The Latest Pines Picks — Updates and New Picks

I’m glad you have found my blog! The restaurant scene in New York City is always changing and I’ll be using this as a way to keep you up to date on the changes and share my new finds. I hope you’ll check back often or subscribe for updates through RSS feed or email so you can be kept up to date. After all, I don’t want you to have to wait until the next edition of Pines Picks to know about my discoveries!

Great Fondue at Taureau in NYC

Taureau serves up a great three-course fondue meal. The first course is choice of cheese fondue from a list that ranges from spicy “Devil’s Whiff” to traditional “Old Swiss.” I ordered the “Perigord” cheese fondue, which is basically traditional with some truffle oil and black truffle shavings. The fondue is served with croutons, but a secret is to request classic, pieces of soft bread. I feel that soft bread is crucial to the cheese fondue, and it really goes well with the salty, cheesy flavor. The fondue itself is smooth and heavily seasoned.  It is accompanied by a tasty green salad, which is very refreshing in contrast to the melted cheese.

 

The second course consists of a “Fondue Bourguignonne,” which includes a fondue pot of either boiling oil or broth to cook meat. I got the classic canola oil fondue and also tried the red wine based broth fondue. Served with seasoned, sliced filet mignon (or hanger steak or chicken) and five sauces, the course is fun and filling. Honestly, as it can take a while to cook the meat, the canola oil is more efficient and supplies the same amount of flavor.

The final course is a chocolate fondue, accompanied by different chopped fruits, slices of cake, and marshmallows. The milk chocolate fondue was pretty classic–smooth, rich melted chocolate. There is also a dark chocolate option.

Overall, Taureau’s fondue course is a very filling, very good meal in NYC.

(Note: You can also get just the cheese and dessert courses for a reduced price).

Taureau — 558 Broome St, New York, NY 10013

Bacaro: Mouthwatering Pizza on the River in Providence, RI

Some of the tastiest thin crust pizza I have had is from Bacaro, a small Italian restaurant located next to the river in Providence, Rhode Island.

I ordered the “Margherita Pizza.” Almost paper-thin, the crisp crust is fragile, yet it also has a nice chewiness.  The tomato sauce is spotted on top of a two-cheese covered crust. Then, the pizza is topped with some fresh basil and cut into many small pieces. I love how the parts of the pizza covered with both sauce and cheese had a slightly sweeter flavor than the parts not covered in sauce. This created a combination of flavors and of textures that worked very well.

If you are ever in Providence, you must stop at Bacaro.

 

Pines Picks: Top Ten Dishes in Cambridge, MA

I recently got the chance to live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for a few weeks. Over the course of my stay, I tried many restaurants in the area. It turns out, there is some incredible food in Cambridge. Listed below are my favorite ten dishes:

 

1. Best Waffle: Zinneken’s Belgian Waffles

 1154 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

Zinneken’s Belgian Waffles serves up the best sugary Belgian waffle in Cambridge. I ordered a liege waffle with Belgian chocolate and speculoos, and I was very pleased. Since the waffle is dense, it holds the rich melted chocolate in every bite. Mixed with the gingerbread-tasting speculoos, the waffle has a surprisingly unique, incredibly tasty flavor.

 

2. Best Sushi: Cafe Sushi

1105 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

Cafe Sushi — without a doubt — has the best sushi in Cambridge. The rice has a slight vinegar undertone, and is a solid accompaniment to their incredibly fresh fish. I loved the tuna scallion roll and would recommend it. The nori (seaweed) is tightly wrapped, and the sushi roll is soft and very easy to eat.

 

3. Best Ramen: Santouka Hokkaido Ramen

1 Bow St, Cambridge, MA 02138

Santouka Hokkaido Ramen specializes in ramen. I tried many types of their ramen, and I especially loved the Spicy Miso Ramen and the classic Shio Ramen. The Spicy Miso features a combination of “three kinds of chili peppers” and truly packs a punch. The spice, however, does not take away from the firmness of the thin noodles. I also loved the shio ramen, which was beautifully salted and featured a thick broth.

 

4. Best Scallion Pancake: Changsho

1712 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

Changsho is an institution; it has been serving amazing Chinese food since it was named Wong Foon in the 1970s. I got the chance to eat there, and it was by far my favorite restaurant in Cambridge. One of the highlights was their non-oily scallion pancakes. They are flaky and layered, with each layer crisp but chewy. The steaming pile of pancakes, dipped in a bit of soy sauce or a little duck sauce, makes for a great dish.

