Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Colicchio Delivers at NYC Hotspot


900 Broadway
New York, NY 10003

In preparation of our day of fun-filled craft beer festivities, we decided to have brunch at CraftBar in NYC. We often wait with baited breathe for our culinary guilty pleasure; Top Chef. The most recognizable person and mainstay on the show is Tom Colicchio. Tom always seems extremely well balanced and insightful when judging the contestants, and we have both always wanted to try one of his restaurants. We made a reservation and were seated right away. After ordering drinks, we began to browse the menu. There a lot of great options to choose from, but we eventually made our decisions. 

We decided to begin with the Charcuterie assortment to share. The assortment came with Mortadella, Speck Biellese, Chicken Liver Pate, Smoked Pig Head Terrine, and Pastrami Wagyu Beef Tongue. The standout of the sampler was the Pastrami Wagyu Beef Tongue, it was lean and delicious. The Mortadella and Speck Biellese were also very enticing, especially when paired with the olive tapenade and house made sweet pickles. The Pate was buttery and luscious, and was balanced well with the mustard seeds on top. Even non-adventurous foodies should try it!. The only one we did not particularly care for was the Smoked Pigs Head Terrine, it was gelatinous and the flavor was not enough to get past the texture. Overall, we recommend trying this!

After reading multiple reviews on different food websites, we knew we wanted to order the Rissotto Balls. The Pecorino risotto was creamy and the perfect consistency. The flavors were strong, and definitely had an extra layer of depth that most rice balls don't have. The tomato sauce had an inherent spiciness to it, that was not overpowering, but rather a perfect compliment to the risotto balls. It was immediately clear why people raved about these.
The pictures of swine that take up most of the back wall enticed us to order a side of Bacon. Not much to over analyze about this side dish. It was smoked, thick, delicious, and we all had no complaints.

One of us ordered the Craftbar “Double Stack” Burger with pawlet, bacon jam, pickled onions, oven roasted tomato, and bibb lettuce. This was honestly the best burger we've ever had. Juicy and cooked perfectly. The bacon jam was an ingenious addition. We added a piece of our side of bacon to the burger, not because it wasn't already amazing, but because this made it even more amazing. Highly recommend ordering it. 
The Veal Ricotta Meatball Hero was served with both provolone and parmigiana. The meatballs were moist and flavorful. The marinara sauce again had a hint of spiciness, but complimented the sweet element of the Ricotta. The only negative was the Hero bread itself. The bread was slightly soft and did not really support the bold flavors of the meatball and sauce. 
The Eggplant & Goat Cheese Panino contained marinated eggplant, eggplant chutney, goat cheese, and mixed greens. It was a good panini, but nothing special. The salty goat cheese was well-balanced with the sweet eggplant. It was a tasty sandwich that we would be unable to make on our own, but nothing special. We would try something knew over this next time.
One of us decided to be different and order breakfast, and we're glad they did! The Eggs Benedict was made with the normal poached egg, English muffin, and hollandaise, but also smoked salmon, a side of potatoes, and mixed greens. The eggs were cooked flawlessly, the hollandaise perfectly seasoned, and the salmon was a smokey and savory addition. Overall one of the best Eggs Benedict we've ever had. 
Overall we're really glad we chose to eat brunch at CraftBar. The restaurant itself was cool and resembled an industrial farmhouse. This chic hotspot of Tom Colicchio did not disappoint us and cemented, in our minds, his role as seasoned chef and head judge on Top Chef. We hope to try some of his other restaurants in the future. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Delicious Farm to Table Food for a Great Price

The Market at RoCCA

203 Rock Road
Glen Rock, NJ 07452

In the small town of Glen Rock, NJ, there lies a main street full of food gems, and a few not-so food gems, but we digress. RoCCA has two storefront locations on Rock Road; the market and the main restaurant. We had honestly not heard much about either, but decided to stop into the market on one Sunday morning. It was exactly what we were looking for that morning. We did not want to sit down at a restaurant and be waited on, but we wanted a fresh, delicious meal, and we didn't want to make it ourselves. 

