Sunday, January 27, 2013

RONZONI SONO BUONI



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Rigatoni No. 27


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"Ronzoni Sono Buoni," if you are Italian and grew up in the New York area in the great decades of the 1960's and or 70s you know the slogan. We Italians do love our pasta, we're weened on it! Pasta is the main staple of our diet. Many are fanatical about and love it so, they insist on having it several times a week. I'm one. Pasta, can be covered in a wide variety of sauces,  in some soups like; Pasta Fagoli (Pasta Fazool), in Minestrone's, with Pasta and Peas, and Pasta con Ceci (Chick Peas). Yes, we are weened on it. Mommy gave me, my bothers and sister Pastina coated in a bit of butter and Parmigiano when we were just toddlers  and every so often I have to pick up a box of Ronzoni Pastina, as I love and crave it still, and of late as with many my age, you start craving things you loved as a child, thus my stints with Pastina. "Ronzoni Sono Buoni," it means, Ronzoni is So Good, and that it is. This brand of Pasta, born in New York City at the turn of the 20th Century has been a mainstay of not only Italian-Americans of the East Coast but, for all. For years before the surge of many a imported pasta product in the U.S., Ronzoni, was not the only game in town for Macaroni, there was the Prince and Creamette, as well, but Ronzoni dominated the market and though I don't have stats, I would wage to say that 85 to 90 % of all commercial pasta sold in the New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia areas was Ronzoni, the pasta in the bright blue boxes, Ronzoni Sono Buoni. God I wonder how many plates and bowls of Spaghetti, Ziti and other Ronzoni pastas I ate over the years, starting with Pastina as a toddler  and moving to Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce or Meatballs, Baked Ziti, Stuffed Shells and more. Oh “Stuffed Shells,” they bring back memories of my mother who loved them. We had them often, along with Lasagna made with Ronzoni Lasagana. You don't see Stuffed Shells around that much any more, they used to be on many a restaurant and even more home menus. There popularity has waned, but every once and a while I'll pick up a box of Ronzoni large shells, just for the purpose of bringing back those memories of mom making them and me loving them as  a child. I'll make a batch of tomato sauce, cook the Ronzoni Shells, and stuff them with ricotta and Parmigiano, bake them in tomato sauce, and "Voila" Stuffed Shells of days gone by. I do the same with a Pastina as I still love the dish so, dressed with butter and fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano, “makes me feel like a kid again!” Yum, delicious little pleasure you can whip up in minutes and bring back visions of your youth. All with some butter, Parmigiano and a box of Ronzoni Pastina. That's Ronzoni, every bit a part of my life and youth as a spring ol Slinky, Etch-A-Sketch, The Three Stooges, Saturday Morning Cartoons, and all the favorites of my youth, Ronzon Sono Buoni, “Ronzoni it's so good!”




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Friday, January 25, 2013

BAR PITTI "New York's BEST ITALIAN"





When it comes to great Italian Food, in a city (New York) that is known to have the Best Italian Food in the World outside of Italy, it's hard to beat Bar Pitti, which is why Bar Pitti may very well be the "Best Italian Restaurant" in New York City! Yes!
Wait a minute, scratch that "maybe." No, Bar Pitti serves without a doubt, thee "Best Italian Food in New York." You don't think so? name one that is better. And please only qualified people please. No followers or Hack Food Critics like
Frank Bruni.
Who could compete? Maybe Babbo, Del Posto, Elio's, Lupa. They are all good, but none as good and consistent as Bar Pitti.
Il Mulino is absolutely "Aweful!" An "Overpriced Lackluster Restaurant" with horrible ambiance, mechanical annoying service, and food that is merely good, and no better and insanely "High Prices." It's a place for "Followers" who run with the crowd and wouldn't know real good Italian Food if it came up and Bit Them in The Ass.
Babbo many would say. Well Babbo is quite good, but just can't hold up to Bar Pitti with more of a true Italian feel, great food at truly real Italian Prices. Babbo is a great Special Occasion restaurant, but for everyday eating, Babbo doesn't even come close to Bar Pitti for "Great Quality Price Ratio," and even not considering the prices, if they were the same, though the food at Babbo is very good and I've had a few very enjoyable meals there, I have been disappointed a couple of times, something that has "Never" happened to me at Bar Pitti and I've eaten there more times, yet never been disappointed, not once, and always had a great time. So even if the prices were the same, Bar Pitti still has an edge, with Better More Consistent Authentic Italian Food than Babbo.
How bout Maialino, Laconde Verde, Osteria Morini, and others? As MC Hammer would say, "Can't Touch This."
So if you're looking for Thee "Best Italian Food in New York" there's one name, "Bar Pitti."

