Tag Archives: New York City

I8tonite: A New York Pizza Experience

Pepperoni Pizza

On a recent work trip to the Big Apple, I found myself working voraciously from one area of the boroughs to another, with only an opportunity to grab a quick slice of pizza for lunch, before hailing an Uber (Who takes cabs?) or jumping on the subway, repeating this action until dinner. I did this for five days. By the end of the trip, exhausted and not feeling well plus I felt bloated from the amounts of consumed dairy and wheat. (Yes. I  realized that milk products including trace amounts of butter and I are no longer friends.)

With this said, the trip provided me a rewarding experience that only Lactaid can cure the next time I venture forth with so much mozzarella. And, although, the New York slice, the version that you dab with a napkin to relieve of extra grease, rolling-up like a New York Times straphanger, is becoming extinct like said transit-rider, it still is served deliciously — and for me, gratefully.

On Quora – the internet answer for everything — someone tried to figure out the number of shops, reckoning it’s anywhere from 3200 to 32500.  Suffice it to say it’s a broad number. They even try and figure out how many per day a pizzaiolo must toss, bake and sell (about 50) to stay in business.

Whatever the case and take this with a grain of well-tossed salt hidden in the folds of rising dough, here are my selections for a few grand pizzas – in today’s Manhattan.

Prince Street Pizza

Formerly known as Ray’s when I lived was a poor New York student in the eighties, I would stumble by for a pepperoni slice after nightclubbing, something to soak up the alcohol. Purchased a decade ago, the existing owners kept the place alive and very much a Soho tradition. Instead of the fold-and-go variety of pies, they execute a Sicilian square loaded with small circles of spicy pepperoni. When baked onto one of the gooey delicacies, they become mini-cups of flavor, holding liquid fat, ready to drip down your chin or shirt. There are only a line and a counter so may do like a New Yorker and eat while walking.

27 Prince Street (between Elizabeth and Mott Streets)

(212) 966 – 4100



Days of cheese and pepperoni

 I came by the Romanesque pizza shop after Uber hightailing from a meeting in Brooklyn to Lexington and 78th only to be thirty minutes early. Rarely do opportunities arise with time on your side, so I sought out a quick place to eat and came across Farinella Pizza and Bakery.  Here the pies are elongated rather than round and the dough stretched rather than tossed. Regardless, it’s really delicious with a crispy under-carriage while it grips onto the selected toppings. The margherita is divine Italian simplicity at it’s best.

1132 Lexington Avenue (between 78th and 79th Streets)

New York, New York, 10075

(212) 327 – 2702


Pepperoni Pizza

Who knew that pizza – an import foodstuff brought over by Italian immigrants – could be so delicious in the hands of a Turk? Hakki Akdeniz worked for many years making $300 per week to learn the tasks of pizzaiolo trade. The outcome is a true slice of New York pizza. Folded in half, paper plate underneath – and a walk to the subway – or hanging out at one of the few tables. Eating the chewy dough and cheese with just that right amount of giving made me feel like all is right with the world – that Andy Warhol, Deelite and Nell’s where still around.

17 Cleveland Place, New York, New York

The end. Go eat.

(P.S. Apologies for the long space between posts. Life happens.)

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i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken Recipe

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken RecipePerhaps you’ve found your way through time and space to The Way Station, the celebrated Doctor Who Bar in Brooklyn. Or, perhaps you’ve been tinkering with cocktails for years to find that perfect match for your fandom celebrations. Or maybe you’re just looking for a great guide to creative, intriguing cocktails. You’re in the right place, with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy.

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken Recipe

Andy Heidel is the owner of The Way Station, a bar and music venue in Brooklyn, NY. As R. Andrew Heidel, he is the author of the short story collection “Desperate Moon” which features an introduction by Harlan Ellison and praise from Ray Bradbury. As a book publicist, he launched the Eos imprint and helped make Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, and Neal Stephenson bestselling authors while with Avon Books and HarperCollins. He turned to bar ownership when he was downsized, and hasn’t looked back since.

I love when people deeply include things they love into their lives. Such is the case with Heidel, in his work and book! The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy is a cookbook and mixing guide that is genius (here’s another interview I did with him). The recipes (over 100) for cocktails are clever – and hilarious. Whether your fandom is Game of Thrones or Doctor Who, Star Wars or Star Trek, Ghostbusters or Lord of the Rings, this universe of cocktail recipes will enliven your life – and parties. I suggest trying them while watching your favorite shows and movies, to add an extra dimension to your viewing.

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken Recipe

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
A nice dry aged, bone in porterhouse, purchased from www.fleishers.com down the street from me and cooked in my cast iron skillet.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Cheese, hot sauce, box wine, spoiled leftovers.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Someone who sees cooking as a creative act and a devotional prayer.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Someone who is lactose and gluten intolerant, has nut allergies, doesn’t like spice, insists on eating vegan, then orders a habanero chocolate chip nut milkshake with a side of bacon… and then gets sick.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
All, please.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Mollie Katzen. I still have my Moosewood Cookbook from 25 years ago. I think I last referred to it 15 years ago. I’m much happier making mashups of recipes and cooking on the fly.

