Archive for the ‘Pizza’ Category

We Heart Di Fara

October 7, 2007

That’s it, I’m hooked. The pizza’s amazing, but the best thing about a trip to Di Fara in Brooklyn is to visit the divey little joint and watch the one and only man who is responsible for these glorious slices in action. Domenico De Marco, a small little floury man from Naples, makes all the pizza himself and even rings you up. He has raw crusty pizza dough up to his elbows and happily cuts fresh basil with scissors over each and every big bubbling pie. As we walked out the door with smiles he yelled, “Grazie! Buonanotte! Ritornate!” and went back to grating his undoubtedly imported cheese. Oh, don’t worry- we’ll be back!

Welcome to Brooklyn Party!

August 13, 2007

As a welcome gesture, my dear newly-wed friends Vanessa and Payman decided to throw me a “Welcome to Brooklyn” Party. Let me tell you- these 2 really know how to entertain! (And they got a chance to try out all those wedding gifts). They had quite a spread prepared- all Brooklyn inspired fare. Our friend went out around 9pm to pick up a couple pies at Di Fara’s, and they were so busy that the poor thing didn’t return until 3 hours later….but she had with her the MOST amazing pizza. This stuff put Grimaldi’s to shame!

Payman had a full service bar going. Drink specials were posted on the board and my favorite was the “Brooklyn Cocktail” – a mix of Old Forrester, Dry Vermouth, Maraschino and Angostura.

But that was just the beginning….after several Nathan’s hotdogs, a Brooklyn Lager or 2, and lots of dipping in the chocolate fountain, I was officially sworn in as a Brooklyn-ite. Thanks, Vanessa & Payman! I look forward to more eating and drinking together in my new borough.

Home of the "Original" Deep Fried Calzone

May 3, 2007

I think I’ve found it: the best pizza joint in New York. Ok, ok, maybe that is too definitive a statement, and I’m not trying to claim that I’ve had ALL pizza in NY (I have yet to trek to the middle of Brooklyn for Di Fara), but The House of Pizza & Calzone is a huge deal. HUGE!

Troy and Kumiko took me to this little place for the first time when we couldn’t figure out what to do for dinner. The House is nestled between Carroll Gardens and Red Hook, a good 10 blocks from the subway– it’s a no-frills, super old school pizzeria that has been around since 1952. Through the years, it has been handed over to new owners only three times (don’t quote me, but that’s what I recall), and I doubt that it’s strayed too far from its Sicilian roots.

And these roots go deep. In the devout Catholic tradition, they won’t serve ham on Fridays (you won’t find me there on that day). The Southern Italian accents have morphed into a Brooklyn twang, but no joke, this place somehow reminded me of the pizza places I walked into in Sicily. It’s casual, brightly lit, neighborhoody– all it needs is a framed hologram of Jesus on the wall. There are just a few tables in the back, and a small counter, but I imagine that most order togo. Paul, the owner behind the counter is a really friendly big guy who knew the cops who walked in by first name. That sort of place- like Cheers, but a pizza joint. Above is Paul’s hand in the picture, holding up what is destined to be deliciousness.

Alright, the pizza. A bit pricey, but ridiculously good– the pies range from $14-19, and have silly names in ode to the homeland like “DaVinci” and “Forza Azzuri” (named for Italia’s World Cup championship last year). Between the 3 of us, we got the “Primadonna” which is topped with fresh mozzarella, prosciutto and basil, which was more than enough.

Essentially, this is a Pizza Margherita with prosciutto. The crust is super thin, the prosciutto not too salty, the cheese fresh, and the fresh basil of course just makes everything tastier. Truly good pizza, without anything fancy added- just simple and fresh. It all melted in my mouth one slice at a time.

I think it was these Arancini balls that reminded me most of my travels through Sicily– these are truly a Sicilian staple. Over there, you have these things for snacks in the middle of the day, or as your meal for dinner. Whenever is a good time for these deep-fried balls of rice and cheese. These guys were only rice, ricotta and mozarella– but usually, you can find them with ground beef and a tomato sauce rice too. Mouth watering.

