I hate people who are not serious about their meals. -- Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Di Fara Pizza

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: If you napkin dab a slice of pizza from Di Fara’s, you are dead to me.

“Place looks like a dump, you would think they would fix up the place.” This was the first words uttered by a bunch of Long Island residents that I just met in line, getting some pies to go after a night in Atlantic City. If it were not for its reputation, Di Fara’s would look like any other corner pizza place. Though I would rather use the words, “rustic” and “homey” (but I guess it is like telling a fat person that he is just “big boned”)it is what is going on inside that makes Di Fara pizza worth the trek all the way out to Avenue J. Inside Dominic DeMarco is quietly and methodically making pies. He works at a steady pace, not slow, not fast but all his moves are intentional and unfaltered as more and more people show up and orders keep piling in. He just quietly snips some fresh basil and drizzles olive oil over each finished pie and goes about making more pies. 

This is what a New York slice of pizza is. This is New York Neo-Neapolitan. This is not just food: it is edible art and history. Dom DeMarco makes me feel like a piece of shit, the dude is old and if I was his age, I would most likely be watching day time television sitting comfortably in my house. This man is cranking out pizzas everyday and doing it well. Though you can get toppings on your pies, it really needs nothing and the plain slice is all that I need. Actually, I am wrong, the peppers in oil they have in a little crock on the side is all I need with it. I burned the crap out of the roof of my mouth eating this but it was worth it, the cheese was salty and a nice pull and the tomatoes sweet. Pizza after the Jump!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Artichoke Basille’s Pizza

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Apparently, sobriety may playa a pivotal role in pizza deliciousness

I am going to come straight out and say it: I do not get Artichoke Basille’s Pizza. After rave reviews, seeing throngs of people waiting outside and reading that it is a must eat, I eventually had my chance to stop and see what the fuss was all about here. The place is basically takeout only with a small ledge that you could barely fit a plate. I tired the grandma slice and their Margarita slice. 

The Grandma slice was half burnt. Not charred or anything, but the edges of the crust was just burnt, simple as that. If this was a person’s skin, I would be pretty sure they would have been diagnosed with cancer. The parts that were not burnt and edible were crunchy, oily and airy. This pizza was all crunch and cracker-like and the sauce was really acidic. The cheese did not really add anything to the slice, it was not horrible, but it was not that good either. The Margarita slice fared a bit better, lacking any outrageous dark stops but it overall, tasted the same as the Grandma slice except the addition of basil balanced out the acidic sauce. The slices here are nothing to rave about and I feel bad for tourists that come here, with guidebook in hand trying the pizza here. If time permitted, I would rather jump on the L train and go to BEST Pizza in Williamsburg. Maybe if I was a drunk NYU student on a Thursday night, I would understand the appeal of the pies here but sober, I’ll take a street gyro. Though people swear by Artichoke and that the square slice is the best there is on a good day, I do not have time and guru power to figure out and get a slice on a good day. So tourists, here is the warning, I suggest you bank your stomach on something a bit more consistent.

328 East 14th Street
New York, NY

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Good penmanship is a requirement with hand written menus

Diner is located in a pretty desolate part of Williamsburg and does not look like much from the outside. Yet, come here around noon on a Saturday, it is packed. Before Brooklyn became its own dining genre, there was Diner at the forefront and what all eateries if they know it or not, somehow replicate what they have been doing. The menu has some core items, but it changes depending on what is available and of course, it is handwritten and to add the hipster kicker, it is written on receipt paper, so it is just one long looking menu. Though they had some really interesting dishes, I was craving red meat in a carnivorous way and Diner makes a good one. 

The burger, is composed of dry aged grass fed beef which even you do not know what the combination of all of those words mean, you know it is going to be good and it was. Cooked to temp, this burger hit all the right notes of meaty and gaminess. The burger to bun ratio was perfect and dare I say that this burger is probably one of best (Minetta still reigns supreme) and has a hell of a price tag on it, for about 15 bucks. The fries accompanying it were fine but nothing to write home about and like that there was a side of fresh mayo. Call me a Francophile but I like eating my fries with mayo. The hipster vibe is strong here: some kind of indie rock is on and the dude is wearing really short shorts and suspenders, and I am pretty sure that ketchup is like, made in house. But you cannot deny the fact that there is some good food here that is worth checking out and a great tasting burger that rivals any in New York.

Damn fine burger

85 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dun-Well Donuts

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Eat as many vegan donuts as you want, it is made of all veggies so it is good for you right?

