Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Good Bagel In NYC Is Like Having A Good Friend, And The Bagels At Brooklyn Bagel and Coffee Co. Are My Best Friends

Though I wonder is it a good thing to want to eat your friends? Well in this case yes it is.

For some reason, in this darn town, good Bagels are becoming hard to find. Don't get me wrong you can find Bagels in every food shop from Inwood to Coney Island, but just because you buy a Bagel in New York doesn't mean it's any good.

I actually have some experience. Back in my younger days, high school in fact, I worked a part time job at a Bagel shop in Mt. Kisco (Westchester Co, NY) where I'd make the Bagels each day before I went to school. This is where my love for Bagels grew and my appreciation for making a great Bagel was born. Flour, Yeast, Salt, Water and some kind of malted smelling stuff. I still remember watching all that mix in the gigantic mixer until it became dough, pulling it out and cutting it into pieces. A little Flour for the cutting board then I'd take the rolling pin and flatten it out, not too flat as the owner liked his Bagels plump (me too.)

There are many ways to make Bagels. There are many places to buy Bagels. There aren't many places to get good Bagels...did I say that already?

Dunkin Donuts? You gotta be kidding me. Einstein Bros.? Not a Bagel. The Street Carts in the morning? Good gosh no.

The place for me is Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company, and the one I go to is on 8th Avenue between 24th and 25th (286 th 8th Ave.) They have 3 other locations, all in Astoria:

35-05 Broadway
36-14 30th Ave
35-9 Ditmars Blvd

A good Bagel has a hard exterior, just like most New Yorkers. And just like most NY'ers, when you pull back that tough shell you'll find a soft interior, or in this case a delicious filling. It really boggles my mind when people ask to have the middle of the Bagel scooped out because they are trying to watch their weight. Skinny little ladies in their ultra tight jeans miming the act of scooping because the guy behind the counter might not know what she means. Ok that might be a stereotype, but it sounded good.

I guess I'm a purest. I often like to eat a Bagel with nothing on it, fresh from the store, still warm from the oven. When I used to bake Bagels it was so hard not to stuff myself constantly. Bagels right out of the oven are sooooo soft and delicate, you can peel them apart without any trouble and cram them down your throat and not even know you ate one.

What's great about Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company is that their Bagels remind me of the old days, and isn't that what it's all about? Good memories, great times.

Not that I eat it often but their selection of Cream Cheese is outstanding and their Coffee is top shelf. They also make delicious Breakfast Sandwiches, a variety of Pastries, Salads and Sandwiches for Lunch as well.

So get your butt on over there to try one of the best Bagels in the city and stop eating the crappy ones you usually buy!

The Pizza At Aliotta's Pizzeria Was 'Molto Bene!'

Molto Bene in Italian means 'very good' and usually is accompanied by some sort of lips kissing finger tips, not that I do that. I'm Italian, well half of me is, but in no way do I speak the language much to the dismay of the other Italian kids that I grew up with. They called me a fake italian...nice, of course I don't speak to any of them anymore. I can actually speak english and sound like I'm Italian, but then I sound like Marlon Brando in the Godfather...'We're going to make him an offer he can't refuse...' Sometimes I scare people when I do that.

Either way I loves me some Pizza and working in a newish area the first thing I gotta do is try out all the Pizza joints. It's exhausting, especially when you try to do it all in one day! Ok that's not what happened. So far I've tried two places, one that I won't mention and the other being Aliotta's Pizzeria at 191B Prince Street. I actually found it online through GrubHub since I was alone and not able to go out for lunch, so actually it was a shot in the dark that it would even be good.

Obviously by the title of this piece you already know how it was, yes it was good, quite good, especially since I'd had no prior knowledge of the place. But isn't that really how it should be? I mean I know there is a whole system of reviews and stuff, and sort of what I do here, to help people find new places to go, but isn't it a little self defeating to never go out on a limb? Not that eating Pizza is really reaching but it could have been total crap. Thankfully it wasn't.

The crust was extra crunchy with lots of bubbles and charred edges...love that. The cheese was extra gooey and tasty. Sauce oozed out the edges dropping blotches on my paper plate which I later mopped up with crust. If there was any complaint, but it's not really a complaint, was that it was a bit thick, not the typical thin crust NYC style Pizza, but that's just being picky. One benefit was that I was able to save some slices the next day because who doesn't love cold Pizza?

Honestly I don't think I would ever go out of my way to eat at Aliotta's again, there are far too many other Pizza joints that I prefer. However if I am working Downtown again and have a hankering to have some Pizza delivered, it will certainly be ordered from there.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Look Out NYC! The Girl Scouts Are Coming! The Girl Scouts Are Coming!

