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Posts from May 2006

the best tuna sandwich: ever

Tuna_jar2_1I am telling you that I'm addicted to tuna sandwiches.  I don't know what it is about this stuff.  It doesn't fit my usual M.O.  It's canned, it's not sushi quality.  It's probably cooked to death.  But, practically every day for lunch I have a tuna sandwich from a nearby deli in NYC.  Other days, of course, I'm at Blue Smoke or Shake Shack or Wu Liang Le or Naples 45 or wherever my pangs take me.  But the tuna is what's really important right now.

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Sabor Latin Bistro: opening in Hawthorne!

Sabor_logo Edit (7/10/2006):  They're open!  Initial impression can be found here.

Sabor is a quite decent, smallish, latin bistro in Edgewater.  We've only been there once, but that was enough to know that their second outpost will be a very welcome addition to Hawthorne.  Yes, in case you hadn't heard, Sabor will be opening a restaurant in Hawthorne where the not-very-good Oakville used to live.

Oakville Grill died a slow (and I might argue well-deserved) death a few months ago, and no one seemed to notice.  Oakville did have a big bar, though.  So we were kinda bummed to pull into Oakville's parking lot (for dinner, actually), and see that they had closed.  But then we were happy to see the sign with Sabor's distinctive logo (that you see above, which I stole from their website.  shhhh) on the door next to the words "coming soon."  It's as if they wrote the sign just for me.

In case your'e keeping score:

Oakville:  not-so-good.  Sabor:  fun, colorful, mojitos, pork.  Yeah, my kind of place. 

This space is much bigger than their Edgewater space, and has lots o' parking.  Given its size and location, I'm guessing we'll be seeing a lively bar scene blossoming at Sabor.  I just hope they can staff the front of house with some good, fun, pleasant people.  If they can manage that, and some decent drinks, and some decent and lively music in the bar area, I think we'll have a real winner.   However, I can easily see it sliding into the Blend (Ridgewood's extremely out-of-place meat-market 8 billion square foot club) side of the spectrum, where it becomes a meat-market catering to way-outta-towners looking for a party.  Eh, it doesn't matter, because I'll be done with my drinks and dinner by 9 pm anyway.

I've been talking with the folks at Sabor and I'm told (over and over) that it will be about 4 weeks from "now" (with the most recent "now" being 5/22).  They're still staffing up and finishing up some of the decorating and interior work.  I just hope they don't rush it with mediocre staff.  It only takes one crappy bartender to put me off a place forever.  Hopefully they're smarter than that.

You are assured that I'll be the first to know when they open, so check back. 

See you there.  Several times.

Sabor's website : 1060 Goffle Road (right off of 208) : Hawthorne, NJ

Image courtesy of Sabor's website

Varka: Ramsey, NJ

Varka3 Varka is one of those restaurants that just begs you to eat at the bar.  That's not to say the dining room is uncomfortable or overly-formal or stuffy, but the bar just seems so right.  Maybe that's because you can do very well at Varka with a couple of appetizers and a couple of glasses of Greek wine.  Or a martini if that's your thing.  Or maybe it's because you get these jammin olives at that bar:


We've eaten at Varka probably 5 or 8 times since it opened about a year ago.  We were certainly early adopters of the place, and never thought it was unreasonably pricey or anything less than very good all-around.  We still think that way, and we're happy a  bunch of others do as well. 

Here's what you need to know:

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Lidia loves tommy:eats!

In her cookbook, Lidia's Family Table, Lidia Bastianich waxes lovingly about tommy:eats.  Seriously:

Lidia1_1Finally, the respect and acknowledgement that I yearn for.  That I live for.  That I clearly so desperately need.

Lidia's Family Table focuses on technique and ingredients.  Helpful pictures are scattered throughout, and it's filled with very helpful asides like serving ideas, Lidia's approach to salting, butter vs. olive oil, and what type of canned tomatoes you should be buying.

There are a bunch of recipes for quick and easy sauces, as well as no less than three dishes involving shoulders of one sort or another.  My kinda book.  And yours, too.

Not a Sunday goes by where the missus and I don't watch Lidia several times a day on the TV.  And regardless of what we've got planned for dinner, regardless of how many hours I'd been smoking a pork butt, or simmering short ribs, we always start craving Italian food, Lidia-style.  Like some sort of mind control.  Creepy.

Lidia's Italy

Epstein's Bar, LES: the burger

We ended up at Epstein's Bar in the lower east side the other night.  Word from my friend's roommate was that they have a good burger.  The folks at CityRag agree.  They're smart folk.

Epstein's opened a while back in the old Living Room space.  The Living Room was a tiny little bar, packed with tables, where you could catch some pretty decent music on the right night (for free, no less), like, for example, the wonderful and talented Lauren Hoffman.  Those were the days. 

Somehow, the owners of Epstein's made the same space seem double the size.  They opened up floor to ceiling windows and doors, and put some tables outside.  Perfect for people-watching, if that's your thing.  It's mine.  There's a sizeable bar still, but only a handful of tables inside.  Lower east siders don't need all those tables (and they look just like east villagers did 10 years ago).   And, they have what appeared to be a really good internet-connected jukebox.  And a big flat-screen TV. 

None of that matters.  What matters is that the burger ($7 with bacon, although you can get it for $5 without), is really excellent.

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Naples 45 : the best pizza in Manhattan, almost

And the almost best pizza in Manhattan is...

[drum roll...]

Naples 45.


Whahuh? Naples 45 is big, generic-looking airplane hangar of a restaurant in midtown, catering mostly to midtown office workers' lunches.  It's owned by Restaurant Associates, which is a big conglomerate that owns a bunch of mostly mid-tier restaurants.  So why is anyone going to believe me when I say that they have incredible pizza?  They're not.  And that's fine, as there will be more pizza for me.

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Brady's at the Station: Ramsey

Brady's used to be called something else.  The Trackside maybe?  I'm not sure if the place changed hands (confirmed:  new owners) or just changed names, but, sadly, the menu remains the same.  And when I say the same, I mean that my menu had stains on it that were clearly older than this incarnation of the restaurant.

It's the type of place that really should be good.  It should be great.  It's large, and it has a bar.  There just aren't many bars in Bergen county.   To my mind, it could compete on several levels:  family-friendly, bar scene, pub grub, entertainment.  But, alas, it really falls short.  A recent meal went something like this:

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Del Posto: New York, NY

Bill24jpg I didn’t know what to expect from Mario Batali, Joe, and Lidia Bastianich’s new restaurant. Even after all of the hype, the Food TV special, and then all of the subsequent chatter on the internet (mostly, apparently, from people who had never actually eaten at the place, and oddly, to me, seemed to have no interest in eating at the place), I still didn’t know what to expect. What I really wanted was to have a meal as good as those I’ve had at Babbo. That’s a lot to ask of most restaurants, but it shouldn’t be a lot to ask of Del Posto.

Aside:  That bullet-head Chris is butchering a Styx song on American Idol as I try to type this and I can’t concentrate one bit. Make it stop.

At any rate, given my expectations and hopes, Del Posto delivered: I had a meal as good as those I’ve had at Babbo. I’m guessing that’s not what they’re shooting for, though.

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