Thursday, November 17, 2011


First off, Wogies is a Philly bar, so beware. Me and a couple of buddies were looking for a bar to watch some football (TEBOW!!), drink some beers, and eat some good food. Wogies was the spot and ended up three for three!

$3-4 draughts of Six Point can't be beat. Medium-sized TVs in every corner of the fairly-small bar was adequate enough to watch the game from any seat at our table. Plus, the wings, waffle fries, and cheesesteaks were delicious bar-style food.

Buffalo wings were some of the best I've had in NYC. Crispy on the outside, moist & tasty on the inside, with sauce that's loaded with flavor and the right amount of heat.

The bread and guts of the sandwiches we ordered (buffalo chicken cheesesteak, pizza steak, fat jimmy, cheesesteak) left us all quite satisfied. One of my friends went so far to say "the bread was definitely baked in Philly." Whatever that means. It wasn't. Waffle fries were awesome, taboot.

If you're looking for a sports bar with great food, cheap beers, and decent TV coverage, then Wogies is the spot for you. I'll definitely be back there.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Last weekend, Jess and I took a ride up to Tarrytown for a belated birthday lunch at the famed Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant. The trip from NYC takes about 60-90 minutes (subway > metro north > cab) but as you'll read it's well worth it.

The grounds at Stone Barns, a non-profit farm, are beautiful, especially in the fall with the foliage in full force. You're free to walk around the farm at your own leisure and we took advantage of this by spotting some cows, sheep, turkeys, and our favorite, pigs!

As soon as you enter the dining room in the restaurant, you know you're in for a special dining experience. The service is the best of the best... it feels like the ratio of wait staff to diner is 3:1. Plus, everyone is dressed up and the restaurant is decorated in a classy, cozy, fall-tastic manner.

There are no menus at Blue Hill. Guests select how many courses they want and tell the waiter about any allergies they have.  No matter what dishes they're serving the day you go, they are using fresh ingredients from their farm, with the goal being to highlight the food and flavors of the surrounding Hudson Valley.

They start you off with a handful of pre-appetizer bites including a shot of Blue Hill V9, potato & leek chips, as well as a pancetta skewer. The shot of V9 immediately brings a smile to your face when you realize the freshness of the veggies you're drinking. The whimsical presentation of the chips illustrates how much fun they are having in the kitchen with these ingredients.

Our first course was a beet salad. The beets were served alongside fresh yogurt and greens. It will come as no surprise that the beets were bursting with flavor and we polished off every bite on our plates.

Course number two was a vegetable soup, but this wasn't just any veggie soup. This soup was topped with a fried egg that oozed yolk as soon as you dipped into it. We weren't quite sure how they were able to bread the egg, hard boil it, and still serve it with a running yolk, but we'll let that remain a secret. All we know is that they hit us with another course that showcased fresh and delicious vegetables with a serious twist.

I believe it was at this time in the meal when they came out with the best bread we've ever sampled. Crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, baked with onions mixed in, and served alongside creamy butter. Good god this was unbelievable!

Course three was grilled pork that left a little to be desired. While the curried grains served alongside the dish and the flavors of the pork were both great, we felt that the pork was a bit too fatty for our liking.  It didn't 'wow' us the same way the previous courses had.

They ended on a high note with course #4... an apple strudel with lemon ice cream. It had just the right amount of sweetness and texture, and left us with a big smile on our faces.

After a 2+ hour dining experience, our meal at Blue Hill had come to end. We both loved the meal and the experience of Stone Barns and were hopeful that we'd find our way back here in the near future.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Los Feliz

Last Saturday night: we went down to Los Feliz to have a tasty meal, some delicious drinks and enjoy a fun atmosphere on the LES. LF has all the benefits of the La Esquina vibe (dark, subterranean feel), without the hassle of LE's exclusivity and lack of reservations!

There are two options for seating at Los Feliz, and downstairs is where it's at, especially for the aforementioned decor and vibe. They accept reservations for the downstairs room and even though we didn't have one, we were able to score an empty table for a little over an hour before it's inhabitants would arrive. Upstairs, the food is the same, but the room is well-lit and fairly cramped with tables - just not as unique as the dining room below.

