Gusto

Gusto, you had me at Burrata!

Every Thursday, Gusto (pronounced goose-toe) receives a shipment of burrata from Italy. We may need to be at Gusto every Thursday from now until – well, forever!

Fork and Spoon fell in love with Roman cuisine and burrata this past summer while in Roma with our wonderful friend Mauro. Since returning from our vacation we had been aching for true Roman cuisine – Gusto certainly does not disappoint.

The restaurant is on busy Greenwich Avenue in Greenwich Village. The atmosphere is welcoming and comfortable. Dark tables, comfy seating, not too noisy, fabulous staff!

In the kitchen of Gusto is the fabulous Saul Montiel. What a vision. What a fabulous menu. He isn’t one of those stay in the kitchen and hide chefs. That being said, he isn’t one of those always out of the kitchen chefs that make you stop to wonder who is actually doing the cooking!

The menu is wonderful. So wonderful it is really hard to decide what to order. We wanted everything!

We decided to go with a few appetizers and a pasta – oh, and dessert, but we didn’t really need to say that, did we?!

First up, Carciofi alla Giudea. SMall artichokes, deeply fried. Crispy crunchy on the outside, tender and moist on the inside. Slightly different than one would be served in Rome where you see gigantic artichokes completely flattened. These were hearts, which had advantages – not as many tough outer leaves. A squeeze of lemon, a sprinkle of salt, and life is beautiful!

 Then, Raviolo con Uovo e Pancetta. Made in house and fabulous. One big, beautiful raviolo stuffed with buffalo ricotta (also flown in) and an egg. Sitting on top a piece of crispy pancetta and fried scallions. What a flavor combination. Tender pasta, creamy ricotta, rich egg yolk, salty pancetta – heaven on your fork! Did I mention it swims in sage butter? No? Well, ‘nuf said …

And the special antipasti this night, stuffed zucchini flowers. Ugly to photograph, delicious on your tongue! Cheesy and gooey inside, lightly battered and fried. Crispy and tender and so summery and wonderful!

Let’s not forget our reason for coming to Gusto! BURRATA! FLown in every Thursday, diners come just to have a fix taste of this creamy delicious cheese. firmer on the outside (like mozzarella) and soft on the inside – well, if you haven’t tried it you absolutely must. It is amazing! Served simply with fresh tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. We could have had just this, twice, maybe three times and called it a night.

We shared Tonnarelli con Cacio e Pepe. To die for. Tonnarelli is a fresh, square-ish pasta, the perfect foil for the pepper and pecorino romano cheese. Oodles of salty, sharp cheese against the peppery bite of freshly ground black pepper. So simple and so perfect. What else is there to say – except jump in!

And for the first time in the history of our friendship Fork refused to share a dessert with Spoon. I told Spoon, ‘get your own. I will not share.’ Fork had tasted this dessert before and knew this was not something to share, not even with your best friend. Fresh peaches roasted, amaretto added in and simmering until it begins to thicken, brown sugar for a bit of sweetness, to gild the lily mascarpone cheese, really cold mascarpone cheese. Sweet peaches, drowning in an almondy syrup. It is enough to make you soon!

Go, taste, enjoy, relax, no one rushes you. Try everything. Go back, try it again. When you’re at Gusto, you’re with family. Enjoy!

Gusto ~ 60 Greenwich Avenue ~ New York, NY ~ 646.502.9901
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LIC Market

Trying to beat the heat.

Trying to beat the heat and eat someplace fun.

Wanting to try a new place.

Fork and Spoon decided to try LIC Market – now celebrating their 1st anniversary. We had heard wonderful things about LIC Market and decided to begin our exploration of Long Island City with LIC Market.

It is very difficult to park here, so plan on driving around for a bit.

As you walk into LIC Market, you are in the retail area of the business. They sell teas and pickles and jams. They also sell coffee and tea to go. After you walk through this space there is a dining room in back. A very small dining room. So crammed full of tables that diners actually have to get up so you can sit down.

The lunch menu is small, but the most of what is on there is enticing!

Before we start on the food, let’s get the iced tea situation out of the way. The iced tea comes in a large glass, probably 16 ozs. There is maybe – a big maybe – 4 ozs of tea and the rest ice. Now this wouldn’t be bad if the iced were bottomless. It’s not. It’s $2.50 per glass. I don’t know about you, but I resent paying $2.50 for 4 ozs of iced tea and a glass of ice – FOUR TIMES.

Back to the food.

