Hoboken's Roast Beef Battle: Brooklyn and Manhattan Fight Back!

Gravesend's version of the sainted roast-beef mozzarella hero

Last week, FiTR pitted a pair of excellent Italian-American roast beef heros found in Hoboken, New Jersey against each other. These classic sandwiches featured roast beef done rare to medium rare and thinly sliced, just-made mozzarella in abundance, and either a trickle or tidal wave of brown gravy, the kind the English introduced to the New World. In the piece, we hinted that the sandwich is also native to Brooklyn, and we recently ran out there and tried an old favorite. For the borough-challenged, we also retried one in Manhattan.

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Hoboken's Roast Beef Battle

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Fiore Deli's Italian roast beef hero, including cross-sectional view

One of the stunning achievements of Italian-American cooking is the invention of the hero sandwich. Whether stuffed with cold cuts or cutlets, with cheese or without, served warm or at room temperature, dressed with tomato sauce or oil-and-vinegar, they stood for the opulence, abundance, and cheapness of food in the New World.

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Zero Otto Nove's Bronx Vs. Manhattan Smackdown

In the Bronx, ZON's margherita is one of the city's most perfect evocations of that sainted Neapolitan pie.

Today, Counter Culture compares two renditions of Roberto Paciullo's (of Roberto Restaurant fame) Zero Otto Nove: one on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, the other in the Flatiron district in Manhattan. Both have their advantages, but here's a comparison of each's best dishes. Read the full piece here.

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Donut Pub Vs. Landbrot: Battle of the Jelly Donuts

On the left, slightly the more diminutive, the plain jelly donut from the sainted Donut Pub on 14th Street. On the right, the Berliner from Landbrot on Seventh Avenue.

There's an upstart jelly donut in town. It's called the Berliner, and it recently appeared at Landbrot, a new German bakery in town that fills a niche we never knew existed.

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Battle of the Classic vs. Newfangled Fancy Grilled Cheese at Little Muenster

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Lauren Shockey
The classic fancy grilled cheese

The humble grilled cheese has gone gourmet at Little Muenster, the tiny Lower East Side sandwich shop. Indeed, you won't find Kraft on Wonder Bread, but rather combos like Asiago, Parmesan, butternut squash puree and brown butter, or Oaxaca cheese with jalapeño-corn puree and cojita. It's not a place for purists, nor for those who think a grilled cheese should cost less than a fiver. But if you're into gourmet sammies (somewhat overpriced, that is) and don't feel like venturing uptown to the tastier Earl's Beer & Cheese, it's worth checking out. The menu offers eight different types of grilled cheese, which led us to wonder what's better: "super-fancy" classic grilled cheese or "super-fancy" newfangled grilled cheese. We put two to the test in a Battle of the Dishes.

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Battle of the Teeny-Weeny Chocolates: Cafe-Tasse Extra Noir Vs. Bug Bites Organic Dark



My name is Bob, and I'm a chocoholic.

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Battle of the Fancy Madison Avenue Chocolate Bars: Ladurée vs. La Maison du Chocolat (Plus Some Macaron Porn, Too)

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Lauren Shockey
Calling all chocoholics
If you're going to spend $10 on a chocolate bar, it had better be a damn good one. Or so you'd hope. But what do you do when the market becomes flooded with overpriced chocolate bars? How can you know how to best blow your weekly paycheck on cacao? Well, kids, that's what Battle of the Dishes is for. This week, we paid a visit to the just opened Ladurée (864 Madison Avenue, 646-558-3157) hoping they'd be selling delicious patisseries like at the original in Paris, but alas, only macarons and chocolates (and, oddly, sweet-scented perfumes and candles) could be had. And since we've already done a macaron smackdown, chocolate it was. And who better to battle Ladurée than La Maison du Chocolat, its equally Francophilic neighbor, located just eight blocks north. Behold the battle of the fancy Madison Avenue chocolate bars. Plus some pics of Ladurée's macarons because clearly we weren't going to go and not buy any. What kind of person would torture herself like that?

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Battle of the Brit Ginger Beers

The contestants: Old Jamaica Ginger Beer and Idris Fiery Ginger Beer

There are lots of reasons to drink ginger beverages. For one thing, they're one of the few drinks that use an actual natural flavor rather than artificial flavor. That's because no one has synthesized a convincing ginger flavor yet. Raw ginger is relatively cheap, and so potent that a little goes a long way.

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Battle of the Bougie Pork Belly Buns: Momofuku Noodle Bar vs. Baohaus 2

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Lauren Shockey
Momofuku Noodle Bar on the left, Baohaus 2 on the right

Oh, fancy pork buns. How did you do it? Getting us to swoon over slabs of porcine goodness while paying ridiculous markups for a product that can be purchased so cheaply in Chinatown, that is. The exact reason remains a mystery, though the cult of Momofuku is undeniable. And while the food fad might have reached an apogee two years ago, the trend remains strong. Just recently, Eddie Huang opened a second outpost of Baohaus, his shop devoted to Taiwanese-style gua bao. While Chang's and Huang's pork buns feature different toppings, at their core they are quite similar: fatty pork, fluffy bun, Asian flavors. Which means one thing: We had to prepare for a Battle of the Bougie Pork Belly Buns.

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Battle of the Fancy Tuna Sandwiches: Untitled v. Épicerie Boulud

Rebecca Marx
Untitled's tuna salad sandwich

As the eye of the storm approaches, we naturally turn our thoughts to upscale tuna sandwiches. As is their wont these days, certain restaurateurs have taken what was once a humble staple of brown-bag lunches and Automats and submitted it to a process of historical revisionism. No less than Danny Meyer and Daniel Boulud have put their own imprint on the sandwich, at Untitled and Épicerie Boulud, respectively. And so earlier this week we took ourselves uptown to compare their respective merits.

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