They have a menu of many different margarita options. We took down some classics, as well as the jalapeno and cilantro margarita, which was not too spicy. Just perfect!

Any self-respecting Mexican joint has good salsa, and Los Feliz's is mention-worthy. It's pureed, not chunky, and very smooth and flavorful. The guacamole, on the other hand, wasn't as noteworthy. It was salty and lacked flavor.

On to the ceviche, which was arguably the best dish of the night: Mexican style tuna tartare, habanero, soy sauce, lemon-lime marinade, cucumber-ginger pico de gallo, sesame seeds, avocado & fresh sorbet - what a laundry list of tastiness! Each bite was delicious - chunks of tuna & avocado along with a little of the liquid citrus juice made the dish perfectly balanced. It was also served with a wonton-style tortilla chip perfect for adding a little crunch. Don't skip the ceviche!

As for entrees, it seems like the way to go is tacos - plus, two tacos per order makes it easy to share. We got the Pez Dorado: crispy sea bass, valentia aioli, avocado and cucumber-ginger relish, which was great, although we didn't really taste the fish under it's coating and all of the other ingredients. Along with the fish tacos, we got the Puerco: braised pork, chili pasilla, Cotija cheese, corn and pico de gallo - these were delicious! Corn + Cotija = automatic flavor town, but the pork was well-cooked and really flavorful on it's own.

Los Feliz is great for big parties, also and with the pitchers of margaritas flowing, it probably gets loud and rowdy later on in the evenings. Check it out if you're looking for good Mexican and a fun vibe!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ditch Plains

After walking around the West Village on Sunday morning, we worked up an appetite for some brunch and decided to finally try Ditch Plains. We've heard great things about their Lobster Bake but figured we'd check out what else they had to offer.

Turns out they have a lot to offer...for starters, the bloody mary was absolutely tremendous. Strong, spicy, and loaded with flavor, this hit the spot. Jess ordered an omelet stuffed with swiss cheese & mushrooms served alongside a salad & toast. It was a large omelet that was properly & evenly stuffed with the aforementioned additions.

Eric got the chicken burger topped with swiss cheese. The burger did not suffer from a lack of taste as many turkey & chicken burgers have a history of doing. Helped out by a healthy layer of swiss cheese and a soft, flavorful bun, this burger was well seasoned. Served with a juicy tomato, delicious pickles as well as a side salad and fries, it's a complete meal that will leave you satisfied.

We both walked out saying that everything we ate or drink was right on point. Add that to the relaxed vibe, great service, and convenient location, and I have a feeling we'll be back real soon for some more brunch and to check out their lobster bake.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Date Night!

This past Thursday night, we decided to change up our normal routine of having dinner at the table and relaxing on the couch. Keeping it local, we grabbed a drink at Blue Ribbon Bar on Downing Street and had dinner at Mermaid Oyster Bar on Sullivan Street. Blue Ribbon Bar is a great, little bar with a serious menu (food & drinks) despite being the size of a bedroom. With only a dozen or so bar stools, it has a very intimate vibe. While everything is very modern and has a shine to it, the walls are covered in wood and the lighting is dim so it feels very cozy.

I went with a pint of a recently-released Brooklyn Brewery beer, Concoction. The bartender said it had a smoky, almost scotch-like taste to it. He was spot on. With an alcohol content around 6.5%, it certainly tasted stronger than it was. It went down nice and smooth and I'd happily order another. Jess opted for a trio of red wines. They pour you 2 ounces (or a little bit more, if you get a nice bartender) of three different reds so you can sample them all. She was impressed with all of them.

By this point, our stomachs were growling so we headed over to Mermaid Oyster Bar. This place has become something of a local favorite for us as it always delivers and never feels like it's breaking the bank. I ordered a shrimp & oyster po boy with old bay fries, while Jess got her favorite, the calamari salad. We've had these dishes in the past, so it came as no surprise that they were delicious and led to us clearing our plates.

After a complimentary chocolate pudding to satisfy our sweet tooth, we walked around the corner to our apartment... home sweet home. Gotta love an impromptu, low-key evening with good food & drinks and the one you love.

