Archive for 'Italian'

Radicchio Brings $10 Pasta Specials to Midtown East


Thanks to Lunch’er Anne for tipping us off to Radicchio Pasta & Risotto Co., a new Italian place on 53rd Street between 2nd & 3rd that was mentioned in the sidebar of yesterday’s edition of Tasting Table.  “Midtown gets an infusion of $10 and under homemade pasta at this new 18-seat spot” sounds promising enough, so I swung by yesterday to get a look inside and to take a look at the menu. Check it out after the jump.

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What Exactly is a Halal “Italian” Sausage

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Ever since I was a kid
, the street festival Italian sausage has been a summer tradition for me. Yes, it’s overpriced, yes the fests all end up being sock-sellers and dorm room poster, but there’s something about a hot Italian sausage with hot and sweet peppers on a crusty bun that takes me back to my New York childhood.

Somehow this summer, I didn’t manage to have one at all and as the last week or so has proven, summer is definitely over. Then I noticed that halal carts all over town have started selling Italian sausages. (Well, maybe they were there all along… but it’s only recently that I noticed the signs!)  I was intrigued. Halal and pork don’t typically mix, but I wouldn’t tell if they wouldn’t.

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The Boss Inspired Great Calzone Taste Off of 2010

My first thought when George Steinbrenner died two weeks ago wasn’t of Yankee Stadium or championship trophies, it was of Larry David’s voice. I guess I’m a bigger Seinfeld fan than Yankees fan. One of my favorite Steinbrenner episodes of Seinfeld is when he becomes obsessed with George’s lunchtime calzone stuffed with cheese, pepperoni and eggplant, and starts making George bring him one everyday. The spell that calzone casts on Steinbrenner always makes me crave one. So, to honor The Boss, I headed out to some of Midtown’s most notable pizzerias in search of Midtown’s best calzone. See what I found after the jump.

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Hello Pasta vs. Nooi: A Midtown Pasta Chain Showdown

Nooi, a French pasta chain opens in MidtownHello Pasta front door

In Midtown, we’re used to the sight of fast food joints, generic “design your own salad” bars, and gimmicky interpretations of pizza. But when Hello Pasta (Lex btw. 54+55th) and Nooi (Lex btw. 40+41st), two expansion-hungry fast food pasta chains, opened within walking distance and a week of each other, it caught our attention. As skeptical as we are about fast food pasta, a Midtown Lunch Ultimate Taste Test Pasta Showdown to the death clearly was in order. Who’s pasta is worth its salt? Which sauce to get and which ones should they pour down the drain? Or do we declare a double TKO, and send both of these chains back to where they came from. The answer is after the jump…

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Your First Look at the Food Trend Collision That is Donatella’s Meatball Wagon

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In what may ultimately prove to be one of the tastiest shark-jumping moments in the high-end street food trend, fancy Italian restaurant Mia Dona (on 58th St btw. 2+3rd) has entered the fray. As reported last week, “Donatella’s Meatball Wagon” opened for business on Friday, and will be serving lunch Monday through Friday from a shiny red cart in front of the restaurant from Noon to 2pm.

Fad or not, meatballs are God’s food and I had to have it, even if it meant delving into the snootiest corner of midtown to get them. Details and photos after the jump.

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In Defense of Manganaro’s Grosseria

Photo courtesy of Roboppy

Manganaro’s (along with its unaffiliated next door neighbor Manganaro’s Hero Boy) has been mentioned a few times on the site as a great place (on 9th Ave. btw 37+38th) to get an Italian sandwich. And even though it’s never been officially reviewed (it’s out of bounds, and a lot of things will cost you more than $10), I’ve always considered it an honorary Midtown Lunch. Which is why this post caught my eye on Fork New York, a long dormant blog run by Profiled Lunch’er “Andre Mika”. He resurrected his blog this week specifically to rant about the “bitches” who run the 100+ year old Manganaro’s Grosseria. The story is worth reading in its entirety, but is essentially summed up at the end with this:

“So I guess the moral of the story is, unless you love being abused and crapped on by people who you are trying to give your money to, stay away from Manganaro Grosseria Italiano.”

