Barbarini Alimentari

Barbarini Alimentary Italian Restaurant Review
Photo © Barbarini Alimentari.
I am absolutely mad about Barbarini Alimentari. Earlier this year, our good friend Marianne introduced us to this South Street Seaport Italian restaurant and market and what began as a love affair has quickly become an obsession.
The first time Marianne took us to lunch at Barbarini Alimentari they featured a green lasagna with a spinach and pesto filling. It was a tower of fresh sheets of spinach pasta layered on a creamy green puree of spinach, cheeses, pesto and topped with crusty browned cheese. We all tried the lasagna and vowed to return when they serve it again. We even took it upon ourselves to call in the early mornings to see when they would feature this lasagna next.
In their regular menu they feature a spaghetti with Sicilian tuna, capers and tomato. This is the dish Scott and I are most in love with. I am so enamored by this dish that it mostly prevents me from trying any other plate. This is a heart warming bowl of hand-cut, made-that-morning, fresh spaghetti coated in an aromatic sauce of tomatoes, large capers, cracked olives and speckled with large pieces of perfectly cooked Sicilian tuna. I marvel at how a tuna dish can accomplish an aroma of fresh cut summer flowers. I can’t help but have a huge grin on my face when they bring over this pillow of pasta in pure white bowls.
The most surprising lesson about this dish is the use of these perfectly complex and salty large capers. I have never been a fan of the caper until now. Now I know I was eating the wrong kind of capers (those small mushy capers made by Goya used in Latin cooking). These capers are in a class all to themselves.
Barbarini Alimentari serves a surprisingly delicious Italian lunch, and also features a market with food treasures from Italy like salty large capers. You must not leave before stopping at their case and sampling their almond cookies prepared daily by their pastry chef.
Barbarini Alimentari
225 Front ST
New York, NY 10038
Phone: (212) 227-8890
Map

Food in the City

Favorite New York City Food
Photo by Scott Bartolomei Edmonds.
New York City terrified me when we first moved here nine years ago. Everything about the city was overwhelming: the noise, smelly streets (it was August after all), tall buildings, signs everywhere and everyone on a mission. I wanted to hide out in the tiny studio apartment where we had landed. I didn’t want to open the curtains, poke my head out the window, or step outside. Scott would have to drag me out of the apartment those first few weeks after we arrived.
What got me over this deep need to hide? Well… it was doughnuts. I was flipping through a Time Out New York and a page caught my eye. It was their eating out page and it pictured Isabella Rossellini. She was talking about her favorite ice cream place. Right next to this feature there was a tiny little paragraph on a place called the Doughnut Plant. This little place in the Lower East Side was taking something as common as fried dough and making it a fine food item. The promise of a doughnut with fresh raspberry glaze, Valrhona chocolate or vanilla bean glaze was the motivation I needed to plan my first expedition into the city.
Doughnuts are not my favorite thing. They are delicious, but they have never been an item I sought out. So far, my favorite doughnut experiences consisted of a few early Fall Sunday mornings when my dad would drive us to an apple farm in upstate New York to get fresh apple cider and apple cider doughnuts. Oh, and then there were those times when my grandma would take me shopping with her to K-mart. The K-mart in Ponce, Puerto Rico had one of those cool doughnut fryers that would mechanically drop rings of dough into hot oil. I loved watching the frying dough get golden as it was carried through the oil and onto a conveyor belt cooling rack – all without the aid of a human being. This machine was truly amazing and the hot doughnuts in a little paper bag were such a treat.
I started planning my trip to the Doughnut Plant by consulting city maps, transit maps and writing the directions, phone numbers, etc. on my notebook. I found a bus that would take me fairly close to it and that Saturday morning, I gathered up all my courage, enlisted Angelica as my expedition partner and we embarked on the quest of the perfect doughnut. Of course Angelica and I got lost. It was an adventure. We walked through Sarah Roosevelt Park on the edge of Chinatown where young men played a fierce game of basketball, the aging practiced tai chi, men played chess, birds were kept in cages and children ran, screamed and laughed in the playground. There was a great concentration of activity for such a small space. We eventually found the Doughnut Plant. Thankfully they still had some doughnuts left! They were the best I ever tasted and well worth the trip.
This was my introduction to the city. A very simple challenge: to taste the city’s best doughnuts. Most days I still want to hide in my apartment, draw all the blinds and ignore the noise, the energy, the people, but only in New York City can something so simple and ordinary be made into an extraordinary food experience. That is what keeps me coming back for more.

La Bombonera

La Bombonera Restaurant, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
One of the things I love about visiting the Old San Juan is breakfast at La Bombonera. On the first day of our recent trip to “my home planet”, I get up early and drag Angelica out of bed with anticipation for what is about to come.
La Bombonera Mallorcas
Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
As is our tradition, we start our first day with breakfast at La Bombonera, a century old bakery and restaurant best known for its fresh baked mallorcas. Mallorca is a sweet, egg based bread found in most Puerto Rican bakeries and with origins in the island of Mallorca, Spain.
La Bombonera Restaurant Review
Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
We sit at the long bar and order our usual mallorca with butter, cafe con leche (coffee with milk) and jugo de china (fresh squeezed orange juice) made with sweet Puerto Rican oranges. The cafetera (coffee maker) is a center piece of this restaurant. It’s a great big machine bearing a Cafeteras Nacional label. Cafeteras Nacional is an espresso machine maker originating in Cuba at the turn of the 20th century. This cafetera bears the signs of age, pieced together after many years of repairs, but it can still brew a great cup of Puerto Rican coffee.
Cafe con Leche at La Bombonera
Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
We sit at the bar and watch the wait staff, in red apron and white shirt, dance around eachother in a mad but elegant rush to get everyone served. We can’t sit still with anticipation for the mallorcas as we watch our waiter slice and place them in the ‘plancha’ to toast. Our faces wide with huge grins.
The mallorcas are perfect, slathered in butter and dusted with confectioner’s sugar, they melt in our mouths. We order another and some to take with us for our journey to Ponce to visit my grandparents.
Read what the New York Times says about La Bombonera.
La Bombonera
Calle San Francisco 259
Viejo San Juan, PR 00901
(787) 722-0658
La Bombonera Restaurant Review
Photo by Angelica Bartolomei Edmonds.

