Posts Tagged ‘Eataly’

Brunch Bunch Brawlers – Part I

Brunch – how snooty I thought! That’s for women driving Jaguars, who plan their day around socials with other women driving BMWs. Who has time for a meal in-between meals? Alas, New York City has forced brunch upon me! It seems a majority of the city’s restaurant owner believe it is okay to restrict my ability to eat lunch on a Saturday! This angered me. Every noon-time reservation I tried to make came with a brunch menu online. The lunch menu is only available Monday through Friday when I am absolutely unable to venture in because……I don’t work in the city. Why was I being punished for living in New Jersey? Why am I not allowed to have a smaller version of dinner items mid-day – you know, around lunch time?? Shouldn’t I be able to order lunch during lunch hours no matter the day of week?!….Exhale…..

What stemmed from a schedule change in life has now resulted in a new habit. Dinner was the preferred meal for dining out – it’s grand, it ends your day on a satisfyingly full belly and you don’t need to think about food until the next morning (except for we night owls who -see what I did?- nibble late night). A change in circumstances caused me to start gathering friends together for Saturday lunches and where else but in nearby New York City for a mini quarter-day trip.

First up in December 2017 was Eataly Downtown because I wanted to impress with the panoramic view and an actual lunch with no dish resembling breakfast. There were five of us for the first jaunt, so we fit nicely packed into a sedan with a little food expansion room. Since the delicious dishes will be too many to list, I must highlight some favorites to provide a Brawlers’ compilation. Any chance I get, I cap the meal off with a stroll or drive to Pasticceria Rocco’s, and if you don’t know why, read all the mentions in my blog posts.

A week later, still in my brunch protest mode, another group of five headed to the Upper West Side to Celeste. Because it was on the other end of the island, I tried Cafe Lalo (made famous in “You’ve Got Mail”) for the first time. While it was visually fun and appealing, the quality of the desserts just didn’t measure up. I tried.

Yet another week later, I tried to get my toes wet and found a brunch menu at The Ribbon that included lunch items like burgers as well. I went for it with a Breakfast Sandwich: House Made Pork Apple Sausage, Avocado, Grilled Onions, Fried Egg, Cheddar, Butter Lettuce. It made me tingle with the idea that I could get used to this. I would never have meat for breakfast but combine it with an egg for brunch? Now we’re talking possibilities. Even a Fox 5 anchorwoman seemed to enjoy herself here. At this time I was on a best-pie quest and read that Petee’s claimed that title. I’d label it “OK”.

2018 began with Locanda Verde, which really dove into brunch. I was slowly converting. The Hudson River was like a floating iceberg that day, and sitting against the glass windows, I couldn’t remove my coat. But the meal began with Locanda’s own fresh baked goods: Apple and pistachio danish and cranberry goat cheese scone. A zucchini frittata followed by a hearty Rigatoni lamb bolognese, sheep’s milk ricotta and mint plate and closing with the fluffiest lemon ricotta pancakes, never imagining a fluffier one was yet to come.

We snuck in a return visit to Eataly Downtown with a new crew of five, but the area we ate in is a seasonally changing restaurant. Then it was La Stagione, so pasta it was, closing with a most important run over to Rocco’s:

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Celebrating a friend’s birthday – and with a record eight attendees in one vehicle – closed out January 2018 and the closest thing to brunch was the fried egg on top of the thin crust pizza at Otto Enoteca, a place of nostalgia for me. Pasta and more pasta was had and still we had room for Rocco’s after walking there through Washington Square Park.

Il Buco delivered one of the cutest decors and was another true lunch. I made a guess that their bread was from Sullivan Bakery but was surprised to learn they made their own! It was a small group of four on a rainy February day. The cod croquettes were a nice diversion, and I won’t even say where dessert was had!

Five of us were warmed up by the healthy-minded brunch at Hearth on another cold February day.  Bruschetta with goat cheese and carmelized onions, Mushroom brodo for dipping a wild mushroom and cheese sandwich, Bacon/egg/cheese on warm english muffin with contadina potatoes were some of the tempting items.

March rolled in with a double shot of Bar Primi. The brunch was so good the first time, I returned with six others the following week, and we all were treated with eating near Actor Patrick Stewart.

To be continued in Part II, where the Brunch Brawlers Bunch are fully addicted to this in-between meal….

OCD with Batali at Eataly

I am not obssessed with Batali/Bastianich eateries.. I am not obsessed with Batali/Bastianich eateries… I am not.

One just must understand that when I bark for mealtime and dish after dish is placed in front of me that continues to satisfy every epicurean cell of my being, I will return for that gastronomic experience like a loyal puppy. And so, Mario Batali has collared me and walked me to numerous establishments in New York City to lap up some luscious morsels that make me want to run around in circles over. There is one place that leaves me in the center of a culinary carnival with difficult choices to make whichever direction I face. That is the wonder of Eataly – an Italian food market modeled after the one in Turin, Italy. Mario Batali, Lidia & Joe Bastianich, and Founder Oscar Farinetti have joined together to bring this permanent food festival to NYC.

Walking into Eataly feels like you’ve entered a European cafe with hightop tables for those ordering gelato and/or coffee. As you traverse the center aisle, smells of Italian products waft through the air – from packaged Baci chocolates to

Sicilian breaded Swordfish

cheeses and cured meats. The carnival really begins when you turn the corner to the counter of La Piazza, where crowds are standing at marble tabletops, delighting in platters of salumi and formaggi, sipping on wine. The making of fresh mozzarella is displayed. If you make it past here without ordering something, your will is stronger than mine. Two eateries are eye-cathingly at the center: Le Verdure, which pops with colorful plates of fresh, local, seasonal products but no meat, and Il Pesce, serving seafood dishes with all the fish coming from Eataly’s Seafood Counter. This is the place I found myself sitting twice. Although you are essentially dining in the center of a ‘supermarket’, it feels nothing like a

Grilled Cod on roasted corn w/basil, yellow/red grape tomatoes

Grilled Shrimp and mixed greens w/speck, roasted figs & balsamic reduction

food court and everything like a piazza with the case of fresh made pastas being sold just across the way. The sight and smell of the plate in front of me tend to take full hold of my attention to notice much else.

There are 12 eateries in total to feast upon, which guarantees you’ll need to return for a different meal. They vary from casual pizza and pasta to a new rooftop beer garden to an upscale “meat palace”. Because each place is so specialized, the only problem lies in that everyone in your group needs to be in the mood for the same type of food (meat, fish etc.). If there’s a vegetarian, and there’s someone that wants fish, they’ll be eating in separate quarters but can meet up at the dessert or espresso counter or to shop afterwards.

Food and Italy – since they seem almost synonymous, Eataly is a harmonious combination of both that everyone should rejoice in at least once.