Isabella's Oven is a pizza joint that opened up last year in the lower east side, on Grand near Essex St. It's a small and simple place, unremarkable except for the small chandelier hung on the ceiling, a reminder that this place strives for something different. Unfortunately, it does not really succeed. I ordered a pizza that was half "margherita" and half "primavera." The primavera side just had a brunch of fresh olives and cherry tomatoes just strewn on the pizza like a salad. They did not integrate well, and the pizza taste and texture ended up getting overwhelmed. On the margherita side, the pizza was better, but not by too much. The sauce was very bland and the cheese just ok. The crust was the best part, being slightly chewy and toothsome, but it did not redeem the whole. Overall, the pizza was below-average.
Boi to Go:
Boi to Go is a vietnamese sandwich shop in Midtown on Lexington between 42nd and 43rd. You can either order a sandwich or a wrap, with a variety of bases (pork, beef, vegetable) and sauces (mint curry, etc.), or one of the banh mi sandwiches. It took me several minutes with the guy behind the counter and with the proprietress of the restaurant before they understood my request for a vegetarian version of a banh mi, and they finally concluded that what I should get was a vegetarian sandwich with the banh mi sauces.
It worked, though, and the sandwich ended up tasting quite good. Cilantro, tomatoes, avocado, pickled vegetables, soy and chili sauces, sweet and savory and spicy and crunchy.
This is not a sandwich that ascends to the same heights that Saigon Banh Mi Bakery sandwiches in Chinatown do, but it's still pretty good. It's not quite as cheap as SBMB either -- actully, about twice the price at $8 instead of $4.50. But all in all, still a very tasty midtown lunch.
The Vegetarian New Yorker: http://vegny.blogspot.com/