One of the few original cocktails bars in New York City, Clover Club captures the revelry of the 1920 prohibition era, with touches of modern influences. The large saloon offers overs 30 spectacular cocktails. The beverage menu is thoughtfully divided into categories, such as Stirred, Sours & Fizzes, Royales, and more. It’s almost impossible for guests to not be impressed by the library.
One favorite is Peat’s Dragons – a smoky take on a Manhattan. Although named after the children’s story, the swill is quite mature as it uses a peaty scotch whisky, (hence the name), and a smoked style Sfumato amaro. This boozy-forward bev is briskly stirred and strained into a two-part glass: part is poured into a chilled glass and the remainder, into a mini carafe cradled in crushed ice. Since Peat’s Dragons is served like such, the flavors are smooth and free to mingle, creating a frosty, long lasting sipper.
Thirsty for more? Check out Peat’s Dragons on the Clover Club episode of POUR with Beverage Director, Tom Macy.
Sure, New York City has lots of glitz and glam. Huge buildings and iconic attractions are among its characteristics, but NYC wouldn’t be what it is today, without its dreamers; those who take a chance to pursue their passions with reckless abandon – or those who live by ‘YOLO’ (You Only Live Once). For generations, New York has been built by go-getters and is full of those seeking their ultimate ‘American Dream.’
The same aspirations are true for Frankie Rodriguez and Alyssa Sartor, owners of August Laura, in Brooklyn. Bartending more than 20 years combined in New York City, the couple was blessed to open their ‘dream,’ befittingly located four blocks from where Alyssa’s grandfather (an Italian immigrant) grew up. Paying homage to her grandfather, the living room style bar has been named after him. The deep familial ties are undeniable at August Laura. Family pictures and home-goods are tastefully placed around the room, creating a cozy nightcap for all guests.
Tipples are elegant, intriguing, and satisfying, at the warm neighborhood cocktail bar. Each highlight the individual ingredients whether sweet, bitter, or savory and progress thoughtfully in spirit strength. The signature and nostalgic Amaretto Sour is seriously addictive. Alyssa’s recipe uses egg white and flavorful Nocino walnut liqueur, which adds sophistication and a seductive, creamy element to each sip. Shaved nutmeg heightens the senses and is the perfect garnish for the luscious drink.
The dedicated staff at August Laura pours sippers for patrons nightly, in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, while listing to stellar playlists such as Sam Smith, 90s rap, and even a live jazz duo (every Wednesday night).
In its premier year, August Laura is making its imprint because Alyssa and Frankie dared to dream. Each time a customer enjoys their drink of choice, in essence, he or she raises a glass to couple’s surreal American Dream.
Want to know more about August Laura? Check the interview and how to make the buzz-worthy Amaretto Sour on POUR.
387 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
Jazz on Wednesday evenings
Pop-up Weekend Brunch: Dovecote at August Laura – Saturday and Sunday 10 am – 3 pm (featuring La Colombe coffee, coffee cocktails, and local bakery goods)
A truly international and rustic cuisine, Peruvian food deserves more acclaim than it receives.Serving up a melting pot of cultural influences including Spanish, African and Incan, yield iconic dishes like ceviche and Escabache de Pescado (fried fish with onion sauce). Peruvian dishes often have bold, complex and vibrant flavor, incorporating ingredients like aji chili and sweet lucuma (a native fruit).
Flavors such as these are proudly served at Brooklyn’s Llama Inn. Don’t let its hipster vibe fool you – the ‘Llama Drama’ (referring to the buzzing atmosphere) is serious about delicious authentic eats, reflecting Chef Erik Ramirez’ favorite nostalgic meals. Chef Ramirez and his staff have done a wonderful job turning a social haven into a full-scale, epicurean, must-visit. One of the stand-out dishes is the Beef Tenderloin Stir Fry. This visually stunning dish matches its aesthetics in taste as it is a beautiful mountain of sliced tenderloin topped with red onion, rocoto (hot chili pepper) and French fries served with a side of avocado and scallion pancakes. The succulent beef is bathed in a luscious soy sauce, perfect for dipping fries or drizzled on a pancake burrito.
