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Hook & Cleaver

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I loved attending the opening night party of the new Greenpoint Brooklyn steak restaurant and lounge, Hook & Cleaver. Adorned in all its I’m-so-cool-I–can’t-get –any-hotter with its camouflaged entrance and all! Hook & Cleaver is Chef/Owner Diane DiMeo coming out party after her status was elevated, like Charlie when he went through the roof of the Chocolate Factory, as she has been a contestant on the Food Network’s show “Chopped” and a runner up on ABC’s “The Taste.”

When I asked Diane how did she come to be on all those national TV food shows, she said that she owned some restaurants in Mexico City and the various shows found HER. I guess if I looked like her AND cooked like her, maybe they’d find me too! Diane also told me that the restaurant space, and hard to find entrance are reminiscent of the prohibition era, hence the steak house and the types of specialty drinks that are served.

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Enough about the awesomeness of Diane, although one really can’t get enough of her! After you enter the restaurant, you walk into a cool big bar area on one side of the room and white lounge banquets on the other side. It gives you that “I can’t wait to melt right in feeling.” I noticed fun drinks like Tom Collins were being passed around, but my bff and I opted for a glass of the excellent house red wine.

An adorable server with long black curly hair and a fun loving, funky dressed guy (I guess he was a server too?) served delish platters of passed brussels spouts, cheesy cauliflower, bite size pieces of steak, and ribs to us and a happen’ crowd. Man, do I love being at a restaurant opening! Everyone has a camera or a film crew and mic with them, me included.

We were seated at a counter that had an excellent view of Diane and her crew prepping and cooking in the open kitchen. The hugh rustic and aged looking windows, reminded me of the open kitchens that are an LA standard thrown in with Brooklyn bohemian.

So if you’re on the hunt for a new amazing place to spend your evening, and you want to venture, then take a short trip to Brooklyn, 10-minute drive from the midtown tunnel. You’ll love the place for the scene, the amazing food and of course, Diane!

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Check out their website, hookncleaver.com as they are only open on certain days and they only take cash.

Happy Eating!

Beauty and Essex

When I’m home for the holidays, hitting the town in NYC is a must! It’s my time to explore the vast terrain that I miss so much, being that I’m a suburbanite. I crave checking out the happening, party restaurant scene in NYC that I hear all about from the teenagers…wait! Wasn’t that supposed to be a reverse situation??? As funny as this sounds, my kids rave about how cool, fun and so 20-something Beauty and Essex is, so of course, I had to see for myself what all the “OMG, what a great place that is,” is all about.

As you enter Beauty and Essex, you first pass through a pawnshop, then you enter the restaurant, how very kitschy! There is a stunning spiral staircase entry way and then you are in a bar/lounge area, circa the 50s or 60s, I think? Past that, is a hugh dining area. WE were sent to eat upstairs, at first I’ve got to admit, I wasn’t too psyched, but soon realized it was just as fab. It also has a bar area and two separate dining areas. The restaurant overall is best described like this…It’s one of those places where you don’t know what to do, where to be or who to look at first, Yah! You know the place! Lovin’ it!

I haven’t even written about the food yet! Everything was beyond delish. Most of the dishes are served as appetizers and each one is amazing! Some dishes to order are, Tuna Poke Wonton Tacos, Empanadas, Onion Rings and Ribs to name a few.

Even my 11 year old had some fun, check out his 33 sec video below.

So, next time you want to travel to the lower east side, don’t miss Beauty and Essex (beautyandessex.com) at 146 Rivington Street.

Bocca East

Every wonder where to eat when your shopping or visiting the city? You know those times, when you want to try something new and feel like you’re a regular “upper east sider or a “UES.” Well, I’m about to introduce you to one of those places, Bocca East!

I happened upon Bocca East one night when I was in the city and looking for a great neighborhood spot, with a good vibe, melt-in-your-mouth burrata, and excellent Italian food. While I’m writing this, my husband is trying to take the credit for this find. The restaurant’s décor is rustic with exposed beams in the ceiling and wood all along the walls, which works much to my surprise! The wait staff is 100% percent on top of everything, right down to helping you pick out the best glass of wine, (based on your description). Their menu features an array of fab dishes; on a recent visit I had the Bucatini alla Amatriciana, which was soooo good! You’ll see in the video I posted, they even have an outrageous hamburger, and on another night there, I had the Branzino Grigliato. Is there anything they can’t make AND make it delicious? Seems to me, the answer is a resounding, “No.”

You’ll go to Bocca East the first time, cause you’re thinking it’s worth a try and you’ll end up coming back again and again because it’s just that good!

Molto Bene!

Film courtesy Max Berman

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Fattoria Dinner House

 

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Last weekend I experienced the fabulousness of Fattoria Dinner House in Armonk, NY. It opened a few months ago and I had only been for lunch. The lunch was excellent, and I had the beet salad with grilled chicken, so I was looking forward to returning and trying dinner. It was a Saturday night and I did not have a reservation, lucky for my crew, there had been one table available due to a cancellation. The place was packed, and I’m not surprised due to some great press coverage Fattoria received from an interview with CBS news. Check out the interview on their beautifully laid out website, fattoriarestaurant.com/#about. From the glass of wine, from small batch vineyards, right down to the farm to table Mediterranean style food it couldn’t have been a better tasting and dining experience. I also liked the way the menu lays out, with clever headings like, “breads & spreads,” and “smalls & such.”

