Archive for December, 2009


Eating Pizza and Riding the Bus

December 22, 2009

For J‘s birthday last year I bought him two tickets to a New York City pizza tour (Scott’s Pizza Tour). We started at Lombardi’s, a NYC classic where both of us had eaten before. But, the truth is, the pizza here is always really good. While on this pizza tour, we learned an insane amount of information about eating pizza, making pizza, the history of pizza, etc. And we ate at least one slice at each of the 4 places — too much pizza for me; not enough for J.

inside the Lombardi's oven

Here is the oven at Lombardi’s. We learned that they only turn it off twice a year — one of those times is the Tuesday after Superbowl Sunday (aka, the biggest pizza delivery day of the year) — and some crazy men climb inside that little space to do maintenance work. The 363 other days of the year, that coal-burning oven is about 900 degrees.

oven at Patsy's

Then we went to the original Patsy’s, up in Harlem — we were pretty psyched about this one as it still has some of the throw-back elements from the days of prohibition. We got a look at the coal-burning oven here as well. Unlike Lombardi’s, Patsy’s uses aged mozzarella. We liked this slice, but I liked Lombardi’s better.

in front of Patsy's

Then it was onto the Bronx where we stopped at Patricia’s Pizza and Pasta for an awesome slice from a gas-fired deck oven (and a less awesome slice from a wood burning oven). And then on to what looked like someone’s house — called Louie and Ernie’s. Here we ate, what I would call, a regular slice of pizza. Just like anything you’d order from an Italian pizzeria back in my homeland of NJ. (Speaking of NJ, almost everyone on our tour bus was from NJ. And most lived only a few minutes from our hometown. It was eery.) I think Scott, the tour guide, called it your classic big, greasy NY slice.

Louie & Ernie's in the Bronx

Overall, it was a great time and we ate lots of pizza. I could’ve done with a little less “Hey, have you ever tried Tony’s in Paramus or Nellie’s in Waldwick or Maria’s down on the Jersey Shore?” from the other tour passengers. And I sort of felt like I had pizza-sweats at the end of it. But J and I are now incredibly knowledgeable about pizza and love to throw out our trivia tidbits whenever we can. Plus, it’s always fun to see a new side of the city… and eat!


Date Night: The First Month

December 7, 2009


So, about three months into living together, J and I decided that we were desperate for a date night. Though we absolutely love (love!) living together, we end up seeing each other in our pajamas more than in real clothes. And we end up eating Trader Joe’s frozen dinners or take-out more often than dinners out at a real restaurant. So, we instated date night. We make a plan to have dinner at a new restaurant (usually in Manhattan since we tend to stay in Brooklyn on regular nights), dress up a bit, order a bottle of wine, and have a real conversation! It’s been fantastic. So here’s the round-up so far:

1. Peasant, Elizabeth St between Prince and Spring (Nolita)

This was an amazing meal, and an amazing date-spot. The restaurant is warm and cozy, with a very Italian rustic feel. And the dinner was INCREDIBLE! One of the best we’ve had in a while. I had lamb with polenta (yum!), and we had a great, fresh mozzarella appetizer. I kept thinking that this would be a perfect first date pick.

2. Freeman’s, End of Freeman’s Alley (Lower East Side)

We decided to give this LES restaurant a try since J had been there for cocktails, and I had been there for a birthday dinner ages ago (where we saw Mike Meyers and my dad embarrassingly went over and told him he loved the movie So I Married an Axe Murderer). It was a 7.5 out of 10. Good food, nice atmosphere if a bit too bustling, and good service. The downfall of this place is that it doesn’t accept reservations and the wait is almost always over an hour. This makes it a difficult date spot, especially if you were meeting someone new. We headed next door to The National for a few glasses of wine to kill time.

3. 10 Downing, Downing at 6th Ave (West Village)

We were excited to try this place, as we love New American cuisine with a rustic and/or seasonal twist. But it was a big fail. My scallop dish and J’s “special” braised lamb weren’t good. We thought maybe we just ordered wrong (b/c the burger entree with a fried egg on top looked pretty fantastic), but I can’t give a pass to restaurant where two of the eight or so entrees aren’t very good. Our wine was also sub-par. The saving grace was a delicious banana split dessert with gelato. The decor is bit more open-air than J and I go for (we like cozy date spots), so I wouldn’t recommend this one and we probably won’t go again. Disappointed.

What are your favorite date restaurants in NYC? J and I have been to so many!

Photo via.


Roaming Berlin and Prague

December 5, 2009

I never wrote a roundup of my trip to Berlin and Prague with J, so here goes! It was fantastic and exhausting. I had to fly to Berlin for work for a week, and then on Saturday morning J showed up and we checked into our hotel, Michelberger Hotel. I guess that even though they said it was open and running, they hadn’t quite worked out the kinks. We loved the design and cleanliness of this budget hotel, but got really frustrated when their opening night party went on until 7am right outside our 2nd floor window. That was only the beginning of the problems — including having to switch rooms 4 times in one night. I do NOT recommend this place! After a few days in Berlin, we took the train out to Prague in the early morning, crossing through farmland and windmills caked in the most beautiful fog. It was magical — as was Prague itself. Such an incredibly beautiful city.

As for the food? Food in Berlin was great — we had some great food and even better cocktails from an Australian mixologist at the restaurant Fabisch (he’s got a blog!); I ate wienerschnitzel (yum!) and currywurst (yuck!); went to a very cool artist space and bar called the Tacheles; and rode bikes through cute little neighborhoods like Kreuzberg. The food in Prague… not so good. Lots and lots of meat and potatoes, stews, and other heavy dishes that make it difficult to walk around. However, we had an AMAZING lunch at David Restaurant. It was a bit of financial splurge, but the food was fantastic, the wine was delicious, and the service was warm and welcoming.

And the waiter gave us some complimentary dessert wine (that we loved) in really unique and beautiful wine glasses.