No. 28

Pizza. Has to be one of the staples of a New Yorker’s diet. And good pizza – well, there’s nothing like it! Combine great pizza, a warm atmosphere, great prices and a charming staff and you have it all!

No. 28 has it all and then some! The secret of their success is the use of the best ingredients and tired and true methods of preparing pizza dough. Because of these things, No. 28 has earned a much coveted ‘Pizza DOC’ stamp of approval.  If you are like me and don’t (or didn’t) know, the DOC is to pizza what DOC is to wine a stamp of quality awarded by a central body.

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Walking down Carmine Street you would never think twice about this unassuming place, especially from the plain front with a bright yellow awning that simply says Pizza. Once you walk into No. 28 you are greeted by the family that owns and operates this warm and inviting establishment.

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One side has the take-out operation and the other saide a sit down restaurant.

Large, chunky wooden tables, simply set, great wines, and a simple menu – oh, and bottomless iced tea! Really, does it get better than that

They have salads and some antipasti on the menu, they even have pasta dishes, but why crowd your appetite with anything but the PIZZA! The salads are good, as are the antipasti, and the pasta, but once tried, you will agree – it’s all about the PIZZA! Iam sure that most of the magic of this pizzeria comes from the dough and the brick oven baking.

If you ask for water, they bring a large pitcher filled with ice and water to the table and leave it there for you during the meal. Their wine list, while small is very good and reasonably priced. They brew fresh iced tea each day and gladly bring refills as often as requested.

This is not hovering, fawning all over you service -which I prefer. I like to order and then be left alone to my coversation. There is always a waiter or waitress nearby whose attention is easy to get and they are very accomodating.

The pizza menu is varied and has something for every taste bud. Pies can be ordered 14″ (which is round), an 18″ which is  oval, and 29″ which is also oval.  The 14″ is a hungry person personal pizza size, the 18″ you can have two different pizzas and the 29″ three different pizzas.

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We have been eating our way through the listing and have definite favorites, but haven’t found any we don’t like.

There are three different Margherita pizzas. One Plain (tomato and mozzarella), one Original (Tomato and fresh mozzarella) and Reginella Tomato, Mozzarella di bufala and basil. While the Reginella is the most expensive of the three, it is certainly the tastiest.

Our favorite is the Patate; ricotta, potatoes, and walnuts (no tomatoes). Yes, potatoes on pizza sounds odd. That’s what we thought too, but it is so yummy!

Our other favorites include San Daniele (Prosciutto San Daniele, Rucola {arugula} and mozzarella) and the Pere (Pears, Gorognzola, mozzarella and walnuts). The Pere needs to be in small doses as the gorgonzola can be too overwhelming in large amounts.

Frankly, we are yet to try one of their wonderful pizzas that we don’t like and I am sure that has to do with the brick oven cooking and their pizza dough.

No. 28 is located at 28 Carmine Street (off the corner of Bleecker near 6th). Actually it is across the street from Pompeii Church. No credit cards, cash only.

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Blue Smoke

This posting was originally supposed to be about the Village Voice’s Choice Eats event. Sadly, it was so noisy, so crowded, so hot and so horrible that Spoon and I and our dear friends the Salad Tongs left quickly to find refuge and a great place to eat.

As an aside, if you are ever in the East Village, stop by Porchetta located at 110 East 7th Street, Manhattan. The little porchetta sandwich was the saving grace of this debacle, so much so that we went back for seconds!

But I digress…..

blue-smoke2As we emerged from the Armory, Spoon and I looked at each other and knew there was just one place to go…BLUE SMOKE!  Blue Smoke is one of the legendary restaurants in the Danny Meyer stable. And, as with all his other restaurants, it’s fantastic.

We were so happy to arrive at Blue Smoke. It was crowded, but we knew that after a short wait we would sit in a nice big booth, with a wonderful server, and plenty of good food!

Iced tea alert – very large glass, fresh tea, bottomless. Can cutlery ask for more?

Spoon and I love Blue Smoke, but seldom make it past the appetizers! They are so good and so plentiful that we have a hard time getting to the mains so we thought having the Salad Tongs with us would help in delving further intot he menu this time!

We were lucky enough to get a nice big booth for the 4 of us. Can’t we just order one of everything on the menu? No, no, of course not.

We ordered everything at once, t his way we could just pick and pick and pick on everything.

The service at Blue Smoke is usually extraordinary. Sadly, on this night, it was not.  Most of our order came at one time and was thrown on the table – yes, seriously thrown by the runner.  And the waiter was not necessarily terrific. It’s not that he was bad, he was basically non-existant.

bbq-chips-and-blue-cheese-dipYou simply cannot eat in Blue Smoke without the BBQ Chips and Blue Cheese Dip. The chips are made fresh to order, are always very crispy, and always warm. The Blue Cheese Dip has just the right abount of blue cheese. They always taste like more! We resist the temptation as there is so much more more to come! But just thinking of these wonderful chips make me hungry and wanting Blue Smoke and more chips!!

 

hush-puppies-2Next come the Hush Puppies with Jalapeno Marmalade. Hot, crispy, moist in the center, served with the yummist jalapeno marmalde. The marmalade has a tiny bit of kick to it, far less than one would expect with a jalapeno, but is very balanced with sweetness. Again, MORE PLEASE.

You can see why we never get past the appetizers!!

mac-cheeseAll of the appetizers are large enough to share, the Mac & Cheese is no exception. It is bubbly and crispy on top and very rich and creamy underneath. The cheese is plentiful and the macaroni perfectly cooked.

 

 

cauliflower-gratinFor some reason we changed our usual course at this point and tried the Roasted Cauliflower Gratin. And in all the years that we have been going to Blue Smoke, this was the first disappointing thing we have ever ordered.  I couldn’t have been roasted, it hardly seemed cooked. The cauliflower was raw.  There were some bradcrumbs sprinkled on top and then a quick time under the broiler. There was no sauce, there was no cheese, there was no taste. Very sad.

 

ribs

The ribs at Blue Smoke are always seriously good! And they are all good, no matter which ones you try. These were no exception. They were Fred Flinstone big and their BBQ sauce (which you can buy up front) is finger lickin’ good.

 

 

dessert-samplerCan we fit dessert? Does Carter’s have liver pills? Their dessert sampler is perfect in those situations where you just cannot decide which of their amazing desserts to try. There is a piece of their infamous Chocolate Layer Cake, Cobbler of the day (oh, yes, with ice cream), Key Lime Pie, Bana Cream Pie, and Sticky Toffee Pudding. Just enough for a few sweet bites each! Perfect ending to a great meal with great company.

 

On other adventures to Blue Smoke we have tried the Sweet Potato Fries with Maple Dip (YUM), Iceberg Wedges, with Blue Cheese & Bacon Dressing (Can anyting with bacon possibly be bad?), Jackie’s Fry Bread with Chipolte Butter (Bread, Fry & Chipolte in a single description!), and the Fried Chicken (GREAT!)

The bar drinks at Blue Smoke are large, cold and delicious. Their specialty cocktails are great, and their beer menu has a lot to choose from! This is a BBQ lover’s dream!

Downstairs from Blue Smoke is the Jazz Stndard. There are usually two shows a night. Tickets are very reasonably priced. Their is a menu downstairs that is slightly different from Blue Smoke, but if there is something on the restaurant menu that you would like in the Jazz Standard they are more than happy to accomodate you.

Blue Smoke accepts reservations and is located at 116 East 27th Street (bwt. Lex and Park Ave. So.). Jazz Standard sells tickets in advance and the doors usually open 15 minutes before the show.