May 25, 2010

New Taste of the UWS

Calle Ocho

Handy Wine Glass on Lanyard

Cesare Casella of Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto


Beautiful Evening

In a land where Foursquare still considers to be Far, Far Away, the food scene has rapidly bubbled into one of Manhattan's finest. As a relatively new resident of the Upper West Side, I have absolutely zero recollections of the desolate dining environment that this neighborhood once was. Instead, I was met with blissfully fresh macarons from Bouchon Bakery, sinfully aromatic prosciutto from Salumeria Rosi, and soul-warming locavorian entrees from Recipe. The New Taste of the Upper West Side's Best of the West event showcased over 40 of these amazing gourmet restaurants, dessert havens, and brunch bistros from my 'hood. A few were no-brainers, but I did encounter some pleasant surprises. My tasting favorites, favorite UWS restaurants, and more pics on the next page!

I had just finished a day-long food writing workshop with Fran McNulty (f.k.a. Fran Schumer, former food writer/reviewer for The New York Times and New York Magazine) and was newly inspired to capture a magical narrative about savoring and feasting. It wasn't until I had stumbled upon the 100+ line of hungry, dolled-up eaters that I realized this event would be no fairy tale; the impending battle with blindside elbowing, cocktail spilling, and space hoarding would soon be upon me. I had to move quickly, photograph fast, and leave many of the tempting samples behind.

Calle Ocho was not one that I would be able to dismiss. They lured me in with clam shells and ceviche; mixed seafood is one of my biggest weaknesses. The cheddar popcorn that perched on top of the clam shell cup was a delightful play on texture and presentation. The soft crunchiness mixed in with the salty-sweet chewiness made this three-bite hors d'oeuvre a memorable beginning.

Calle Ocho

Screme Gelato was another establishment that had caught my eye and taste buds. After licking up six or seven spoonfuls of the rainbow of flavors on display, I wondered whether or not someone has tried all 5,000 of their unique flavor concoctions (besides the CEO). I really enjoyed the alcohol-infused flavors such has the Johnnie Walker Black gelato and Guinness gelato. They would be a great dessert to bring out to a whisky or Guinness lover's birthday party.

Screme Gelato

Lastly, I was impressed with Isabella's house made bocconcini & vine ripened tomato on a grilled crostini. The soft and spongy cheese—which tasted slightly of cream, but mostly of fresh chilled milk—balanced out the acidity of the juicy tomato slice. Balsamic glaze is also probably one of the best things on earth; in my mind, it is the gourmet version of "sweet & sour sauce." Basically, it's good on just about anything.

Homemade Mozzarella w/ Tomato & Balsalmic Glaze from Isabella's

There were many other restaurants that I enjoyed samples from including: Picholine's hamachi sashimi, Recipe's duck liver pate, and Kefi's smoked pork gyro (the scent from the grill was divine).

The one table that I was never able to come close to was The Mermaid Inn's. The line for their mini lobster rolls was ridiculous! Consistently four rows deep and twelve people wide. Mermaid fans were also notoriously aggressive about their spot in line; I received several evil glares from those who I tried to surpass in order to take photos. The most I was able to do was wave a quick hello from the sidelines to Chef Laurence Edelman, who was incessantly monitoring the griddles to ensure that all of the buns were toasted to perfection. I'll get over missing out soon enough, since I'm going to the highly anticipated Tasting Table Claw Off competition. Ohhh, yeeeah.

The Hoard at Mermaid Inn

Overall, I really enjoyed New Taste of the UWS. I would recommend all newby UWS residents to come and check it out. It's a great way to "speed date" all of the fine food establishments in the area without breaking the bank (too much). Don't forget about the unlimited wine and cocktail samples too...

My Favorite Upper West Side eats:
For brunch: Isabella's
For a fun date: Fatty Crab
For an intimate date: Recipe
For random oyster cravings: The Mermaid Inn
For a relaxed Friday night: Gus & Gabriel Gastropub
For your sweet tooth: Bouchon Bakery
For Restaurant Week: Dovetail
For indulging: Salumeria Rosi
For Japanese food / sushi: Haru

What's your favorite UWS restaurant?

Click here for more pics!


Post a Comment