Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bits & Morsels

The Mezzaluna salad.

In Sunday’s New York Post Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten mentioned Mezzaluna as the place to go for pizza. Located at 1295 Third Avenue, Mezzaluna has been open for over twenty years and I have been going there for about that long. I have been meaning to write about it, but Mezzaluna has had recent bouts of service-oriented inconsistencies. One night I'd be treated to a lovely, light Italian dinner and return the next night to less than perfect service (Hello guys, I'm over here, etc.). Putting aside the recent service concerns, Mezzaluna serves healthy, clean, and crisp Italian food made with high quality ingredients.

The Mezzaluna salad is one of the best salads in New York. It’s a refreshing blend of thinly sliced raw artichokes, parmesan cheese, arugula, celery and mushrooms. Before you go to Mezzaluna you should call first because they don’t have the salad on the menu every night. And it’s a real bummer to go there when they don’t have my favorite salad. Mezzaluna has a very hot brick oven which turns out ultra-crispy pizzas.

Mezzaluna is a small restaurant with tightly packed tables but feels spacious due in part to the bright blue sky and cumulonimbus clouds painted on the ceiling and colorful images of the mezzaluna on its walls. It’s on the loud side so don’t expect to conduct any private conversation with your dining partner. The crowd is mainly a mixture of families who live in the area. For dessert, the complimentary mezzaluna-shaped butter cookies and biscotti are just right for dunking in your cappuccino. [Mezzaluna]
Clockwise from top left: The main dining room at Mezzaluna; Parmigiano cheese and olives to start the meal; Penne with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce; Baby artichokes ready for the fryer.
The brick oven at mezzaluna and its results.
Half moon-shaped cookies to dunk in the cappuccino. A "mezzaluna" is a chopping tool made with a curved blade that resembles a half moon.
Pizza tour. If you plan on visiting New York and you want to eat some really really good pizza, check out this pizza trip itinerary. The photos are delectable and reading the post will make you appreciate all the great pizza in New York that is worth the trip. [Serious Eats]

We are at the peak of ice cream season. If you feel like making your own, here is a thorough list of recipes to get you started. Besides the usual flavors, this list includes vegan recipes as well as interesting (or puzzling) flavors such as brown butter ice cream. [David Lebovitz]

Good news about eggs! [Well].
Good news about eggs! You can enjoy your breakfast now that recent studies have shown that eggs do not appear to raise you levels of bad cholesterol all that much. Eggs in moderation may actually be good for your heart because they are nutrient-rich and contain unsaturated fats. [Well]

Going out can get expensive. Wine is usually the most expensive item on the bill if you have more than one glass or order a bottle. Here's a list of restaurants that offer free refills and/or bargains on wine. If you want sake, wine or anything in between there is always a bargain to be had. [AM New York]

Here is a list of items
that you should always have on hand in your pantry. Items such as lemons, sun dried tomatoes and Dijon mustard will add flavor and brighten up the most mundane of dishes. [The Cook’s Kitchen]

Last night I went with a group of friends and the digital to Dos Caminos on 50th and Third Avenue. This is a fun location because they have an outdoor dining area. As I'm sure you already know, Dos Caminos is a chain of Mexican restaurants with locations in New York and Las Vegas. We started off with made to order guacamole with chunks of avocado and lime juice. The guacamole was a crowd pleaser; much more satisfying than the usual green mush some try to pass off as "guacamole." The fish tacos were good too (and filling) as they were loaded with simple grilled fish and crunchy vegetables. For dessert we had the Mexican banana split. What made it Mexican you ask? I think the peanuts and pineapple on top of the ice cream. While the food wasn’t outstanding, it was the perfect place to relax with close friends. [Dos Caminos]

Until we eat again,
Jordana Z.
Clockwise from top left: Dos Caminos on 50th and Third Avenue; Guacamole prepared tableside; Avocado leaf crusted tuna with papaya salsa and coconut ginger rice; Ceviche sampler of lobster, shrimp, and tuna.
Clockwise from top left: Grilled marinated kobe beef, caramelized onions, cotija cheese, guacamole; Grilled Mahi Mahi tacos with spice slaw; Grilled shrimp quesadilla; Mexican banana split.

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