Restaurant Roundup NYC – Union Square Cafe, Otto Enoteca Pizzeria, Grammercy Tavern

June 13, 2011  •  New York, Restaurants, Travel, United States

Travel is as much about food for me as anything – my bathroom scale reminds me that every time I return from a trip. And with a son living in Manhattan, I have compiled a long list of places on my “must eat there” list.First up this time was Union Square Cafe, the first restaurant in Danny Meyers’ empire, still holding its own 20 years after it opened. In his book, Setting the Table, Meyers talks about hospitality and service, and we experienced that first hand during our lunch.Don’t you love a bread basket with some interesting things in it instead of just one kind of bread? I do – and this plus a glass of Aglianico rose wine kept me happy while my husband went in search of a paper and a map. Although we’ve been to NY many times, it’s a big city to remember!.The beef carpaccio comes with some of the usual condiments – arugula and Parmigiano Reggiano – but was also topped with crispy fried artichoke pieces that were heavenly.The yellowtail tuna burger is somewhat famous, accompanied by some great slaw and a beautifully grilled red onion slice.But my husband never passes up pasta, so he opted for the gnocchi with pancetta and peas in a creamy pepper sauce – served in a perfect lunch portion. After lunch we wandered through the city, seeing some sights along the way and shopping a bit.We walked enough to work up an appetite and met our son and some of his friends at Otto Enoteca Pizzeria, one of Mario Batali’s masterpieces. This place was met with lukewarm reviews when it opened, largely because of its size and noise level. Personally, I’m a huge fan of his food, and I found the family oriented ambience charming and fun. We started with an arugula salad with some great oven roasted grape tomatoes……and the most unusual caprese salad I’ve ever had. Pesto instead of basil leaves, and I think the tomatoes were San Marzano canned tomatoes.Does this look like we haven’t eaten in a week? We all had a pizza in mind we wanted, so ordered one each – plus a portion of spaghetti carbonara because isn’t that the best pasta dish ever? – thinking we would share and then the kids could take home the leftovers.I might be biased because I selected this one, but I think the winner was this one – truffle oil, guanciale and a sunny side up egg. This was one of those “holy cow!” kinds of good.And despite the best plans of taking home leftovers, it was so good we actually ate it all, in a rather disgusting display of overeating, accompanied by probably too many bottles of Rosso di Montalcino and Prosecco.You would think we would opt for something simple and light after a day like that, but I really wanted to take advantage of every meal to eat somewhere special (we stayed in my son’s 285 square foot apartment with him to save hotel costs and I was determined to put that money to use on food!). So we met our son for lunch at Grammercy Tavern, another Danny Meyer spot that happens to be close to my son’s office.The food and service here were spot on – not cheap for lunch, but lovely for a special occasion.I don’t order chicken often because it can be dry, but not the case here. The breast was moist and tender, served over some squash puree with a savory sauce. A perfect ending to my food filled 36 hours in New York.

I’m already plotting where I’ll eat next time I visit Manhattan. What’s on your list? What are your favorites? I’d love to know!

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