Tag Archives: Lower East Side

Sorella So Really Good

I have this weird love hate relationship with the Lower East Side.  I Hate, with a capital H, that I can never get a cab anywhere in the Lower East Side.  Seriously, I think what Paula Cole really meant was “where have all the cabbies gone”?  But I do LOVE the neighborhood, and in particular, the neighborhood gems.  And one such neighborhood gem that I cannot get enough of is Sorella, because Sorella is so really good.

Sorella is a modest Italian restaurant on Allen Street that serves small plates.  This rustic yet chic restaurant is dimly lit for a touch of romance.  It has this homey feeling that makes you feel comfortable right away.   The same can be said of the service.  With a few key recommendations from the waitress, we knew we were awaiting a great meal.

Similar to tapas, small plates are meant to share.  This is my favorite way to eat because you get to try so many things, and so many of Sorella’s things are exceptional.  Don’t get it twisted, Sorella may serve small dishes, but they pack a big punch.

We started with a few meats and cheeses, because the joys of salty meat and creamy cheese are hard to pass up.  The prosciutto was delicate and mild while to soppressata was dense and salty.  Paired with creamy cheeses, honey and hazelnuts, this was the perfect way to start our meal.

I don’t know about you, but I have a very difficult time passing up Brussels sprouts.  Sure, I maybe a parent’s dream come true, but I’m really just a humble vegetable eater.  Can you just picture the devious smile across my face?  Well, you should try cause it’s awesome.  Just like the Shaved Brussels sprout salad I had at Sorella.  This salad was the perfect balance of flavors.  The mild Brussels sprouts were the perfect base for the crunchy croutons, salty capers, spicy red pepper flakes, sweet onions and creamy cheese.  Piled high, this salad was a big mountain of excellence.

After the Brussels Sprout salad, we ordered the Beef Carne Cruda.  But this was not your average Beef Cruda because this beef was imported from the Hearst Ranch in California.  That’s right, Hearst, as in Hearst Corporation.  The Owner and Chef of Sorella, Emma Hearst, imports her beef from her family’s cattle ranch in California.  Seriously cool right?  As if that isn’t cool enough, rumors are floating around about her opening a steakhouse in New York using the beef from her family’s cattle ranch too.  While these are just rumors right now, I’m still crossing my Bite-Sized fingers that this becomes a reality one day soon.  One more thing, Emma Hearst made the list of “30 Under 30” by Zagat, and no one can argue that this 24 year old is seriously deserving of such exciting recognition!

Okay, back to the beef.  The bright red, supple meat is garnished with simple fried onions and accompanied by side salad of shaved celery and radish.  So simple, yet so good.

I had never heard of Pici pasta (pronounced peachy), but after a solid recommendation from the waitress, I knew I wanted to try it.  Plus, how do you really resist a pasta called Pici?  The thick, doughy noodles swim in a bowl of hearty pork ragu, ricotta and pepperoncini.  This is an unusual dish that I would make my usual meal.

Agnolotti are ravioli, and these ravioli were Bite-Sized. No truly, they were tiny, but seriously divine.  The agnolotti were soft and pillowy.  Stuffed with beef short ribs and drizzled with sage butter and parmesan cheese, these baby ravioli were robust bites of comfort.

A side of broccoli was a must, especially after we found out it was fried and covered in a spicy aioli.  Reminiscent of Japanese style broccoli tempera, these bites were unexpected for an Italian restaurant.  It was like a surprise party for my tastebuds.

A trip to Sorella wouldn’t be complete with dessert, because dinner isn’t really done until you have dessert.  But especially because they have a gelateria next door called Stellina.  We ordered 3 scoops of gelato, and each was better than the last.  Seriously, this was THE best gelato I have ever had in the United States.

We also ordered cheesecake.  I know, I was surprised we weren’t too full also.  But, we weren’t so cheesecake we ate.  The light and airy cheesecake was shaped like a pyramid and covered in a delicate layer of smooth chocolate.

