Restaurant Review: La Gringa Taqueria

We are back with another restaurant review, and this time, we make a short trip to a Mexican foodie haven known as La Gringa Taqueria, a Cali-style Mexican restaurant that offers delicious fresh food, awesome events, and free activities, mainly in their Brooklyn location, soon to be available in their West Village location, which is where we dined on this evening. The West village is the second location of La Gringa Taqueria (seconds away from the Christopher street/1 train station, at 82 Christopher Street), the first and most known being the Williamsburg, Brooklyn location. If you’ve ever found yourself traveling outside your borough and trekking to Brooklyn to partake in La Gringa’s delights, know that there is a location closer to you. Let’s get to know the West Village location, shall we!

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My contributing writer, David and I wanted to fully enjoy the entire experience from beginning to end, and that included enjoying a few drinks before we begun our foodgasm journey. While La Gringa does offer Margaritas, and a variety of  Mexican brewed beers, we didn’t want alcohol to alter the taste of our meal (of course we must go back for those margaritas), so we indulged in only non-alcoholic beverages for the night.

DRINKS AND BEVERAGES

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David: I had a Mexican coke. Remember in the 80’s, I may be dating myself when those awesome Coke commercial featured people quenching their thirst with a cold-sweating tall glass bottle of Coke? Well before this country got all penny pinching on us, Coke was made with real sugar and they still make it like that in Mexico, hence the moniker of Mexican Coke. And you really do taste the difference between real sugar and high fructose corn syrup.

Glasgow: Remember that scene in Forest Gump when he had 15 or so Dr. Peppers at the White House? That was me with the Mexican Coca-Cola. I grew up drinking sodas (including Coke, and Sprite) sweetened with sugar cane instead of the Aspartame Coke is now sweetened with, and trust me when we say it tastes infinitely better. I happily overindulged in my favorite childhood soda, and only took one brief break to enjoy a Tamarind Jarritos. As I’m writing this, I could go for one or two Mexican Coca-Colas.

GRILLED CHICKEN NACHOS – 1ST COURSE

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Glasgow: There are nachos and then there are La Gringa Taqueria Nachos!! If you’re looking for layers upon layers of deliciousness, you should absolutely have this uber-layered delight with orgasm levels of foodie pleasure in every bite. We opted for the grilled chicken Nachos, a delight to the palate and senses. Preparation of this dish is both a visual and aromatic thrill. Aside from the crisp corn chips layered with succulent meat, fresh pico de gallo, black beans, and sweet plantains, the final touch included a topping of torch melted Monterrey jack cheese that added a rustic roasted/charred taste from the flambé torch. I’m so happy I chose this as my meal starter. Check out some video of my nachos getting the flambé torch treatment.

BURRITO – 2ND COURSE 

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David (Pulled Pork Burrito): Take all the flavors south of the border and wrap it in a warm tortilla. The steak was seasoned with just enough salt and spices. Meanwhile, the seasoned rice, black beans, tomatoes, cheese, special tomatillo sauce and my favorite addition of sweet plantains all served to not overpower the wonderful pork but complement it with an explosive flavor profile that was hearty and satisfying.

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Glasgow (Steak Burrito): Never again will I be laissez-faire about my steak burrito or any burrito for that matter. The eruption of flavor I enjoyed while devouring the wonderful combination of perfectly seasoned steak, yellow rice, and sweet plantain (a surprising and very welcome touch of sweetness which paired perfectly with the hot Picante sauce I topped the whole thing with), made me see the light of what a delicious burrito should taste like. I’ll be forever under its delicious spell.

STEAK QUESADILLA – 3RD COURSE 

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David: There’s something about beef with Mexican seasoning that just marries so well together. When the mounds of fresh queso were added it was kismet, but the topper was the winner. The preparer used a blowtorch to melt the layers of cheese down to gooey perfection that ran in between the layer of steak with lovely melted ease. When topped with a spicy fire-roasted Picante sauce and the other warm tortilla I knew the flavor would be simple yet impacting, and it was. The hot sauce mingled perfectly with the warm seasoned steak and the smokiness of the fresh-torched cheese unified all the flavors together in holy matrimony. Another simple but flavorful dish that tasted familiar and satisfying.

THE SETTING

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David: So tucked away on an infamous but quiet street in the West Village is the really quaint little taqueria spot called La Gringa. As soon as you enter it feels like you’re about to have some authenticity going on with the menu. The walls were ornately decorated with a mural-sized painting of Mexican motifs and popular symbolic figures in full, and I must say pretty amazing, vivid color. It was really a page torn out of Mexico City with the rustic tables the array of colors and of particular note, the bottle opener at the front of the establishment that was kind of like a nod to “hey its old fashioned and rustic here, we give you authentic and not mass produced, so you can open your own bottle and not be dismayed by a syrupy fountain soda.

Glasgow: I love quaint restaurant locations. I always find that small or “hole in the wall” locations have the best food, and I wasn’t disappointed at La Gringa Taqueria. I sometimes find restaurants in the village a bit watered-down, so it was great to see this beacon of refreshing artistic pleasure. The interior is alive with the wonderful work of local mural artist, Danielle Mastrion, who perfectly captured the essence of the Day of the Dead in her artwork for La Gringa. It also boasts rustic wood tables, chairs, and benches curated by the owner, and a sense of being tucked away, which made La Gringa feel homey. Customers are not rushed and we got the sense of being welcomed for hours. It’s a great place to escape and savor your meal.

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All in all, it was a fantastic gastronomy experience that I hope to indulge in again very soon. We advise anyone who’s not familiar to get acquainted asap. For those who have been to La Gringa Taqueria, what was your favorite dish?

