After almost 3 months of not eating in a restaurant they’ve finally begun to reopen. We went to one of our neighborhood favorites, Trattoria il Gusto Wine Bar. Even with our masks on the waiters and the manager recognized us when we arrived. We were all glad to see one another after so long. Rather than paper and ink the menu was electronic. And water was served in individual sealed bottles. The only seating (tables 6 ft. apart) was outside but the weather was great so no problem there. They always had a partially enclosed outdoor seating, but they added more tables right up to the curb. The City relaxed its outdoor seating regulations for restaurants.
The Digital Menu
Gus lowered his mask for a photo.
Tomato spread – better than butter.
Waiting for tables.
Trattoria il Gusto Wine Bar (212) 579 7970 625 Columbus Avenue New York, NY 10024
There’s an interesting restaurant in Flushing, Queens, New York. It’s called Spring Shabu-Shabu. Webster’s definition of shabu is – a Japanese dish consisting of thinly sliced beef and vegetables cooked briefly in simmering broth at the table.
“A Japanese-style hot pot, shabu-shabu is a fun and healthy interactive dining experience. Thinly sliced meat or assorted seafood items along with various vegetables, fishcake, and noodles are cooked in a simmering broth in individual pots at the table. The term shabu-shabu is an onomatopoeia, which is derived from the “swish-swish” sound made when the meat is quickly brushed back and forth through the broth to cook.”
There are individual pots built into your table. You control the heat level and have a choice of 5 different types of broth that you cook you meal in.
You order different kinds of meat or fish that is brought to your table and then help yourself to various noodles, vegetables, and dipping sauces.
The Lobster House in Cape May New Jersey is a classic seafood restaurant. Lunch and dinner in five dining rooms and a full bar is available seven days a week. The Lobster House is located on an active commercial fishing fleet pier in Cape May Harbor. In the warmer months you can eat out on the pier. They also have a take-out shop and a fresh fish market.
One of the things we like about Hollywood Beach is the choice of restaurants within walking distance of our hotel. There’s Mexican, Turkish, Greek, Peruvian, etc. in addition to good Italian restaurants, and American seafood.
We recently noticed the Hollywood Grill, which serves Armenian food. Not being too familiar with the menu the first time there, we ordered things we knew, like shishkababs, and salad.
Everything we ordered was good but as we ate, we noticed that the tables around us were covered with platters of unfamiliar things that looked delicious.
We went back the next night and told our waitress, Aisha, that we wanted to be adventurous and order some authentic Armenian dishes. She helped us order and explained how each dish was to be eaten.
Aisha is from Uzbekistan
The recipes were all traditional and from the Caucasus – Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. Over the course of our next 3 meals there, we had Georgian wine and Armenian beer, hot borscht, kharcho (lamb and rice soup) and hummus. We had a communally served platter of soft cheese that we rolled up in a bread something like thin pita with radishes, tomato and hot peppers, dolma (stuffed grape leave) that looked Greek but weren’t, broth filled dumplings, mussels, and something Aisha called Armenian pizza. All this with a view of palm trees and the ocean.
Too full for dessert but the coffee was perfect.
After 4 visits, we didn’t even get through half the menu. We told Tara, the manager, that if they opened a branch in New York, we’d be regulars.
Tucked away at the southern tip of Manhattan, on eastern end of Battery Park and behind some flowering shrubbery, you’ll find The Battery Park Beer Garden. It’s open for April to October and a perfect spot for tourists to take a break, check their map and make plans for the rest of their day. It’s also great for locals too.
They’ve got a good selection of lager, pilsner, and IPA on tap as well as bottled.
They also have a simple menu featuring grilled items like burgers, as well as paninis and salads.
If your favorite Italian restaurant is Olive Garden and your favorite dish is spaghetti and meatballs (with all the bread sticks you can eat) maybe Joe’s of Avenue U in Brooklyn isn’t for you. Some of the one- and two-star Yelp reviews are pretty funny – submitted by people who don’t know Italian, let alone Sicilian cuisine like arancini, pasta con sarde, and vastedda.
Cod Fish Oreganata
Sarde a Beccafico
Someone complained on Yelp that the chef refused make shrimp parm when there were other “parms” on the menu. She obviously didn’t know that cheese doesn’t go on seafood – it’s mortal sin. Instead of dumbing down their menu they tried to educate her but she wasn’t happy.
If you want to try typical, well-prepared Sicilian cuisine and have an open mind you should go to Joe’s. If what you really want is a standard American red-sauce place, there are plenty of those around.
A Siciliani Marionette
Avenue U just off MacDonald Avenue – on the F train
We had a great lunch last Sunday at the Churchill Tavern. They served their traditional Sunday Roast – a choice of roast beef, lamb, pork or chicken with a bunch of sides – and regular menu of English favorites.
If you’re in NYC, you might find this list useful, and I’ll help with my opinion on the places that I’m familiar with.
Eating in Little Italy
I’ll start with their No. 1 – Emilio’s Ballato. I agree that it should be No. 1. It’s my favorite Italian restaurant in Little Italy. Not only that, it’s located in the building that I grew up in -55 E. Houston St. I remember the original Mr. Ballato and Emilio has continued his high-quality cooking tradition.
After that, I’d rate Il Cortille and Forlini’s as the same quality. They’re both excellent and stand out from the mediocre red sauce restaurants in the area.
For pizza Lombardi’s is the best. They brought Napolitano pizza to New York when they opened on Spring Street in 1905.
Umberto’s Clam House is pretty good and famous for that Joe Gallo incident but they should have also included Vincent’s, on the corner of Mott and Hester Street. It’s been around for a long time and was always one of my favorites.
Di Paolo’s is a first rate food store on Mott and Grand Street. I’m surprised the equally good Alleva on the then same block wasn’t also on the list. It was my mother’s go-to Latticini e Salumi.
Their only pick that I take issue with is Ferrara’s. It used to be good but not anymore. Instead of trying to educate their non-Italian customer on what good Italian pastry is all about, they dumbed-down their menu and quality. There are much more authentic patisseries in the area. My choices are Caffé Roma – 176 Mulberry St, Caffé Palermo – 148 Mulberry St. and La Bella Ferrara – 108 Mulberry St.
La Bella Ferrara
The restaurants on the list that I didn’t mention are new to the neighborhood. Maybe you should give them a try and let me know what you think.