 

5. Best Nachos: Felipe’s Taqueria

21 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138

After passing by and noticing a high-piled stack of hot nachos, I stopped in to get my own. Felipe’s has many options, but the nachos caught my eye. The nacho chips are put in an oven to melt the cheese and then are topped with refreshing, chopped Pico de Gallo, cubed medium steak, black beans, and tasty mild guacamole. I ended up making a second trip and ordered the same thing. They are that good.

 

6. Best Cannoli: Mike’s Pastry

11 Dunster St, Cambridge, MA 02138

Imagine a cookie filled with sweet, light cannoli cream and wrapped in chocolate chips. Mike’s Pastry has a Florentine cannoli that is exactly that. The cookie shell has the same thickness as a caramelized classic Florentine. The cannoli cream is lighter than most, but splashed with some well-sized chocolate chips, it suits the Florentine’s thickness well.

 

7. Best BBQ: Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ

16-18 Eliot St, Cambridge, MA 02138

You cannot go wrong with Kalbi Short Rib and steamed white rice from Japanese BBQ spot Gyu-Kaku. The meat is marinated in a delectable sweet and salty, almost teriyaki-like sauce. The Kalbi Short Rib is super thin and you cook it right at your table. After about two minutes, put the short rib right on top of some warm steamed white rice for a hearty and tasty meal.

 

8. Best Dumpling: Changsho

1712 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

The soup dumplings at Changsho are so good they justify their 30-minute wait time. Served with a small amount of tangy vinegar, the piping hot soup-filled dumplings are unbeatable. The casing of the dumpling is not sticky and holds a fair amount of the salty soup and some meat. A secret is to wait a few minutes for the dumplings to cool down just enough, and then eat each one whole so that the soup literally explodes in your mouth.

 

9. Best Falafel: Falafel Corner

8 Eliot St, Cambridge, MA 02138

Falafel Corner serves up some very tasty falafel. The dollops of chickpea are fried to a golden brown and then topped with flavorful tahini, tomato, and lettuce. Tightly wrapped in a warm pita, the falafel at Falafel House is well worth a try.

 

10. Best Pizza: Otto

1432 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

Otto has some super thin, very high-quality pizza. There are many options, but my favorite is the classic pepperoni. The slice has the right ratio of cheese to sauce to dough and hits the spot if you are looking for some satisfying pizza. (Note: the bottom of the slices have a fair amount of cornmeal, which may be a turn-off for some. However, I did not mind.)

Joanne Trattoria — Great Chicken Parmesan

After visiting Joanne Trattoria, I can conclude that Lady Gaga grew up eating some very tasty Italian food.

Lady Gaga’s family restaurant, Joanne Trattoria, is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The definite standout at the restaurant was the “red gravy,” a thick tomato sauce that is perfect on Joanne’s al dente spaghetti and unforgettable chicken parmesan. With a thin layer of bubbling, oven baked cheese and the sweet “red gravy,” the lightly breaded chicken parmesan is complete. I simply could not get enough of the tomato sauce and even ordered some extra “red gravy” on the side: it was that good.

Joanne Trattoria is definitely worth a visit (or five).

Rotisserie Georgette

I recently had dinner at Rotisserie Georgette. Georgette focuses on traditional French dishes and executes each with near perfection and the best possible ingredients available.
Watermelon Salad
The first dish I had was the Chilled Watermelon Salad. The cubes of red and yellow watermelon rest on a bed of Lemon Ricotta and are topped with a delicate amount of sweet and sour balsamic vinegar. Although the salad seems simple, the blend of the juices from the watermelon and the other flavors culminate in one of the best salads I have ever had.
Chicken
Next, I tried the roasted chicken, the specialty of Rotisserie Georgette. I had the “Grand Mere,” which came with a thin red-wine based sauce that had some salty chopped up pieces of bacon.
The reason I believe that the roasted chicken is so good is the thin, not-oily skin. The skin holds flavors from the roasting and is truly something that stands out. After cutting through the skin, the chicken is incredibly moist, and with a bit of the sauce, has a very good salty, slightly garlic flavor.
Chocolate Souffle with truffles

Finally, I tried the dessert. I really enjoyed the chocolate souffle. Although it is small, it seems to be just enough as it also comes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and three rich chocolate truffles. The souffle itself is very light and moist, yet still the right consistency. With some of the creamiest vanilla ice cream (made in-house), the dessert is truly fantastic. After finishing the souffle, I inhaled the small yet dense chocolate truffles. The truffles are a highlight of the dish, and I believe the best way to end a perfect meal.

 

Rotisserie Georgette 
14 E 60th St, New York, NY 10022