Tag Archives: pasta

Cheap Eats NYC: How to keep your date (and wallet) happy

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.

Click for their menu. 

MIMI CHENG’S DUMPLINGS in the lower East


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!!

Click for their menu. 

S’MAC in the East Village


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.

Click for their menu. 

Gaia Italian Cafe in the Lower East Side


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!!

Click for their menu.

Happy eating, and happy dating!!


Manzo in Eataly

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.

Manzod Duck Ragu

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's Lemon Meringue

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.


200 5th Ave

New York, NY 10010

Tel: 212.229.2180

Max Soha – Cozy Italian Place with Great Pasta

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.

MaxSoha gets crowded on most nights.

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.

La Pugliese


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.


1274 Amsterdam Ave (corner 123rd St), New York, NY 10027


Operation Hours: Monday-Sunday Lunch noon – 4:00pm Dinner 4:00pm – 12:00am

Payment Method: Cash Average Price (per person) $23

Alcohol: Beer and Wine

Take out: Yes    Sidewalk: Yes

Dress code: Casual

“Mozzarella and Eggplant and Potatoes, Oh, My!”: We Will Not Starve this Fall Break


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.

IMG_3095 IMG_3096

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.

In progress…
Blurrily mixing away!
Tangy, sweet, delightful

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…

Cutting this was an ordeal of greatest proportions
Begging to be seasoned
A veritable work of art

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.

Before: prepped for the oven
After: let’s just eat this and die happy
Our appetites were not the least deterred by the unsightly lighting in this kitchen
There are no words for this

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).

Decorative Hartley walls
Gorgeously appropriate Halloween colors
Nothing short of amazing

Eight minutes searing under a 450 degree oven left us with surely one of the world’s greatest pasta dishes.

Gratuitous sprinkling of * real * parmesan cheese (you’re welcome)

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.

The Importance of Eating Your Heart Out

I will begin with a truth that is probably, hopefully very real to us all; it is midterms. There are so many assignments and classes and life happenings that it seems like there is never enough time in the day to do what one needs to do. Self-care – sleep and shampoo tend to be seen less and less in times like these – seems to be the first thing to go when times get tough. For me, the most essential aspect of self-care has always been taking the time to cook, to nourish myself with something healthy and whole. That might mean yogurt and fruit for breakfast instead of cereal in a bowl, a quick open-faced smoked fish and avocado sandwich with a carrot rather than something premade (after handing in what felt like a few too many essays, I made a pilgrimage to Zabar’s and I promise that it made everything ok), or a tomato and broccoli rabe pasta with a smattering of cottage cheese that was worlds away from anything microwaveable.

With each meal, I feel like the lost hours of sleep are gained, like the energy that has been drained from me is poured back in. It is more than therapeutic—this food makes me feel like my breaking soul is re-membered. And if you are reading this and thinking, “but it is mid-terms, and there isn’t time to cook!” then I would urge you to recall any times in the last weeks when you have procrastinated and wasted time. Now, think about how possible it is to fill that time with meaningful activities; this may not look like you hovering over a stove or spending hours at your favorite grocery store (Fairway is my new home), for this may not be the way for your mind to unwind and for you to feel wholly relaxed. I have just seen a lot of youtube videos being watched, a lot of catching up on Netflix queues being achieved. While that is all good fun, just think twice next time before you say that you don’t have time to cook. For me, walking down the aisles at the grocery store, mesmerized by the bright, oftentimes witty packaging and kernels of goodness within them, is where my mind is clear. It’s where I feel ok. Then, once these goodies make contact with my bowl or pan, I can feel that I am putting something good into myself, that protein, dairy, whole grains, and an array of vitamins are keeping me going. So far, it feels like a worthwhile use of time, but I guess we’ll see how I do on my midterms before I say anything more!

Tanya enjoys pasta, because it is delicious and makes life good.
Tanya enjoys pasta, because it is delicious and makes life good.

An Italian Restaurant You Can’t Go Wrong With

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.

Spinach Lasagne

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!