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken RecipeYour favorite kitchen tool?
My cast iron skillet, which I call “Star Killer.” (Hint: it inspired the name of this dish.) Once a star begins to fuse its elements into iron, it explodes across the cosmos. The cast iron skillet I use came from the heart of a dying star and that’s kind of awesome. Neil deGrasse Tyson, I challenge you to a Star Killer Cookoff judged by Baron Ambrosia and commentated by Eugene Mirman. Maybe at the next Astronomy on Tap at The Way Station?

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Southern Americana, Italian and let’s play: “what’s in my cupboard?”

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Anything but tofu, please.

Favorite vegetable?
My baby’s got Baby Bok, Baby Bok, Baby Bok Choy.

Chef you most admire?
Anthony Bourdain. Man, I want to drink tequila and eat bbq with that dude.

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken Recipe

Food you like the most to eat?
Cheese. Especially stinky soft melty brine washed cheese from Crown Finish Caves in Prospect Heights.

Food you dislike the most?
Tofu and collard greens. Also, sand.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Write with my partner and drink. Sleep. Dream of electric sheep’s milk cheese.

Who do you most admire in food?
The farm to table movement—chefs caring about where the food they are serving is coming from.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
On the couch with my partner.

What is your favorite restaurant?
I’m not telling, then everyone would go there! Secret. Shhhhh.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food, fandoms, or cocktails?
No tattoos, but I bartended an event at a tattoo parlor once, if that counts.

Recipe: Star Killer Chicken

First, make yourself a drink. I made The Divinian (my 5th Element Cocktail) before documenting this, one of my go-to recipes, then turned to a nice sauvignon blanc out of a box because I was too busy cooking to make myself another cocktail.

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken Recipe


One large cast Iron Skillet, one large bowl, a wooden spoon, a cutting board, a sharp knife, moral fortitude, and the following ingredients:

1LB boneless Chicken Breast (two thick breasts).
3 scallions

1 head garlic

1 shallot

1 small yellow onion

8oz fingerling, purple or baby red potatoes

8oz wax beans or green beans

One bunch broccoli

2 sprigs rosemary

salt to taste
pepper to taste

Olive oil

A sense of humor

A warning about the photos: I took them with my iPhone. I was making not only dinner, but also enough leftovers so my partner has lunch to bring to work for the rest of the week.

1) Preheat oven to 425. Get an oven thermometer. I have to set my old gas oven to 560 in order to reach 425.

2) Place the cast iron skillet on stove on low and add enough olive oil to cover bottom of skillet.

3) Thinly slice shallot and coarsely chop garlic. Add to skillet. Add a little salt and pepper.

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken Recipe


4) As shallots and garlic caramelize, roughly chop broccoli, onions, potatoes, and put in bowl. Add beans and dress with olive oil, salt and pepper.

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken Recipe

5) When shallots and garlic are nice and brown, place in bowl with the veg and stir till everything is nicely coated in the oil, add more salt and pepper.

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken Recipe

6) Turn up the heat to high under skillet.

7) After a minute, add the chicken and salt and pepper on the top side.

8) After 3 minutes, turn the chicken over. It should be a nice golden brown.

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken Recipe

9) Add all the veg from the bowl. Place scallions over the top.

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken Recipe

10) After 3 minutes put the whole kit and caboodle into the oven.

11) After 20 minutes, give the veg a stir.

12) After another 20 minutes, check the temperature on your chicken with a thermometer. It should be about 145 degrees. Once it is, pull it out and put on a cutting board to rest and leave everything else in the skillet to cook. If the chicken is not at temperature, bake another 5 minutes and check again.

13) Check your potatoes with a fork. If the fork goes through easily, they’re done. If not, put back in for another 10 minutes.

14) Plate and eat and drink.

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken Recipe

– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Brooklyn

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in BrooklynBrooklyn is no longer a side trip to take when you’ve run out of things to do across the river in Manhattan. It’s now the reason many people visit New York and a place most tourists plan to spend some time. There are several neighborhoods to explore for a mind-boggling range of ethnic foods, and to sample “hipster” Brooklyn. But I focused my picks in and around “Brownstone Brooklyn” because they’re near the sites tourists come to see – the Waterfront Park, BAM for dance and theater, Barclay’s Center for basketball, hockey and concerts, and the Brooklyn Museum and Botanic Garden. The museum, the city’s third largest, has a renowned Egypt collection (many items are from expeditions it funded in the early 1900s) and serves up modern art that’s interesting and sometimes controversial. Its Target-sponsored First Saturday evenings combine art, theater, music, and food and draw an eclectic mix of people, including families on the early side.

Breakfast: Teresa’s

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in BrooklynTeresa’s, a Brooklyn Heights staple for decades, is a few blocks from the Heights Promenade with its often-filmed skyline views. They capably cook up all the usual breakfast foods including buttermilk pancakes (a favorite for neighborhood kids) and egg dishes. But you really go for the Polish food: blintzes, potato pancakes, apple fritters, four kinds of pierogi, and grilled kielbasa.

My suggestion: The blintzes with sweet cheese and plum butter have the right balance of sweet, creamy, and tart and go well with a cup of coffee. If I’m craving something savory I go for the potato pancakes, maybe with a side of kielbasa. It’s a good place to order a few different plates to share. If you prefer eggs but want them with a Polish accent, go for the kielbasa omelet.

