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the sweet scoop
For one of the most autentico Italian experiences around, get your appetite ready and head to Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria. NoHo’s rustic market, salumeria, bakery, wine bar and restaurant is an extension of former chef Ignacio Mattos’s original Il Buco, located on adjacent Bond Street.
In the front Alimentari grocery section, you can purchase artisanal dry goods, cured meats, and freshly baked bread to enjoy at home. Or settle into the warm, cozy Vineria and restaurant to sample seasonal specialties featuring organic, local produce and proteins from eco-friendly farms—which chef Justin Smillie precisely crafts using traditional Italian methods. Varied individual and high communal tables invites sharing the love with friends—or making new ones. Belly up to a spot by the open kitchen for a front row view of the staff busily churning out delicacies.
While the atmosphere charms, the simple, straightforward cuisine is most likely to entice a repeat visit. Served with crusty, chewy Italian bread, the house-made ricotta is a must have starter. A pillow of soft curds garnished with sugar snap peas, toasted pine nuts, mint, granola and a swirl of honey offered an inviting sweet-savory sensation. Another knockout appetizer of Manila clams arrived resting in zesty roasted pepper and garlic broth, thick cubes of pancetta sprinkled throughout.
Vegetable contorni, charcuterie and fresh pastas, seafood and meats complete the menu. Try the delicate twirls of “busiate” pasta coated with almonds, anchovies, sun-ripened duana tomatoes and capers. For a heartier entrée, the signature spit-roasted short ribs presented large chunks of tender, peppery meat edged by darkened, chewy bark. They were both exceptional mains.
Offering breakfast, lunch and dinner, Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria is a solid choice for a romantic date night or breaking bread with a group. Make a reservation to guarantee a prompt seating—then prepare to mangia.
My review as published in the Clean Plates Manhattan 2013 Restaurant Guide Book (purchase it here) and on CleanPlates.com. Photo courtesy of LocalEats.com.
One of New York’s most anticipated restaurants has officially opened its doors. Located in the heart of Battery Park City, North End Grill is the latest venture from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group. Top Chef Masters winner Chef Floyd Cardoz (former Executive Chef/Partner of Tabla) is manning the kitchen and introduces a fresh approach to new American cuisine. The extensive menu highlights seasonal ingredients, with a heavy emphasis on seafood and grilled preparations.
Eager to check out the brand new spot, I headed to North End Grill during their opening week lunch service and was lured in by appetizing aromas of smoke and charcoal. The restaurant’s front room reveals an exposed kitchen with counter seating, high-top tables, a lengthy bar, and a display wall that will soon showcase more than 100 single malt scotches (the restaurant is currently awaiting their liquor license). Past the kitchen is the elegant main dining room—a sleek space of dark wood, white linens and black & white framed photos, with floor-to-ceiling windows and Hudson river views.
Lunch began with a lightly charred clam pizza covered with buttery, briny littlenecks, chopped parsley, garlic and olive oil drizzle. Plump diver scallops arrived delicately seared and coated with a chili-spiced apple cider vinegar glaze, atop a creamy cauliflower purée. The sliced chop of Berkshire pork entrée was juicy and tender, boasting a rich smoky flavor, savory au jus and side of charcoal grilled shishitos and cippolini onions.
For a scrumptious finish that’s fun to eat, order the Butterscotch Pot de Crème. With more of a pudding consistency than a typical Pot de Crème, the sweet golden custard came topped with crunchy chocolate streusel crumbs and fluffy scotch-infused single “maltmallows.” When lapping up this decadent dessert, be sure to dig deep for the layer of thick salted caramel at the bottom of the bowl.
During my visit, Danny Meyer’s standard of service excellence proved to be impeccable, as usual. With North End Grill expected to receive their liquor license next week, and dinner service beginning on January 23rd, I’m already anticipating a venture back to Battery Park City for dinner and a dram or two of scotch very soon.
North End Grill, 104 North End Avenue, New York, NY 10282, 646.747.1600
A tiny, unassuming kitchen attached to a downtown Brooklyn grocery isn’t the typical location for a three Michelin-starred restaurant. Yet, Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare continues to break the culinary mold. Since opening in late 2010, snagging one of the eighteen seats at this exclusive supper club has become one of the city’s most coveted reservations. If you happen to be lucky (or mighty persistent) enough to attend a nightly dinner seating, you’ll enter an intimate room filled by a stainless steel U-shaped communal table facing hanging copper pots and a state-of-the-art open kitchen.
Focusing on seasonal ingredients, chef Cesar Ramirez and staff gracefully prepare a well-paced procession of 18-20 small plates, varying daily based on produce availability. Flavorful amuses awakened my taste buds, such as succulent king crab meat wrapped in delicate shredded phyllo atop chilled cucumber dill yogurt, and a cube of flaky Japanese fluke that arrived under a sliver of tart pickled daikon. After about a dozen singular bites (the majority fish-based), seven larger courses followed, including a lightly seasoned rouget over Japanese risotto in foamy saffron bouillabaisse and the most beautifully cooked duck I’ve ever had—tender with thinly fat-laden crispy skin, balanced by earthy chanterelles and silky miso purée. Succeeding an onslaught of savory, I welcomed a creamy fromage blanc sorbet melting into a pool of sweet cherries laced with yuzu rind.
No detail went overlooked, down to the attentive service and exquisite handmade china collection. With a BYO policy, don’t forget your favorite bottle (no corkage fee) and be prepared to eat whatever’s put in front of you—the chef’s not known for customizing the menu. Worth the price and hassle to get in, this truly is a dining experience of a lifetime.