Tuesday, December 7, 2010


As promised, I am taking you directly back to my comfort zone - to a cozy wine bar in the west village where the food deserves just as much credit as both the drink and the setting. After witnessing months of abandoned storefronts in the neighborhood, I've begun to notice new businesses and especially restaurants returning to the scene. It's always amazing to me when a space that I never even imagined as a restaurant can suddenly transform into one over night. At Aria, this was definitely the case. It took me several strolls past the front window before realizing I was passing the space that had once been home to a pair of small boutiques that just couldn't quite make it off the beaten path. And while the interior of this new restaurant always looked so nice and cozy in passing, I will openly admit that I assumed it to be just another new, cute village spot whose atmosphere would probably make up for the overpriced small plates.

Well, I apologize now for being so quick to judge. But, in all actuality, I am really the one who was missing out all of these months. Aria has been an excellent addition to the west village dining scene since its opening in the early summer. And as the weather gets colder, this is the kind of spot you will want to head to and simply linger over several glasses of wine. I can imagine that on busy nights, the acoustics are not the best. However, I think the key in such a small space is just going in small groups. Anything more than four and you may as well keep walking. While they do offer a communal table in the middle of the restaurant, think of that option as more of a chance to get to know your neighbors and less of a chance to actually toast an entire table.

Each night there are additions to the menu that are definitely worth noting - so much so they even write them on the paper menu in front of you. And for a menu of small plates, the portions and prices are really very reasonable. The same goes for the assorted glasses of wine. The only draw back of encouraging small group dining here is that you probably won't get to sample as many dishes as you would like in one sitting. However that is the beauty of a neighborhood spot such as Aria. Your next visit is never that far away.

On any menu, if burrata is offered, it is a must - and this is no exception at Aria. We were lucky enough to stop by on a night when one of the specials was burrata served with tomatoes and prosciutto, dressed in balsamic vinegar. Another one of our favorites, also a special of the evening, was the shrimp skewers served with large white beans in a hearty red pepper sauce. I was underwhelmed by the oven roasted peppers and marinated anchovies with goat cheese, but a few heartier dishes on the regular menu really caught my attention. I highly recommend the beef meatballs and oven roasted tomatoes topped with fresh parmesan. But, it was the stewed calamari with capers and basil that really was unique and so full of flavor from the fresh herbs and berries. I have never eaten calamari in such a way, and it was a welcome change for a dish that usually only succeeds when fried.

Even though Aria has been around for several months, I would like to officially welcome it to the neighborhood. If the other abandoned storefronts continue to fill up in the example of Aria, we are in for a good year ahead. And just the other day as I was passing by, Aria took me by surprise yet again. In the face of scaffolding that has recently gone up out front, the restaurant has embraced a typical NYC hindrance and made the most of it - dressing the steel poles with festive greenery and vines. This place definitely deserves a second look.

Aria Wine Bar

117 Perry Street
New York, New York 10014
(212) 242-4233
FOOD RATING (Out of 5):

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Del Posto

Like any heartfelt hiatus, mine lasted a little longer than expected. After all, it wouldn’t really have been a proper break had I not left you on your toes wondering when I would return. Wouldn’t it be terrible if on my return you were thinking, back already? Hopefully you are as thrilled as I am right now. In all honesty, I have been eager to write basically since the day I stopped. And now I’m sitting here giddy in the Atlanta airport as I tap away on the computer. Writing just feels good. And writing about restaurants - now that’s another story!

As promised, my time away from the computer was spent experiencing food and life to the fullest. So where do I even begin? I figure the best way to get back in is with a true bang. While I love nothing more than discovering hidden neighborhood gems, there is no denying how much I love and can appreciate the outwardly sparkling gems - the talked about restaurants that are actually worth your time, money, and indulgence. In my experience this is almost always my take on a Mario Batali restaurant. The man’s got talent. And Del Posto is no exception.