Price: breakfast dishes are in the $6-$10 range.
Hours: Daily: 7am-11pm
Address: 80 Montague St, near Hicks St.; Brooklyn Heights
Phone Number: 718-797-3996
Website: Ha! The place is way to old school for such nonsense.
Photo: Zomato 

Second Breakfast (Bakery): Almondine

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in BrooklynIf you head to DUMBO to explore our ever-changing Brooklyn Bridge waterfront park you’ll be blissfully near Almondine. It’s thoroughly French and everything is good. Expect lines late on weekend mornings.

My suggestion: I love the plump Jelly donuts (beignets) even if they do leave me covered in powdered sugar. I like their almond croissants as well. My daughter goes for the brightly colored macarons or the eclairs, depending on how hungry she is.

Price: upscale NYC bakery prices so $3 to $8 for pastries.
Hours: Mon-Sat: 7am-7pm; Sun: 10am-6pm
Address: 85 Water St, near Main St.; DUMBO
Phone Number: 718-797-5026
Website: http://www.almondinebakery.com
Photo flickr cc

Lunch: Brooklyn Crab

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in BrooklynBrooklyn Crab is a little out of the way, but worth a cab ride (you can also take the NYC Water Taxi to the Red Hook Dock). The two upper floors have a bar, outdoor picnic tables and a covered dining area with huge windows that open in summer. The top floor has views of the harbor and the Statue of Liberty. People flock in summer for platters of steamed crab or lobster, fried clams and and a decent kids’ menu. On the ground floor you’ll find a large backyard with a bar, picnic tables, a small mini-golf course, beanbag toss, and shuffleboard tables. The menu is smaller than upstairs, but it’s a great place to while away an afternoon. It’s popular with groups and families and, inexplicably, with local French expats.

My Suggestion: We like the crab roll and the steamer clams when they’re in season. If we aren’t with a group we eat upstairs then head to the backyard for ice cream, a second beer, and some games.

Price: beer $5-6/pint; wine $8-10/glass; appetizers $8-12; sandwiches $15-24; $17-50
Hours: Open year-round. Sunday – Thursday: 11:30am – 10:00 pm; Friday – Saturday: 11:30am – midnight
Address: 24 Reed St, Red Hook, and Brooklyn 11231
Phone Number: 718-643-2722
Website: http://www.brooklyncrab.com

Coffee shop: Tom’s Restaurant

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in BrooklynTom’s Restaurant is a step into classic Brooklyn just a few blocks from the Museum and Botanical Garden. The old soda fountain and counter tell you what to order. Lime rickey’s, egg creams, ice cream sodas, and floats come in tall, thick fountain glasses. Order a shake and they’ll bring you the extra that didn’t fit in the glass on the side.

My suggestion: They’re known for the lemon-ricotta pancakes, but my daughter likes the chocolate chip ones. I like their huevos rancheros, unless I go for a classic grilled cheese with tomato on rye. We often share a cherry lemonade.

Price: fountain drinks $3-6; breakfast $3-14; lunch items $5-15
Hours: Monday – Saturday: 7:00 AM – 4:00 PM; Sunday: 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Address: 782 Washington Avenue, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn 11238
Phone Number: 718-636-9738
Website: http://www.tomsbrooklyn.com/about.html

Happy Hour 1: Strong Place

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Brooklyn
Beer and Cupcakes: Smuttynose Beer & Porter S’more, Brewery Ommegang & Orange-Almond, Great Divide Brew & Lemon Curd

Brooklyn is hive of innovative brewing, fermenting, distilling, shaking, and stirring these days. So picking one bar is not only unfair but also nearly impossible. If you’re a beer drinker I’d head to Strong Place for its good tap selection and innovative bar food. A weeknight happy hour offers 2-for-1 local beers and very good $1 oysters.

My suggestion: Ask what’s in season and on the happy hour list.

Price: Tap beer $6-12;
Hours: happy hour is 4:00 pm-7:00 pm weekdays.
Address: 270 Court Street, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn 11231
Phone Number: 718-855-2105
Website: http://www.strong-place.com

Happy Hour 2: The Clover Club

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in BrooklynThe Clover Club is considered the pioneer and standard-bearer for mixologist-centered cocktail bars in the borough. A weekday happy hour here serves up a selection of drinks and snacks for about half-price.

My suggestion: The cocktails rotate so go with the season, your mood and your favorite booze. Order a round of deviled eggs to go with whatever you’re drinking.

Price: Select cocktails $7; wine $6; beer $4; snacks $5-7.
Hours: happy hour is 4:00 pm -7:00 pm weekdays.
Address: 210 Smith Street, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn 11201
Phone Number: 718-855-7939
Website: https://cloverclubny.com

Dinner: Alma 

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in BrooklynBypass the gritty ground-floor bar at Alma and head upstairs to the restaurant with its huge picture windows and top-floor roof deck. The views of the Brooklyn waterfront and harbor are reason enough to visit. And the Mexican food is first rate.

My suggestion: The Chilaquiles, ceviches, chile relleno, and enchiladas are all authentic, interesting, and tasty.

