Thursday, October 11, 2007

Otto Enoteca and Pizzaria

Deb took me to Otto Pizzeria for my birthday. I arrived so late that we missed our reservation. Fortunately things improved from there and the wait wasn't too long. It emulates a warmer, more comfortable train station - the reservation sign flips just like Amtrak's in Penn Station.

The best word to describe Otto is inconsistent. The wait staff seemed on point, but then apologetically brought us a complimentary side dish of Brussel Sprouts and Vin Cotto ($4) for misplacing our order. The brussel sprouts were the best I have had to date - firm, full of flavor, and tangy sweet.

Eventually our main courses came out, we shared the Bsalmic Onion & Goat Cheese Pizza ($13) and the Pasta Alla Norma (Tomato, Roasted Eggplant, Basil and Bufala Ricotta - $9). The serving sizes were great; we couldn't finish either dish after the bread and brussel sprouts. The pizza was outstanding - the light, crispy crust and creative combination of complimentary ingredients won us over. The pasta was good, but we didn't feel like it was better than something we could concoct at home.

The gelato was amazing almost all around and at 3 scoops for $7 it is a good deal. I had Pumpkin, Ricotta, and Fig with Red Wine. Pumpkin and Ricotta were divine - smooth, creamy, and well flavored. The fig, however, tasted like kosher dill pickles. I'm serious. How is that possible? I love pickles, but that just isn't what you want for gelato.

Even with the inconsistencies, I hope to go back eventually. If not to the restaurant itself, I will at least visit the "Gelotto" cart by Washington Square Park when it warms up again.

Location: One Fifth Avenue
Hours: Mon-Sun 11:30a-12:00a
Cost: $$

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Blossom and Billy's Bakery

Karina and I met up tonight for my birthday dinner at Blossom. After finding the first three crosstown buses too full, I belatedly arrived at 7:30 pm. Luckily, Blossom wasn't packed and Karina had been able to sit while she waited. Blossom's is warm and inviting. The wait staff is attentive, for the most part, and they don't rush you.

I ordered the Seitan Scallopini with Basil Mashed Potatoes and Sauteed Greens ($21). The Seitan was pretty convincing in representing lamb's texture and the sauce helped make the flavor seem closer. The basil mashed potatoes stole the show; I savored every single bite of their rich flavor. Karina's entree the Phyllo Roullade with Lentils and Root Vegetables ($17) trumped my choice. The mixture of vegetables, sauce, and phyllo melted in my mouth.

For dessert, we split a Banana Maple Tart with Strawberries ($9). I'm not going to lie, I ate most of it. The tart's crust was phyllo dough again and the center was appropriately creamy, however, it didn't have a strong maple or banana flavor. This was my first experience with vegan food. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised, although, for me, Candle 79 still takes the cake for veggie restaurants.

Location: 187 9th Avenue (between 21st and 22nd Streets)
Hours: Mon-Thurs 5:00p-10:00p, Fri-Sat 12:00p-2:45p and 5:00p-10:30p, 12:00p-2:45p and 5:00p-9:00p
Cost: $$$

Afterward the lure of refined sugar across the street at Billy's Bakery was too much for me, so I stood in the short line for a cupcake. Once inside, I attempted to order the classic Vanilla Cupcake with Vanilla Buttercream, which at Billy's is called a Yellow Daisy Cake with Vanilla Buttercream ($2). I could not get the words out, but somehow I got what I wanted.
The decor at Billy's makes you think of a pastel, 1950s kitchen and they actually have seating (rare for a bakery up here!).

Upon arriving at the register, I was told my cupcake was on the house. I smiled at the cashier and awkwardly left, as he wouldn't give me change for a tip and I felt strange about it. I lead quite the charmed life sometimes. The cupcake made my subway ride home much sweeter. The cake was a little dry, but tasted like vanilla, not cornmeal. The frosting was sweet without being cloying and complimented the cake nicely. I'm sure I'll go here again, if I'm in the area. This was actually my second trip, so I am posting the original pictures from last year below.

Billy's Bakery
Location: 184 9th Avenue (between 21st and 22nd Streets)
Hours: Mon-Thurs 9:00a-11:00p, Fri-Sat 9:00a-12:00a, Sun 10:00a-11:00p
Cost: $

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Pio Pio

I didn't have a voice tonight for the third day in a row, but I did eat very, very well in my own neighborhood. I ran into Megan at Cavatappo on Friday and we agreed to have dinner. She said if we could come up with 4 people, we could eat well for cheap at Pio Pio. Pio Pio came through on both fronts.

Megan, Mya, Leslie, and I met outside at 7:00 pm on Sunday. It took around 30 minutes to get a table, but it only took 5 minutes to get our food once inside. The service was attentive, but they never got around to bring us water... Good thing we ordered that pitcher of Sangria. It was sweet and the fruit was well saturated.

We ordered the Matador Combo, which consists of Chicken Pio, Rice & Beans, Avocado Salad, Salchipapas (roughly hot dogs and fries), and Tostones (flattened green plantains with a garlicky dipping sauce). I'm typically not a rotisserie chicken person, but this chicken was moist, full of flavor, and served with silverware, unlike other South American chicken places I have been to, so I'm in a love. The chicken actually ended up being my favorite part of the meal. The spicy green sauce compliments it perfectly, but thank God for the avocado to cool down your mouth afterward! My least favorite part of the meal was the Avocado Salad, but it was only disappointing aesthetically; the salad was more like a sliced veggie plate than anything else.

Receiving our check, a mere $50.00, confirmed my desire to go back. I'm so excited to take my family when they visit. Mom loves Sangria and we all like South American food.

Location: 1746 First Avenue (between 90th and 91st streets)
Hours: Sun-Sat 11:00a-11:00p
Cost: $

Thursday, October 4, 2007

$7.99 Pint Comparision

Feeling stressed out, over warm, and a little bit sickly? I figured a pint of ice cream was the perfect pick-me-up. I didn't realize until check-out that I, yet again, managed to pick out the most expensive pint! Laloo's Goat's Milk Ice Cream totally trumped Wine Cellar Sorbet.

The Wine Cellar Sorbet in Sangria Rojo Sorbet had a cute orange wedge on top. I don't know if it tasted like Sangria, but it did give me a tiny, tiny buzz like wine. However, it had a very strange aftertaste that you don't get with wine. So given a choice, I would just buy regular wine instead next time. Wine Sorbet is novel though!

Today I had the Black Mission Fig flavor of Laloo's Goat's Milk Ice Cream. This was divine and worth every penny of the $7.99. It was sweet, but not too sweet. It had cane sugar as a sweetener, which I seem to enjoy, and had a plentiful number of fig chunks throughout. It has less fat than regular ice cream and no lactose. You really can't go wrong with this choice.

Then again, I don't ever feel like ice cream is the wrong choice.