And last, but not least…

Do you see this? Do you have any idea what this is? I’ll tell you: it’s a donut filled with ricotta and ham. They call it a calzone– and while usually calzones are baked in the oven along with pizzas, this place actually deep fries it!!! It’s a beautifully designed heart-attack in a pocket, that happens to be one of the best thing I’ve eaten ever. The sweet ricotta delightfully bursts and oozes through your teeth, countering the perfectly cured, thinly sliced ham; the dough is just as a doughnut should be, a tiny bit crispy on the outside, fluffy within. The entire experience is finished off with a long piece of mozarrella stretched out from calzone to mouth. And at $4, it’s truly a bargain meal– it’s the size of a football for god’s sake! Cherish each moment!

On the cover of their take-out menu, they state that they are the “Home of the Original Deep-Fried Calzone”. I love that- I mean, have you ever heard of anyone else deep frying their calzone? It’s a title well-deserved. And don’t you worry, you can walk it all off on your way back to the subway stop.


House of Pizza & Calzone
132 Union Street
Red Hook, Brooklyn
(718) 624-9107

Monday – Thursday: 11am – 9 pm
Friday & Saturday: 11am – 10pm
Sunday 11:30am – 7:30pm

– Calzone

$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 6 & 7

March 30, 2007

$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Prologue
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 1 & 2
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 3, 4 &5

Wednesday 3/28
Total Spent: $5

LUNCH–> $0

Fumiko and I had our usual lunch date. I had leftover pasta alla puttanesca, she had made this absolutely delicious spaghetti bathed in cream sauce with artichokes. She says this is very easy, so i will need to try making this myself. Something about having 2 kinds of pasta in one sitting–one with red sauce, the other with white sauce– that is very satisfying and indulgent.


Matt and I had tickets to see Do Say Make Think at Southpaw in Park Slope, Brooklyn (great venue). But before we met up, I had a gallery opening at work that I was helping out with– all strategically planned out because I knew I could munch on hors d’oeuvres and drink to my hearts content, essentially just eat dinner there without having to spend a dime. Genius.

However, the sushi they served was pretty horrifying– big fat rolls with too much sweetened rice and not enough insides. and just really poorly rolled too, I could have easily done a better job– they were just damn ugly. It was pretty uncharacteristic too, cause the food served at my work’s receptions aren’t usually so bad. But I sucked it up and ate as much as I could– you really can’t be picky when you are on a tight budget. I think I’m finally starting to understand that.

Ok, so I head out after two glasses of bad chardonnay and a stomach full of the worst California rolls I’ve ever had in my life. Meet Matt at Union Hall, he offers me a beer, and recalling my ground rules, I accept on the grounds that I can treat him to a slice of pizza. Fair trade, no?

Wait a sec, back up– Kayoko, didn’t you just have your dinner? You are supposed to be fulfilled by the 10 or so pieces of sushi you JUST consumed. Folks, here’s another thing about me and my eating habits: I cannot tolerate having an unsatisfying dinner. God, that’s horrible and sounds snobby and self-entitled. Ugh. But it’s true– yes, I did have dinner, technically, and I wasn’t really hungry anymore– but I just couldn’t let that be my dinner. It was out of the question.

So I’ve had this weird obsession with pizza lately, and I’m always craving a slice. We headed to this random pizza place that is right off of Union and 5th Ave. It was sorta creepy, I wish I had taken pictures of it. Yellowing wallpaper and really bizarre garage sale chachke displayed everywhere. And the price chart hanging overhead was one of those really old school ones where you have to put up each letter one by one, like a theater marquee. You know what I’m talking about? This one had a 7Up logo on it– remember when 7Up was huge? This place had probably been around since at least the 70s. Do the Right Thing, baby!