 

La Gringa Taqueria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Restaurant Review: Ornella Trattoria Italiana

The restaurant girls are back once again to bring you our tales of foodie adventures. in this restaurant review, Christine Ongsueng, and I are traveled all the way to Astoria, Queens (okay the trip out there wasn’t that bad), to bring you our review of Ornella Trattoria Italiana, a fine dining regional Italian restaurant which offers innovative dishes, organic ingredients, recipes passed down from generations, and pasta dishes which boasts pasta made fresh on site.

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Our host for the evening was none other than Ornella Trattoria Italiana‘s owner Giuseppe Viterale, a man who truly loves and appreciates food, and loves sharing stories about the history of food, tips and tricks, and his favorite dish (Pasta Fagioli), and of course, regaling his customers on what they’re eating. We learned more about Italian cooking in one evening than I’ve ever known in my entire life.

Aperitif – Negroni Cocktail

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Chris: What a wake-up call to the taste buds! This aperitif was too spirited for me but then again I’m a lightweight who is also not into spiced grapefruit drinks though one swig was all it took to shake my bleary eyes open and ready my appetite.

Glasgow: This traditional Italian cocktail featured three things I am not a fan of: Campari. I’m not a fan of bitter cocktails but as Chris stated, it certainly woke up my taste buds and did pep me up. Funny enough I grew up in a house where Campari was the norm, my family would absolutely berate me for not finishing this aperitif.

Burrata – 1st Course

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Chris: The perfect starter: soft and creamy burrata, prosciutto, and peach slices with some balsamic reduction sauce. I would have been happy with just the prosciutto and the burrata, but the peach slices were a refreshing bonus! The balsamic reduction was also noteworthy because it added to the complementing lightness of the peach.

Glasgow: I’ve always loved the combination of savory and sweet, especially when the sweet part is light. Giuseppe sometimes likes to go off-menu, something I end up enjoying all evening. This dish traditionally is “fresh mozzarella filled with creamy ricotta ovearugolla with tomato & spiced walnuts”, but as you can see he paired it with peach slices and prosciutto turning it into a perfect seasonal starter.

Bruschetta di NDUJA

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Glasgow: I consider this part of the first course only because they were brought out around the same time but this simple, different take on bruschetta was a welcomed starter. I’m usually fighting to keep the tomato on the bread whenever I take a bite on traditional bruschetta, it was nice not to have to do so, and the incorporation of spicy sausage (don’t worry its not too spicy), is a delicious addition.

Orecchiette – 2nd Course

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Chris: With the overwhelming heat and humidity of summer, one does not always want to eat heavy meals. The summer pasta was the unexpectedly perfect dish for this sweltering season. I know what you’re thinking– pasta is a heavy food, but when you have the right proportion of savory and fruity, then it becomes a delectable summer dish. And yes, that was just another curveball thrown at you– fruit in pasta– a cantaloupe to be exact. Trust me– it sounds weird, but it works. Pasta in the shape of shells, mixed with prosciutto, and cantaloupe topped off with grated cheese makes for a light balance of sweet, salty, and juicy. The seemingly opposing flavors just melds together in a symphony of tastes.

Glasgow: Another wonderful trip off-menu, Giuseppe took the wonderful, vegetarian Orecchiette con RABE dish and “summer-ized” it. Switching out the broccoli rabe and sundried tomato for prosciutto and lightly sweet and crisp cantaloupe, not only has he lightened up the pasta dish to levels even dieters can rejoice, he’s added a new flavor element and created a perfect, light, summer dish that I’d personally enthusiastically eat for lunch and dinner every day. Deliciousness abounds with and without grated cheese.

Pasta di Castagna aka Chestnut Pasta – 3rd Course

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Chris: Yes as in the ones roasting in an open fire. This is definitely something very different. I happen to love Chestnuts and turning it into the flour for the pasta is nothing short of genius. Sweet and earthy, this is a unique dish to be experienced. You’ll be surprised at first because a heavy nutty essence is not something you associate with for a pasta dish but after a couple of more mouthfuls, your mouth will delight in its fascinatingly complex taste.

Glasgow: Have you ever eaten something so delicious, that your body reacts so very pleasurably, with involuntary actions like eye twitching? That is what happened to me when I had my first forkful of this incredibly rich, decadent pasta. If you’re a fan of pasta with a creamy, slightly sweet distinctive taste, this gluten-free, grayish pasta made from ground chestnuts is for you. For those of you with celiac disease or other gluten intolerances and allergies, run, don’t walk to Ornella Trattoria and order a plate for yourself. You will dream about the creamy pistachio sauce peppered with truffle oil, and may find yourself asking your table-mate if they’re going to finish theirs….they will…you might as well order an extra.

Pizzoccheri aka Buckwheat Pasta – 4th Course

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Chris: Pasta wise, I did not think anything could top off the Chestnut, but after this was placed before me and I got a taste of it, I had a new favorite. While this does not stray too far from what one thinks pastas could be made out of, it is still a different take on pasta making tradition.The buckwheat flour turned into wide flavorful ribbons mixed in with garlic, olive oil, and roasted potatoes is the perfect combination of hearty, healthy, and heavenly.

Glasgow: an incredibly delicious pasta, no doubt, but my taste buds were already under the spell of the Chestnut Pasta. This makes another great option for those that are on a gluten-free diet since the flour is made out of ground whole grain buckwheat. The dish is a medley of flavors and textures thanks to its potatoes, cabbage, and Fontina cheese. I believe if I hadn’t tried the Pasta di Castagna, this would’ve surely been my favorite pasta dish.

Tenderloin Pork with Tuna – 5th Course

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Chris: Yet another creative concoction that sounds unusually opposing at first but actually works. Thin slices of lean pork tenderloins served as a base for tuna topped with olives. The “other white meat,” i.e. the pork, provided for a more solid structure and balance for the soft tuna.

Glasgow: This was an interesting break in the meal and something not on the menu. You may think it strange at first to have these two proteins together, but it actually worked. I believe this dish to be a spin on vitello tonnato, which is veal with tuna sauce. The tuna, (served as a thick sauce on top of cold, thin-sliced pork) of course dominated the palate but I found it refreshing as a summer dish.