Located in a sort of no-man’s land between meatpacking and Chelsea, this large Italian restaurant opened nearly five years ago. Given it’s large size, ambiguous location, and simply the state of our economy, many may have assumed this would have been a short-lived venture. Del Posto has proven to be anything but. The difficulty in securing a reservation on even a Monday night is a definite indicator that its popularity is in fact continuously increasing. Since this was my first dining experience at Del Posto, I cannot personally attest to its improvement over time. But, I can say that it is certainly currently at a level of excellence that very few could ever attain and then maintain in such a demanding environment.

The setting alone is an experience. With the combination of live piano music as well as exposed balconies on the second floor, I felt as though I was transported to a previous era. It was truly romantic! So much so that I even noted and loved each delicate plate that the dishes were served on. Although, I won’t deny that my warm emotions may have also been influenced by the three delicious amuse-bouches that arrived at our table at the start of the meal. Without much surprise, the rest of the meal met up to this excellent beginning. Del Posto’s menu - both wine and cuisine - is an adventure. And, of course, with selections so inspiring, it was no question that we would order the five course tasting menu consisting of an appetizer, two shared primi dishes, one secondi, and dessert - all of which you have free reign to choose from any section of the menu. Since these mollusks are so rarely found on a menu, we started with the abalone carpaccio served with grilled asparagus and charred scallions. The carne cruda with truffled salsa, parmigiano-reggiano and shaved porcini mushrooms was the perfect complement to the sea snails. Both were light, yet full of flavor.

For the primi, we shared the spaghetti with dungeness crab, sliced jalapenos, and minced scallion and the ricotta pansotti with wild asparagus and black truffles. Both dishes were split into half portions, giving us a great sampling, but allowing room for much more. While both were excellent and homemade, my favorite was the pansotti which resembled a combination of mini tortellini and ravioli which immediately melted in my mouth. I was actually most surprised that the secondi portion of the meal ended up being my very favorite, especially since I was so pleased with how the meal started out. We ordered the seared duck breast with Apician spices, grilled apricots, and salt baked endive and the young lamb with lemon yogurt, chick peas and swiss chard ragu. There was a serious debate about which dish was better and basically ended with two completely cleared plates. Somehow, there was room still for dessert - the butterscotch semifreddo and the polenta cake baked in butter served with sage ice cream and caramelized sweet potato. The sweet and savory combination in the polenta dessert was incredible, but I was most impressed with the herbal ice cream which I so quickly devoured. Of course, no fancy meal is complete without additional treats from the chef and at Del Posto, this was no exception. There was not only one but TWO complimentary desserts to round out the meal. It's a wonder I didn't feel round myself by the end of the evening!

The night was one for the books. And I’m not the only one who seems to thinks so. I also know that any one reading this must have a list of restaurants set aside to try only on special occasions. Well, Del Posto should be at the top of yours. But, not to worry, I will soon bring you all back to reality. The Hungry Roach is back - and before long my latest neighborhood gem will be broadcast your way.

Del Posto on Urbanspoon

Del Posto
85 Tenth Avenue
New York, New York 10011
(212) 497-8090
FOOD RATING (Out of 5):

Sunday, September 19, 2010

THe Hungry Hiatus

I apologize as this was a post I was meant to have written at least two weeks ago. Since I have known for several months now that Fall 2010 promises to be one of the busiest, life-changing periods of my life, I had my big announcement all mapped out in my mind. At the mark of the two year anniversary of the Hungry Roach, I was going to take a two month pause from posting. Well, more than half a month has gone by and I still haven't managed to fill you in on my big decision. However, that fact alone reaffirms my need for this brief hiatus through September and October.

You may have been thinking that the start of the school year, the return of football season, or even the recent spell of glorious weather have all contributed to keeping me far from my computer - delaying my next mouthwatering post. While all observations are definitely true, there is still more to it this fall. Two weeks ago today marks the day I became a Mrs.! It's amazing how in one single day you can actually begin a whole new chapter in your life - in a way, gaining a whole new identity. I'll be perfectly honest in stating that most of my life I couldn't wait for the day that my last name would change. In fact, it wasn't until I started this blog that I finally fully embraced my given name. And how quickly that time went! Now that I have a new last name (which I couldn't be more excited about), I do love knowing that it is through the Hungry Roach that my name and childhood identity will live on.

