Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bits & Morsels asks around

Tertulia's Tomates De Nuestro Mercado (heirloom tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, and fresh cheese sprinkled with herbs).

by Erin Frankel

Typically, I am my friend's walking restaurant directory. Nearly everyday, I receive a slew of emails, texts and phone calls requesting restaurant recommendations. So, as a finale to a great summer of notable restaurant openings and revivals of some oldies but goodies, I took a poll amongst friends asking for their favorite places of the summer of 2011:

Sushi and sashimi platter at Momoya.
Torrisi Italian Specialties' House Turkey with spciy sauce.
Sashimi from Niko.
Outdoor seating at Bar Pitti.
The Teriyaki Food Truck at Surf Lodge.
Kobe burger sliders at Bohemian.
Ramen noodle soup at Ippudo.
Burger & Barrel.
Mulberry Project.
Hudson Clearwater.
La Esquina.
Luke's Lobster roll.
Duryea’s in Montauk.
1. Momoya. Known for their fresh sushi and fun yet comfortable neighborhood vibe both down in Chelsea and on the Upper West Side.

Juliet says, “This is hard for me since I go to nearly every great restaurant with you! But when I’m on my own, I go here to get my favorite roll, the salmon crunchy roll, which is a mixture of mango, avocado, and spicy salmon. Its soooo delicious and only $12!”

Torrisi Italian Specialties. Known for their incredible pre-fix dinner. But Jordan’s perfect lunch on a summer afternoon is the House Turkey with spicy sauce. Jordan describes it as “so moist and tender ... wish I could take some home with me for Thanksgiving dinner.”

Niko. New Japanese restaurant whose chef came from Yasuda. John loves it here because he was able to walk in with no reservations on a busy Tuesday night. Even though it was crowded, he was seated right away at the sushi bar. John describes it as a “very swanky ambience, stylish crowd, and super fresh sushi.”

Bar Pitti. Known for their incredible, expansive outdoor seating on 6th Avenue and great people watching. Georgina says, “Apart from the fact that I had to wait ages to get a table and the waiter spilled wine on my cardigan, it was the best spaghetti pomodoro of my life (and I just came back from Italy)! The outdoor seating is the place to be with some fantastic West Village people spotting.”

Gemma. Known for the fresh Italian food and great outdoor space. Aaron says, “Love Gemma as a date spot. Perfect appetizers to share and great people watching when you score a prime table outside.”

The Teriyaki Food Truck at Surf Lodge. Known for its fast Teriyaki sandwiches priced at a mere $8. Lauren likes it because “it feeds all of the drunk people unable to get dinner reservations in the Hamptons on Saturday night of Labor Day Weekend.”

Bohemian. Known as a secret Japanese restaurant (even has an unpublished phone #) on 3rd street off of Bowery. Anthony claims he had “the most amazing kobe burger slider he’s ever had. The shitake mushroom salad Is amazing too.”

Ippudo. Known for their Japanese ramen noodle specialties. Ben loves it and says he goes all the time!

CO-OP Food & Drink. A new, trendy restaurant in the Hotel on Rivington. Gabby loves it as she is “obsessed with the CO-OP roll!! Also, my parents loved the ceviche with the crumbled Pringles on top. It’s a great scene, good people watching, and the phone booth in the bathroom is fun too.”

Burger & Barrel. A new upscale burger joint brought to us by the same team behind Lure FishBar. Robby, who spends most of his time at The Dutch, says this is “another good neighborhood favorite. Burgers are delicious, especially their bacon jam burger. Vibe for a burger joint is also pretty cool, not your standard dive burger place.”

Mulberry Project. A hidden speakeasy in Little Italy with a huge, beautiful outdoor garden in the back that is decorated with large art installations. Arielle loves “the outdoor space. It’s one of the best unknown outdoor spaces in New York City. And, the small plates are perfect for sharing for a big dinner party.”