If your mouth isn’t watering, I think you might be sick.  So, please make sure to call the doctor.

95 Allen Street
New York, NY

Rock You Like a Hurricane

Oh, Irene.  You are such a tease.  And since it takes one to know one, I can say this with conviction.  You got us New Yorkers all riled up, and for what? Nothing, I tell you, nothing!  Except maybe a little junk food eating contest.  If you stocked up on food to prepare for the possible power outages, I bet you ate it all this weekend.  Not because the power went out and you needed to, but because you were so bored the food actually provided an activity.  Well, if you gained the “Irene Fifteen” this weekend, you might be looking for a light and easy dinner, out of your apartment, which of course now feels like a jail cell. 

Westville is the perfect place to go.  This small and simple restaurant has a menu that speaks to everyone.  Their food is prepared simply and tastefully, which is exactly what the doctor ordered, or nutritionist, whatever.  

The Greek Salad is loaded with olives, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, red onions, feta cheese and avocado.  It is served over grilled bread with melted herb goat cheese.  I like to add the Grilled Steak to this salad to make it a meal.  The steak is flavorful and juicy and the salad is crisp. 

The Grilled Lemon Herb Marinated Chicken is my favorite item on the menu.  The chicken is packed with flavor and it is incredibly juicy, the way chicken is meant to be cooked.  It is served with 2 sides from the market.  What’s the market? Glad you asked.  The market is Westville’s abundant list of veggies.   They offer everything from asparagus to bok choy and back again.  It is a vegetarian’s dream come true, and mine as well.   I love the Honey Dijon Brussels Sprouts, and for good reason.  They are little tidbits of veggie heaven.  I couldn’t resist the Tomato Basil Mozzarella Salad.  After all, it is tomato season.

Riddle me this.  What’s dinner without dessert?  While you ponder that, feast your eyes on this.  A homemade ice cream sandwich. Clearly, I’ve become a little obsessed with Ice Cream Sammies recently.  This isn’t on the menu, but ice cream is, and so are cookies, and the waiters are more than happy to accommodate your needs, no matter how indulgent they are.

With three locations, Westville convenient for everyone.   I happen to love the Lower East Side location, but they offer the same menu in the West Village and Chelsea.  So, whether the weather has you feeling on a bit on the bulky side, or you just want an easy, light dinner, head over to Westville.

Westville East
173 Avenue A (11th Street)
New York, NY  

Westville West
210 W 10th Street (Between Bleecker and West 4th Street )
New York, NY

Westville Chelsea
246 W18th Street (Between 7th & 8th Avenue)
New York, NY

A Tale of Two Cities

This is a tale of two cities, if cities were restaurants.  One bad, one good.  But at least you know upfront there is a happy ending to this story.  I’ll start with the bad: The Mermaid Inn.  This classic NYC establishment gets a Bite-Sized Thumbs down.  If only my thumbs were bigger.

I was so excited to have a feast of oysters at The Mermaid Inn in the East Village.  I even tweeted about it.  Not that that says too much; I tweet about everything food related. But still, the excitement was there.  We got to the restaurant, and we were seated in the garden on a gorgeous night.  I saw an iPhone app for oysters on the menu and since I am in love with my iPhone, I was thoroughly impressed.  I thought to myself, we are off to a good start.  Little did I know the good ended there.

We ordered the Grilled Romaine Salad, half a dozen West Coast Oysters, and the Bay Scallops to start.  The salad was so underdressed, it could have gotten a ticket for public nudity.  There was a miniscule amount of lemon dressing on the lettuce, which was then covered in Parmesan cheese.  I took 3 bites before waiving the white flag.   If I want to eat plain lettuce, I’ll go back to camp where is the food is inedible.  It’s hard to comment on the Bay Scallops because there were so few of them on the plate.  Seriously, there were 4 of them, and since Bay Scallops are the size of nickels, you can understand how this is unacceptable.  There was, however, an overwhelming amount of the mediocre Summer Corn Succotash.  Lucky me.   The oysters were tasty, but since there is no prep work in oysters, other than shucking, it wasn’t enough to save the meal.

