Angelo’s Pizza!! Local slice in NYC…

Have you ever wondered where the local’s go for pizza in NYC? Me neither! But if one were to inquire where to go for delicious, made from scratch, and only local and fresh ingredients used, then please stop by Angelo’s Pizza, a few short steps from the Park Hyatt Hotel in Midtown!

For less money than a 4-course, price-fixed dinner at Grand Tier Restaurant, you can get several wonderfully cooked coal (yes, coal) oven pizzas. We opted to get just one. Your choice of either 13 or 17-inch pie shapes, it’s served to you in about five minutes! Yes, five minutes. Paired with our pizza, we each also enjoyed a glass of wine from their extensive drink menu. I had the house Chianti, which paired beautifully with our pepperoni, basil, and extra cheese pizza. Eric had the house glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, which was also a great pairing choice. Freshly made bread with olive oil, cheese, and hot pepper flakes was a lovely starter with our wine as well.

Not in the mood for pizza? Don’t worry, Angelo’s has you covered. Their menu also includes appetizers, salads, soups, pasta, meats and fish. They also have daily lunch specials. Save room for desert because they have that as well.

Angelo’s Pizza has been around for decades and it’s easy to see why. With their consistently good reviews, it’s a very family friendly establishment. When you walk in, it’s warm and inviting and the service is fantastic. Our waitress, Agnieszka, was super nice and attentive from the moment we sat down. She made some good recommendations about both the pizza and our wine selection.

If you ever find yourself in the Central Park, Columbus Circle area of New York City and have a craving for New York City pizza, please stop by Angelo’s and give them a try. I know whenever we are in that section of the city, Angelo’s is the only place we will go for delicious pizza!


Weekend in Maryland wine country!

If you have never visited any of Maryland’s wonderful wineries, I have to ask. Why not? Maryland is such a short drive from the Philadelphia area and it also makes a great weekend getaway. In addition to this, Maryland makes some really nice wines. We’ve always been partial to St. Michaels Winery (future article to come) on the eastern shore. But this time, we decided to visit some cousin’s of Eric’s in the Bethesda area of Maryland. As always, Eric’s family opened their arms and kitchen to me. The night before our wine extravaganza, we were treated to a wonderful home cooked meal, where they opened up a bottle of Red 2001 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial. Perfecto!

Next morning, bright and early, we got up, had coffee and ventured out to visit a local winery, some wine bars, and take a trip to downtown Bethesda. Our first stop was a local farmers market, Heyser Farms, that included a wonderful winery, Great Shoals Winery, located in Silver Springs. A small, cozy tasting room, but the wines were big on flavor! Great Shoals also has a wide variety of ciders and sparkling wines for those of you who are looking for more variety. We even bought a couple of their ciders. They were delicious! Great Shoals have won their fair share of awards, medals, ribbons and are quite proud of it. As they should be. On the day that we visited, their premier tastings selection included: bosc and bartlett hard pear pinot gris, a red (staff pick), Celebration Barbera, Hard Apple Draft Bay Fire, Hard Strawberry and a Ginger Hard Apple.

Overall, this tasting was absolutely wonderful. Major thanks to Great Shoals Winery for their hospitality, information and dedication to making fantastic wines, ciders and sparkling wines. We can’t wait to come back and visit them again. Also, don’t miss the chance to shop at Heyser Farms as well. They had everything you could wish for. Fresh produce, fruits, you name it, they had it. Next time your in Silver Springs, be sure to stop by and check this farm and winery out!

The day was still young, so our next stop, we traveled to beautiful Bethesda. This was our first time there and trust me when I say, it won’t be our last. It was absolutely beautiful! Everything you could want is within a 10 minute walk. Food, wine, restaurants, groceries, shops, you name it, Bethesda has it. The downtown area is so quaint, you forget how large it really is. It comes across as a very walk-able and pedestrian friendly town.

