Thursday, November 19, 2009


Taken by J in Chinatown. If I look at these long enough, I might become a vegetarian again.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dénouement at Raoul's

This is a wonderful way to end a meal at Soho institution, Raoul's French bistro. Crème Fraîche Cheesecake, Lemon Meringue Tart, Calvados, Fresh Mint Tea and Coffee. The cheesecake is light, creamy and unforgettable.

180 Prince St. (btwn. Sullivan & Thompson Sts)
New York, NY 10012
(212) 966-3518

Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Emotional Restaurant List (gets more emotional because of all the goodbyes)

1) Blue Hill
2) The Spotted Pig
3) Blue Ribbon / Blue Ribbon Bakery
4) Brown Cafe
5) Souen
6) Raoul's
7) Omen
8) Totto Yakitori
9) Five Points
10) Sripraphai
11) Kuma Inn
12) Eleven Madison
13) Bao 111
14) Shorty's 32
15) Mermaid Inn
16) Palacinka - CLOSED (goodbye crepes)
17) Market Table
18) 9th St. Market - CLOSED (goodbye fluffy pancakes w/piles of fresh fruit)
19) Prune
20) 'inoteca
21) Minca
22) Soba Koh
23) Hummus Place
24) Una Pizza Napoletana - CLOSED (goodbye pizza pie!)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Like Water for Pizza

I've been hearing about the fabled Lucali pizza for the past few years from a gastronomically-inclined friend, JF, who had moved to Brooklyn from Manhattan and was so thankful that there was a really good pizza place that opened around the corner from him. Any pizza conversation, or food conversation for that matter, or even Brooklyn vs. Manhattan conversation, 'that really good pizza place around the corner from me' always managed to find its way in. Also emphasized was the story about how it was a neighborhood local, Mark Iacono, who spared this once old soda fountain from becoming a cold, cold chain. Iacono wasn't even in food (more like marble and granite), he was just a sentimental guy whose loyalty to his quickly-changing neighborhood inspired him to open a special pizzeria. Iacono was also loyal to the discerning palates of the of neighborhood and did his homework before opening. He scoured the five boroughs interviewing locals to learn the key elements of a making a good pie.

By coincidence, three years later, we were asked by Brooklyn friends to meet them for drinks and pizza in their neighborhood and it so happened to be none other than JF's 'that really good pizza place around the corner from me'. The wait to eat at Lucali was over 45 minutes, but considerately they call you on your cell when you're up so we were free to roam. It's also BYOB, which is nice because you can go as low-brow or high-brow as you like. There's no menu, but instead the server lists the fresh toppings of the day to pick from. It was worth the trek out to Brooklyn. The brick-oven pizza rivals many of the top pizzerias. The toppings were fresh, the sauce just slightly sweet and crust thin, but not
too thin to stand up to the ingredients.

To not speak about the ambiance, would be leaving a crucial element of Lucali's charm out. Layered in wool from head to toe, we walked through the quiet, wintry brownstone-lined streets to finally arrive at a warm candle-lit dining room of rustic wooden tables and chairs and honey-colored Venetian plastered walls. The intoxicating smell of freshly baked pizza - tomatoes, herbs, spices - filled the air and we were safe from the cold night. In the back, a marble L-shaped counter is anchored by the radiant fire emanating from the brick oven. Men in fitted white t-shirts prepare the dough at the waist-high counter, tossing and stretching, tossing and stretching in the flickering glow cast by only a few candlesticks. They spread the red sauce in concentric circles and expertly dress the pizza with toppings before feeding it to the mouth of a hungry oven. Lucali makes pizza sexy. JF said that since it first opened the prices have gone up, so he's a little bummed out. Maybe he isn't as impressed by the ambiance...

Lucali Pizza
575 Henry St
Brooklyn, NY 11231
(718) 858-4086