It’s difficult to go wrong at the Inn with so many exceptional selections including the refined octopus or spicy pork belly anticuchos (skewered meat). Whether a novice to Peru’s succulent fare or a native, Llama Inn is an unforgettable experience transporting diners’ taste buds to the motherland itself. Hungry for more? Click hereto watch the ‘Llama Drama’ in action on POUR featuring Llama Inn’s iconic Flying Purple Pisco cocktail.
If you live in the vicinity of Brooklyn’s eclectic Bushwick neighborhood, or even voyage over the water from Manhattan (gasp!) you know ‘Roberta’s’ and heavenly ‘pizza’ are synonymous. This beloved Brooklyn pizza is as popular as New York City’s legendary bagels. So light and incredibly flavorful, the dough stands up to heavy-hitting ingredients.
Known for its relaxed, funky ambiance that serves up decadent ingredients like Italian caciocavallo cheese and delicious spek, Roberta’s is a favorite of locals and beyond. Surrounded by refurbished, trendy warehouses, vintage clothing boutiques, and local watering holes, this hotspot contends with the most favored pizzerias in New York City.
The thoughtful selection of wine, cocktails and beer are well-rounded and have an emphasis on supporting local vendors. One such beverage, the Wölffer Rosé Cider from Long Island, is an exquisite cider made in the style of Rosé wine. Tip:this bubbly bev. beautifully complements the Duck Prosciutto appetizer.The unique prosciutto interpretation of using duck compared to traditional ham is brilliant and is deliciously paired with the cider.
Any cured meat begs for bread and Roberta’s perfectly baked bread – flaky outside while magically light and fluffy inside – doesn’t disappoint. Truly, all of the doughy treats: brunch sticky buns, biscuits, and croissants are equally as mouthwatering, lush and baked on the premises. No wonder guests visit in droves, waiting up to two hours for a table sometimes. Unfortunately, reservations are not taken, but calling ahead for the wait-time status doesn’t hurt.
Duck Prosciutto and Wölffer Rosé Cider
Every pizza is made to order and fired in a brick oven that greets guests upon arrival. Although it’s hard not to order one of each menu item, there are a few must-haves. I recommend the delectable Family Jewels pie topped with heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil and prosciutto bread crumbs. If toppings are your jam, try the Spekenwolf with a whopping 14 toppings, including crimini mushrooms, eggplant and ricotta salata.
Roberta’s isn’t a one-trick pony, though. Other entrées like the zesty Sasso Chicken with salsa verde or the addictive Dry-Aged Wagyu Carpaccio are also showstoppers. With an enticing menu, regulars are always thrilled to try something different each visit or enjoy their ‘usual’ as if it was the first time. There are so many exceptional restaurants in unexpected places in Brooklyn – and Roberta’s is no exception to this truth. The quirky pizzeria is also a bakery and tiki bar in the middle of industrial and auto repair lots. It’s obvious Roberta’s doesn’t fit any molds but breaks them instead.
You’ve heard of southern comfort but at Hewlett’s best kept secret, Ciao Bella in Long Island, comfort Italiano is served as rich as their marinara sauce. Steeped in a long (and rather notable) history in the kitchen, Chef and owner Freddy Sammarone puts forth his best five days a week at his debut, laid-back haute. Raised in his father’s legendary restaurant, Ennio and Michael’s (previously in the West Village), Chef Freddy practically fulfilled every position in the family operation. Teamed with his wife Dina, his expertise is modestly, yet exquisitely displayed on every plate, seducing diners as they anxiously dig-in.
