Gnoccheria by Luzzo’s

 

It makes sense that Luzzo’s, the famous pizza restaurant in New York City, with amazing thin crust “Bufala” Pizza (hearty tomato sauce, soft – thin mozzarella di bufala, aromatic basil), started its own Italian food eatery. But, what Luzzo’s has done is truly special: it has created a restaurant that specializes in gnocchi, aptly named Gnoccheria by Luzzo’s.

Gnoccheria has numerous types of gnocchi. You can order classic potato, purple potato, or spinach gnocchi. Then, you have the option of ordering a stuffing for the gnocchi (cheese-stuffed, mushroom-stuffed, and asparagus-stuffed). Next, you have a choice of many sauces from the Pomodoro to the Sorrentina to the Ragu to the pesto to the Quattro Formaggi (four cheese — like a fondue covered gnocchi).

While I enjoyed the spinach and purple potato varieties, I liked the classic gnocchi the best. It was the lightest and fluffiest of the three, and very flavorful. For me, the Sorrentina was the standout sauce – a tasty tomato sauce with gooey mozzarella and fresh basil already folded in. The other sauces were quite good as well, ranging from the heavy Quattro Formaggi, (a four cheese-like fondue sauce with a strong Muenster flavor) to the light Pomodoro sauce, (a simple tomato gravy).

I really loved the Gnoccheria. No other spot that I know of will exhibit more dedication to the art of gnocchi and that alone is worth experiencing.

Gnoccheria by Luzzo’s: 234 EAST 4TH ST NEW YORK, NY 10009

Extraordinary Lunch at Tempura Matsui

Tempura Matsui is a Japanese restaurant focusing on tempura (fried vegetables and seafood). The small, 20-seat restaurant is located in Murray Hill, hidden approximately 50 feet to the right of the entrance of a hotel. Tempura Matsui calls their style of making the art that is tempura “The Matsui Way” after their grand chef Mr. Matsui.

While numerous restaurants in New York City makes tempura, Matsui’s paper-thin batter gently coats the ingredients and enables the juices and subtle flavors to stand out. The lunch is a set menu, priced at 40 dollars.

I sat at the ten-seat tempura bar, right across from the two chefs and a large pan of bubbling oil.

To start, they served a plate of cold, round udon noodles accompanied by a bowl of sauce to dip. With two slurps, I inhaled the tiny amount of noodles. When dipped, the noodles hold onto the sauce, adding a nice saltiness and a bit of tang.

Next, the star of the meal: the tempura courses. Piece by piece, the chefs placed the delicately fried shrimp, fish, and vegetables onto a small block in front of me.

My favorites were the eggplant, the onion, and a fried mixture of chopped vegetables (including pumpkin, sweet-potato, and string bean). Each piece of tempura is accompanied by radish and tempura-sauce to cool down and add another layer of complexity to every bite.

Biting into the fried slice of eggplant produced a burst of juices enclosed in a thin layer of lightly-salted dough. I was shocked by how hot the interior of the eggplant was, so be cautious.

The god-father of an onion ring, the onion tempura held absolutely no greasiness. The sweet flavor of the onion worked beautifully with the crispy coating.

Lastly, I really enjoyed the fried mixture of vegetables. All veggies were cubed in precisely the same size and bound together on a bed of fried, flaky dough. The sweetness of the potato and pumpkin added to the texture of the firm cuts of string bean.

The whole special tempura experience is definitely unlike any other in NYC and worth a try.

Tempura Matsui: 222 E 39th St, New York, NY 10016

 

Tom Yum Noodle Soup at Galanga in NYC

Known for impeccable Pad Thai, Galanga restaurant in NYC has an innovative dish on their menu called Tom Yum Noodle Soup. The soup has the classic Tom Yum soup flavors: a sour citrus along with a very subtle chili-flavored spice. Topped with minced chicken, shrimp, and some vegetables, there is an interesting variety of colors and textures in the soup. Instead of just soup, Galanga’s version of this dish incorporates an excessive amount of super thin, extremely long noodles. The noodle soup is uniquely flavorful and works very well. So, if you want a steaming bowl of flavor-packed noodle soup, Galanga is the spot.

 

 

Galanga — 149 W 4th St # 2, New York, NY 10012

 

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.)