Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Delta Grill

The Delta Grill in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen may not look like much but is quiet the gem once you're inside. Every year this Cajun comfort food restaurant hosts a Mardi Gras celebration. This year the party is set for Feb. 24th, where they have live music and an all-you-can-eat-Cajun buffet.
Apparently this New Orleans style restaurant has amazing Jumbalya and Jambalya Wontons, however neither my friend or I ordered these dishes. Instead, we ordered some amazing plates that definitely did not disappoint.
He had the Po' Boys BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich with sweet potato fires and a side of Randall's Macaroni and Cheese that overflowed the cup in which its served. I ordered from the Vegetarian section which featured Ravioli, a Veggie Wrap and my favorite, Stuff Pineapple. I had never heard of such a thing and absolutely could not pass up the chance to try it. When it was set in front of me I was amazed by the stir fried vegetables served in a hot halved pineapple.

If you're in the area (48th & 9th Ave) and craving homecooked comfort food I definitely recommend you stop in and give The Delta Grill a try.

Vintage Irving

Friday evening a friend and I met for dinner at Vintage Irving, near Union Square owned by Michael Sinensky, of the sports bar Sidebar which is right next door. However, unlike Sidebar, Vintage Irving is an intimate wine bar serving small plates. Chef Jason Bunin dishes out cured meats and wonderful selection of imported cheeses.
We started out with a glass of wine each and a cheese plate of three cheese- Mancego Cheese, Drunken Goat Cheese, and Asiago Cheese. For our entrees I ordered the Beet salad- roasted beets, asiago, rocket arugula with rosemary vinaigrette and my friend enjoyed the Pan Seared Scallops- warm potato salad, carmelized onions, caviar creme fraiche. I loved how every entree listed out suggested wine pairings, for the scallops they recommended a rose or white wine. We finished our evening with warm banana fritters and vanilla ice cream.

Located at 118 E. 15th St. near Irving Place (212-677-6300)

Saturday, January 24, 2009


About two weeks ago a colleague of mine came into my office raving about Zampa, a small wine bar in West Village, that she and her friend had visited the night before and telling me that I must go. I had plans to have dinner with two of my friends later that week so I called to make reservations. Upon our arrival it became apparent that they somehow lost our reservations. The small restaurant was crowded but we didn't really want to go back outside and face the cold New York winter weather. As we stood in the entry way debating what to do the host and owner, Anthony Briatico, came over to us apologizing that this had happened and said he'd be able to fix up the little self-like bar against the window to make it a table top and pull up three stools, plus he'd buy our first bottle of wine to apologize for the inconvenience. As I'm sure he predicted, the wine sealed the deal! We chose one of the white wines that was recommended to us by our friendly waiter, who even chimed into our Real Housewives of O.C. conversations (haha- love it!). And don't be fooled by three petite New York ladies, we didn't stop at just one bottle of vino, we had three!!!
We had almost finished our first bottle of wine before even looking at the menu. Without any pressure from the waiter, we decided it was finally time to accompany our night of drinking with some of their amazing food. We started with a plate of three different cheeses- Robiola di Tre Latti (a mix of sheep, cow and goat milk), Parmigiano Reggiano, and Tuscan Pecorino. All cheese plates are served with a side of jam and bread.
After the cheeses we shared three main dishes- two salads: Roast Beets with French Feta, Lemon, Olive Oil and Herbs as well as the Anjou Pear, and Frisee with Shallot Vinaigrette (they had no problem substituting the Gorgonzola Dolce cheese with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano). We also shared the night's special Mushroom Lasagna, one of their excellent vegetarian options.

To ensure that you have no problem securing your reservations, I recommend you use OpenTable.
Zampa is located at 306 W. 13th St. (btw. 8th Ave. & 14th St.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Florencia 13

A few weeks ago a friend of mine walked passed Florencia 13 and was so impressed with the mustached man logo that he knew this was a place he had to try. Finally checking it out, we were still impressed with the family owned Mexican restaurant. Owners, Ralph, Rina. Marco, Gina, and Lennard Camarillo monitor the cooking closely to insure that every dish that comes out of the kitchen remains true to its authentic Southern California Mexican roots.