When you walk into Fattoria, it’s one combined cozy bar, restaurant setting. The place was packed and being from Armonk, I didn’t recognize anyone. So nice for the owners that they are getting customers from all over Westchester! Also the chef used to cook at MP Taverna, so I guess chef, Alessandro D’Alessi’s loyal fans followed him to his new home at Fattoria.

I had the polpo to start and the branzino as a main dish. Both were excellent! The flavors were so good. It’s not typical to love everything you order, but I did. I don’t consider myself a food writer, so I can’t go into any details without reading what the ingredients are or the process that the food goes through to be made. All I can give you are the reviews from my taste buds and they loved every bite!

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Madison Kitchen

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I recently ate at Madison Kitchen Restaurant and Bar Lounge, in Larchmont with some good friends that I roped into trying out a new place. I figured I should start checking out some places out of Armonk that I here, are “worth the drive.” You may or may not know this, the young (under 30) Chef/owner, Nick Di Bona is a Chopped winner, which is always a good sign. For those Northern Westchester diners, he was formerly with Peter Pratt’s Inn before he went out on his own.

Madison Kitchen has the coziest, hippest atmosphere, which matched perfectly with the cold weather outside. There’s some lounge seating, and the perfect size bar, with a double-sided fireplace to the bartender’s back that is seen and felt in the dining part of the restaurant.

Before I went, I read the New York Times review, which raved about the food! I was psyched. I ordered the recommended tuna tarter, which was beyond delish! And the lobster risotto was so fresh and great as well! Some other mentioned dishes were not on the menu, but they did have comparable options.

For dessert we had the apple crisp with homemade vanilla ice cream, totally died and went to heaven on that dessert. The times review said a must-have is the chicken and waffle appetizer. I couldn’t get any takers at my table, so when you go, convince someone to get that dish!

Looking forward to a re-run!

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Impact100 Westchester

I digress from writing about great new places to eat-and-be-seen and must-run-and-get that thing to buy, to telling you about a new not-for-profit, charitable organization I learned about. Funny how appropriate it is at this time of year.

I recently attended a gathering at a friend’s house, where I learned about Impact100 Westchester, an interesting, new approach to charitable work. Where their mission is to engage women in philanthropy. I think there are 18 individual run chapters nationally. It’s kind of like a sorority for moms who like to give back! You can either be a giver with your time and money or just your money.

There are two women who work as co-presidents, Sharon Douglas and Anita Borkenstein. I heard both of these women speak and found them to both be very creative and inspiring. It hit my grass roots nerve to hear how they started this group and within no time got 132 women to join them in their first year. It just shows the power of a well thought out business plan. They started Impact100 Westchester because they wanted to make a difference to those less fortunate, right where they live, in Westchester County. They made a BIG difference by collecting over $132,000 to donate to those in need. I also am happy to report that all the money goes to the charity in need. There is no overhead, no rent, no employee salaries to pay, etc. Each member provides $1,000 which then goes to needy charities in communities where we dine, shop and drive thru everyday but never realize how many are living below the poverty level and in need of assistance from organizations that we can fund and support.

There are four categories to consider for giving: Arts & Culture, Education, Environment and Health & Wellness. They then, have local charities make a pitch to each of these groups in order to be chosen for the grant. Each group (every woman gets an equal vote at the annual meeting in June) chooses one winner and presents it to all of Impact100 Westchester. This past year’s grant finalists were; Clay Art Center, Yonkers Partners in Education, Something Good in The World, Inc. and Furniture Sharehouse. $100,000 was granted to Furniture Sharehouse. An organization that provides free furniture to Westchester families in need. The remaining funds were spilt between the other three finalists.

Here is their contact info.

Impact100westchester.org

impact100westchester@gmail.com

I hope I’ve done this amazing charity justice. Women working together to make a difference and inspiring other women to get involved!

Happy giving!

Zanni Restaurant

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Mark Mariani unveiled his new restaurant a week or so ago for breakfast and lunch and soon it will be open for dinner. Another fab place to eat in the new foodie capital of Westchester, known as Armonk. Mr. Mariani knows his decorating! He is just a phenomenal restaurant designer. Why he isn’t designing restaurants all over America for celebrity chefs is beyond me. From the entry comfy seating lounge area with the stunning stone fireplace, through the every so inviting, bar and oversized banquet area, to the, bring the light in through the glass ceiling atrium dining area, it is perfection and one will never want to leave!

During lunch I had the chicken and avocado Panini, which was very good and a yummy brussels sprout salad. There are few other well-priced salads, like the goat cheese beet salad, all the salads can be enhanced with chicken, shrimp, salmon, etc. They also serve flat bread pizzas.

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I haven’t tried the breakfast, so I can’t report on if my son’s kid favorite, nutella crepe is still there, but I’m sure their menu is plentiful and delicious. For those who loved the food and at one with nature ambience at the former Mariani Café, I’m sure you’ll be as overly impressed and as blown away as I was, with the new Mariani Restaurant, Zanni!

Comments welcomed…

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All photos courtesy Debbie Lipman