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Are you making a specialty food?

If you had to choose between the following restaurants...

tamasha Dec 9, 2006 08:32 PM

What would you choose? I'm planning to "take" (by which I mean, he will end up paying) my dad for his birthday. The list is based on what's available on Tuesday around 8pm.

-Mercer Kitchen
-The Orchard

Menu suggestions welcome too.

  1. l
    Lucia Dec 9, 2006 09:07 PM

    I don't think you could go wrong w/Hearth, Apizz, The Orchard, or Crispo. I think that Hearth is the least casual/most special of the 4, but my last dinner there didn't live up to my previous experiences. At Apizz, the gnocchi is great, and I love the risottos I've had at both Apizz and The Orchard. Crispo's carbonara is very good, but my favorite so far is the pappardelle w/mushroom.

    The only one on your list I haven't been to is Mercer Kitchen. I've only been to Falai once because I didn't enjoy my meal there. My one meal at Maremma was good, but not nearly as good as the others above.

    1. m
      melodyt1313 Dec 10, 2006 01:09 AM

      I've been to this entire list except for Hearth and my vote is easily Apizz... Great atmosphere and great pizzas.. I loved this place..

      Falai, Crispo, just OK.. Mercer Kitchen was terrible last time I was there, trendy, but the food was subpar.. And Maremma was overpriced Italian that you could get at any neigborhood pizzeria.. Didn't even like the decor there...

      Can't go wrong with Apizz!

      1. d
        diropstim Dec 10, 2006 05:07 PM

        Falai disappointed on many levels and The Mercer is just a joke. Frank Bruni compared it to a SoHo outpost of Applebee's in his last (zero-star) review of the place. Check out The Bruni Digest for a hilarious Re-review.

        1 Reply
        1. re: diropstim
          Brian S Dec 10, 2006 05:28 PM

          Though I agree that Mercer is not the place to go, I just read Bruni's review and am surprised and somewhat saddened. I went there for lunch many times several years ago and was never disappointed. Oh, I would have never put it on a list of New York's culinary highlights, but I thought it pretty much deserved its two stars. I havent been there in two years and I suppose it has gone way downhill. But the last time I went the current chef Christopher Beishcer was there, and it was as good as ever.

        2. n
          namreb Dec 10, 2006 05:19 PM

          Apizz is my stand by. Best polenta with truffles.
          Hearth is more expensive as far as "special" goes.
          Much different price range.

          I too want to try The Orchard and Peasant.
          Barbone too.

          1. h
            hillofgrace Dec 11, 2006 01:43 AM

            Hearth is fantastic. Upscale but relaxed, wonderful welcoming staff and professional service, and amazing produce-driven food that is 'warm' without being hokey and pretentiously rustic. A great choice for a family dinner. It has an interesting little wine list too. Not cheap, but definitely worth it.

            1. nyufoodie Dec 11, 2006 07:08 AM

              I'd go for Hearth,
              the Orchard then Apizz.

              1. Nosher Dec 11, 2006 08:57 AM

                The Orchard, then Apizz, then either Hearth or Falai is the order I'd put them in, although I don't think these are uniformly apple-apple comparisons.


                NYCnosh* http://nycnosh.com

                1. n
                  nychowgirl Dec 12, 2006 05:10 PM

                  I would definitely pick Hearth. It feels more special than Apizz or the Orchard but it's homier than Mercer Kitchen. The food is amazing. I can't compare it to the others as I haven't been, but that's my vote.

                  1. j
                    jonasblank Dec 12, 2006 05:24 PM

                    In order:

                    Falai - innovative, consistent, interesting. Get one of the more unusual-sounding desserts.

                    Hearth - with a Dad, it's a "nicer" restaurant. Good wine list, great service, seasonal ingredients.

                    Apizz - because it's better than the Orchard

                    The Orchard - this will be dicey on a weekend night with crowds. I loved it in the beginning, but it has been a little downhill lately. Still a good choice though.

                    Have not been to: Maremma, Crispo (but wish I had)

                    Would not go to mercer kitchen. I went in 2003 and thought it was pretty mediocre then. See above post re: Bruni's review, which is hilarious.

                    1. w
                      wallywalnuts Dec 19, 2006 09:23 PM

                      Was at Peasant over the weekend. Completely underwhelmed. I like Crispo quite a bit. Delicious appetizers...and the carabonara is to die for.

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