Wednesday, April 29, 2009


A new NYC hotspot, Apizz is located in the Lower East Side on Eldridge near Stanton Street (map). "Apizz" is Italian for pizza and is pronounced "ah-beets."I recommend making reservations a couple days ahead of time and be on time, especially if you want a good seat. I got lucky and got the last Thursday evening reservation after calling earlier that afternoon. But given the cocktail menu it's not a bad spot to have to wait at the bar and enjoy one of their concoctions. My favorite? The Blood Orange Mojito. My friend Rolland Berry and I went here a couple weeks ago and loved the food. Each meal starts off with a basket of rustic bread served with ricotta cheese and tomato sauce instead of butter. For an appetizer we shared the amazing APizz Bianca E Verde, a flatbread pizza topped with fresh ricotta, parmigiano-reggiano, buffalo mozzarella d.o.c. and sauteed spinach. For my entree I ordered the Insalata Di Formaggio- romaine hearts, drunken goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, croutons and I substituted the creamy sherry vinaigrette with the lemon-honey vinaigrette. The salad was good but did not stand up to the quality of the pizza appetizer. Rolland had the Lasagna Cinghiale- lasagna, ragu of braised wild boar and parmigiano-reggiano, which he apparently wanted to try since it was a unique twist on the traditional lasagna dish.
Overall, I enjoyed Apizz but would have liked to have sat in the main dining area of the restaurant instead of the tables by the bar. I've heard that Apizz is not only great for dinner but a wonderful weekend brunch spot as well.
John Lafemina is the owner and executive chef of Apizz and The Orchard as well as the author of A Man and His Meatballs.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


After work a colleague and I went to Aquarmarine for a dinner meeting and loved it! The menu has something for everyone- even the non-sushi lovers. Naturally we started off with an appetizer of edamame. They offer an entire vegetable section including the Sauteed Asian Veggie Thai Style, which I highly recommend. And of course they offer classic sushi rolls like avocado, cucumber, and more but they also offer an aray of Aquamarine Special Rolls including a Hawaiian Roll with salmon and pineapple topped with avocado and spicy mayo and the Manhattan Roll with shrimp tempura, enoki mushrooms, kani, spicy may and red tobiko. They even offer a Japanese Fruit salad which I didn't have but it sounds great, especially for lunch. The fruit salad consists of mesculin, mango, avocado, pineapple, kiwi, orange and cherry tomato with yogurt dressing.
Watch this video to get the full inside view of Aquamarine:

Medieval Times

This past weekend my friends and I thought it would be fun, and completely random, to go to the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament in New Jersey. Surprisingly the Lyndhurst, NJ Castle is only 15-20 minutes outside of Manhattan. Upon entering my friends and I were totally impressed by the Medieval shop, museum and dress up photo area... and of course the three bars where we were able to order three bottles of wine throughout the evening! The dinner show began at 8pm but I am so glad we got there around 7pm so that we could hit the bar and enjoy some fantastic people watching!
I have to admit I was expecting the worst food imaginable but was pleasantly surprised by the vegetarian dish my friend requested for me upon purchasing the tickets. Which was incredibly thoughtful of her because I ended up with a tasty platter of hummus, pita chips, rice and beans, and a vegetable kabob of roasted potatoes, zucchini and red bell pepper.
I recommend purchasing your tickets in advance since shows do seem to sell out a week ahead of time. The dinner theater experience ranges from $45 - $60 depending on which location you select. Plan your Medieval Times experience HERE. And there are nine Medieval Times throughout the US and Canada from New Jersey to California (complete list of locations HERE).
After reviewing their website I noticed that they are pretty involved within the social media realm. They have a Facebook Page, MySpace page, a Flickr channel to showcase all the Medieval photos and a Twitter channel! So props to Medieval Times for taking advantage of the modern times!

