@MarcForgione IronChef, ChileLobster…

Love Lobster…hold that thought. I recently caught up with some friends and business partners for dinner. One of our friends husbands went to school with Iron Chef Marc Forgione (fellow UMASS alumni:) and was able to get us a table at his namesake farm to table spot in Tribeca.

As we caught up over Bourbon and Tequila Old Fashioned’s it was nice to see these faces in a soft candlelit like lighting vs the glare of a Zoom/Teams/WebEx (shameless plugs) call. The chef sent us out some amuse bouche to whet our appetites. Devils on Houseback (dates wrapped in bacon) and Laotian Sushi roll (Fluke wrapped around sticky rice). A taste of things to come.

The chef’s signature dish is his Chili Lobster with Texas Toast and we all ordered it for our appetizer. He created it after a trip to SouthEast Asia based upon his love of the spicy crab dishes he fell for there. He Americanized it by substituting Lobster as his crustacean and replacing rice or noodles with thick cut toast to mop up his bisque like sauce with a secret ingredient (Sriracha his fave hangover cure) to give it a hint of heat. It literally was one of the, if not thee best Lobster dishes any of us ever had. To say it is memorable is an understatement.

While there are a number of entrees to choose from a couple of our group went with his signature Chicken under a Brick dish, while most of us went for the Halibut. While perfectly cooked…it is the rich and decadent sauce the menu simply refers to as “Proposal” with hazelnuts and golden raisins in a cream sauce that lifted it to another gastronomic level.

Being the peak of Apple season for desert we all choose the spiced cake with roasted apples and caramel apple cider ice cream. For some of us it was time for post dinner coffee while others continued on with Mezcal Negronis. Full disclosure…I choose both.

If your looking for a great spot for a group of friends, family, or romantic dinner Marc Forgione hits all the right notes. The restaurant offers outdoor dining as well as indoor dining instituting all the required Covid19 guidelines, tables spaced well apart, plexiglass screens and service a la mask. Add this superior spot to your Best of Tribeca, Best Lobster, Farm to Table and Special Occasion lists.

Marc Forgione is located at 134 Reade Street

@CraftTaqueria New City

After working up an appetite by doing some serious hiking in Harriman State Park we came upon (Read: Googled) the Clarkson Plaza that had a number of restaurants to choose from. My Foodie radar went haywire when we walked by Craft Taqueria. Since we both love Tacos decided to see what New City had to offer.

Craft Taqueria’s Taco menu offers eight to choose from for $10-13 and you get three rather large tacos for your dinero. A mix of traditional and some with inspired fusion twists. We started with the Wasabi Mango Guacamole topped with wasabi peas and plenty of chips. We both liked it…definitely had a wasabi bite to it.

We ordered up the Carnitas for a classic which were topped with a mango peach salsa that were huge and delicious. My bro a taco snob exclaimed one of the best he’s ever had. For something different I ordered the Yellowtail tartare served in a fried wonton wrapper topped with the Wasabi Mango Guacamole. Definitely geared towards the Poke lovers crowd. I enjoyed them…but the Carnitas were truly special.

While I was craving something stronger to drink, they don’t have a liquor license so we ordered up Pineapple Aqua Frescas which did the trick.

As food snobs we were really pleasantly surprised by how good the Mexican Fusion up in New City is. Definitely add Craft Taqueria to your Tasty Taco, Mexican, Fusion, Best of New City and post Hiking refueling spots.

Craft Taqueria is located at 170 South Main Street

@TroppoStretto Italian Heroes outta La @DutchKills

Love Italian heroes…Who doesn’t? Now while I am admittedly a NYC, Brooklyn, Long Island snob when it comes to them…I was curious about Troppo Stretto’s LA Cali versions. The menu is fairly limited with six heroes to choose from and a couple of salads. No you cannot build your own. Fuggetaboutit!

Well not necessarily…the Il Papa comprised of Mortadella, Capicolla, Chorizo, Manchego, Shredduce, Tomato, Giardiniera, and Dijonnaise is the best of the bunch and pretty tasty. With the mix of Italian and Spanish meats and cheeses and with their Mustard Mayo spread not necessarily traditional…its still pretty tasty.

