1. GRIMALDI’S, UNDER THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE
Before heading to NYC, I looked up some places that were “musts” for a New York visitor. Grimaldi’s was listed as “the best pizza in NY” and I figured, if we ended up in Brooklyn and it wasn’t too far off, we could give it a try. I’m usually quite skeptical of places that have such titles on travel sites. After all, how many places have lines around the block and a lot of hype but end up to be flavorless disappointments? An hour into our NYC weekend, we’re roaming around Brooklyn with our luggage on our backs. Google maps led us to an old white building right under the Brooklyn Bridge, across from a red-bricked Eagle Warehouse & Storage Co. Although the line looks intimidating, it moves pretty quick. We waited for about 20 minutes and YES, it’s worth it. Each pizza is made on the spot and tossed into the coal-brick oven. You can choose all your toppings, with or without tomato sauce (white). A favorite is pepperoni mushroom with sauce. It’s Italian style (not Chicago deep-dish) and the dough is just right: it’s not too thin, soggy, or hard cardboard and there’s just enough oil to feel like you’re having pizza without needing to go TSA on it with a napkin. The portion sizes are also quite fair. Be warned: cash only, no delivery, no reservations, and they don’t serve by the slice. Whole pizzas only. If you don’t finish it, DOGGY BAG IT.
2. MAX BRENNER CHOCOLATE BAR, UNION SQUARE
We got to this place around 11:00pm with no reservations. Big mistake. You’d think that people would be done feasting by then but we had to wait a good 45 minutes before being seated upstairs. It wasn’t so bad though because that gave us time to inspect all the chocolate boxes at the entrance. The entire place smells like you’re sitting in Willy Wonka’s factory. Although it’s a chocolate bar, we hadn’t eaten since Grimaldi’s so it was time for the pizza’s evil cousin: a fat burger. Medium well meat with a ginormous onion ring & criss-cut fries on the side. One friend got banana chocolate waffles while the other got a Philly cheese steak sandwich…in waffles. Recommended chocolate to take home: milk chocolate covered pralines dusted in cocoa powder available in a cardboard giftbox or collectible tin. There’s also mini boxes by the register next to the chocolate-scented pencils. Yes, I’m serious.
3. MAS (LA GRILLADE), GREENWICH VILLAGE
The last NYC meal was at this little French spot in Greenwich. We got there for a $28 set-menu late Sunday brunch so we had the place to ourselves before the kitchen closed. The menu changes depending on chef Galen Zamarra and available ingredients – which are locally grown. Our server was a super-friendly perky lady who was ready to explain each entree. Although she described everything as “delectable,” I don’t think she was exaggerating because regardless of the entree chosen, we were all making happy noises throughout the entire meal. Excellent fresh-squeezed OJ helped with the washing down of a whole platter of pastries (vanilla scones, blueberry muffins, croissants, and mini baguettes) with strawberry jam and sea-salt butter. We were not prepared for the hoovering of the “Grilled Short Rib Burger with Herb Mayonnaise on House-Made Kaiser Roll” but we pulled through. My oh my, that little mushroom shaped bun of meat. I was full until the next morning.