Even though I walk so much more when I'm in New York, I think if I still lived in Brooklyn I would probably weigh over 200 pounds. The food is just too freaking good and I highly doubt what I like is healthy. As soon as I got there I unloaded my cooler that contained my cottage cheese and yogurts. I placed them in the back of the fridge where they remained for the rest of the trip. I had good intentions, but once I walked down 18th Avenue and saw the Italian cookies I knew the healthy breakfast I had sworn I would eat would be forgotten quickly. I didn't bother with bagels like most visiting ex-New Yorkers crave. I prefer a seeded Italian roll with Breakstone butter, but really my breakfast cravings are for the sweets. Nothing beats pastries, tiramasu, black & white cakes, 7-layer, and any Italian cookies served with a hot, strong cup of coffee while reading the NY Daily News and NY Post...breakfast of champions.
After driving for so many hours, the first night's dinner is usually spent just down the block at the Italian joint. Baked clams, fried calamari, veal Francese and a carafe of house chianti. No pics allowed there.
Other Brooklyn "Must Eats" include pizza, well duh. The pizzeria of choice is L & B Spumoni Gardens.
This place has been the same forever. Their squares are the best ever, sweet tomato sauces slathered over tender crusts, melted high quality mozzarella covered with grated cheese, still only $2.25 a slice or $19.00 for a half-pie which is 12 slices. That's what we went for.
After the pizza spumoni is in order. Spumoni is often referred to as Italian ice cream, but really it's more like a mix of ice cream and ice -- better than ice cream, not as thick as gelato and creamier than ice. I always get the cremolata flavor, which has little almond pieces in vanilla, or the tricolored -- pistachio (real nuts), vanilla & chocolate. You can't miss with either one.
My husband's "Must Eat" list includes Brennan & Carr's, from the side of town he grew up in. They've also has been around forever. Their claim to fame is roast beef dipped in broth covered with melted cheese on a roll. A side of cheese fries must accompany this.
When my son comes he orders the beef broth as well, probably because when I was pregnant with him that was one of my cravings. They recently changed the rolls, they're bigger, but not better. Still worth the trip.
We went to an all-you-can eat sushi place in Bay Ridge which was always my favorite sushi joint before they changed names and owners. It was still really good. It really is all-you-can-eat sushi or rolls for $18.95. The caveat is that you must finish what you order. If you leave anything on your plate you have to pay for it. With rolls like avocado peanut, spicy tempura and clam there wasn't anything left on my plate. I had a couple of sakes and it was a good thing my cousin lived right down the block because there was no way I could drive.
My least favorite meal this trip was a Thai restaurant in Bay Ridge. The Pad Thai was missing something, the garlic chicken was too bland and the Thai iced coffee was blech. The kicker was that they included a service charge of 20% without telling us. If I had been drinking I probably wouldn't have even noticed it. Pass.
My favorite place was and always is Joes of Avenue U, a Sicilian focacerria. This is the real deal and if it was up to me I would eat every meal here. I could never decide on what to get because everything is so freaking good. I always say the next time I get there I'm going to get the meatloaf, which is the best meatloaf in the world. I never do because instead I go for the panelle special, something I can only get here. Panelles are smashed chick peas, molded into rectangles and deep fried. They're placed on the best seeded rolls in the world, covered with ricotta cheese and smothered with grated cheese which I found out is Sardo from Argentina. It's unbelievable.
I also got a side of broccoli rabe which I have yet to find in any Roanoke restaurant.
The girl got a stuffed artichoke...
My husband the riceball special. Notice what real Italian bread looks like...
If I could only get my cousin the chef to relocate in Roanoke I would open up a focacceria/bakery with him. I know it would be a great success. Although he liked his last visit here, he's been hesitant to make the leap from NYC, "The guys are just not good looking enough..." Sigh. I can't help him with that.
Before we made the trip back home we filled the cooler with pinwheels of Italian cheese & parsley sausage, bracciola, pork skin, provolone, smoked mozzarella and Sardo cheeses, riceballs, potato croquettes, prosciutto bread and various cookies. I forgot to get one thing though...the raviolis! This is the way real raviolis should come...in boxes, not plastic bags!
Okay, so I put on another five pounds in the five days I was in New York, but it probably would have been even more had we not spent that one blistering hot day at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. I don't care...it was damn worth it. Now it's back to reality so I'm restarting my diet again...cottage cheese, yogurt, egg whites and spinach, here I come...Borrrrrring.