Restaurants & Bars

Manhattan

NYC Weekend Report Vol. One (Long)

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NYC Weekend Report Vol. One (Long)

BrianC | Jan 29, 2005 07:31 AM

I have taken so much from this board, and thought I should at least report on what I have accomplished during my visit this weekend with my two teenage boys. It is their first trip and I want to show them lots of stuff and lots of food.

Day One

Arrived at about 10:30 am. There was a long line for cabs and no cabs at LaGuardia, so we took the shuttle bus to GCS. That gave me the chance to make oysters at the Oyster Bar at GCS my first meal. I had a dozen, three of four different kinds. I never remember the names of the oysters, but the Chicoteague (sp?) from Virginia stood out this time. Briny and crisp, delicious!!

It was too cold to walk with our luggage so we took a cab to the hotel and then hit the Burger Joint at Le Meridien. It was very crowded, so we stood hovering over some diners to get thier table and were successful before our burgers were ready. Great burger!! The meat is very tasty. Fries were just ok, and it was too busy to get a milk shake. But it was a great place, fun to have such a dive looking place in a fancy hotel. And you would not know it was there if you didn’t already know!

After walking around a bit we took the Q train to Brooklyn. I have heard so much about DiFara’s pizza, but never have made it out of to that faraway destination on numerous previous visits to NYC. I have tried all the other usual suspects for “great” pizza - Lombardi’s in the Village, Joe’s, John’s - but none of those ever made me swoon. I decided I had to get to DiFara’s, because Dom can’t go on forever and I would never forgive myself if I didn’t try his pie at least one time. So, the first afternoon in Manhattan with my boys, we get on a subway for a half hour trip out of Manhattan into Brooklyn. It was definitely worth the trip!! This man is an artist - he is making beautiful pizza!! We arrived at about 3:30 on a cold Friday, not many customers were there. Dom was working with his daughter. Watching him make pizza was the highlight of this trip! Hand slices mozzarella and grates Regianno Parmesan and pulls apart bufala mozzarella balls to put on the pizza. His crust seems a bit moister than most pizza crust as he works with it, and the pie out of the oven is molten and bubbly and very moist looking on top. His oven seems to be very hot - pizzas cook quickly and the bottoms and outside crust have a bit of wonderful char. He seems to have asbestos hands, he works with hot pans and hot cheese without flinching. I have read about how dirty the place is, but it was not too bad probably because he is not as busy in 10 degree weather. People were throwing away their paper plates, but the two garbage cans were overflowing. Dom and his daughter were very pleasant and seemed to enjoy their jobs. We ordered one slice sausage, one pepperoni and one square slice. While waiting I had a slice of plain cheese which was ready. What a great slice of pizza! The different cheeses and the crust give this pie a unique flavor. I did not concentrate enough to really taste the sauce - there is not a lot on the pie, and it does not stand out with such great cheese and crust. What a gem of a place - I hope Dom does go on forever!

After eating we got back on Q for the long trip back, intending to go straight to DeMarco’s for comparison, but it did not work out. Will hit that place this weekend.

Next food stop was Gene’s on 11th at Sixth Avenue for dinner. Turned out to be just what we were looking for. Everything we ate was very good. Calamari was tasty, not greasy, and the rings were not just chewy rubberbands. Lamb chops, veal marsala, and chicken piccata were all wonderful. Our waiter was Italian, with a patient, humble yet knowledgeable demeanor. Jacob thought the way he acted and did his job so well that he must have worked his way up from busboy. The noisiest part of the whole place was a table of five 12-something year old girls apparently eating “alone” for a birthday party while a parent was sitting around the corner at the bar eating. What a nice treat to have a quiet, great Italian meal in NYC without the attitude of waiters and noise and trendiness and “there to be seen-ness” of so many other Italian places these days.

The boys were worn out so after dropping them off at the hotel, I went to Subway Inn for a drink. Again, nice to see that there are still some bars in NYC where you can drink without all the noise and bustle. Not a cool bar like, say, Matchbox in Chicago, but a great place to hang out. Definitely a shot-and-beer place. Great juke box and the bartender knew how to do his job.

Looking back on Day One, every place we went was off the radar of the new and trendy. No foams, no Prada, no pretension. And I loved it! Will report further, and thanks for all the recos from you chowhounds!

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