You are now probably asking yourself, so what does all of this have to do with my need to take a break for the next two months? Shouldn't I be posting more and more now that my blog is the most obvious reminder of my former identity? That will certainly be the case come November. However, as I start my new journey, it's time to fully focus on my new partner in crime. While he is probably my biggest Hungry Roach fan and may actually be the most disappointed about my decision, I am truly excited for some computer free nights ahead. It's just what I need right now. But, not to worry - throughout my hiatus, the adventures will certainly go on. The trusty camera will still be accompanying me wherever our stomachs take us. A girl's got to eat - and well, at the very least! I promise to continue discovering culinary gems while enjoying my surroundings as much as ever. Who knows - you may actually spot me at the latest NYC hot spot, just over in the corner booth. Get ready. I will have so much to share upon my return, you will be sick of hearing from me! Until then, enjoy my favorite time of year, stay outside as much as possible while daylight still remains, and, most importantly, keep eating and sharing your time with loved ones.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Marlow & Sons

It's not often that I come across a restaurant that is so memorable that I hardly know where to begin. Well, I have been sitting in front of my computer for the past thirty minutes recounting my extraordinary meal at Marlow & Sons - and all I see is a blank screen - well, now two sentences. I keep smiling as I can still almost taste every dish I devoured there last week. However, my great imagination is not helping me make any headway. While I wish I was this taken by a restaurant more often, it is probably best for all of you as I would never be able to finish a post (and keep my friends, family, and job).

So, where do I begin? It was the start of the year when I first mentioned this spot to you as it was part of A Mouth Watering Line Up for 2010. At that point in time, I stated that I was embarrassed to admit I had yet to experience Marlow & Sons. I am now just kicking myself for having missed out on it for the past few years. No matter the night of the week, I could easily find a reason to hop on the L train, walk 15 minutes south and dine here. The comfort in the setting whether at the rustic bar or wooden tables may be just what you are looking for on a low key Monday evening. Or perhaps, this romantic dimly lit country dining room is your idea of the perfect Saturday night date. Sign me up for any and all of these outings.

There are very few places that could get away with a menu offering just a few options and those that are as simple as "spaghetti," "tomato salad," or "soup." But that is one of the many great distinctions of Marlow & Sons. There is so much more to each and every dish that a detailed menu would actually never do them justice. The elaborate descriptions could never be captured on paper, only partially captured by mouth, and entirely captured by tasting. And even the simplest options of meats and cheeses that are just listed by name are so much more than that. Their delicate selection will provide options for all palates. If you are a fan of salami with peppercorn, I highly recommend the Toscano. I could eat plates of this thinly sliced meat - and it pairs extremely well with just about any kind of cheese.

While the menu is constantly changing, I urge you to order the salads that they offer that evening. I know it can sometimes be hard to get excited about a salad, but believe me, these will do the trick. I had heard a close friend say this before - and while I trusted him, it was not until I experienced it for myself that I really felt that excitement (I hope you can feel it now)! We ordered both the bean salad and the tomato salad. While both were incredible, it was the bean salad that blew me away. It was served with green beans, wax beans, grape tomatoes, mushrooms, leeks, basil and homemade croutons. It is the combination of the freshness of ingredients combined with their house dressings that set these creations apart. The tomato salad was served with red and golden beets, red onions, basil, and a homemade blue cheese dressing.