Price: beer $7; wine $8-12; margaritas about $12; appetizers $6-16; entrees $16-$30
Hours: Monday- Thursday: 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm; Friday: 5:30 pm – 11:00 pm; Saturday – Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Address: 187 Columbia Street; Brooklyn 11231
Phone Number: 718.643.5400
Website: http://almarestaurant.com

Hotel: The Nu Hotel

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in BrooklynThe Nu Hotel is a modern boutique hotel that’s central to Brooklyn’s major cultural institutions and a few blocks from Barclay’s Center. It’s an easy subway hop to Manhattan or the Brooklyn waterfront. The neighborhoods around it offer ample eating, drinking, and shopping. It offers complimentary breakfast, bicycles to borrow, and a family suite with bunk beds. It’s pet friendly.

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i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in Brooklyn

Photo Wikimedia Commons: Theeditor93


Eileen Gunn. i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in BrooklynEileen Gunn is the founder of FamiliesGo! and at least the 4th generation of her family to settle in Brooklyn. When she’s not eating her way through New York City, you can find her on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.



– The End. Go Eat. –

I8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in NYC’s Little Italy


I8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in NYC's Little Italy. Photo by Patrick RasenbergA long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…honestly, it was only 30 years ago when New York City’s Little Italy seemed like a slice of Naples. The area wasn’t so sanitized and mafia guys, like John Gotti, would hang out in the one of the local trattorias. Now, they are all in Brooklyn like the last of the Godfather series. Then, laundry would hang from pulleys rigged between buildings and neighbors screamed at each other from across the street, “Hey Doris! I need some sugah!” That was Little Italy.

As real estate has become the number one money maker in the world, old Big Apple neighborhoods have transformed into shopping and eating meccas with name brand stores holding court. The web of streets below Houston and east of Broadway always had a lot of European charm with independent shops from butchers to bakers and candlestick makers, but it’s been joined by bigger outlets. Think of seeing the actor Steve Buscemi, long noted for independent films, next to George Clooney, Hollywood glitz, but it’s only because Steve is there that George came to the party. It’s a bit of a shock almost like one of these things does not belong. Yet, like all things in New York, they co-exist, peacefully and wind up working in movies together. (See Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over.)

The Feast of San Gennaro, New York City's longest-running, biggest, and most revered religious outdoor festival in the United States. From I8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in NYC's Little Italy
The Feast of San Gennaro, New York City’s longest-running, biggest, and most revered religious outdoor festival in the United States.

Probably one of the country’s most important ethnic festivals, The Feast of San Gennaro, started in the area. Originally, the event was to welcome new Italian immigrants to the area. Now, almost a hundred years later, the one day event has expanded into eleven and six urban blocks of food, raucousness and general good naturedness saying, “This is what New York City was like.” In September, it seems like the world, not only those interested in pasta and pizza, converge on Mulberry between Houston and Canal. Instead of paisanos walking the streets, it really is a melting pot of cultures eating sausages with peppers and onions, throwing darts at balloons, tossing ping pongs into fishbowls and carrying on…welcoming everyone to the neighborhood.

Balthazar. From I8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in NYC's Little Italy. Photo by Sue and Danny YeeBreakfast: Breakfast at Balthazar should be on the bookshelf with Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but there isn’t a book with that title. Ever since opening in 1997 Keith McNally’s ode to Paris has been a staple of the downtown demi-monde set. At dinner, it’s still one of the few places to see and be seen. Breakfast is normally not such a rush. it’s a quieter atmosphere with businessmen and female entrepreneurs holding court. Funny, to be recommending a French place while walking around Little Italy, but it’s a must.

  • Our Suggestion: Eggs En Cocotte. A classic dish not normally seen on menus but it’s really delicious and very easy to make at home. Here, though, they serve them with “soldiers” mean strips of toast without the crust. Just like our English “mummy” used to make.
  • Cost: $15.00
  • Website: http://www.balthazarny.com/

I8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in NYC's Little ItalyLunch: Walking in New York is tantamount to running a gauntlet if you’re not used to it. Swerving and dipping. Spinning and sprinting. The onslaught of pedestrians is mesmerizing,  overwhelming and hungry-making which is why you need a hearty lunch. Head to Parm. One of those newly designed farm-to-table  sandwich shops but this one started on Mulberry Street and now has sisters in Battery Park City, Yankee Stadium, and the Upper Westside. (Everything has to be a conglomerate.) It’s fun and affordable. You can belly up to the bar and have a lunch cocktail ( I would) to wash down a delish  sandwich. It’s simple fare and without a lengthy menu.

  • Our suggestion: Order the Chicken or Eggplant Parm. Lightly breaded and crisped outside served on a freshly baked semolina roll with beautiful marinara and mozzarella dripping from the sides. Delicious and satisfying for the mid-day repast. And get that lunch martini.
  • Cost: $15.00
  • Website: parmnyc.com

Cocktails: Spring Lounge. Sitting on the corner of Spring and Mulberry is a citadel to urban drinking. Spring Lounge, for generations, is the place where you’re coming for a shot of anything, with a beer or whiskey chaser. Holding up since the 1920’s, as the interior wood paneling can attest, it was first a haven for drinkers during Prohibition, meaning you could get your beer on. Now, it’s a bar with sister bars but you can still get pretty wasted cheaply. If you are so inclined you could join the Early Morning Drinkers Society which starts at 8:00am and yes, Virginia, people are sipping the toddy in the morning.

