We wanted to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and Grimaldi’s coal brick oven pizzeria is conveniently situated in the shadows underneath. At 5:30 on a Friday afternoon, there was only one party of four waiting in line outside. 5 minutes later, we were seated at the bar. We ordered the classic cheese pizza ($16 for 18 inches); it was topped with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil. The pizza was delicious; crust was thin and flavorful and the thick slices of mozzarella were satisfyingly chewy. We polished off the whole pizza with no problem. There is really nothing like NY pizza.
We grabbed a quick bite before an afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. E.A.T is conveniently located just a block away. The deli case was filled with beautiful looking salads and spreads. Our bread basket had a nice assortment of hearty multigrain, a petite baguette and a raisin walnut.
My matzo ball soup was outstanding with a flavorful broth and two large, light and airy matzo balls. Steve’s tomato and mozzarella sandwich ($16) looked great, but it came dressed with a mustard vinaigrette that he did not like. I was also the lucky recipient of his mustard dill potato salad side, as he does not like potato salad either. The prices reminded us we were in Manhattan, which is to say, $14 for a bowl of soup is outrageous.
Levain Bakery, Manhattan
After walking all around the Met, we were ready for a snack. We strolled across Central Park and went to Levain Bakery to get one of their famous chocolate chip cookies ($4). They are huge hockey pucks, weighing in at 6ozs each. Steve had the dark chocolate chocolate chip and I opted for the classic chocolate chip walnut. I’m sure this is how they want to serve it, but I felt it Steve’s cookie crossed the fine line between warm and gooey in to raw and underbaked. It had no structural integrity and Steve’s hands looked like he tried to strangle Count Chocula. 10 minutes after he finished the cookie, he was still debating whether he liked it or was grossly overwhelmed by the decadence of it.
The roast chicken at Barbuto has become so much of a house favorite that Jonathan Waxman has even dubbed it the JW chicken. I knew we had to go and try the signature dish. Barbuto, an Italian inspired restaurant, is located in the West Village. It is a large industrial space, with a garage doors that open on to a casual patio. Steve and I went with Wendy and Shane, on a warm Saturday night. We were seated immediately with our 6:30pm reservation.
We started with the charcuterie plate ($19) – it had prosciutto di Parma, cacciatorini & soppressata. The meats were uninteresting, but tasty. Why only two small slices of bread, Barbuto? Our PEI mussels were steamed in chardonnay and served with fregola ($13). The serving was small, but I really enjoyed the combination of the chewy pearls of pasta with the tender briny mussels.
I ordered the bucatini alla carbonara ($18). The pasta was perfectly cooked, the pancetta added a nice meaty chew, and the egg was thick and luscious, but the dish was overwhelmed by the amount of black pepper.
Both Steve and Shane got the famous JW chicken ($19) and the consensus was that it was “good, but it’s just chicken,” I liked the salsa verde topping – I thought it was reminiscent of Mama Tsoi’s cilantro garlic sauce.
Wendy’s whole roasted porgie took the prize for oversized entrée. It was huge; hanging over two sides of the plate. It was tender, although it needed lemon and salt. I helped Wendy polish it off. I love dissecting a fish head.
The winning dish of the night was the potatoes ($8). They were outstanding; fried crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. They were dusted with pecorino and rosemary. I found a recipe online and it makes me wish I had a deep fat fryer.
Crispy potatoes with pecorino and rosemary
by Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto
4 medium sized idaho russet potatoes
1 head of garlic split
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano
Place potatoes, garlic, rosemary & salt in a pot and starting with cold water bring to a boil and cook.
Remove potatoes and discard cooking liquid.
When potatoes are cool crush by hand and cook in a deep fryer at 350 degrees until golden brown and crispy. Drain well, season with salt and pepper and garnish with rosemary and pecorino.
We finished the evening with a chocolate budino ($8). It was a creamy, rich chocolate pudding – a lovely way to end a nice meal. The service was competent and the prices were extremely reasonable, especially for Manhattan. Sorry, I did not get pictures - it was a little too dark in the restaurant.