Birthday brunches are always fun, and this past week I went to Del Posto in Chelsea, NYC, and had an amazing Italian dining experience. According to Opentable, “Del Posto is the first Italian restaurant in almost 40 years to be awarded 4 stars from the New York Times,” and it surely did meet that expectation of a highly rated Italian restaurant in NYC.
Del Posto’s brunch/lunch prix-fixe price is at $49 and consists of three courses with your choice of antipasto, secondo, and dolce. You can also get pasta for the entire table for $10 per person, though it is a bit annoying for experimental diners like me, who would like to have everyone order a different kind of pasta so that everyone could try, instead of having to choose one for all.
Enough complaining, the following photos show the artful plating that amounted to the incredibly savory experience. The names of the food are as follows (in order of appearance): Chef’s special appetizer assortment (changes daily I suppose), Antipastis-Lobster alla Cesare, Truffled Beef Carne Cruda, Primi-Pumpkin Capellacci, Secondi-Rare Atlantic Salmon, Dolcis-Chef’s Special (some form of toasted apple crumble with ice cream) and Fette Biscottate.
Of course, long live pizza, but once in a while, exploring other Italian food is never a bad idea. I would definitely recommend going for lunch rather than dinner if you just want the experience as their prix-fixe is much cheaper during lunch, though it is still pricey. For more detailed info for each food item, check my foodstagram ! or delposto.com/menu/
After watching this Munchies clip that interviewed the two owners of The Meatball Shop in New York, I went all the way to their original location on the lower East Side the next day. And then two more times after that.
First thing that I have to say after visiting three times is: GET THEIR ORIGINAL BEEF MEATBALLS. They offer a variety of options you can mix and match, which could be confusing for the first time. For the meatballs, you can get beef, spicy pork, chicken, veggie (but if you’re a vegetarian, there are definitely better places to go), sometimes lamb depending on the day.
And you can get it with different kinds of pasta, mashed potatoes, daily risotto, or you can always stick to “Naked Balls” (four good old meatballs). Just to make the process of ordering meatballs even more complicated, you can also select sauce! Usually the waitress would recommend a certain sauce that goes with the kind of meatball you want. For first-timers, I would suggest sticking to the tomato sauce, with the beef meatballs. It’s also the lighter option. I also tried the mushroom sauce – it was creamy, but nothing impressive.
“The kitchen sink” is another option they offer. 3 balls + sauce + chef’s selection of daily greens. Apparently it’s what the owner of the shop eats, as pointed out in the video. So of course I had to try it despite its unappetizing name. (And it was good!)
What both my friend and I loved about the Meatball Shop is the homey feel of the dishes. If you order the “Naked Balls”, it comes in a small bowl with meatballs and sauce, and a piece of bread on top. If you order pasta or mashed potatoes along with your meatballs, you have the option to have the pasta under the meatballs. Putting everything into one bowl makes the experience of dining out very un-pretencious and homey.
The price is another thing that is worth pointing out. You can easily spend less than 15 dollars and get an extremely satisfying, protein-packed meal at the Meatball Shop. Despite the store’s popularity and its opening of a few other locations, the price remained the same.
The taste of the meatball was decent, but not as memorable as I hoped for it to be. Out of the three kinds I’ve tried – beef, spicy pork, and daily special “Shepherd’s pie” – I recommend the first two. While in general, the meatballs may not necessarily make you go “wow this is the best meatball I’ve ever tasted”, considering the low price and the hip and trendy ambiance of the place, going to the Meatball Shop with friends or a date will not disappoint. But be prepared for the waitresses to hint for you to leave, since the line of customers would already be forming outside.
Depending on the time that you go, it could be quite loud due to the large amount of customers in the store. For example, on a Friday night, one may find it hard to hear from across the table. Therefore, if one wants a more quiet tasting experience, going for lunch could be wiser. They also offer weekend brunch options.
