New York, New York (I hate the Yankees)

07Dec09

Last weekend, my girlfriend and I traveled to her home city, New York, to celebrate our one year anniversary (insert joke about my sappy weekend retreats and your lack of interest here). We got on the road with no real plan, though what we did know is that we wanted to A) eat good food, and B) have a fun Saturday night in New York City. After a series of miscommunications and bad planning, we didn’t get on the road until about 10:00 PM, which meant we were looking at a 2:30 AM arrival…awesome. Added to the mix was that it was raining ferociously and the roads remained foggy for most of the ride…ideal! After throwing back two 5-Hour-Energies (completely ineffective) and 3 coffees (jarringly effective) we made it there in one piece, albeit pissed off and exhausted. The plan was to spend the night at the girlfriend’s Mom’s house in West Chester, and head to our hotel on Central Park West in the morning. Did I mention that I am a baller?

Waking up, I insisted that we eat a light breakfast in preparation for a soon to be heavy lunch consisting of world class New York deli. We ate at this little diner in Scarsdale and I ordered a mushroom, spinach, ham, and Muenster cheese omelet. The only reason why I even mention this breakfast is due to the fact that Muenster cheese is the standard at this place, which in my opinion is perhaps the easiest and most formidable way ANY diner could improve their breakfast options. Muenster cheese is delicious, and its melty, and its delicious. I want some right now. Some people don’t even know about Muenster cheese and this fact makes me sad. For all of you people, please go buy some. Make a grilled cheese, a turkey sandwich, eat it straight! Just do it soon.

 We took the train to the city and checked into our hotel at around 3:00 PM. The place, the New York Athletic Club, was amazing, right across the street from the park. As I mentioned, I’m a baller…

 It was a pretty odd hour of the day to eat, and were still pretty full from breakfast so we decided to hold off on the deli (for today) and go for some light tapas before a nice dinner later that night. In the meantime, my task was to find a classy restaurant for later. After scouring the internet and debating among French, Italian, Japanese, or Indian, we finally settled on Nocello, an Italian restaurant at 257 W 55th street. The place was pretty close to our hotel, and they had an 8:30 reservation available so we took it. I also made us reservations at the Gotham comedy club to see a midnight show after dinner.

 Walking around for a bit we stumbled upon a Greek café right around happy hour. Some drinks and an order of grilled octopus later we left happy. The next stop was an Irish pub for some pints of Guinness. No real explanation for this, it just seemed like a good idea at the time, and indeed it was. Guinness is so good, I don’t order it enough.

 From there we walked around the park a bit then headed to Nocello, who deem themselves “The best Italian Restaurant in New York”, though I would have been pleased if they were the best Italian restaurant within a 15 block radius. We arrived at 8:30 and only had to endure a very short wait before we were seated at a nice table in the back of the restaurant. Our waiter soon appeared, and while his Italian accent was endearing, his patronizing tone was a little insulting in assuming that we wanted the cheapest bottle of French Cabernet on the menu. I promptly corrected him that we were not in fact saps, and he brought over a nice medium-bodied bottle of Chianti.

 Even though it didn’t take us long to decide on what we wanted, the waiter was again pushy as he returned with our wine. We decided to order two entrées and share them both, ultimately deciding on Vitello Frascati (Veal with artichoke hearts and Frescati wine sacue), and the Risotto special (Risotto with shrimp and fried scallops).

 Surprisingly, our entrees came out entirely too fast. I never thought I would ever say those words but it happened. Literally 30 seconds after we were served bread and olives, our dinners were plopped down in front of us. Again, a little insulting. These jokers were trying to push us out of their fine establishment faster than fish tacos make the jump from delicious to deadly.

 The dishes themselves were excellent. I started on the Risotto. Maybe I hadn’t eaten Risotto is quite a while, but this was perhaps one of the top two Risotto’s I have ever had, the other being in Venice, Italy. It’s amazing how such a dynamic flavor can be compounded in a little grain of rice. Each bite seemed more delicious than the last as the Risotto radiated aromas of fresh seafood, cream, and garlic – three flavors that combined beautifully. I could hardly put the fork down, though glancing over at Jacqui enjoying the veal I decided that a swap was necessary. The thinly sliced veal topped with a light artichoke wine sauce quickly made me forget about the Risotto. Deep down I think that I could eat veal three times a day for the rest of my life. Yeah, I know how evil it is to slaughter baby cows, but hey man, who am I to upset the food chain? If we weren’t supposed to eat veal than it wouldn’t be so damn good. That’s at least how I justify it to myself…I wouldn’t have done to well in the Garden of Eden, that snake had quite a compelling argument.

 After savoring our dinners for as long as we possibly could, we polished off our bottle of wine, and asked for the check. Although we left satisfied, it can’t be ignored that the staff at Nocello were, simply put, assholes. You can’t rush people out of your restaurant based their appearances. I was dressed the part in my blazer and Jacqui looked amazing in her dress, but these wise guys figured I couldn’t leave a decent tip. So guess what, I left only a decent tip. And I normally pride myself on being an excellent tipper. We left having enjoyed a very delicious dinner, though next time I’m looking to get a good Italian meal in Midtown, Nocello will not be on my radar.