Friday, September 16, 2011

ABC Kitchen

A long-overdue trip to ABC Kitchen was in store for us over Labor Day weekend – hard to get into since it hit the scene last year, it took a while for us to plan ahead far enough to get a weekend reservation at this local, organic food hotspot.

I was recently reading an article about how 9/11 changed the landscape of New York City restaurants – places with grand, museum-like designs, dim lighting, club music and menus with fancy-shmancy ingredients and delicacies have had their heyday. In the face of a major catastrophe (and an economic downturn), NYC has become a place where low-key, casual and good-for-you dining is where it’s at. ‘Organic,’ ‘self-sustaining,’ ‘locally-grown’….these are words you hear quite often. And ABC Kitchen is at the heart of this trend, for a good reason. Hey, if Jean-Georges is behind something, it's usually good.

The design is completely cozy: lots of wood, soft lighting, a casual and warm almost barn-like feel. And adding to the barn-like feel is the fact that this place is big on vegetables and does them right. You can have a meat-free meal and be completely satisfied – veggies are definitely the star.

We took a sharing approach and got a bunch of appetizers – no entrees – which was a great way to go.

Roasted beets with housemade yogurt: these were great and if you’re a beet-lover, give these a try. The yogurt adds tanginess without too much flavor to take away from the freshness of the beets.

Crab toast with lemon aioli: extra crispy toast smothered with a crab salad. A tad on the oily side, but quiet delicious because of it.

Roast carrot and avocado salad, crunchy seeds, sour cream and citrus: By far the best dish of the evening – what seems to be a simple salad is bursting with flavor. The roasted carrots are the star and are perfectly complimented by the creaminess of the fresh avocado and sour cream, and contrasted nicely by the citrus dressing and crunchy seeds. Mmmmmm.

Pretzel-dusted calamari, marinara and mustard aioli: Good, but nothing to write home about. The mustard aioli was the best part of this dish, since we didn’t taste any pretzel flavor in the calamari crust.

Whole wheat pizza with spicy cacciatorini meatballs, habanero tomato sauce and ricotta: a nice, spicy pizza with fresh ingredients.

All in all, the ABC Kitchen experience is among the best – both from an atmosphere perspective and the quality of the food is top-notch. Go for the vegetables and soak up the pretty atmosphere and lighting (thanks to ABC Home, which is connected through the back of the restaurant) - and just kick back and enjoy.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Torrisi Turkey Yankee Stadium

I've been meaning to try Torrisi's sandwiches for some time now, and despite working around the corner from the restaurant, it took me until today at Yankee Stadium to finally try it. From co-workers and friends, I've always heard that their sandwiches were incredible and someone even went as far to say "it's the best turkey sandwich you'll ever have." In short, expectations were high when I bought a $14 turkey sandwich at a food stand in the Great Hall at the stadium.

Prepared to order, a soft sesame seed roll is piled with freshly sliced turkey, shredded lettuce, tomato, mayo, and spicy mayo (I ordered no onion since I don't like raw onion). At a cost of $14, I expected the sandwich to be a bit bigger but by the end of it, I realized it was the perfect size. Both my friend & I were comfortably full after each eating one. The turkey is moist and flavorful and the double mayo really works (and I'm not a big mayo fan). The spicy mayo adds a nice kick but nothing too harsh if you're spice-averse. The straight mayo bleeds with the tomato to create a nice little sauce. The shredded lettuce offers some nice crunch to round it out. Each bite is flavorful and delicious.. not something you expect from a turkey sandwich. We both walked away very happy and I trust you will too.

I'm not sure if it's the best turkey sandwich I've ever had but I don't think I know what the best turkey sandwich I've ever had is. Either way, this sandwich deserves to be in the "best turkey sandwich" conversation. For those going to Yankee Stadium, I suggest splurging on it and getting a side of garlic fries. Oh, and the Yankees won!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Quick hits: Quantum Leap, Corner Bistro, & Cowgirl

A few meals that may or may not deserve their own write-up will get the quick-hits treatment.