Recommended Dishes:

Coda d'Vacinara (Braised Oxtails) 150 Points on a 100 Pt Scale

Bolito d'Manzo (Boiled Beef) Taste a whole Lot Better than it sounds!

Polpettine d' Vitello (Veal Meatballs)

Fegato al Salvia (Calves Liver sauteed w/Sage)

Paparadelle con Sugo d'Coniglio (Pasta with Rabbit Ragu)

PUNTARELLE Wild Roman Greens Salad w/Anchovy Dressing


by Daniel Bellino Zwicke




Wednesday, January 23, 2013

CAFE du MONDE New Orleans





Gonna give a little "Shout Out" to The Big Easy, New Orleans and one of the World's Great cafes, Cafe Du Monde. Thee one place that everyone goes to more than any other when in New Orleans, whether you're a visitor or you live there, you go to The Cafe Du Monde for their great Beignets and Cafe Creme, and, and the show and the ambiance that is thee "One and Only" Cafe Du Monde.
The Place is open 24/7 364 days a year, closed on just Christmas day, i do believe. Situated right upon the Mighty Mississippi River at The French Market in the French Quarter across the street from Jackson Square. This is one of thee hearts of New Orleans if not thee number one one.
   I always make at least one or two visits whenever I'm in New Orleans. You get a nice cup of Coffe "Cafe Creme" and the cafes justly famous Beignets, all for just about four bucks. And you get to sit in a lively cafe where just about everyone goes to. 
       You might want to head down the Decatur Street for a tasty Muffuletta Sandwich (Best in New Orleans) at The Central Grocery. A Muffuletta Sandwich at Central Grocery is a must have when in Nola, then you can go to the Cafe Du Monde for dessert and coffee. After these two stops, if your in the mood for a nice libation, it's just a few steps down Decatur to Tujague's, one of new Orleans oldest restaurants, like Cafe  Du Monde they opened around 1862.. Go to the stand-up bar Tujgue's for a cocktail, and if you like, order a grasshopper, this is where it was invented.
   Or if you gotta sit down when you drink, head just a couple blocks away to
Napoleon House, one of the World's Great Bars. Napoleon House was built by The Mayor of New Orlean's, Mayor Girod for Napoleon Bonaparte to leave his exile in Elba and come to live in New Orleans in this home Girod had built for him. Napoleon died and never made it, but you can make it there and have a Bourbon old Fashion, a Sazerac, Ramos Fizz, or their House Specialty Cocktail a "Pimms Cup."
   And I must say as someone who has traveled all around the World, from paris to Rome, Capri to Amsterdam, Buenos Aires to Rio de Janiero, LA to Hong Kong to Saigon to Havana, Cuba, New Orleans is one of The Coolest Cities in The World. I Love it.
     And as a lover of New Orleans and as a New Yorker and concerned American, I'm surprised and astonished to why more New Yorkers don't go down and spend a few wonderful days in New Orleans They love it, but I don't see many New Yorkers going there and they should. For one, new Orleans is one of the Coolest Places in the World, with great restaurants, Awesome Food, wonderful architecture, and some of the World's Best Music, it's everywhere. And the people? They're wonderful. Also, since Hurricane Katrina, the town and the people of New Orleans could use new Yorkers and all Americans supports, and I don't see it. So do yourself a favor, go down and spend a few fun filled days in The Big Easy, New Orleans, I assure you, "You'll be glad you did."



Daniel Bellino Zwicke

STEAK AND STEAK-HOUSE CAPITAL of THE WORLD ? NEW YORK !

