It’s Cool To Slurp Now

WebIn the old days, your mother would probably scold you for making such horrible noises at suppertime: Slurping your soup was considered poor table manners in polite American society, an egregious faux pas memorably (and quite audibly) sent up in the 1985 crime-comedy Clue. Nowadays, amid the growing influence of Asian food and Asian customs in this country, your dining companions might hardly wince at these loud sucking sounds. On the contrary, they might just join in the ruckus. In some of today’s more fashionable locales, slurping is not merely accepted. It’s downright proper. Continue reading

Hip To Be Square: Grandma Pizza Feels Right At Home In New York

Grandma PieWho knew that “grandma” could be so in fashion? I’m referring, of course, to the grandma pizza. Or grandma pie, as it appears on the menu at GG’s in New York City’s East Village. If, that is, you even bother to look. “It’s the one thing that people order as soon as they sit down, and they don’t even look at the menu — they order it before they order drinks,” says executive chef Bobby Hellen.

Indeed, Hellen’s signature six-slice pie, liberally dotted with little pepperonis and flagged with fresh basil, has become quite the sensation since the restaurant opened last fall. The Village Voice raved about the sauce, colorfully describing it as “more herb-stocked than a Colorado dispensary.” (Hellen grows many of the ingredients in the restaurant’s garden out back.) Eater, meanwhile, has gone into exhaustive detail in outlining the chef’s intensive pizza-making process.

But while Hellen’s grandma pie is perhaps the most prominent of its kind at the moment, it is far from the only example of this increasingly popular, yet relatively new style of pizza. From old-school joints like J & V Pizzeria in Bensonhurst to newer spots like Best Pizza in Williamsburg, grandma is flourishing on menus across the city — and beyond. Once considered a strictly New York phenomenon, the style is beginning to transcend its regional trappings. Writing in Pizza Today, California-based pizza maker Tony Gemignani, who serves his own version of the grandma at Slice House in Rohnert Park, recently recounted his first encounter with a grandma pizza in Italy, at a place run by a Staten Island ex-pat who wanted to bring this new style to the old world.

What is a grandma pie? Continue reading

The New ‘Cue York: How BBQ Became NYC’s Most Addictive Smoking Habit

BrooklynBBQREVISEDSince the opening of Blue Smoke in 2002, New York City has made tremendous strides toward shedding its historical reputation as a barbecue backwater — more than 30 brick-and-mortar restaurants (and counting) are currently dishing up one style of barbecue or another across the five boroughs.  We’re talking about authentic barbecue, mind you, the kind that’s slow-cooked over real smoldering wood. Not grilled or baked in some conventional gas oven, with possibly a dash of the pitmaster poseur’s notorious cheat: liquid smoke. But, only recently has the quality of New York ‘cue risen to such a level that it merits even a mention in the national conversation. Read my full article at Food Republic or Medium.

Sir Kensington’s Wins This Round, But The ‘Ketchup Wars’ Are Far From Over

SirKensingtonsLet’s be upfront: I’m a Heinz devotee, and I’m not shy about it. When I come across menus that advertise some artisanal house-made ketchup instead, I wonder why the chef doesn’t do something more worthwhile with his time, like build a better french fry. As far as I’m concerned, ketchup was perfected long ago, and you know it when you see the number 57 on the bottle. Heinz’s overwhelmingly popular formula, as the New Yorker astutely observed back in 2004, hits all five fundamental tastes on the human palate: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami. You can’t really do much better than that. Complain all you want about high-fructose corn syrup — Heinz has an answer for that, too. Lately, I’ve noticed a few restaurants offering a different kind of ketchup, one with some stuffy-looking mustachioed stranger wearing a monocle and top hat on the label, called Sir Kensington’s. The sheer presence of this dubious parvenu is often enough to make me change my side order from fries to salad. Read my full article at Food Republic.

Montreal Vs. New York: A Matchup That Transcends Hockey. Bagels Involved.

canadiansBAGEL.jpg__0In the lead-up to Thursday’s big game, Food Republic spoke with NHL forward (and doughnut mogul) Jeff Halpern and restaurateur (and die-hard Habs fan) Joel Tietolman to get a better sense of how both food scenes match-up, regardless of the outcome on the ice. Read the full article here.

Remember the Old Tavern On The Green? How Ornate! How Indifferent!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALong-shuttered Central Park restaurant Tavern On The Green has finally reopened, bringing to mind my last meal there back in 2009, which I wrote about for the Observer:

“It reminds me of Mrs. Havisham in Great Expectations, the grande dame who’s seen better days,” my perceptive spouse said, noting the fraying pink tablecloth covering our sloppily bussed table, which was strewn with stray bread crumbs and specs of black pepper. “It seems a little worn around the edges.”

