Being stranded in New York because of the mayhem Sandy left behind was not the best thing that ever happened to me. Transportation were disrupted, areas without electricity, no heating system with a temperatures as low as 4 Celsius, no gas for cars, car pool rules in force, Red Cross food distribution in the street and so on… New York has seen better days, but New Yorkers are resilient and will stand strong.
With the limited mean of transportation, I tried to go around and eat as much great food as possible with my friend Jason who happens to live there. I had my cinnamon raisin & creamcheese bagel, my pizza and meat balls at John’s, my bakeries at Bouchon by Thomas Keller and my Kouign Amann at Dominique Ansel Bakery, great Japanese food at Totto Yakitori (a place that reminds me strongly of Yardbird in HK…). I had AMAZING Venezuelan Arepas at Caracas Arepas Bar and, according to the newspaper posted on the wall, I had some of the best Mojitos in New York at Guantanamera! My delicious huevos rancheros at Great Jones Cafe. I wanted to have my burger at the Parker Meridien, located just across the street from the Essex House, but unlucky as I was, a crane collapsed on the 90th floor of what is to become the Park Hyatt New York. So, the burger place was also closed because of the potential danger of the crane falling down on the street. So I had my burger and hot dogs at Shake Shack, another great Danny Meyer’s success – a real mecca of burger, where tourist are queuing to get a taste of America’s favourite food, and so was I.
So far, so good, as the last thing I was here for was a 12 course menu at some French restaurant. The closest I have been to a fine dining restaurant was in the kitchen of the now closed L’atelier de Joel Robuchon, which I visited while there – beautiful kitchen indeed! But I wanted the authentic New York experience and I had it. To crown off my food tour, I visited my good friend Lorenzo and Francesco at their newly opened Antica Pesa in Williamsburg.
Now, if you visit New York and miss Antica Pesa, you will have to fly back to New York.
Antica Pesa is set to make massive noise in the Big Apple. Impeccable service and food – and with a stunning ambiance, the Italian restaurant, part of the family of the famed Pierluigi and Antica Pesa restaurant in Roma, is an absolute winner.
Our dinner started with a few drinks at the bar and promptly followed with a simple 3 course dinner, but as we were there to sample the most we could, we had 3 appetizers and 3 main courses! The bread basket is simple. Sliced bread presented in recycled Grappa wooden case with Antica Pesa very own Olive oil, salt and pepper grinder. Perfect!
I would definitely recommend the gita fuori porta, an amazing wooden case full of the best food the Roman country side has to offer. Spectacular lard rolled around bread sticks, white beans, cheese, cold cuts and so on – an absolute delight! The crudo e bufala croccante was another winner – Prosciutto di Parma, just warm fresh mozzarella in filo crust. Our last appetizer was the pollo croccante, crispy chicken nuggets with smoked mayonnaise, fennel and orange salad.
To start our main courses, we had the Spaghetti cacio e pepe – Simple spaghetti with Pecorino, parmigiano and black pepper – simple, but great taste! To follow we had the guancetta– braised beef cheek with whipped carrot and thyme puree – I had a lot of beef cheeks in my life (oops! this sounds so barbarian!) but the one at Antica Pesa were absolutely stunning! Like butter! Finally we had the maialino – a slow-roasted pork loin with crispy pancetta and sauteed endive. If you want to skip the starter and chose only one dish at Antica Pesa, then I would recommend the maialino. This dish is nothing short of spectacular!
To finish our meal, we had the la cioccolata: consistenze e Sapori – Chocolate: chef ’s selection of tastes and textures. It was an honest dessert without much pretension, but still perfect to end our meal. We then moved to the fire place, near the bar where we had a few cocktails, classic New Yorker style and where we had the great surprise to be served chocolate chopped right off a huge block of Mast Brothers chocolate placed on a carving trolley – I loved the idea and it was great with the drinks.
A great evening with friends, great hearty food, simple and down to earth without an ounce of arrogance – definitely my kind of place!
antica pesa, 115 Berry Street Brooklyn NY 11211, 347 763-2635 | email@example.com
Via Garibaldi 18, 00153 Roma, Italy
tel +39 06 5809236
Piazza de Ricci 144, 00186 Roma, Italy
tel +39 06 6868717
PS: sorry about the quality of the photos, I only had my phone with me!