 

Our first sandwich was fresh mozzarella, grilled radicchio, arugula and basil on French bread. This was very good. Fresh Mozzarella was slightly salty. The bitterness of the grilled radicchio was nice with the peppery arugula. It could have used another – something – vinegar, oil, just another layer of flavor.

Our second sandwich was slow cooked pulled pork on souman bread, gruyere, pickles and a mustard dressing. Almost a Cuban and very tasty. The bread alone was fabulous. THe pork melt in your mouth tender. THe gruyere and pickles giving it that homey spin with a touch of salty and sour. 

 

On the side we ordered rapini with roasted tomatoes. Rapini is a cross between broccoli rabe and broccoli. Same shape as a broccoli rabe but not as bitter. This was really delicious. The tomatoes and oil and rapini were GREAT on the mozzarella sandwich!

When asked if we wanted anything else, we asked about dessert. The waitress handed us back the menu. The lunch menu. Did she think we wanted another sandwich? When we mentioned that we were looking for something sweet, she said they might have an oatmeal cookie left, but that they don’t serve sweets.

SIGH …

LIC Market ~ 21-52 44th Drive ~ LIC, NY ~ 718.361.0013
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Er Buchetto

Literally translated – hole in the wall – and it is. But is the best hole in the wall you will ever come across.

Er Buchetto is located minutes walking from Termini Station in Rome and down the street from the National Museum of Rome Palazzo Massimo (some of the most beautiful mosaics and frescos and statues you will come across. And, if you are a numismatist, this is absolutely the place for you!)

Er Buchetto is small and unassuming. Only 3 tables that will hold up to 4 people each. One person working. A hairy boar stands guard at the back left corner. In the back right corner is a large fridge, the top part filled with meats and cheeses the bottom simply has two spigots “rosso” and ‘bianco’.

There is a menu hanging on the wall, but there is only one true reason to come to Er Buchetto – PORCHETTA. This was an absolute must for Fork and Spoon. You would expect that a region that has the reputation of creating porchetta, of advancing it, would have more porchetta around. NOPE!

This is fabulous, cheap eats at its best. This is not fancy by any stretch of the imagination. It is clean. The service is friendly. Most importantly, the porchetta is fabulous! You can have a panino to go (2.50€) or to stay (3.20€). You can also have a porchetta plate (4.00€).

Spoon and Fork walked in and the first thing we saw was the porchetta.

No need to ask or pretend to think of anything else – porchetta panini, please, and white wine.

One bite and you swooned. The meat was tender and delicious. Slightly salty, lots of herbs, fall apart tender. The bread was crispy on the outside and very tender inside, soaking up anything that dripped onto it. To top the sandwich off were little bits of the porchetta skin. If you could put perfection between bread, this would be what it looked and tasted like.

They are cut fresh. As they are sold, more panino are assembled.

While we sat and ate, happily munching, we watched passerbys stopping and grabbing a panino. Before we left, all the seats but one in this very busy place were full. Not much talking – this was too delicious to interrupt with a lot of small talk. Spoon and I were content with ‘YUMMMMM!’.

So much so that we asked for 2 more of these delights to take with us on the plane the next day! Beats the heck out of Continental’s ‘cuisine’

So 4 panini, 1 wine, 1 water all for under 20.00€ ~ can’t beat that with a stick! They are open from Noon to 3:00pm and then again from 5:00pm to 9:00pm. If you’re in Rome and need a quick lunch, we beg you, go here!

Er Buchetto ~ Via del Viminale, 2F ~ Rome Italy

Porchetta

A number of years ago, Fork, Spoon and the Salad Tongs went to a tasting at the Armory on Lexington Avenue. The tasting was a disaster. It was so crowded you couldn’t move. The food was running out of most of the stands – IF you could get near them.

The one thing we did try – and went back for – TWICE! – were little sandwiches from Porchetta a tiny place on East 7th Street in Manhattan. We had been trying to get here for 2 years. Blackboard Eats was the twist of fate that finally tilted us toward this oasis of delight.

Totally off topic – Blackboard Eats is a great restaurant program in NY, LA and San Francisco. You receive emails from them and if you are within their chosen number of participants to receive a coupon you get one. They have slightly changed their program now – the coupon costs you $1. Totally worth it for 30% off your dinner bill!

Porchetta was opened by Sara Jenkins and Matt Lindemulder.

They wanted to bring a classic food of their childhood to New York City. Porchetta is a roasted pork with crispy skin, seasoned with aromatic herbs and spices, garlic, sage, rosemary and wild fennel pollen. It’s a typical plate of Roman cuisine. It’s slow cooked Italian fast food that’s found on food carts all over Rome.

