Sorry, New York! We ate all of your food. Hope you guys weren’t left too hungry…
On our blog we talk about our healthy lifestyle. Ignore that for this post. In our travels, we approach a great food city with gusto and hearty appetites. Each time a trip ends, we agree that we REALLY need to rein it in and do better on the next trip. Then, it all goes out the window when we get on a plane. So, our tagline healthy life SEEKING is very much a work in progress. (Does it help that we walked more than 9 miles each day? Yeah, I didn’t think so.)
We spent 3 full days and 2 half days in NYC. We ate in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island. Everything was accessible via the subway or Staten Island ferry. Our cornucopia included foods from Bolivia, Venezuela, Italy, China, America, Cambodia, Mexico. Germany, Hong Kong and the Dominican Republic. Our indulgences varied from celebrity chef restaurants to food markets. We ate outside while standing and were served in beautiful spaces.
The best pizza I can recall eating (apart from Naples, Italy) is in Brooklyn. I lived in Manhattan from 1993 until 2001. After a fun day at the beach, we would drive out of the way to Patsy’s Pizza under the Brooklyn Bridge. If we didn’t arrive early, we might be on line outside for well over an hour. Many years ago, they changed their name to Grimaldi’s. Even though I have visited NY since moving away, this was my first time to Grimaldi’s since 2001. Our Aibnb was in Brooklyn so a stop here was a no-braine
Grimaldi’s – It appears that there are lots of locations now. We visited the spot under the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a block from the gorgeous Manhattan skyline and with stunning views of the Brooklyn Bridge. No liquor license. They used to play Sinatra. The night we visited, they played 80s pop. I love the genre but Sinatra was a better choice. We enjoyed a large pepperoni pizza and gave our leftovers to a hungry man on the street. $25.00 (cash only) – Amy A // Tim A
Junior’s – A New York icon. We went to the original landmark in Brooklyn and ordered a piece of plain cheesecake at the bar. While waiting, we were served our own bowls of mixed nuts. I picked out all the cashews, Tim took the almonds. The bartender was a storytelling master and shared stories of Junior’s history (pre-1950) as well as his own fascinating life. The cheesecake was good, the whole experience was great. $12.00 – Amy A+ // Tim A+
The next day, we skipped breakfast knowing we were having a big lunch. We were fortunate and grateful that a dear friend took us out for lunch in midtown Manhattan.
Marta – Mega-restaurateur Danny Meyer’s spot in the swanky Redbury Hotel. We shared 2 appetizers (Ricotta e Peperoni – Ricotta, Oven-roasted Peppers, Grilled Sourdough, Aged Balsamic and Nebrodini Arrostiti – Wood-fired Mushroom Salad, Kale, Thyme, Lemon), 2 pizzas (Salsiccia – Pork Sausage, Cremini Mushrooms, Mozzarella, Pecorino and Margherita – Mozzarella, Basil) and 2 desserts (Cannoli Cheesecake – Pistachio Creme and a trio of sublime housemade gelati). Every bite perfection. Service exceptional. Room gorgeous. Price unknown! – Amy A+ // Tim A+
Chelsea Market – In the city that never sleeps, this gourmet treasure was closing at 9PM on a Wednesday. Uh-oh! We arrived at 8:15 and couldn’t leisurely eat a nibble of this and that until we were satisfied. We had to divide and conquer. Num Pang Sandwich Shop got me with their Five-Spice Glazed Pork Belly Sandwich with Pickled Asian Pear and Tim brought back 2 carne asada tacos from Los Tacos No. 1. They were sold out of the pork tacos. I can’t imagine it getting any better than the beef! 2 brownies from Fat Witch Bakery to go – a walnut witch and an emerald city (mint) witch. The sandwich was Amy’s favorite food item on the trip. $26.52 – Sandwich Amy A+ // Tim A+ – Tacos Amy A+ // Tim A+ – Brownies Amy A // Tim A-
Turnstyle – I was skeptical about an underground food market so close to a major subway station. It opened a month ago and reviews were good so we tried it out for lunch. Shared a Triple Pork Chola (Roast Pig, Bacon, Pork Belly Cracklin’) from Bolivian Llama Party and a Pabellon (Shredded Beef, Black Beans, Sweet Plantains, Guayanes Cheese) from Arepa Factory. They were both complex and delicious. The Arepa was Tim’s favorite. Unfortunately, I forgot to snap photos. We were with one of my best friends and I was so excited to be with her, the food came second. For your drooling pleasure, I attached photos from their respective Instagram accounts. $27.10 – Pabellon Amy A+ // Tim A+ – Arepa Amy A+ // Tim A+
