Monday, October 31, 2011

Weekend Report: Pancakes and Pizza in NYC

On Saturday, Christine, Jess and I re-convened à la my sophomore year of college. But instead of Boston, it was NYC...and instead of their Student Village apartment, it was Christine's new home in the Flatiron District...and instead of the three of us, there was one new addition who integrated seamlessly into our trio - Christine's husband Phil! 

But other than that, some things will always be the same. We worked out, then lazed around, talked excessively, baked something, and went out to eat. The perfect way to spend an absolutely disgusting day (it sleeted - ugh). 

We are all Food Network-watching, Serious Eats-reading, blog-following foodies, so the opportunity to eat in NYC was an occasion for extensive planning.

First up, the best pancakes in NYC at Clinton St. Baking Company on the Lower East Side. Serious Eats aptly describes them as "Thick but crazily light, with buttery, crisp edges...but really, it's the maple butter that makes 'em."  I can't put my finger on it, but there's something almost donut-y about the flavor. Brunch starts at 9 am. We thought we could beat the crowds by arriving at 9:15, but there was still a 45 minute wait! I guess after beating Bobby Flay in Throwdown Blueberry Pancakes a place will always be crowded.

But once we sat down it was totally worth it. Service was quick but not rushed, and they were great about re-filling my coffee.  Clearly I went for the Blueberry Pancakes. The maple butter that comes with the pancakes is like a cross between maple syrup and maple glaze. It is divine. And another great discovery -- each table has a pot of fresh raspberry jam. Fresh like you can see (and taste) the chunks of raspberries. Yummm!

For dinner we went to another super-popular NYC restaurant: Co. Pizzeria. Much like Clinton St. Baking Company this place is usually line-around-the-block crowded, but since we went early (6:30 pm) and the weather was terrible, we walked right in! 

The restaurant is known for its pizza crust, which bakes to a chewy crusty perfection in a 700 degree oven. 

We skipped the salads and soups and went straight for the important stuff, easily consuming 6 pizzas between the four of us. We started with the Pizza Bianca with coarse sea salt and olive oil

The salt was so faint that we had to request more, which was totally fine. We also asked for Parmesan cheese. The only thing they wouldn't/couldn't give us was a side of extra sauce. The waitress explained that their sauce is literally fresh  crushed tomatoes, so it's not something they can scoop into a bowl for a side. 

After that nice warm-up, we all split a traditional Margherita Pizza. In my opinion it needed more sauce and a bit more basil. 

Then we each ordered our own personal pies. Christine and Jess both went for the Stracciatella, which has crushed tomato, stracciatella (a cheese softer and creamier then mozzarella), arugula, and black pepper

Phil got the Meatball Pizza with tomato, mozzarella, veal meatballs, caramelized onions, olives, aged pecorino, and oregano. We all agreed that it was an excellent rendition of a for-a-party normal type of pizza. 

I felt adventurous and opted for the Shiitake Pie with caramelized onion-walnut puree, olive oil, rosemary, and sea salt. It was like an umami explosion! I think I'm going to try to re-create the onion/walnut puree - it was fantastic.  Look at all those mushrooms!

Read the Co. Pizzeria's full menu here

Clearly we ate a lot, but much more importantly, we had a lot of fun! With Jess in Boston and me in DC, it's perfect that Christine and Phil now live mid-way between us! I'm looking forward to more NYC food days in the future...