The aroma as you walk in is so heady – rosemary and sage and pork and garlic. Sitting in the display case are porchette. You just want to break the glass, grab a porchetta, and run waddle down the street as fast as you can.

The staff is very pleasant. The smells make you insane. The food is phenomenal. There isn’t much choice by way of drinks, but that’s okay.

This is mostly a take out place, but you can sit on a stool and eat. There are 6 stools facing a small U shaped counter. You can sit and face the beautiful porchette or sit and people watch the folks walking back and forth on East 7th Street. Either way, one bite and your surroundings will become a little fluffy cloud in heaven.

The menu is small and perfect. You can order a porchetta sandwich or a porchetta plate. The plates come with greens and beans. There is a mozzarella sandwich, though we’re not sure why. There are three sides – greens, beans and crispy potatoes with burnt ends.

Fork and Spoon both ordered the Porchetta Sandwich – no reason to mess with greens and beans! Beautifully aromatic, perfectly cooked, tender chucks and slices of pork on top of a toothsome bread. To add to this perfection on pane were shards of pork skin, painfully crispy and yummy. Fork was feeling a little tarnished around the tines when we decided on this Adventures, but one bite of this sandwich made all the clouds part and the sun shine. It is – well, divine is the perfect word.

Because the promise of burnt ends was too alluring to pass by, we also ordered the Crispy Potatoes with Burnt Ends. Crispy potatoes. Crunchy burnt ends of porchetta. Rosemary. Need anything else be said? I don’t think so.

So sorry we waited so long to get there. So delighted that we finally did – and will again and again!

Porchetta ~ 110 East 7th Street ~ NYC, NY ~ 212.777.2151
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David Burke @ Bloomingdale’s

I love David Burke. There is something completely childlike about him. His food and restaurants are full of whimsy. A characteristic that calls to Fork’s soul.

It was natural that after a bit of retail therapy at Bloomingdale’s Fork and Spoon decided to have dinner at David Burke’s restaurant in Bloomingdale’s. Spoon had eaten there before, and said the food was wonderful and the restaurant had the same feeling whimsy as David Burke’s other places, both on the plate and in decor.

There is a great meal deal at this restaurant – the Blooming Deal – 3 courses for $25. You are served an appetizer, main dish or pizza and dessert. Really not a bad deal at all.

The iced tea is bottomless and refilled very quickly.

If you’re going to David Burke @ Bloomingdale’s for some of that famous David Burke magic. Don’t.  The food is good. Actually, very good.  But there is nothing fun or whimsical about it. Spoon was quite surprised at how different this dining experience was from the first time Spoon had been there.

The service started off very standoff-ish and cold, but as time went on, our waiter warmed a touch. It’s hard to be cold to Cutlery as cute as Fork and Spoon.

One of the waiters came over with a basket of popovers. They could have been – should have been warmer, but that doesn’t take away from their amazing flavor. Every cheesey, peppery bite was delightful. It was a nice beginning to a meal.

Our first appetizer was Macaroni and Cheese. Fork thought the macaroni and cheese was a little bland, like it needed bacon (and what doesn’t). It was very nice and cheesey, though, the pasta cooked perfectly. The crunchy, toasted panko and flecks of herbs on top was a nice touch.

Our second appetizer was Beef Chili Nachos.  A very generous serving of chili, corn tortillas, topped with guacamole, salsa, cheese and sour cream. These were really good. Zesty chili, cool avocado with cheese and sour cream over crispy crunchy tortilla. The plate, however – as you can see – was a sloppy mess. You know, we eat with our eyes, and this wasn’t necessarily appealing and really a little surprising.

Now, we have 2 courses down and not the tiniest bit of whimsy in sight.

Our first main dish was a Prosciutto, Arugula & Basil Pizza. Thin crispy crust. Perfect actually. Generous amount of prosciutto and a garden of arugula. The mozzarella was fresh. This was a cooked sauce. It wasn’t fresh tomatoes. It was more like strained tomatoes, like Pomi, and not doctored up with any fresh herbs.

Our second main dish was  Grilled Filet Mignon, served with whipped potatoes, vegetables and crispy onions. The steak was amazing. The beef was so tender and so flavorful, it needed nothing else on the plate. The filet sat atop mashed potatoes. Not terrible mashed potatoes, but not spectacular mashed potatoes. The vegetables were green beans, carrots, asparagus, beautifully cooked and crisp tender – and for some reason, brussel sprouts, blech. Sitting on top of the filet were crispy, frizzled onions. This was actually a very nice dish, but it was cold!