  • Our Suggestion: A shot of something with a cocktail. Go for it. We don’t judge.
  • Cost: Varies
  • Website: thespringlounge.com

I8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in NYC's Little ItalyDinner: Jacques. I know, I know. You are in Little Italy, why the hell am I recommending two French places? Well, it’s because there are excellent Italians restaurants in every place but Little Italy. Head uptown to Lidia Bastianich’s Felidia or Mario Batali’s Babbo. Italians, like the LGBTQ community, aren’t in ghettoes anymore, they are everywhere. So…we’re going French in Little Italy at Jacques. Part of the charm is the escargot, the excellent steak frites, the French accented waitstaff. It’s like being in a real brasserie in Paris without the plane ride. The smoky yellow walls seem to be evidence of a bygone era when patrons and their tobacco habits have left behind the color as a souvenir. Tin signs are extolling French products also decorate the room with wood chairs and benches. It’s very New York-centric and symbolic of a changing neighborhood. They also have some excellent specials such as order a full meal for a couple and get a bottle of wine, meaning two entrees and two appetizers.

Flatbread at Jacques. From I8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in NYC's Little Italy

  • Our suggestion: The escargot is excellent. Lots of buerre and garlic for dipping slices of French loaf.  Follow it up with the Pat LaFrieda Steak au Poivre. Medium-rare.
  • Cost: Escargot, $11. The steak, $29…you can’t find a steak for that price at your local butcher.
  • Website: jacques1534.com

Crosby Street Hotel. From I8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in NYC's Little ItalyWhere to Stay: The Crosby Street Hotel. An 86-room hotel outfitted with fabric covered walls and Easter egg colored chairs sits at the entry to Little Italy. It’s a modern looking structure tucked in amongst the last remaining tenements apartment building harkening back to New York’s roughed up days.

I8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in NYC's Little ItalyFirmdale, the hotelier, does this weird thing saying it’s in Soho but really, it’s Little Italy. Soho is the mostly made-up of cast-iron buildings and is located on the west of Broadway. These are tenements. Regardless, it’s a beautiful, small hotel located off the beaten path much better than the Soho Grand which is just stuffier and older.


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I8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating in NYC's Little Italy









The end. Go eat.









i8tonite with Eleni’s New York Founder & Food Entrepreneur Eleni Gianopulos

i8tonite with Eleni's New York Founder & Food Entrepreneur Eleni GianopulosEleni Gianopulos began her career in the media world working at the venerable Time Inc., eventually moving into the editorial division of Life Magazine. Through a twist of fate, Eleni, who had a passion for baking, began a small catering business in her apartment. What began as a side business featuring Eleni’s mother’s famous oatmeal-raisin cookies quickly outgrew her home kitchen and evolved into a full-fledged cookie empire. Eleni is a business owner that is also committed to giving back to female entrepreneurs trying to start their companies today. Eleni is about to share some exciting news regarding her mission to help female entrepreneurs. Stay tuned!

i8tonite with Eleni's New York Founder & Food Entrepreneur Eleni Gianopulos
Language of Love cookies

Since 1997, Eleni’s New York has been a must-stop at Manhattan’s iconic Chelsea Market, later followed by her website, where irresistibly designed custom “Conversation Cookies TM” and other treats, including Color Me Cookies, await for fans located around the world. Today, Eleni’s custom cookie creations are a favorite of celebrities, luxury brands, Fortune 500 companies, and cookie lovers alike. Her cookie concierges design cookies around events, holidays, and popular trends. All of Eleni’s cookies are certified nut free. We love them.

i8tonite with Eleni's New York Founder & Food Entrepreneur Eleni Gianopulos
Eleni’s Day of the Dead cookies

Eleni and I had a lively chat about parenting, cookies, and growing and running a business. Eleni noted that it was challenging to be a mom in business, but it’s also rewarding and exciting for her kids to see that their parents have careers they love. She grew up watching her father, who owned his own company, going to work every day and loving it. Her kids are happy that their mom owns a bakery (lucky kids!), and Eleni said that she’s a better boss for having kids.

Eleni's New York butterfly cookies. i8tonite with Eleni's New York Founder & Food Entrepreneur Eleni Gianopulos
Eleni’s New York butterfly cookies

Eleni remarked that she feels fortunate and is strategic in finding employees that are in different phases of their lives – many of her employees have kids of all ages. It is this wide range of experience within the company that helps Eleni’s New York continue with their business expansion – a recent Valentine’s Day partnership with 650 Target stores in the Northeast (crisp chocolate chip, butterscotch, and pink sugar cookies!), a new grocery line that will be launched at the Fancy Foods Show this coming July, as well as more retail locations and an expansion of the very popular Color Me Line of cookies.

i8tonite with Eleni's New York Founder & Food Entrepreneur Eleni Gianopulos
Eleni’s New York Sea Breeze cookies

