How Il Mulino Got Back on Its Feet in 24 Hours After a Fire

All photos courtesy Peter Thames
A fire swept through Il Mulino's Upper East Side location. The restaurant has already been restored.

Restaurants may be putting out metaphorical fires every night, but sometimes an actual disaster can show how well a team works together. Il Mulino New York's (37 East 60 Street; 212-750-3270) uptown location just had one such disaster, a presumed electrical fire on Wednesday, November 5, that closed the restaurant and blanketed the place with smoke. Roughly 24 hours after the damage occurred, though, the restaurant was back to normal, preparing plates of homemade pasta while diners chatted about Taylor Swift's new album.

How'd the management team do it?

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In Praise of Diner Hamburgers

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The burger at Square Diner arrives disassembled--garnish it as you will.

One strange aspect of the Age of Foodism has been the fetishization of the humble hamburger. This has occurred for a variety of reasons: Cash-strapped restaurateurs have increasingly glamorized burgers because they're an asset to cash-flow, since a pound of burger is much cheaper than a pound of steak, and increasingly fewer of us can afford to eat steak in a restaurant. Also, our gourmet approach to feeding ourselves has led us to explore new and novel ways to make a more luxurious patty, so that now a hamburger made with plain supermarket ground beef is becoming a rarity. As is finding one that's been cooked much beyond an almost tartare-like state, oozing bloody juices and requiring several napkins to eat.

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Joe's 14th Street: The Neighborhood Pizzeria Fights Back

The blobs of fresh white cheese on Joe's "Fresh Mozzarella" slice look like fluffy cartoon clouds against an angry red sky.

No doubt that the neighborhood pizzeria, once a leading dining institution in all five boroughs, has been undergoing a decline lately at the hands of fast-food franchises, dollar slice joints, and the tendency to think of pizza as a gourmet item. But its death has been prematurely announced; the old warhorse still has lots of life left in it. And the new branch of Joe's Pizza, just opened near the corner of Third Avenue and East 14th Street, is evidence of that.

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Dollar Pizza Reconsidered

Hey, the pizza here is really good!

A thought-provoking piece in the Wall Street Journal yesterday by Sophia Hollander ("Economics, Sliced") bemoaned the decline of the neighborhood pizza slice, especially in Manhattan, and blamed it pretty squarely on the dollar slice joints, also fingering gourmet pizzerias with elevated prices in passing. We learn, for example, that there are 12 2 Bros. pizzerias in the borough, plus nine owned by 99-cent-Fresh-Pizza, with more to follow. I disagree with four of the article's salient points and implications: 1) that the dollar slice places are the biggest culprit in the decline; 2) that it is principally Manhattan pizzerias that are affected; 3) that the dollar slices are necessarily a bad thing; and 4) that the neighborhood pizzeria is in mortal danger.

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The Quizzical Origins of the Thai Curry Puff

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A Thai curry puff as served at Thai Market.

You've encountered it in Thai restaurants before, a small braided pastry filled with chicken and potatoes called the curry puff. It's unlike any of the other apps on the menu, which run to papaya salads, tart sausages, steamed dumplings, fish cakes, and even marinated raw shrimp (which represent a Thai adaptation of Japanese sashimi). In addition, the small baked turnover has no Siamese name the way other dishes on Thai menus do, being designated simply "curry puff." But where did it come from?

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A Trek Into the Supermarket Freezer Case

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Now you don't have to go to a fancy restaurant to get gourmet sliders.

It started innocently enough. I was in an odd food mood, and came to the conclusion that what I craved most was something vividly remembered from childhood - Swanson chicken and turkey pot pies, one of each. In my memory, they'd been almost identical: the turkey a shade more fibrous, the chicken a tad more slippery. But lo and behold, when I got to my local Gristede's and managed to find the freezer aisle - which was much longer and more magnificent than I remembered it - there were no small, round, foil-clad pies to be had. They'd been elbowed out of the way by flashier forms of frozen food.

O delicious pie, seemingly made out of library paste and diced wood, what has become of thee?

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Miss Twinkies? How About Some Dreamies Instead?

Gee, they look almost the same.

It was only last November that the announcement came -- falling very hard on the ears of its fanciers -- that Twinkies and other Hostess cakes were no more. Hands were wrung and laments were sung, and bail-out proposals tendered. We at FiTR shed a few tears ourselves, and recounted the distinguished history of the elongated, "creme" filled snack cake.

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10 NYC Restaurant Trends for 2013

Many crepe shops opened in 2012, but about half are already closed. French pancakes simply weren't the next big thing.

Will 2013 turn out to be more of the same, restaurant-wise? Not on your life! Here are 10 trends FiTR expects to see in the coming year, some yawningly predictable, others nearly shocking.

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Could Blood Be the Next Big Thing?

The blood sausage called gyuma at Tibetan restaurant Phayul

We may be on the culinary frontier here, but you don't have to be a vampire (or a mosquito) to appreciate blood as an ingredient. What can it do? It thickens stews and helps puddings set. Rich in protein, it can be coagulated into shapes like Jell-O jigglers and incorporated into sleek dark sausages. It invariably makes rich dishes richer, and often imparts an appealing reddish-brown color, with little effect on flavor.

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Lotus, What Went Wrong?

Up goes the butcher paper...doneski!

Two months ago, Eater reported that the reservations system had gone dead at New York's Lotus of Siam, and the restaurant appeared to be closed, though there was no posted sign, and the phone message inviting customers to come in played merrily on. It still does today, but just recently brown paper went up in the windows, which at least gives its ardent fans some sort

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