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My Name is Zach, and I Am An Addict


I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it. I have a problem. The funny thing is others stopped by the newly opened Panda International (on 46th btw. 5+6th), took one look at the food, and walked out. From Lunch’er “Gustad”

“Went with some coworkers, and just as we were walking in, 3 guys walked out laughing. so i asked what was wrong, and they said it looked too sketchy. we continued walking in to come to the same conclusion. in their warm trays, i saw meatballs and other italian dishes. what the hell!!?? their menu had chinese dishes for 10-11 bucks (the stuff that is usually 6-8 at a real chinese joint). and heros, smoothies, etc… very odd. i saw a mexican in the kitchen and two white people up front. i can eat at the junkiest of chinese places, and i’m not saying this place looks junkie, but it was very far from appetizing. we left without food.”

I stayed and ate.

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You Can Get Meat Sauce on Mondello’s Chicken Parm!?!

Photo courtesy of Ultraclay dot com

Back in September my quest to find the best chicken parm in Midtown took me to Mondello (on 37th btw. Mad+5th).  It was “satisfying, but nothing to write home about.”  And yet, it appears as if I missed something crucial that would increase the awesomeness of their chicken parm tenfold.

From the blog Ultraclay:

Where other places may dump pizza sauce on top, they offer a choice of regular and a meat sauce. Both have a salty, sweet flavor, but the meat sauce has a richness that adds another dimension to the sandwich.

Shut up! Meat sauce on a chicken parm!?! That… is… awesome. I don’t remember them giving me a choice, because if they had I would have obviously gone with the meat sauce.  Clearly it’s time to revisit this one.

Mondello Pizzeria & Restaurant, 3 East 37th (btw. Mad+5th), 212-684-2411

Lazzara’s Foot Long Fried Calamari Hero is Pretty Darn Good

Part of the reason I’m just fat, as opposed to morbidly obese, is that I cook dinner at home on most nights. And most of my cooking knowledge has come from my wife (she trained me early and well), Jamie Oliver, and Mario Batali. Years ago, when I was unemployed, I used to watch Molto Mario all the time… and I pretty much learned most of what I know about cooking Italian food from that show:

Use the cloudy pasta water to loosen up your pasta dishes (which should be more about the noodle, and only lightly coated with the sauce), everything gets finished with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and finally- you don’t put cheese on seafood. That last one always seemed weird since cheese goes good on everything, but I trusted Mario, and would always forgo parmesan on my fettuccine with shrimp (my wife never held back, and openly laughed in my face). This went on until went went to Chile and had the most amazing scallops covered in melted parmesan. They were delicious, and I finally decided… if it’s good enough for the Chileans, it’s good enough for me!

With that in mind, I visited Lazzara’s yesterday to try their entry in the Midtown Lunch Sandwich challenge.  A fried calamari and fresh mozzarella sandwich (Mario be damned!)

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Nino’s Is a Hidden Chicken Parm Gem (Only To Me)


After almost 3 years of doing Midtown Lunch, I feel like I’ve walked down every single block of Midtown (multiple times.)  And while the site would be nothing without your recommendations, and tips about new places, I thought there weren’t very many older places I didn’t know about. So imagine my surprise last week, when (based on a recommendation in the comments) I walked into Nino’s to discover a pretty cool, old school Italian place that I somehow managed to avoid in over 1000 days of Midtown Lunch’ing.  So embarrassing.  Even my wife was like “oh… you went to Nino’s?  I’ve been to that place a million times.” How did I miss this? Aside from the obvious… it’s not Asian food. 

I can’t even blame it on the location somehow being a random hidden block… it’s on 46th btw. 5+6th (!!!) the same block as Cafe Cello, Kim’s Aunt Kitchen Cart, Moshe’s Falafel, Kosher Deluxe, Ranch 1, and (at one time) Rangole & House of Pita. I’ve walked down this street one or two times…  

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