PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Robert Sietsema”

I’m pretty excited for this week’s Profiled Midtown Lunch’er. A personal hero of mine, Robert Sietsema is not just a food writer for the Village Voice, his “Counter Culture” column is a champion of the type of eats we struggle to find every day here in Midtown for lunch. He’s also the curator of the Village Voice’s Choice Eats, a huge restaurant tasting event happening a week from tonight (March 11th) at the Puck Building featuring food from 35 places from all over New York City, hand picked by Robert himself (including our very own Margon). Advance tickets are all sold out, but they will be selling a limited number of $35 tickets at the door starting at 5:30pm on Tuesday (March 11th). Plus, I have a pair a tickets to give away to one lucky Midtown Lunch’er, after Robert gives his picks for lunching in Midtown…

Name: Robert Sietsema

Food Snob

Where do you Work?:
The Village Voice

Favorite Kind of Food:
West African (especially lamb mafe! which has a peanut sauce), Mexican (regional cooking from Oaxaca and Guerrero), Italian (Umbrian, Tuscan, and Calabrian), and Italian-American (yay, meat ball hero!)

Least Favorite Kind of Food:
Venezuelan, way too bland and boring, too much mayo!

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown: Margon(46th btw. 6+7th) for their pernil and chicken fricassee. Katsuhama (47th btw. Mad+5th) for their splendid pork cutlets incorporated into katsudon. And Sapporo(49th btw. 6+7th), especially for their cold noodle dish in the hot summer months.

The “go-to” lunch place you and your co-workers eat at too often: Ressie Mae’s on 8th Ave. btw. 39+40th. (May she rest in peace -zach)

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? Port of Spain, Trinidad — rotis & doubles!

Is there anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers? Where is the best meat ball parmesan hero in midtown?

My favorite Meatball Sub, plus how you can win tix to Choice Eats, after the jump…

Meatball sub is a tough one, but I think I have to go with Lazzara’s on 38th btw. 7+8th. Although the one from Bella Napoli on 49th btw. 6+7th may be a close 2nd. It’s been awhile, but I remember needing a serious nap after eating it- and after all, isn’t that the true mark of meatball sub greatness?

To be entered to win a pair of tickets to the Village Voice’s Choice Eats Tasting Event happening on March 11th at the Puck Building, post your favorite dish from one of the restaurants participating in the festival (full list here), or your favorite Meatball Sub in Midtown. If you don’t win, there will be a limited number of $35 tickets at the door for sale the night of the event.

And as always, if you want to be the next Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er, or you’d like to nominate somebody in your office, email me at


  • Lambi Creole (spicy conch) from Krik Krak. There just ain’t too many places in NYC to get good conch, though I still miss getting it fresh off the boat in the Keys.

  • Id be interested to know what venezuelan food youve eaten!
    I may be a bit biased (being venezuelan and all), but have a drastically different opinion of our food! No disrespect intended, just inclined to put people on to some really delicious venezuelan food.

  • ZOMG! philoxenia is open again?? their meatballs are the BEST! mmm, mmmmeat.

  • Oh Petit Abeille! If there is a better way to spend an afternoon than with a bucket of Moules Grand-Mere, a basket of fries and a tall Belgian beer, I don’t know what it is.

  • oxtail or the cuban sandwich from Margon.

    And what a fantastic profile today! awesome.

  • I seriously have to try Lazarra’s. I actually think Mondello’s on 38th and 5th, is overrated for its chicken parm sub (the chicken breast tastes funny and mostly like black pepper). But its actually quite good for the meatball sub (get extra sauce and cheese). Though I wish they’d add some peppers and onions to it.

    Though that being said, It’d be hard to say its the best. There’s a paucity of good Italian Pizza/sub/deli places in Midtown relative to the rest of the city.

  • The Oxtail sandwich at Kampuchea may change your life.

  • Pernil from Margon.

    Hey, if you give me the tickets I’ll have my mom make ya some oaxacan mole verde when she visits next! ;-)

  • Fantastic profile?……Danny,you crawl any higher you’ll be pulling on his tonsils…

  • Hands-down, the spicy fries from The Smoke Joint, in Fort Greene – especially, coupled with their fab home-made barbeque sauce. A meal in- and of-itself.

  • My favorite meatball sub in midtown is courtesy of La Bellezza on 49th btw 3rd and Lex.

  • Fava bean hummus at Hummus. Cheap enough to qualify as a midtown lunch even after paying for the ride on the 6 train.

  • Best meatball parm – Park Italian Gourmet 60 W 45th St (btwn 5th and 6th).

  • Best meatball sub in Midtown? Hmm… I like the meatball sub from Jiannetto’s Pizza, a.k.a. the Pizza Truck. Okay, it’s not technically a “sub”, it’s a roll. The sauce and meatballs taste amazing. Plus for only $5 and just outside my office, can you go wrong?

  • Gasp! The Australian Burger from The Sunburnt Cow. Purely disgusting. Purely delicious!

  • Flying fish and breadfruit cou-cou (when you can get it) from Culpepper’s. Haven’t been since the fire.

    Can’t pass up the lunch buffet at Tiffin Wallah, though.

  • YES!!! Yeti of Hieizan, at last some Sunnyside recognition. Big fan of the Yeti, although I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t encountered questionable sushi there lately. Is it just that time of year? Is quantity surpassing quality? Has Queens Blvd claimed another hapless victim?

    On a good Yeti note, snaps for the Momo and smorgasbord Thulo Khasi Masu Thali beef entree. Variety is the spice, baby.

    And as far as meatball parms go, I still fondly recall Mondello’s (37th just east of 5th ave) meatball parm with extra sauce and gooey mozzarella.


  • steamed edamame with thai basil-lime oil from kuma inn.

  • Nearest i can get to it is Faggots with cheddar Mash with red onion gravy @ the Cromwell Arms,Just off new Bond street near James Purdy & Sons Esq.

  • You have not lived until you’ve consumed a half-pound of gloriously smoky and fatty pork belly at Fette Sau, followed (or preceded) by one of every ale on draft at Spuyten Duyvil across the street. Robert, thanks for that review and every other one you have done over the years. When it comes to NY food writing you are “my main man” as well.

Leave a Reply

You must log in or register to post a comment.