Daily Special - Stripped Bass came with Buttery Mashed Potatoes and Spinach

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

Tel: (212) 749-1125



A Great Restaurant Week Pick

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



384 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10024

b/t 77th St & 78th St in Upper West Side


Phone number:

(212) 579-2300


Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Postcards from (Italy) : Squid-Ink Pasta

A couple of weekends ago, I took my first ever, entirely alone trip: three days in Venice over Easter weekend.  Nervous at first to be completely on my own, I arrived feeling slightly on edge and uncomfortable. But having done my research and knowing exactly how to get from the airport to the actual island of Venezia, I arrived safely and with no problems. And I knew almost immediately that the weekend would be a success, because as I stepped off that shuttle bus, something new and unknown hit me square in face, reminding me that everything would be alright….

The sun.

Let me just explain that last statement in saying that for the last four months, Paris has been damp and grey almost every day. Not as if I’m complaining about being in Paris, but human beings, we need sunlight. We’re like plants. We die without sun.

Not only was it sunny, but on top of that, I was surrounded by the sea. That’s another thing I didn’t realize I missed so much; in Manhattan, we are an island, completely surrounded by sea, and I think there is something profound, something centering and deeply human about being near the water. Seeing that Paris is completely landlocked in the center of France, and the only water we get is that of the Seine (believe me, you DON’T want to touch that), I guess I had been missing my big, wide-open expanses of sea that I had taken for granted back home.

So first thing I did: buy a vaparetto pass, sit in the front seat of the boat way up at the tip and ride out into the bay of San Marco.

Second thing I did: lunch.

A friend had told me before I left that I should go to “Trattoria Alla Madonna” near the Rialto Bridge, and that if there, I MUST get the squid-ink pasta. Although I wasn’t planning on going right off the bat on my first day in Venice and I had no clue where the place even was in the first place, I stumbled across the restaurant and figured that like the sun and the ocean, Venice had made my lunch decision for me.

The squid-ink pasta I ate in Venice was the best thing I ate the entire weekend. It was daunting, even for me who eats everything, to slurp down black squid-ink, I was surprised at the freshness of something that so resembled the color and texture of tar. Nonetheless, the sauce tasted like the sea (a flavor that oyster and urchin fans understand), but also had a deep earthy richness. It tasted like foie gras of the sea. Needless to say, the pasta was also cooked to perfection.

I am now fully convinced of the beauty, luxury, and complete pleasure of solo-travel. Of course we need other people in our lives, that’s a given. But today, where we are constantly plugged-in, surveying our own lives and the lives of others via whatever social medium of the moment, or even simply committed to our families, friends, clubs and professors, breaks from this constant commitment and responsibility are desperately needed. For me, at least, this is true, and I wouldn’t have known for not having been brave enough to go to Venice alone for three days.

And most importantly, I wouldn’t have eaten squid-ink pasta.

Pasta with Homemade Pesto, Kale, Cherry Tomatoes, and Potato

Savannah starts her season, The Seasoned Kitchen…

Over this past winter break my boyfriend, Andrew, and I prepared a special dinner just for our parents. Inspired by their love for Italian food and our recent kale cravings, we returned from Whole Foods with a bag full of winter greens, plump cherry tomatoes, a block of Parmesan, fresh hydroponic-grown basil, some raw pine nuts, a wholegrain baguette, and a russet potato. Unloading our purchased ingredients onto the countertop and gathering the rest from the cupboards, we vigorously began chopping, peeling, slicing, dicing, boiling, straining, and dancing to Arcade Fire. My dad often laughs at us when cook because nothing is ever organized, and by the time we’re done there is not one surface that goes untouched. Although food is everywhere, there is always enough cooked for seconds.

One of the greatest things I love about cooking for family and friends is its ability to bring people together and make them smile. While we scraped our bowls clean, we spent most of that night sitting at the table talking and laughing with one another. The dinner we made for our parents was probably one of the best we prepared (and repeatedly made) all break. I hope you, your friends, and your family enjoy this recipe as much as we did.