Duck Meatballs – 6th Course

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Chris: I’m usually skeptical when I hear people are really into something, because it is usually a silly fashion trend or a hybrid of breakfast pastries, but the exception is duck meatballs. Everyone and anyone who has ever tasted them will start proselytizing about this amazing amazing AMAZING creation. I am a big fan of duck to begin with, and have had them in many different ways, but I have never tasted them quite like this. There are no words to explain the sheer orgasmic joy of biting into one of these orbs of culinary perfection (no, really it was an out of body experience as witnessed by fellow blogger Lucky Seven Ten. Made with a blend of mozarella, fontina, ricotta, and raisins plunged into a brandy based sauce, I was easily converted and will be singing its praises for as long as I live.

Glasgow: This was the dish I was really looking forward to trying. Ornella is famous for their Duck Meatballs and after one bite, you will see…eh…taste why. When you’re ordering that extra plate of Chestnut Pasta to go, make sure you do the same with the Duck Meatballs. I’m not at all ashamed to say, I heartily ate and took home, these sweet mounds of juicy duck, filled with various cheeses, and immersed in a divine raisins and brandy-based sauce. DAMN it’s delicious. It may ruin you for other dishes. I think I floated on air and my eyes, along with several others) rolled into the back of our heads in this trip to foodie heaven. This is a dish that would convert a vegetarian, that’s how delicious it is.

Sgroppino – Last Cocktail

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Chris: Now this is how every meal should end. Traditionally made with limoncello and sorbet, Giuseppe yet again improved on something already in existence when he noticed that the sorbet and the vodka tended to separate like oil and water. So instead of sorbet, he used lemon Italian ice. He then mixed in vodka and a splash of white wine for a light and refreshing end to a parade of deliciousness.

Glasgow: After so many courses, naturally we had no room for dessert, so Giuseppe offered this perfect palate cleanser and finisher for the hot summer night. To say this drink was delicious and refreshing is an understatement. Very much a sophisticated slushy, the combination of Italian Lemon Ice (Lemon Granita), vodka, and white wine, seems tailor-made for the season.

The Setting

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Chris: So let’s get this out of the way– yes, it’s in Queens (completely coming from a staunch Manhattanite). But it’s completely worth the trip and it’s only Astoria. Astoria’s been one of those up and coming neighborhoods for a while now so there’s been an expected outcropping of popular eateries. But the unassuming facade of Ornella makes you almost walk right past it and makes it all the more exciting. Like most of the things we love about the restaurants we review, it’s a hidden gem. I love that it no longer conforms to the restaurant trope of having an overpowering awning or fancy lettering– just a hand painted sign that is both mysterious and inviting. What lies inside is the soul of a home. The trattoria is long and quaint with soft lighting and red drapes hanging from the ceiling, made to make you feel like you’re dining al fresco in the middle of a remote Italian village. The owner and culinary mastermind, Giuseppe Viterale, welcomed us, along with a few other foodies, warmly and treated us like we were family. We were not only given delicious plates of food to consume, but we were also fed bits of history and philosophy. With each dish came a background story on the evolution of Italian cuisine or how Giuseppe creatively enhanced a particular dish before us.

Glasgow: Getting to Astoria from New Jersey is one heck of a trip but I’d gladly do it over and over again to re-experience any of this wonderful meal lineup. The homey outside may look small, but it gives way to a long interior that’s both intimate and rustic. From the soft glow of the overhead lamps, to the draping red ceiling panels, wall decor of and Italian garden, and the open arms of the staff, we felt completely at home, almost as if we were enjoying a family dinner in Naples. I must also make note of the one kinds funny aspect of the restaurant. Giuseppe has plastered his restrooms with all the negative yelp reviews and his sometimes hilarious responses .

Overall and Final Thoughts

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Chris: Wherever you hail from, make the trek to Ornella Trattoria. Bring a date, bring a friend, bring the entire family to a truly unique dining experience. Be forewarned, if you’re expecting the typical Italian fare of spaghetti and meatballs, stick to Little Italy. Come here with an open mind to try something new that your palette and stomach will be all the better for. While Ornella is rooted in tradition it is also a pioneer in ingenuity, mixing and enhancing flavors to create new and exciting dishes; which, as Giuseppe pointed out, can also be applied to life.

Glasgow: Go for the food, go for the knowledge, go for the incredibly service, go for the food (did we already say that?), you won’t be disappointed. Any restaurant that has a soup DJ (yes, they do), and an owner that’s as excited to tell you about the food as you are to eat it is a must! As Chris said, don’t come expecting your typical lasagna or spaghetti and meatballs, you won’t find it here. Instead you will find a delicious adventure that will leave you both sated and knowledgeable. After this experience, I find that it’s a wonderful thing to learn more about what you’re about to eat, it makes you enjoy your meal more.

 

Ornella Trattoria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Restaurant Review: La Pulperia Coctelería and Rustic Latin Restaurant

My blogger buddy, Christine Ongsueng, and I are back again to review a new restaurant. This time, we give our take on a little hidden Latin gem, La Pulperia NYC, nestled just off 8th avenue on the restaurant-heavy 46th street. We thought we knew what to expect from this exotic hideaway that seats 60, but we were more than pleasantly surprised by the menu, service, and entire experience of La Pulperia. Fellow foodies will love this Coctelería and Rustic Latin cuisine. Named for the general stores found throughout South America, Chef/Owner Carlos Barroz, and Victor Medina combine Latin America’s simple culinary refinement, with Spanish and Italian influences to exquisite results, many of which are vegan, and Gluten-free. For our review, we were set to indulge in their amazing 5-Course Chef Tasting Menu, which is available for $50.00 (they also offer a 3-Course Tasting Menu for $35.00). Read on for a detailed account of our heavenly experience.
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First Round of Cocktails

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Carlos Gardel Cocktail

Chris: It’s as if they knew a caffeine fiend was going to dine with them, the first cocktail we tasted was a Yerba Mate based drink with orange juice and Spanish vodka. This also came with a bit of a fiery presentation — the waiter singed the orange peel above the drink to release the citrusy sweet essence. Creamy, woodsy, and spiced, this drink was definitely a unique experience.