I got a slice with sausage piled on top, it was very satisfying– totally worth the $, just so I could go to bed knowing that my dinner weren’t those nasty california rolls.

Sidenote: Do Say Make Think were excellent live. I guess some of the musicians play with Broken Social Scene (both outta Toronto). They create a wondrous cacophony of noise that, along with the light show, made me think of what it would sound like if a spaceship landed in Brooklyn.


Thursday 3/29
Total Spent: $21.25


Feeling groggy and heavy (it’s the bad wine), so I got a croissant on my way in.

LUNCH–> $0

Aya’s incredible Nappa-wrapped pork. what a treat!!!

DINNER–> $20

Here is where things get a little tricky for $100/2 weeks/NYC. We had made plans to go to a movie at Film Forum with work-related people a while back, so I couldn’t really back out of this, even though I fully knew what this meant: eating and drinking with them. CRAP. Finding a wallet-friendly meal is hard enough, but tagging alcohol onto the bill is guaranteed to drive the bill up. So I did my best to suggest a place that would be “affordable”, i.e. under $20 (even that was pushing it).

I always have a really difficult time finding a place to eat around Film Forum. I had heard from various message boards that Rockmeisha in the West Village served good ramen, so we met there at 8pm.

We ran into Aya and TMonkey there– I’ll let TMonkey really talk about the ramen cause he’s doing this taste test of different ramen joints in the city and will be reporting on it. But just let me say that Rockmeisha’s ramen is just another disappointment in the consistently depressing ramen scene in NYC.

Minca– bad
Momofuku– badder
Rai Rai Ken– baddest

The only place i’ll go to that is DECENT is Menkuitei in midtown (NOT the one in Cooper Square- same shop, but the ramen is not as good).

But the roasted pork at Rockmeisha was good- flavorful, just the right amount of fat, and thinly sliced- I’ll give them that. the noodles, too soft. the soup, not enough depth, despite the heaviness.

Someone, i beg you, open up a ramen shop that is at least CLOSE to the ramen in japan. PLEASE!!!

And the thing is, ramen is NOT CHEAP. this little bowl of tonkotsu ramen that I slurped in under 10 bites? $9.95!!! Dude, I could go to Great NY Noodle Town in Chinatown and get 2.5 BOWLS of their shrimp dumpling noodle soup that trumps this stuff ANY DAY. makes me mad just thinking about it.

3 beers, a starter of hiyayakko (cold tofu) and edamame, and 4 bowls of ramens later, the bill came to be exactly $20 each. I was proud that I didn’t go over that, but not proud that I now officially have less than $30 left and I have only reached the halfway point of $100/2Weeks. WAAAAAAAA!!!!!

$5 + $21.25 = $26.25 + $47 (Day 1-5 total) = $73.25

$100 – $73.25 = $26.75

this is suicide.


ps- i am sorry i didn’t take enough pictures in the last 2 days!

なまがきfest Part II: Jackpot

March 23, 2007

Ever since reading Aya’s “なまがき fest: Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar” post, I had been out on a mission to eat oysters. Which has since brought me to Shimokitazawa’s Jackpot Oyster Kitchen twice. There’s something perfect about celebrating pay day (which, by the way, seems to have coincided for those of you in NY and us in Tokyo today) on a Friday with a delicacy like oysters.

And oysters I ate indeed. A complimentary oyster is brought along with drinks – marinated in vinegar. Then we got our 1/2 dozen raw oysters – all from different parts of Japan – labeled with cute little toothpicks with flags declaring their origin. I must admit that one of the key points that brought me back to Jackpot was their woodstone oven. We ordered a four cheese pizza with just the right amount of blue cheese. We also got some vegetable sticks with miso dipping sauce, baked Provence-style oysters, oyster spaghetti, oyster/shrimp pie (pictured) and baked salmon. Coming straight from work on a Friday night, upon ordering I wasn’t sure if this was going to be enough food for the three of us (my mom, her husband Lakshman and I). But this was a lot of food in retrospect.