Max Soha on 123th and Amsterdam Ave. is a cozy little Italian place that feels extremely homey. A popular spots for couples as well as small groups, it does get pretty packed easily during dinner time.
The appetizers here have pretty small portions. So if you’re in a group of more than 3, you might want to ask the waiter about the portion.
The pastas here are all amazing! ”La Pugliese” – the phrase itself meaning a region in Southern Italy – has shell pasta and broccoli rabe, Italian spicy sauge. It is a pleasant surprise to see a decent amount of vegetables (broccoli rabe) put into pasta – usually it is used more or less as a decorations. It is mixed with the pasta thoroughly. The sausage is spicier than expected but still delicious. The whole dish is extremely rich in flavor, yet not too salty. The only vice might be that it might get a little oily as you get towards the bottom.
Also, the plates they use for each customer is different. And all of them are gorgeous!! This definitely highlights a homemade feel for the dishes.
Here’s a picture.
Basically all pasta dishes are recommended. Linguine del Pascatore is a seafood pasta dish with homemade black linguine. This one is definitely worth a try! If you’re feeling less adventurous, Fettuccine al sugo Toscano – with Max’s signature meat sauce is a safe and delicious bet, so is the Lasagna “mom’s style”. All pastas are around $8-$14.
Of all the Italian restaurants near Columbia campus, Bettolona is definitely one of your best bets for a romantic date night. It is more spacious and chic than the cozy MaxSoha (on Amsterdam and 123rd), and definitely a lot tastier than V&T Pizzeria (Amsterdam and 113th). The pizza here is cooked in a brick oven. The prices are very reasonable, and the atmosphere of the restaurant will make you feel casual and comfortable. The waiters and the owner (he is actually Italian!) are very friendly and know the menu well.
Located on Broadway between La Salle and 125th St, it is just the right distance from campus – only 10-15 minutes walking distance from the main gate, yet far enough away to have a off-campus feel.
Bettolona is known for the pizza and homemade Italian pastas. The pizza is small and delicious enough that one person can finish it. The spinach lasagna is made delicately and with amazing meat sauce. In all, both the pasta and the pizza here are of great, authentic quality.
Bettolona also features specials everyday. Simply keep in mind to ask the price, since they don’t put it on the chalkboard and you might end up having to pay slightly more than you expected (for example, the stripped bass special entrée was around $25). Also, the menu is entirely in Italian, so be prepared to use your smartphone to check some things out if you don’t know Italian!
In all, if you’re looking for a place near campus with authentic and great quality Italian food, you can’t go wrong with Bettolona. Highly recommended.
5 out of 5 stars
3143 Broadway (Broadway & La Salle St.), New York, NY 10027
Porchetta. Need I say anymore? Head down to the village, and you will find the black and white tiled hole in the wall that is Porchetta.
What is Porchetta? Porchetta is a delicious Italian speciality of roasted pig deboned and stuffed with herbs, entrails, and garlic. This may not immediately draw your attention, but it should. Porchetta should be fatty, juicy, and delicious, and Porchetta (the place) does it right. The owners of Porchetta were taught the ways of the pig by the famed Italian celebrity chef Dario Checchini. He may not be that famous in America, but in Italy he is known as the master of meat, so I trust Porchetta in providing the authentic Italian fare. As Porchetta puts in, they provide “pork three ways…fatty belly, crispy skin, lean loin and of course plenty of aromatics.” Now have I caught your attention?
Porchetta is a small place. It has one room with a large spit holding the pork loin and a counter for patrons to sit at. Other than that, there isn’t much. Nevertheless, this does not stop the patrons who keep coming back for the aromatic and delicious pork.
I have no shame in admitting that I have been to Porchetta on almost a weekly basis since school started. The first two visits, I ordered the sandwich. It is delicious, fatty pork packed into a delicious ciabbata roll. The juicy pork and the crunchy, fatty skin complement each other perfectly, and the sandwich needs no additions. It is simplicity at its finest. While the flavor is perfect, my only issue with the sandwich is that it left me wanting more porchetta and less bread.