Monday, April 27, 2009


August restaurant in New York's Greenwich Village is a hole in the wall that's definitely worth visiting. We found this quaint little spot after searching New York Mag's Restaurant list using Critics' Pick and Bistros. The menu is a mix of European foods ranging from Mediterranean to Northern European and changes seasonally since they use local ingredients. There was a nice variety of meat and vegetarian dishes and thankfully most dishes, like the Lemon-Ricotta Gnocchi, can be made to order to accommodate for vegetarians, etc. This past weekend one of the specials was a vegetable spread that included a spring pea and fava bean salad, fava bean puree, ramps and three fried Morel mushrooms.
Besides the food, I loved the rustic feel of the restaurant. The front of the restaurant only has about ten table tops while the back of the restaurant is in a glass-covered courtyard with greenery all around. We sat in the back which I definitely recommend, especially during the hot summer months ahead. August is open for brunch, lunch and dinner and is located in the heart of Greenwich Village at Bleecker & Charles Streets (map).
Click HERE to learn about August's Executive Chef Terrence Gallivan.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bistro 61

Bistro 61 is a modern bistro located on the corner of 1st Avenue and 61st Street.
The menu is a delightful combination of classic Provecal fare fused with inspiration from the Mediterranean coast. The menu changes throughout the year to include seasonal changes as well as daily changes to accommodate specials. One thing that was especially interesting to me was the option of a Children's Menu, a good idea for restaurants on the Upper East Side. I was completely impressed during my experience at Bistro 61 from the service to the food. I ordered La Tour de Betterave et Chevre Chaud (roasted beet and goat cheese tower with fresh mint and pine nuts) while my friend enjoyed the one of the most tasty gnocchi dishes I have ever had. He ordered the Gnocchi al Gorgonzola, a vegetarian gnocchi in a gorgonzola sauce with spinach and roasted pecans. I was very impressed that three out of the four selections on the Pasta & Risotto section of the menu were vegetarian dishes.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Another Astoria restaurant posting. The first time I was ever in Astoria was to visit a friend and dine at her favorite Japanese restaurant Watawa. I'm not a huge sushi fan but I was pleasantly surprised by the veggie sushi rolls and miso soup I had at Watawa.
The restaurant is located at 33-10 Ditmars Blvd. in Astoria, NY.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bouchon Bakery

Always expect a wait for Sunday brunch in Manhattan no matter where you go, even the third floor of the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle at Bouchon Bakery. The picture to the left is of the actual bakery where you can pick up delicious baked good to eat on the go. Across from here is Bouchon Bakery's sit down cafe with view overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park. Our bunch quickly turned into an early lunch so I ordered the Bibb Lettuc salad- bibb lettuce with shallots, garden herbs, roquefort cheese and red wine vinaigrette. The French bakery also offers delicacies like Viennoiserie, Pastries, Muffins, Tarts, Cookies, Chocolates, Soup and Salads, Sandwiches, Quiche and even Pet Treats.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ammos Estiatorio

I seem to always gravitate toward Greek restaurants and this time is no different. Ammos Estiatorio restaurant is located on Vanderbilt Avenue near Grand Central (btw. Park & Madison) which makes it a convenience place to meet friends after work. My friend and I sipped on crisp white wine while enjoying a plethora of Mediterranean dishes. We started with Krya Orekitka- a platter of House Made Spreads and Grilled Pita. The spreads included Kalamatat-Chickpea, Garlic-Ground Almond, Greek Yogurt, Roasted Pepper-Feta and Eggplant. For my entree I had the Kolokithokeftedes- fried zucchini cakes, Myzithra cheese, mint and Tzatizki sauce.
Everything was so good here- the food, the wine and the service!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Brooklyn: Pizza & Ice Cream

Living in Manhattan I don't take advantage of the boroughs that are just a bridge or subway ride away. One of the best ways to get out of the city and into Brooklyn is to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Once in Brooklyn you shouldn't miss out on the opportunity of having pizza from the famous Grimaldi's. No mater how long the line is their coal brick oven pizza is worth the wait. I recommend finishing the day with a scoop of strawberry ice cream at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, located directly under the bridge.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Famous chef David Bouley serves modern French cuisine made with seasonal ingredients at his name sake TriBeCa restaurant Bouley. I must admit that even though I can appreciate the sophisticated menu I was disappointed that there weren't any vegetarian options. Although, at fancy restaurants like this I do like testing the chef's creativity by asking if they could create a pasta-free vegetarian dish for me. And to my surprise, I was served two amazing vegetarian dishes- an appetizer and an entree. Before the appetizers arrived we were greeted by a tray of warm artisan breads that including sourdough, raisin, wheat and French. My appetizer was a beautiful array of zucchini slices, frisee lettuce and shaved parmesan cheese. Between the appetizer and entree dishes our palette were cleansed with an egg-sized bowl of savory pudding topped with caviar-- as you can imagine, I slid this dish over to my dad to eat, but it did look pretty. For my entree I was served a delicious vegetable terrine of roasted red and green peppers, creamy goat cheese, zucchini and yellow squash. Before we even had a chance to order dessert they presented us with a palette cleanser of Coconut Soup accompanied by passion fruit, pineapple granite and organic yogurt sorbet. It was the perfect amount of chilled and sweet goodness. As you could imagine we were too full to even think of dessert but when the menu was in front of us we could resist the assortment of sorbets. Apparently the waiter felt as if that just wasn't enough so he surprised us with a complimentary creme brulee followed by a three tiered sliver platter of miniature cookies. Restaurateurs everywhere should take note of Bouley's hospitable behavior- not only were we treated like royalty throughout the meal, we were given a loaf of sweet lemon bread as a parting gift compliments of Bouley Bakery.