Glasgow: Talk about a pick me up! If you happen to be the victim of a rough day that has worn you out, and you need a burst of energy, let the combination of Black Tea from Argentina, Caffeine, Orange Juice, and other ingredients that make up this unique cocktail, lift not only your spirit, but your energy as well.

La Tuna Cocktail

Chris: The next cocktail was a matcha-based spiced drink made with Pisco, agave nectar, prickly pear, and cinnamon. I imagine this is what retired sea captains drink to reminisce about their adventures. The masculine smokiness of the drink was balanced by the refreshing nature of the prickly pear, but it was still something to be sipped and savored…at least to a lightweight like me.

Glasgow: It’s like they made this cocktail according to my personality, a touch of sweetness, a bit of freshness, and a little spice. This pink concoction was as delicious as it was pretty (I almost didn’t want to disturb the decorative swirl, but one sip made that feeling disappear quite quickly). I love a sweet cocktail and this sophisticated pink cocktail, which immediately made me think of hibiscus flowers and strawberry puree took me on a mental trip to the islands.

Salmon Brûlée – 1st Course

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Chris: Brulees are not just for dessert. The salmon tartare is at the heart of this seemingly delicate plate. Tartares are usually served alone and naked and often leave that fishy aftertaste. However, this particular dish perfectly combined the savory with the sweet. Balancing the rich savory flavor of the salmon with strawberries and cream elevated your taste buds to new heights.

Glasgow: The only Brulee I’ve ever enjoyed as a creme…as in dessert and never thought it could be anything but that. I was so happy to be proven wrong with this sweet and savory first course. It may look very much like a dessert but this combination of cream cheese, strawberries, Salmon tartare, and ginger Leche de Tigre, (not a tiger’s milk as the name translates, rather it’s a citrus-based marinade that cures seafood in ceviche dishes), hit the perfect note, much like the first note of your favorite song.

Lobster Taquitos – 2nd Course

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Chris: Lobsters in tacos I’m sure are a thing, but I guarantee you’ve never had them like this. Chunks of Maine lobsters mixed with avocado cream sauce, citrus juice, grilled pineapple, and a hint of Japanese mayo is a culinary excursion amidst bite sized taco shells. I usually shy away from anything spicy and by shy away I really mean run away crying and screaming from the scene but this time, I was surprised at how much I loved the little kick of spice in the tacos. It wasn’t so spicy that it overwhelmed the palette but more like a subtle emergence that lingered awhile before the wave of juicy sweetness from the pineapple took over.

Glasgow: I used the think the world started and ended with fish tacos, but those thoughts are long gone after devouring this delicious second course. Boasting a crispy wonton shell, stuffed with the creamy avocado sauce, fresh Maine Lobster, grilled pineapple, Cilantro and the spicy Kewpie mayo, I know I’ll never go back to regular fish tacos. This dish is what I imagine eating at an open beach-side restaurant. I loved its fresh, tangy, sweet and refreshing taste, it settled with a very smooth and subtle kick.

Second Round of Cocktails

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Smoky Room Cocktail

Chris: In a past life, I was the proverbial old man by the sea… And this was my drink of choice. Mezcal, rum, tequila, and passion fruit are blended together for a deeply intriguing taste with hint of smokiness. The Mezcal and tequila are softly balanced by the splash of passion fruit, making it just the right amount of sweet.

Glasgow: The first of what I refer to as the dark and stormy cocktails. I, like Chris, also imagine men on the sea. I imagine this is to be a brew Pirates would enjoy after braving a storm on the high seas. It featured passion fruit, a tangy and tart fruit juice, that when combined with the Mezcal, put some hair on your chest so to speak and lit a fire in your belly. If you love your cocktail with a bit of a bite, this is a must.

Chilango Cocktail

Chris: This drink perfectly sums up the island life. The special ingredient, tamarind, a sound fruit found in many tropical islands is the core of the margarita. To offset the tartness, mango and a hint of jalapeno gives this drink a sweet but spicy kick. Again, I was pretty surprised at how fond I was of this drink, despite its spicy element.

Glasgow: This second cocktail was even more robust than the Smoky Room, as least for me. If the first one put hair on your chest, the combination of tangy Tamarind, Jalapeno, and red pepper in the Chilango will turn you into a werewolf. This is the cocktail that took me down and let me know it was king. I had no power left, and all I could do was submit. Be careful, this cocktail bites back, and you may find yourself ordering bread to satisfy it.

SIDE NOTE: Tipsy or not, we recommend ordering the hot, buttered grilled bread, just for its smokiness

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Squash and Crab Gnocchi – 3rd Course

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Chris: Like most people, I’ve always had gnocchi the traditional way, which was why I was a bit surprised that it can be made from squash. I happen to love squash and crab so this was already a winner in my book. And just like the previous dishes and cocktails, the tastes were far more complex than I thought. To go with the crab and squash were some spinach, sage, and cheese doused in brown butter sauce. Together, it made for a rich flavor explosion that blended together perfectly.

Glasgow: I, on the other hand, have enjoyed quite a few Gnocchi varieties, but none have come close to these bites of heaven, especially as I’ve never thought of myself as a fan of Butternut Squash. paired with crab, citrus brown butter, sage, and spinach, I officially became a fan of Butternut Squash, and fully addicted to this 3rd course.

