Sunday, April 24, 2011


Pizza in New York will never cease to amaze me. How new Italian restaurants continuously open and aptly compete with what has already been deemed The Best of New York is often beyond me. Yet, time and time again (and this often feels like month after month), the latest additions to the scene can certainly contend with the rest - and the best. And Nolita's Rubirosa is no exception.

Part of what makes pizza in New York so unique is that it comes in all shapes and forms. From sauce to crust to toppings, prepared by brick to wood-fired to coal-fired ovens, served by slice or pie and beyond, chefs can almost consider it a form of art. Through their circular creations, they can really make a statement and push the competition to the next level. At Rubirosa, the initial draw is pizza with exceptionally thin and crispy crust. However, this would never be the success that it is without the amazing flavors to go along with it.

I am definitely not done talking about the crust. This crust deserves to be talked and talked about as it is truly some of the best thin crust pizza I have ever had. There is nothing more frustrating than deliciously tasting pizza with a soggy center. Every one knows exactly what I am talking about as it really just ends up becoming a tease of what could have been. And this can happen too often with thin crust pies. Well this is far from a worry at Rubirosa where the delicate pizzas are both perfectly crisp and the doughy flavors still remain intact. After sampling several options, I am convinced you cannot go wrong with any of their pies. However, the Classic pizza is a must and one that any pizza lover won't be able to turn down or put down, and it's probably the secret behind each and every one of these pies. The sweet and light sauce immediately reminded me of Joe's (on Carmine), my favorite slice in the city. The chef and co-owner Angelo Pappalardo uses his family's 50 year old recipe straight from his father's Staten Island institution Joe & Pat's. I'm convinced it's the same Joe and that he truly was a pizza genius.

For the meat-lover, I highly recommend the sausage, broccoli rabe, fresh mozzarella, and pecorino pie. But, my favorite pizza of the night was the mushroom, prosciutto, peas and pecorino combination. Whole snap peas are served on top and serve as an excellent complement to the saltiness of the delicate meat. While pizza is certainly the highlight here, the menu is quite extensive offering all kinds of Italian specialties. The meatballs are as flavorful as they get and with an expertise in sauces, the chef makes no exceptions with this dish. I also recommend the simple and fresh salad options. The mixed green served with fennel, pecorino and oregano vinaigrette and the Rubirosa served with country bread, tomato, basil, and mozzarella allow you to sneak in a little more of that irresistible Italian cheese in just a lighter manner.

And while I could go on about the rest of the menu, it's really all about the pizza at Rubirosa. They even serve it by the slice at lunch - a rarity for a sit-down pizza restaurant. As New York City's latest contender, the bar is once again raised. I guess this really just explains why New York will forever be the pizza capital. Rubirosa isn't going anywhere, but I do know the next competitor may be just around the corner.

Rubirosa on Urbanspoon

235 Mulberry Street
New York, NY 10012
(212) 965-0500
FOOD RATING (Out of 5):

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Social Eatz

You can't judge a restaurant by it's name or it's location. Had I not loved Xie Xie or followed nearly every season of Top Chef, Social Eatz would have been far from my radar. Thankfully, the threat of excellent food will always broaden my horizon. Chef Angelo Sosa's latest venture located in prime midtown, while completely inconvenient for me, certainly positions his cuisine to cater to the NYC masses. He has been judged so many times in Season 7 of Top Chef and most recently in Top Chef All Stars, Sosa has proven he is now more than ready to do as he pleases. And he certainly can as his Asian sandwich shop on 53rd street has finally given me a reason to be envious of those a part of the daily rat race.

I apologize for seeming like such a midtown hater. Although in my eight years in New York City, I never lasted more than one professional year in walking distance of Rockefeller Center. While I should blame it on the job, I can't pretend that debating between a lunch at Au Bon Pain or Hale and Hearty didn't make my exit even faster. However, a lunch or early dinner at Social Eatz may have actually made me rethink my decision to leave the world of marketing - or at least, prolong my departure.

While sandwiches and burgers are the focus, there are certainly appetizers (app'z), salads (salad'z), and tacos (taco'z) worth sampling - never mind the overuse of the last letter of the alphabet. No matter what you order, the crispy spring rolls are an absolute must. I am not sure I have ever had spring rolls this good. In fact, as far as spring rolls go, they definitely earn five roaches. These are made with chunks of shrimp, ground chicken, diced jicama and shredded cabbage. mushrooms, scallions and cilantro served with a duck sauce made from calamansi, a citrusy filipino fruit, with a sweet and sour essence. Two large rolls come with each order and while I was a little turned off by how big they were, after one bite, I was thrilled at the size. On second thought, it could have been serious trouble had Social Eatz been around when I was a midtowner.

All sandwiches and burgers arrive with an order of fries which are wonderfully crisp and fried. I highly recommend the Bibimbap burger. This is truly my favorite Korean dish packed into a patty and minus the rice. Ground beef is topped with a slow cooked egg, covered in lettuce and served with pickled carrots and cucumbers. There is no way to avoid the messiness of this concoction, but the flavors are certainly worth it. I also highly recommend the Kung Pao Wow sandwich served on a baguette. Sosa marinates certified organic chicken in a soy-sesame sauce and then iron sears it with thai chili. The sandwich is topped with a smooth, roasted peanut spread which lightly tones down the heat of the dish.

And while Angelo no longer has to face the Judge's Table of Top Chef, he has certainly put himself in the line of fire with Social Eatz. Lucky for him, his skills in the kitchen have taken him beyond Hollywood. I urge you too to embrace his quirks and find a reason to love the NYC rat race. Angelo, I just hope you are ready for the masses!

Social Eatz on Urbanspoon

Social Eatz
232 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022
(212) 207-3339
Food Rating (Out of 5):