The Historic Home of the Triangle Grandma Slice, Pizza Italia Re-Opens in Chelsea

pasta rustica

Copyright 2015 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.
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Pizza Italia is located at 307 W 17th Street, between 8th and 9th avenues, www.pizzaitalianyc.com, 212-242-4242, is open Sunday noon to midnight, Mon 11am-midnight, Tues-Thurs 11am-2am, Fri-Sat 11am-5am. Delivery and catering are available.

pasta rustica owner

It all began with Grandma’s sauce. Prepared only with fresh, raw peeled plum tomatoes, simmered for hours with carrots, celery, onions, garlic, herbs and spices, Anthony Sorisi’s grandmother’s marinara recipe has been passed down from generation to generation. It became the inspiration for the unconventional round Grandma pie he invented at Pizza Italia on Stone Street in NYC’s Financial District, as well as the basis for signature dishes such as Rigatoni Vodka and Seafood Fra DIavolo.

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Sorisi, born in Borgetto, Sicily, learned to cook at his father’s side at Sorisi Pizza in Forest Hills. He followed in his father’s footsteps, opening Pizza Italia in 1992. When Sorisi decided to relocate to Chelsea, he asked his nephew Giuseppe Gambino, who trained at the Culinary Academy of Long Island to be his partner in Pizza Italia. Eventually, Sorisi’s eldest son will take his father’s place.

The new location quickly became popular, serving the vibrant neighborhood from school kids to club kids, parents to office workers, from morning to late night. Gambino keeps the restaurant open until after the bars and clubs close to meet the demand of customers who literally knock on the door, begging to be let in, at 4:30 in the morning.

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Behind the marble counter that dominates the white tiled space, you’ll see the massive brick oven that takes two hours to heat, and a variety of pies ranging from the classic Margherita to the vegetarian Eggplant and Ricotta; to the untraditional but very popular Chicken Bacon Ranch; and many others. In addition to the list of gourmet pizzas, any variation can be made to order from any combination of toppings—pepperoni, broccoli, Italian sausage, sliced ham, meatballs, bacon, spinach, olives, anchovies and so on—as an 18” round, or 12” personal pie with regular or whole-wheat crust.

But what makes Pizza Italia really stand out is what you can’t see. Behind the scenes, Anthony and Giuseppe prepare an extensive menu of restaurant quality meals. The price and the setting may be casual, but the execution is fresh and made to order using the finest ingredients. It takes a little longer, but guests will find that it’s worth it. For example, The Gotz Panini begins with a chicken breast that isn’t grilled until the order is in place, then lightly charred, until juicy and layered with broccoli rabe, fresh mozzarella from a local supplier and housemade garlic aioli on a toasty-crispy roll. Heroes are substantial too—potato and egg, meatball, peppers and egg, and a choice of parmigiana—veal, eggplant, chicken or shrimp.

But for the full restaurant experience—whether in the restaurant, your office, or home—we recommend you begin with the baked clams. Based on Giuseppe’s grandfather’s recipe and passed down by his father, Giuseppe prepares them with just a touch of seasoned breadcrumbs so the flavor of the sweet, fresh tender littleneck clams shines. Housemade soups such as Tortellini en Brodo, Pasta Fagiolli and an outstanding Minestrone are also a great beginning.

Then, it’s on to the pasta dishes, all prepared a la minute. Some favorites include Spaghetti Carbonara with peas and Italian bacon, Homemade Gnocchi Sorrentino, made in house daily and served with tomato, fresh basil and prosciutto, and Cavatelli Godfather, red sauce, broccoli rabe, sausage and shrimp, as well as Seafood Fra Diavolo, clams, shrimp, calamari and scallops with spicy marinara served over linguini. Pasta dishes can also be customized—with the addition of chicken or shrimp, or whole-wheat penne. There are also baked pastas such as a classic Lasagna layered with meat sauce, ricotta and fresh mozzarella and a selection of risotto—the Classic, Arborio rice prepared with shallots, white wine and butter, 17th Street, with chicken and mushrooms, and Seafood, with shrimp, clams, and calamari.

For the main course, favorites include Shrimp Francese, parmesan-crusted and sauteed with lemon-butter sauce, Chicken Bellamore, grilled chicken with prosciutto, roasted peppers and mozzarella, and Sausage and Peppers Parmigiana. Beer and wine selections are coming soon. For now, there’s a selection of Pellegrino Italian sodas—or you can create your own pairing in the comfort of your home.

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Dopo East Ristorante Italian Provides Charm, Music and Delicious Italian Dining

Dopo East-85 garden

Dopo East is located at 345 East 62nd Street, www.dopoeast.com, 646-­‐484-­‐6548, and  is open  for dinner Tues-­‐Thurs from 5-­‐10pm, Fri-­‐Sat from 5-­‐11pm, Sun from 5-­‐10pm, and for lunch from Tues-­‐Sun, noon-­‐4:00pm, and for brunch Sat-­‐Sun from noon-­‐4pm. Closed Monday.