So, on my third trip, I switched things up and went all out. I got the porchetta plate. This is even better than the sandwich. It is a heaping plate of porchetta accompanied by two sides. I stuck with the roasted potatoes with burnt ends and the sautéed cooking greens, which make everything seem a little bit healthier, even if they are drenched in olive oil. The greens are fine, but they aren’t essential to the experience. The potatoes are really the excellent supporting role. Roasted potatoes don’t sound very interesting, but it’s really all about the burnt ends of porchetta that the potatoes are cooked in. The burnt ends are basically just big chunks of bacon, and what goes better with pork fat than more pork fat?
I rest my case. Any carnivore, or actually, anyone at all who walks into Porchetta will not be able to resist the delicious simplicity that they provide.
Well, with my last post on bread, I pretty much exhausted my foreign language capacities.
But the way I see it, a romance language is a romance language, and it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out an Italian recipe, even if the only Italian I know is mamma mia. When I started looking up recipes though, I realized just how difficult it could be. With the weather getting colder, I settled on a classic recipe for pasta e fagioli, reasoning that it would behard to mess up too badly with a bean soup.
Half of the ingredients seemed pretty simple. Fagioli borlotti had to be borlotti beans, carota was an easy one, and brodo vegetale didn’t take too long to interpret. I also figured out that sedano was celery because I had seen other recipes that called for a gambo of it, which I took to mean leg.
Other ingredients gave me pause. Scalogno? Salvia? Prezzemolo? I just hoped they weren’t too important and moved on. My proudest moment was figuring out what a spicchi di aglio was; the website I was using was actually called Lo spicchio d’aglio, and after a few moments of puzzling, I realized that the icon was actually a stylized picture of a clove of garlic! Of course! How could I embark on an italian recipe without garlic?!
What I hadn’t anticipated, in the glow of my triumphant interpretations of the ingredienti, was the difficulty in translating the actual instructions. I was lost after step four, so while I managed to drain my beans, chop my vegetables, boil my broth, and brown my garlic, I was left to guess on what exactly “Aggiungere un mestolo di brodo” meant, and ended up adding ingredients incrementally, spooning broth back and fourth between two pans, and then cooking the pasta separately before tossing everything together at the last minute to boil.
In one particularly lost moment, I glanced over my recipe with chopped vegetables in hand, and realized there was not a single mention of carota or sedano after the second step. I threw them in after the beans but before the pasta, hoping for the best and reasoning, for the hundredth time, that it’s pretty hard to mess up soup.
It turns out I was right. The soup came out just fine. It was just very, very bland, like drinking broth. I couldn’t help feeling helpless the entire time, entirely lost and wondering if I was doing anything right. It was not my finest hour.
250 g di fagioli borlotti già cotti (peso sgocciolato)
Mezzo costa di sedano
1 l di Brodo vegetale
2 cucchiai di olio extravergine di oliva
2 spicchi di aglio
4 foglie di salvia
120 g di pasta
4 rametti di prezzemolo
Pepe nero macinato al momento
Sgocciolare i fagioli e passarne la metà al passaverdure.
Tritare molto finemente sedano, carota e scalogno.
Scaldare il brodo vegetale.
In una pentola da minestra far soffriggere il trito e l’aglio spellato nell’olio per qualche minuto, a fiamma media, fintanto che non assume un aspetto dorato. Unire un cucchiaio di brodo e proseguire la cottura per 4-5 minuti.
Aggiungere un mestolo di brodo, mescolare, unire i fagioli interi, un pizzico di timo, origano e maggiorana, la salvia e lasciare insaporire qualche minuto a fiamma vivace.
Stemperare i fagioli frullati con mezzo mestolo di brodo e versare il composto nella pentola. Girare e lasciare insaporire qualche minuto.
Versare quasi tutto il brodo e portare ad ebollizione. Regolare di sale.
