As one of Bob Lape's friends put it, the number of restaurants this man has forgotten is probably longer than the most serious food lovers even remember. Lape currently records a weekly Dining Diary show that's broadcasted on WCBS radio, but when he's not out reviewing restaurants throughout the tri-state area, he's got a good idea of what's happening in Washington Heights, where he's been living for the past year and a half. Lape shares his find with us for the first Neighborhood Guide covering Washington Heights.
Pizza: We're whole pie people. At Exclusive Pizza the pies have a nice, thin crust, as opposed to those puffy ones. You can eat more with thin crusts I've learned. I like the slight spicy sauce; it goes all close to the edge.
Take out: Malecon. They one up here is number 1. It's called El Malecon. They do tons of chickens every day. They tell me on a bad day they go through 1,000 chickens. On a good day, 2,000 or more. There are good items on the menu, but we'll get one of their whole rotisserie chickens delivered. The pernil is great, too. Get that with white rice and black beans.
Coffee: We're blessed to have a new place Taszo Espresso Bar. It's maybe a year old. They have a communal table for the wifi users. The pastries are pretty good. I normally order something for Joanna. I get lattes for myself sometimes, but I get iced coffee of any kind in this weather.
Bagels: There's only one spot called Mike's Bagels. The everything bagel is my favorite, topped with scallion or olives. The only problem is there are long lines, and they close at 5 p.m. on weekdays.
Brunch: New Leaf, which is Bette Midler's place, in Fort Tryon is a great spot. It's a very green space. You're feel like you're one with nature here. The food is healthfully constructed. I don't always get to return to the same places often, but over the years, I get there fairly often.
Pastries: Carrot Top Pastries. It's a well-established place. The carrot cake is truly wonderful. The icing on the carrot cake is dense. I don't like those that blow away. I like something with substance. That's a goodie.
Tapas: Two guys from ABC Kitchen opened Marcha Cocina Bar and they're great. They have very good drinks and a lively bar. They buy their stuff from Despana. Their shrimp and garlic has this textural force and taste. And calamari...I've had calamari a million times but this was exceptional.
Bar: We like Tonalli on Broadway and 149th. They have pretty good food, too—a burger, a few pastas.