NEW YORK Is The STEAK and STEAK-HOUSE CAPITAL of THE WORLD ! 
Where The Famed PORTERHOUSE And NEWPORT STEAKS WERE FIRST CREATED !!!



New York is a Steak Kingdom. One of the greatest places on Earth and a World Capital of  Steaks. Some would say Argentina. Yes Argentina is a land of Steaks, and the Argentinians eat more steak then any other peoples on earth. However when it comes to Steak Houses and Steaks and the experience of going to a great Steak House and having Great Steak Houses, there is no place on Gods good Earth that comes near New York "The Steak House Capital of The World" with the # 1 most Famous Cherished Steak House in all the World "Peter Luger's" in Brooklyn, New York ... Luger's is legendary and in terms of Steak House's "God Like," no other can touch it. New York has other great and famous Steak Houses such as; Smith & Wollensky, Frankie & Johnnies, The Old Homestead, Keens, and others including the famed Sparks where Mafia Boss Paul Castellano was gunned-down "Whacked" in on e of the most famous "Mob Hits" of all-time.
    Yes, New York is the World Capital of Steak Houses, as it is a World Capital and Thee American Capital of Pizza, World Capital of Jewish Delis, Pastrami and Corned Beef, a Burger Capital and in competition with Paris for the # 1 Dining Restaurant Capital of The World. A Lot of Capitals ! And that's just food, not to mention, Capital of The Publishing World, Finance, Art, Music, Theater, Fashion, writing and what-not.
   Back to the Steak Capital. Do you know where the Newport and Porterhouse Steak was invented? Yes, New York of course. The Newport Steak, a great steak that's relatively unknown even in its native Greenwich Village where it was created by Italian immagrant butcher Jack Ubaldi at his little Butcher Shop in the heavily Italian populated neighborhood back in the 1940. The Newport Steak is quite wonderful, a tasty little steak cut from the Tri-Tip Bottom Sirloin. If you've never had one, do yourself a favor and run over to the Village a snag a Newport or two from the famed famed butcher shop still open, where the Newport was created, Florence Prime Meat Market in Greenwich Village. Pino's Prime Meats, a 100 plus Year Old Italian Butcher Shop on Sullivan Street cuts a mean Newport as well.
    Well, now on to the Porterhouse King of Steaks. Back in the early days of our lustrous city, in the 1700 and 1800 there were places (Inns / Restaurants) called Porterhouses where weary travelers; sailors or whom ever would go to and rest, eat, have a ale or two or what-not. Porterhouses were usually located at Stagecoach stops, Railroad Stations, and sailing ports. They got their name Porterhouse in that they served Porter Ale, along with certain eats such as soup, stew, steaks, and various other foods.
  The invention, creation of the Porterhouse Steak? It was at a Morrison's Porterhouse on Pearl Street in lower Manhattan in or around 1814 .. A sailor who was quite hungry walked into Morrison's Porterhouse on Pearl Street and ordered a steak. Not too many minutes Martin Morrison had served up the last steak he had on hand. None left he told the hungry sailor. The sailor was not having it. He was dam hungry and said he must have a piece of Beef, and only Beef would do. Morrsion had a large Roast Cooking up in his kitchen that was a long way off from being done. Martin Morrsison had an idea. An idea that would satisfy and make the hungry sailor quite happy. He was gonna get the steak, piece of beef he said he just had to have. Not only would the sailor get his steak, but now, here we have this very day, Martin Morrison being written and talked about and acknowledged as the man who created the famed Porterhouse Steak. A bit of Culinary Fame, but no compensation for creating such a glorious thing. Well Morrsion never knew, and hopefully he was a happy man. Anyway, what did Morrsion do you say? That large Roast Beef he had that was far from being finished, well Morrsion cut a piece off the end. That piece included a piece of sirloin and a piece of the filet of the beef with a bone in-between the two cuts of meat, a 
T-Bone. Morrison cut this piece off the big roast, cooked it up and served it to the Hungry Sailor. The sailor devoured that Steak (The First Ever Porterhouse Steak), of course with a stein of Porter Ale to wash everything down. The Sailor was satisfied. Very much so, and ordered up another, and told Morrsion, "For now on, I'd like my Steak always served this way," exactly  the same cut and everything. And so it was. Morrsion had hios butcher cut him steaks this way, what we now now as a Porterhouse Steak, created in Lowere Manhattan, New York, NY, World Capital of Steaks and Steak Houses, "There is No Disputing This," New Yoprk and Steaks, they go together.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

