Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Eating New York

Last week, I finally got around starting the account of our spring trip to New York. We hadn't been back to NYC since 2011, so we were all very excited to explore and see as much as possible. 

And did I mention being excited to eat as much good food as possible?

On our first trip to the city back in 2006, we pretty much only ate at chain restaurants that we also have in Wisconsin. Back then, we thought the Times Square Olive Garden was the epitome of cool. 

We have changed a little bit since then. The 2018 versions of us laughed so hard at the 2006 versions of us. For this trip, we spent time researching and chose a variety of restaurants that we definitely don't have in good old Wisconsin.

Our first stop after arriving on Friday afternoon, checking into the hotel, and shopping at Zara (priorities) was Lombardi's Pizza. They opened in 1905 and claim to be the first pizzeria in the U.S. They also claim to make authentic Naples pizza. I ate a lot of pizza in Naples just shy of a year ago, so I felt fairly qualified to make a ruling on whether or not it was authentic.


Mom and Jenna opted to share a classic margarita pizza, and I went for their white sauce pizza with mozzarella and ricotta.

They were both DELICIOUS, but just a hair short of being Italy-level delicious. I'm a pizza snob now, what can I say.

To cleanse the palette, we stopped by Doughnut Plant on the way back to the hotel. It's right next to the famous Gotham City Comedy Club. The doughnuts have rave reviews both online and from people we know.

They were good because they were doughnuts, but I didn't find them to be anything special. My rose doughnut was very pretty though. I was expecting it to be rose-flavored because lots of desserts in France are flower-flavored. Nope. It just tasted like sugar.

The next day, after a long morning of sightseeing, we were all more than ready to put our feet up and have some lunch. It was not to be. 

A long line stretched down the block to get a table at Ellen's Stardust Diner, but we decided to tough it out. We ended up standing outside for about an hour before getting in.

My mom suggested this place after seeing a viral video of a waiter singing all the parts in a Beauty and the Beast song. This place is in the Theater District, and all of the waiters and waitresses are aspiring Broadway singers. They perform in between taking your order and bringing you your food.

I thought it would be cheesy but it was actually amazing. It was such a fun atmosphere. The little stage/runway where they sing was right next to our table. I tried to take a few videos in between bites of my challah French toast. Our waitress sang the Little Mermaid song. I'm pretty sure the guy who sang Stacy's Mom was the same guy from the viral video.


This place was a hit! It was one of our favorite things we did in New York. We were a little sad that we were only able to catch one Broadway show, but this helped make up for it.

I haven't had the chance to go yet, but Mom and Jenna have raved about going to Eataly in Chicago. It includes multiple restaurants as well as an Italian food market. You know it's legit because the chain started in the motherland: Italy. There are 2 branches in NYC, and for dinner on Saturday we went to the one next to the Flatiron Building

Flatiron Building and a dancer doing her thing.
Across from Eataly.

The day before, we made a reservation at the rooftop restaurant Serra. We chose that particular restaurant because they had PESTO GNOCCHI. Those are my two favorite foods (besides chocolate, to be clear). I've never had the chance to experience them in one dish before.

Eataly was an absolute zoo. We had to fight our way through a wall of people to get to the elevator and the rooftop. Serra was loud and crowded as well, mostly because of people hanging out in the bar area. 

It was cute and decorated like a Tuscan garden. We loved the view!

Who likes the right upper quadrant of my face that snuck into my mom's picture?
Alas, the magical pesto gnocchi was not to be. Some things are just too good to be true. They didn't have gnocchi, but offered us pesto fusilli instead. We consoled ourselves with delicious homemade bread and fancy cheese skewers as appetizers.

The pasta was amazing and authentically Italian (I don't say that lightly), but it was still a bit of a let-down after expecting gnocchi. 

Later that night while getting ready for to see Anastasia, we ordered edible cookie dough to be delivered right to our hotel. It's probably good that I don't live in New York, because I would have a hard time not casually taking advantage of that delicious convenience all the time.

We were surprised to see a branch of Carlo's Bakery in Times Square. We picked up some treats to have for breakfast the next morning after the show.

We didn't get these, but they're adorable.
After some more sightseeing on Sunday, we had to stop outside Tom's Restaurant for a photo op. Our family loves Seinfeld. I give credit to that show for developing my wonderfully sarcastic sense of humor. This is the restaurant they show on pretty much every episode. The food didn't have great reviews so we didn't eat there, but it made us happy!

For lunch, we headed over to Katz's Deli on the Lower East Side. This place has been around since 1888. I wanted to experience a Jewish deli, and that we did. There was even a cute synagogue across the street. There's a lot of Jewish history in this part of the city.

Like everything in New York it seems, it was packed. We waited for about 20 minutes outside and another 10 inside. It was an interesting experience getting a table haha. First of all, both of the huge bouncer men were into me. One told me I looked elegant while the other looked me up and down. I was popular at Katz's. 

Then someone else handed us numbered tickets, along with a warning that there was a $50 fine for losing said small paper ticket. We were pretty confused, but eventually figured out they were necessary if you braved the chaotic lines yourself and collected food from the different stations. 

We decided to wait for a table with a waiter instead of fending for ourselves in the lines.

We each tried one thing on the menu we'd never had before. Mom got an egg cream, Jenna got matzo ball soup, and I got potato knish. We all tried each others' choices and I throughly enjoyed all 3 things. Me, the picky eater, tried 3 new things. I'm looking for some praise here.

I learned that egg creams, apparently, contain neither eggs nor cream. They do contain milk, carbonated water, and chocolate syrup. My knish (Yiddish words are the best) was the perfect side dish for my less adventurous grilled cheese main course. 

Mom and Jenna got the traditional deli sandwiches, and we shared the big plate of pickles that came with our meals. It was fun to eat here, and the food surpassed my expectations.

The gelato we came across next door was sadly our last New York food after a great few days. Our food research paid off- a little extra planning beforehand made for a delicious weekend. 

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