As you walk up to the counter, there are large menus on the back wall that include everything from omelets, to pancakes, to breakfast sandwiches. We stood thinking for a moment, and then we ordered: one breakfast burrito; one taylor ham, egg, and cheese on focaccia; and one side of hash browns. We also each got a large coffee and a bottle of water. The sixteen dollar price tag that accompanied the meal made it an even more joyful experience. Feeling like we got a great deal and famished, we sat down and waited for our name to be called. The food is freshly prepared, so there was a little bit of a wait, but not much longer than you would wait at a local bagel store, and not nearly as long as if you sat at a diner.

The breakfast burrito contained scrambled eggs, Italian sausage, fontina, and roasted peppers. The thing that defined this wrap was the Italian sausage, it has us salivating just from typing this, simply from the memory of its powerful flavor. It is was slightly greasy, but most people who crave sausage don't mind a touch of grease. All in all it was a delicious blend of Italian ingredients, that combined together to make the perfect breakfast wrap.
The breakfast sandwich was composed of scrambled eggs, taylor ham, and cheese, placed in between focaccia. The eggs were fluffy and perfect, the taylor ham added saltiness, and the cheese was creamy. We have never had a breakfast sandwich on focaccia, and now we never want them any other way. It was crispy, buttery, and had a hint of rosemary. Overall, a well-rounded and scrumptious breakfast sandwich.
The breakfast potatoes were seasoned well and contained basil, which added a nice italian flare, and onions that added sweetness. They were also cooked perfectly, crispy and tender.
Having loved breakfast and enticed by the lunch menu, we decided to go back another day to try some lunch. Admittedly, we accidentally ordered the same sandwich. A grilled chicken sandwich with roasted peppers, house-made mozzarella, mixed greens, and balsamic; one on italian bread and one on focaccia. One of us substituted the balsamic for pesto sauce. Just as with breakfast, the sandwiches were made fresh so we waited a few minutes. When we began eating, it was, as with breakfast, well worth the wait. The mozzarella was thick-cut and the chicken juicy. The pesto was a great addition, it was clearly homemade and we want their recipe (email: The menu had a multitude of creative sandwiches and lunch side options, and we will absolutely be going back to try more in the future. 

The Market at RoCCA is our new go-to breakfast and lunch spot when in the area. You absolutely cannot beat the price or the delicious fresh food. They also cater! We saw a few of the platters being picked up, and they looked great! Although we cannot speak for the main restaurant a few doors down, if the market is any indication, we expect it to be fantastic and are looking forward to trying it as well.

NYC Craft Beer Festival - Spring Seasonals

New York City Craft Beer Festival - Spring Seasonals

Although we would not call ourselves craft beer connoisseurs, we have been known to enjoy a great tasting beer, and when we heard about the New York City festival, we could not pass it up. It was a gorgeous day to indulge in the long standing tradition of day drinking, after some breakfast, we grabbed some fellow beer lovers, and got on the first train to NY Penn Station. We arrived at the Lexington Armory about 30 minutes early, and there was already a line forming. 

When they began letting people in, they checked our ID's and we were handed a 2 oz glass for tasting. Upon arriving you noticed the size of the room, and that the long line that had formed outside, was not crowded inside space. The festival was spread out in a way that made for short waiting times in between beers, and for a good flow trough out the day. The venders were all set up at tables with signs that said the name and the types of beer they were offering. 

Our first critique was that we wish they had listed the city and/or state that the beer is from. We began our walk through the crowds and through the venders, tasting beers that we were curious about, styles we liked, and logos/names we found intriguing. 
Walking up to the venders and asking for samples we discovered our next, and more important, criticism. We like to ask questions about the beer and the brewery, but about 90% of the time, the person dispensing samples of beer was a volunteer who had no affiliation with the brewery, was not knowledgable, and left us with many unanswered questions. We felt having a sales or marketing representative from each brewery, or even an intern at that, would help provide us with a little more knowledge and information about each brewery. The one brewery we remember, whether it be because the beer was great or because there was a member present to tell us about it, was Empire. We fully understand that this is not the fault of the festival itself, but rather the breweries involved. 

Overall, the festival was a lot of fun! Even though it was clearly very busy, we never felt claustrophobic or as though it was super crowded. We did not try the food, but there seemed to be a relatively large selection of food to accompany your beer if you so pleased. We will keep our eyes open for the next local craft beer festival, and if you like beer, we encourage you to do so as well!