The set up at David Burke is very strange. As you walk into Bloomingdale’s on the 54th Street side, to the right is the take-out part of Burke in the Box. This is where the kitchen is. To th left is the dining room, which is where we ate. The food all comes from the other side. They bring each dish over under a cloche. Because these sections are on different sides, the timing of the food isn’t great and the heat of the food isn’t consistent.

It is not possible to go to a David Burke restaurant and not order Cheesecake Lollipops. Love the little trees. Love the little cheesecake pops. Love the raspberries. Love the Bubble Gum Whipped Cream. Total smash hit, both in taste and visually. Slight unhappiness – all of the cheesecake pops were wrapped in saran wrap. Some of the little spaces were missing pops. There were repeats of some and only 1 of another. That being said, these are so yummy. Little bites of perfection all wearing different robes of flavor. There were cheesecakes dipped half in milk chocolate and half in dark chocolate and then rolled in chopped peanuts; some in a cherry shell with chipped pistachios; and some tasted of caramel with chocolate cookie crunchies.

I WANT MY WHIMSY BACK!

David Burke @ Bloomingdale’s ~ 1000 3rd Avenue ~ NYC, NY ~ 212.813.2195
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Burger Bistro & the Donut Burger

We absolutely adore the Burger Bistro! The service is great! The owners are great! The burgers are superb. Knork and Fork had dinner there a few nights ago, and being the nosey Fork that I am, I overheard a conversation about a special  burger for the weekend …

A DONUT BURGER

Really? When? Where? How? Have to there!

I had seen a donut burger on Man v. Food and was intrigued and grossed out at the same time. How can a burger on a donut possibly work. That being said, if anyone could make a donut burger work it would be the crew at Burger Bistro!

In a very donut entranced Homer Simpson way Fork spent the next 2 days repeating … must come back Saturday…. must come back Saturday … must come back Saturday!

Fortunately for Fork, Butter Pick was intrigued by the Donut Burger as well. Off we went … a little nervous … after all, this could be a disaster or a delight.

John greeted us, and all we could mutter was donut burger. And there arrives in front of you a beautiful combination of ingredients … a glazed donut (from Mike’s Donuts in Bay Ridge – some of the BEST donuts you have EVER had), a beef burger, cheese, a fried egg, and bacon. All stacked up, waiting for you.

Yes, yes, I know, sounds strange. But the beauty is in the combination of flavors – the sweetness of the donut, the saltiness of the bacon, the richness of the egg, and the wonderful beef flavor – my only dislike was the American cheese. First, Fork is not a huge American cheese fan, and I thought a different cheese would add just another layer of flavor. The bacon being chopped into Burger Bistro type bacon bits was perfect!

You didn’t want this burger to end. There were flavors just dancing around in your mouth.  I know this may not get to you in time to RUN to Burger Bistro, but go in, and BEG for this burger.

By the way, if you’re on Facebook or Twitter, follow the Burger Bistro, John made us privy to some super cool events and burgers coming up at Burger Bistro. You’re gonna want to be there.

7217 3rd Avenue ~ Brooklyn, New York ~ 718.833.5833 ~ @theburgerbistro
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Bubby’s

Fork & Spoon needed a restaurant close enough to an event we were attending to not involve a lot of walking in the rain. Our biggest dilemma always seems to be what to eat. Neither of us ever wants to decide. You pick, no you pick, no you pick. Whining ensues. Not a pretty sound. A zip code and google helps in these situations.  Hmmmm …… southern, BBQ, fried chicken? Oh, Bubby’s, you have won our hearts! The online menu looked great. And Bubby’s is renowned for their pies and desserts.

They have many different menus. There is a breakfast menu, a lunch menu, a brunch menu (they are famous for their brunch menu), a midnight brunch menu, an afternoon menu, and a dinner menu. Our timing was going to be a little off, so the afternoon menu, which is served from 4pm to 6pm and from 11pm to midnight would be perfect. One glitch, the menu online and the afternoon menu didn’t match, so the dishes we wanted to try from the online menu weren’t available at the time we were there. It was 5:30. Would Bubby’s let us wait?

Fork was early. Spoon was running late. Would they even let Fork sit and wait? Well, yes, of course, you can sit and wait. Iced tea, menus, a discussion with Dominick – our wonderful waiter – about the menus. Yes, we had to wait for 6pm for the dinner menu, but we were welcome to wait. Iced tea was in huge glasses, fresh and most importantly bottomless.