It's bad enough that there are Girl Scouts set up at every damn supermarket out where I live screaming out to ask if I want to buy cookies when I enter and leave the stores. "No, I don't want to buy your damn cookies! I didn't want them when I came in and I certainly don't want them now that I'm leaving! I already ordered the damn things from my neighbors little girl and even she was annoying about the whole process! Jeez!" I get a little excited.

Now comes word that the little cretins will be milling about the City tomorrow in their Girl Scout Cookie Trucks, AHHHHHHH!

Save the date my ass...

In case you were wondering they will be in four locations, primarily in the Midtown area...apparently Downtown is beneath them, literally and figuratively! Well screw you kids, Downtown NYC has plenty of delicious cookies to choose from.

8:30am-10:30am  42nd and Madison

11:30am-1:30pm  57th bet 6th and 7th

2:30pm-4:30pm   Park Ave bet 52nd and 53rd

Amsterdam Ave bet 70th and 71st

Beware the evil hordes of little girls in their costumes pretending to be sweet and kind, wanting you to buy boxes of their delicious cookies! They really just want your souls!

Hmmmm...on second thought, are Samoa's worth my soul? Quite possibly.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lunch At Zoie's on Beach Street Was...Well...Not Good

I should have known better.

I mean 'wichcraft was right around the corner and I knew that would have been better, but Zoie's Cafe and Delicatessen enchanted me with their amazing chalkboard sign out front. I saw it from down the block on Greenwich St. standing there begging to be read.

A hole in the wall. A greasy spoon. Whatever you want to call it but that's what it is. I live by the belief that appearances don't always matter especially when it comes to food, or is that people? I don't know, I confuse myself. The worst thing is being hungry in a part of town that you are not yet familiar with, because deep down inside of you is a machine that is telling you that you need to eat...it's called the stomach. It is quite a powerful device.

Part of me wants to find the next great meal, something that I can rave about over and over, recommending it to everyone I know...but that may be unrealistic. You see there is far more bad out there than good. Wait, I should say that there is far more mediocre than good. Also I'm not saying that my lunch was mediore, it was just plain bad. Harsh words, I know, but I'm more mad at myself for going there than anything.

A telltale sign should have been all the various added menu items, or specials that were scotch taped to the bottom of the menu that hung overhead. It was about as nice looking as the lady behind the counter whose grey roots had gave her an almost skunk-like appearance.

 This was as close a picture I could get because I must say that she scared me a little. As I stood there looking up at the menu trying to figure out what to order she loudly told me that I should just look at the menu she was holding instead, which was beautifully laminated for ease of use. There was far too much to choose from, yet another sign that should have told me these people really don't do any one thing well and that I should tell her that I would be right back. But somehow I still had hope. Hope that I had found the next great whatever they make and could pat myself on the back for the greatness of my abilities. Maybe my abilities ain't so great.

I spotted a warm sandwich that sounded appealing, Chicken Cutlet with Mozzarella, topped with sliced Cherry Peppers, and thought why not. What really happened was that I couldn't find the sandwich I had seen on the chalkboard outside, the Cuban, and it felt like the woman's eyes were about to burn a hole in my chest, so I panicked and eeny meeny miny moe picked my lunch.

Let's just say it wasn't at all what I had imagined, it was worse. It was like a couple of pieces of cardboard with some melted chewy stuff, topped with some sour red and green things between two pieces of very dry roll. Does that explain it? No? Well look for yourself:

The Chicken, if you could call it that, was just a re-fried piece that had been in the refrigerator too long, it's a miracle I didn't get sick. The Mozzarella was some garbage processed cheese that was of very poor quality, and the Peppers! Well they were just old tasting.

And the worst part of this whole debacle, the part that I am most ashamed about is that I spent $9 bucks on the damn thing when it wasn't even worth $2! It's making me mad right now!

Life goes on in the end (unless you die from food poisoning) and I have to move on. The old saying is go with your gut feeling, but in this case it did not serve me well. Being hungry in a strange land (Tribeca) can be dangerous my friends, so be careful and be warned!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

At Bubby's In Tribeca It's All About The Pie...And The Rest Of Lunch Was Pretty Good Too

Oh my that was quite some pie.

I don't often try to rhyme but that was to easy.

My supervisor was nice enough to treat me to lunch the other day and suggested we go to Bubby's in Tribeca at 120 Hudson St, which I had never been. She didn't try and sell it too much but I'm easy...at least when it comes to food.

So we braved the frigid weather and walked a couple of blocks down to the restaurant and were promptly seated by the window in the semi-crowded dining room. 9 times out of 10 I am all about the food and that's it, if the place is a shit hole and they make good food I'm happy. However occasionally I get wrapped up in the ambiance of it all and really give the place a once over. And on this particular day there was good reason to since Katniss Everdeen herself (Jennifer Lawrence) was sitting right next to me! Now I am no star monger. I am not in awe of famous people when I see them, but I do like spotting them from time to time, you know to impress my friends back in New Jersey.