The soup of the evening was a pureed gazpacho garnished with homemade croutons, crispy salami, and a poached egg. Not only was this completely clever, but it was delicious. We rounded out the evening with their bouillabaisse which was served with just about every kind of seafood you can imagine in a light broth with fennel. Again, a traditional dish, but unlike most bouillabaisses which are heavy, this was prepared in such a unique, delicate way. And, of course, at the end of the night, there was no way to pass up on dessert. We went with their signature chocolate and caramel tart. I really hope and believe this is one of the few constants on the menu. While the two layers of chocolate were divine, it was the layer of homemade, soft caramel in the middle that completely wowed me. The sea salt sprinkled on top made it harder and harder to resist another bite.

Well, that wasn't so bad after all! My only difficulty now seems to be knowing where to end. I think I will just go back to daydreaming about last week's meal at Marlow & Sons. That seemed to keep my fingers from typing...

Marlow & Sons on Urbanspoon

Marlow & Sons
81 Broadway
Brooklyn, New York 11211
(718) 384-1441
FOOD RATING (Out of 5):

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


My excitement after discovering an ideal restaurant for groups in New York will never get old. It would be one thing if these sorts of discoveries were a regular occurrence. However, given the number of occasions we all eat out in large groups, they are never as easy to come by as we all would like. I know I just recently preached a similar tale back in the winter as I shared my wonderful group dining experience at Barbossa with you. But, it's true. The options for eating out in large groups that actually leave you in a festive mood are few and far between. And if it always takes me over six months to find another gem, well then, point proven.

Bogota, my latest group dining finding located in Brooklyn's Park Slope, is hardly new to the scene. Open for over five years now, it has been satisfying diners looking for a celebratory atmosphere and authentic Latin cuisine for many years. I will start to blame my full-time residency in Manhattan as the reason it has taken me so long to happen upon this spot. However, there is really no excuse as its constantly packed dining room on even a Monday night indicates Bogota is more than just a neighborhood joint. There are unbeatable specials nearly every night of the week that keep the regulars and attract those from afar.

And no matter the night of the week you end up here, I guarantee it will be hard to pass up on the pitchers of mojitos or other mixed drinks. With a bar full of infused liquors such as jalapeno tequila or black cherry gin, the greatest challenge of the night will be deciding how to satisfy your thirst. No matter your choice, it will pair perfectly with the plantain chips and homemade pico de gallo served at every table. You may also have a hard time deciding on the rest of your meal since the many options are so appealing. Whatever you choose or even as you choose, I highly recommend ordering an empanada sampler. This allows a sampling of four made with either Colombia cornmeal or Argentinian wheat. My favorites of the former was the chicken and potato and of the latter was the beef picadillo with chipotle tomato sauce. For vegetarians, the black bean and feta as well as the goat cheese with queso blanco are excellent options. You will also find other great sharing options in arepas, chips, quesadillas, and patacones sections.

For main courses, options range from large soups and salads to sandwiches and main dishes. Whatever your Latin craving may be, it can certainly be satisfied. I highly recommend the tortilla soup and it is quite a filling option. The soup is made with chicken, spicy chipotle broth, tortilla strips, avocado, sour cream, jack cheese, and cilantro. This hearty dish has the perfect combination of heat and fresh flavors. Depending on your mood, you can choose from beef, pork, poultry, seafood and vegetarian main courses - all to be accompanied by your choice of sides. My favorite is the jalapeno grilled catfish served with jalapeno marinade, fruit salsa, and tartar sauce with the sides of gallo pinto (sauteed black beans, white rice, cilantro, and onions) and vinegar based red cabbage salad. Both paired perfectly with the fish. Although I imagine they would do so next to skirt steak chimichurri, chicken mole, or any other hearty dish served.

It is amazing that one restaurant covers so much ground with one simple kitchen. There is no doubt that here you will find your favorites from both Central and South America and done so quite authentically. Although, I have to admit I am speaking from what I can only imagine to be authentic as I have yet to visit this part of the world. In my imagined Latin culture, I also envision group outings to be more than a regular occurrence. How could they not be in a land with such festive cuisine? In proclaiming such praise for this Brooklyn group dining find, I believe I've found the perfect opportunity for me to verify the authenticity of Bogota's food and setting. Looks like it is time for an adventure to Latin America! Until then, I stand by this recommendation on completely solid ground.