After the poor showing of appetizers, we didn’t want to stick around to be inevitably even more disappointed with the entrees.  So, we told the waitress we were unhappy with our appetizers and asked if the entrees had been fired.  She said no, and asked us if we wanted the check.   Did she apologize and send the manager over? Nope, she just brought us the check, in its entirety.  Well, ain’t that a swift kick in the pants.  This is a true testament to service, or lack thereof.  If the waitress had tried to recover the meal, I assure you we would have stayed.  *Disclaimer: This is not something I have ever done before or advocate doing.

Is this a reflection of all The Mermaid Inn restaurants? I am not sure.  But I am certainly not going to find out!  As another one BITES the dust…an OBG saves the day.

OBG.  What’s that you asked?  An OBG is an “oldie but goodie.”  And Lil’ Frankies is an OBG.  Located just a few short blocks from the mediocrity that is The Mermaid Inn, we knew that Lil’ Frankies was going to be the chocolate to our heartbreak.  Since we didn’t need appetizers, we skipped right to the entrees: Mezzi Rigatoni Polpettini Ragu and Spinach Gnocchi Pomodoro.  The Rigatoni was perfectly al dente and the polpettini, which are mini meatballs, were out of this world.  They were tenders little pearls of meat.  The Spinach Gnocchi tasted like a garden pure deliciousness, and you know how I love my Gnocchi.

So, thank you Lil’ Frankies for being an OBG, not to be confused with ODB.  That would just be weird.

The Mermaid Inn
96 Second Ave
New York, NY

Lil’ Frankies
19 First Ave
New York, NY

The American Apparel of Meatballs

If you don’t know it yet, you certainly will soon…I make an event out of every meal.  So naturally, a long, leisurely lunch is totally my cup of tea.  An afternoon of eating is an afternoon well spent in my book, and chapter 1 begins with The Meatball Shop.  Before you write me off for being a loony tune that spends an afternoon eating meatballs, hear me out.  The Meatball Shop does not take reservations.  So, nine times out of ten you are going to wait to sit down.  I am impatient as ever so that doesn’t exactly work for me.  Not only am I a food snob, I’m also a food brat.  The second I walk into a restaurant I am hungry.  Isn’t it funny how it works like that?

If you are worried about waiting for a table at this culinary treasure trove, fear not my ever-loving food friends.  The Meatball Shop has a to-go window.   My advice, which is the only way to do the MBS if it’s busy, is to put your name down for a table and then head right over to the to-go window.  The Meatball Shop offers five different meatballs at any given time, including classic beef, spicy pork, chicken, vegetable and a special ball.  Don’t think this is where your choices end, because they also offer five different sauces! You can have classic tomato, spicy meat sauce, mushroom gravy, Parmesan cream, or pesto! If you think that’s a hard decision, now try figuring out whether you want your meatballs on a hero, sliders, risotto, or if you just want your balls “naked” aka sans carbs.  The Meatball Shop is like American Apparel.  We all have the same t-shirt in every color, so why not do the same with your food?

Now, the stomach can only hold so much, so deciding what to eat must really be well thought out of you want to get the most out of your MBS experience.  I use the to-go counter as a chance to wet my palate.  This Bite-Sized Blonde recommends an order of the “naked” meatballs as an appetizer. There are so many great things to do near The Meatball Shop so after you have gotten your to-go order, walk around and make more room in that tummy of yours!  The hostess will call your cell when your table is ready.

The fun can really begin when you sit down and order your lunch.  Everything on this menu is delicious so take advantage.   My recommendation: choose a different meat than you ordered at the to-go window, and add some carbs!  But, do not forget to leave room for dessert.  The Meatball Shop makes an exceptional ice cream sandwich, and as I’m sure you’ve already guessed by now, they offer it in five different cookies and six different ice creams!!

Come hungry, and thank me later!

The Meatball Shop
84 Stanton Street
New York, NY