With midterms coming around, I didn’t have time for a sit-down meal, but still wanted to indulge in a tasty, healthy, meal. That’s when I found Café Viva. I was struck by the variety of items they had, from vegan pizza and gluten free pizzas on spelt, corn, or whole wheat crust to salads to pasta and calzones. I finally settled on a slice of Zen Pizza (vegan) and a vegan Pasta Bolognese.
The order arrived within twenty minutes, thirty minutes earlier than Seamless had predicted.
Café Viva: Broadway Avenue (between 93rd and 94th Street)
Zen Pizza (Vegan):
Green tea herb, miso-tofu, green tea basil pesto, shiitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, sun-dried tomato, and roasted garlic on a green tea herb spelt crust.
I didn’t expect much since I had never tried green tea and tofu on pizza, and had never really considered pizza as “healthy,” but I was pleasantly surprised.
The pizza had an overall herby scent, and the shiitake mushrooms and green tea worked surprisingly well together. The sun-dried tomatoes were rather acidic, however, and overpowered the other flavors. The miso-tofu was also rather dry and flimsy – by the end, I was just eating the tofu and mushrooms alone (san-crust). Despite the flimsiness, however, the flavors blended very well in a zen-like manner.
Pasta Bolognese (Vegan)
with homemade Seitan meat sauce.
Café Viva offers both Linguini and Penne Pasta options, and I ordered the Linguini option. The meat sauce was extremely fresh, and the pasta was the perfect texture.
The portion is extremely large (especially so after finishing a whole slice of pizza), and there was ample sauce. Although the pasta did not look particularly appetizing, it tasted heavenly.
The pasta came with bread, but it was overly salted on the inside and under-seasoned on the crust.
I will definitely go to the Café Viva store next time to sample some more of their other vegan pizzas and pastas.
This recipe is something very different for me. Normally I tend to shy away from dairy-heavy recipes for my own reasons, however I modified this a bit to fit my appetite and I believe it is a staple for any night of the week.
Like a few of my other recipes, this recipe can be easily altered to taste. The recipe I am posting here is the base recipe, but I like to add Sriracha, red pepper flakes, and other spices depending on what I am feeling for that night. Also, the shrimp can be switched out for squid, chicken, or another protein, but it might require cooking the protein prior to adding it.
Making this recipe in thirty minutes will require some multitasking so if you are in a rush, be prepared to stay on your toes. At least two burners are essential, but if you are using a protein like chicken, a third will come in handy to cook the chicken or other protein while also cooking the pasta and starting the sauce. However, since this recipe is not too complicated and does not require any real special skills, the multitasking is luckily not a huge challenge.
One thing to look out for in this recipe is melting the cream cheese. The cheese must be at room temperature and the pan cannot be too hot or else the cream cheese will get clumpy as it melts. If this happens it is not the end of the world, just add some of the boiling water and whisk the sauce to break up the clumps.
Lastly, the cleanup for this recipe is relatively easy. Going off of the recipe I am posting, only three cooking dishes need to be cleaned; the pot, the pan, and the colander. Other than that, stirring utensils and the cutting board will need to be cleaned, but this can be accomplished relatively quickly making this recipe truly thirty minute gourmet.
And without further ado, here is the recipe.
Shrimp and Mushroom Butternut Squash Ravioli with Cream Sauce (adapted from allrecipes.com)
1 (12oz) package of butternut squash ravioli
3 tablespoons butter
10 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 handful spinach, sliced (to taste)
1/2 cup butter
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 oz cream cheese
3 tablespoons dried parsley
1 tablespoon basil (to taste)
1 cup boiling water
1/2 lb shrimp
salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ravioli and cook until al dente. Drain.
While the pasta is cooking, heat 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and cook and stir until tender. Transfer to a plate.
In the same pan, melt 1/2 cup of butter with minced garlic until fragrant. Reduce the heat and add the cream cheese, breaking it up as it melts. Stir in the parsley, basil, and spinach. Simmer for 5 minutes. Mix in boiling water until the sauce is smooth. Add the shrimp and continue cooking the sauce until shrimp is pink. Add mushrooms and ravioli and stir until heated and incorporated.
Home for spring break? Want to impress your family or treat your friends to a delicious dinner? I have the perfect recipe for you.