Definitely worth hitting if you are enjoying cocktails at Dutch Kills where its operating out of or if nearby in that section of LIC located at 27-24 Jackson Avenue.

Astoria Queens @CafeBoulis for Greek Treats, #KingSouvlaki and the Welling Street Mural Project

Craving Greek food and wanting to check out the Street Art I heard about in Astoria I embarked upon an Odyssean like quest aboard the NYC Ferry (my new fave form of transport) to the land of Greek treats. I grabbed a Lamb Pita with the works from King Souvlaki a food truck located at 31st snd 31st Avenue. Their pita’s are fairly large and served Greek style stuffed with fries. Which makes me wonder did the Burrito trucks of San Diego get the fries thing from the Greeks or other way around?

I then hit the road to burn off the pita and check out the Welling Mural Wall Projects Street Art. It was better than anticipated of the like you see by the Bushwich Collective in Brooklyn. Def worth the trip here to see these beautiful works if Street Art is your thing. I did a short stop at the Sculpture Garden but found what is currently on display not my thing…but maybe yours .

I was not leaving without any Greek baked goods both savory and sweet. Cafe Boulis is one of those wonderful hole in the walls that is take out only (though they have a few outdoor tables) and has amazing baked goods most in the $4 range. I took home Spinach Pie, Bougatsa a flaky philo dough treat filled with custard that was amazing and surprisingly light, and Portokalpita (Orange cake) which I became addicted to when I was on Naxos around this time last year…before the world went sideways. Its located at 30-15 31st Avenue.

Plenty more to explore as Astoria is fairly large with multiple cultures to enjoy. For a fun and easy day trip on the high seas (Read: River) the NYC Ferry I believe is the best and most fun way to get there.

Triona’s Outdoors Sports Viewing on Third Avenue

How have you been watching the games with Sports Bars finally open in NYC but only at 25% capacity? Have you been enjoying the latest take on outdoor dining…outdoor viewing? Many places are not taking the proper precautions, I avoid them. However, some are and Triona’s is one of the better options out there.

    Tables separated by plexiglass…✔️
    Multiple outdoor screens with multiple games in at once…✔️
    Menu with plenty to choose from…✔️
    Great Buffalo Wings…which are mandatory for proper NFL, etc viewing…✔️
    Great Craft Beer selection…well some room for improvement here…but Im a snob and they have a decent selection.
    Friendly and efficient service…✔️

I kinda like watching the games outside and fingers crossed this continues with great spots like Tirona’s doing it right.

Triona’s is located at 192 3rd Avenue

Yi Fang Taiwanese Fruit Teas

Have a thing for Iced Tea? Newly opened Yi Fang on East 25th (with many other locations ) serves Taiwanese Fruit Teas with dozens of flavors to choose from that vary from traditional greens and oolongs to some that are salty, sweet and or fruity (check their menu at Yi Fang ) . You choose the amount of ice and sugar.

I tried the Green Plum Green Tea that actually had a couple of green plums in it. I went lite on the ice and very lite on the sugar. While they are $5 bucks + and up it was very good and did have a unique taste to it especially if you like plums. Definitely worth checking this place out if Tea is your thing.

Yi Fang is located at 61 Lexington right off 25th Street.

@AmaRawBar Best EV Happy Hour w/ #Oysters

Love Oysters, enjoy a well crafted cocktail, and outdoor seating? Have I got a great spot for you. Ama Raw Bar on Avenue B has a large outdoor patio and a back garden. Fingers crossed…indoors dining is coming Fall 2020.

During Happy Hour Ama offers about a half dozen cocktails for $8-10 and $1 Oysters to enjoy with them. The cocktails rotate daily and there are beer and wine specials as well. Thus far I’ve enjoyed three of their cocktails. The Thai cooler a spin on a G n T, the Lychee Martini and the Spicy Cucumber Margarita.

