Saturday, October 18, 2014

Joe's Shanghai: A Chinatown Staple with Epic Soup Dumplings & More...

I’m a big fan of soup dumplings. I mean, who isn’t? I was chatting with a colleague about our mutual love for these little pillows of soupy goodness when she suggested we take a trip to Chinatown fto Joe’s Shanghai. The big emphasis being Chinatown as apparently the midtown location is not up to par (so I hear). 

When we arrived at 6pm it was already packed. We were hurried and squeezed into the back at a large communal table. The menu is typical Chinese fare with all the favorites. The prices are super cheap so I already knew this was going to be a hell of a value. My friend and I shared the Scallion Pancake which was wonderful. Greasy and good. I would get it again. We then ordered our own Soup Dumplings. For $6 you get 8 pork soup dumplings. 8!!! It’s a meal in itself. We also shared an order of the Chicken Shanghai Noodles. The portion was huge and they were fantastic. We didn’t order drinks as it’s not the "wine & dine” kinda place however they do have some nice ginger-ale’s and other assorted non-alcoholic beverages. 

We left very full and happy. The total bill with tip=$35 for two people. A crazy bargain for such an institution. We were in and out in an hour so it’s definitely the place you go to for the food only. The ambiance is lacking and there’s a good chance you’re going to feel rushed out. 

No reservations. Get there early and be prepared to sit communally.

***For those of you not familiar with Soup Dumplings or if you are but do not know how to eat them, check out these step by step instructions HERE

Our massive "communal" table.

Our wonderfully greasy Scallion Pancake.

The famous Soup Dumplings. I opted for the pork AND crab! ;-)

The line at 7pm on a typical Tuesday...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Chef Michael White's Nicoletta has secrets...

I was super excited to try Nicoletta. As you regular readers know, I’m a huge Michael White fan (and I LOVE pizza) but sadly Nicoletta debuted to mixed reviews. I decided I needed to try it for myself.

We were meeting some friends coming in from Brooklyn so the East Village was the perfect location. It was a fairly quiet scene but the smells of Italian goodness filled the air. I was getting excited. Since we came in with a large group, we decided to order and share...pretty much the entire menu. I was pleasantly surprised (not really that surprised) that everything was delicious. 

We started with the Patate (a suggestion from the manager). It was basically cheesy, fried potatoes with lemon. They were fantastic. We also enjoyed the meatballs, the fresh mozzarella (I was actually disappointed as these were small balls instead of larger slices) and the Arancini. The Arancini was incredible. What’s not to love about fried balls of creamy risotto?

We continued to the main event. The pizza. I knew Nicoletta was known for their "off-menu" Carbonara Pizza. Yes, a Carbonara Pizza. A pizza topped with parmesan, pancetta and eggs. OMG. FYI-This pizza is technically a secret. It's not on the regular menu but offered as an off-menu special to those in the know. You MUST ask for it. 

We also ordered the Funghi and the Tarfutata. Both very good. The pizza’s are not traditional New York-style pizza and I think this may be one of the reasons the reviews have been mixed. The crust is thin and crispy but the pizza is smaller and does have a very different texture then what some New Yorkers may be used too. I found the pizza to be delightful and a nice change. The Carbonara was my favorite. 

I would highly recommend Nicoletta for a good and fairly inexpensive meal. They do not take reservations but you should be able to walk in with out a wait. They serve only wine and beer. Order the Carbonara Pizza.

Patate aka crispy fried potatoes with a lemony parmesan sauce for dipping. Amaze.

House-made Meatballs. Just like my fictional Italian mama used to make.

The king of NYC off-menu specials: Nicoletta's Carbonara Pizza

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Schmackary's is Everything

This post is shorter (and sweeter) than my usual Eat Up, Drink Up posts. I recently uploaded the picture below on Instagram and got quite the response. One of my colleagues even wrote that Schmackery's is "everything". "Everything" meaning everything you'd ever want in a cookie and more...and it absolutely is.

Schmackery's is a fantastic little cookie shop in NYC's Hell’s Kitchen. As of this moment it’s their only location but I’m sure that will be changing in the very near future. They make one hell of a cookie. Not just the regular, day to day cookies we’ve grown accustom too, Ie. chocolate chip, peanut butter etc. Think Maple Bacon, Sweet Corn, Sch’Mores, Red Velvet and my hands down favorite, Funfetti. They’re insanely creative and as pretty as they are tasty. 