Most of the ingredients come from Californian distributors or are hand-picked by the Camarillo's at the market daily. They offer plenty of vegetarian dishes including the colorful Montecito Salad with asparagus, beets, hearts of palm, red onions, and cherry tomatoes. While my friend enjoyed the El Sereno Al Pastor Tacos- three soft mini corn tortillas with rubbed port in a 13-spice marinade, cilantro, onion, tomato, pineapple and lime.

If nothing else, go to Florencia 13, at Sullivan St. & Bleecker, for their signature drinks made by son Lennard Camarillo like their Flaming Margarita and Classic Mojito. I'd also recommend the spicy guacamole and homemade chips.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Cafe Frida

Yesterday afternoon while strolling around the Upper West Side with a couple friends we stumbled upon Cafe Frida located on Columbus Ave between 77th & 78th. We ordered guacamole and corn tortilla chips to share followed by Sopa Azteca (roasted tomato soup garnished with chile ancho chips, chopped avocado, queso fresco and toasted corn tortilla strips). My friends had the Sopa de Lima (chicken soup with lemon and cilantro, garnished with avocado and corn tostaditas) and Quesadillas (made with homade corn tortillas, stuffed with Oaxaca-Chihuahua cheese and wild mushrooms). They have a cute bar toward the back of the restaurant and offer so great-sounding drinks although, we didn't order any of them.

Foodie Websites to Check Out

I have been meaning to write a post about these sites for over two months now so I'm sorry for the delay. At the end of October Trend Central had a newsletter dedicated to notable websites for foodie. I looked at them all and thought they were very impressive, especially Foodzie which is an online marketplace for high-quality foods. Users are also able to sell their own products, which, as Trend Central notes, makes it the food-version of Etsy (which actually become one of my favorite sites this holiday season). The Foodzie blog features food news, events and trends while also profiling unique restaurants and food purveyors.

They also mention Hometown Favorites which is another online marketplace but as the name suggests, Hometown Favorites specializes in regional products. It's the perfect resource for those living away from home who crave a local product they can't find in their new city. The city also helps those with a sweet tooth craving for something they had in their youth that is now a hard-to-find item. They offer items from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s including retro items like Bit-O-Honey bars, candy buttons and more!

The final site mentioned in the Trend Central newsletter from Oct. 29th was Regional Best which offers one-stop shopping for unique regional culinary items that are all handcrafted and handmade by local artisans from around the U.S. Visitors can shop by region or product.


A few friends and I started our New Year's Eve celebration at festive Cuban restaurant Agozar! For the busy night they offered a three course pre fixe menu for $40 a person which included a variety a dishes ranging from fish, chicken and beef. Unfortunately they didn't offer any vegetarian options but were very accommodating when I inquired about my dietary needs. So instead of altering items on the pre fixe menu they let me order items from the regular menu.

Our meal started with a basket of crisp plantains (my favorite) with a small dish of black bean hummus and guacamole. For an appetizer I selected Torta de Frijoles (black bean dumplings with avocado foam)- they were amazing, a bit spicy but so good and creatively served on round lime slices. I ordered the Queso de Cabra salad (spiced walnuts and goat cheese over mixed greens, apples and sherry vinaigrette) as my entree which was also very good, and thankfully the vinaigrette wasn't overdone or too oily.

For desert we had a choice of two Cuban sweets- flan or tres leches cake. One of my friends and I decided to try flan for the first time while our other two friends ordered the tres leche cake. Honestly, I wasn't a fan of either dessert. Neither of which was the restaurant's fault, I am just a picky eater and didn't like the textures.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this Agozar, they have great drinks (sangria, mojitos, margaritas and more) and is a fun place for groups. Located on Bowery near Bleecker. And I must say that they were really nice about adding our party of four to their reservation list on such a busy night. I called New Year's Eve day around 3pm asking for 8pm reservations. I spoke directly to the owner Diana who was able to fit us in with no problem!