Their food menu is comprised of primarily seafood, a couple of chicken appi’s and a number of veggie options. The girls sitting across from us recommended the Crispy Rice topped with Spicy Tuna.

For a cool scene, outdoor seating, great happy hour specials and a tasty Asian fusion menu def add this of your list of places to hit in the East Village. Oh and if you enjoy Jazz…Rue B is right down the block.

Ama Raw Bar is located at 190 Avenue B

@Auzaatar Lebanese Cuisine On Ave A

After catching some live music at RueB (of note it was mid July and the first time seeing any since Covid19 hit) we were hungry, it was getting late and kitchens were closing. As luck would have it Au Za’atar was still serving and after a short wait…we were seated.

They have a rather large menu to choose from and though hungry since it was already 10pm we didn’t want to overdo it. Thus I ordered a number of appetizers for us to share.

They brought everything out at once, but that was fine since we were able to take tastes and go back and forth on what we liked best. We started with the Fattoush salad which is pretty similar to a Greek salad sans Feta cheese. We had their Hummus Bi Lahmeh (topped with Lamb), whipped ultra smooth Middle Eastern style, and the Jebne Harra their version of Pizza. A flatbread (I believe made of cauliflower) topped with cheese, fresh tomatoes and olives. Amazing how such a simple dish could be so delish.

Our eyes were a bit bigger than our stomachs…which actually worked out since we were well sated and it made for a meal a couple of nights later. If you like Greek food and have never enjoyed Lebanese I highly recommend it. Its similar in many ways but unique at the same time. We were too full for dessert…but a number of them sounded yummy…next time.

Au Za’atar is located at 188 Avenue A

John Brown’s BBQ Queens

By 7:30pm on a Wednesday night all the ribs and burnt ends were already sold out at the John Brown Smokehouse in LIC. Luckily they still had enough to choose from. More importantly they have outdoor seating.

I ordered the Special of the Day, 1/3 pound of Rib tips (rib meat w/o the bones), a big Texas style sausage link chopped up, a side of your choice and a couple of slices of white bread and some BBQ sauce. For my side I went Mac n Cheese and to be healthy…an additional side of Collard Greens.

My friends got a pound of brisket, sides of chili and cornbread. We all shared everything and all brought leftovers home. Everything was delish and even though I was bummed about the ribs being sold out, the rib tips were great. Of note, my bud and his wife added their leftover brisket to Ramen and raved how good it worked.

They have a selection of beverages to choose from…but since we had some 4 packs of brews from nearby #Fifthhammer the new Poolside (Cucumber Lime Sour) and the Flute Solo (a Belgium with a banana thing going on) we drank those with our BBQ.

John Brown Smokehouse is located at 10-43 44th Drive. Please note this location is closing and the Mothership Meat Company at 27-20 40th Avenue will be converted into a John Browns.

@Amma Moma’s Home Cooked Meals/Outdoor Dining

I love Amma so much I hit it twice this week. The first time for take out and the second time for outdoor dining. I highly recommend the dining in, its a much better deal.

The Lamb Vindaloo via take out lunch only came with rice. Even the Naan was extra. It was excellent and one of the hotter dishes I’ve had in a while. So hot I had to wipe a lot of the sauce off to eat it. So damn good I saved the sauce to put over chicken I made the next night. The dish was $13.00 +$2 for the Naan, total of $15.00.

On my next visit I got a table and ordered from the Amma Lunch Special Prix Fixe. For $17.95 you get a first course, appetizer, and entree that comes with rice and Naan. I choose the Bhel Puri an Indian Street food that I would liken to nachos. It’s a mix of chickpeas, rice puffs, potato and chutneys.

For my appetizer I got the Shrimp Balchao in a tomato onion sauce that was delicious and for my entree I ordered the Lamb Kolhapuri which was spicy through nowhere near as hot as their searing Vindaloo. Though still fairly hot that I mopped up with their delicious homemade Naan bread.

Add Amma to your Best Indian, Spicy Hot, Prix Fixe Lunch and Outdoor dining lists.

Amma is located at 246 East 51st Street, Outdoor dining is available.