A cute, artisanal French Cafe located in the heart of the West Village, Dominique Bistro is a showcase to the rich history of French food.
Dominique Bistro opened late last year and I was invited in to check out what head chef and namesake, Dominick Pepe, was dishing out.
The restaurant is a Parisian-style cafe on the corner of Christopher and Gay Streets. The front of the restaurant has an enormous floor to ceiling window looking out onto Christopher Street and I was lucky enough to be seated in an ideal spot to take advantage of the view. The interior features an open kitchen with pops of French cultural flare scattered throughout. The vibe is classy and modern, and welcoming and inviting. It’s the kind of place I’d like to spend an afternoon sipping on wine.
The food exiting the open kitchen is comforting French fare. You have your classics such as Croque-monsieur, as well as authentic countryside dishes such as beef bouillabaisse.
Ahi Tuna Tartare
Ahi Tuna Tartare
Interior of Dominique Bistro
Exterior of Dominique Bistro
Interior of Dominique Bistro
I sampled a range of dishes. To start I tasted the ahi tuna tartare, pear salad and tomato soup. The highlights however were the main courses – beef bourguignon with braised beef, carrots, onions, mushrooms, potatoes and a red wine demi, and fettuccine with chanterelles, burgundy truffles in brown butter.
The bourguignon was my favorite dish. It hit the spot and helped warm me up on a cold January night. This hearty beef stew had a gracious serving of beef and seemingly dissolved after a few bites. Delicious.
Let’s not forget about dessert! I opted for the chocolate mousse and a heaping serving of sweetness came out. We’re not talking about any prim and proper chocolate mousse in a dish. This is a large hunk of chocolate mousse plopped down on a plate and decorated with strawberries.
Dominique Bistro has gained a spot on my list of recommended restaurants in NYC. It’s the perfect quaint West Village cafe where you can sit and enjoy a casual glass (or bottle) of wine or treat yourself to some heartier French fare.
The interior gives off a rustic feel – the perfect decor for chef Dominick Pepe to serve up authentic, hearty and healthy Italian meals. We’re talking everything from seafood to authentic Napoli pizza to pasta to crisp autumn salads anytime of the day or night. That’s right, they’re open 24 hours.
I’ll be honest. I devoured a ton of food at this restaurant. It was all so good! Delicious Polpette di Vitello Ripiene – veal stuffed meatballs with ricotta, arugula, parmesan and marinara sauce – came close to rivaling my mom’s secret recipe. I indulged in very rich Spaghetti alla Carbonara. The pasta was perfectly cooked al dente and once that egg broke, it blended together into a very decadent carb-loaded dish. And what’s a meal without dessert? The Tiramisu was one of my favorite dishes of the night. This dessert was so light and creamy, but at the same time satisfied my chocolate craving with a generous dusting of cocoa powder. No complaints here – it was all delicious.
With great food, a great location and service that lets you leisurely enjoy your meal while taking it all in, I can see why Olio e Piu is a neighborhood favorite. I highly recommend checking this place out. It fits the bill for everything from drinks with friends to dinner with your parents. Stop by and let me know what you think!
Feeling nostalgic for traditional Italian Sunday dinners? Father-and-son owners, Michael and Jason Brunetti, have teamed up to bring their traditional Neapolitan Pizza to the West Village and opened Pizzetteria Brunetti.
And now, they’ve revealed their own take on an authentic Sunday dinner and created a prefix four-course family meal, priced at $30 and offered every Sunday starting April 27. The menu starts off with the Insalata alla Pulcinella, followed by the Polpette alla Maria (Mary’s Meatball) and Neapolitan Margherita Pizza served with a glass of Brunetti wine or beer. You will also be able to enjoy an espresso and delicious orange zest Zeppole for dessert.
I was recently was invited to give the menu a try and it was delicious! Michael and Jason Brunetti have put together a real gem. Leaving no details ignored, the restaurant has a custom-built wood-burning brick oven created on-site “brick by brick” and is one of only a handful of pizza restaurants in New York City that use a wood-burning brick oven.
The classic Margherita pizza has San Marzano tomatoes, house made mozzarella, basil, sea salt and is drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.
San Gennaro Pizza
The San Gennaro pizza has sweet Italian sausage, buttery caramelized onions, roasted red and yellow peppers, sheep’s milk ricotta, San Marzano tomatoes.