Enoteca Maria – Growing up in New Jersey, going to school in Boston and living in Manhattan until I was 33, I had mistakenly assumed that Italian American food was good everywhere. Nope. I’m talking lasagna, eggplant parm, chicken marsala. You won’t hear any complaints from me about the food scene in Denver with this one exception. I’ve given up and always try to make up for it when I visit back East. We had planned to take the Staten Island Ferry just for fun so I figured we’d find some pretty killer Italian food there. Reviews of Enoteca Maria were stellar and we were excited for the splurge. Italian grandmothers are the chefs…hopes were high. We ordered the Melanzane Ripiene to start (Baked eggplant boats filled with rice, ground beef, peas, mozzarella and ricotta cheese topped with slow-cooked red sauce). The two-piece serving made sharing a breeze. Mine was served warm (not hot) and Tim said his was too cold. Since they were served together, I figured they were the same. For our entrees, we wanted a special Lasagna Bianca but were told it would take up to two hours to finish cooking. It was 9PM so we picked something else. I usually avoid gnocchi because three bites makes me too full but theirs is made with ricotta and it’s supposed to be much lighter. We tried the Gnocchi della Nonna (Homemade ricotta gnocchi simmered in a homemade marinara and topped with ricotta salata) but it didn’t taste any different from any basic gnocchi I’ve ever had. Not bad, not good, just okay. The Braciole di Carne (Tender rolls of veal filled with vegetable and mozzarella cheese cooked in red sauce) was a good selection because it’s too involved for me to cook at home. It was served cool. Tim said it was about the same temperature as his appetizer. Because our items were baked (not sauteed), I didn’t know how they would warm them up without it taking 30 minutes. We ate it all and regretted spending too much. Their dessert menu is brief. We had the cookie plate which included 4 different options. One reminded me of my grandmother’s most-delicious-ever almond Christmas cookies so that was a win. $125.00 (cash only) – Amy C+ // Tim C+
Russ & Daughters – No trip to NYC is complete without a bagel, cream cheese and smoked salmon sandwich. We waited in line for 20 minutes and chose an everything bagel with scallion cream cheese and were offered TEN options for the smoked salmon. Thank goodness for Google and a long wait time. I picked the Scottish Salmon and it actually melted in my mouth. If it wasn’t for the bagel, there would be no chewing. The bagel itself wasn’t exceptional so we marked it down for that. The salmon was transcendent so it still gets a high mark. $13.07 (one sandwich) – Amy A // Tim A
Tenement Museum Food Walking Tour – We LOVE food tours but they are usually pretty pricey. Because we were already buying a ticket for a tour of the tenement building, we received 40% off the same-day food walking tour. This tour was much different than others we’ve taken. There was a tour guide and a helper. The helper schlepped food samples with her and ran ahead to pick up hot items for our group of 20. This means we didn’t go in any of the stores or restaurants. It allowed us to sample and learn more than we would have on a typical food tour. Our guide was a master at painting a picture of what immigrant life was like on the Lower East Side. We sampled authentic bites galore with no time for pics – german pretzels with horseradish mustard, Italian salami and cheese, a fresh pickle and pickled pineapple, more cheese, Dominican tostones, a chocolate-covered pretzel, a Beijing dumpling and a Hong Kong egg tart. These tours are currently offered Fridays and Saturdays and they sell out in advance. The tour alone is normally $45 per person. $59.00 (includes a tip) – Amy A+ // Tim A+
Our own abbreviated Lower East Side Food Tour – While there were many bites on the Tenement Museum’s food tour, they were small and we wanted to try some additional stops.