Dopo East,  the elegant  Italian  restaurant  located  in  a gracious contemporary  townhouse on  the Upper East Side, prepares for fall with a new wine room, new chef, new brunch menu, price-­‐ fixed lunch menu, and a beautiful all-­‐weather enclosed outdoor garden. The dining room is ready for leisurely fall dining, too, with new seating including plush toffee-­‐colored banquets with violet piping and deeply comfortable cushioned chairs.

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Owner-­‐architect Emilio Barletta and partner Pino Manica, the creators of the popular theater district Trattoria Dopo Teatro, together with Director of Operations Gianni Onofri, have brought this intimate restaurant featuring traditional, regional cuisine from Italy and an award-­‐ winning wine list to the Upper East Side.

Gianni  Onofri, a certified sommelier  (who has been with  the  team since 2001 and has managed restaurants in New York and Italy since the mid-­‐1980s), has spearheaded the creation of the new private wine room with its own separate entrance and a wine cellar. With the new temperature-­‐controlled space, the list has grown to a selection of 700 unique labels, predominantly Italian, but with an impressive collection from around the world. The cellar— complete with special spot lighting and wine-­‐themed décor—is used  for wine  tastings, presentations of new wines by producers, wine pairings and special wine dinners. Because of their state-­‐of-­‐the-­‐art Enomatic wine system  that preserves the quality of opened bottles of wine, Dopo East is able offer premium and super premium wines by the glass.

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Onofri has consistently won accolades for his wine lists including the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and the Wine Enthusiast Award of Unique Distinction. Drawn from small, independent growers and worldwide distributors,  the wines are distinctive and  individual.

For example, on a recent trip to Italy, he discovered the wines of Societa Agricola Marabino, and was impressed by their focus on the care of the land and their use of biodynamic agricultural methods. In particular, he recommends their Chardonnay Eureka, straw yellow  in color, fresh and soft with fruit and flower notes, paired with branzino in sea salt crust. He also recommends  their Nero DAvola Archimede. With its intense ruby red color and notes of ripe red fruits, full body and velvety  tannins, it is perfect  for pairing with  roasted meats such as  the grilled aged rib eye.

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Working in concert with the recently appointed Executive Chef Giuseppe Moschiano, Onofri and his team can recommend wine pairings for any meal. Moschiano, who is originally from Naples and cooked since 2009 at Palazzo Mastroddi in LAquila, Italy carries on  the  restaurant’s mission of offering a healthy, Italian menu that is locally inspired with produce from the Union Square market, and a selection of organically grown vegetables, hormone-­‐free meats, and fresh seafood, with an emphasis on traditional, regional fare. He also creates his own house-­‐baked breads—a staple on every table—including  focaccia and ciabbata and fresh pastas from scratch.

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His new menu for fall includes appetizers such as salsiccia e rapini, spicy  Italian sausages, roasted to perfection and served over sautéed broccoli  rabe; polentina valtellinese con fonduta di formaggio e tartufo,  rich and creamy  soft polenta melting with cheese and  infused with black truffles; zuppetta del golfo e velette di pane tostato,  a  light  stew of mussels, shrimp and Manila clams in a piquant tomato broth with thinly sliced garlic toast.

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For the pasta course this season, there’s pappardelle al sugo di manzo, wide  ribbons of pasta presented with a generous portion of fork-­‐tender braised beef short ribs in a red wine demiglace; ravioli di zucca e ricotta, pumpkin and  ricotta cheese-­‐filled ravioli with butter and sage; and fettuccine ai funghi,  fresh  fettuccine with an abundance of wild mushrooms with garlic and extra virgin olive oil.

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Entrees include meat dishes  that will warm you  from  the  inside out such as an outstanding ossobuco alla Milanese, succulent braised veal  shank with aromatic saffron  risotto; and involtini  di pollo  in salsa di noci e verdure grigliate, thin breast of chicken rolled with speck and fontina cheese in a special walnut sauce with grilled vegetables. On the lighter, but still deeply satisfying side, seafood dishes include rana pescatrice alle erbe e caponatine di verdure,  tender, pan-­‐seared monkfish medallions in a delicate sauce of white wine and fresh herbs; and spiedino di gamberoni e capesante,  large,  juicy  shrimp grilled on  a  skewer and baked  scallops with  lemon and olive oil dressing, accompanied by grilled polenta and baked tomato.

Desserts include such classics as tiramisu,  traditional  ricotta cheesecake and a selection of assorted Italian cheeses. As a way of introducing guests to one of his favorite dessert wine, Onofri offers complementary moscato,  a  sweet, crisp wine, also  from Marabino, with  the dessert course.