NEGRONI

 
The NEGRONI COCKTAIL
The NEGRONI by James Starace
 
 
 
The Negroni! A cocktail most Americans do not know. Too bad! With its contents of bitter Campari, Sweet Vermouth, and Gin, the Negroni is quite the unique cocktail. Best of all, it’s tasty and refreshing, with the essence of an Orange Peel, it’s invigorates and rejuvenates  The Negroni is wonderful any time of the year, however, it is especially pleasing on a hot Summers day somewhere on the Coast in Italy, The South of France, or anywhere on the Mediterranean, or the Hamptons or South Beach for that matter.
 
So, not many people know of the Negroni and its charms, other than the more Sophisticated among our population. Even just a minute percentage of those who have traveled to its birthplace in Italy will even know of the cocktail. In this country, it is drunk more often in the city of New York. A city with a higher "Sophisticate" ratio than most, but even still, just a few will know of this drink, the Negroni Cock-tail.
So what it is it? Well its base is the highly popular aperitif of bitter Campari, a Bitter-Sweet aperitif from Torino, Italy. The Negroni is made of 1 0z. Campari, 1 oz. Sweet Vermouth, 3/4 oz. Gin, over ice cubes in a Rocks Glass with a splash of Club Soda on top and garnished with a slice of Orange or Orange peel. Voila!
The Negroni is usually drunk as an aperitif before dinner in the early evening, but just wonderful any-time of the afternoon, especially Alfresco, or late in-
to the evening day. A Negroni is a particularly splendid drink for a leisurely Afternoon Cocktail or two. As a matter of fact, I just had a couple nice after-noon Negroni’s at Cipriani Downtown just the other day.
The base of the Negroni Cocktail is the well known Italian Bitter Aperitif Campari created in Novaro, Italy near Milano in the 1860 by Gaspare Campari. The secret recipe that has been carefully guarded for more than 150 years consists of and in-fusion of alcohol, Herbs, and vegetables, including, Orange Peel, Chinotto, and other secret ingredients.
The Negroni Cocktail was created in 1919 at the Caffe Casoni in Florence, Italy when the Count Neg-roni, a regular customer of the caffe, asked his wait-er for a Americano that had a little more of a kick to it. The Barman and waiter obliged the Count with a cocktail made with the normal Campari, and Sweet Vermouth of the Americano but with the addition of London Dry Gin. The Count Loved the Cocktail which was named after him and thus the Negroniwas born.
 
 
 
 
                                A NEGRONI and Its INGREDIENTS
 
  “Do You Remember Your First Time,” was the slogan of a wonderful Ad Campaign by Campari with pictures of good looking men or Gorgeous Women, and some sort of Campari Cocktail in hand, usually the most famous of Campari and Soda with a twist of Orange. The Ad was asking you if you remember the First Time you had your first Campari, but of course there was the Sexual connotation eluding to the first time you had Sex.
A ploy often used by marketers and ad agencies.
 
    I remember “My First.” It was of course on my first trip to Italy in 1985 sitting outside at a Caffe on The Piazza Popolo in Rome. I had seen the ads and people drinking them outside and when my waiter came over, I ordered one. It took a little getting used to at first, but I loved it and have ever since, and I’ve turned many people on to the drink ever since. On a whole, just a small percentage of Americans have ev-er even tasted Campari at all, whether it’s a Campariand Soda, Campari & OJ, or my beloved Negroni.
 
