

Restaurants Shopping
Diner A.P.C.
Momofuku Ssam Bar Apple Store
Momofuku Milk Bar Barney’s
Little Owl Beacon’s Closet
Spotted Pig Bird
Aldea Built By Wendy
Minetta Tavern Fred Flare
Public John Varvatos
Cosmo’s Diner Muji
Peasant Oak
La Esquina Odin
Blue Ribbon Opening Ceremony
Locanda Verde Prada
Roberta’s Scoop
Fette Sau Steven Alan
Balthazar Tokio 7
Freeman’s Restaurant Top Shop
Motorino Uniqlo
Al Di La
Frankie’s 457
Marea
Vinegar Hill House

Unlock BlackBook’s Nightlife Badge on Foursquare! BlackBookMag has also teamed up with the aspirationally driven folks at HBO’s How to Make It in America, and they are proud to offer you the chance to achieve a personal gold standard by unlocking the exclusive BlackBook Nightlife badge on Foursquare. Make HTMIIA your Foursquare friend, then check into any 3 of 20 possible New York nightlife or dining destinations (restaurants are the new nightlife, you know), and you’ll get the shiny new Foursquare badge pictured here. Frankly, eating or having a drink at the impressive list of venues is reward enough! But playas play on.

Eligible Check-ins:

Allen & Delancey Japonais
Apothéke Macao Trading Co.
Balthazar Matsuri
Boom Boom Room Morimoto
The Breslin Norwood
Butter Pegu Club
Coffee Shop Per Se
Craft Soho House
Daniel The Spotted Pig
Elmo Tenjune