The Weekend Miscellaneous #2 (Motorino, Primal Fear, Frank, Peppi’s Cellar, B&H Dairy, Málà Project, Tre Panche)

This past weekend was a gorgeous one in New York City. It was 45 or 50 degrees with what felt like the strongest sun of the decade so far, that in reference to the new decade into which we are only 8 weeks of course.

Without any further ado or anything extemporaneous, here is the weekend review which I call The Weekend Miscellaneous.

Motorino – my favorite pizza in New York if I am ever pressed to give just one. That is much too high of an expectation to take into the restaurant if you do decide to go, but it is what I say. You can expect a Neopolitan Pizza with dough so fundamental that I can only describe it as doughy. It has airy dark bubbles on the crust and just enough char on the bottom from the brick oven in the back. The cheese is quality but the way it melts with the remarkably sweet red sauce to make a pink juice that I would drink out of a cup is what makes it an excellent pizza. While the margherita is the obvious highlight, I also like that they usually bring out a few small circles of salami on the house to get you started, and that my buddy Will and I were able to walk in at prime time on a Friday night and get a table without a wait.

Primal Fear – awesome movie about a lawyer who takes a case defending an altar boy accused of brutally murdering a Chicago priest after being caught literally red-handed (as well as red-clothed and red-faced) running from the scene of the crime. It was Ed Norton’s film debut as the accused murderer and he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor as a result of it. Richard Gere as the lead and a who’s who cast of women were also great in their respective roles and the movie earned my strong recommendation for anyone who does not mind movies based around a court case or made in the 90’s. I always say that 1996 was the best year for movies when I see one, but I say that about 1997 and 1998 too. From that triennium, Good Will Hunting, Swingers, Saving Private Ryan, The Truman Show, and the underrated comedy Liar Liar are five of my favorites.

Frank – Italian restaurant with outdoor seating where my buddy Cole and I had a solid brunch on Saturday. Fennel in addition to parmesan seemed unique as an ingredient for an omelette but the combination was unsurprisingly tasty, as are most things with parmesan. A $16 three-for-one drinks option (which I realize would be more like a regularly priced order for three drinks in a less expensive city) gave us no choice but to get three bellinis a piece. The bellini to me is a better version of a mimosa that uses peach puree instead of orange juice. The drink was invented at Harry’s in Venice where I was fortunate to try my first one. Harry’s was opened by Giuseppe Cipriani whose name you see around New York, most famously in the main concourse of Grand Central Terminal.

Peppi’s Cellar – a somewhat hidden restaurant bar under the fancier Gran Tivoli restaurant in SoHo where I went with my friends Rob & Chris on Saturday night. I would not go back for dinner but it is a cool spot for drinks. Nothing on the cocktail menu caught my eye so it was mezcal negronis for me.

B&H Dairy – went and sat at the counter for a very late Sunday brunch after a very long morning run. Many people dread the idea of eating out alone and I don’t do too much of it these days but I used to do it all the time in San Francisco when I was living by myself and didn’t know too many people. The thing about eating out alone is that it has as much to do with where you go as anything else. For example, you don’t go to a hot bottomless brunch spot on a Sunday afternoon looking for a meal without company. That’s a nightmare. You go to a place that is mostly counterspace, off-beat and unpacked like B&H. You can get in and out for $10 including tip if you stick to two eggs & a pound of potatoes with buttered challah on the side, but I got a vegetable juice as well and I want to go back for the soups. Fair warning that it is vegetarian and so if you find yourself in need bacon, B&H is not the move.

Málà Project – a Michelin Guide spot for Chinese dry pots at a reasonable price between $15-25 per person. I went with my brother Sunday night and while I wrote in this post how I moved the start of my gluten-free vegan weeks to Monday mornings instead of Sunday nights, this was a place I did not have a desire to go off program. A reasonably accurately named “mild” dry pot with wood ear mushrooms, bamboo shoots, firm tofu, and bok choy was fresh, hot, and delicious with a side of white rice. We were able to walk in on Sunday at 7 and it is right around the corner so I am sure we will be back.

Osteria delle Tre Panche – even though I went here Tuesday night as a weeknight exception this place must be mentioned as a restaurant from Florence which has been in New York for most of the month of February at Chef’s Club NY. I went with friends with whom I had previously been to the restaurant in Florence when we all studied abroad there. Tre Panche means Three Benches and it is named as it is because of the three long benches that comprise the seating area in the restaurant. The temporary New York location was much larger, still fully booked, and a bit over-priced. Still, we got what we went for which was a couple of their mouth-watering truffle dishes for which the restaurant is known. The truffle ravioli, truffle chicken, and truffle mozzarella grilled-cheese-like appetizer were far and away the best dishes on our table where everything was shared. If you are ever in Florence and you like the taste of truffle, go get yourself a bench. It will be worth it.

Obviously this was a big foodie weekend for me. I cannot overemphasize how much more enjoyable these weekend meals have been made by the discipline with which I have been intermittent fasting and eating on a gluten-free vegan diet during the weekdays (and doing so very economically as well). Several weeks in now I am still learning and tweaking for improvements but the balance of the system has been great and I do not have any urge whatsoever not to continue with the program. If it is something you would be open to considering, I would highly recommend giving it a one week try.