Dopo-East-dessert

Brunch is a perfect occasion to enjoy dining in the glass-­‐enclosed plant-­‐filled backyard garden, temperature controlled for year-­‐round enjoyment with  a  retractable glass  roof. Offered weekend from noon-­‐4pm, the menu features decidedly Italian egg dishes including frittata di cipolle,  a  traditional onion  frittata, and uova al tegamino, oven baked eggs in tomato sauce, and uovo strapazzate e pancetta, scrambled eggs with pancetta, house-­‐baked breads, home fries and salads. Guests can also choose pastas (lasagna, penne al pomodoro  e basilica, spaghetti all carbonara) and main dishes such as grilled chicken with arugula and tomato. Brunch is also a great time to try some refreshing cocktails including the Bellini, Rossini, or the Aperol spritz  (a refreshing blend of the bittersweet aperitif and sparkling wine with a compelling flurescent tangerine colored tint) and the signature mimosas (fruit juice and Prosecco) in blood orange, passion  fruit, mango and kiwi.

Dopo East is also now open for lunch. Guests can select  from with  the new price-­‐fixed menu (choice of soup or salad, choice of main course, and a glass of house wine) for a gentle price, or order from the regular menu.

Through a partnership with gallery Artioli Findlay (www.artiolifindlay.com/events),  the walls of the soothing, Venetian-­‐sconce lit dining room are adorned with paintings and lithographs from the gallery. There is also live piano music Friday and Saturday evenings. The space is available for private parties and business meetings and is equipped with video screen and audio capabilities.

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A great addition to the neighborhood, Dopo East is one of the most charming Italian restaurants on the East Side and worthy of a destination.

Copyright 2014 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.

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Montebello Shines With a Sophisticated Flare for a Business Lunch or a Date at Eight.

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The Lovely Main Dining Room at Montebello (Above)

120 E. 56th Street, Bet. Park & Lexington Avenues

Tel. 212-753-1447

Website Click Here

To Make a Reservation, Click Here

Montebello is an Italian restaurant in the cherished sense of the genre.Located at the heart of Midtown, Montebello buzzes with excitement as a business lunch spot with high-powered patrons such as Mayor Bloomberg, Donald Trump, and Barbara Walters.

montebello bar

It  is the most romantic of romantic rendezvous.” Celebrities such as Tony Bennett, Neil Simon, Kate Moss, Ron Howard, the Baldwin brothers and Michael Richards enjoy the beautiful private banquettes and soothing atmosphere of this elegant, unpretentious space. Owner Joe Bozic provides a dining experience virtually unrivalled in the city. The service is warm and attentive; the decor is artistic and inviting; and the food is sublime.

Classic cooking from the area near Trieste, Italy, is the inspiration for the quintessential northern Italian menu developed by generations of the Bozic family.  Emphasis is placed on simple, fresh ingredients and Italian cooking methods. Fresh pastas are made in-house daily, and dried pastas are imported from Italy. All meals are complemented by a selection of hand-made breads baked according to traditional methods. Lunch and dinner menus include a selection of antipasti, soups and salads, house made pastas and a wide variety of desserts.

This hidden gem in the heart of Midtown is difficult to beat. With the  intimate dining room you will enjoy elegance and provide impeccable service, the sort that New Yorkers frequent for power lunches or a romantic dinner. I love the laid back décor, tromp loil touches and lovely murals.

montebello window

While there are many restaurant copycats and the modern-kitchen is becoming a factory of cliché. Montebello, a delightfully-traditional "New York Italian" restaurant, unabashedly shuns fad. The beige and pink L-shaped room with red leather banquettes, framed water colors, wall-recesses housing mostly Italian wines and a mahogany bar offers a gentle & civilized atmosphere.

The greeting by the owner is warm and welcoming, and the staff is always excellent). The bar makes a superb Negroni and the wine list has improved. The Travaglini Gattinara, made from the famed Nebbiolo grape offers fine value and there is a lovely Roero Arneis,Bruno Giacosa for around $70.

Simple items like PROSCIUTTO SAN DANIELLE, imported prosciutto with seasonal fresh fruits are lovey & Polipo (octopus salad) with steamed potato, red onions, caper berries, olive oil and lemon is well executed. Pastas are enormous and can  easily be split as an appetizer or in-betweener. Crespelle, ricotta and spinach crepes in a fresh tomato sauce is delicious at Montebello, as is a perfect linguini and white clam sauce, garnished with only one in its shell, (we added a dash of hot pepper added for good measure).

It would be hard to find a better broiled veal chop: huge, juicy and pink as requested with an aromatic salsa verde. The roasted rack of lamb with Dijon mustard; aromatic breadcrumbs and dry white wine are lovely. This is, by far, the best food I’ve had at Montebello. Well the chef should know his stuff. He’s been there 8 years. Not designed for the gastro-molecular crowd, here is classic (and classy) cooking in a civilized setting, amidst warm glowing sconces and soft coral walls highlighting lovely murals.

