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Aug 30, 2011 09:49 AM

Favorite Menu Items in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Teaneck, and Beyond

Aside from service and ambience (which are definitey important), a restaurant is only as good as the menu item you order. Only the very best restaurants will excel at every item on their menu. Two people can go to the same restaurant, and order different things. One person will love their choice, while the other will be very disappointed. They will each judge the restaurant based on what they chose from the menu.
Based on this premise, which I know is simplistic (since everyone's taste is different), what are your favorite menu items (appetizers, mains, sides, desserts) at restaurants in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Teaneck, etc.?

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  1. Do items at defunct restaurants count? Two of my favourite items used to be the spicy duck soup at Kao San, and the vegetable cutlet at Zion.

    Olympic Pita's bean soup and matzah ball soup are the best I've had of those kinds; so is the vegetable soup it serves on Tuesdays.

    1. The Roman Jewish artichokes at Va Bene, the Margherita pizza at Noi Dui, the sweet potato fries at Noah's on the LES, the veal scaloppini at Tevere 84, EVERYTHING they make at Pardes.

      Actually, pretty much everything they cook at Va Bene and Tevere 84, too.

      5 Replies
      1. re: AdinaA

        I agree on Pardes. Well everything except for the service. :)

        1. re: shaytmg

          I'm surprised; we've always had great service at Pardes, friendly and knowledgable.

          The one thing I do wonder about is how it works when more than two people are dining. We have always gone as a couple and shared everything, so we don't really mind if dishes are brought one at a time. However, I could see it being an issue if more are dining together, or even if as few as two are dining together but not sharing. I would imagine it being uncomfortable for one person to be served and have to wait for the others' food to be brought. Would anyone who has had this experience care to comment?

          1. re: queenscook

            The food was great and the service was great until they brought the food. I went with my wife who is vegetarian and pretty particular about food. She won't eat olives or fennel which is in every vegetarian dish they have, and the cook will not change anything. This was not the problem though. My wife ordered a soup as an appetizer and French fries and a salad for dinner. They brought everything out whenever it was ready in the kitchen, after an hour wait for food mind you.

            Secondly, my appetizer plate was not cleared even though the waiter and bus boy made several visits to our table after I polished off my chicken and waffles. Even more surprising was that the waiter had to push my empty appetizer plate out of the way to put down my main, yet didn't clear it.

            Typical awful service I have come to expect from kosher restaurants, but absolutely nothing typical about the food. It was pretty damn good.

            In essence a restaurant is more about logistics than the food.

            1. re: queenscook

              We had that experience last winter- me, my husband, and a friend. The waitress seemed to be knowledgable about the food but wanted to give us a rundown of the whole menu, not just what we had questions about. We specified what would b appetizers and entrees, but that never happened. Each plate was brought out as it was ready, which was a little weird because we weren't sharing everything. Sharing plates never appeared and plates were never cleared, even when we asked.

              In the end, the food was great, but the experience was a little awkward since not everything was shared.

              The part that killed it for me was another customer. I was (very) pregnant at the time and needed to get out of my seat to use the restroom. The way I was sitting, I had to ask another customer to get up so that I could pass through. He ignored me, and when my friend asked him to let me through he wouldn't get up. My husband called the waitress over, told her what had happened and asked her to talk to the other customer. The other guy ended up moving... but that kind of soured the meal for me.

              1. re: cheesecake17

                After all this talk about Pardes, I had to go and try it and here is my review: My wife and I made 8:30 reservations and showed up at 8:00 hoping to be seated earlier. The hostess actually apologized to us for not being able to seat us right. That was just the beginning of our favorite dining experience ever. It is true that there is not much space for seating, but the staff was totally helpful and extremely pleasant the whole evening. Our waiter "introduced" us to the menu with actual knowledge and practical advice - not just the typical "this is my favorite." In the end we chose the seared tuna, chicken and waffles and marrow bones for appetizers and the chicken and pardes burger for main dishes. The seared tuna came out first and was outstanding. It had a sweet sauce and a spicy sauce that complemented each other very well and the chic peas was a great addition to the dish. We both loved the tuna. The chicken and waffles was, in my humble opinion, brilliant. The combination of the tender chicken pieces (organic) on the sweet waffle with the (I think) peanut sauce was delicious. I believe with a larger portion, it would have made for an excellent main dish as well. The marrow bones came 3 pieces standing with cuscus overflowing from the tops. Simple yet heavenly. If you are not too neat or health conscious, try eating the fat cooked on the outside of the bones...yum!!! Then came the main dishes. My wife's chicken was a work of art. It had boneless tender chicken breasts and a couple of chicken wings surrounded by veal sweetbreads, some type of mushroom I can't pronounce, small chestnuts and the peanut sauce. Fortunately, my wife was in a sharing mood. It tasted so good that I was almost jealous until my burger came out. It looked amazing and tasted even better! The bun was a soft roll with part of the bread scooped out and some lettuce tomatoes and I believe onions in the cratered space (nice touch!). The meat was perfectly cooked and tender without being too juicy or raw. It came with a side of fries that were one of the best I ever had (you can order as a side dish if you don’t order the burger). I washed down my meal with a Kwak beer that came out in a bong shaped glass connected to a wooden handlebar - tasty and fun! At this point, I made my way to the kitchen to thank the chef for what was my best dining experience ever. It was also 10:15 and we had to get home to our baby sitter, but I couldn’t leave without ordering dessert. We got the walnut ice cream and something else (don’t remember the name but it had a cream topping that was fantastic). The walnut ice cream was by far one of the best desserts either of us ever tasted. It came in a bowl surrounded by cookies (I am not sure what type of cookie but it fit perfectly in) which together was “I can’t stop smiling delicious” but the addition of the cooked (I think) apples made it, if at all possible, even better. To sum it all up…we can’t wait to go back!!

        2. To answer my own question: The Veal a la Giudia (with artichokes) at Tevere 84, in Manhattan; the chopped chocolate milkshake at MochaBleu in Teaneck; The Prime Rib Steak at El Gaucho in Brooklyn; the Pizza with spinach, tomatoes, and garlic in Benny's on Avenue M in Brooklyn; The Marinated Chicken at Jerusalem 2 on Avenue J in Brooklyn; The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Iced Blendeds, in California, Las Vegas, and I think opening soon in NYC; The Chocolate Oreo Cookie Blendini at Rita's Ices in Edison/Highland Park, NJ; the Mozart Cake at Noi Due; almost everything at Delice Bakery in L.A.-- breakfasts, pastries.....

          1. Not in any of these towns, and a little lowbrow, but the onion rings at Holy Schnitzel in Staten Island are really good. Outside of metro NY, the meat knishes at Rubins in Brookline are awesome!

            1 Reply
            1. re: seikoloco

              seikoloco: Just changed the title to include kosher favorites anywhere. My question encompasses lowbrow, highbrow, and anything in between.

            2. love the mushroom veloute at solo, the black miso cod at prime ko, the chocolate chip pancakes at garden of eat-in, and fried chicken at kosher delight (low brow, but delicious none the same)