The story of how Schmackery’s came to be is pretty inspirational. Midwestern kid moves to NYC in 2008 with a dream and by 2011 owner/founder Zachary Schmahl was selling his yummy cookies online. One year later NYC was blessed his very first store front on 45th and 9th ave. Cookies galore and they’re even smart enough to serve the perfect cold milk.

To all the cookie monsters out there! When in Manhattan, head to Schmackary’s. 

My Funfetti cookie with vanilla frosting and rainbow sprinkles. It was everything...

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Marblehead Gem: 5 Corners Kitchen

Ryan and I heart Marblehead, MA. It’s the most charming little New England town and we’ve been going for long fall weekend’s for 6 years now. We stay at an incredible little bed and breakfast and visit all of our favorite bars and restaurants (some are mentioned in my previous blog post from last year). We finally strayed away from our usual stops and decided to make a reservation at 5 Corners Kitchen. We’d heard nothing but good things from the locals so we figured it was time to give it a try. 

We grabbed our usual pre-dinner drinks at Maddie’s Sail Loft and then headed up to 5 Corners. The restaurant is gorgeous. A very hip, New York feel and lively vibe. It was Saturday and it was packed. We were seated near the bar and once settled, we prepared to order our faces off. Naturally Ryan and I knew what we wanted in advance. Our little table of 4 proceeded to devour the following...

To Start:

The Half Shellfish Platter with oysters and lobster
The Charcuterie and Cheese Platter served with the most outstanding bread (we were told by our server, the bread is from a little bakery in Salem)


The 5CK Burger
Seared Sea Scallops
Steak Frites
Seasonal Pasta


Creme Brûlée 
Seasonal Ice Creams
Toffee Cake

All washed down with a few crisp glasses of Sauvignon Blanc and Manhattan’s for the boys. 

Everything was ridiculous. I'd suggest all of the dishes we ordered. 5 Corners Kitchen was so good in fact we went there again for dinner the very next night. I’d suggest reservations and a fairly deep pocket. The vibe wasn’t the only thing that reminded us of NYC. Are the city prices worth it? Absolutely.  

Our decedent Charcuterie Board. Meats and cheeses galore...

Fresh, briny oysters and a half a lobster...when in New England!

Our friend’s 5CK Burger. This burger was amazing. Cooked perfectly with lots of cheese and thick cut bacon. The fries and creamy fry sauce (a garlicky basil cream sauce) were to die for. Addictive to say the least.

Ryan’s tender Steak Frites. Fantastic. Served with more garlicky basil sauce.

My fresh pasta entree with mushrooms and truffle cream. Outstanding. 

When visiting Marblehead...Eat Up at 5 Corners Kitchen!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Peabody’s Little Depot Diner

Ryan and I love going to the New England area every fall. A little apple picking and a few lobster rolls can really do wonders for one’s soul. We think so anyways...

On our way back this year we decided to grab lunch in Peabody (pronounced pee-bidy), MA. One of our friends did a little research and found The Little Depot Diner. The menu looked good, typical diner food. The space unique as the restaurant is set in an old train car (see images below). There’s only one long bar so seating is tight but cozy. As soon as you walk in the door your feel beyond loved. The girls behind the counter were friendly, spunky and just plain cool. Once room was made for us at the bar, the ordering began.

They offer breakfast all day as well as some tasty lunch options. We were informed they serve farm fresh milk and eggs so Ryan and our friends opted for breakfast items. I decided on the tuna melt. Service was quick. We had our monstrous plates within about 10 minutes. The place is a bargin at $7-$8 per head. Our friend’s raved about the pancakes and eggs and Ryan was over the moon for his sausage and baked beans. My tuna melt was insane.

Between the delicious (and cheap) food and fantastic service, we'll definitely be back next year. 
Note: There’s no public restroom and it’s cash only. No reservations obviously. 

Thank you Alicia and Jade! We’ll see you ladies next year. 

A teeny tiny space with only one long bar. No tables.

My friend's huge, fluffy pancake with maple butter. Didn't even need the syrup.

My enormous tuna melt loaded with all the fixin's. They use a gooey, white American cheese that sets off the sandwich perfectly. Get the American cheese.

Ryan's Hungarian sausage with eggs, rye bread and The Depot's signature baked beans. 

The sweetest little ending to a delightful lunch in Peabody, MA.