The Year That Was in Ed Levine's restaurant reviews.
In May of 2008, I started posting official, definitive reviews, starting with the wine bar Terroir in the East Village. It's interesting how this column has changed as the year progressed. I started out thinking that I was going to go fork to fork with Frank Bruni and Adam Platt and review lots of fancy-pants restaurants.
I then realized two things: 1) Like most people, we didn't have the money to pay for those meals (Frank and Adam get to eat out almost every night on their employer's dime) and 2) I was much more interested in the kinds of places serious eaters can eat at regularly without worrying about splurging. That's how and why we started reviewing sandwich shops, bakeries, and food carts—honest, real food that serious eaters can easily get behind.
What have I discovered in this first year of serious reviewing? Lots.
The Pana Casa Reccio and the Pizza Bianca with Pecorino at the Sullivan Street Bakery.
Sublime vanilla custard at the City Bakery.
Perfect insalata di barbabietole ($5), roasted beets dressed with a shallot-chardonnay vinaigrette, at Salumeria Rosi.
The miniaturized-but-just-the-right-size cupcakes at Desert Club Chikalacious.
The fideua, paella, and the tosta chorica (chorizo and egg toast) at La Nacional.
The ridiculously succulent Chinese barbecued turkey and phenomenal roast suckling pig at Roasted Delights.
The puffy pretzel at the AQ Cafe.
The pork toast and the ribs at Irving Mill.
The $25 and worth every penny Iberico ham sandwich at Despana.
Fine guacamole, fish tacos, and ceviche at Papatzul.
Cheesy, tangy gougeres, crispy fried quail, and duck confit choucroute at the West Branch.
The fried chicken and the shrimp and grits at The Redhead.
The one, the only chili knish dog at the Charlie's Fashion Hot Dogs cart.
The wild Maine blueberry pie at Square Meal.
The good-for-my-diet and good-for my-tummy amberjack and tuna sashimi at Sushi Azabu.
A most excellent pressed ham and cheese sandwich made on a cheddar cheese biscuit at Amy's Bread.
Bocata, Arraultza, or anything else put on bread from Txikito.
The separate-but-almost equal open-faced tuna melt and sturgeon sandwiches at Blue Ribbon Market.
The cavatelli with broccoli rabe and sausage and the lasagna at Fiore.
The whole friggin' menu including the face bacon at Blue Hill at Stone Barns.
The guanciale and egg pizza and the porchetta and fontina sandwich at Roberta's.
The agnolotti dal plin and the how-could-something-so-seemingly-simple-be-so-good spaghetti with tomato and basil at Scarpetta.
The pig's ass sandwich and the mac and cheese at Casellula.
First-but-not-least the veal and ricotta meatballs and the beet risotto balls with gorgonzola at Terroir.
Wow, that's a lot of seriously delicious eating. And to think there's so much more to do. I can't wait.