Delicious Ukrainian Food in a Basement

Photo by JoAnn Costanzo
A church parishioner happily making dumplings one by one.

Hidden restaurants usually fall into two categories: Those that cater to Wall Street types looking to impress on a second date, and those that don't need to advertise, because they're places so excellent and revered, word of mouth is all that is needed.

Located just below a chiropractic office in the basement of an East Village townhouse, Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen (33 East 7th Street, 212- 674-1615) is the latter, a place that a friend may tell you "is kind of hard to find."

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My Bodega and Me: A Love Story

Behold: Everything you need

In any great relationship, there is a give and take that needs to exist, an ebb and flow that must be followed. There are high points and low, and it's always a two-way street. But twenty- and thirtysomething New Yorkers don't really follow any of these guidelines: We text through dinner, look at Instagrammed dog photos at the bar, and don't call anyone besides Grandma and Mom.

For all the one-word texts I send and receive, there is one relationship that I do work on almost daily, and usually twice a day on the weekends: my partnership with Graham Garden, my local bodega.

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How a Food Writer Eats His Way Through the NYC Marathon

Can you please tell me where the mini Snickers are at?

It was shortly after 1 p.m. when my thigh region really started to burn. "I should eat something soon," I thought aloud. Having already digested some bananas, the last thing I wanted was another piece of fruit.

"We got mini Snickers ovah here," a Long Island accent called out from just around a corner, somewhere around mile marker 18.

"Can I eat a Snickers right now?" I murmured. "It will be tough to eat this."

About four seconds later, the mini Snickers was gone, and it was without a doubt the best-tasting Snickers of all time. I was running the NYC Marathon -- my first marathon -- and I was again in search of my next bite.

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Where to Find Authentic Polish Treats Near the Bedford L Stop

Richard and Christian Podedworny
With a softball-sized jelly doughnut in hand, a Polish construction worker sat on a bench next to a hurried Brooklyn mom typing away on her phone, with child, stroller, and yoga mat in tow. Inside the shop they were perched next to, a crowd of Eastern Europeans mixed with twenty- and thirtysomethings with well-worn Barbour jackets; each was ordering coffee and something else. "Dzień dobry. Let me have three blueberry cheese danishes," a customer said.

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At Hasidic Gottlieb's Restaurant, Start With the Challah, End With Noodle Kugel

A man enjoying his soup

"This young man needs some pickles and bread!" one server called out to the other.

It was just after dark and I was sitting at Gottlieb's Restaurant (352 Roebling Street, 718-384-6612). Hasidic men and women were ordering takeout from the deli counter, and a long-bearded employee was slicing turkey and freshly streamed pastrami. The table next to me was full of the type of patron you might find in any Brooklyn coffee shop on a Wednesday afternoon, except they were all wearing kippahs (yarmulkes) and speaking in Yiddish. It was strange and wonderful and exciting.

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NYC's Best Smoked Fish Is in a Warehouse in Greenpoint

Salmon-on-salmon action

Midway through our conversation, I asked my new friend if he preferred sturgeon over gravlax. "Psh, I don't need no herb on my salmon," he replied. We were two of about 20 people waiting in line in the heart of industrial Greenpoint on a cold fall morning, eager for our chance to procure slabs of smoked fish.

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A Taste of the Mad Men Era at Donohue's Steakhouse

The Salad
At 5:30 on a Monday night, I was at the bar at Donohue's Steakhouse (845 Lexington Avenue, 212-744-0938), sandwiched between a low-level lawyer with a Budweiser and an English businessman drinking a glass of red wine and finishing the last of his green peas. A few seats down, a married couple with a combined age of at least 150 was enjoying the last of their martinis and broiled fish. And the rotary phone was ringing off the hook.

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Graham Avenue Meats and Deli Makes the Godfather of Sandwiches

A block away from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, Letizia Virtuoso plates a tray of still-hot broccoli rabe, saturating the air with the smell of roasted garlic.

"We gotta get some of that," one customer in workout clothes says to her friend, shortly after Letizia places the Italian greens into the 1970s orange and aluminum deli case that runs the length of the store. It's just another afternoon inside Graham Avenue Meats and Deli (445 Graham Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-383-0756).

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Bamonte's Is the Best of Old Brooklyn

Bamontes bar
"I tell you, when the wise guys ran Vegas, it was good for everybody," says Anthony Bamonte. I'm sitting with him and two of his long time friends, and we are just starting to work on an appetizer of grilled zucchini and onions. Grilled lightly and folded with quality olive oil, the dish (an off the menu special) is perfect. While we chat, a waiter, dressed in tuxedo with napkin draped over the arm just so, comes over to fill up the glasses of Chianti.

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Why 31-Year-Old Cafe Mogador Is Still an Anchor of the East Village

Hummus and pita
On a recent Friday evening, assorted groups of people were waiting on the sidewalk, passing the time until their tables were ready. The crowd was mostly locals, though a few part-time models were standing just off the curb, next to a kid wearing a "Welcome to NYU" shirt, and his parents. This will almost certainly be your introduction to Cafe Mogador (101 St. Marks Place, 212- 677-2226).

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