New York City, as of late, is becoming a BBQ mecca of sorts, whether the BBQ is made by transplants from the South or acolytes of this wondrous way of cooking smoked meats. BBQ is a way of life. It’s a reason for being for many people. The joys of devouring a plate of smoked meat is ethereal and can be life changing.
When I think of ramen done right, I almost immediately think of Chef David Chang and his Momofuku Noodle Bar on 1st Avenue in NYC. Momofuku Noodle Bar was my initiation into the world of ramen and pork buns. Of course, many of us know the cup o’ ramen that is synonymous with college dorm life, but that has nothing on the product that David and his crew are creating.
This week, I’m talking pizza, but not just any run-of-the-mill NYC slice joint. I want to tell you about one of my favorite pizzerias in all of NYC. That place is Don Antonio by Starita located at 309 West 50th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues in the neighborhood that is affectionately known as Hell’s Kitchen.
There is nothing like making homemade cheese, especially ricotta. You can obviously find very good domestic ricotta in Italian specialty shops (i.e. Antonio Mozzarella Factory or Calabro Cheese). But there is nothing like making it and enjoying it hot and fresh in the comfort of your own home. So that is why I want to share with you my recipe for homemade ricotta. I’ll be honest it is time consuming, but the finished product is well worth the time and effort.
This week we’ll be trading in a Katz’s Rueben for a bowl of one of the best pasta dishes in NYC, maybe even the country. I’m talking about Chef Scott Conant’s Spaghetti with Tomato and Basil at Scarpetta. To me, this dish is heaven in a bowl. I can’t say enough about it. We’ll get more to the spaghetti in a bit.
Scarpetta is located on the outskirts of the posh and popular Meatpacking District in a Greek revival townhouse on West 14th Street near 9th Avenue. Scarpetta is mere footsteps from the foodie hotspot Chelsea Market (home of the Food Network). Upon entering Scarpetta, you know you are in for a culinary treat. The vibe of the place is professional, yet relaxed. You can definitely loosen your tie while sipping a glass of wine at the bar. The back dining room is pretty large by New York standards. It has a tall ceiling with a skylight and exposed wood beams. It has a refined rusticness to it. The service staff at Scarpetta is skilled and very, very attentive. If you drink water, your glass will never be empty.
I am so excited for the 1st Annual New York City Hot Sauce Expo coming to Brooklyn’s East River State Park the weekend of April 20-21. This will be my introduction to the fiery food world’s festival circuit. I am very much looking forward to participating in the weekend’s festivities. As many of you know, NYC is a hot bed for amazing restaurants, chefs, bars, dives, joints, mixologists, etc. We thought it would be fun and informative to showcase a few of these tastemakers in the weeks leading up to the NYC Hot Sauce Expo. Chileheads from across the country will be descending upon NYC ready to eat and we want you all to be well fed and satiated. So here we go with our first recommendation…Katz’s Delicatessen.