BBQ Pacu Fish Ribs – 4th Course

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Chris: Given a choice between meat and fish, I’d almost always choose meat. Having been served fish that looked like ribs, I may have to rethink my natural impulses. The BBQ Fish Ribs were absolutely magnificent. The fish was Pacu, a cousin to the Piranha (thanks Animal Planet!), was arranged in a wood slab slathered with chipotle sauce and topped off with mandarin oranges. It was melt-off the bones grilled goodness that was quite juicy and zesty.

Glasgow: If anyone ever asked me why I love fish, I would set a plate of this unworldly delicious dish and say “this dish is my reasons 1-10 why I love fish” and reasons 1-5 would just be my eyes rolling into the back of my head in utter pleasure. The taste is beyond divine, it is orgasmic. It boasts the smokiness, aroma and sweetness of award-winning BBQ, thanks to its orange chipotle BBQ sauce, and “meatiness” of the fish. As Chris stated the Pacu is cousin to the Piranha, and while she told me about the Animal Planet episode, all I could think of was….“damn, I could go for another round or two of BBQ Pacu”. It’s almost unreal that something can be that delicious.

Hangar Steak – 5th Course

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Chris: And then there was the meat. To end a night of fusion seafood, we had an amazingly delectable hangar steak. We ordered it medium rare and it came with Potatoes Au Gratin, and pickled eggplant and cauliflower. I loved that the sides were not the typical heavy starches.The vinegar infused vegetables went perfectly well with the mouthwatering steak topped off with some chimichurri sauce. Tender, juicy, and packed with a lot of flavor, the hangar steak was divinely done.

Glasgow: Because one image isn’t enough to do it justice, I’ve added three so you can get a better understanding at the succulence of this cut of meat that was cooked to perfection and paired with side dishes that were matched as if by divine decree. The steak was incredibly tender, and bursting with juiciness. It was the perfect end to an immaculate meal.

The Setting

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Chris: Deep within the restaurant strata of the theater district, among all the big named chain restaurants and eateries that tout a marquee as big as some of the Broadway productions, lies a small almost missable hallway of a place packed with so much thought, flavor, and heart. La Pulperia feels like a true New Yorker’s secret spot. A long bar area greets you as you walk in, the rest of the decor is what I endearingly call rustic nautical– filled with worn wood and the ceiling bedecked in ropes and bulbs makes you feel like you’ve been invited into the hull of a well-voyaged ship to have dinner with the captain.

Glasgow: You can get lost in time at La Pulperia. The intimate lighting (courtesy of the brass lamps with Edison bulbs that hang from the ceiling), decadent aromas, and rustic decor (it features handcrafted floor tiles from Mexico, and reclaimed wood from Brazil on the ceiling and walls), will enchant you to remain in your seat, and that is completely fine. while there, you will find there is nowhere else you’d want to be. it’s the perfect setting for dates, be they first, second, or twentieth. If you find yourself not hungry (although the aromas will change your mind), the restaurant boasts a 12-seat, marble-topped bar where you can enjoy the above-mentioned cocktails, a many more from mixologist Jorge Velasco.

Bottom line:
If you’re craving something uniquely authentic, get thee to La Pulperia. As cheesy as this may sound, everything in this quaint restaurant was done with heart. The local, organic, farm to table focus isn’t pretentious; It exudes from the freshness of the dishes to the knowledge and warmth of the staff to the multicultural guests mingling at the bar and dancing by the live performer (which consisted of a woman on a keyboard passionately giving her own soulful spin to classic Spanish ballads to popular bossa nova tunes). Hospitable life and friendly faces abound in this small and intimate setting; which by the way, makes it a great date spot– not to mention that you’ll impress your date by finding such a hidden treasure in the heart of the city.

La Pulperia Hells Kitchen is located at 371 West 46th Street. Make a reservation for brunch or dinner by calling (212) 960-3176. You will thank us later.

 

La Pulperia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Food on the Move | Village Voice’s Choice Streets Fourth Annual Food Trucks Event Recap

We discovered so many new favorite foods at the Village Voice’s Choice Streets Fourth Annual Food Trucks Event. Once again, it was food trucks galore as we descended upon the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on Pier 86 on Cinco de Mayo. We were determined to beat our poor performance last year and enjoy as many food truck food varieties as we could. It literally was foodie heaven being surrounded by all these food trucks at Choice Streets. Sadly we didn’t meet our goal of surpassing last year’s count, but this time, it’s because the event was packed, much more than last year, with scores of more people waiting to enter and indulge in this gastronomical feast.
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Since the event was held on Cinco de Mayo, attendees were entertained with live music from Mariachi Flor de Toloache (pictured above), New York’s first and only all-female mariachi band. Before we began to indulge, we stopped in at the Bruce Cost Ginger Ale booth to arm ourselves with this delicious, and sparkling beverage made with fresh whole ginger that’s great for digestive comfort and our over indulgence.

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With disposable tray and Bruce Cost ginger ale in our hands, we began our foodie journey. Although they were not food trucks, we had to make a stop at Mofongo NY, who was there on behalf of Puerto Rico Tourism, serving up food so good, they had the longest line for the entire event (we easily waited an hour but it was so worth it), and the Whole Foods, who were sampling delicious Applegate Hotdogs.

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From there we went on to hitting the food trucks. Our first stop was to Korilla BBQ who offered three taco variations – Spicy Pork tacos, Chicken tacos, and Ribeye Tacos. We decided to go with the Ribeye Taco, which was so incredibly divine; the steak melted in your mouth and left you wanting more.

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Our next stop was to Sweet Chili and their peppery offering of Sriracha Fries Topped with Sweet and Spicy Sriracha and Sriracha Aioli.

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We’ve never been one for pepper, but the combination of sweet and spicy added some flavorful heat to our already delicious fries. From Sweet Chili, it was on to something a bit more sweet but equally savory. We heard so many great things about SnowDay‘s Grilled Cheese, we had to make it our next stop.