Buttare la pasta e cuocere mescolando spesso con un cucchiaio di legno, secondo il tempo di cottura del formato scelto. Aggiungere qualche mestolo di brodo se la minestra tende ad asciugarsi troppo. Tenerla piuttosto liquida perchè a fine cottura tenderà ad addensarsi.
Nel frattempo lavare il prezzemolo, selezionarne le foglie e tritarle con la mezzaluna su un tagliere.
Spegnere il fuoco, regolare di sale, profumare con una grattugiata di pepe ed il prezzemolo tritato.
Lasciare intiepidire 5 minuti con il coperchio e servire con un filo d’olio a crudo.
Elizabeth is one of our many new bloggers, but she’s taking on the vegan angle. In this post, Elizabeth not only finds a happy medium between the ideals of Italian cheeses and veganism, but also delivers a fantastic recipe for any reader.
Obsession is the only way to describe my feelings of the Stuffed Eggplant from Westside.
It’s this moan-inducing Italian dish that has been depleting my wallet since I discovered it a few weeks ago. My ever decreasing funds coupled by my inkling that it is laden with olive-oil (a thing I tend to limit while cooking), has pushed me to attempt what will hopefully be a perfect imitation of the ambrosial dish which has been haunting my loitering moments. Oh and by the way, ITS COMPLETELY VEGAN. Continue reading Italian Yet Vegan?→
Whenever I read Melina’s Hidden Gems series, I always feel like I’m reading the briefing by our resident intrepid food spy. Go forth and conquer with Melina, and bring back some delicious Italian food while you’re at it.
Coppola’s- Authentic Italian, the Upper West Side location
206 West 79th Street New York, NY 10024
Hunger emerged as I was on an ambitious walk from 59 street all the way back to 116th.
Coppola’s suddenly came into my line of vision—the answer to my prayers. The restaurant is semi-underground and doesn’t look like anything special from the outside. The “don’t judge a book by its cover” saying very much applies.
Upon entrance, you feel as though you have been transported to a small Italian village, where grandma (or nona, as they say) is busy in the kitchen, spreading aromas of cheese and fresh tomatoes throughout the entire home.
I asked the waiter for some bread for the table, and he said it was on its way out from the oven. Straight out of the oven. Bit into the crispy outer layer to find a warm and soft inner later. Topped with just the right amount of herbs. AND the olive oil was served in a mini glass bottle in the middle of the bread plate.
First of all, I must make the simple request that you listen while reading the rest of my review of the ineffably charming Max Soha (corner of Amsterdam and 123rd). I am not sure why this song makes me feel especially more Italian than other songs, especially because my Italian professor has been eager to share folk music. Actually, you know what, it might be the part about the espresso… In any case, I hope to brighten up your dreary, too-chilly-for-spring Saturday evening with the opportunity for scrumptious pasta. A few weeks ago, my friend Brayan and I took a walk up Amsterdam to find some food. Max Soha is one of those places that makes you feel like you’re finally coming home, even if you’re not di Italia. Wooden tables and brick walls with paneled windows offer a sense of familiar intimacy, and the colorful doodles on the speciality boards feel decidedly cheerful.
Max Soha, established in 2001, quickly became one of my favorite Morningside Heights establishments. The menu is fairly short, though the ingredients are fresh and the entrées well-crafted. Max Soha pitches one of my favorite restaurant mottos – do less, but do it all well. Brayan and I, even while just struggling to open the glass water bottle for the table (word to the wise, it’s a flip upwards), exchanged a look when we opened up the menu. Then, the bread and the free tomato dipping sauce came. There was this sense that it was going to be wonderful. Abbiamo parlato in italiano per un po ma poi sono diventato pigra. At the suggestion of the waiter, I ordered the Spaghetti del marinaio and Brayan went with the Lasagne fatta in casa. I remember reading somewhere that when people really enjoy their eating experience, you can tell if they’re talking and smiling on the way out of the restaurant. Brayan and I may have fit that description fairly well.