Where do we draw the line between calling something a pizza vs. a flatbread with toppings? This is the question I struggle with when I think about the pizzas at Violet, the new restaurant in the East Village run by Matt Hyland of Pizza Loves Emily fame. The specialty here is the Rhode Island style grilled pizza, but something about it feels so far removed from a traditional pie that the meal ends up being very unsatisfying. It’s the same type of feeling you get when you melt some cheese over a piece of bread in the microwave out of desperation to make a “pizza”, but despite the effort, the end result is anything but. The cheese is so subtle and scant that you can hardly taste it, and the crust lacks that bubbly, doughy chewiness that’s a trait in even the thinnest of New York crusts. You would do better with a box of Celeste frozen pizza than a slice of grilled pizza at Violet.
Going down a rabbit hole can be a real headache, but when it leads you to Rabbit House, a small and cozy Japanese speakeasy in LES, you won’t mind getting caught up in a meal of creative Japanese tapas.
The inspiration for the name Kāwi, the new Korean-inspired, David Chang-run restaurant in the Hudson Yards complex, is at its most obvious when you order the spicy roasted rice cakes. The dish is based on the popular Korean street snack ddukbokki, which in its traditional form is a glorious mess of carbs and gochujang sauce, but at Kāwi, all those rough edges are completely edited out so that what’s only left is perfection, a single rice cake tightly coiled and covered in a smooth shellac of a spicy, caramelized sauce. It’s a dish too elegant for mere chopsticks, so instead, a server uses golden shears to cut and serve the pieces out to you, a culinary ribbon-cutting ceremony of sorts.
We live in an age where high end burgers are now the new normal, and nobody bats an eye at spending more than $15 for one. We’ve been sold by the clever marketing that justifies the price tag because the meat patty is extra special due to its high-grade, dry-aged, grass-fed nature and because it comes with foie gras or truffles on top. The market for premium patties in New York is pretty frothy, which explains why Au Cheval, a restaurant in Chicago long touted as being home to the best burger in America, is now bringing its $17.95 cheeseburger out East, in a somewhat seedy alley in Cortlandt Alley in Tribeca that is dark and smells like piss. It looks like they were going for that secret speakeasy vibe, normally frequented by the members of the city’s underbelly, but its burger is so good that regular people should be willing to risk their lives to try it.
When you are denied something delicious for nine months, it only makes sense that this deprivation will make you obsess about the forbidden food for days on end. My obsession in this case was sushi. It didn’t matter if it was a cheap supermarket tuna roll or a high end omakase, I always wanted it, and it pained me to have to turn it away. So of course, once my pregnancy was over, my goal was to reserve an excellent sushi meal asap. I wanted something extravagant at a relatively reasonable price, which is why I chose the lunch omakase at Sushi Ginza Onodera, a 2 Michelin star restaurant in Bryant Park. While the evening omakase will set you back $400, the lunch omakase is a relative bargain at just $150 a person.