On a hot afternoon, we were looking for a hearty meal to satisfy our appetites, but nothing too heavy that would weigh us down for the rest of the day. Enter Quantum Leap. This vegetarian restaurant in the heart of Greenwich Village was hoppin' and delivered exactly what we wanted. We each got a salad that perfectly straddled the line between healthy & hearty. I think Jess would recommend the veggie & tofu combo salad, while I would direct you towards the cobb salad. This ain't an ordinary cobb salad.. it's topped with soy bacon & veggie chik'n. No meat, no problem.

Corner Bistro almost definitely deserves its own blog entry. It has been one of my favorite bars & burger joints for many, many years and a place I used to frequent often with my friends from home. On this night, I met a group of 5 friends here for some beers, burgers, and fries. For some in the gang, it was their first corner bistro experience, so I was trying not to raise expectations too high. The truth is that it probably didn't matter. Corner Bistro absolutely rocks and everyone loved it. From waiting in line with a McSorley's beer (ale or dark) in hand at an unassuming hole-in-the-wall, to the cramped quarters in the back "dining room" to the bartender we call "Smitty" that seems like he has worked there for 145 years, you can't help but fall in love with the bistro. It helps that the food is no slouch. The bistro burger comes with cheese & bacon and costs a mere $6.75. It's my favorite burger in the city... at almost a half pound of meat after cooking, it's loaded with flavor and always cooked to order. I could sing its praises for a few more paragraphs but there's no need.. it's exactly what you want in a bacon cheeseburger. Throw in an order of fries that I'm fairly confident are cooked in bacon fat and you are enjoying the finest bar food this city has to offer. If you haven't been yet, please do yourself a favor and go.

Come for the sweet potato fries, stay for the sighting of Elton from Clueless. Not to take anything away from Clueless, as it's one of the better movies of our generation, but it doesn't say much about Cowgirl when spotting Elton was the highlight of the meal. Personally, I really enjoyed my buffalo chicken sandwich (fried chicken smothered in buffalo sauce & topped with blue cheese) as well as the sweet potato fries served with maple pecan dipping sauce. However, Jess and our friend Craig, found the mahi mahi fish tacos to be rather awful. It was one of their August specials. Not that special. If you check out Cowgirl, make sure to get something off the regular menu as both my dish and the dishes of Jess & Lauren, our other friends, were much better than the fish tacos. We decided the place is very New Mexican -- half Texas and half Mexico. Check it out, but don't go in with any expectations.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ed's Lobster Bar

When the temperature is hovering around triple digits, humidity is 100%, and dinnertime rolls around, you're not thinking steak & potatoes. This Saturday night during Heat Wave 2011, a seafood meal was calling my name. Having just eaten at Pearl's twice in the recent months, we ventured east to Ed's Lobster Bar (read our friend's blog and inspiration here) to see what it had to offer.

You walk in to an enlongated bar, which I enjoy sitting at for a meal like this. There are tables in the back, but I think it adds to the experience when you're slurping oysters and dipping steamers elbow-to-elbow with your fellow diners. We sat down at the bar and ordered some white wine and beer as a prelude to our bucket o' steamers. I love steamers for the experience of eating them as much as for the taste. First remove the clam's "sock," dip in warm water and then in warm butter...delish!

Afterwards came two lobster rolls, just the way we like it: a warm, toasted bun housing cool, lobster chunks with not too much mayo. I must say that this lobster roll stacks up there with Pearl's, and that I couldn't say either is better. Regardless of its stance, it totally hit the spot and provided for the perfect summer dinner.

We left stuffed, but not too full to indulge in a mini chocolate lobster...

I'm sure we'll be back to Ed's...perhaps to try the whole lobster or one of their other seafood entrees.

Go soon and get your summer seafood fix!

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Spotted Pig (burger, burger!)

I recently re-visited The Spotted Pig in the West Village to sample their burger. Coming off of the disappointment of the Minetta Tavern burger, I was really looking forward to the chance to be wowed. Despite a 30-minute wait for a table, my buddy and I were able to sit down right away at 2 stools at the upstairs bar.

