Kitchen 21

Kitchen 21

Kitchen 21 is a new addition to Coney Island. Not typically what you’d expect but I think it will be a good fit. It’s in a landmarked Spanish Revival building on the Boardwalk that opened as a Childs Restaurant in the 1923. In contrast to the exterior, the interior is done in a modern industrial style.

It has a Café for take-out, the Parachute Bar with a great selection of beers on tap, the Community Clam Bar for seafood, the Test Kitchen with food by guest chefs and a rooftop bar. When we were there the crowd was made up of tourists, hipsters and enough Coney Island regulars to keep it real.

The service was attentive and friendly. We had fried calamari served on a bed of arugula with a sprinkling of balsamic, then lobster rolls done just right.

After lunch we went to the roof for a drink – bright and breezy with a view of the Boardwalk, beach and the old Parachute Jump.

I grew up going to Coney Island and Kitchen 21 is not something that I would have ever expected. I hope they do well because I intend to go back.

Kitchen 21 in on the Coney Island Boardwalk at the foot of W. 21st Street.

You can check out their menu here.

For another great and more traditional Coney Island bar- restaurant click here – Ruby’s Bar & Grill

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Robert Iulo at Yelp


Act Like a New Yorker
I want to point out a few simple things that could make a big difference on your next trip to New York City.

Tourism is a big industry in New York. We appreciate your business and, trust me on this, most New Yorkers would actually like tourists if only you tried to be part of our City and not just stand back and watch us as though you were at a zoo.

In winter, don’t dress like you’re going to a ski resort or in summer, a beach resort. This is a city so dress for the city and not a national park. How can you expect a good table in a white table cloth restaurant when you show up wearing sneakers, shorts and a baseball cap?

Manhattan isn’t just Times Square, so be adventurous and go see the neighborhoods. And New York City isn’t just Manhattan. Since you can have authentic Italian espresso in a café in Bensonhurst, Greek coffee in Astoria and café con leche in the South Bronx, why look for a Starbucks where their coffee will be no different than in the Starbucks at home in your local mall? And don’t forget Staten Island.

Skip the Olive Gardens, Burger Kings and other chains you’re used to and go local. With over 40,000 restaurants in New York, you can easily find one that suits your taste. It isn’t necessarily going to be more expensive and might even save you some money.

Explore the City the way natives do, by foot and public transit. It’s easy with a map and some common sense, keeping in mind you shouldn’t stop to look at your map at the top of a flight of subway stairs during rush hour.

New Yorkers move fast and walking too slowly or three abreast is almost as bad as reckless driving on a highway. Navigating the sidewalks of New York is a lot like your driving back home: keep up with the pace of traffic, don’t randomly change lanes and make no unexpected stops. You can cause accidents, traffic jams or at the very least, bad feelings.

When you come to an intersection, it’s fine if you don’t want to jay-walk but don’t block our way when we appear to be willing to risk our lives to get to an appointment on time. To New Yorkers, a “don’t walk” sign is just a suggestion. Assume we know what we’re doing after years of practice.

Please don’t  think I’m just another nasty New Yorker, because honest, I’m not. I’d really like you to avoid tourist traps and see the real New York. I want you to feel like you belong here and experience the city the way we do and all you have to do is act like a New Yorker.

Click here for updated GALLERY II

Robert Iulo – Writing Site and  Yelp

Grandma’s Chicken Soup

Grandma’s Chicken Soup
This is a minestra that Grandma used to make in Salerno. I do it the same way although sometimes I cheat a little and use store bought stock. It’s a fairly simple recipe, even if you make your own stock.


Remove the bones and cut thigh meat into small bite-sized pieces. Season with salt and black pepper and brown in the oil and remove.

Sauté  celery and onion over low heat until soft – don’t brown. If there’s too much fat left from browning the chicken, drain the excess. Add oregano, stock, bring to a boil and deglaze pot. Simmer 10 minutes.

Return chicken and simmer for another 10 minutes covered.

Check for seasoning, bring to a boil and add pasta. As the pasta cooks and absorbs the stock, add hot water to keep a soupy consistency. Serve with grated parmigiana.