   So, if you’ve never had one, it’s time to get on the stick. We drink them like crazy at my buddy Pat Par-rotta’s house. Pat is an Italian Wine Lover, who throws great dinner parties, and he’s quite the dam good cook. We eat Pasta, Chicken, Steaks, Saus-ages, whatever, always with some nice Italian Wine.
Pat is a great host who knows how to throw a great dinner party. His dinners parties are always a huge success and we always start the day off with what has become a tradition at Pat and Gina’s home, a couple tasty Negroni’s or Campari Spritzers to get things rolling. I always look forward to having my Negroni when I get to Pat’s after riding the Ferry over from Manhattan.
As I’ve already stated, Pat is a wonderful Host who has great enthusiasm to cook for friends and family, serving some nice Italian Wine, along with
his celebrated Negroni’s which are better than just about any Bartender in New York. “For Real!”
 
   Making a good Negroni, brings to mind, that it’s not that easy. Not everyone can do it, as you need to get the proper balance of these very prominent ingredients of Campari, Gin, and Sweet Vermouth. I can, and Pat can, but many a bartender does not, no matter what they may think. I’ve been extolling the Wonders and Virtues of Campari and the Neg-roni for well over 20 years, while just a few Ameri-can’s on a whole have yet to discover it. Even as now some big cocktail association has named the Negroni, “The Cocktail of The Year” for 2011. People are just now catching up. I could have told you 20 years ago. In fact, “I did.”
     Anyway, back to Bartenders who don’t know how to make a proper Negroni. I was recently at a popular restaurant that has two bars inside where they make the new So-Called Artisanal Cocktails and House Specialty Drinks, made by “Mixologists.”
I ordered a Negroni. The Bartender made it and served it to me straight-up in a cocktail glass. I asked him to put it in a Rocks Glass with ice, whereby he gave me an almost disdainful look, as if he made a great drink the right way and who the Hell was I to have him alter it. “These Mixologist.” Well, first off, the drink was not great. It wasn’t even good. It was out of balance, and as I’ve said, in making a proper Negroni, it’s all about balance,
 
 
I know the balance, Pat knows the balance, that bartender did not. I’ve been drinking these things for more than 20 years, and I’m not going to have some bartender who’s just started making them a few months ago and who’s never been to Italy in his life tell me how it’s done. “Not gonna Happen!”
 
    So my friends, if you’ve yet to imbibe in one.
Don’t you think it’s high-time? Just make sure to get a bartender who knows the ropes. I sugest Cipriani Downtown. Even better, the families flagship restaurant, Harry’s Bar, Venice, in Rome or on the Amalfi Coast.
 
 
"The NEGRONI" excerpted from Daniel Bellino Zwicke's  Book "LA TAVOLA"
 
In Paperback and kindle Edition
SUNDAY SAUCE  by Daniel Bellino "Z"
LEARN How to Make The Perfecr NEGRONI COCKTAIL  .... Pat Parotta's Recipe in SUNDAY SAUCE  by Daniel Bellino "Z"

Monday, January 7, 2013

PJ CLarke's A Favorite of The Late Great Frank Sinatra




Are you a True Downtowner who has found themselves for one reason or another on the Upper East Side and needed a good place to have a drink and grab a good Burger. You need a good joint, not a obnoxious Sports Bar with 20 annoying Flat Screen TVs. You're not from BumFu_k Iowa, so Applebee's or Tj McFunsters just won't do. You're a Downtowner, you need a inexpensive, unpretentious, non-contrived place with a Cool Vibe. Well for years now, my Go-To all-around place on the Upper East Side (for the Rare Times I'm in that neighborhood) is without question PJ Clarke's. The ambiance is beyond compare, wonderfully well worn, charming, and awash in History.
    PJ Clarke's was one of Sinatra's Favorites along with the 21 Club, Jilly's and Patsy's on 56th Street. And speaking of Sinatra who recorded a wonderful version of "One For My Baby" which was written at PJ Clarke's on a Cocktail Napkin by the great Johnny Mercer in 1941.
    When I go to PJ Clarke's, I'm thinking of a Burger, a Beer or Bourbon Old Fashion, and an order of Onion Rings. With all the rage of Burger's these days, PJ Clarke's has been serving one of New York's tastiest Burgers for close to a Hundred Years. Even Jackie Kennedy loved PJ Clarke Burgers and ate them often. And Nat King Cole proclaimed after eating a tasty Bacon Cheeseburger that it was the Cadillac of Burgers. "You know Nat, I agree." And combined with the wonderful ambiance, History, and allure of the place, PJ Clarke's just ca not be beat. Try it!


