NYC Trip Review #11 – Famous Original Ray’s Pizza

Our last stop in NYC before grabbing our luggage and heading for Laguardia was Famous Original Ray’s Pizzeria on Lexington Avenue.  We had visited here on our first day in the city too, but wanted to grab another slice before heading home.  On the first trip, we both had the sausage and pepperoni slice, but this time, I tried the Ziti and Meat Sauce slice and Josh went with the Sausage and Pepperoni again.  I have to say, I prefer the sausage and pepperoni.  The ziti pizza is kind of a novelty and I’m sure some people would love it, but it was just too much starch for me.  I LOVE thin cruse pizza and this one just over-did the bread for me.  It was still good, but definitely filled me up faster than I would have liked. 

NYC Trip Review #10 – Bouchon Bakery

Another stop on our last day in NYC was Bouchon Bakery in the Time Warner building.  This building also houses many retail stores as well as a Whole Foods in the basement.  We visited the Whole Foods but it was close to lunchtime and it was mass chaos in there, so we went ahead and went upstairs to Bouchon.

Bouchon Bakery was founded by famous chef Thomas Keller (of French Laundry fame) and has locations in Yountville, New York and Las Vegas. 
The TKO cookie was one of Josh’s choices.  It is Bouchon’s version of the Oreo cookie and was very good.

I chose the Coffee Cake.  It was delightful and buttery.

The chocolate tart was my second choice.  It wasn’t as good as the chocolate tart from Perilla the night before, but I brought it home with me and ate it cold, from the fridge the night after we got home and it was very good then.  It was made with a darker chocolate than Perilla’s tart.

Josh’s second choice at Bouchon was the Maple-Bacon Brioche.  I know, I know. . . you’re thinking, "bacon on a pastry. . . gross" but it was actually very good.  People who have talked about VooDoo doughnuts in Portland have compared their maple bacon doughnut to bacon and pancakes and I would definitely use that comparison here.  It was flaky and very good as we peeled the layers off to enjoy.

NYC Trip Review #9 – Ben & Jerry’s at Rockefeller Center

Josh and I went to Rockefeller Center on our last morning and visited Top of the Rock Observation Deck.  It is relatively close to the Empire State Building and people have said that the views are better at Top of the Rock, so we figured that we’d try it out.  People were right.  The views were amazing. 
After we came back down to reality, we were hungry, so we stopped at the Ben & Jerry’s at 30 Rockefeller Plaza (anyone who watches the show 30 Rock will understand).  Lucky for us, this Ben & Jerry’s was one that actually carries Elton John’s signature flavor that I have been dying to try out since it came out last year.  I was jealous that it was only being distributed in the Northeast because it sounded awesome.  We ordered a scoop of Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road (which was apparently only supposed to be available in the Vermont Scoop Shops from July 18th through July 25th, 2008, but had apparently made an appearance in NYC).  It’s chocolate ice cream, peanut butter cookie dough, butter brickle and white chocolate chunks.  It was delicious.  I only wish it was more widely available.  We also got a scoop of Triple Caramel Chunk (but you can’t see it in the pictures).  Both flavors were great, but the Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road was superb.

NYC Trip Review #8 – Perilla

For those of you who are familiar with the Bravo Network’s reality show, Top Chef, you may recognize Perilla.  It is owned and run by Season One’s winner, Harold.  We actually saw Harold walking out of Perilla just after we were seated, so it was unfortunate that Harold wasn’t the one cooking our meal for us, but his employees did a fine job of taking over in his absence. 

Sadly, this was another of the restaurants that I was uncomfortable whipping out the camera for, but the food was amazing, none the less.  We splurged on this meal and ordered 3 appetizers between us.  I ordered the crispy calamari and watercress salad with mint, peanuts and chili-lime vinaigrette (which was probably the best salad I’ve had in my life).  Josh ordered the seared diver sea scallops with hearts of palm, xo sauce, daikon & spicy arugula puree (which he said was also amazing – best scallops ever) and we shared the spicy duck meatballs with mint cavatelli, water spinach and a quail egg (I thought they were good, but not amazing). 

For an entree, I ordered the special of the night, Colorado rack of lamb and Josh ordered the grilled prime hanger steak with creamed spinach, red shallot puree and natural jus.  Both were excellent, but Josh’s hanger steak was not as good as mine from JoJo.