There is a tempting dessert-wagon, but being sated, we should have chosen fresh blue berries & a bit of Parmesan cheese. Instead we went for the terrific cannoli, Italian cheesecake and tiramisu.  Finish with some fine cappuccino and homemade Grappa and you’ll agree that Montebello at 120 E. 56th Street, Bet. Park & Lexington Avenues rates an A Major on The Walman Report.

montebello paintng

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Villagio On the Park … Bravo

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Villagio On the Park

40 Central Park South
New York, NY 10019
Tel: (212) 369-4000 Fax: (212) 369-4005

village ceiling view

Hours of Operation: Monday-Friday: 11:30am – 11:30pm

Saturday: 11:30am – 11:30pm

Sunday: 11:30am – 11:30pm

Capacity: Bar

Main Dining Room

Lower Level

Private Room

Credit Cards: Visa/MasterCard and Amex

Original Restaurant Established: 1995

Email: Villagioonthepark@att.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/villagiosawgrassmall

Twitter: @VillagioRisto

Owner: Alex Kalas and Thomas Billante

General Manager: David Fuentes

Executive Chef: Paul Johnston

village  Lobster ravoli w shrimp

Lobster Ravioli

Cuisine: Al Fresco Italian

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Click Here For The Website


Alex Kalas and Thomas Billante, owners of a profusion of restaurants in Miami and one in Chicago, have transformed the space that was once home to Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant & Bar (40 Central Park South) and opened the new Villagio On the Park, a  refined Italian restaurant that allows al fresco dining with views of Central Park. Villagio On the Park boasts a modern aesthetic built on marble and wood.

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The design by Jeffrey Beers international includes Rustic pizza paddles that line the walls, and hundreds of illuminated crystals that hang from the ceiling and reflect off one another to cast a ubiquitous glow . While the first of a series of rooms is the most overtly attractive, the back areas are quieter and offer a respite from the roar of the crowd that has made Villagio On the Park one of the hottest and most coveted restaurant reservations in Manhattan.

Under the helm of Executive Chef Paul Johnston, Villagio On the Park makes its own pastas and imports many of the essential ingredients from overseas, such as Portuguese octopus and calamari from Europe. The food is generally excellent and while purists may be surprised by some bows to Florida, which included the most delicious lobster, stuffed with crabmeat I’ve ever tasted, the quality is superb and the preparations exhibit a deft hand.

Signature dishes include a “gondoletta,” stuffed with spinach and ricotta in a truffle mushroom cream sauce that is to die for, and zucchini flowers, (pictured below),have been harvested in Palm Beach, filled with smoked mozzarella and prosciutto, lightly battered and sautéed.  (Heaven on a plate). Burrata a fresh Italian cheese, made from mozzarella and cream (the outer shell is solid mozzarella while the inside contains both mozzarella and cream), sided by gorgeous tomatoes and prosciutto, was as good as it gets.

village smoked mozzerella and pancetta zuchinni blossoms

Specialty Dishes offer Mozzarella Caprese, Slices of fresh homemade mozzarella, with tomatoes and basil; Pollo Milanese, Chicken breast lightly breaded topped with tricolore salad with fresh diced tomatoes, lemon juice, olive oil and balsamic vinegar., Pizza Pazza Mozzarella, fresh arugula, Parma prosciutto and virgin olive oil, Salmone A Letto, Fresh Atlantic salmon pan sautéed in virgin olive oil topped with roasted garlic over a bed of spinach, Nodino, Veal chop simply done on the grill, Scaloppini Portobello, Veal scaloppini sautéed with sliced Portobello mushrooms in a marsala wine sauce,  Risotto Frutti di Mare,Carnaroli rice in safran sauce with an array of fresh fish, shrimp,mussels, clams and calamari.

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Pizzas are baked in the wood-burning oven, and gluten-free options are on the menu. Even the ubiquitous Lasagna is out of the ordinary, with its homemade pasta, layered with a light bechamel and a delicate meat sauce (all the tomato based sauces are excellent as well).

The gratis focaccia  is terrific, and oh the fresh chopped cherry tomatoes that accompany it. The wine list has sufficient wines by the glass at easy prices and some top bottles for the big spenders. And check out some Italian beer that are a welcome respite from the pleasant Peroni and complement  the food.

By all means don’t skip the perfect desserts. I especially like the light-as-air semifreddo (half cold) dessert, with the texture of frozen mousse because it is produced by uniting equal parts of ice cream and whipped cream. The Chocolate Soufflé ….  was served with a rich vanilla ice cream and Tiramisu (Layers of ladyfingers dipped in espresso and amaretto,
topped with mascarpone cheese and dusted with cocoa powder) was everything it should be.

The dashing G.M,, David Fuentes, oversees the operation with precision and the service staff is young, energetic, highly efficient and helpful. Villagio On the Park ,  40 Central Park South, is the new restaurant kid in town. If you wonder why New York needs another Italian restaurant, check it out. You’re in for a pleasant surprise.

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village  Tiramisu2

village chefs table

Chef’s Table

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Da Marcella Mediterranean Taverna, A Discovery in Midtown

Da Marcella Bar

Da Marcella Mediterranean Taverna

ADDRESS: 11 West

51st Street

(Between Fifth Avenue & Rockefeller Plaza)

New York, NY 10019

WEB SITE: www.DaMarcella.com

TELEPHONE: (917) 639-3911

HOURS: Lunch/Dinner: 11:30 AM – 10:30 PM, Mon.-Thurs.

