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


  • Fatty Crab–fatty tea sandwiches with PBR, silently (or not so silently after 9 or 12 beers) judging the bridge and tunnel crowds on a Friday.

  • Wurstteller mit Drum und Dran at the Schintzel Haus alongside a cold mug of weiss beer.

  • The watermelon and duck salad at Fatty Crab is one of the strangest yet oh so good combination one can bite into.

  • My favorite dish from Fatty Crab is chicken claypot – Yum!

  • It sounds simple, but the grilled corn with chili mayo and coconut flakes at Kampuchea is absolutely mouth-watering!

  • Probably one of the simplest dishes on the planet, but what Tiffin Wallah does best: the masala dosa. It’s huge, crispy, comes with great coconut chutney and spicy sambar, and the potato filling inside is to die for. I would eat that stuff all by itself.

  • I like the special kitfo at Queen of Sheba. I would love the tickets even more! I moved jobs so not even in midtown anymore. Not that unhappy about that though. Wow Robert Sietsema looks like a character. Definitely not who I was expecting

  • My favorite at Vanessa’s Dumpling House surely are the “bai cai shui jiao” which translates as cabbage boiled dumplings.

    They are the ultimate Chinese comfort food! In northern China (where I lived for 2-1/2 yrs) these are made on Spring Festival night (known here as Chinese New Year) and then boiled up at midnight with the whole family joining in. Lots of beer and baijiu and fireworks outside.

    Dumpling House’ version is great. Load up with vinegar and some hot sauce and you’ve got a meal for $2…

  • ‘Fatty Crab’…………sounds like the 1st Mrs McBagel

  • Why, the soup dumplings at Vanessa’s Dumpling House…

  • Well, I can’t give you a midtown fave meatball sub, as I am not a meatball guy. I will say that the veal parm sub at Lazzarra’s as mentioned above is truly excellent. I can’t tell you my fave dish at any of those restaurants as I shamefully have never eaten at one. But in a shameless bid to win tickets to the Choice Eat’s event, I will say after reading Robert’s reviews as linked above not only is he a fine writer but I want to try everything he suggested. I also will mention that mutton is under appreciated in the meat eating world, IMHO, and I like Mr. Sietsema’s love of the lamb shining through in every review. It made me think about Gene Wilder in that Woody Allen movie…

  • Order the bhel puri and a salty lassi at Tiffin Wallah for a cheap and very satisfying treat when you’re in Curry Hill!

  • I go nuts over hummus from the Hummus Place. Also their whole-wheat pita is superb.

  • My vote is for the pulled pork loaded hotdog at Smoke Joint.

    Hot meat on meat action. Genius.

    Pair it up with a couple of beers, some mac and cheese and some greens and oh…a ide of beef ribs and… well how about a consultation with a cardiologist.

  • Ox tail @ margon. It’s plate licking good.

  • I have to second (or third) the Hummus Place noms–their hummus is ridiculously creamy and delicious. Their whole-wheat pita, on the other hand, tastes like cardboard. You’d be a sucker to go for that faux-healthiness over the fluffy goodness of their homemade regular pitas

  • My fav meatball sub=6th Ave. Deli on East side of 6th between 38th and 38th St. Cheap too!

  • I LOVE the Sesame Pancake Sandwich with Roast Pork from Vanessa’s Dumpling House. Best when the sesame pancakes are freshly baked, but at $2.99 a pop and bursting with fresh cilantro and well flavored pork, it’s an authentic tasty treat.

    Just wish it was in midtown!

  • Easy! The Kampuchea at Kampuchea!

  • Steak sandwich at Sunburnt Cow would be my selection. I plan to sample the lunch buffet at Tiffin Wallah soon, however.

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