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Mar 12, 2010 09:02 AM

A not so short summary of my recent NYC trip

Thursday night: dinner & brewskies at Backforty -- nice place, good beer selection. Got two orders of the pork jowl nuggets which were kinda boring. The chicken liver mousse was pretty delish, if very mild; an appetizer special that night was pork belly confit with a fried egg over lentils. That was pretty good.

My main was the lemon-coriander roasted chicken, which was really, really good. My man had the beer sausage which was ok, but it caused some, um, discomfort later that evening. Perhaps the kraut....

Our buddy had the lamb shank, but he "doesn't share well with others" (WTF??), so I can only rely on his verdict: good.

I'd say that overall, this is a nice neighborhood place, but I probably won't go back -- too many other places to check out.

Friday: lunch at Yasuda. OMG, awesomeness with a capital A. Sat at the bar with a buddy, and we both chose the matsu prix fixe for $36. Unfortunately, the selection for that prix fixe is a somewhat limited one -- you get a different sheet than the one with the super-fresh fishies marked in red. That said, everything we had was fantastic (tho I could kick myself for choosing salmon. ugh. you can get that ANYWHERE), but the most outstanding nigiri we had was kochiko.

The sushi chef said it was fish guts, but having googled it, I'm not so sure anymore what exactly it is. In any event, it was fan-freakin'-tastic. Much milder than expected, lovely texture. I had only chosen 8 of the 12 nigiri, and left the other 4 for the chef to decide: cherrystone clam, scallop, and some other things I don't recall. Delicious. I will be back!!!!

Friday dinner: Convivio. Kinda sucked. Review's already been posted.

Saturday lunch at the Oyster Bar was fine -- hard to screw up fresh oysters.

Saturday dinner at Resto was alright. Our original plan to have the goat had to be nixed due to not enough mouths to feed, so we had to order a la carte. It was a fairly late rez (9 pm), and we had done some wining at home, so we were a bit tipsy by the time we got food.

The deviled eggs on pork toast were awesome (THANKS for that tip, I wouldn't have ordered them otherwise), as was the tete de cochon. In fact, I thought those were even better than the deviled egg toasts. I could've just eaten the tete for dinner.

The moules I ordered had opened maybe 30% so I sent them back and got a new batch. They were fine, but nothing to write home about.

Sunday lunch was dim sum at.... some place in Chinatown with a playground in front of it. Sorry I can't be more specific, but we had gone to two other places that were still packed at 2:15, and we were starved. So we just followed our friend around to this place on the second floor, where we had a lovely array of dumplings, duck tongues, watercress, sticky rice in lotus leaves, and lots of other things I don't remember. Excellent.

Spent the rest of the afternoon walking towards and around the Village, where we happened upon GROM. OMG. Best. Pistachio. Ice Cream. Ever. Also had some chocolate gelato, tiramisu, and Sicilian tangerine. Refreshing and not too sweet.

Sunday dinner was Motorino. Meh. Not sure what the hype is all about, but New Yorkers seem to like to hype up new places as "The Next Best Thing on Earth/In Town". But after having walked past a line of middle-aged people forming in front of Keste that afternoon, roughly an hour before they were opening, nothing surprises me anymore '-)

They were out of the pizza I wanted, so I got the Brussels sprouts pizza. Which was ok. I wouldn't have ordered it had I known that it was a white pizza, which I'm not crazy about. For me, pizza has to have tomatoes on it. Oh well. The service, otoh, was outstanding! Really friendly & efficient. If we hadn't been so full, we would've gotten dessert at Momofuku Milk Bar.

Instead we had a night cap at Blue Owl, a nice bar on 2nd where we happened to catch some jazz singer.

Monday was our departure day. Our friend had brought two containers of, respectively, barbecued and roasted pork, the crispy morsels of which I kept feeding to my driving man. Next to our garage is Nam Pung, where I got two banh mi's (never had one!) for the road: sliced flank steak which was totally awesome, and brisket.... which was practically inedible in the car -- too messy, one big hunk of VERY fatty meat. We finished that one off in Tannersville.

Overall, great trip. And once again, the cheap(er) food -- save for Yasuda -- was better than the pricier stuff. I think next time I'll just stick to that.

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  1. "Sunday dinner was Motorino. Meh. Not sure what the hype is all about, but New Yorkers seem to like to hype up new places as "The Next Best Thing on Earth/In Town"."

    You have cracked the code. BTW, nice report.

    18 Replies
    1. re: Bob Martinez

      He he. I was expecting to catch a lot of flack for that, actually, AS well as for my Convivio report. Ugh. Nice to see there are some sane people out there '-)


      1. re: linguafood

        You should see what's going on with Pulino's, a high end pizzeria that's scheduled to open next week. Various commercial food websites have been hyping it to death. Over the last week we've been treated to minute by minute reports as they tell us when their awning goes up and pictures of their bathroom. God help us when the place actually opens.

      2. re: Bob Martinez

        New Yorkers and hype. Probably often true. But Motorino is the real deal IMHO.