What I loved most, as a non-New Yorker, was talking about living in the city with Eleni.  She’s moved to keep close to her work – starting in Chelsea Market, when she first opened; then a move to be near her cookie plant in Long Island City; and recently a move back to the center of the city to be closer to all the action as they open locations in Manhattan this coming year. When talking about the local bakery (Maison Kaiser) that she heads to every morning with her King Charles Cavalier, Lovey Pie, to pick up croissants and breads for the kids every morning, her love of her neighborhood shone through – she mentioned stores, spaces, colors, and flavors. And while she hits the farmer’s market many times a week, it’s closed on Sundays – and is a perfect place for her young kids to ride their bikes.

i8tonite with Eleni's New York Founder & Food Entrepreneur Eleni GianopulosEleni and her team are surrounded by design inspiration, so look for new cookies inspired by this neighborhood – as well as museums, parks, something from one of the kids’ schoolbooks, etc. And yes, they all still sketch on the back of a napkin at times, to save their ideas. But Eleni’s cookies are also influenced by technology. An exciting development in cookie design at Eleni’s is a new process which allows them to put ink onto a cookie with no sugar film. This adds more and more layers and intricacy – you can see this in the upcoming Easter cookie line, inspired by Faberge designs.

It is this creativity, passion for her work, and inclusion of family that makes Eleni’s work shine.


Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking? Over 20 yearsi8tonite with Eleni's New York Founder & Food Entrepreneur Eleni Gianopulos

What is your favorite food to cook? Cookies, pies, cakes, and Greek specialty appetizers like dolmathes, spanakopita and baklava.

What do you always have in your fridge at home? Milk for my coffee, butter for kids’ toast, and Pellegrino

What do you cook at home? Mexican food. I love America’s Test Kitchen Favorite Mexican Recipes and test new recipes on my family often.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? Direct and to the point.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? This customer requested the most beautiful design, my team executed to perfection. The client received the order and complained that the frosting was off ¼”. From that point on, we insist on sample approval for custom work. And I just knew even if we remade the order this customer would never be satistfied, so I quickly accommodated the request and moved on. I have only seen something like this happen 2 times in 20 years, though.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? Tupperware

Beer, wine, or cocktail? Cocktail

Your favorite cookbook author? America’s Test Kitchen Series of Cook Books, I love how they start off every paragraph…we made this recipe 34 times and found that …

i8tonite with Eleni's New York Founder & Food Entrepreneur Eleni Gianopulos
Eleni’s Lemon Cupcakes

Your favorite kitchen tool? The plastic pastry bags I bring home from work, I use them for everything.

Your favorite ingredient? Lemon, I add it to everything.

Your least favorite ingredient? Orange, I don’t like orange in desserts nor entrees.

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Dishes – my husband says when I cook at home I think I’m at work! I tend to make a big mess, and use every pot and pan in the house.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Greek, Mexican, Italian

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu? Chicken

Favorite vegetable? Broccoli

Chef you most admire? Thomas Keller

Food you like the most to eat? Indian

Food you dislike the most? Eggs, cottage cheese, odd scary meat.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? 0

Recipe: The Crispy Roast Chicken recipe from America’s Test Kitchen!

The Crispy Roast Chicken recipe from America’s Test Kitchen! From i8tonite with Eleni's New York Founder & Food Entrepreneur Eleni Gianopulos -
The Crispy Roast Chicken recipe from America’s Test Kitchen!

For best flavor, use a high-quality chicken, such as one from Bell & Evans. Do not brine the bird; it will prohibit the skin from becoming crisp. The sheet of foil between the roasting pan and V-rack will keep drippings from burning and smoking.

1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 1/2 pounds), giblets removed and discarded
1 tablespoon kosher salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


1. Place chicken breast-side down on work surface. Following photos above, use tip of sharp knife to make four 1-inch incisions along back of chicken. Using fingers or handle of wooden spoon, carefully separate skin from thighs and breast. Using metal skewer, poke 15 to 20 holes in fat deposits on top of breast halves and thighs. Tuck wing tips underneath chicken.

2. Combine salt, baking powder, and pepper in small bowl. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle all over with salt mixture. Rub in mixture with hands, coating entire surface evenly. Set chicken, breast-side up, in V-rack set on rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, for 12 to 24 hours.

3. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Using paring knife, poke 20 holes about 1 1/2 inches apart in 16- by 12-inch piece of foil. Place foil loosely in large roasting pan. Flip chicken so breast side faces down, and set V-rack in roasting pan on top of foil. Roast chicken 25 minutes.

4. Remove roasting pan from oven. Using 2 large wads of paper towels, rotate chicken breast-side up. Continue to roast until instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast registers 135 degrees, 15 to 25 minutes.

5. Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees. Continue to roast until skin is golden brown, crisp, and instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast registers 160 degrees and 175 degrees in thickest part of thigh, 10 to 20 minutes.
6. Transfer chicken to cutting board and let rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Carve and serve immediately.

Recipe and photo: America’s Test Kitchen


– The End. Go Eat. –

I8tonite: Charred Broccoli with Lemon and Asiago

I discovered Charred Broccoli with Lemon and Asiago absolutely tasty. Tasty enough that there aren’t leftovers the next day.  I now believe roasting is the best thing for anything even broccoli which I like but isn’t necessarily my go to. So, when in doubt — roast. (My new motto.)