by Daniel Bellino Zwicke


PJ CLARKE Facts

One of Sinatra's favorite joints .....
Johnny Mercer wrote One For My Baby a Sinatra Favorite on a Cocktail Napkin at PJ Clarke's  .....
Jackie Kennedy often brought John F. Kennedy Jr. for a Saturday lunch Burger.......
Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman) orders a Burger here in The French Connection ...
Author Charles Jackson was a regular at PJ Clarke's and in the movie version with ray Miland, PJ Clarke's was used and called Nat's Bar in the movie ...
On June 20, 1958 Buddy Holly proposed to his fiancee there ...
Johnny Depp gave a gift of a Guitar to Keith Richards and Keef played on the spot Brown Sugar ....
PJ Clarke's was a Favorite of Ted Kennedy, Richard Harris, Jake LaMotta, and Dick Clark, all of who love the burger ...
Regular Liza Minelli loves the PJ Clarke Burger as well ...



Sunday, January 6, 2013

WHEN WILL TOTONNO'S OPEN





When Will Totonno's Re-Open ?
Closed Since and Because of Hurricane Sandy


The two biggest stories and concerns of The New York Culinary Restaurant Foodie scene, whatever you want to call it, for the New Year of 2013, is # 1 when will are beloved Totonno's on Neptune Avenue, Coney Island re-open? And maybe # 2 might be, what's going on with the former Rocco's space on Thompson Street in Greenwich Village, taken over by Parm Team of Rich Torissi and Mario Carbone? Well we don't know much as of this moment. They say Totonno's will be open by mid-January, I wish but wouldn't count on it. We'll see.
   As for The Parm Boys Carbone & Torrisi their spot in the old Rocco's space, I can see they are making progress. A new store-front is almost done. Inside who knows. It's time for Mario to get his name on one of their restaurants. This new one will be named Carbone and if their first two places ( Torrisi Italian Specialties and Parm) are an indication, Carbone will be well received, it should be updated Red Sauce Food and Restaurant, and will most likely be a huge hit. I've got a feeling these guys will Hit  Another Home Run.
   Well, we can't wait to go out to Totonno's and have some more of their superb Pizza. And we're looking forward to Carbone and what those guys are up to and all that. Hoping for the best, as always.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

MINETTA TAVERN "The COOLEST RESTAURANT In TOWN"

Yes "The Coolest Restaurant In Town" It's The Minetta Tavern, "nothing can touch it" in The Cool Department .. This Gem of a Restaurant has  "Thank God" been preserved by Restaurant Master Genius Keith McNally who acquired the space which luckily no-one had foolishly messed with any of the marvelous 1930s Greenwich Village Decor. McNally just spruced the Tavern up and inserted renowned Chefs Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson as Co-Executive Chefs. Keith added his special touch "He's a Master" and the rest is New York Restaurant History .  As with most of McNally's establishments Minetta Tavern quickly became the Hottest Restaurant and Hardest Table in Town, filled with: A-List Celebs and all the right people needed to make any place "Thee In-Spot" in town, the place every wants to be. Everyone in the know. In doing so, Keith McNally and his Minetta Tavern quickly became the # 1 Hottest Restaurant in town and dethroned Graydon Carter's "Waverly Inn" as the Top Celebrity Central Restaurant in New York, and a few years down the road, Minetta Tavern still is "The Place to Be."
Photo Daniel Bellino-Zwicke
 
 
 
    The place has the most wonderful ambiance imaginable, with tons of energy (from the Crowd), and Very Good Solid Bistro-Steak House Fare, along with two of the top Burgers in Town.     And speaking of the Burgers, take it from an expert "Me" The Minetta Burger is Superior to The Black label Burger which all the "Followers" think is the better of the two "Not." !!! Hey they're followers.    Yes Minetta Tavern is The Coolest Restaurant in town, with wonderful Cool, warm and exciting ambiance, excellent service, and dam good Eats. Check it! Daniel Bellino Zwicke
 
 
 
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