Empellon. A new Mexican restaurant operated by Alex Stupak, the experimental pastry chef from WD-50. Mike says, “As a jaded former San Diegan, recommending any NYC takeout on south-of-the-border fare is difficult. But, I have to give Empellon its propers. Went there for brunch and dinner this summer, and everything was unique and delicious.

Hudson Clearwater. New, reasonably priced restaurant in the West Village with a beautiful outdoor garden in the back. Known for being a great date spot. Sue says, “I went to Hudson Clearwater and the food was incredible. The watercress salad was refreshing and the duck legs were crispy and delicious. It also didn't hurt that the bartender looked like he was one of Carrie Bradshaw's former flames.”

La Esquina. An old Mexican favorite in Nolita and arguably one of the most popular and trendy Mexican restaurants in New York City. Matthew loves it because it’s in a “hot neighborhood, has tasty food, nice portions, and exudes a trendy ambiance and crowd.”

Luke's Lobster. Luke Holden is a young entrepreneur who is quickly opening multiple locations in the city. His lobster rolls are incredibly popular and the most reasonable in this city.

Jessie says, "FINALLY tried their lobster roll and it is by far the best!!! they were having a $10 lobster roll hurricane special, and loved that it had no mayo and was simply sweet fresh lobster chunks with just a touch of butter."

Duryea’s in Montauk. A lobster shack that is popular for its prime locations on Montauk Point, its reasonable prices, quality food, and for being one of the only BYOB destinations in the Hamptons.

Two friends called this their favorite place of the summer. Emily loves it because it’s “BYOB. You order lobster and wait with a buzzer. It’s the only place where I’ve paid $100 for dinner while using plastic flatware and wasn't offended.”

Joanna says, here there are “delicious lobsters that you go up and order yourself and bring back to your table where you can sit and enjoy the wine from your home collection (BYOB!). It has that quintessential low-key Montauk vibe where flip flops, bare feet, sunsets, sand, and the water make for a no-frills yet super-chic night.”

Where I ate this week:

Tertulia. Chef Seamus Mullen made his name turning out stylish Iberian tapas at the famed Boqueria. Now he has taken his arsenal of culinary prowess in a whole new culinary direction, and one foreign to most New Yorkers, called Asturian. If you have traversed nearly every region of Spain on an epic taste quest, you’ve experienced the Andalusian flavors of Sevilla, Barcelona’s Catalan paella, and maybe even some Basque pinxtos as well. But even the most discerning traveler has probably never tasted the Asturian cuisine of a region on Spain’s northern coast between Cantabria and Galicia; a region where people meet to eat, carouse and drink at, most notably, its cider houses (known as chigres in Spain).
Almejas A La Brasa (grilled clams in a txakoli and ham broth accompanied by grilled bread).
Ham croquettes.
Both the cuisine and ambience of Tertulia are modeled after just that. Here the food preparation is simple and the ingredients are in their purest form. Start with a cider on tap. Then combine the boozing with fancy and fun tostas, like the favorite toast setas (marinated mushrooms with pine nuts and smoked ricotta) and a variety of tapas ranging in style from the Tomates De Nuestro Mercado (heirloom tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, and fresh cheese sprinkled with herbs) to the Iberico ham croquettes to the unique Almejas A La Brasa (grilled clams in a txakoli and ham broth accompanied by grilled bread) or the authentically Asturian Arroz A La Plancha (crispy rice, snails, wild mushrooms, celery, fennel, and ibérico ham). All of Mullen’s small plates are meant for sharing, something that is archetypal of the Asturian chigres.
Arroz A La Plancha (crispy rice, snails, wild mushrooms, celery, fennel, and ibérico ham).
Toast setas (marinated mushrooms with pine nuts and smoked ricotta).
On a Saturday night, the cozy 75-seat restaurant is packed to the brim but exudes the most welcoming and lively feeling. The décor is unmistakably rustic with original and communal Asturian touches in the long wooden tables and banquets, brick archways, authentic colorful tiles, and relics such as large cider barrels and vintage butcher’s hooks that Mullen personally brought over from Spain.

359 6th Ave (at Washington Pl)
Photographs by Erin Frankel.
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