Two beers and fifteen minutes later, our burgers arrived:

Served alongside a heaping pile of shoestring fries that were properly dusted with rosemary and sea salt, this burger delivered in all of the right ways. It was juicy -- but not too juicy -- and packed with flavor. It was cooked just the way we asked (medium/med rare) and all of the burger components worked really well together. I'm not normally a big fan of buns because I think they take away from a burger, but this bun had taste to it (almost like a potato bun) and added to the mix. Taboot, the roquefort cheese was tasty and worked perfectly on this hunking 1/2 pound (post-cook) burger.

All in all, the burger from The Spotted Pig delivered in a BIG way. I would highly recommend heading over there and checking it out... everything I've ever eaten there has been delicious.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Minetta Tavern (Black Label Burger)

We had been holding off on hitting up Minetta Tavern since it's such a far trek from our apartment...a four minute walk, just too strenuous. We decided to make the journey last night and our expectations were sky high after all the things we've heard and the responses to our RestoHoppers tweet...."This calls 4 a day of fasting so u can eat ALL u WANT...Congrats & have fun 4 the rest of us!"

We started off the night by indulging in their cocktail menu by getting the Blood & Sand and the Rhubarb Sophie...both delicious and strong.

Now...on to the food. We debated about the appetizer - Eric wanted to try the beef tartar but we ultimately went with the hamachi, which came with scallions and a citrus dressing. It was good but nothing to write home about. We were aiming for something lighter to prepare us both for our Black Label burgers....

We were very excited to have these plopped in front of us, both ordered medium because Minetta says that they "undercook." The burgers aren't huge, which we weren't complaining about, because the meat is supposed to be top notch. It's a dry-aged 70/30 rib eye, blended with skirt, brisket, and short rib. The burger is topped with melt-in-your-mouth caramelized onions (and a ton of clarified butter and salt) and sitting in between a brioche bun, which is just the right thickness so as to support the burger but not detract from it.

Our followers know that we usually like all of our meals, so it may come as a surprise to find out that we weren't obsessed with Minetta's Black Label burger. Yeah, it's a good burger, but did we appreciate the $26 worth of beef? Not really. Maybe it's the hype, maybe it's that we can't taste the difference between good beef & great beef, or maybe it's the hefty price tag for a burger. Whatever it was, we weren't blown away with "the best burger in the city." We're still partial to the bacon cheeseburger at Corner Bistro...maybe a little less high class, but it's equally as flavorful & half the price.

Good times at Minetta Tavern, but we won't be rushing back here any time soon. Check it out for yourself and let us know if we're blogging crazy talk.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Last night for our 5-year dating anniversary, we celebrated with a meal at Scarpetta. Despite trying to get a reservation right when this night became available, the earliest they could seat us was 9:30. Lesson: this place has some serious buzz about it & you better be on top of getting a Saturday night reservation. Sitting on the edge of the Meatpacking District, Scarpetta feels much classier & cozier than the B&T restaurants just a block west.

We had heard so much about Scarpetta prior to dining here that we didn't even need a menu. They bring you a fully-loaded bread basket (pick up the pinwheel & thank me later) paired with olive oil, mascarpone butter, and a tomato-eggplant tapenade. When you're eating at 9:30, you respect a good bread basket.

We started off with the famed creamy polenta appetizer, which was finished table-side and already split in half for us (why don't more restaurants do this for you?!?).  We were given a bowl of creamy polenta & the waiter spooned truffled mushrooms on top. It's at this point that you know you're in for a treat... the sweet smell of truffles hits your senses. Each & every bite of this dish should be savored. It's creamy beyond your wildest dreams and loaded with truffled mushroom flavor.

We each got the spaghetti entree - an odd move for us since we usually like to sample the menu, but every review we read said this was the best dish, so we each wanted it for our own. It was a good move. It's as simple as spaghetti can be... coated in marinara sauce & mixed with shredded basil. You don't think you're in for a treat when you first twirl your fork around the plate of pasta, but you're wrong. There's something about that sauce that just causes a taste bud party to erupt in your mouth. The sauce is a bit sweet and I think that's what it is. The pasta is perfectly cooked and a bit thicker than normal spaghetti.  By the time the meal was over, both our plates were completely empty. The reviews weren't lying.. this dish is phenomenal.