The other day, I was testing pesto recipes for work. When I say testing recipes, I mean testing A LOT of recipes. I can officially make pesto with my eyes closed. And yes, I still smell faintly of garlic. You may ask: what does one do with so much pesto? There are three answers: (1) Eat it on chips, (2) Jar it and give it to your boyfriend’s mom for extra brownie points, (3) Make something fabulous for dinner to go with it. We’re going to focus on number three.
This pasta is covered in a kale & almond pesto that I made with all my leftover ingredients from that day. For an added textural component, I threw in some larger pieces of kale. At the very end I tossed in some sliced grape tomatoes for brightness.
This recipe serves 2, but feel free to double or triple amounts for larger parties.
Kale & Almond Pesto
1 cup of roughly chopped kale
2 tablespoons of roasted almonds
3 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of lemon juice (about half a lemon’s worth)
zest of a whole lemon
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 teaspoon of salt & pepper
Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until you reach a spreadable consistency that isn’t too creamy. It should not be fully smooth!
To assemble the pasta…
1 more cup of roughly chopped kale
1 cup of grape tomatoes sliced lengthwise
Extra parmesan cheese & black pepper to top off
To make the Tagliatelle, follow the boiling directions on the package. I say this because it varies from brand to brand. If you can’t find Tagliatelle, Linguini would work great in this as well.
Roughly chop the kale and stir it in to the pasta after draining. If you put the lid to the pot back on for a few minutes, the kale will wilt perfectly.
Add the tomatoes and the pesto last and toss it all together until evenly mixed.
Serve and top with parmesan and freshly ground black pepper to taste! Enjoy!
If you are looking for a quick and versatile recipe to add to your collection, look no further. This recipe for one-pan pasta is probably my #1 go-to when I need to make something impressive. It can easily be prepped, cooked, and cleaned in less than thirty minutes, making it a perfect recipe for nearly any occasion.
Even beyond the speediness, its taste alone will make it one to ad to your bookmarks bar. Cooking all the ingredients together allows the water to absorb all the flavors, which is then absorbed by the pasta. Instead of having a heavy sauce coating the pasta, the recipe relies on the natural flavors to give the pasta a much lighter and subtler taste.
Something else I love about this recipe is that it can stand alone or be a perfect side to nearly any main course. One of my favorite pairings for this recipe is a lightly seasoned salmon. Just a light brushing of butter, salt, and pepper draw out the natural flavors of the fish, much like this recipe does for the pasta, making it a perfect match. And the recipe is highly malleable. I have tried different ingredients and found that as long as the proportions are right, there are very few ingredients that would pair poorly with this pasta. I altered my personal recipe based on food sensitivities and other preferences, so it’s good to try many different variations to develop a personal recipe for your taste.
One final thing I have to compliment this recipe on is that cleanup takes less than five minutes. The cutting board and knife can be cleaned while the water is heating, leaving just the pan, tongs, a fork, and a plate or bowl (unless of course you are sharing the pasta). And because there is no sauce, there is hardly any mess to take care of. Really, it is so simple it can be done in a matter of seconds.
Now onto the actual recipe I have been raving about.
12 oz cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
3 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 small onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
7 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 sprigs of basil
3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
3 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 ½ cups of water
Combine all the ingredients in a large straight-sided skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs until water has nearly evaporated. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
As learned from the women of Sex and the City, dating in New York City can be rough. It’s even rougher when you’re a college student, living on a college student budget. If your parents are anything like mine, they are reluctant to give you much “food money” because of the amount they’re already spending on your meal plan. With that being said, living in one of the most expensive cities in the country doesn’t help much either. No one wants to blow his or her entire weekly allowance on a first date. Unfortunately, this leaves little room for “wining and dining.”
Don’t worry, though, there is hope! Believe it or not, nice date spots that won’t break the bank exist. So, in an effort to ensure that you don’t disappoint your date and get to see them again, I’ve compiled a list of tasty (cheap!) spots.
CREAMLINE NYC in Chelsea Market
Chelsea Market is an experience in and of itself. Inside its brick walls lie dozens of restaurants and shops. One of which, is the all-American restaurant, Creamline. From peanut butter/jelly/banana sandwiches to grilled cheese fingers to fried oreos, Creamline NYC satisfies all of our childhood cravings. Follow dinner with a walk on the High Line, which is right to the market. Trust me, you’ll need to walk off this meal.