The antipasto trio, for starters, isn’t your traditional antipasto but stems from tradition. Showcasing his mother’s famous roasted artichoke, Chef Sammarone dresses it in breadcrumbs and dried cranberries. The artichoke is roasted to “buttah” perfection and melts in the mouth. Cranberries balance the creamy artichoke as the crumbs added great texture to each bite. Savory baked eggplant and clams rounded out the trio – a great backdrop for the next course.
There’s something to be said about simple flavors and textures. When the right ingredients meet and spices mingle pure magic happens. Such is the case with the stunning squid ink linguini topped with a shrimp filled marinara sauce. Sounds simple, but this winning dish thoughtfully highlights each main ingredient. The al dente pasta with the garlic, ink sauce complements the kick of the spicy shrimp marinara. Good luck resisting the urge to lick the plate once done!
And of course, a meal isn’t complete without ending on a sweet note. Hands down, the Italian ricotta cheesecake is the best dessert offering. Mastered by Dina Sammarone and inspired by Chef’s father, this awe-inspiring slice of heaven is wonderfully moist, has a light cake consistency and manages to have a dark, golden crust. This cheesecake rivals the best of ‘em.
Although, considered a charming neighborhood spot, it’s definitely on the rise. Genuine, inviting people, scrumptious fare, and family influence equals comfort in my book. Ciao Bella is more than a phrase, more than a restaurant – it’s a way of life.
Open Wednesday evening – Sunday evening
Made to order meals
Mindful of food allergies and gluten free requests (with advance notice)
Many people know the Upper West Side, U.W.S. for short, for it’s exquisite museums – MOMA, The Museum of Natural History, the Planetarium and of course Central Park. But remember, this is New York City, one of the world’s food mecca’s and so ANY NEIGHBORHOOD in this city is known for it’s food – The Upper West Side included. I’ve had the pleasure of sampling some new dines and known favorites in this neighborhood.
New to me, but well established to locals is Canteen 82. This superb sushi and Shanghai-centric joint offers fresh, organic ingredients. So many imaginative sushi rolls in this eatery – there’s the Mango Fly Roll filled with spicy tuna and yellowtail fish topped with mango and also the Green Dragon Roll stuffed with sweet potato, shitake mushrooms and cucumber draped with avocado.
I cannot say enough about their succulent pork soup dumplings. These babies are similar to traditional dumplings but include a helping of pork broth inside, so your bite bursts with flavor to seduce your taste buds! You must try it at least once in your life. Unforgettable!
Address: 467 Columbus Ave. (bet. 82nd and 83rd )
Another popular place is Gabriela’s Restaurant & Tequila Bar. No passport necessary, but once your walk under the front trellis your are instantly transported to Gabriel’s back patio in Mexico. Authenticity is taken very seriously here. Especially in the coveted moles served – Poblano (pepper and chocolate based sauce) and Pipian(pumpkin seed and almond sauce). I recommend notable dishes: Empanada de Pollo Organico, a turnover filled with organic chicken, sautéed tomatoes and onions and the Pork Al Pastor tacos.
And you cannot miss the shrimp chimichanga filled with beans, cheese and tomato sauce (pictured) nor the Suizas enchilada packed with chicken topped with Pico de Gallo, sour cream and Green Salsa or you can opted for a mole sauce instead (pictured). No matter what you order you won’t be disappointed. Be adventurous and accompany your option with their delicious sangria or a fantastic margarita. Looking for a brunch option? Gabriela’s offers an unbeatable $13 spread of dishes every weekend and holiday!
Address: 688 Columbus Ave. (at 93rd st.)
One of my favorite places, The Meatball Shop, is one of the new kids on the block (literally). Recently making their claim to the UWS, Owners, Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow have opened their fifth location in Manhattan (sixth overall) which is all the buzz in town. This time, I tried the mysterious yet legendary Kitchen Sink Salad with a quinoas, turkey meatball topped with homemade pesto and vinaigrette dressing. The salad is made up of the chef’s choice of
greens and veggies. Mine included sliced apples, shredded carrots with raisins, sautéed cauliflower, mushrooms, and beets. All topped with extra mozzarella cheese. Absolutely tantalizing! I’ve reviewed The Meatball Shop in a previous post… if you’re hungry for more, read the full review here.