I discovered the recipe in “Family Table: Favorite Staff Meals, From Our Restaurants to Your Home”, compiled by Union Square Hospitality Group’s Culinary Director, Michael Romano and written by Karen Stabiner, with a forward by Danny Meyer, chef and owner of the just mentioned company. (Yes, Danny Meyer of Shake Shack fame.) I briefly worked for him as a waiter at Union Square Café back in the late eighties. Written in 2013, the cookbook’s recipes are staff meals from his restaurants that are part of the said conglomeration. These establishments include some of the Big Apple’s gastronomically acclaimed: Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park, The Modern and others. (Sadly, Union Square Café will be moving from its current space of 30 years to another area of Manhattan due to high rents.) Traditionally, staff meals are served at the beginning of the dinner shift and end of lunch.

El Teddys. Courtesy of I Loved New York

Truth be told,  taking all the romance out of the cookbook, along with the “familial” sappiness  — the  staff meals that we were given before or after our shifts came from leftovers that didn’t sell – too much chicken, Bibb lettuce getting ready to turn, fresh pasta that needed to be boiled so it didn’t go to waste.  Working at the now defunct Soho Kitchen & Bar (SKB), we were served pizzas and salad pretty much every staff meal.  The kitchen quickly needed to use up any dough from the day before and replenish with freshly made.  The salad was at least a couple of days old but it was still had a good crunch going on. At El Teddy’s, torn down in 2004 — we were allowed to eat any of the appetizers such as chicken achiote, machaca or steak arrachera burritos, any of the salads or the quesadillas which included huitlacoche (corn fungus), nopales and a puerco.  We could order as much as we wanted as the back of the house had already made the dishes with fresh ingredients for that day’s clientele. (We were eating yesterday’s.) At the Cajun/Mexican fusion of How’s Bayou – it was mostly leftover fried chicken, jambalaya, gumbo, day old enchiladas, reconstituted black beans, red rice and sometimes something green. (Not complaining about any of this. It was free food and truly delicious. The pizza at SKB was some of the best I had. I learned a lot about life, cooking, drinking and made some of the best friends ever while working in restaurants. I loved it.)

This brings me back to this recipe and cookbook…yeah, I don’t think any of the staff at my restaurants would have eaten this as “family meal”. It would have would have been sitting under the heat lamps drying out…but now that I’m older and definitely stockier — it’s pretty stellar stuff.

Charred Broccoli


  • 2 bunches of broccoli cut into trees with stems. Trim off about two inches from the bottom.
  • ¼ olive oil.
  • 2 lemons.
  • Several dashes of red pepper flakes.
  • Italian hard cheese such as asiago, pecorino or parmesan. Two to three cups grated.
  • Maldon salt, fresh cracked pepper. (Okay, you can use kosher….but I love the Maldon stuff.)
  • ½ cup of Panko bread crumbs.

Let’s make this puppy:

Preheat the oven to 450 – 475 degrees. Toss the broccoli, olive oil and breadcrumbs into a large bowl coating the broccoli really well. Spread into a single layer onto a baking sheet and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, charring the ends of the broccoli but not burning them.

While the broccoli is cooking, zest the two lemons into a large bowl and add the grated cheese stirring well until mixed.

Once the broccoli is cooked, toss the broccoli in the bowl mix with juice of a ½ a lemon. Serve.

The End. Go Eat.

An Ode to Summer Tomato Sandwiches

NYC Farmer

As a kid, I didn’t like tomatoes. I found them not only tasteless but mushy or sometimes, hard and inedible. My mother, a good Southern woman, loved them. She was particularly fond of Tomato Sandwiches, which is a predominant lunch staple in the South. Food writer, John Kessler, wrote in the Atlanta Journal Constitution that for ten years, while he lived in Georgia, he had never had one.  One response to his posting on Facebook said, “he should renounce his citizenship”. (I don’t know whether that was to the Confederates or to the Yanks….the writer didn’t qualify.) But my mother, she loved them. It’s a simple process of two pieces of white bread, mayonaise and big beefsteak tomatoes. The kind that when you bite into them, dribble down your chin, almost like a greasy cheeseburger but without the cholesterol and animal fat. Kessler also references Chef Bill Smith, from his blog “Seasoned in the South” who states “that a riot ensued for the sandwiches”.

Ingredients for Gazpacho

Me? Although, I didn’t like them growing up, I began to love them while I lived in New York City and tomatoes in general. I couldn’t have been more than eighteen and was walking leisurely on a hot summer afternoon through Union Square’s Farmers Market. I still remember that there was a young, blondish woman barking out, “Try our heirlooms!!!” In her hand were striated wedges of red tomatoes, flecks of green in some, a couple with purple lines but all were poked with wooden toothpicks, offering the shoppers a chance to try her wares. I was game. I had only moved to the city in September the following year to attend school and I was trying everything. Dance clubs, drinking and decadence. (The things that made NYC in the 80s.) I thought I should give the tomato another try. So I bit into the pretty girl’s heirloom, which I had never had. It was life-changing. Juicy. Sweetly acidic. Warm from the sun. I bought two big red ones, which I couldn’t afford (I was a starving student, after all)  a loaf of white bread,  baked fresh for the market that day and swung by a bodega to pick-up some Hellman’s (throwing in a little urbanity with that down-home goodness.) I now eat them every year, sometimes daily.