The Spezie pizza is a delicious mixture of sauteed broccoli rabe, broccolini, spicy Italian sausage, creamy burrata cheese, hot peppers and a spicy Calabrian pepper puree.
Aside from the incredible pizza, the Riso salad was one of my favorites. Black and red rice, organic kale, almonds and dried figs topped with caciocavallo cheese. A spicy chile oil gives this dish a subtle warmth – delicious!
I don’t know why Pizzetteria Brunetti is under the radar of many pizza lovers. With a variety of pizzas sure to please everyone, this place is well on the way to being a West Village hot spot. Delicious food with attentive and friendly service that treat you like family have me giving Pizzetteria Brunetti two thumbs up!
*This meal was provided free, courtesy of Pizzetteria Brunetti.
Restaurant: Abbottega – 14 Bedford Street, Manhattan, New York
Hailey and I recently checked out Abbottega Ristorante, an Italian restaurant that opened not too long ago in the West Village. Despite being opened only a short time, Abbottega is rich in history. The owner, David Ranucci, has a number of restaurants to his name (mostly in Milan) as well as an emerging intercontinental group of the Abbottega brand in New York City, Milan and Miami.
The history of Abbottega dates back to 1913 and is a living tribute to Ranucci’s grandmother, who still spends her days in the kitchen. As he describes it, “It all began in 1913 when my grandfather Giulio opened his “Osteria” in Montefiascone, a small town with an enchanting view of the lake Bolsena, just 60 miles from Rome…a territory, with a high concentration of mountains and hills. At “Abbottega” in all these years, we have proudly served our traditional meals to our guests (including Cardinals) who used to come to us by carriages, bicycles, motorcycles, antiques automobiles (with drivers always blowing their horns twice) and today, with modern cars equipped with A/C and navigation systems!”
With a life-size photo of Ranucci’s grandmother hanging from the back wall, they’re very much keeping this tradition and old fashioned experience alive here at Abbottega in Manhattan.
Walking into Abbottega is like being transported from the busy streets of New York City into a quaint Italian restaurant. Exposed brick walls are painted white with solid wood tables scattered throughout the interior. A counter at the entrance features Italian wines, cured meats and cheeses, as well as an area for the chef to make fresh pasta. In fact, there are mounds of it sitting there all ready to be used that same night.
If I were to describe the atmosphere in one word, it would be community. I immediately felt at home, a feeling I’m sure Grandma Ranucci would be happy with.
Food, food and more food. We were treated to a variety of items off Abbottega’s menu. Yes, it was a lot of food.
Crema di Pomodoro e Gamberi: Chilled tomato soup with shrimp
Bresaola: Home made cured beef, arugula, shaved parmigiano and truffle oil
Carpaccio di Salmone Marinato: Salmon carpaccio, spinach and orange
Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe: Pecorino cheese and fresh cracked black pepper
Salsiccia alla Brace: Italian pork sausage, cremini mushrooms and grilled tomatoes
Before all that food was bread, accompanied by a unique spread made up of arugula, potatoes and Parmesan cheese. This was a huge hit between myself and Hailey. You could really taste the arugula and it immediately set Abbottega apart from other restaurants.
The tomato soup and shrimp was delicious. The soup is made without any cream so it’s very light and comes out ice cold – perfectly refreshing for a hot summer day. I’m not a big fan of tomato soup but I couldn’t get enough of this dish.
The Bresaola was served over arugula with decorative plating accented by more of the delicious arugula spread. This beef was delicious! It literally melted in our mouths and had a tremendous flavor with just the right amount of salt from the curing process.
The Carpaccio di Salmone Marinato consisted of thinly sliced salmon topped with spinach and candied oranges. The spinach was very heavily seasoned with salt, pepper and oil – something I wasn’t complaining about. The candied fruit on the top of this dish played an intergral part, adding a hint of sweetness to each bite – something you don’t typically get in a carpaccio dish.
One of my favorite dishes of the night was the Ravioli di Carciofi. A very thin ravioli was stuffed with artichoke and topped with crispy and salty prosciutto. A light cream sauce was used that was so light you almost didn’t notice it was there. This was delicious. The flavor of artichokes really shone through with the light sauce serving its purpose to accent the flavor instead of drowning the pasta.
The Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe, while simple, had a complexity to it. The pasta was cooked al dente, as it should be, and tasted like it was literally made a few minutes ago. You can’t get any fresher than that. The sauce had a slight kick to it, reminding you it was there and giving this dish a warmth.
Before dessert, our final dish of the night was the Salsiccia alla Brace. Sweet Italian pork sausage was topped with cremini mushrooms and laid on top of onions and grilled cherry tomatoes. I really liked how the sausage was cooked. It had some burnt areas to it and that extra char had me reminiscing about grilling sausage in my backyard. I liked this dish, but struggled to love it. Unfortunately, the flavors just didn’t go far enough for me.
Dessert consisted of three different items – yogurt cake, Espresso flan and chocolate lava cake. The yogurt cake had a hint of lemon to it and was served with a delicious dark chocolate ganache. The ganache was slightly bitter and perfectly accented the yogurt cake. The chocolate lava cake had a layer of whipped cream around it that served as a bed for the molten chocolate that flowed out of this as soon as its skin was pierced. I don’t think I’ve ever had a chocolate lava cake I didn’t like. This was no exception and the layer of whipped cream on the outside was only a plus. The most unique dessert was the espresso flan. The flan had a strong coffee flavor and was topped with a thin layer of coffee grounds. I loved the grittiness of the grounds and the overpowering coffee flavor. Definitely no need to order a cup of coffee after this dessert.
The service at Abbottega was incredible. Going back to what I said about a communal feel, it really did feel like I was eating in my grandmother’s kitchen and she was serving up a feast. The team at Abbottega did everything under the sun to make sure diners were happy.
Prices range from $14 for salads, $14-$15 for appetizers, $13-$16 for pasta and $20-$24 for entrees. For what you get, these prices are a huge value.
I’m adding Abbottega to my list of some of the best Italian food I’ve had in New York City. A communal feel, simple, yet delicious food, incredible service – this restaurant seems to have it all. There are very few places that can make you feel like you’re eating in your grandmother’s kitchen, Abbottega is one of them. I can’t wait to head back.
*This meal was provided free, courtesy of Abbottega.
Cupcakes have been all the rage the past year. However, is it time we ditch the cupcake and go the way of the cake-cup? If you were to ask the people behind Bee’s Knees Baking Co., they’d enthusiastically say yes.
Opened just last December, the Bee’s Knees Baking Co. storefront is the next evolution of a baking company known for its wedding cakes, not its miniature-sized cake treats. The store can be described as spacious, bright and modern. There is a large wooden table in the center of the store for communal dessert dining as well as bar stools lining a tabletop looking out onto West 10th Street. The atmosphere is notably relaxed and low key.
What is a cake-cup you ask? On it’s website, Bee’s Knees describes it as the intricate, complex textures of traditional cakes with the quick, easy-to-enjoy experience of the cupcake. The result is essentially a miniature-sized cake in a five ounce plastic cup. The concept is definitely unique and Bee’s Knees has a number of different flavors, each boasting different textures and flavor profiles. On this particular trip, I decided to go with:
Red Velvet: classic red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and roasted pecans
Honey Bourbon: bourbon cake with burnt honey cream and candied ginger
Chocolate Salted Caramel: chocolate cake with salted caramel and roasted pecans
Lemon Raspberry: yellow cake with raspberry honey jam and lemon curd
The cake-cups are just the perfect amount of dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth. You don’t feel like you’ve just eaten an entire cake, but are rewarded with all the flavors and quality that you would have gotten if you had just gone ahead and eaten one. In most cases, the cake-cups are layered with cake, frosting or cream, then more cake on top. The cake to frosting/cream ratio is such that you’re not eating globs of icing, but instead give the actual cake part the opportunity to shine through. However, in order to get all of these flavors, you need to dig deep and pull from all the various layers – cake, frosting, cream, etc. Don’t hesitate and just skim from the top or you’ll miss out!
If five ounces of cake is took much, Bee’s Knees also offers an even smaller version of its cake-cups. These cake ‘shots’ are offered individually or you can buy a flight of them and put yourself in a dessert-induced coma.
I was a big fan of the cake-cups, the uniqueness of the flavors and entire concept. However, if there was one thing I could say needs improvement, it’s the spoons. The cake-cups are served with wooden spoons, which I didn’t particularly care for. The cake gets somewhat stuck to them and I think a regular plastic spoon would be more appealing and deliver a better overall dessert experience. (I know, this probably isn’t as Earth-friendly as the wooden option.)