        1. re: boccalupo

          OK. I should know better not to get into this, given the pizza wars that rage through the board on a regular basis.

          But I was just not very impressed. I thought the dough was OK (I prefer a fairly thin and CRISPY crust), chewy and fairly flavorful.... but the pizza was just OK. Not a place I'd return to.

          The apps, otoh, were pretty nice: fresh mozza with roasted peppers, and an octopus potato salad. Nice.

          1. re: linguafood

            I respect your right to your own opinion, but I have to say that I don't really understand why you ordered something that you know you don't like.

            You say that you prefer a thin and crispy crust, but you went to a Neapolitan pizzeria well known for serving pies with a thick, doughy crust (that's what Neapolitant pizza is).

            You say you ordered a white pie even though you don't like white pies. Why didn't you find out what you were ordering before you did so?

            I'm in no way tied to Motorino, in fact I prefer Keste, but it doesn't seem right to criticize a place when you know that you ordered something that you don't like.

            1. re: ml77

              Relax. I didn't say the place sucked. I think it is WAY OVERHYPED, like most nextbestthingintown places in NYC. New Yorkers love hype. They will stand in line for pretty much anything (which is funny, cause it reminds me of visiting East Germany).

              I was well aware of what kind of crust is served there, but you know what, sometimes I don't mind stepping out of my pizza 'comfort zone' and having a different style. It was OK.

              I did NOT know that the Brussels sprouts pizza was a bianca, and I am not sure whether this was even indicated on the menu. Had that been the case, I would not have ordered it. K? If I overlooked that piece of info -- my bad.

              1. re: linguafood

                The Pizza Wars are always fought to the death. :-)

                  1. re: linguafood

                    Linguafood, I know it's your opinion, but it's WRONG! ;-)

                    Personally I'm a fan of Motorino. I prefer it over Keste. I like the puffy charred crust. If you want a very thin cracker-like crust, you may want to check out Vezzo next time you're here. It's not my preferred style, but people who like that kind of crust speak highly of it. (I'm recusing myself from that front in the Pizza Wars).

                1. re: linguafood

                  You did over look that piece of info. All the ingredients for each pizza are listed on the menu, including tomatoes for the margherita pizza. I personally love the brussel sprout pizza but my wife finds it way to smokey.

                  1. re: ESNY

                    I guess I did. For me, pizza comes naturally with tomatoes, if it's a bianca, it's usually pointed out. Oh well. Life goes on, doesn't it? '-P

                    1. re: linguafood

                      It happens. My wife was shocked that a special prosciutto pizza she got had no sauce even after the waitress specifically mentioned it, so I know these things happen.

                      1. re: ESNY

                        Well, had the waitress mentioned it, I probably wouldn't have ordered it. And frankly, I think a bit of tomato sauce would've improved the pizza.

                        I *really* wanted the cremini pizza, tho, which was out at that point. Bummer.

              2. re: linguafood

                I hate brussels sprouts and am not a fan of them on my pizza.

                Let's just say that NYC pizza scene has been amped up like 10 notches in last 3 or 4 years. Some like this or that place better. The fact is that almost all these places are making high quality pizza. with a high degree of care and high quality ingredients. The fact that New Yorkers are excited by this new wave of places is quite justified.

                Ask someone to name 10 high quality pizza joints in New York going back to, say, 1995 and see how many places you can come up with.

                1. re: boccalupo

                  Understood. I guess I had no idea how bad NY pizza had been before this upcrop of new places, especially given the pride NYers take in their style of slice.... but I really, really, really don't want to go there!

                  I have no horse in this race, and pizza in general doesn't get me nearly as excited as, say, a great Sichuan place, or dim sum.

                  1. re: linguafood

                    Sliced pizza is really a whole different animal.

                    The best pizza in NYC has always been in places that served whole pies, generally in sit-down type places. Up until fairly recently, there were very few worthwhile places like this here. In the last few few years there has been a major growth in this area.

                    While i agree in general that NYC is a city of fads and trends and 'the next big thing', I do not feel that this trend in high quality pizza places will be a passing fad. The best of these places will become part of the lasting fabric of New York's culinary scene.

                    1. re: linguafood

                      The pizza scene was never as bad as a few of these people mention. NYC has consistently had good pizza well before the influx of these gourmet type places. Did every place have good pizza, no. Just like all other foods there were good and bad. Some of the newer type joints are definitely good and are a nice change of pace from the more traditional slice you get on the go but in the end it is still just pizza. I

                      would say that different types of food get the spotlight every so often and people seem to go nuts over them, pizza is just the latest. Sometimes these trends result in an expanding of good traditions (pizza), other times they don't (ie dumbed down banh mi). Don't feel bad if you don't believe the hype on this one.

            2. Great report, linguafood.

              Hope to try Yasuda on my next trip!

              1 Reply
              1. re: phoenikia

                Thanks! I really had a great time -- the fabulous weather didn't hurt! And I can highly recommend Yasuda. Outstanding.