 Click here for updated GALLERY II

Robert Iulo at Yelp


Grillades are a New Orleans speciality. Recipes vary a bit and this one is my favorite. Some people use veal or beef cutlets but I prefer pork. You can buy pork cutlets or cut your own from a loin. This time I used pork chops with the bones trimmed away.

*Cajun spice typically contains paprika, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme and cayenne. You can make your own or buy it. I use La Flor or Zatarain.

Pound cutlets thin, salt them and sprinkle them with Cajun spice. Dredge in flour with 2 tablespoons of Cajun spice mixed in with it. Lightly brown them in oil and remove them.

Add the trinity to the pot and sauté. Add garlic and some more oil if necessary and simmer until soft.

Roux, Cutlets and Trinity waiting to get together.

Prepare the roux in a separate pot. Stir the flour and oil over low heat until it’s the color of peanut butter. Add this to the sautéing trinity. Add the tomato, wine, Worcestershire and about ½ of the stock.

Deglaze the pan and simmer for a few minutes. Return the cutlets and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes, adding stock as necessary. You can serve this with grits or white rice.

New Orleans street band video – Smoking Time Jazz Club

 Click here for updated GALLERY II

Robert Iulo at Yelp

An Italian Dinner

An Italian Dinner
You can have things pretty much your way in an Italian restaurant. You are the customer and they’ll try to accommodate you. It’s different when you go to an Italian home for dinner. You don’t want to offend your hosts and you want to be a good guest so here are a few things you should know.
Don’t show up with your hands in your pockets. Bring a little something for your hosts. Flowers or some wine always works. Maybe a box of pastry from a good bakery. Except for pastry, don’t bring any other food. Only certain family members and very close friends should bring an agreed upon dish.

Dress nicely (more formally than you might think). Unless for religious reasons – don’t wear a hat at the table, even if it’s your favorite team.

Expect to start eating at seven or later. You’ll arrive, have a drink, maybe the antipasto served buffet style and then sit down for the main meal to start. The exception to this is that dinner will be served at two or three in the afternoon if you’re invited on a Sunday.

Italians eat a lot over a long period of time and serve multiple courses. Typically, an Italian dinner will include antipasto, pasta, a main plus many side dishes, then coffee, so pace yourself and don’t take more than you can finish. There will always be enough for seconds and thirds.

It’s not a restaurant so don’t expect parmigiana, spaghetti & meatballs or other American dishes. Your hosts might serve you recipes that have been in their family for generations and are probably not typical to American Italian restaurants.

Bread isn’t served as an appetizer to start the meal like it is in a restaurant. It’s on the table throughout the meal. And don’t expect butter. Look at it this way – if your bread needs butter to be edible, maybe you should be buying better bread.

Salad will not  be served as a first course but as a side dish along with the main course. The salad will be dressed simply with salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar.

If your hosts have children, unless they’re babies, they will be at the table. If you have children they’ll be invited too. The kids will be at the table eating the same things you do (not specially prepared PB&Js or chicken nuggets). Italians believe that their children learn social skills by being in social settings.

There will be salt and black pepper and maybe red pepper flakes on the table. Don’t ask for any condiments not already on the table. No mustard for your prosciutto, no butter for your bread, no ketchup or mayo for anything and especially no grated cheese for any seafood dish. In some household that is considered a mortal sin punishable in hell.

Italians don’t drink a lot but a variety of drinks will be served throughout your visit – a cocktail, prosecco, or an aperitif when you arrive, wine with the meal and a cordial or digestif afterwards, so pace yourself.  Adolescents/teenagers will be served wine during the meal.

Dinner will end late and no matter how late it is, coffee will be served. That will be espresso, not decaf, not tea – only espresso (which can be sweetened with sugar or more likely, Anisette). There definitely won’t be any cappuccino. Italians feel that cappuccino is strictly for the morning and drinking it later in the day is like eating corn flakes for dinner.

Dessert isn’t a big part of our tradition. Typically, besides espresso, you’ll find cordials and Asti, perhaps fruit, fresh or dried, possibly in autumn, nuts, or maybe just some biscotti to dip in your coffee. If someone brought pastry it would be served with the coffee.

 “Tutti a tavola a mangiare!”  (Everyone to the table to eat!)


Robert Iulo – Writing Site and  Yelp