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This standout food truck offered their Signature Maple Grilled Cheese, which includes sharp cheddar, Shewolf Bakery sourdough, 100% pure NY State maple syrup, Smoked Pork Spare Rib with Maple Gastrique and Spring Slaw, and Maple Lemonade. Besides the Mofongo, this was easily our favorite dish of the night. Our next stop was to Big D’s Grub Truck, offering the nights’ most unique dish, Bangkok Basil Spicy Pork fried Rice with a Runny Egg on Top.

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This definitely made our top five favorite food experiences for the night, and if we were able to, we would’ve gone back for seconds. Of course by this time, we were already starting to feel the seams of our jeans, even with the overwhelming long lines, we were reaching our limit; with room for one for dish, and armed with more Bruce Cost Ginger Ale, we headed over to Domo Taco, and their 5 Spice Braised Pork Served on Toasted Corn Tortilla with Miso Slaw, Pico de Gallo, and Sesame Crema.

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There were several trucks we didn’t make it to either because the lines were too long or we had surpassed our limits but they definitely are worth mentioning, thanks to all the praises they received from other attendees. These amazing food trucks include Andy’s Italian Ices (offering guilt-less refreshment), Souvlaki Lady, Gorilla Cheese, Pizza Luca (offering Neapolitan pizza from the biggest oven we’ve ever seen), and Langos Truck, and are pictured below:

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Of course, we can’t have a hearty meals with a spirit or two to compliment the variety of cuisines. On hand to keep libations flowing were Barefoot Wines, New Amsterdam Vodka, and Rums of Puerto Rico, etc.

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As always we had a great time at the Choice Streets Fourth Annual Food Trucks Event, it truly is a food lover’s culinary fantasy. Tell us, have you ever been to Choice Streets, are any of these food trucks favorites of yours?

Village Voice Eighth Annual Choice Eats Tasting Event Recap

Foodies from around the tri-state area converged on the Metropolitan Pavilion to once again partake in the extraordinary gastronomy experience that was the Village Voice Eighth Annual “Choice Eats” Tasting Event. With well over 60 participating restaurants that were handpicked from all five NYC boroughs, Choice Eats did not disappoint attendees who enjoyed unlimited sampling of the restaurants’ best mouthwatering dishes, indulgent desserts, complimentary craft beer pairings, wine and liquor beverages. We had the pleasuring of once again attending this illustrious event and feasted as much as we could without going into a food coma. Our food journey started led us to old familiar favorites like The Kati Roll Company, Luke’s Lobster, Doughnut Plant, and Carlo’s Bakery, but we also discovered lots of new yummy loves as well. Join us in drooling over some of what we enjoyed.

Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue – Tri Tip Pastrami w/ Horseradish Mustard & Scratchbread Rye

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Peppa’s Jerk Chicken – Seasoned Jerk Chicken w/ Festivals (Sweet Dumplings) w/ Homemade Spicy Jerk Sauce

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Delaware and Hudson – Sour Braised Beef Shortrib w/ Caramelized Onion Puree

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Kuma Inn – Pig & Pickles

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We indulged in some many delicious fare that we had to take breaks and walk around in between sampling just to help our digestion efforts. This proved to be a wonderful plan, because we got to enjoy much more than we did at last year’s Choice Eats.

After indulging in the above savory dishes, it was time to move upstairs to surrender to a few decadent desserts and get to know the Choice Sweets section of the event. We devoured the delicious samples from Tate’s Bake Shop, Fay Da Bakery, Sugar Couture, Butter Lane, Luca & Bosco, Carlo’s Bakery, Doughnut Plant, Robicelli’s, and Butter & Scotch.

After we had our fill of desserts, we walked a bit more around the event capturing photos of the festivities, talking to fellow attendees, and enjoying a cocktail or two from the participating alcohol vendors

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Full food coma was achieved when we got home after the event and we wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world. Choice Eats is a must for foodies, or anyone who wants to discover new restaurants or flavors. You should add it to your “must-go-to” list immediately.

Restaurant Review: Need Epic Valentine’s Day Dinner Plans? Try Burger & Lobster NYC

We love discovering new, amazing places to dine, and our latest favorite culinary indulgence, Burger & Lobster NYC, is an UK import that offers two only entrees – Burgers and Lobsters (hence the name), at what is a beyond an amazing price. The gigantic restaurant is perfect for a night out with family, friends, or that special someone. And since it’s Valentine’s Day, what better time than to indulge your sweetheart to a fantastic meal for only $20.00 per entree. My blogger buddy, Christine Ongsueng, accompanied me to experience this simple but memorable menu. Although there is a menu for drinks, a physical menu for the entrees is not needed, rather the servers become walking menus, delighting you with tales of their experiences while indulging in the amazing culinary offerings. Below is our take on everything from the food, to the decor, to the super friendly and inviting staff.

Steak Burger

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Glasgow/Chris: The burgers are so flavorful and delicious, it should be a sin to indulge so greatly. Made from three cuts of steak – 60% Chuck, 20% brisket, 20% tri-tip, and topped with cheese and bacon in a bun that’s good enough to be consumed by itself, you may just find yourself surrendering to this Juicy, tender, and flavorsome burger.

Lobster Roll

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Chris: This is not your average $20.00 rinky dink lobster roll slathered in mayo. This is the best lobster roll I’ve had to date and I’ve tried quite a few around the city. First off, every square inch of the bread is covered in huge chunks of lobster meat. There was no stinting here! Most places give you a scoop full of lobster slathered in some thick goopy dressing. These lobster rolls are not heavy on the dressing. In fact, the sauce enhances the flavors of the lobster instead of masking them.

Glasgow: Where do I begin? Shall I begin with the brioche bun that will make you want everything you ever eat from now on to come on a brioche bun, or maybe the instant feeling of “this is what my life has been missing” upon the first bite, or how about the 1/2 pound of the most succulent, buttery lobster I’ve ever experienced. Yes, I can talk about all these things, but nothing could properly prepare you for that magic moment when your taste buds surrender to this savory decadence.