Bogotá Latin Bistro on Urbanspoon

Bogota Latin Bistro
141 Fifth Avenue
(Park Slope) Brooklyn, New York 11217
(718) 230-3805
FOOD RATING (Out of 5):

Monday, August 2, 2010


Why isn't my office in Soho? Why aren't we in Morningside Heights right now? How is everything so delicious? Those were the exact thoughts continuously running through my mind as I devoured every morsel of panino set in front of me at Salumè last week. For those of you who do work in Soho, Nolita, Tribeca, Greenwich village or even Midtown (honestly, I would hop on that subway if I were you), your lunch world has just been turned upside down - and I mean, in the best of ways. I have already plotted in my mind the evenings that I will make a dinner detour to Soho prior to its 8 pm closing for even just one bite of a Salumè panino. Weekend shopping trips downtown just reached a whole new level of appeal as a lunch stop here will be well worth facing the packed streets. This place is the real deal. So whether or not you have any business being in Soho around lunchtime, you better start making it your business.

After just one evening spent inside this salumeria, I immediately realized that there is no secret behind its success. This is simply a restaurant full of Italian heart and soul - and that comes directly from its Milanese owner Michele Colombo. He has truly taken it upon himself to bring an authentic taste of Italy straight to New York City. And while last week in my post I clarified the use of the French word tartine, this week I will most proudly clarify the Italian term panini. First of all, and I am just as guilty of this misconception as the next American, panini is the plural and panino is actually the singular. Little did I know that I was so often referencing eating several Italian sandwiches in one sitting. And after eating here that could actually become a regular occurrence. But, what Salumè taught me that was even more astonishing is that the traditional Italian panino is NOT pressed. Pressing, in fact, will actually destroy the intended flavor combinations which is a true waste and even insult when serving the finest of ingredients.

And so Salumè prides itself in serving top quality products and does so with the proper care. All meats here are sliced to order right before your eyes - guaranteeing that when you are served, your sandwich is in its best possible state. After your first bite, you will not need any convincing of this. Not only are the meats of excellent caliber, but the cheeses are held to the very same standard. It's as if the bread was perfectly designed to hold the amount of ingredients that they serve you - oh wait, it was! While the bread is made out of shop, Salumè has managed to create it's very own roll with Eli's Bakery. With such high quality all around, it is amazing to see that the prices are actually comparable to those at your mediocre, local cured meat shop.

I am 100% confident in stating that I do not think you can go wrong here - well, as long as you like meat. They do have vegetarian options, and I imagine those to be excellent as well - but I will only stick to imagining that. We all know how I work and with fine meats before me, the carnivore within cannot hold back. My absolute favorite panino, and I believe it is already the most popular, is the Langhirano - parma prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, tomato, and extra virgin olive oil. This is certainly one of the most traditional Italian panino combinations and they truly nail it here. The meat and cheese are out of this world. I imagine that I will start repeating myself as I go through each of the sandwiches - gushing about how much I love them and what amazing quality the meat and cheese are. And so, I will spare you the repetition. Instead, I will mention my second favorite - the Bologna made with mortadella, emmenthal, arugula, and mustard. The addition of arugula sells me every time. And then there was the Valtellina - bresaola, brie, sliced lemon and pepper. I loved this simple, yet unique combination of ingredients.

So it's ok to admit it. Before reading this, you thought panini was singular and always pressed. I certainly did before last week. But, that's really just another reason why I love food. One minute you are learning from it, the next you are oohing and ahhing over its remarkable flavors. If you can't get to a culture, food will always be the next best way to get a taste of it. It won't be long before Italian professors and their students are lined up at the door of Salumè. Italian has always been next on my list for languages to learn. Come registration this fall, that just might be my ticket to regular lunches down in soho!

Salumè on Urbanspoon

330 West Broadway
New York, New York 10013
(212) 226-8111
NG (Out of 5):