My wonderful cousins-in-law took us to a fantastic french restaurant, Mon Ami Gabi. Mon Ami Gabi reminded us so much of the wonderful Philadelphia french restaurant Parc, it was downright scary! The wonderful service, attention to detail, delicious food and of course, the wine. Next time we are in Bethesda, we are so having dinner here. This afternoon, we just ordered a round of appetizers and drinks but it was so delicious! A sampling of what we ordered was the house-made country pate that was served with cornichons and whole grain mustard and the steamed artichoke served with shaved vegetables & a lemon dijon vinaigrette. To go with our wonderful appetizers, I ordered the Beaujoais Villages-Georges Duboeuf 2015 and Eric ordered the Bordeaux Superieur Chateau Laronde Desormes 2014. Both were outstanding. Beautiful color, wonderful aroma and the acidity balanced the fruitiness of the wine. The weather was perfect so we sat outside and leisurely enjoyed our food and drinks. Mon Ami Gabi is everything you would expect in a classic, quaint french restaurant.

Our last stop was the Urban Winery. The decor was very nice, rustic with no frills. The food was presented beautifully. We only ordered the stuffed grape leaves and a wine flight. The grape leaves could have used a bit more seasoning or spice but were not bad. The menu is heavily Mediterranean influenced. That is never, ever a bad thing. We all enjoyed the wine flights ordered. I wish we could have spent more time here. We’ll definitely go back and give the menu a proper tasting and report back to all of you.

All in all, it was a quick but very nice trip. Only a couple hour’s drive, Maryland offers so much. If you still crave that urban feeling, head to Baltimore or the Bethesda area. If you want a more laid back, quiet experience, head to the eastern shore. If you’re a wine lover like us, you won’t go wrong on either side of the Chesapeake. And again, we want to thank our fabulous cousins for putting us up for the weekend and showing us around the wonderful area. Happy trails!

Great Shoals Winery!


Mon Ami Gabi!


Urban Winery!

La Grignote, the perfect Key Lime slice!

On our last day in Key West, Florida, before coming home to Philadelphia and mere hours before departing to Greece, we had yet to have a taste of the famous Key Lime Pie. So many choices, but where does one go? We found the perfect spot. Located right on Duval Street, minutes from the Southernmost Beach Resort where we were staying, La Grignote Cafe is a cozy, picturesque breakfast and lunch nook. Everything here is made from scratch. The pie was not overly sweet but tangy, light and refreshing, especially since it’s always hot and humid in the Florida Keys, or so it seems to those who live above the Mason-Dixon line!

The staff were incredibly friendly. The restaurant was open air all around which lent to it’s quaintness. It’s also pet friendly, like most places in Key West. We didn’t have enough time to try more items on their delicious menu, but we were happy that we picked this spot to have a slice of key lime pie. We definitely want to go back to Key West and our first stop will be to La Grignote. It’s a popular spot with the locals and in our brief time spent there, we can see why.



Wine-O wine bar: Key West weekend

When one thinks about Key West, a picture comes into your mind of mojitos, margaritas and cool drinks with umbrellas. But nestled on Duval Street a few doors down from Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville is the Wine-O Bar. It’s small, intimate spot and you won’t find any umbrellas in your drink! It was a nice, quiet oasis from the heat and hustle & bustle of people shopping, drinking and eating on Key West’s famous strip. They are owned by the historic La Concha Hotel and Spa.

Beautifully decorated, Wine-O Bar is a wine lovers heaven. It’s laid out as a wine store but there is a small area right in the middle of the shop to sit and taste wine. You can also order small bites while taste testing some of their wines. And let me tell you, the food was just as outstanding as their wines.