11:30 AM – 11:00 PM, Fri.

Dinner: 4:00 PM – 11:00 PM, Sat.

4:00 PM – 10:30 PM, Sun.

Happy Hour: 4:00 AM – 7:00 PM, Mon.-Fri.

(Italian small plates and ½-price on select Italian wines

by the glass)

CUISINE: Homestyle Italian with Spanish flair

CREDIT CARDS: All major

PRICE RANGE: Dinner (Entrees): $16.00 – $28.00Da Marcella Pasta1

DRESS: Casual

RESERVATIONS: Highly Recommended

SEATING CAPACITY: 120

NUMBER OF ROOMS: One

PARTY FACILITIES: Available upon request

BAR: Full-service sit-down bar. .

EXECUTIVE CHEF: Francesco Mueses

WINE DIRECTOR : Ernesto Lago

OWNER: Manuel Moreno

OPENING DATE: November, 2013

(The first Da Marcella Taverna opened in the West

Village in July 2012 to great acclaim.)

Da Marcella Table 1


Da Marcella Mediterranean Taverna  offers Homestyle Italian with Spanish flair. Restaurateur Manuel Moreno and Executive Chef Francesco Mueses prepare an impressive selection of rustic home-style Italian dishes, most of them from original family recipes.  In addition, they recently introduced several classic Spanish dishes paying homage to their Spanish/Italian heritage.

Da Marcella dessert1

Start with a selection from the bar-tapas menu, including delicious ham croquettes in a crunchy breading to enjoy with the excellent martinis and superb selection of Single Malts (many priced as low as $12), Don’t fail to sample the amazing appetizers. You could make a meal of The Chef’s Veal and Pork Meatballs in San Marzano Tomato Sauce, Mussels alla Marinara with Pinot Grigio wine and  Garlic, and the outstanding Pulpo Marinado a la Catalana ( Spanish-style octopus), fork tender, yet with a good texture, and absolutely perfect  Another must with Italian roots, is the divine Burrata Cheese (stuffed mozzarella with a buttery texture) and  San Daniele Prosciutto kissed by Truffle Sauce Over terrific Crostone.

Then, Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Gulf Shrimp and Fresh Tomato or the Paella with its moist authenticity and heady seafood partners or one of the numerous pastas.

Entrees include Charred Grilled NY Steak, Caramelized Onions and Truffled Mashed Potatoes and a delicious Oven Roasted Whole Mediterranean Sea Bass with Garlic and  Rosemary, a classic Pan Seared Calf’s Liver, with Butter, Sage and a tender Braised Short Rib of Beef, in Barolo with delicious Polenta. End with a really outstanding Tiramisú or a lush Creme Caramel, and Vanilla Gelato, Drowned in a Shot of Espresso.

Service is surprisingly helpful and friendly.

Da Marcella Ham

The custom-made 22-foot long oak bar features an impressive selection of global wines with a particular emphasis on regional Italian and Spanish wines. A variety of wines are available by the glass. In addition a premier choice of spirits, liquors, after-dinner drinks, dessert wines, Single Malt Scotch, and specialty cocktails are also available. The Lunch/Dinner and Happy Hour Menus are available at the bar.  The sophisticated, romantic dining room is enhanced by a 14-foot high ceiling, rustic oak bar, custom-made pine communal tables, wood tables, dark blue high-back leather chairs, leather banquettes, tiled floors, mustard-colored walls, vintage Italian posters, and mood lighting to create a classic, turn-of-the-19th-century Mediterranean Taverna.

Hardly what you’d expect to find in this area, Da Marcella Mediterranean Taverna is a delightful neighborhood surprise and was packed with a happy crowd (many from the small hotel the restaurant adjoins). Not fancy, but good food and wine in an easygoing atmosphere at a fair price. Nothing wrong there. (A good choice for before or after theater).

 

Da Marcella Salmon

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Dopo East Ristorante Italiano Introduces Executive Chef Patrizio D’Andrea & Some Remarkable Food

Dopo East-13

Dopo East is located at 345 East 62nd Street, (Betw. 1st & 2nd Aves.) Click Here For Website & To Reserve, 646-484-6548, and is open for dinner Tues-Thurs from 5-10pm, Fri-Sat from 5-11pm, closed Sun and Mon.

From the creators of the popular theater district Trattoria Dopo Teatro comes a modern Italian restaurant created and designed to suit its home—a gracious, contemporary townhouse on the Upper East Side—with a creative new Italian menu from the young and talented Executive Chef Patrizio D’Andrea.

Owner Emilio Barletta, an architect and restaurateur, also known for Zanzibar and Cascina, and partner Pino Manica, together with Director of Operations Gianni Onofri head the rest of the team at this elegant and intimate space. For the dining room, they have selected soothing, warm neutrals with detailed crown moldings and crystal Venetian sconce. Through a partnership with gallery Artioli Findlay (www.artiolifindlay.com/events), the walls are adorned with carefully curated paintings and lithographs.There is a cunning bar in the front room and guests will also be delighted by the outdoor space, enclosed and heated in winter, an open garden in warm weather; as well as live piano music and a private dining room downstairs.