Homemade Pesto (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

1 large bunch of basil, stems removed

2 cloves of garlic

Small handful of pine nuts

¾ cup of grated Parmesan

Olive oil



1 bag of whole grain rotini, or other spiraled pasta

3 tbsp live oil

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 large bunch of kale, washed, dried, and roughly chopped

1 medium russet potato, washed, peeled, and diced

¾ cup cherry tomatoes, halved

Homemade Pesto

Red pepper flakes (optional)

Grated Parmesan (optional)



  1. To prepare the pesto start chopping some of the garlic with about half the basil leaves. Once finely chopped, add some more basil and the other garlic clove, chop, add the rest of the basil, and chop.
  2. Using the blade of your knife, scrape and pat the mixture of chopped basil and garlic into a rectangle on the cutting board. Add about half the pine nuts, chop, and add the rest of the pine nuts. Scrape mixture back into a rectangle. Add half the Parmesan, chop, add the rest of the Parmesan and chop until everything is finely chopped and evenly mixed.
  3. Transfer into a small bowl and add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  4. Prepare a pot of well-salted water for pasta. While the water heats, put the diced potato into a small pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Let simmer for about 5-7 minutes until the potatoes are soft but still firm enough to hold their shape. Strain and set aside.
  5. To prepare kale heat 3 tbsp of olive oil and minced garlic in a large wok or pan on medium heat. Add chopped kale to pan and sauté until wilted, about 5-7 minutes.
  6. Lower the flame to medium-low and add about 1 cup of water to the pan with the kale. Cover and let simmer for 3 minutes (this step helps soften the kale some more). Turn off stove, strain kale, and then transfer back to pan. Put pan back on stove but don’t turn on. Add halved cherry tomatoes and cooked potatoes.
  7. Cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Strain pasta.
  8. Turn the stove on medium-low and warm the kale, cherry tomatoes, and potatoes. When warmed to desired temperature add the pasta and mix until evenly distributed.
  9. Remove pesto from fridge and stir before adding to the pasta mixture. Then add pesto and stir until evenly distributed throughout the pasta.
  10. Serve and garnish with grated Parmesan and red pepper flakes.

Fika Fridays: Chocolate Pasta (Oh Yeah, It’s Real)

Over Election Day break, my roommate Allison got flown out to Seattle for a job interview.  I’m one of those people who really likes rainy days (a bit irrationally so) so when my roommate asked how much it rains in Washington, I don’t think she was expecting so much joy in my voice when I exclaimed, “It rains nine months of the year in Seattle!”  (Seattlites should feel free to weigh in on their rain feelings in the comments.)  When Allison came back, she couldn’t bottle up cloudy days but she did surprise me with a package of dark chocolate linguine.

I’m sorry, Tlaloc, but I’ve gotta say that I was far more thrilled about these chocolate noodles than even the best Manhattan rains that have come about this fall.  The concoction comes from Pappardelle’s Pasta, a pasta supplier founded in 1984 that ships its products to farmers’ markets, hotels, restaurants, resorts, and speciality vendors around the country.  Pappardelle’s produces 100 different flavors of fresh pasta and ravioli.  Its website focuses on the artisanship of pasta, describing the intricate process of choosing the pure durum semolina flour vendor (spoiler alert: its in North Dakota).

For this week’s fika, I began boiling my chocolate linguine.  Almost immediately, the faint scent of chocolate began filling up my studio double.  The smell of chocolate pasta cooking, just for your reference, is not quite like that of cookies in the oven.  It’s not like pudding, or hot chocolate.  It’s not melting chocolate chips.  It’s not a cake cooling on the counter.  The smell of chocolate pasta is an oddly effervescent scent, if that’s even possible.  It bubbles forth into the air, unassuming and confident.  It melts into the air.  Your brain recognizes the theobromine in the atmosphere, perhaps, but you know it’s different. And it is.  Because it’s Pappardelle’s traditional pasta recipe with dark cocoa in it.

Continue reading Fika Fridays: Chocolate Pasta (Oh Yeah, It’s Real)