For dessert, we got the chocolate cake and it was sublime. The perfect capper to a delicious meal,  served with a salted caramel gelato, this dish does a great job of combining sweet & salty.

The biggest takeaway from Scarpetta is that everything brought out seems simple & slightly underwhelming: polenta, spaghetti, & chocolate cake...nothing too crazy right there from a culinary perspective.  However, when each dish is cooked to perfection, you realize its full potential. Scarpetta was an absolute treat and we're lucky to have celebrated such a wondrous occasion with an equally wondrous meal.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Engagement Celebration!

The Resto Hoppers are engaged! Would you expect anything less than an epic weekend of eating out to celebrate? I didn’t think so….

I’m tipping my hat to Eric for planning every single detail and making sure that every meal was memorable and amazing.

The Night:
Blue Ribbon Bakery – If you are ever looking to celebrate a special occasion, go to the private wine cellar room at Blue Ribbon Bakery! It's an intimate room across from their bread-making area and the service was fabulous. We started with some drinks and the cheese platter, some beef marrow with red wine sauce, garlic shrimp and chorizo. Everything was great, but I was too distracted and excited to recall the details.

For entrees, I split the salmon with asparagus, potatoes and mustard sauce and the tuna...both were good but you need to go with meat here. Most others went with the fried chicken or the filet mignon and we got some sides of the brussel sprouts & parmesan and roasted garlic, both were great.
For dessert, we had to go with the bread pudding, which we discovered at Brooklyn Bowl and which is AH-MAZING. As the waiter said, they may lace it with's that addicting.

The Day After:

Jane - We went around the corner for brunch at Jane, a regular in our rotation but one that can always be counted on to deliver. I'm a huge fan of places that steam their milk for coffee...a classy move. I went with the mushroom omelet and Eric went with the hash....both were heaping portions and were a great chaser to an amazing evening.

WD~50 - When we needed a really special meal to celebrate just the two of us, we knew it was going to be wd~50, a spot that has long been on our "special occasion" list.

We walk in and who do we see in the kitchen but Wylie Dufresne himself? We knew it would be fantastic from that point on....

We started off with the "Eggs Benedict," the Peekytoe crab roll with salt ‘n vinegar chips & celery mayonnaise and the Shrimp spaghetti with tomato, basil & garlic. The "eggs benedict" consisted of breaded cubes of hollendaise sauce, jello-like molds of egg yolk and bacon chips. Let us just say it was out of this you can see from this shot of Eric's face after taking a bite.

It's Wylie's way of playing with ideas that make his dishes so special. The Eggs Benedict was fun to eat and each bite was just bursting with flavor.

The shrimp spaghetti was another culinary feat - the spaghetti strands were made of shrimp and tossed with shrimp in a tomato sauce, so you were getting lots of shrimp flavor in every bite. I was worred that the texture might be off, since shrimp can be stringy, but it was perfect.

The crab roll was excellent as well, although not as memorable as the first two.

As entrees, we went with the Mediterranean bass with artichokes, forbidden rice & white chocolate-green olive and the Lamb skirt steak with pistachio ‘polenta,’ endive marmalade & spiced apricot.

The bass was beautiful and cooked perfectly and the "forbidden rice" was in the form of crispy brown rice balls that really balanced out the lightness of the fish.

As for dessert....we passed. However, we did receive a parting gift complements of the restaurant: balls of marshmallow ice cream dipped in rice krispies and frozen for a perfect ending bite.

We were so impressed that we asked our waiter to get us into the kitchen to thank WD himself, and we were brought back a few minutes later. We got a quick tour of the kitchen and shook hands with the chef who blew our minds with a meal we won't forget. And he even congratulated us! Never washing our hands again....

Peels - To cap off the weekend, we joined forces with the parentals for brunch at Peels. Owned by the Freemans folks, this spot is ALWAYS crowded with hipsters on the weekends, so make reservations or be prepared to wait!

We started off with some bloody mary's and the pastry basket, which contained some nice goodies for the table - banana bread, pistachio bread, a chocolate chip loaf and lots more! I went with the Flower Power sandwhich: Hummus, spiced cabbage slaw, feta cheese & black olives.