P.S. DO NOT skip the malted milkshake. Worth every calorie.
Treat yourself, and your date, to some mouthwatering dumplings at Mimi Cheng’s. My personal fave is the steamed ‘Reinvented Classic’ dumpling, made with pork and baby bok choy. The laid back environment is the perfect place to bring someone you’re just starting to get to know. For dessert, order the caramel apple pie dumplings- they are a must-have!!
S’Mac, aka Sarita’s Macaroni and Cheese, is basically every mac and cheese lover’s dream come true. They offer specialty mac and cheeses and made-to-order mac and cheeses. For me, the best option is the build your own mac and cheese. With 15 cheeses, 4 herbs, 12 veggies/condiments, and 6 proteins to choose from, there is something for everyone. It’ll be hard for your date not to be satisfied. And, if you’re “of age,” follow dinner with drinks at one of the quirky bars that the East Village has to offer.
As long as Gaia exists, there’s no need to spend $25 on a plate of pasta at some fancy Italian restaurant. This little hole in the wall serves up prime Italian food with rich flavors. My personal favorite is the spinach and ricotta gnocchi; it’s the perfect consistency! They also do daily pasta specials, which keeps things interesting (hopefully like your date).
Warning: they do close relatively early and fills up quickly, so plan ahead, and make a reservation!!
No one usually looks to a marketplace for a great date night. There are too many people just standing around clogging the aisles with their hungry, indecisive bodies. There are too many kids running around screaming and begging for ice cream. But take a step into Eataly and you might see more than just a market.
Though there are many great restaurants in Eataly, I went to Manzo. Service was friendly and attentive. Waiters waltzed in between tables, ties dangling from their necks, and two men in suits strolled around, making sure everything was in order. The staff carried themselves with an air of professionalism, not often akin to marketplaces. After a while, I got the sense that the restaurant was not built in the market; rather the market was built around the restaurant.
I started my meal with a plate of carpaccio. The plate was covered entirely in thin circles of meat, striped here and there with tender, marbled fat. Peppered across the dish, shards of parmigiano reggiano provided a salty and nutty compliment to the meat. A clump of watercress rested in the center. The color and the taste of its citrus vinaigrette gave a pleasant contrast to the slices of meat. I meant to take a picture of the carpaccio, for it looked quite lovely. Yet, I already finished half the dish before I remembered to do so.
Next -and yes, I did get a picture of this one – I had a duck ragu with foie gras. The very essence of duck seemed to have soaked into the casarecce pasta. The dish was indescribably savory, rich, and hearty, but delicate as well. It was the type of dish you could picture both in the fanciest of restaurants and at a casual meal made by that great aunt from Sicily, who wanted to visit you while she was in New York even though you’ve really only seen her once or twice in your lifetime. Since I find myself grasping for words to describe this ragu, take a look at the picture and go to Manzo to get it for yourself.
At last, I got a wonderful lemon meringue, appropriately named Leggero. That’s Italian for “light.” Topping the meringue was a sweet blackberry swirl, a fresh blackberry, a tangy dab of lemon gelato, and a few sprigs of basil. Indeed it was a lemon meringue, but the basil made the dish. It added a certain complexity to the dish that forced you to keep eating in order to understand how it fit so well on top of a dessert. All in all, I found the meringue to be a delightful, palate-cleansing end to the meal. And just look at it. Gorgeous, isn’t it?
Manzo is a gem hidden in plain sight. Ignorant of the bustling shoppers all around, this restaurant provides a warm and friendly dining experience with tastes to satisfy most everyone…except vegetarians. Sorry, Manzo’s specialty is meat.
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.
After two months of Ferris and John Jay sketchiness and mediocrity, with the full weight of closed dining halls upon us, my suitemates Rebecca and Trevor, along with myself, set out to solve the issue of our potential starvation. Subsisting on fun-size Snickers, Kit Kats, and Haribo Gummy Bears (full-size and petite) could only last our souls and arteries for so long, and we set out on a three-course meal extravaganza.