Dopo-East-fish

Chef Patrizio D’Andrea, in turn, designed the menu to reflect the space and the owners’ vision. He traces his passion for cooking first to his mother’s farm kitchen in Italy. The family business was agro-tourism, catering to guests who were fed direct from the land; chickens, pigs, produce, all sourced just steps away. But he formalized his training with a degree from the highly respected Aurelio Saffi Culinary School, Firenze Italy, graduating with honors. After a stint as Chef de Partie at Excelsior in his hometown, D’Andrea spent a year each cooking in Spain and Switzerland, before signing on with Cipriani’s, a tour of duty that took him from Harry’s Bar in Venice as chef de cuisine, to Hong Kong, and then to New York to Cipriani’s Rainbow Room and Cipriani Downtown. Now at Dopo East, he combines the best of his experiences, creating a healthy, Italian menu that is locally inspired with produce from the Union Square market, and a selection of organically grown vegetables (frequently baby vegetables because they are more tender and have more flavor), hormone-free meats, and fresh seafood.

The difference is apparent on the plate from the first course, not only because everything is fresh and light, but also because of the way the food is presented. His caprese is prepared with peeled, organic tomatoes, basil sprouts, with fresh Buffalo mozzarella, that is kept warm to bring out the complex flavors and then re-shaped; piovra all griglia is an artistic presentation of tender grilled octopus, baby artichokes, cherry tomatoes, new potatoes, and a lemon-garlic emulsion. A beautiful selection of farm vegetables with roasted garlic and an infusion of basil and olive oil, verdure alla griglia, is always a bit different everyday, as is the chef’s crudo del giorno, inspired by the season and the market. We adored impeccable raw and thinly sliced scallops, kissed by extra virgin olive oil and garnished with pomegranates and fresh beet sprouts. Truly a standout. Grilled octopus, baby artichokes, cherry tomatoes, new potatoes, in a lemon garlic vinaigrette is also delectable.

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Primi include house made fresh pastas, whole wheat and gluten-free options, and a daily risotto. It’s hard to choose among them, but some favorites include an unusual gnocchi al sugo di agnello, homemade ricotta gnocchi with baby lamb ragout, is the best I’ve ever tasted and the kitchen turns out a terrific version of tagliatelle paglia e fieno, with spinach and egg hand-mixed into the dough by the chef), and served with a black trumpet and chanterelle mushroom ragout that tastes rich, yet feels light; and the very simple, yet elegant spaghetti alla Checca, with fresh tomatoes, roasted garlic, basil and shaved Parmigiano. Best of all, a special of thin housemade noodles, sauced in an intense truffle reduction and served with a raw egg that the waiter whisks in at the table. The memory still makes my mouth water. It should become the house signature.

Dopo-East-meat

For the secondi, there’s poletto al forno, roasted Cornish hen with black mission figs, colorful bell peppers and Port wine reduction is sweet, savory and inventive, and gamberoni alla primavera, jumbo head-on grilled shrimp, infused with the surprising flavor of smoked butter and served with perfectly diced vegetables. Both are delectable. Meat lovers will adore 28 days dry aged rib-eye steak, green scallion puree, porcini mushrooms, rosemary potatoes, aged balsamic vinegar and a special of rack of lamb that is first class in every way.

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Like the rest of the menu, dolci are light, fresh and hard to stop eating. Tiramisu is shot through with dark chocolate powder, just the right amount of bitter to offset the sweet and semifreddo contrasts the semi-frozen cream with the crunch of almonds.

Dopo-East-dessert

Wine, of course, is a very important part of the dining experience at Dopo East. Under the direction of Gianni Onofri, the list is expected to grow to a selection of 600 bottles, predominantly Italian, but with a strong selection of wines from around the world. By the glass, Dopo East offers 6 whites including Prosecco Abati Regali and Domodimonti Deja V Passerina and 9 reds including a Super Tuscan Integolo and Cicarello’s Nero D’Avola. Stay tuned for more information about a wine bar to come and special wine dinners.There is also a full bar and excellent cocktails. We enjoyed 2 excellent wines by the glass: Kuddia Gialla – Sicily 201: Zibibbo or Muscat d’Alexandria takes on a unique persona in this Sicilian wine. Fermented in barrels and casks and aged longer than most young whites. I loved the delightful spritz. Also an intriguing, Saola Intelogo 2011, was rather like a baby Supper Tuscan. Deep and complex.Both fine values and served in lovely glasses.

A welcome addition to the neighborhood, Dopo East  brings fine dining, fun and great food to the upper east side, coupled with attentive service and elegant atmosphere and is a worthy destination. Let’s hope Chef D’Andrea gains the audience he truly deserves. This could become one of the best Italian restaurants on the east side.

Copyright 2013 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.

