Friday, January 12, 2018

Dining in New York City

The New York experience is one of great and varied dining and we reinforce this again on our trip.  One dinner we have to reserve two months in advance (Babbo); others, we walk in and wait for a table or wait in line for our food.  We cover the spectrum!

Our first night's dinner is at Briciola, a small Italian wine bar in Hells' Kitchen.  We share a bottle of Sangiovese while we wait for our table and are seated at a long, shared table, where we chat with the people around us.  We start with a prosciutto and speck platter and octopus bruschetta, followed by the octopus special, rigatoni with shrimp, and garganelli with osso buco.  We wrap up this great meal with creme brule and chocolate cake.  It is all wonderful!

 Stopping first at the bar

 Prosciutto/speck, octopus bruschetta

 Octopus, rigatoni/shrimp, garganelli/osso buco

Chocolate cake, creme brule

This year, we have reservations at Babbo, the great Italian restaurant near Washington Square Park.  We've never been able to get reservations before, but we started several months early this time and were in luck!  Previously we ate (without a reservation) in the bar area, which has a really great ambiance, but back in the restaurant is a different incredible experience.  We've cooked many of the items on the Babbo menu ourselves, from the cookbook Molto Italiano, and it's great to come here and experience the way the dishes are supposed to be done and to try some that it is hard for us to make or source the ingredients (for example, wild boar).

We start with cocktails, manhattans and martinis (how civilized), accompanied by the amuse bouche from the chef.  We share two appetizers, a Babbo salami (charcuterie) platter with baby fennel and grilled octopus (simmered in olive oil, sliced garlic and hot red pepper flakes, then baked for several hours, sliced, and charred on a hot grill), served with spicy limoncello vinagrette.  We follow this extravaganza with three entrees, which Babbo splits for us:  braised rabbit and veal with ricotta cheese ravioli, cabernet pappardelle with wild boar, and barbequed skirt steak.  And, at the end, Vin Santo and a cookie platter.  What an incredible dining experience!


 Amuse bouche

Babbo salami, grilled octopus

 Braised rabbit, veal, ricotta cheese ravioli

 Pappardelle with wild boar

 Barbequed skirt steak

 Vin santo and cookies

We complement these dining experience the next few nights with some other favorites.

We head over the Bobby Flay's Bar Americain.  The restaurant is is closing in January after a long and successful run, but still incredible.  We start with cocktails at the bar, accompanied (later at the table) by hot potato chips with blue cheese sauce and share two entrees:  black sea bass with blood orange capers and haricots vert and Fulton Fish Market Cioppino.  More great dishes!

 Cocktails at the bar, looking out into the restaurant

 Hot potato chips, blue cheese sauce

 Cioppino, sea bass

Another night, we're ready for something simple, filling, and truly New York:  Ray's Pizza.  We've stopped in many times over the years and it's always great.  Stand in line, order your pizza and soft drink/beer, and head in back to snag a table while they make it.  We order a large pizza with pepperoni and mushrooms and, while it's really great, it's also really big and we can't eat it all.

 Ray's Original Pizza

 Pepperoni and mushroom pizza, one slice

We offer our leftover pizza to a homeless person as we leave the restaurant.  He tells us that he has had two slices already and is full.  We walk three blocks to the Mr. Frosty truck and offer him the leftover pizza and it rapidly disappears into the truck.  We order our ice cream for desert from Mr. Frosty, chocolate with chocolate sauce and sprinkles, and enjoy it on the way back to the hotel as we wind down our holiday visit to the city.

Finishing up with ice cream

It's time to head home and see what next year's adventures and explorations will bring!

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