Overall – the oyster spaghetti was awesome. The pizza is one of the best I’ve had in Tokyo (sadly, Tokyo is not the best place for pizza). I can do without the big screen tv that barfs out MTV Japan endlessly though (thankfully, it’s on mute).

– yoko in tokyo

Pizza Pizza Pizza Pizza!

March 21, 2007

Meet Aaron Unger. Performer/ puppet artist/ photographer/ visual artist extraordinaire. World-traveling Jew from Miami. A man bursting with joie de vivre, a culinary maverick and loving husband and father. A man who has entertained hundreds of people from New York to Berne with his ice-shaving performance (some time accompanied by girls with big bear heads), a man who has been the most convincing advocate for the rat being a witty adorable creature, a man, who has loved, and been loved, for his big heart, great art and sweat.

As his official biographer, I am pleased to offer a look into his most recent endeavors as one of the chefs at Amorina Cucina Rustica, a lovely, cozy Italian joint in Prospect Heights (624 Vanderbilt Ave. at Prospect Place). The second outpost from Albano Ballerini, who opened his first idiosyncratic cafe Aliseo Osteria del Borgo, Amorina offers a wonderfully wide range of savory and sweet/savory pies with Roman-style thin crusts, as well as some classic pasta dishes.

When Irwin and I arrived, we got some quality time with Aaron at the counter. The best pizza, Aaron explained, was what the staff ate for dinner, and was not on the menu — a white pie with fennel, sausage and caramelized onion. We’d call it the Aaron Special, and planned on giving it a taste. Kayoko and Dawn showed up and we decided to get started — a bottle of red (like I’ve said, my ability to retain wine details is nil, so if you really wanna know, Irwin’s gotta tell) and a Deliziosa salad: endive, goat cheese, red beets, orange vinaigrette. Delicious!

Ryo and Chie showed up in time for the main dishes. Here we go:

Spaghetti with meatballs — hearty and heart-warming! Big juicy meatballs, I think we were using the bread to scoop up every last bit of the sauce.

The Aaron Special — aforementioned pie. We could all see why the staff always ate this one for dinner. I don’t know when they’re gonna put this on the menu officially but they should! Sausage with a kick with the sweet caramelized onions was a great preview to the other sweet & savory juxtapositions to come.

Pizza Norma — eggplant, fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, ricotta salata, basil, mint. Perhaps this was the most conventional of all the pies of the evening (and therefore I would shyly admit, my favorite — what can I say? I love the tomato sauce and I love eggplant!)

This was certainly not enough food for six, so on we went to Round Two, along with another bottle of red:
Pizza Siciliana — ricotta, fennel, caramelized onion, black olives, orange, mint. What a treat! The salty tartness of the olives with the touch-of-sweet orange sent the taste buds on a surprising ride.

Pizza Gorgonzola E Fruttagorgonzola, figs, pears, honey, which unfortunately went unphotographed because presumably it was consumed at such velocity the photographer could not get to it. Holy shit, here was the mother of all dessert pizzas. All the sweetness of the fruit and honey, balanced by the gorgonzola was an even greater surprise that the Siciliana. I think that this was Kayoko and Irwin’s fave. It confused Ryo and Chie.

How could we not order dessert?! One of each kind:
Tiramisu Cup — yummy yummy! my fave

Ricotta Cheesecake — nice, rich without being too heavy. K’s fave

Pine Nut Tarthmmm, wasn’t crazy about this. Kinda runny inside.

The atmosphere is so great: red-checkered tablecloth and wood tables/chairs give it a very homey feel. A great place to meet with friends on a Sunday evening. I might even say I prefer this over Franny’s — just because Franny’s, though the pizza is awesome, is just too crowded all the time and all fancy-like.

Aaron can make any place he spends time a warm, inviting place to be, whether it’s the kitchen or a dilapidated warehouse with crumbling brick walls. If you go to Amorina’s and see this guy in the back, give him a big kiss or a thumbs-up. He’ll love it.