There is very little vegan food I like. I will try it with an open mind but besides tofu and like…fruits and veggies. The idea of say vegan cookies or just vegan bake goods are generally as appealing to me as asked to eat bark and leaves. The last time I had a vegan cookie, I just wanted to slather it in nutella or butter because it was so dry and crackly. Thankfully, my run with vegan donuts has fared better. Having tried the donuts at Babycakes, I hear about Dun-well Donuts in East Williamsburg. The donuts here are vegan, which primal instincts would be a pass, but I got pass that and I am glad I did. The donuts are of the yeasted variety and they have filled and glazed donuts. I tired the Crème Brulee, Peanut Butter and Jelly from their filled selection and the cinnamon sugar and Mexican Chocolate from their regular/glazed donuts. 
Creme Brulee
The donuts are good; they are soft, moist and have a bit of a chew to them. The Crème Brulee has a little disk of harden sugar to mimic the crust of your typical brulee. However, as good as the donut was, the “custard” was not really to my liking, it was somewhat blandish and did not have the richness that you get from a crème brulee. However the peanut butter and jelly donut was stellar, with a thick rich jelly filling and nutty peanut butter glaze. The glazed donuts fared very well too, the Mexican Chocolate had warm spices mixed in and the cinnamon sugar had just the right about of sweetness. Regardless of their vegan status, their donuts rivals some of the other donuts being made in the city and doing it better than some. 
Mexican Chocolate

Cinnamon Sugar

Dun-Well Donuts
222 Montrose Avenue
 Brooklyn, NY

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Cute looking food=tasty food. Same applies to animals.

The Dim Sum experience at Red Farm is a polar opposite than getting Dim Sum in Chinatown just 20 minutes away. Red Farm, opened by Ed Schoenfeld and Joe Ng (Chinatown Brasserie) is as stated on the website, “inspired Chinese cuisine with Greenmarket Sensibility”, translation: place for white people to eat dim sum without feeling intimidated and hold the MSG. Red Farm is quite small and is dominated with communal tables which I do not like but hey, it does capture the essence of eating in Chinatown and on the plus side, chances of you being setting next to a creepy old Chinese Grandma that stares at you throughout the meal is slim. 

Pac Man Dumplings
Dim Sum items dominate the meal with a good selection of appetizers, large plates and rice and noodle dishes. The brunch meal features some salad and sandwiches but I pretty much ignored. We started off with the Pac Man Shrimp Dumplings, or shrimp har gaw. It was a playfully cute looking dish, the dumplings were multicolored and had a tempura’d sweet potato that was looked like well, Pac Man. The dumpling skins are thicker, but the shrimp filling was great and if you are wondering, Pac Man tasted good too. It had actual whole pieces of shrimp, rather than a discernible meat paste. More after the Jump!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mile End Sandwich

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: the smell combination of smoked meat and mustard just lingers on you all day


I am a bit embarrassed that I tried Mile End before going to Katz Deli. I mean, I have had the pastrami at Katz, but I have never had the full experience of going there myself and ordering. Mile End, with its original location just off of Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn opened up a sandwich shop on Bond St. It is more like a lunch counter than its original but offers almost the same exact things and then some. The veal tongue sandwich and the beef on wreck looked enticing, but I was here for the Montreal smoked meat, the funny sounding Canadian cousin of the pastrami. Both are very similar but have subtle differences. Montreal smoked is brisket flat and pastrami is from the navel.  The spicing and “corning” process will vary and the spices used have differences.
Both sandwiches however, are served the same way, rye bread with a healthy schmear of deli mustard. The Montreal smoked meat is noticeably subtle and easier on the pepper but the brisket is tender and has a nice amount of fat mixed in. The sandwich is not as hearty as the one at Katz’s but for about half the price, it is still a filling sandwich. Which is better? I will let you know when I hit up Katz. But I have to come back to Mile End for their poutine (maybe when it cools off) and other sandwiches.

Mile End Sandwich
53 Bond Street
New York, NY

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hill Country NYC

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: mason jarred drinks, food on Butcher paper, was Texas style ‘cue the OG of hipster dining?

First time I had anything from Hill Country was during the Big Apple BBQ block party and it started drizzling/raining and we ran for cover, the Hill Country trailer was right there. Even though we tried not to hit up any of the New York vendors, we decided to try the Hill Country Brisket and glad that we did. I decided to go to Hill Country for real this time and Mr. Wells giving it a respectable 2 stars, why not?
Hill Country is modeled after any Texas ‘cue place that I am hoping to experience Labor Day weekend when I venture to Austin. The only formal service you will get is the host bringing you to your table and from there, you get a place card and you have at it. The inside borders a bit on tacky, it is going for that Texas salon look and I was hoping there was a Swayze impersonator. Thankfully, they do not do the weird Lonestar/Roadhouse restaurant crap of peanut shells all over. Despite the Crapplebee’s inspired décor, the tables are pretty Spartan; do not expect a place mat, just a fork and a knife and water served in mason jars, no doubt just trying to keep up with the Brooklynese trends. 

This is all you need, for 'cue...and maybe just life

The table just had a roll of paper towels, hot sauce, a shaker of salt/rub and their barbeque sauce. There barbecue sauce in my opinion was too sweet for my taste, heavy on the molasses but apparently Rick Perry declared it the best outside the state of Texas but let’s be honest here: if he did not specify best outside Texas, he would be done politically. 