Once Spoon arrived, and more iced tea ordered, we went to work on the menu.  Dominick listened to what we were thinking of ordering, and knew what was on both the afternoon and dinner menu so we could begin ordering. Dominick, you are the best! What a great waiter, interested in the customer, knowledgable about the menu, and attentive.

Our first choice was on both the afternoon menu and the dinner menu, so that was easy. Warm Hand Cut Potato Chips with Maytag Blue Cheese. There isn’t a single word in that title that doesn’t make you drool and isn’t decadent and amazing. The chips are amazing. Thick cut potato chips with just the right amount of crispy and chewy. The chips are city in a pool of melty blue cheesey goodness with large chunks of Maytag blue cheese swimming around. There is  just a bit of the sauce and cheese drizzled on top of the chips. It kept the chips from becoming too soggy and icky. This dish of fabulousness gave us time to get close enough to 6:00pm to put in our dinner order.

We had originally intended on ordering the BBQ Pork Sliders. They’re on the dinner online menu, but they were not on the restaurant dinner menu! After a bit of a discussion – and trying to overcome our severe disappointment – and with Dominick’s help – about what we were planning on ordering, he came up with a simple solution: The Red Wattle Pulled Pork Plate. This let us try the 2 sides we were going to order as appetizers and have BBQ pork at the same time. Sheer genius!

What arrives is this gigantic platter of goodness. Fork and Spoon are never quite sure that the white bread is about. But, white bread aside, on our fabulous platter was BBQ pulled pork, hush puppies, mac & cheese, pickles and cole slaw. The pickles are crispy and tangy and sweet. The cole slaw? Take a page from the Daily News, soak it, shred it, put it in a ramekin, voila, cole slaw. It was just plain awful. The crusty mac & cheese was really yummy. The crust was – well, as the name implies, crusty! There was a wonderful smokiness about the dish. Very cheesy, pasta not mushy. The hush puppies were so good! Free form in shape, flecks of herbs throughout, great flavor, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The pork was totally the star. It’s seasoned really well, but dry rubbed, not in sauce. Don’t th ink for a minute this means it was dry! Not by any stretch of the imagination. The pork was tender and falling about and very moist. There was a terrific vinegary tang to it.  On each table is a trio of sauces that are made in-house at Bubby’s. One is vinegar based, one is spicy tangy and one is mustard based. The spicy and mustard were our favorites. These sauces were good on everything!

One of the sides that we had to try, but couldn’t include in our platter was Cauliflower James Beard Style. Lightly sautéed, herbs, breadcrumbs. Needed a little salt. We needed a vegetable! And this totally fit the bill. Mostly healthy, very good.

As we were sitting and happily sipping iced tea and munching away on our s, Spoon spied Dominick bringing a biscuit to a table behind us. Tines spun around so quickly to see the biscuit it’s a wonder we weren’t permanently damaged. Spoon called over our dear Dominick and merely pointed. He winked, turned and when he reappeared he had 2 of the most beautiful biscuits we had ever seen. They were so tall and golden – popover sized. You could see how flakey they were just by looking at them. They were piping hot. When you broke them open the insides were tender, just beckoning for butter! The outside was crispy with a slight saltiness to it. Dominick told us there was a new gal as the pastry chef and she had just made the biscuits. We would have run into the kitchen and kissed her had we been allowed!

And of course dessert. It can’t be a true adventure without dessert. We were still reeling from the deliciousness of the biscuit and wanted to try and blankly staring at the spinning dessert display. Every single pie and cupcake and cookie looked amazing. We couldn’t decide. We looked to Dominick and he simply said ‘Sour Cherry’. SOLD! Michigan sour cherries tucked into a flaky and crisp crust. Not too sour, not too sweet, just enough of both elements to satisfy your palate. A little whipped cream on the side and Bob’s your uncle.

I wish I could remember the pastry chef’s name. I know she was knew when we were there for dinner, I am pretty sure her name began with a K, maybe Spoon will remember. If you see this – YOU ROCK!

If you’re jonesing for good BBQ, Bubby’s will satisfy you! While we ate in Tribeca, there’s also a location in Brooklyn.

Bubby’s ~ 120 Hudson Street ~ New York, New York ~ 212.219.0666
Bubby’s ~ 1 Main Street ~ DUMBO ~ Brooklyn, NY ~ 718.222.0666
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