Bar Ciccio is the kind of place you could walk by a million times and never notice. It's located on a strip of 6th Avenue that gets ridiculously minimal intentional foot traffic and the shop front is so understated that you probably wouldn't even realize it's open for business. In fact, the place is completely subterranean and is located down a flight of stairs frequently obscured by scaffolding, but to miss this truly authentic Italian joint would be a big mistake.
You guys know I eat a ton of food. I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I'm also quite passionate about my cocktails. Some would even go so far as to call me a lush. Well, this year provided no shortage of impressive and outstanding cocktails (and obviously food as I've already recapped). And since the end of the year is rolling around, it only seems fair to look back and remember the best of the best cocktails as well. I've even inclcuded a list of ingredients for each drink recipe so you can try to whip them up for yourself at home... if you're particularly talented. Warning: there are some really obscure ingredients in a lot of these, a lot of them are rather complicated to concoct. Also, I don't have any of the proportions for the different parts... so good luck!
What a year!! I did something like this last year too, but oh boy was 2014 a doozy. I started off living in NYC, then a started a new job that whisked me off the San Francisco and Silicon Valley for a few months before ultimately relocating to San Francisco permanently. And along the way, I squeezed in a couple of vacations too. Sooooo, I did a LOT of epic eating this year. And truth be told, I found it particularly difficult to narrow down my list as concisely as last year's, but I somehow managed. So, without further ado, I present the winners (and runner-ups) broken down by category. I tried to cluster similar dish types together, but really they are in no particular order. Let's begin! And if you wanna hear about the 2014's Best Cocktails, read more here.
Finding under-the-radar, cheap, quality Italian date night spots in NYC ain't easy. I've got a couple places tucked away in my back pocket with delicious, reasonably priced pastas such as Batali's Otto which I've already written about, but it doesn't always fit the bill. The biggest issue with Otto is that their wine list is on the expensive side which can add up quick on a date. And then there's Fiat Cafe which is awesome, but not always easy to grab a table at due to its compact size. That's why I'm happy I've found the hidden in plain sight Greenwich Village gem Da Marcella.
Working in West SoHo has its perks. With so many digital agencies planting roots out on Hudson and Varick, a lot of New York City food trucks have taken notice. Pretty much any day of the week, there will be four or five gourmet trucks serving lunch to the masses, each amazing in their own right. But there's one I usually don't see people waiting in long lines for or raving about online that I think deserves some attention, the Old Traditional Polish Cuisine truck.
In a neighborhood where models, fashionistas, and shopping enthusiasts roam wild it's almost unsurprising that a cafe like Chobani exists. I'll be the first to admit that I openly scoffed at the idea of a fresh Greek yogurt specialty shop when they first opened up in SoHo, but I'll also be quick to tell you that everything is actually incredible. You, like me, are probably saying "Really? It's just Greek yogurt with toppings in a bowl?" Well yes, that would be the simplistic way of looking at it. But, there are actual chefs back there behind the glass wearing actual chef coats putting together super-fresh, interesting, flavorful sweet and savory Greek yogurt and gourmet topping combinations.
I love new restaurant openings. There's always this energy in the air, an excitement, the mystery of what the gut gamble might uncover. That's why I was so excited to be invited to the soft launch of Union Bar & Kitchen in West SoHo.
In the western reaches of SoHo there are tons of office buildings loaded with hungry workers in need of a good lunch. This draws a wide variety food trucks to the area to line those streets on a daily basis. Most of these trucks are the hipster-fusion variety which attract long lines and park on either Varick or Hudson just below Houston. But if you walk just one block back east, you'll find a strange triangular park called SoHo Square Park on 6th Avenue between Broome and Spring. At the top edge of the park, on most days, you'll find a bright yellow food truck painted with very stereotypical Indian stylistic colors and decorative flourishes called the Desi Food Truck serving humble Indian dishes and never has a line.
*Editor's Note 11/13/14: This restaurant used to be called Aamanns-Copenhagen NYC but is now simply referred to as The Copenhagen. *Editor's Note 10/15/15: I'm sad to report that The Copenhagen has permanently closed. When you hear Danish food, what comes to mind? Maybe that eponymous jam filled pastry? Maybe you literally have absolutely no clue what Danish people eat. I know I sure didn't. That is before I checked out the New York outpost of the Scandinavian imported restaurant Aammanns-Copenhagen, known as The Copenhagen.
Delicatessen is a really interesting place. Located in the heart of Nolita, it's definitely a scene. You know, the kind of place where the cool people hang out. The ground floor is a nice, spacious, sunlit restaurant known for its classic American comfort foods like mac & cheese and burgers. These qualities also make it a very popular brunch destination. On top of all of this, the basement below Delicatessen is a sort of loungey nightclub that regularly fills up with models and the rest of the cool crowd. In general I try to avoid popular, sceney places like this, but I've found the food and experience at Delicatessen is great every time. They serve really good, quality food in a casual atmosphere without any of the pretension you might expect. They serve nice cocktails, have a good wine list, and serve big, hearty dishes making it a great spot for a date night or a meal out with the family.