Grilled Lobster

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Chris: You can have the lobster your way– steamed or grilled. We opted for the latter and couldn’t have been happier with our choice. Yet another behemoth of pure tastiness. This was no junior lobster. This was 1.5lbs of grilled goodness. The natural taste of the lobster meat is elevated by the smokey grilled method. But as if things could not get any better, there’s the golden butter garlic sauce in which to bathe your lobster in. More than just melted butter, this dipping sauce contains a mix of seasonings that are embedded into the butter without coagulation.

Glasgow: This was the best tasting and freshest Lobster I’ve ever had. The two choices of lobster preparation will leave you in a delicious conundrum. Fans of steamed lobster will surrender to the intensity of flavor that the smokiness of fire brings forth in the grilled version while fans of grilled lobster will want to savor the sweetness and tenderness of the lobster meat that steaming provides. Whichever one you choose, you can’t go wrong, although you will find yourself wanting to try both.

Ambiance

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Chris: Normally, huge restaurants run the risk of being too bare or being over saturated with tacky decor. Thankfully, that was not the case at burger and lobster. Upon entering, one is greeted by a huge tank of lobsters whose names are cheekily written in chalk above their heads. The long bar is impressive in its size and sleekness; makes waiting for a table more tolerable and less likely to get you jostled while ordering a drink. Lobster traps are used as a subtle but impressive wall barriers. The wide aisles in between the booths make it easier for servers balancing platters of deliciousness to pass through without having to disturb the customers. There’s also a downstairs seating area complete with its own bar and a full view of the lobster containers—over 4,000 lobsters can be housed in climate-controlled blue crates!

Glasgow: I was amazed to find how a space so incredibly huge can be so intimate and open at the same time. It really is the perfect place to have a group dinner, romantic meal (another reminder it’s Valentine’s Day), or get-together with friends. The layout offers the option of a private dinner and neighbor interaction, it’s up to you. One very notable moment was getting up close and personal with one of Burger & Lobster NYC’s Big Boys. They are huge and have the most adorable phrases written on their tanks.

The Staff

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Chris: The staff is one of the nicest I’ve ever encountered. From the pure jovial nature of the hostess to the knowledgeable and entertaining waiter. The staff at Burger & Lobster NYC know just how to make their customers feel special and at home. They are attentive without overbearing and their attitudes were authentic and sweet. Through our server, Edward, we learned all about the food we were being served as well as the fact that they treat the staff very well. It’s no wonder they came across utterly genuine.

Glasgow: Let me begin by saying we both fell instantly in love with Edward and didn’t want to share him with the other diners. We asked to take a photo with our meal and the above is what we got…how can you not love him for that? It felt like we were having dinner with an old friend as he told us which meal was his favorite, the “problems” of having to taste test everything (hilariously sarcastic), and the love of his job. And though Edward was our server, we were visited by other staff who just wanted to say hello and laugh with us a bit….such an amazing friendly environment and people who really love what they do.

Artwork

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Chris: Russian artist, Alexandr Grigorev, has been commissioned by Burger & Lobster to do all of their artwork. Everything from the logo to the bibs to the murals that grace the sides of the high ceilings are done by Alexandr Grigorev. I absolutely fell in love with his oddly classic but modern caricatures of an array of different people.

Glasgow: Chris definitely says it best here on the artwork. As for me, what can I say? I love all things cheeky, and the raised eyebrow shown on the mug is dong things to me lol. I see so much in these pieces from Alexandr Grigorev and I think that’s the point.

So there’s our take. All of this is what you get the low cost of $20.00 per entree at Burger & Lobster NYC. I bet you to find a better deal or better meal for that price. trust us, your Valentine’s Day date will be highly impressed.

Holiday Gift Ideas: Dinner & One Heck of a Show from Hard Rock Cafe and Yankee Stadium

For those of you who think there’s nothing going on at Yankee Stadium during the off-season, you’ll be happy to hear how very wrong you are. There’s much more to Yankee Stadium than just attending a game. How about your own private tour of the famed stadium, followed by a delicious meal at an affordable price? The Hard Rock Cafe, conveniently located inside Yankee Stadium teams up with the famed ballpark to bring you five amazing Yankee Stadium tour options – Classic Individual Tour, Classic Group Tour, Gold Pregame Tour, Platinum Pregame Tour, and Party City Birthday Bash Tour. Adding a stadium tour with and lunch/dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe makes the perfect holiday, birthday, or anniversary gift for the baseball fanatic in your life. what’s even more amazing, proceeds benefit the New York Yankees Foundation, so while you’re enjoying this wonderful experience, you’re also doing good.

We had the honor of experiencing one of the Yankee Stadium tours and even though we’re not diehard baseball fans, the experience was such an amazing one, we want to experience it again. We imagine diehard baseball fans will describe it as magical, especially being on the field. End your tour with a great lunch or dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe Yankee Stadium with one of their two prix-fixe menus – Hard Rock Cafe Voucher #1 – $39.00 or Hard Rock Café Voucher #2 – $46.00.

So what can you expect from the tours? See below:

Classic Individual Tour – this tour may be purchased for 14 people or less and begins every 20 minutes primarily from 12 p.m. to 1:40 p.m. You can get your tour tickets online for only $20.00, if you purchase at the Yankee Stadium Ticket Windows: Adults: $25. Children (14 years and younger): $23, Senior Citizens (60 years and older): $23, Children 3 and younger are free.

Classic Group Tour – need to entertain a group of 15-35 people or maybe your fantasy baseball league is looking for a fun night out? The Classic Group Tour is perfect for you. The Classic Group Tours are booked based on availability from 9 a.m.-11:40 a.m. and 2 p.m.-4 p.m. daily and must be reserved in advance. Cost per person is as follows: Adults: $18.00, Children (14 and younger)/Seniors (60 and older): $16.00, and up to 4 children younger than 4 are Free.

