If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you will know that I make short pilgrimages to NYC a couple of times each year for FFW — i.e. Friends, Food, and Wine. This year is unusual, in that my previous trip was in March, and just 3 months later, I am back again. Usually I drive down, stay two nights in an Airbnb, and drive back with a few cases of very good wines not available in our Boston market. Instead, this trip was by the LimoLiner bus (inspired by their special $69 fares each way vs. the normal $89), I stayed in a hotel that was new to me (Arlo Nomad), stayed three nights, and returned with only 6 bottles of wine stuffed into my backpack. Still, it was a delightful interlude, and a healthy one.
Here is a brief summary of the highlights:
- Wednesday — lunch with Jeremy at The Modern, dinner with Judy at Antonucci Cafe
- Thursday — lunch at Il Tinello, short stop at Paul Stuart to say hello to friend Patrick Young, then dinner at L’Artusi in the West Village, walking a total of 5.4 miles
- Friday — visit Union Sq. Greenmarket in AM, stop at Eataly Vino, lunch at Masseria dei Vini , dinner at abc Cocina, walking another 4.5 miles
- Saturday — stop at the Greenmarket again, breakfast at Essen cafeteria, early lunch at Blank Slate, catch the 1:15 bus home, and go to the music festival that evening at home
This post will provide pix for each day, and a separate post will give you a gallery of the market photos.
Arlo Nomad Hotel, Antonucci Cafe
Il Tinello is a more fashionable, upscale location, more formal and expensive than the others, but I had a very good lunch of Beet Salad with Arugula, followed by Pasta with Fresh Porcini. The chef provided a complimentary plate of delicately-battered Zucchini strips that were first-rate. These were accompanied by a glass of a fine Chianti. Instead of dessert, I finished with a glass of Amaro (Montenegro). In the background the conversations of investment bankers, financial advisors and their clients, and well-heeled global travelers did little to distract me from the joys on my table.
I had been to this restaurant last year and loved it. Once again, it delighted. This time I had my table for one upstairs. It had more light than the first level, and there was an upbeat energy about the place that was satisfying. My server, Nick, was extremely helpful and insightful, answering all my questions about the dishes and their preparation. The Primo as a crudo of Escolar and Avocado, perfectly executed. The Pasta was Bavette Vongole, featuring real imported Manila Clams, all nicely matched with the LaStaffa Verdicchio. My cheese course was a Pecorino Gregoriano, which had a nice creaminess to it and was just the right size piece. Finally, we capped the dinner with a tasting of three different Amari: Nonino from Friuli, del Capo from Calabria, and SantaMaria al Monte from Liguria. All three were new to me, all were very good. Nonino was my favorite.
That same morning I had made a long-postponed stop at Kalustyan’s, a widely-renowned store with an incredible array of spices, condiments, ethnic delicacies of all kinds. and staples including rices, beans, pulses and peppers with astonishing variety. One could spend hours there. I bought 9 small items that intrigued me most. Here I provide just a very small sample with three snapshots.
Masseria dei Vini
I chose this for lunch based on a description in a listing on OpenTable’s website. It turned out to be a great choice. Not far from Columbus Circle on the West side of town, this place is not attractive from the outside, especially with all the construction around it and metal scaffolding in front. Once inside, however, I felt very comfortable, in a restful, Pugliese-themed space, where most of the staff and patrons were or at least spoke Italian.
My server brought a small basket of delicious breads, a little whole grain bread and grissini, plus some semolina bread, too. I added some of the lentils in olive oil in a small bowl to top the bread slices, and it was a new and successful pairing. The soup was a purée of zucchini and potato, smooth and creamy, made with only vegetables and olive oil. The pasta was Gnocchi Sorrentina, a light spinach gnocchi floating in a creamy sauce of tomatoes and olive oil, with mozzarella and basil on top. A fine glass of Pecorino wine accompanied the meal, and I took home the leftover gnocchi for the bus ride back. All together, an excellent meal and a good value.
This was a repeat from my visit in March. It was a light meal at an outside table, seafood in both dishes, and quite tasty:
- crudo of fluke
- crispy fish tacos
- and a glass of Godello from Spain