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From Michaels of Brooklyn’s Kitchen to Your Kitchen

MOB Home Style GravyAuthentic Italian Sauces You Won’t Believe Come from a Jar, Now Available in Stores Nationwide

It’s not so unusual for a landmark Italian restaurant to bottle their famous sauce and sell it to the public. But what sets Michaels of Brooklyn apart is that they cook their sauce entirely on premises in their Sheepshead Bay restaurant—from scratch, using only fresh ingredients that are prepped, sautéed, and blended by hand every day in the restaurant kitchen, with no additives or preservatives of any kind.

Michaels of Brooklyn traditional Italian tomato sauces taste like homemade because they use the same ingredients a talented home cook would use. It’s very simple—imported tomatoes from Italy, fresh herbs and spices, garlic or onion, and olive oil—but the result is an extraordinary range of fresh, delicious sauces in six distinctive flavorsMarinara, Tomato Basil, Filetto di Pomodoro, Puttanesca, Arrabbiata, and the newest flavor, Home Style Gravy.

The family-owned restaurant had modest beginnings almost 50 years ago. Michaels first opened in 1964 as a small pizzeria (just a pizza oven and four tables). The patriarch of the family and the namesake of the restaurant—Michael Cacace—was a fisherman from Puglia. He first learned his new trade aboard a cruise ship and honed his skills by working in restaurants in New York City and Brooklyn. He gradually grew the business from a small pizzeria to a Neapolitan restaurant, then took over more and more space, until Michaels evolved into the significant fine dining Southern Italian restaurant and bakery it is today. The senior Cacace left the restaurant in the very capable hands of his sons, John, who oversees the kitchen and is the chef and Fred, who manages the front of the house and day-to-day operation along with his son Michael, who heads up the wholesale business.

In recent years, the pasta and other sauces that were served in the restaurant were very popular, so popular that patrons asked to take it home with them. At first, they would send regular customers home with a small batch. But the desire for these delectable sauces kept growing. As the demand grew, John suggested it was time to jar it in shelf-stable containers and make it available for wholesale purchase.

The sauce you can buy today in gourmet markets and groceries across the U.S. follows the same recipes that Michael followed—recipes that have been in the family for generations. They soon discovered that the only way they could maintain this quality, style and flavor, was to continue to make it on site, using their own restaurant kitchen.

Downstairs in the restaurant, a dedicated staff cooks the tomato sauce each day. They begin by loading 80-gallon kettles—just like a giant pot—with imported Italian plum tomatoes. The production manager makes the spice mix each day to ensure consistency of flavor. Other ingredients (depending on the variety—garlic, onions, basil, oregano, spices, olives, etc.) are brought from the kitchen and added to the pot. Then it is cooked to 215 degrees F, a temperature that guarantees that the sauce, because of the high natural acidity of tomatoes, is preserved and safe to keep on the shelf unopened for years. Though they add no preservatives, Michaels of Brooklyn sauces will keep indefinitely when sealed, and is approved and certified by Cornell University. However, because of the freshness of the ingredients—it must be refrigerated once opened.

The difference is clear from the moment you open a jar—from the aroma of the fresh herbs, to the large chunks of garlic, to the whole capers and meaty slices of olives in the Puttanesca, to the tender leafs of green basil, contributing to the very distinctive differences in their range of traditional sauces. With just a few simple ingredients and subtle variations, they are suitable for a wide range of dishes, delicious straight out of the jar, for dipping bread, as pasta sauces, served with poultry, fish or seafood, Italian sausage, braciole or chicken cacciatore.

The classic Marinara, made with just garlic, olive oil, tomato, basil and oregano is the perfect sauce for spaghetti, but is also excellent simmered with seafood, or as the basic sauce in your lasagna or parmigiana recipes. In the fresh Tomato and Basil, the simplicity of fresh tomatoes shines through, enlightened by lots of fresh basil, for a light sweet flavor that is ideal with any pasta, even straight out of the jar, or you can add in sautéed eggplant or zucchini. Filetto di Pomodoro combines prosciutto and onions, fresh basil, olive oil and spices—and is especially nice over penne with lots of freshly grated imported age pecorino. Puttanesca is a heady combination, chock full of hand cut green and black olives, anchovies, capers, parsley, basil, spices, that adds passion to any type of pasta. Or try simmered with boneless chicken breasts, served over rice. Arrabbiata is for those who like it hot! Cooked with hot peppers, fresh basil, olive oil, parsley, and spices, it adds zest to pasta and seafood. Home Style Gravy, the most recent sauce to be placed in a jar, has a thicker base, made from ground tomatoes instead of crushed, and sweet caramelized onions instead of roasted garlic, it’s main reason for being is to be served with the braised meats of Sunday Gravy. However, there’s no meat in this sauce, so vegetarians will be pleased by the rich, hearty flavor, too.

Michaels of Brooklyn sauces are distributed nationally and are available in all major stores. It can be found at most supermarkets and grocery stores, as well as specialty gourmet stores such as Gourmet Garage, Whole Foods, Fairway, Eli’s and Grace’s. The sauce is sold in economical 32 oz. jars that are 33% larger than most brands (and generously feed a family of four). These products can also be purchased directly online at http://www.michaelsofbrooklyn.com.