Pregame Tour – already going to the game and want to add a unique experience to enhance your ballpark fun? If you already have a game ticket, try a Pregame Tour. The Gold Pregame Tour costs $35.00 and gets you access to the legendary Monument Park before the gates to the Stadium open up to the public. The Platinum Pregame Tour costs $40.00 and allows you visits to the SAP Suite Level, Monument Park and the New York Yankees Museum Presented by Bank of America (when available). The tour is for a maximum of 10 guests and begins at Gate 2.

Party City Birthday Bash Tour – looking for a cool way to celebrate your birthday? You will love the Party City Birthday Bash Tour. Get a tour of Yankee Stadium, a group photo for the birthday celebrant, goodie bags for all children, and New Era baseball caps for all guests. After your tour, you can tour concludes, you may continue your celebration at the Hard Rock Cafe with lunch and birthday cupcakes. The bashes can accommodate up to 35 guests, with a maximum of two (2) children younger than four (4) years old admitted at no charge but you must book at least two (2) weeks in advance. Included with this party tour:

  • Line Drive – One (1) 13’x19′ commemorative group photo for group to sign, goodie bags for all children and New Era baseball caps for all guests
  • Home Run – One (1) 13’x19′ commemorative group photo for the group to sign, 5’x7′ commemorative group photos for all guests, goodie bags for all children and New Era baseball caps for all guests *
  • For smaller groups, birthday bashes can be celebrated on public tours for $30.00 per person. Each guest receives a New Era Yankees baseball cap and each child receives a goodie bag.
  • Gift Add-On:
  1. Laser Engraved Louisville Slugger Bat (Ash or Maple): $125.00 each
  2. Custom Home Jersey: $175.00 each
  3. New York Yankees top hat logo baseball: $5.00 each

Located at Gate 6 on the corner of 161st Street and River Avenue, the Hard Rock Cafe Yankee Stadium is open year-round to ticket holders and non-ticket holders. It features a world-famous collection of Hard Rock memorabilia with an emphasis on New York-area musicians and artists, as well as Yankees-related pieces. The restaurant seats 165 people, the bar seats approximately 32 people, and is a great place to relax after your tour. Our meal was amazing. The prix-fixe meal comes with an entree, drinks, and dessert, a filling meal to sate even the most insatiable appetites. We decided to try the Half-Rack of Hickory Smoked Ribs and Original Legendary Burger with a colossal Ice Cream Sundae for dessert, needless to say, we were gleefully stuffed.

Even today, several days after our tour, we’re still on a high from the experience. We’re still sharing stories and showing off our photos to friends and family, so we know any baseball fan will cherish this experience forever. So what are you waiting for, give them the gift they’ll really get excited about. To book your tour, call the Tours Department at 646-977-TOUR (8687) or email tours@yankees.com for information.

A Tree Grows In The Financial District: Medici 21 Ristorante & Bar Restaurant Review

Traipsing through the Financial District after business hours can often make me feel like that lone tumbleweed blowing through a ghost town. Now don’t get me wrong! That area does have it’s inhabitants, locals if you will, that give it a lived-in neighborhood kind of feel. However, with very little areas to sit and enjoy the foliage, it’s nice to find other forms of life within this architecturally overpowering pulse point of lower Manhattan. I recently had the pleasure of experiencing life in that region that was served up more of the blanched than the branched. Medici 21 is a wonderful eatery at 21 Rector Street in the Financial District that has recently come under new management.

 What has that brought to the table? Try to imagine wonderful, fresh and classic Italian fare and an energy that brings life to the tightly wound closely knit streets of the Financial District. Equipped with an amazing full bar Medici 21 is a quintessential spot for a work day lunch or evening cocktails and dinner. The revamp brings a sexy youthful verve with a polished downtown edge. Relax with a cocktail downstairs then retire upstairs for a delicious meal that covers the Italian culinary experience with both familiar and unique menu offerings.

The night that I had the pleasure of enjoying the Medici 21 experience was just euphoric. The starters consisting of savory antipasti platters, olives, mushrooms and other artisanal delicacies were a perfect start to what would become one of the best meals I’ve had in quite a while.

For dinner, Executive Chef Allen Dann served a six-course meal complete with wine pairings for each course that were appropriate for the intensity and subtleties of each dish.

Starting off were plump briny Long Island Oysters with a semi-sweet Villa Sandi il Fresco, NV Prosecco followed by the sweet and salty marriage of gorgonzola with caramelized pumpkin in the Artisanal Green Salad that were just seasonally perfect with a Natura Sauvignon Blanc 2013 from Chile.

Next, the light subtle flavor of the Beef Carpaccio with the fragrant white truffles and frosty parmesan created a textural and flavorful wonderment for the tongue while paired with a heady smooth Trivento Reserve Malbec 2013. The Wild Boar Ragu that followed had a tender rustic flavor that was nicely paired with a delicately fresh pappardelle and a Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 from Napa Valley.

The last two dishes sealed the dining deal for me. The Atlantic Halibut was so tender and light that it complemented the parsnip puree, Tuscan kale and Stag Leaps Chardonnay 2012 also from Napa beautifully. Dessert finished the course roundup with a Seasonal Fruit Zabaglione that was a great plate of sweet and tart flavors that matched up seamlessly with a Marchesi Di Barolo Zagara Moscato D’Asti 2012.

With the World Trade area getting a fresh new start, lower Manhattan dining is stepping up again where areas like Soho and the Meatpacking District were proving victorious. Medici 21 stands to be a great place to have you make that venture into the winding grid-less streets of the Financial District. Medici 21 Ristorante & Bar will stand to be another notable ‘Twenty One’ in the area but far more satisfying.