- We had a plain knish at Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery. Tim said he’d never had a knish so we needed to make that right. My Yelp check-in history told me we’d been to that same place on a food tour in 2011. It was just okay but I should have selected something beyond a plain. $4.08 – Amy B+ // Tim B+
- Kossar’s for a bialy. What’s a bialy, you may be asking? This short video will help. Kossar’s is the oldest bialy store in the US. Unfortunately, they were out of bialy’s! We were steered toward a pletzel instead and had it toasted with butter. Very sorry these don’t save well or my freezer would be stocked with them. $1.00 -Amy A+ // Tim A+
- Doughnut Plant – Hard to pick just one! Tim took the decision out of my hands with the Peanut Butter & Banana Cream Filled Doughnut. There’s a reason doughnuts remain one of my favorite foods on the planet and this was an excellent example. $4.00 – Amy A+ // Tim A+
Economy Candy – No food tour of the Lower East Side would be complete without a visit to Economy Candy. This started as a shoe and hat repair shop with candy on the side. During the Depression, the candy business took over and the rest is sweet history. Thankfully, they were getting ready to close and there was a monstrous line, so no candy for me. This store is my idea of heaven.
Sing Kee – A foodie friend highly recommended a visit to Sing Kee. After our food extravaganza day, we headed to Chinatown and waited for a table. The clientele let us know this might be the real deal. An extensive menu made ordering tricky. Thankfully, a Taiwanese food-obsessed friend was available by text. I sent the whole menu to her and she sent me her suggestions. Shrimp and Egg with XO Sauce Chow Fun and Salt Fish and Diced Chicken Fried Rice. Our friend said ordering for two was a little tricky and made 2 terrific choices. There were tons of leftovers we were happy to pass along to another hungry man on the street. The salted peanuts were tastier than salted peanuts should be. $44.00 – Amy A- // Tim B+
The Plaza Food Hall – The weather was cold and rainy our last few hours in the city so we planted at the Food Hall underneath the Plaza Hotel.
- We started at Piada with a shared Amarcord Piada (Prosciutto di Parma, Mozzarella, Arugula) and the daily soup special, Carrot Ginger. The soup was good, the piada was boring. With such simple ingredients, it’s essential that each is impeccable. They were just so-so. $28.74 – Amy B // Tim B
- So many desserts, how to pick? The hot bites at Doughnuttery were perfect on a nasty day. You customize with sugar blends. We tried Paris Time (Lavender, Pistachio, Vanilla) and House of Cardamom (Cardamom, Orange Zest). YUM! $6.50 – Amy A+ // Tim A+
- Tim, my non-dessert loving husband, pushed for one last dessert. Lady M Cake Boutique was too tempting to pass up. We moaned over the Chocolate Banana Mille Crepe Cake. $9.25 – Amy A+ // Tim A+
One big takeaway for us is our continued delight at the food market/food hall trend that we see in each large city. On this trip we visited three of them and all three delivered exceptional food and desserts at a reasonable price. This concept allows us to try a broader selection of options and we save quite a bit of money without sacrificing deliciousness. It looks as though there are a lot more to try on our travels!
NYC is my favorite food city. Knowing how much I adore good food, it’s pretty surprising I ever moved away. Maybe that’s a good thing for that healthy life?
Now that we’re done eating, let’s get moving! This post is all about what we did in NY. If you’d like to check out what we spent, all the details are here.
What’s your favorite food destination? What city, country or region’s cuisine are you looking forward to exploring?