Michaels of Brooklyn retail products are manufactured at 2929 Avenue R, Brooklyn, New York, 11229, 718-998-7851. The sales offices are located at 1000 Route 34, Suite 401, Matawan, NJ 07747, 732.888.5525.

And for a quick and excellent substitute for tomato sauce in recipes, use Michaels. Delicious with chicken legs, green peppers garlic cloves, and onion. Just brown the chicken and onion, pour in the rest, cover and braise for 45 minutes. (We used Puttanesca).

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The best purchased pasta sauces we have tested. Walman Report Rating: A Major

Copyright 2013 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.

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Giano, Superlative Italian in the East Village

GIANO_--_BAR_PHOTO

GIANO_--_DINING_ROOM_PHOTO1

Giano (Janus: Dual-faced Roman god looking to the future and to the past)

ADDRESS:   126 East 7th Street

(Between First Avenue & Avenue A)

New York, NY 10009

WEB SITE:   www.gianonyc.com

TELEPHONE:  (212) 673-7200

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HOURS:   Dinner:                   5:30 PM  -   11:00 PM, Tues.-Thurs. & Sun.

            5:30 PM -    12:00 Midnight, Fri.-Sat.

  (Closed Monday)

Happy Hour:           5:30 PM  -      7:00 PM, Tues.-Thurs. & Sun.

(2-Course $21.95 Prix Fixe Dinner and ½-price on select wines

by the glass.)                                          

CUISINE:   Contemporary Italian

(Restaurateur/Chef Matteo Niccoli crafts a

menu featuring an eclectic selection of

classic, traditional Italian dishes, refining

and updating them with a modern flair.)

CREDIT CARDS:  All major

PRICE RANGE:  Dinner (entrees):                     $12.95 – $22.95

2-Course Prix Fixe Dinner:      $21.95

(5:30 PM – 7 :00 PM, Tues.-Thurs. & Sun.)        

DRESS:   Casual 

RESERVATIONS:  Recommended

SEATING CAPACITY: Dining Room:                      55

Seasonal Garden:              20

NUMBER OF ROOMS: 1

(Seasonal Garden seats 20)

PARTY FACILITIES: Available upon request

DESIGNERS:  Paolo Rossi

Matteo Niccoli

EXECUTIVE CHEF:  Matteo Niccoli

PASTRY CHEF:  Matteo Niccoli

WINE DIRECTOR:  Paolo Rossi

OWNERS:   Paolo Rossi

Matteo Niccoli

OPENING DATE:  January, 2008


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Romanic, bargain-priced and excellent are the words to describe this charming Italian find in New York’s trendy East Village. There is a  sit-down bar that is custom-made and seductively curved, featuring an impressive selection of global wines with a particular emphasis on regional Italian wines.  A variety of  wines are available by the glass.  In addition, a selection of Italian beers is also available. The Dinner Menu is also available at the bar (great for single diners).

The dining room is contemporary and rustic,  reflecting the dual symbol of the Roman deity, Janus. It is enhanced by a 12-foot high ceiling,  contemporary Italian tables and chairs, wooden bench, stylish crystal chandeliers, and French doors opening onto a lively street.In addition, the rustic, romantic dining room in the middle and the rear of the restaurant, is separated from the front by hanging painted rope. there are custom-made walnut tables and chairs, exposed brick walls with openings for votive candles, a country fireplace, rustic sunflower panel on canvas, natural wood floors, and wood doors opening onto the lovely, seasonal garden to create the feel of a Tuscan-style villa.

Paolo Rossi is a welcoming host and will guide you through the short and sensible menu with its updated classics, interlaced with chef Matteo Niccoli’s original creations. We enjoyed appetizers like simple Fried calamari, tender and light with the addition of  Italian tartar sauce, rather than the overused marinara. Crocchette di ricotta e tonno are the chef’s invention and arrive as Creamy and crunchy tuna and ricotta croquettes with a stylish arugula salad and balsamic reduction. We like to eat Italian style, so while pastas are worthy of main courses, we prefer them as an in between course. Especially inventive and delicious was Bigoli al ragu d’agnello e noci tostate: Homemade Medieval thick spaghetti with slow cooked braised lamb ragout and toasted walnut powder. Ask about specials as well.

Entrees are where Giano really shines. Perfectly cooked plates that seem unexpectedly classy for their reasonable prices include a wonderful Baccala’ alla livornese con polenta
or Pan sired cod fillet with fresh tomatoes, black olives and capers served with the best crispy polenta we have tasted in NY. Also terrific, was Stinco d’agnello brasato e pure di patate or Brased lamb shank seved with creamy mashed potato.

The restaurant serves no hard liquor, but the short wine list has good choices for under $50. Service is attentive and guiding and don’t mist some very good desserts such as Tiramisu the classic Italian dessert and an outstanding Creme Brulee vanilla custard base topped with a layer of hard caramel. The cappuccino is superb.

Giano is definitely one of the East Village’s more pleasant and affordable options.

Copyright 2013 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.

 

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