 Next we cabbed it to the Gotham. The headliner of the show was Paul Mecurio, tagged as an Emmy and Peabody award winning writer and comedian, formerly of the Daily Show – sounded good to us. Arriving about a half an hour prior to the show started, we were ushered downstairs to a bar where we were informed that any drinks we ordered now would not count towards our two drink minimum. Great, I thought, tomorrow is going to be rough…

 A little horn went off at the bar signaling to us that our show was about to start. Getting there so early, we reserved a table in the very front and someone led us right there, to the VERY FRONT of the stage. I quickly realized that this may have been a bad idea, as I readily expected to be taunted and my girlfriend hit on by likely hilarious comedians. The first two comics up were pretty funny. I don’t remember either of their names, though they managed to make fun of three other couples who weren’t us so I was feeling pretty good. Next up was Rob Riggle, which was a completely unexpected surprise. Rob Riggle is a former Marine Officer, Saturday Night Live member, and perhaps most famously, Daily Show correspondent. This guy is hilarious and we were both very excited when we heard his name. Riggle got on the stage and promptly scanned the room for women, identifying individuals while pointing to them and saying “I’d do you…I’d do you…I’d do you”, before he pointed right at my girlfriend and proclaimed, “We’re doin’ it tonight”. I couldn’t tell if she was flattered or insulted, though we were all laughing our asses off. He went on to talk about run-down-stadium men’s rooms, the state of Kansas, movies, and before I knew it Vodka Tonic number 1.5 of my 2 drink minimum was down the hatch. He also mentioned a new movie he was filming in New York with Will Farrell, so look out for that. Riggle left the stage to a roar of applause, and next up with the headliner, Paul Mecurio.

 I didn’t know anything about Mecurio though he proceeded to give us his brief bio; went to law school, became a corporate lawyer, quit and became a successful standup comedian. This dude is my hero. As Vodka Tonic number 3 was being gulped down much of Mecurio’s set escaped me, though I do specifically remember him and I sharing a “pound” as he leaned off stage following our terse back-and-forth about Gold Bond Medicated powder (the stuff in the green bottle). After the show ended we ran into Mecurio by the bar and he gave Jacqui his autograph as I causally mentioned to him that he was now a great inspiration of mine. I don’t think he heard what I said, but he chuckled likely remembering me as his Gold Bond compatriot.

 From there, things got a little hazy. I remember going to a bar close by called Jake’s. I insisted that we go in because as some of you may know, Jake is my name. The place was pretty empty, and we got a drink a piece, which the bartender doubled for free…THANKS a lot, not at all what I wanted. My girlfriend was able to neither confirm nor disconfirm that we took a cab back to our hotel, but we came to the conclusion that we must have after we woke up in bed the following morning.

 As planned from the day before, we were going to meet the girlfriend’s dad at the Carnegie Deli for a quick meal before we headed back to Vermont. The deli was only about five blocks from our hotel so it was quite an easy walk, despite the rough shape our bodies were in. I was fully confident though that a healthy serving of some of the world’s best pastrami would make me feel better, and that it did. If you’ve read some of the previous material on this blog than you know that I love pastrami. It is irrefutably the best deli meat to ever have existed. When done right, it’s steamy, salty, peppery, meaty, absolutely delicious, and as you all should know, the Carnegie Deli has some of the best around. Having dined there before, knowing fully what to expect, and taking into consideration the frail state of my digestive system, I split Pastrami and Rye with the Jacqui. The half a sandwich was more than enough as I struggled the finish both the Pastrami and my Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry Soda. We left full, and extremely pleased to have once again visited a famous New York landmark Deli.

 From a culinary standpoint, the trip was then over. Our ride home consisted of beef jerky, Red Bull, salted cashews, and hot fries. When we finally arrived at our house in Burlington, I was totally spent and eager to watch game 4 of the World Series. A great weekend in New York, filled with awesome food, and good times left me in dire need of rest. Until the next time, be easy New York, it was good to see you again…and most importantly, screw the Yankees, GO PHILS!!!

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5 Responses to “New York, New York (I hate the Yankees)”

  1. 1 g$

    LOLZ!!!!! i think i’ll go have a slice of muenster.

  2. Can you email me back, please. Thank you.

  3. OMG I ❤ the carrnigge deli!!!!!!!! but if u only get 1 sanwhich they c harge u for splitiing it! i mean "what the Heck"?….which room did u sit in…when my mom took me to NYC we stayed in soho…..the couple days before we went 2 the carniggie deli i was listinging to the "Hannukkah Song" by: Adam Sandler….i listened constantly…i would have it so loud people in the next room could hear it……..i am soooooo glad U GUYS HAD A GOOD TIME…xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxooxz

  4. 5 Joe

    So here I am, reading your post about Burlington burger joints (which was awesome, by the way) and so I keep reading further down. And you mention Nocello!

    My Nocello experience wasn’t much different. My girlfriend and I had a late dinner reservation there one night after a New York Philharmonic concert. We ordered a bottle of wine, each had a first course (soup for me, salad for her), and then the entrees came out very fast. We finished those, polished off the bottle of wine, and were 100% stuffed to the max. When we politely declined dessert, that was it. Our waiter didn’t return til the end of the night. The lights came up, servers were changing into their street clothes, and we had to go up to the front to ask for the check. I left no tip, but left a note as to why, and we hailed a cab and got the hell out of there.


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