We both ordered dessert and I was especially pleased with my choice.  I ordered the warm chocolate tart with dulce de leche sauce and vanilla ice cream and Josh ordered a trio of ice creams (banana, vanilla and coffee, I believe).  The chocolate tart was seriously the best chocolate tart I have ever tasted in my life.  It melted in your mouth and left you craving more.  I really wish I had the guts to pull out the camera, because it was definitely worth it.  It was a very simple presentation, but it really stood on its own and didn’t need a lot of fuss on the plate.  Perilla was wonderful!

NYC Trip Review #7 – Patricia’s Pizza & Pasta in the Bronx

Our last stop on Scott’s Pizza Tour was Patricia’s Pizza & Pasta in the Bronx.  It was quite a drive to get there, but we were greeted with pizza delivered right to the bus.  At Patricia’s they have both a brick oven and a gas oven and we were able to try half of a slice of each kind of pizza.  Both were good, but I still prefer Luzzo’s and Lombardi’s over the others.  It was awesome to be able to travel to a location outside of Manhattan for our last stop.  I know we wouldn’t have made it off of Manhattan if it hadn’t been for the Pizza Tour. 

Thanks so much Scott for an awesome tour and amazing pizza.  You’ve got a good thing going here and I hope you have continued success!!!

NYC Trip Review #6 – Patsy’s Pizzeria

Patsy’s Pizzeria was the next stop on Scott’s Pizza Tour.  Patsy’s is known for being one of Frank Sinatra’s favorite hangouts during his time in New York. 

While this stop wasn’t a favorite for Josh or I, the pizza was very good and we didn’t have any complaints.  We just felt that some of the other stops on the tour were better.  Patsy’s has a devout following though and there are many people who would argue that Patsy’s is the best in New York City, hands down.

NYC Trip Review #5 – Luzzo’s Pizzeria

The second stop on Scott’s Pizza Tour is one that will live in my heart (and stomach) forever.  Luzzo’s Ristorante Italiano is hands down, the best pizza I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a lot of pizza).  The owner, Michele is from Naples, as is a large number of his staff, so they know what pizza is supposed to taste like.  They use real buffalo mozzarella (for those of you who don’t know, this cheese actually comes from Asian water buffalo milk – believe it or not) which has a higher butter-fat content than cow’s milk mozzarella and it really makes the pizza light and buttery.  One of the words used to describe this pizza was "creamy" and it was definitely that.

Luzzo’s is in a building that used to be a bakery and has a brick oven fired by wood.  The whole pizzeria has a faint smell of campfire, but the pizza is other-worldly. 
Josh and I actually ended up heading back to Luzzo’s right after we finished the Pizza Tour to order a small pizza.  It was equally amazing the second time around.  Although Luzzo’s has only been around for 5 years, Michele and his pizzaiolos have perfected the art of pizza in a town known for it’s pizza.

NYC Trip Review #4 – Lombardi’s Pizza

Ah, Lombardi’s Pizza. . . the first stop on the most incredible tour in all of New York City – Scott’s Pizza Tour.  For those of you who are not familiar with Lombardi’s, let me fill you in on a little bit of American pizza history.  Lombardi’s was opened in 1905 by Gennaro Lombardi and was officially the first American pizzeria.  He first opened the original location as a grocery store in 1897 after landing in America in 1895.  Genarro began selling traditional Neapolitan pizzas from the grocery store and when the pizza sales out-sold the grocery sales, he decided to focus his business completely on the pizza.  Over 100 years later, Lombardi’s is still going strong in it’s new location, just a few blocks from the original (they had to move because the #6 subway line ran right under the original location and the subway vibrations were loosening the bricks in the coal-fired brick oven).  They moved the original brick oven to the new location, so the pizzas people are getting at Lombardi’s today are the same pizzas that Genarro Lombardi was serving in 1905.      
Lombardi’s pizza was spectacular.  You definitely can’t get this kind of pizza here in Kansas. . . at least not that I have been able to find.  If we could, I would be in big trouble.  The crust was perfectly done and it had just the right amount of cows-milk mozzarella and fresh basil on top.  To die for!
Now, for Scott’s Pizza Tour.  Scott is a self-proclaimed pizza expert and has spent the last 11 months guiding pizza lovers through America’s pizza birthplace.  Scott is very knowledgeable and keeps people entertained for the entire tour.  The tour that Josh and I took included a big yellow school bus dubbed "The Pizza Bus" that took us all over Manhattan and then to the Bronx for pizza tasting at 4 different pizzerias.  Posts on the other pizzerias that we visited will be appearing in the next few days.  Josh and I would absolutely recommend Scott’s Pizza Tour, whether you do the walking tour around Little Italy or you do the pizza bus tour all over the city.  It was the best 4.5 hours that we spent in New York and who doesn’t love pizza?