Gazala Place

Gazala Place New York City Restaurant Review
Gazala Place’s Burekas. Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
Yesterday our friends Eric and Michael introduced us to Gazala Place and I have not stopped thinking about this restaurant since. In fact, I am pretty sure I am going to convince us to go back there tonight.
Our evening had started with after work drinks at the rooftop of the MET. We stood in line to get drinks and fought off beautiful people trying to get ahead in the line. The line was so long that by the time we ordered, we each had two martinis in our hand to avoid a second wait. A gorgeous sunset unfolded as we overlooked Central Park and the Upper West Side skyline. As the MET closed, Eric suggested we go to this Israeli restaurant they like in their neighborhood.

Sunset at the rooftop of the MET. Photo by Michael Eade.
The first thing I noticed when we got there was a stone countertop at the entrance strewn with flour and a rolling pin. That was a good sign. As we entered, there’s a pan full of fresh, plump pastries sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds. Now I was intrigued.
Eric and Michael ordered for us and soon we were presented with waves upon waves of delicious food. Bowls of salad made of crispy lettuce and bright red tomatoes topped with chopped parsley, mint, bulgur wheat and a sesame tahini dressing. This, followed by the impossibly delicious pastries that had greeted us at the door: burekas – crisp, fresh and filled with goat cheese and sundried tomatoes. Then, hummus with a pool of aromatic olive oil and thin sheets of warm sagg pita gathered into a basket. Then, fried kibbe of minced meat and bulgur wheat. Then, a mound of seasoned lamb with pine nuts, served in a bed of hummus. Then, an incredibly light and strongly seasoned falafel with baba ghanouj on the side. Then, a perfectly seasoned kafta kabab of chopped beef with a mound of rice. Yes, we feasted and our bellies were full.
We ended the night with thick Turkish coffee and osh al-saraia, a delightful little mound of sweetness that I can only describe as bread soaked in syrup with a thin layer of light cheese topped with finely ground pistachios.
A lovely evening with good friends and a food experience that will be remembered. Thank you to Eric and Michael for sharing Gazala Place with us.
Learn more about Gazala Place in this New York Times article.

A Few of my Favorites

Favorite Restaurants, Bakeries and Bars in New York City
Marta at Frank. Photo by Scott Bartolomei Edmonds.
From the beginning, New York City has been all about food experiences for this girl. When we first moved here, I was terrified of venturing outside to explore the city. That was until I saw a little blurb in Time Out New York about the best doughnuts in the city at the Doughnut Plant. Finding the place that made the best doughnuts in the city became my target and not too long afterwards, I found the strength to brave the city to find these doughnuts. I got lost, but with the help of a map and sheer determination I found the place.
Today, just like eight years ago, I continue to seek out new food experiences as a way to explore the city. Here are a few of my favorite discoveries.
Fusion

  • A romantic dinner of anything served at Five Points
  • Sunday brunch at Essex
  • Food taken to an art at wd-50
  • Inventive and delightful plates in an intimate setting at Graffiti
  • Gorgeous sushi and oysters at Sumile
  • Refreshing, well prepared and reasonably priced dishes at Mooncake

International

  • Belgian – All the fries you could ever eat at Pommes Frites
  • Burmese – Banana leaf flounder with coconut rice at Café Mingala
  • Chinese – Sunday morning dim sum at Jing Fong
  • Ethiopian – Eating with my hands at Ghenet
  • Indian – Dosas for lunch and anything for dinner at Amma
  • Italian – Polpettone with mashed potatoes and tomato gravy at Frank
  • Spanish – A romantic paella to share at La Paella
  • Spanish – A plate of olives at Oliva
  • Spanish – Sangria and salpicón at Malaga

American

  • Supersized french toasts at The Comfort Diner
  • Outdoor burgers in Madison Square Park at the Shake Shack

Latin American

  • Brazilian – Humble Brazilian food and awesome pique at Delicia Brazil
  • Brazilian – The most delicious caipirinhas at Ipanema
  • Cuban – A cubano prepared right in front of you at Mi Floridita
  • Cuban – Savory cafeteria style rice and beans with pork at Margón
  • Dominican – Roasted chicken at El Malecón
  • Mexican – Killer frozen margaritas and flautas at Zarela
  • Mexican – Happy hour $3 margaritas and free chips at Tequilas
  • Mexican – Humble Mexican food at El Maguey y La Tuna
  • Pan-Latino – Mojitos with raw sugar cane at Paladar
  • Venezuelan – The most amazing patacones at Cocotero

Pubs and Bars

  • Outdoor drinking and barbeque at the Frying Pan
  • Early day drinking and a burger at The Half King
  • Wine to start a date at Simone
  • Fish and chips and a pint of Guinness at Thady Cons
  • Lychee martinis at Verlaine
  • A sexy night at the Cellar Bar

Bakeries