The service at Bee’s Knee’s is great. The people behind the counter take the time to walk you through the various cake-cup flavors on display. They even spend time explaining a little bit about the business, the concept and just chatting. Best part, before I left, they gave me a few of the mini cake-cup ‘shots’ to take home. Great customer service.
The five ounce cake-cups are around $4 each and the mini cake ‘shots’ are $6.50 for a flight. For the quality of ingredients and amount of dessert you’re getting, I think these prices are right in line with what they should be.
When I eat dessert it’s often an ‘all or nothing’ experience – I either eat every single dessert in sight, or abstain from it completely. Bee’s Knees solves my problem with these perfectly proportioned cake-cups. I’ll admit, after finishing one of them I did want to have another, but they were just the right about to satisfy my sweet tooth. While many people are saying that the cupcake bubble may have popped, I don’t envision Bee’s Knees Baking Co. going anywhere anytime soon, especially if they keep innovating new flavor combinations.
I am a firm believer that the best pizza in New York City comes from Bleecker Street Pizza. I’m not alone either. The Food Network has named it the best pizza in New York City three years in a row.
Situated on the corner of Bleecker Street and Seventh Avenue, it won’t win any awards for decor though – the interior is tiny, made up of about five small tables and high tops, and a small glass display counter showcasing a variety of pizzas in front of the pizza oven. But who cares about what the inside looks like? The reason you go to Bleecker Street is for the pizza, not the atmosphere.
What makes the pizza at this place is the crust. It’s thin, crispy and has a great crunch to it. You can taste the remnants of cornmeal on the bottom accompanied by simple, yet sublime sauce and mozzarella cheese. The flavors, aroma and crunch activate all your senses with each bite.
I said it earlier and I’ll say it again; Bleecker Street Pizza boasts the best pizza in New York City. Whenever I’m in the area I always make sure I stop by for a quick slice and give my taste buds a piece of heaven. I couldn’t ask for anything more in a slice of pizza. I highly recommend Bleecker Street Pizza and will continue to make this my choice for pizza in the city.
Restaurant: Corner Bistro – 331 West 4th Street at Jane Street, Manhattan, New York
If there’s one thing I am a sucker for, it’s burgers. Corner Bistro has been on my list of places to visit for a long time since they’re known as having some of the most recognized burgers in New York City. Luckily, I had the chance to visit the other night.
First impressions… the inside is nothing special. Think McSorley’s with food. In fact, they just so happen to serve McSorley’s Ale among the other few beer choices they have on tap. Along with the McSorley’s-like interior comes the incredible prices.
Here is just a sample of these great prices:
$2.50 for a pint of McSorley’s Ale
$7.25 for a Bistro Burger (bacon and cheese)
$6.50 for a cheeseburger
$6 for a hamburger
$6 for a BLT
$4 for a grilled cheese
Well, who cares about those last two? You go to Corner Bistro for the burgers.
I decided on the following:
Numerous pints of McSorley’s Ale
Corner Bistro’s burgers reminded me of my parent’s burgers – huge hunks of ground meat rolled together into a patty. They definitely do not shy away from the amount of meat they use and for the $7.50 Bistro Burger price, this is the best deal in the area.
I glanced in the kitchen before sitting down and it looks like these burgers are cooked in a broiler instead of on a grill. This helped to ensure that a lot of the juices did not drip away and is clearly evident in the perfectly melted cheese. Accompanying the cheeseburger were at least three very crispy strips of bacon, lettuce, tomato and onion. One of the best parts of this burger was the bacon. I LOVE crispy, well-cooked bacon and Corner Bistro delivered. Stacked together, the complete package scaled well above the plate.
The burger was very well cooked and had a nice flavor to it. Additionally, the crispy bacon added some additional crunchiness that was much appreciated.
Aside from the burger, the fries were nothing to write home about. They were plain, not salted and needed a little bit of help before I was truly enjoying them. However, they served their purpose to accompany the burger and after all, I wasn’t there for the fries.
While not the best burger I’ve ever had, for the price and amount of food, Corner Bistro is a great choice if you’re in the area and looking for a cheap bite to eat. Be prepared for a wait as this is a popular place, but once you do get a seat, enjoy the simple atmosphere and don’t forget to take note of your neighbors as everyone around you exclaims at these quality burgers for cheap.