My darling friend, Lulu, and I recently made the perfect tomato sandwich. We went to her backyard garden and pulled a couple of Persimmons and Consoluto Genoveses, two types of the nine varieties she was growing. (She also has grapes, pomegranates, zucchini, arugula, Meyer lemons, cantaloupes, watermelons, blackberries, raspberries, etc. It’s practically a farm.) Still warm from the Southern California sun, we sliced them with her mandoline, not too thick but enough to pile them on the whole grain toasted nut bread. (Truthfully, it should be made with Wonder Bread or Sara Lee.) On one piece of bread, we used some of her freshly made basil pesto with chunks of garlic, on the other, smeared it with Hellman’s (I prefer Hellman’s, less sugary and Duke’s isn’t available in California). With glasses of sweet tea, we sat at her outdoor table, shaded by a big orange umbrella and ate the deliciousness. It was a little bit of crunch from the toasted whole grain bread, the sweetness and balance of the acidic tomatoes, the creaminess of the mayo, with the bite of the garlic and basil. Perfection on a hot day.

The authentic Southern sandwich is made with only two pieces of mushy white bread, mayo and tomato slices but if you want to get “all gourmet-like” and mess with the original by all means. It like eating a just a little bit of the summer sun.

Meatless Monday: Grilled Caesar Salad (just Meatless) and Family Suppers

Restaurant and Waiting Tables
Restaurant and Waiting Tables

It’s a funny thing about Caesar Salads. They bring me right back to waiting tables/bartending or working in a restaurant kitchen. Many of the “family meals” when I worked in restaurants consisted of a salad, burgers, pizza or pasta. There was never any of the slaved over staff dinners that is being touted in the new cookbook “OFF THE MENU: Staff Meals from America’s Favorite Restaurants”. (Lucky them!) In the almost 2 decades of not working in eateries, clearly the times have changed since I plied my trade for tips or peeled potatoes. (I wonder how many publicists actually worked in a commercial kitchen?)

Secondly, I love the salad…when made right. They have a wonderful garlicky and salty crunch that reminds me of eating a potato chip. It’s that bite of lettuce snapping and saltiness from the dissolved anchovy. (Yep, a Caesar with anchovies…kind of novel, huh?) And, then made with a coddled egg, (yep, again a little more novelty… made with an egg) just cooked so the yolk is still runny to give it the unctuouness, clinging to the Romaine and holding the freshly grated Parmesan.

Thirdly, bringing me back to where I started, the family meal at a restaurant…when the dinner shift began at one of the five New York City restaurants that I had worked in during the 80s and early 90s, and my co-workers, some of who are friends to this day, would talk about their mornings and afternoons, of auditions, of gallery installations, of stapling resumes to headshots, of writing….or of getting over last night’s hangover…of being in my early 20s.

Lastly, they remind me of warm New York City summer nights with blaring taxis horns, beautifully curvaceous women wobbling in excessively high shoes, worked out men in tight T-shirts and baggy jeans, neon lights, shots of tequila and one of the happiest times in my life. (Of course, I wish I knew it then.)

Grilled Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons
Grilled Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons

Who knew that all these memories came in a salad and some nourishment too?

YOU WILL NEED (2 servings):
1 clove garlic
2 anchovies (or paste).
1 egg
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 juice of one lemon
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly grated Parmesan (However much you want)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 heads romaine lettuce
Croutons (Store bought or homemade. Make it easy on yourself. Do what you want and have time to do.)

GRILL THE LETTUCE (Or skip this altogether and chill lettuce for about 5 minutes in the freezer. If you do this, just tear the lettuce apart just before you dress it.)
1. Heat grill.
2. Peel outer leaves of romaine off until you get to the heart. (Or you can leave a couple of the dark leaves on.) Cut in half.
3. Brush cut side with olive oil, salt and pepper.
4. Place on grill until slightly charred and wilted.
5. Remove from grill.
6. Arrange prettily on plates, cut side up.

1. Using the blade of a knife, carefully make a paste with the anchovy and garlic. Just mash it together and add a little…just a drop or two of oil.
2. Put this paste and the remaining ingredients… egg yolk, mustard and lemon juice… into a mixing bowl or food processor.
3. Whisk or process for about 30 to 40 seconds until the mixture is smooth. (If whisking, go a little longer. If you are really anal about it, pull out the timer and set it for a minute…and whisk.)
4. Now add the olive oil slowly until it becomes mixed and a little thicker, similar to a thin aoili (this may not happen if you are using a whisk…but give it a try.)
5. Add some Parmesan, a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Get a pepper grinder if you don’t have one. It makes a huge difference.) You can refrigerate the dressing if you make a little too much.

1. Arrange the heads of lettuce cut side up.
2. Pour the dressing in a ‘Z’ pattern over lettuce.
3. Use enough dressing for you to be satisfied and happy. Dress the the salad to your liking but don’t over do it. (Remember, you pay that trainer at the gym a lot of money.)
4. Sprinkle with the freshly grated Parmesan.
5. Arrange croutons, ever so….
6. Voila!
7. Take a picture and upload to Instagram. (Most important part. You can use my photo if you don’t think yours is photogenic. You have my permission.)