Address: 477 Amsterdam Ave.
Shakeshak, a glorious burger joint to New Yorkers. Known for it’s heavenly milkshakes, juicy burgers, dogs and addictive fries, this shack is a grill-grub home for museum tourists and natives alike. Cannot miss the DogMeister- a dog topped with Shack cheddar and American cheese sauce and crispy ShackMeister Ale-marinated shallots. Umm-hmm, sounds great, right? Wash it down with a Caramel shake or a featured beer. P.S. Congrats to ShakeShak for it’s newest location in Flatbush, Brooklyn!
Dinning in a small town doesn’t mean a dull dining experience. Such is the case when it comes to The County Cork Wine Pub. Nestled in a modest area of Eldersburg, (a suburb of Baltimore) this chic family owned wine bar has truly made its mark with locals. With an impressive selection of wines ranging from sparkling to the favored J. Lohr Chardonnay, delicious ports, and flirty rosés, this pub is well stocked for a great time. And let’s not forget vino from around the world like the Austrian Grooner Grüner Veltliner (a white wine with citrus and green apple notes) and the Argentine Alamos Melbec (a full bodied red with dark cherry flavors) is on hand – no passport necessary. Don’t worry if you’re not sure what to choose; you can sample up to three wines for $10. No too shabby! The cocktails are great to boot, too!
There are so many great reasons to come visit with friends or to end a work day. On Tuesdays bottles of wine are half price and Wednesdays are free apps! My favorite appetizer is the bountiful Crab and Brie fondue- a cheesy pool of fresh, lump crab meat adorned with diced tomato and scallions. You can’t go wrong with the Shaved Lamb French Dip with swiss and caramelized onions along with a velvety au jus. Or even the glorious Grilled Eggplant Flatbread decorated with tomato, basil, and mozzarella cheese.
The County Cork Pub has so much to offer; it’s not just another wine bar. The Cork’s library of wine, specialty cocktails, and craft beer paired with no-nonsense dishes provides a top shelf experience for guests. Throw in its superb service, warm atmosphere and affordable prices, there’s no wonder why this pub is an up-and-coming neighborhood favorite.
Location: 1716 Liberty Road, Eldersburg, MD
OpenTable Diner’s Choice 2014 Winner, Happy Hours, Monthly Wine Events, and fantastic weekly specials
Hours: Tue- Sat 11am -1 am
Sunday brunch: 10am -3pm
You’re probably like me. I love being surprised, especially when it comes to a restaurant like Redwood in Bethesda, Maryland. Located in an upscale area near DC, it’s highly touted and was chosen as the venue for Bravo’s Top Chef season 7 “restaurant wars” – a legendary event and honor in itself. Needless to say, I was slightly intimidated by its score card. Yet, when I was invited to dine there, I jumped at the opportunity. Surprisingly, my nerves were quickly eased. The food and exceptional service lives up to the reputation but it is unpretentious. Although chic and modern, Redwood focuses on wholesome comfort food and doesn’t take itself too seriously. With delicious appetizers like whimsy fried chicken sliders with a chipotle aioli and lightly fried macaroni balls, I knew I was in good hands. This local favorite renewed my faith in fried calamari as well. In the past, I’ve been highly disappointed by calamari if I order it anywhere else other than an Italian eatery. But I was more than pleased here. The flavorful, plump “O’s” are crispy and well-seasoned with the perfect thickness – it didn’t stand a chance for survival!
