This week we are going to tell you about some fabulous food we had during our most excellent vacation in NYC. We are not going to bother with the restaurants that let us down (yes Shake Shack, we’re referring to you) – because that would be the wrong way to remember our adventure. Instead we are going to tell you about some restaurants or food stalls that will have us remembering them with love, smacked lips and happy discovery.
One: Bergen Bagel: Brooklyn’s Finest Bagels: around the corner from our St Jame’s Place apartment. Fresh baked, on site, all through the day, 10 varieties, $1 per bagel, with a million different toppings. And as a kicker – the sweetest guy managing the place: “Give her anything she wants, any way she wants it.” My go to: tuna salad on sesame, hold the butter. Three sites, only in Brooklyn, worth crossing the Hudson for.
Two: Luzzo’s: when an Italian who adores pizza sits there with big eyes waving her slice of margherita con burrata at you – speechless as she munches her way through the crisp yet somehow miraculously chewy crust; you know you have hit the motherlode. Which was, rather interestingly, baked in a coal oven at a Gansevoort Market stall! Between $5-$9 per slice. Worth every mouthful. We went back.
Three: M’o: Real Gelato at a tiny stall also in the Gansevoort Market, perfectly positioned to follow a slice of pizza. Made by hand, fresh every day, best locally sourced ingredients, everything but the milk brought from the motherland. Interesting flavours, but I am a gelato purist, and their Chocolate Sorbet was the best I have ever tasted.
Four: GRK Fresh Greek: From the people who brought you drama, democracy, and alarm clocks, a new take on classic Greek food. We took a wrong turn out of the subway and found ourselves by finding this place. Yeeros (traditional meat “gyro” – chicken, pork or beef marinated and roasted, thinly sliced and wrapped in a house-baked (as you wait) pita or on a plate. Served with tomato, onion and your choice of tzatziki. They also serve soups, salads and frozen yoghurt. All prepped right in front of you. The space is chic and modern, but you know the real deal is manning the yeeros.
Five: Alimentari Il Buco: The Treat – a wonderful, warm, full tummies dinner with great friends of many decades. The Branzino – (European Sea Bass) was cooked with such gentleness and respect, we could have sworn we were back on the road and in Italy. But no – we were on Great Jones Street oohing and aching as dish after dish of sublime Italian food came our way. The table had something of everything so I won’t quote the litany – but the carpaccio of radish with a dredge of parmesan, toasted hazelnuts, crisp breadcrumbs and fresh white anchovies was a stand out. Actually – so was the pasta, and the deep fried artichokes, and the roast octopus. Claudia was even in raptures about the bread. Great praise indeed. We loved everything about the restaurant, the company and the evening.
Now as a bonus, just because we could and so we did ….
Six: Semilla: The Splurge. I had read about this tiny restaurant in a Vogue article about the new Vegetable Forward movement in the US. I was intrigued: “What do you think”, I asked Claudia, “fancy finding out?” “Absolutely – let’s do it” she emailed back immediately, and so I booked. The tasting menu is $85 without wines, the seating is communal and you get allocated an arrival slot. How does anyone justify all that with veggies only?
Flawlessly as it turns out. Each evening’s menu is vegetable-leaning with meat and/or fish playing a more supporting role. The courses are based on ingredients that are the best of what’s available from local farmers, and the menu changes according to season and inspiration. You have no idea what you will be eating until it arrives in front of you. In fact, they email you the menu the next day, a lovely touch.
Not every course was a total success (Turnip Brioche with Truffle Vinegarette was wide of the mark), but that was half the fun and the overall experience was wonderful. Go soon, the night we ate at Semilla they had just been awarded their first Michelin Star. So, getting a seat at their 18-seat central bar from now on is going to be a lot trickier.