All in all, a nice trip. Stayed at the swanky Rivington in LES and were able to cross off several places on our list, though we unfortunately missed several (like Prune, Ouest, Five Points and Spotted Pig). And we failed to visit one single cart. Not one sampling of NY's finest street food. For shame. Ah well. It's all good and we are happily satisfied.
That said, here's the rough breakdown of the dishes we ordered. I'm speaking more for what I had, but throwing in some random comments from my lovely new wife.
Babbo (Dinner Saturday):
Cockles in Red Sauce (Very Good)
Lamb Proscuitto and Salumi (Amazing)
Homemade Orechiette (Good)
Mint Love Letters (Awesome)
Guinea Hen (Spectacular)
Lamb Chops (OK)
Sorbet (Multi-flavors; apple, ginger, pistachio, blood orange, melon, lemon)
Marscapone Sorbet /w Blueberry Pastry (Decent)
Well-appointed decor framed a near-perfect experience. Both starters set the tone right. Cockles in a tangy sauce hit the spot, while lamb proscuitto and sopressata had just the right punch to awaken the senses. Best that I can remember eating.
For some reason, they brought out my wife's Primi course, but not mine, so we shared. Her Orechiette was good, but when my Mint Love Letters came out, they were gently chewy in a rich, creamy sauce and immediately stole the show. Just so, so very good.
Tried M's Lamb Chops, which had some nice basic smokiness, but were otherwise fairly pedestrian. On the flip, my Guinea Hen was a superstar with it's just-right crispy skin and flavorful meat. The bed of corn fregula was the perfect match and I couldn't get enough of it. The Mrs. pined for more of my Hen, which I reluctantly parted with.
My gelati and sorbetti sextet were fun and a nice way to cool off after a several steamy dishes. Nice little accents on all flavors, which included apple and pistachio. This would only be topped by a later, midday trip on Sunday to Il Laboratorio Gelato.
Deborah (Brunch Sunday):
Duck Confit Hash w/Fried Egg (Fair)
Sweet Potato Fritata (Good)
Decent little spot, but overall not impressed. Bacon was dry and bland. Duck confit hash, which I read raves about, was inspired, but ultimately poorly executed. It lacked any real punch and the flavors didn't agree with me.
Adrienne's Pizza Bar (Lunch Sunday):
Stuffed Artichoke (Lousy)
Potato, Scallion and Proscuitto Pizza (Missed the mark)
Ricotta Shells (Average)
A place I wished we had skipped. Apart from a promising start with some nice olives, things soon went downhill with a mushy and uninspired stuffed artichoke. An unfortunate, heaping mess of an idea. The pizza that followed was another misfire. Just simply not a good pie, although the crust had some promise. M's ricotta shells were a couple notches above the frozen, store-bought variety, but not by much. I couldn't wait to get out of there.
Una Pizza Napoletana (Dinner Sunday):
Margherita PIzza (Amazing!!!! Best Ever)
SImply the best pizza in town. The olive oil makes it. I didn't realize pizza could have such delicate flavors. And this on the heels of the earlier mishap at Adrienne's. We had to right ourselves pizza-wise, you know.
The menu is simple and it works. Focus all of the energy on one thing and do it right is the credo here. The dough was soft and crisp, with a dash of sea salt. The sauce was magnifico, topped by righteous rounds of imported buffalo mozzarella. Some apparently think this place is pretentious, but if you take the time to read the rationale behind it all, you can see they take great care in "getting it right."
Clinton Street (Breakfast Monday):
Blueberry Pancakes (Brilliant)
Hash Browns (Nice)
Southern Breakfast of Eggs, Cheese Grits, Bacon, Fried Green Tomatoes (Good)
Second time here and it was almost as good as the first (earlier trip), but only because I didn't order the pancakes. The best items we've had so far are the blueberry pancakes and the bacon, both of which are the best either of us have ever had. We like both kinds of bacon, regular and sugar-cured. The sugar-cured almost tasted like candy. And the pancakes, well, true nirvana. Hot and fluffy with a batter straight from the gods, dotted with fresh blueberries, they downright rule.
Katz's Deli (Lunch Monday):
Pastrami Reuben (Good)
I know, I know. Why go here? Because M hadn't been and I had fond memories from a previous visit. This time wasn't as fond, though still quite good. The Reuben is not as good as the regular pastrami, which I previously had, but still good. Pickles held up and the atmosphere is always worth the price of admission. The hot dogs and fries looked pretty popular, so I will have to try them next time.
Le Bernadin (Dinner Monday):
Kumamoto Oysters (Wow!)
Surf and Turf (White Tuna and Kobe Beef) (Stunning!)
Bacalao (Very good)
Black Bass (Very good)
Great restaurant (Top 10 of all time) with spectacular service and sublime food. Oysters were in my top of all time, just below San Francisco's Hog Island's. Hamachi was perfectly cooked with a warm, subtle hint of saffron oil. Distinct and slightly fruity tuna was accompanied by crisp, pan-friend Kobe, drenched in butter. SInful, but worth it.
Clinton Street Baking Company (Breakfast Tuesday):
Clinton Street Omelette (Very good)
Yes, I know. Repeats are a sin, but we had to. It was only three blocks from the hotel and we love the place. This time I had to have the pancakes and they were spot on. M had the omelette, which she loved. The only downer was our beloved bacon. We ordered the regular and it was overcooked and lacked the flavor of the sugar-cured variety we had the day before. I've had better bacon at home, so we were a little disappointed, but otherwise satisfied. Oh, and the coffee is always good, nice and strong.
Resto (Lunch Tuesday):
2 Burgers (Tops!)
On a tip from NY Magazine, we opted for the 5 spatula burger. The place was a little trouble to find as the door blends in so well with the front of the restaurant, we thought it was closed, since the door adjacent was locked. They could benefit from an "open" or "welcome" sign. Tastefully appointed, of course. Ourselves and another gentlemen showed up at the same time and did the same thing. Good thing we didn't walk off as we were about to do because the meal was a must. After a semi-long wait (my guess is the burger takes awhile to cook), we were treated to one of the best burgers either of us have ever had. The meat itself is juicy, flavorful and rich. I opted to add a little mustard, which I somewhat regretted. It did luckily compliment the flavors. My wife added ketchup, which looked homemade, to which I decried that it was a cardinal sin to use since it masks the flavor more than the mustard. Nonetheless, the sprinkling of onions and melted gruyere (or ???) added a wonderfully, warm and gooey texture to the mass of goodness.