Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bits & Morsels meets Paola's

Apple turnover at Paola's.
Saturday night I went to Paola’s, which recently moved to a new location near the Hotel Wales at 1295 Madison Avenue at 92nd Street.

The new location is a roomy corner spot with high ceilings, where Joanna’s (restaurant) used to be. Moving to this location is gutsy, given this economy, and the fact that it is near Vico, another popular neighborhood restaurant. Many times if you walk into a neighborhood restaurant and you are not a 'regular,' they don’t even look your way.

Stefano Marracono and Paola Bottero.
However, the neighborhood restaurants in Carnegie Hill feel much more accessible than other neighborhoods. On Saturday night at 7:30, Paola’s was packed, and Paola and her son, Stefano, were working the room to make sure everyone felt right at home. It’s nice when the owner of a restaurant is actually there working hard. It shows that they care. A simple point, but overlooked in many establishments.

The menu at Paola’s specializes in Italian food with some amusing pasta dishes mixed in. One of the appetizer specials on Saturday night was carciofi ala giudea (Roman Jewish-style crispy artichokes). Whenever I see this on the menu, I always order it. Nothing beats fried artichokes with freshly squeezed lemon juice. A pasta dish, which was exceptional, was one with cauliflower ragu breadcrumbs. There were some olives mixed in, adding a verdant flavor, and the breadcrumbs gave the pasta a heartier texture.

For dessert, order the chocolate mousse or the apple turnover (or both). Apple turnovers are retro desserts which are uncommon on dessert menus. The version at Paola’s was warm, flaky and the perfect ending to a delicious meal. [Paola’s]
Inside Paolas Restaurant. Crispy artichokes.
Taglierini with mushrooms. Gnocchi with tomato sauce.
Clockwise from top left: In the kitchen-- dishes ready to go out; Penne with bolognese sauce; Pasta with cauliflower ragu; The bar; In the kitchen.
Borlotti beans. Braised beef short ribs with whole wheat berry risotto.
Grilled filet of American Striped bass with oven roasted tomatoes and string beans. Veal scaloppine with lemon butter, capers, spinach and potatoes.
This website is great because it will put your eating habits into perspective. shows pictures of all these high calorie foods like sky-high stuffed Oreos and fried candy bars. If you ever have a day where you just feel like you aren’t eating well, go take a look at a hot dog encased in french fries and you will feel a lot better. [The Feedbag]

La Goulue is closing. Due to a lease issue (read: extremely high rent), the bistro, which has been open for 36 years, is going to close on April 5th. La Goulue is a worthy dining experience, and if you have not been, you better run over there while you can. [Diner’s Journal]

Here is a thoughtful breakfast idea to make on Valentine's Day. This year, Valentine’s Day falls on a weekend, so you can imagine how marked up the prices are going to be for brunch. These heart-shaped egg toasts look more difficult to make than they actually are. For an extra touch, whip up some heart-shaped pancakes to match. [Pinch My Salt]

McDonald’s is one restaurant chain
that is doing well in this economy. This past January was great for McDonald’s bottom line, whereas they had a 7.1 increase in international same store sales. I wish people would realize that fast food is not the only inexpensive alternative to eating out. You could very easily cook a meal that is healthier and less expensive than a meal at McDonald’s. [NY Post]

Until we eat again,
Jordana Z.

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