After all that excitement there was a meal that needed to be ordered, and first off something to drink...not liquor unfortunately, after all we did have to go back to work.

Normally I wouldn't point out what I had to drink but this was homemade Cola and as you can see it was served in a jelly jar...an added bonus. It was really good. Sweet but not overly sweet if that makes any sense.

For my meal I chose the Fried Chicken Biscuit with a side of Cole Slaw, not a stretch but I was feeling like I wanted some comfort food.

Other than that pile of green stuff on top of my piece of Fried Chicken it was really great. After de-flowering the battered breast I cut into the cutlet which was 10 times larger than the poor little biscuit half that was being smothered below. I almost felt sad for it...that was until I ate it as fast as I could. The Chicken was coated with a light Honey Mustard which was just the right touch and didn't overpower the delicious flavor of the white meat. The side of Cole Slaw was good but it needed a little salt and pepper but that's no crime. Honestly though it all paled in comparison to what was coming next, a virtual curveball thrown by the waitress who I'd mostly ignored.

She asked if we wanted some dessert and we were both going to pass...that was until she told us it was National Pie Day which peaked our interest immediately. She rattled off several special choices but she already had me at Lemon...(you complete me)

"I'll take the Lemon one you talked about." I said not even remembering the exact description, but it just sounded too damn good. It's called the Shaker Lemon Pie and was one of the best Pie experiences I've ever had, and I'm not kidding, in fact I am still thinking about it. What stuck out to me was the Lemon Zest pieces that were in the Pie giving it almost a Sour Lemonade flavor that just worked perfectly with the amazing crust and the cream that was on the side.

So if nothing else everyone needs to try the Pie.

Like I said Bubby's is located at 120 Hudson Street and is unfortunately battling some ugly NYC street construction out front but don't let that stop you. If it does click the link below for the actual recipe of the Shaker Lemon Pie, and as usual you can thank me later...


Thursday, January 24, 2013

brgr Makes The Best Burger In The City...And That's No Joke

So I've just started a new job, actually it's been two days now and I really like it so far, but the best part about it is that it brings me back to a part of town that I haven't frequented in some time...Midtown. Honestly it's not my favorite part of the city, I'm a Downtown kind of guy (sounds like it should be a song,) so it's gonna take some getting used too. As with most parts of the city that I haven't been to in awhile it's changed a lot, so much so that it's almost unrecognizable, ah but who cares. I'm most concerned with the food options.

On my first day at work I set out on what was an incredibly cold day, to find something quickly, but as I like to say just because it's cold and you don't want to go far you don't have to make poor choices. Luckily for me my choice was simple....brgr. A couple of blocks from my office was a place I have always yearned to try especially since I had walked past the one Downtown on 7th too many times when it wasn't meal time...how depressing. There are always those places. They are along your route but because of timing you never really get a chance to try them. Well let's just say that some places are worth making time for.

Now I know brgr is known for their fabulous shakes as it says so on their windows, but their name is why I went, and besides I've never been a huge shake guy. I wanted to know if they had a tasty burger and one that could compare to the best of the city. Let me tell you friends this one probably beats them all...yes I'm talking to you Shake Shack (I still love you though.)

Look at those buns! I am quite the connoisseur of buns. As the old saying goes with great buns comes great burgers, not great pants because I know that's what you were thinking so get your mind out of the gutter. Anyway many things were great about this burger. Especially the extra sour pickle slices which I found delightfully surprising. Usually in a burger you get the run-of-the-mill pickle slices that you can buy at the grocery store but you can tell these were made with care...and a purpose. My taste buds thank you brgr maker.

If you've read my blog before you may have heard me talk glowingly about IN-N-OUT Burger which is a burger chain based out of California and only stretches as far as Dallas. I spent some time out west stuffing my face with a few Animal Style Burgers (I can't tell you what that is, I'd have to kill you first) that I now hold all other burgers up to their standard. Now I've eaten a lot of burgers, a lot, so I know a thing or two, and I know that I really haven't found a burger to match here in NYC. Yes I know people love Shake Shack and so do I, but there is a big difference between being just merely good and being memorable.

brgr was a completely memorable experience.

Above was my side. French Fries, Sweet Potato Fries and Onion Hay, yeah those are some delicious pieces of Onion man. It wasn't enough to plow through a scrumptious, delectable hamburger called 'The Beautiful Day Burger,' but I just had to continue to stuff my pie hole with an amazing amount of salty goodness.

Listen do yourself a favor and go try it out. They have a website:


They have two locations in Manhattan:

7th Ave Between 26th and 27th and

3rd Ave Between 60th and 61st

Eat well my friends...thank me later.