NYC Trip Review #2 – Doughnut Plant

The next stop on our food radar was the Doughnut Plant.  I had been waiting to try this place for months and the day had finally arrived.  Unfortunately, the weather on Day 2 was pretty miserable, but we braved the Subways, rain and cold and arrived at the Doughnut Plant a little wet, but ready for some doughnutty goodness.  We have seen several shows highlighting the Doughnut Plant on the Food Network and Travel Channel and have wanted to try their amazing doughnuts for quite some time.  We were not at all disappointed!

First, Josh and I both ordered 2 doughnuts each and tried each of those.  Let’s see if I can remember all of the flavors that we tried. . . first, I ordered a strawberry jam filled doughnut (pictured above), a chocolate glazed doughnut (pictured below).  

Josh ordered a Chocolate pudding filled chocolate cake doughnut, a blackberry jam filled doughnut and a fresh strawberry glazed doughnut.  We only took a few bites of each doughnut and then went back for more.   

In the end, we had ordered a coconut creme doughnut, cinnamon bun, creme brulee, cashew and several others that I can’t remember.  We also had a container of the freshest and best milk I’ve ever tasted.  It was amazing.  I think they get it from a local dairy. 

We tried all of the doughnuts and took most of them back to the hotel with us to have for breakfast the next morning.

Oh, how I miss the Doughnut Plant.  Sadly, they don’t do any mail order right now, but I’m in hopes that they will start soon.  If you’re traveling to or through NYC and love doughnuts, you should definitely make it a priority to stop by this place.  It is amazing!

NYC Trip Review #1 – JoJo Restaurant

As many of you will remember, Josh and I spent a long Easter weekend in New York City.  I had never been before and I was really looking forward to seeing the city and getting to experience the things that we always see on television.  I was especially excited to try out some of the places that I’ve been wanting to try since I saw them featured on the Travel Channel and Food Network.  We’re definitely foodies, and we used our knowledge and resources to scope out some of the best places in Manhattan to eat while on our short, 4-day trip.  We were not disappointed by what New York had to offer at all.

The first foodie stop we made while in Manhattan was JoJo, a Jean-Georges restaurant that currently holds 1 Michelin Star.  This was the first Michelin rated restaurant that either of us had ever been to and we were curious to evaluate it ourselves after reading a lot of mixed reviews from people online.  A lot of people felt that the restaurant was suited for more of a grandmotherly crowd with older decor and stuffy clientele.  During our meal, the crowd was quite diverse as far as ages, but I would agree about the older decor.  It really did remind me of Upper East Side old money and a fancy formal dining room that has had few updates over the years.

We both ordered the prix-fixe menu here and unfortunately, I’m not comfortable enough yet with just whipping out my camera in a fancy restaurant and snapping photos, so there will be no food photos in this review, but don’t let that deter you.  We ate some great food here and would definitely recommend it to anyone willing to spend a bit more for a great lunch.

The prix-fixe lunch menu at JoJo consists of two small plates and a dessert course.  They also provide bread sticks that were to die for with real butter.  Josh ordered the Tuna tartare and the Chicken, which came with chick pea fries and I ordered the Ricotta Ravioli and Hanger Steak, which came with a large basket of french fries.  I’ve been very lucky ordering Hanger Steaks recently and didn’t have any problem with this one.  Both of the dishes I ordered were amazing.  Josh’s chicken was highly reviewed on Yelp, but he didn’t think it was that amazing.  His tuna tartare was great.  The chick pea fries were interesting, but very good and the french fries were wonderful.  I think they gave me too many though.   

For dessert, Josh ordered the Banana Cream cake with vanilla ice cream and I ordered the sorbet trio.  The sorbet flavors were dark chocolate, mango and raspberry and all were very good.  I preferred Josh’s cake.  It melted in your mouth and the flavor of banana wasn’t overpowering. 

Overall, we really enjoyed our meal at JoJo and would recommend it highly to anyone visiting NYC who wants to experience classy dining.  It was well worth it!