One of my absolute favorite details at Bouley restaurant is the entrance and decor. In the first entry way red country apples line the wooden walls which provides a comforting aroma upon entering. The actual restaurant space is glamorized with textured fabrics like velvet and rough satin under a gold toned ceiling.

Diner's Tip: Late in 2008 Bouley moved across the street from its original location and is now located at 163 Duane Street (at Hudson Street). Also note that the dress code is business casual- no jeans and a recommended coat for men.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I have only been to Astoria three times but the most recent time my friend who lives there took me to Seva, an Indian restaurant located at 30-07 34th St. In Hindi "Seva" means an act of selfless service. Eating Indian food always intrigues me and I always end up wishing there were photos alongside every menu option. Being a vegetarian Indian food is usually a safe bet but I'm such a picky eater I do find it a bit challenging to decide what to order. At Seva I had the Mixed Vegetable Curry which was very good and different from my usual Chana Masala (chickpea, cloves, black cardamom, and tomato).
Seva also delivers to Astoria residents and since the restaurant itself is not a spectacular space I would almost recommend using the delivery or take out option anyway. (718-626-4440)

Monday, April 13, 2009


You may remember Buddakan from the Sex and the City movie, this is where they celebrated Carrie and Big's engagement. Remember this long table where Samantha gives an applaud worthy toast?
Everything about Buddakan is fantastic, it's a chic spot to have cocktails or enjoy a wonderful dinner. It's located near Chelsea Market on 9th Ave. and 16th St. in a black painted brick building. Walking through the space you realize how large the restaurant really is and every area has a slightly different interior design. The cocktail/lounge area is basically all black with accents of turquoise pillows and white ceramic vases on the black tables in the middle of the room. Downstairs is the famous long table meant to be shared or for big parties. There is another room that has turquoise booth style seating among black walls and tables. All the way in the back of the restaurant is another room where diners enter via curvy shaped cut outs (see the photo above) with red booths and vases.

With a restaurant as chic as Buddakan you'd expect the cocktails to be fabulous, which they were (definitely recommend Charm), but to my surprise the food was just as amazing! I looked at the menu before arriving at the restaurant and didn't see anything that stood out but I basically just listened to my friend Julie of Juls and the City and took her recommendations. We ordered a lot of dishes to share including Edamame Dumplings served in a shallot broth; Chilled Udon Noodles served with a small scoop of sorbet with lime segments sprinkled within and a creamy peanut sauce; Charred Asparagus with a light black bean foam and Asian Green Stir Fry accompanied by pine nuts and garlic chips. My favorite dish was definitely he Edamame Dumplings, they were absolutely devine!

Friday, April 10, 2009

In Vino

An amazing hole in the wall wine bar located in New York's East Village, In Vino offers one of the largest selections of Italian quality wines in NYC, topping out at 189 different kinds of vino! Not only is the wine fantastic, the menu boasts authentically fresh Italian dishes and the servers are geniuses when it comes to pairing your entrees and cheese plates with your wine.
And when I say hole in the wall, I mean it, the restaurant is really a cozy cave-like venue that makes for a really intimate setting.
I recommend ordering a cheese plate, using your server's recommendation and try some of their homemade pastas like the Gnocchi Bianco o Rosso (homemade gnocchi in a gorgonzola sauce with walnuts or with marinara sauce, mozzarella and basil).
One of my favorite thing about the owners of In Vino is that they actually take the time to help make their patron's experience more personal. Taking advantage of social media, owners Angus, Keith and David write their own blog, East Village Wine Geek and give fans a tour and a complete overview of their restaurant in this video on CitySearch.