Trevor looked for the autumn-inspired appetizer, entrée, and dessert recipes, and after much debate (“BUT THESE DON’T INCLUDE PUMPKIN, UGH, THEY DON’T QUALIFY AS FALL WHAT IS MY LIFE”) settled on garlic-rosemary “Hassleback” potatoes, a casserole-like eggplant-roasted-red-pepper baked spaghetti, and an innovative no-bake Greek yogurt cheesecake. Brimming with anticipation, hunger, and slightly intimidation, the three of us ventured to Garden of Eden (gasp!) to avoid the expensive black hole that is Westside Market (PSA: 10% discount for Columbia students with ID!).
Split three ways, the total cost of our grocery load equaled that of one meal swipe, a fact we found nothing less than remarkable.
We set out first to make the crust and filling for our no-bake cheesecake, as that would take the longest and had to be chilled. Crushing the graham crackers was surprisingly easy and quick (and therapeutic!) thanks to a heavy-duty rolling pin and Ziploc baggie. Melted butter made the crust complete, and soon the entirety of the minuscule Hartley kitchen smelled like gingerbread cookies. It took all of our willpower to not eat the crust as-is. I can’t say the same for the filling, an interesting hodgepodge of cream cheese, Chobani, lemon juice, and sugar, a heavenly yet simple combination.
After leaving both the crust and filling to chill away in the fridge, we moved promptly on to gingerly slicing away at the Hasselback potatoes. The recipe called for a specific slicing technique, where half-moon chunks of potato would be very thinly sliced, leaving the bottoms intact to hold maximum flavor release from the garlic and rosemary. Five huge Russet potatoes, one tiny, incompetent knife, and many thin slices of garlic and fragrant sprigs of rosemary later…
Though preparation was long, leaving it to work magic in a 425-degree oven was all that stood between the potatoes and our stomachs.
Next, we moved on to roasting the vegetables for our pasta bake’s sauce and base. By this point, the several passersby who were understandably entranced by the abnormally delicious smells in our suite eyed us with envy as we snickered shamelessly.
After a quick pureé of the roasted tomatoes, peppers, and onions, we added some spaghetti cooked slightly under al dente, and then began assembling the dish, falling into silenced awe between gasps of how good the fresh buffalo mozzarella was (at this point, we were so hungry we resorted to half-laying the mozzarella on the dish itself and half-inhaling it).
Eight minutes searing under a 450 degree oven left us with surely one of the world’s greatest pasta dishes.
Though we were waiting impatiently for our cheesecake to finish chilling (cake for breakfast is always a good idea, even better if it’s cheesecake for breakfast), this was all-in-all, an utterly successful attempt at feeding ourselves like “real adults.” With a little experimenting and a lot of hope and luck, we were able to start off fall break on a comforting and delicious note with these easy yet completely satisfying recipes. Definitely give them all a try and you will surely end up as pleasantly surprised, ecstatic, and full as we did.
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
Ocean Grill is hands-down one of the best picks among the Restaurant Week selection! Not only was the environment great for an upscale yet cozy date night, but the food was absolutely delicious!
Waiters were very friendly and knew the menu well. The dining room looked as if it was converted from a townhouse. It could get a little noisy on nights when the tables were full. But generally the environment – with dim lighting and Hampton style decorations – was good for a romantic occasion.
Out of the pre-fix menu, the port poached Bartlett pear salad was delicious, even though there was a bit more goat cheese than expected.
The star of the night was the entrée – seafood cioppino. A linguine pasta with a generous serving of seafood: shrimp, clams, mussels, and hake, finished with red wine and tomato sauce. The smooth texture of the linguine and the fresh seafood combined to make it the perfect pasta dish.
Ocean Grill offers a very wide variety of options. From the regular dinner menu, the miso-glazed Chilean sea bass is highly recommended. Perfectly tender and full of flavor, a friend (a total foodie who has tried out a ton of restaurants) has described it as “the best sea bass” he has tried and has come back to the restaurant several time just for this dish!
Besides several seafood entrees, Ocean Grill is famous for its raw bar with different types of oysters and clams, hand-selected and seasonal. It also offers a sushi bar with a wide selection of maki rolls.
To learn more about New York Restaurant week, follow this link