During my latest visit to my beloved New York for the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, I spent eight days gleefully eating my way around the city, as I have done on countless trips past. I am continually asked for NY recommends as many of us in the Bay Area are either East Coast transplants, do business in both cities, or are savvy frequent travelers to the Big Apple. Check out my Perfect Spot newsletter archives for much more NY food and drink, but this week, I give you a mini-list of recommends in varying categories:
PIZZA THAT FEELS LIKE HOME Roberta's, in the Bushwick area, has the spirit of both Brooklyn and classic Neopolitan-style pizza, the likes of which we see almost to the point of overkill here in SF. At Roberta's, every aspect of the place dares you not to be crazy about it: a sketchy, off-the-beaten path location in Brooklyn reveals a warm dining room with wood-fired pizza oven and rustic, eclectic decor. Eat at picnic tables indoors or head out back to the tiki bar (alas, no cocktails, but wine and quality beers on draft, like NY's Ommegang), where there are more picnic tables, thatched roofs, smoking area off to one side, expansive garden and nursery growing herbs you'll find in your meal. The menu offers charcuterie, cheeses, sweetbreads, cuttle fish, tripe and killer, blistered pizzas, like Millennium Falco, with tomato, Parmigiano, pork sausage, garlic, onions, bread crumbs and basil. You'll feel like you never left SF.
OLD SCHOOL NY BAGEL EXPERIENCE Russ & Daughters, a fourth generation, family-owned, Lower East Side deli has been around for over a century... and is quintessential New York. With amicably crusty staff, this pristine shop is efficiently doles out Bagel & Lox, the salmon cut fresh before you. Put it on an “everything” bagel with horseradish cream cheese and you have perfection. There’s a wide array of joys here, such as pickled herring, caviar, and a lovely whitefish salad.
CHEAP, DELICIOUS AREPAS Caracas Arepa Bar is a cheap, utterly satisfying NY meal: Venezuelan homemade arepas stuffed with all kinds of goodness. The tiny, charming East Village spot became so popular, there's a to-go side and now a Brooklyn location. Everything is under $7.50 and waits are long unless you arrive early, but you can order Camburada (banana cinnamon milkshake) and Guasacaca & Chips (Venezuelan-style guacamole with plaintain and sweet potato chips) while you wait outside. I love the La de Pernil Arepa stuffed with tender pork shoulder, tomato and spicy mango sauce.