Located on 4th St between Avenues A & B. Open every day from 5pm-11pm and until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Milos Estiatorio

I had walked past Milos several times before but had never tried it until recently. The restaurant is extremely spacious, carrying the Grecian theme throughout with white stucco walls and large clay pots in every view. The back of the restaurant, near the kitchen, is set up like a fish market where diners can select a their fish from the bed of ice.
My three friends and I shared the Mediterranean Spreads, a Greek sampler which included Taztziki, Tarama, Kipti, Skordalia, eggplant croquettes and grape vine leaves. For my entree I had the Organic Heirloom Beets- baked heirloom beets served with green and balsamic vinegar.
A group of girls sat behind us came to Milos simply for drinks and dessert which looked amazing! I would definitely do the same, considering the dessert menu offers three diferent sizes of fruit platters, plus other traditional Greek dishes like Baklava, Galaktoboureko, Karidopita, Loukoumades and more.
Located on 55th Street between 6th & 7th Avenues, Milos would be a great venue for corporate events or simply large parties.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


As I've mentioned before, I do my best not to repeat restaurants in NYC but if I were to repeat I would want to consider Kashkaval one of my go-tos. Located in Hell's Kitchen along 9th Ave, it is seriously a great spot. The front of the restaurant is a cheese and gourmet foods market but in the back it's a small, quite, candlelit wine bar/restaurant. Even though it's not BYOB it really reminds me of the nearby Nook. My favorite thing about the restaurant is the cheese fondue served with a French Baquette and veggies (mushroom, broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes). Even though I'm not a beer drinker the Cheddar & Ale Fondue was amazing blend of deliciousness. There are also amazing Mediterranean (and vegetarian) Tapas, all made fresh daily. Some favorites include the Hummus, Baba Ganoush, Artichoke Dip and the Roasted Brussel Sprouts.
Location: 9th Ave (btw. 55th & 56th) #212-581-8282

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Union Square Cafe

It may be hard to get a table at the famous Union Square Cafe but it's well worth it. It may not be the chicest restaurant in NYC but classic it is and proving that it can withstand the intense market of NYC. Danny Meyer opened the doors of USC in 1985 and since then they have twice earned The New York Times' three-star rating as well as Zagat Survey's #1 ranking as New York's Most Popular Restaurant for an unprecedented eight years.
A family friend invited me to Union Square Cafe for lunch where we enjoyed house salad- Bibb and Red Oak Leaf Lettuce Salad with Grated Gruyere and Dijon Vinaigrette. Even though we both played it safe with a light afternoon salad I have heard that the USC Burger is great as well as the "Still Winter" Vegetables dish- fennel parmigiano, grilled radicchio, lentil farrotto, fried polenta and pesto root vegetables.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Fig & Olive

A neighborhood go-to for great wine and delicious food. Subtly located on the Upper East Side on Lexington Ave. (btw. 61st & 62nd), Fig & Olive is a great place to grab a drink and appetizers. Good for a quiet night with a friend or a good date night.There are two other locations though, one on 5th Avenue and 52nd Street and the third location is in the Meatpacking District- 13th St. btw. 9th Ave and Washington St.
Siting down for dinner you are greeted by three different extra virgin olive oils from three different regions. Some Fig & Olive signature dishes include Couscous with Figs and Greek Yogurt. I personally love their cheese plates (naturally!) and their Manchego, Fig Spread and Almond Crostini, the Mushroom and Truffle Soup and the Fig & Olive Salad (figs, olives, tomato, shaved parmesan, manchego, gorgonzola dolce, goat cheese walnuts, green apples, 18 year balsamic fig vinegar dressing).

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Recovery Night In

I'm staying in tonight, yes I know, the second Saturday night home alone in a row... but I'm still recovering from surgery and have tested my crutches at a bar recently and it was somewhat of a fail so I have decided to put my nightlife on hold until I can walk without them.
It's been alright though, a few weekends ago some girl friends of mine came over for game night which was awesome and tonight I'm staying in and blogging and sipping wine.
The wine, though, is the key element here... it's my new fave that my friend introduced me to several weeks ago. Mascato, a white sparkling wine from 2007. It's amazing- fruity, crisp, not too sparkly and just perfection! It's from the Oltrep Pavese area in Italy, to learn more about the wine check out their website.