Bottom right clockwise: shoulder, sausage, brisket and rib
No matter really, the place is keeping with Texas tradition in which it is counter service and ‘cue is served by the pound. Think of it like a deli, where you can order as much or as little as you want. If you want sides, you go to another counter and get them there, and desserts are at another counter. It somewhat reminds me of a buffet, with getting up and down but the food is a heck of a lot better. I love it that it literally keeps with Texas style ‘cue in which all the meat is plated on butcher paper with a bunch of white bread or saltines and thrown onto a tray. Just wait, give it a few and you will be going to a Michelin star restaurant and they will be serving something on butcher paper. Here is the run down:

Brisket, Moist- Meat from the point of the brisket, it is moist because it is fattier but hey, fat = flavor and the brisket was nice and moist. It was tender, but not pot roast tender that it is falling apart which is good, you want it to be able to stand on its own but the use of a knife to break it apart should not be necessary. The meat had a good enough flavor that it really did not need sauce, maybe some Texas Pete hot sauce if you want some heat.

Brisket Lean- this is the cut that you get pastrami from, has fat just a lot less. Unfortunately, we got some end bits that were just dry, but the lean pieces that were not from the end were fine. I would stick to the moist bits in the future.

Sausage- from Kreuz Market in Lockhart, this was filled with jalapeno and cheese. It is a beef and pork mix, ratio unknown but I could probably look it up. It was juicy and a great snap, not to spicy, I think I would get two of these in the future.

Beef Shoulder- Also known as beef clod, something that should not be missed and the best thing on the plate, it was juicy and had a nice fat striation on the top side and left me wishing I got a half pound instead of a quarter.

Beef rib- was excited for this but ended up being the biggest let down, it was tough and chewy and did not have much in flavor. If I want ribs next time, I will go pork.

Although I see sides as a waste of meat real estate space in your stomach, the sides at Hill Country were pretty good overall:

Mac and Cheese- ziti pasta, it was in a thick and creamy cheese sauce, emphasis on the thick. I prefer the my Mac and Cheese with a runnier béchamel sauce but this was respectable, a little hot sauce helped.

Collard Greens- a winner here, the greens were tender and had a lot of potlikker on the bottom, good for dipping cornbread

Cornbread- It was slightly sweet, so I guess it would be classified as “Yankee” cornbread. Tender crumb and served with an awesome honey butter, I would get this again.

Deviled eggs- on a hot day, these are refreshing, actually these are just good. The egg filling was like eating a savory buttercream.

Finally, no ‘cue experience would not be complete without a staple dessert of banana cream pudding. The pudding was full of banana goodness and the only criticism is that some of the banana pieces were a bit too hard, the pudding needed another night to soften up the bananas, but I am not really complaining because we did finish all of it.

Overall, I like Hill Country. It is a great place to hang out and most of all, it is comfortable. This would be a great place for any group outing, just make sure most of them like meat or they will be picking at the sides.

Hill Country
30 W 26th St
New York, NY 1001

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Union Square Cafe, again

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: When you are given the opportunity to order a burger cooked to order and you order it pass medium rare, you are on notice

My parents love going to Union Square Café and after coming here for brunch again, I can see why. Though it kind of gets lost in the chaos of the Green Market and hidden behind the Bluewater Grill, Union Square Café is executing great food and the brunch here is one of the best in the city. 
Polenta Crisp

I cannot get enough of their polenta squares, this time to coincide with the season, some blueberries. Crisp on the outside and custard like in the inside, this was enough to get me my sugar fix. Okay, my sugar fix for the morning.
The appetizers like the sugar snap pea tagliantini salad that was shaved sugar snap pea, pecorino and guanciale. I mean, there is really no way this dish can go wrong with the combination of face bacon and pecorino.
Sugar snap peas

 The other appetizer we got was the hamachi crudo with pickled vanilla pineapple and an avocado puree. I was wary of the pickled vanilla pineapple, but the vanilla was subtle and worked nicely with the cubes of hamachi. 

Hamachi Crudo
For mains we got the Chicken Cutlet Milanese which as my Mom compared it to a tonkatsu, thankfully she did not attempt to ask the waiter for katsu sauce. It was topped with a salad/vegatable bomb. It felt like it was a guilty, pleasure, hide the awesome tasty chicken under the mound of healthy green stuff. 
Chicken Milanese...under that forest of greens

 My dad got the lamb chops that had a creamy Gruyere potato gratin that I think could have been a dish on its own. 

Lamb chops were thin, but still cooked to a perfect temperature and I if it was not for the public setting, bone gnawing would have been done. The cappellini is something that is not to be missed, with stracciatella, zucchini and truffles. There is a healthy dose of summer truffles on this dish and perfumes just about everything. Creamy and earthy, this dish was worth every bite. 
Cappellini and summer truffles

The Ahi tuna burger was another great hit. I liked it that they cook the tuna to your desired temperature, and doing this anything pass medium rare in my opinion (like a good old hamburger) is a sin and you should be forced to give up meat. The tuna burger has a whole Asian vibe going to it, with pickled ginger and a cabbage slaw that has sesame in it. The burger is just as rich as any red meat burger. The tuna was juicy and though I do not like pickled ginger, it worked well with the burger and was balanced out with the cabbage slaw. 

Tuna Burger
There are few places that I eat at repeatedly, the options here in New York are tremendous and with new places always popping up, you could go on without eating a the same restaurant twice, but with a place like Union Square Café, you want to come here repeatedly. 

Union Square Café
21 East 16th Street
New York, NY 10003