Eric got the build-a-biscuit with avocado, cheddar and bacon...can't go wrong. The brunch menu is really large and has options for any set of taste buds - we'll definitely be back soon!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Holy last weekend! Bianca, The Palm, Home, and Colicchio & Sons!

Thursday night

After a long day at the office, we headed out for a meal at Bianca...a spot we had last hit up about 3-4 years ago and needed our fix again. Bianca is owned by the same person who owns Celeste (a Farkas family favorite) and Teodora - both of which serve authentic, delicious and affordable Italian food. The constant wait is partially a result of Bianca's cramped quarters but also indicative of the fact that the food there is awesome & everyone wants a piece.

When you're told that there's a wait, you can go to the bar next door and they'll come find you when your table is ready. Or you can just hang out on Bleecker Street. Either way, you're a winner when you get seated. Bianca feels very New York. You are practically seated on top of your dining neighbors and the pace of the wait staff can best be described as hustle & bustle. They start you off with some bread & fantastic olive oil. Rumor has it that the owners bring in their ingredients fresh from Italy.

They have a limited selection of vino by the glass but what they do have is good (and affordable). A pot of mussels to start was a great way to kick things off. In typical fashion, Eric was slurping down the leftover mussel broth at the bottom of the bowl. Jess is a HUGE fan of their balsamic chicken and she ordered that. It didn't disappoint. The balsamic sauce is thick and sweet with just enough acidity, and alongside a bed of mixed greens, this dish is filling and fantastic. Eric went with their lasagna bolognese. It was as good as the reviews made it out to be.

By the end of our entrees, we were stuffed & pleased to see a $50 bill... Two glasses of wine, a bowl of mussels, and two entrees. This place is a steal and we'll be back prior to 3-4 years down the road. In typical NYC fashion, by the time we were out of the restaurant, another couple was promptly seated at our table. The hustle & bustle never stops....

Friday night

April 8th... Eric's mom's birthday! We celebrated with a meal at The Palm West. We had previously eaten there for Eric's parents anniversary in December and his father liked it so much that he wanted us to go back. Sure thing! You can check out our initial review of The Palm here.

The only thing we would add is that the waiter we had was a bit sour and the steak was overcooked by one notch: medium rare was medium, medium was medium-medium well. While the steak was still delicious and we finished every last bite, we made a note of this to the manager and they brought out a tray of desserts for us on the house. A very nice gesture.

Saturday brunch

For brunch we headed over to Home, a cute spot in Greenwich Village. Our friends who live nearby steered us here and we were looking forward to some home cooking in a beautiful outdoor garden.

We were both slightly underwhelmed. The duck confit & butternut squash hash with sunny side up eggs was good, but it sounded better than it tasted. Jess' chopped salad was OK but nothing to rave about. I don't think we'll be back for brunch in the near future. Oh well.

Saturday night

That night, we met our friends at the Tap Room at Colicchio & Sons. This was preceded by Tom Colicchio (@tom_colicchio) tweeting us (@restohoppers) his recommendations on what to order. Unfortunately for us his 3 recos (pork belly, cod, & duck) were not on the Tap Room menu. The Tap Room is the dining area by the bar, and has a different menu than the dining room.

For starters, we got adventurous & shared the bone marrow, which was raved about by all the reviewers. It was spread on some toast with an onion relish. We all liked it but didn't love it. We tasted more of the onion relish than the marrow. We also shared the taleggio & sopressata pizza and the cavatelli...a great way to start the meal off.

For our main course, Eric got the burger and Jess went with the tilefish. The burger with onions & pecorino cheese was really juicy and flavorful and a hit at the table. Jess was so enthralled with Eric's burger that she came back for a 2nd bite! Eric was dubious at first, but the bbq potato chips served on the side were a great compliment.

We topped things off with a duo of desserts. The ice cream parfait outshined the cookie jar by a mile.

All in all, the food, the company, & the atmosphere were top notch! If you want to get a little bit of Tom Colicchio goodness without breaking the bank at Craft or the main dining room, then Tap Room is a great place for you.

So, there you have it... a helluva weekend for the resto hoppers!