The service, meanwhile, seemed remarkably indifferent. When we complained about the large triangular gap in window shading, which cast a blinding beam of afternoon light directly at our table, and politely suggested that something be done about it, our crusty career waiter, dressed in a black suit and pink-and-green-striped bow tie, barely shrugged: “I’ve been advocating for that for 10 years now.”

Here’s to hoping they’ve finally gotten that fixed. Continue reading

Green Is The New Gold: The Raw Facts On How Juicing Is Taking Over Our Lives

MILFChicago chef Jared Van Camp is perhaps best known for his work with charcuterie. You could say he wears his penchant for pork on his sleeve, with a vintage-looking English butcher’s diagram of pig parts proudly tattooed on his left forearm. Not the type of guy you’d expect to see pushing pints of liquefied kale, carrot and collard greens. “I’m not a vegetarian by any stretch of the imagination,” says Van Camp. Come springtime, however, he plans to be slinging all sorts of cleverly crafted plant-based concoctions at a fancy new juice bar called Owen + Alchemy. “The timing is right to inject some liquid green vitality into the land of deep-dish and sausage,” says Chicago native Anne M. Owen, a former magazine publisher who is Van Camp’s partner in Owen + Alchemy. The Windy City duo is aiming to capitalize on a trend that’s swept across New York and Los Angeles like a superfood tsunami in recent years and is now spilling throughout urban America. “These days, you throw a rock, you hit a juice bar,” says Melvin Major, Jr., operator of New York’s popular Melvin’s Juice Box, with two locations in Manhattan and plans for a third…. Continue reading

Tuile of Fortune: Michel Richard Drops a Ritzy Potato Chip Burger on Manhattan

VillardBurger1The recent opening of Villard Michel Richard, tucked inside Manhattan’s Palace Hotel, marked not only its namesake chef’s return to New York after a 40-year absence. It also foisted another gussied-up slab of ground beef onto the city’s escalating up-market burger scene. Behold, the Villard Burger, Richard’s fussy French take on the classic American sandwich. Listed at $26, the burger is a far cry from, say, the outrageous Le Burger Extravagant at Serendipity 3 — that $295 Wagyu-flavored, diamond-toothpick-skewered publicity stunt on a bun which claims to be the world’s most expensive burger. Richard seems to expect real people to actually order his burger. A comparatively affordable option, the Villard Burger falls into the same gourmet category as the popular Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern ($28) and the original short rib-and-foie gras-stuffed burger at Daniel Boulud’s db bistro moderne ($32). It’s also essentially the same burger that Richard serves at his Central restaurants in Las Vegas and Washington, D.C. Same olive oil brioche bun, baked in-house. Same tomato confit and homemade garlic mayo. Same crunchy potato tuile on top — a fancy chip that has become one of the chef’s signature ingredients. Only at Villard, Richard’s burger costs $8 more…. Continue reading

It’s Not ‘Myron’s Chicken,’ But Pride & Joy BBQ Moves Forward in NYC

Pride&JoyHorizontalEAST VILLAGE — A Southern-style barbecue spot is still in the works for the former Lucky Cheng’s space on First Avenue — even after celebrity chef Myron Mixon left the project and sued. Pride and Joy BBQ just won a liquor license to open a sprawling two-level, 220-seat “draft house” and “honky-tonk” featuring three bars along with plenty of barbecue, according to documents submitted to the State Liquor Authority. Read my full article, “Pride And Joy BBQ Wins Liquor License for Lucky Cheng’s Space Amid Lawsuit,” at DNAinfo here.

Cracking Wise: Some Background on Lafayette’s Chef de Cuisine

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAArguably the biggest restaurant opening of the year, Andrew Carmellini‘s French revivalist brasserie Lafayette has been racking up the star ratings of late. (As ably aggregated by Eater: “Platt gave it two, Sutton gave it two and a half stars, and Cuozzo gave it three.”) This week, the Times‘ Pete Wells knocks the Carmellini love down a peg or two, with a single star review best summed up by the phrase: “I don’t love it.” Mostly displeased about the service–noting, for instance that staffers had trouble pronouncing “simple French words on the menu”–Wells did have some nice things to say about Carmellini’s chef de cuisine, Damon Wise, whom the critic described as anace technician.” Continue reading