Known for its commitment to serving the best of traditional and contemporary dishes with local ingredients, the kitchen takes homey favorites such as chicken pot pie or shrimp and grits and refines them while evoking memories of our first bites of these classic entrées. Executive Sous Chef, Sedrick Crawley’s take on custom and modern American cuisine is the perfect balance between familiar and new tastes while leaving diners wanting more. And with an ever-changing menu, it excites me to see what else he has up his sleeve. Chef Sed’s passion for his craft radiates from each plate. Such is the case with the steamed muscle with chorizo and roasted garlic and even the bucatini (a thick pasta dressed with a pork and beef meat sauce finished with the Italian grana padano cheese); both appropriately served in a rustic “mama’s favorite” skillet.
Now, when indulging in such great fare, the occasion begs for a 21+ libation. It’s hard to go wrong with any of the impressive, hand crafted drinks and wine list. (A comfort to know.) I’m a gin girl and my favorite drink was the brilliant Chartreusian 75 which includes yellow chartreuse, simple syrup, and sparkling wine. A tantalizing mixture of sweet and tart…basically it was seduction in a glass.
With delicious happy hours, weekly live entertainment and a menu that’ll thrill your taste buds, Redwood is more than a restaurant… it’s an experience for all senses.
There’s something about live music at mealtime that enhances the dinning experience. It’s refreshing to be greeted by a rousing brass band, stellar guitar solo, or the smooth stylings of an incredible vocalist. Regardless of genre, live performances tend to draw great crowds. Plus, when you throw great food and drink into the mix, a great time is to be had!
Restaurateurs have definitely been bitten by the “live tunes” bug. It’s no longer a new trend, more like a mainstay in many locations. Bars, lounges, supper clubs, and other dines have regularly scheduled performers during service. Since I love to indulge in great tastes and music, here are a few of my favorite places for both!
Iron Chef Alexandra (Alex) Gaurneschelli is the culinary force behind the wildly popular speakeasy, The Darby. Reviving the illustrious 1920s, this sexy, intimate, and beautifully decorated dine transports diners into the yesteryear prohibition’s thrilling rebellious swagger. With plush cranberry and dark redwood accents, opulent chandeliers and a raised center stage highlighting The Darby Band – an exquisite five person jazz band with vocalist- this NYC dinner destination is well worth the hype. And since I’m all about food, the dishes are as spectacular as the band. Plates such as perfectly grilled octopus with a bacon and red wine dressing adorned with pickled jalapeno peppers, seared Colorado rack of lamb with roasted potato cake, green olives and fresh mint and a wide raw bar selection as well as caviar service (with Beluga Noble Russian Vodka!) are well worth a splurge as Iron Chef Gaurneschelli guarantees guests are dazzled by the selections and entertainment!
Toshi’s Living Room, a part of the Flat Iron Hotel, is a fun, trendy spot for live music chasers. With whimsical, colorful furniture, guests are invited to relax or dance the night away to the tunes of rock, jazz, pop, or whatever’s on the nightly music menu. The fishbowl setting with its spacious front stage is the perfect backdrop for live entertainment. Click here for my full review of this rockin’ living room.
Set in the heart of the West Village, stands a jazz haven pumping out original and iconic arrangements like Take Five by the late Dave Brubeck. Thoughtfully named The Garage, this jazz café is popular among the locals. Its raised stage spotlights local artists and bands playing classics by such legends as Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong. Portraits of many musical all-stars are displayed on the walls along with abstract designed car parts (playing into the name of the café). Weekend brunch is the best time to visit as there is a delicious prefix menu ($17) ranging from creative egg benedict dishes such as the Crab and Lobster Benedict smothered in a turmeric hollandaise sauce or the Surf and Turf with filet mignon and Main lobster covered in a smooth béarnaise sauce, to a delicious Belgium waffle with a choice of homemade macadamia coconut rum butter and freshly made chocolate sauce or a cinnamon apple compote. The Jazz Brunch also offers unlimited Mimosas, Bloody Mary’s and Screwdrivers for an additional $6. Can’t beat that!
These are just a few tasty, tune-centric haunts NYC has to offer. My list is continually growing. Check back for more soon!