We started our wine tasting with an order of their Tomato Caprese which consisted of  vine ripened tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil, chive oil, and a balsamic reduction. This was a perfect dish to cool you down from the hot and humid Florida heat. It was delicious! It’s a classic dish but one they perfected. We then ordered the filet which consisted of seared filet mignon, boursin and crispy onions. Again, they knocked this one out of the park. The filet mignon was perfectly cooked. The boursin and crispy onions added a nice texture and saltiness to the filet. Both dishes paired with the red wine flight we ordered, and we were very happy campers!

If you ever go to Key West, do something a bit different one day. When strolling up and down Duval Street, stop in Wine-O Bar. You won’t regret it. And also be sure to check out La Concha Hotel and Spa. The lobby area was gorgeous and inviting. We may just be staying here next time we’re in Key West!



BalletX, amazing and fabulous

While I love posting articles about food and wine, I just had to write one about a fantastic group of dancers that we have really fallen in love with over the past year. That group is BalletX and I hope by the time you have finished reading this, you will be inclined to attend their performances and appreciate them as much as we do.

Our first experience with BalletX was when I was writing for last year. We were able to attend their annual premier party at the wonderful Sky Philadelphia. The evening consisted of a cocktail hour, sit down dinner, a one-of-a-kind performance from the BalletX dancers and fantastic views from the 50th floor of Sky Philadelphia. We were intrigued with this organization and decided that we needed to attend their next performance as soon as possible. And I am so glad we did. Just a quick side note, the BalletX next premier party is March 22nd again at Sky Philadelphia. Please go to the BalletX website for more details for tickets and more information.

To me, BalletX is a wonderful blend of modern, classical dance and ballet. Founded in 2005 by Christine Cox and Matthew Neenan, and now under the direction of Cox as Artistic & Executive Director, BalletX “challenges the boundaries of classical ballet by encouraging formal experimentation while preserving rigorous technique”. And boy do they ever. We love going to the ballet and opera but BalletX is just more intimate and personal. Go to any one of their performances and you can meet and talk with Christine Cox and feel like you’ve know her for a very long time. Her energetic personality, love for BalletX and genuine interest in the patrons that attend each BalletX performance, you can’t help but be excited with her and want the very best for this group.

Every performance that we have attended, we have been blown away by the music, energy and talent each dancer brings to the stage. The audience around us is mesmerized and entranced with every step. When the program has ended, there is always a roar of applause in appreciation of the dedication and hours of work everyone associated with BalletX puts into each and every program.

We recently attended their Spring Series the other night at the Wilma Theater. There were three programs slated for this evening and each one was amazing. First up was “Vivir”. It was a tribute to the sounds and music of Spanish Harlem. The music consisted of Rodrigo & Gabriela, Bebo & Cigala and Tito Puente. A perfect harmony of culture, music and dance. The second program was entitled “Increasing” and the music was a string quintet in C Major by Schubert. The Curtis Institute of Philadelphia provided the musicians that played on stage while the dancers performed. The third program was “The Boogeyman” with music from Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire, Johnny Nash and Gilbert O’Sullivan. It was a tribute to the 1970’s dancers on the television show Soul Train. And this is what I’m getting at. Three different programs. Three totally different genres of music. Three incredible performances! I can’t honestly tell you which one I like more because I loved each one. We already have tickets to their final summer program and we can’t can’t wait to attend it. Actually, we don’t intend to miss another BalletX performance!

Thank you so much to Christine Cox and all involved for their tireless dedication to BalletX. It is a wonderful group of dancers that give 110% each and every performance. With the music, passion, talent and love all involved put towards every show, you can’t help but fall for BalletX and want to do more to help them succeed. If you haven’t been to one of their dance series, please go. You won’t be disappointed and like us, you will be hooked! Bravo BalletX!!!



Zinc: A restaurant week experience

Restaurant week in Philadelphia is always a big event. It gives people a chance to try a new restaurant for a fraction of the cost of what they may spend there otherwise. We decided to try a cozy French bistro that we haven’t been to before, Zinc. It’s not too big but as  soon as you walk in, you can’t help but feel the warm and intimate atmosphere. We were greeted by the friendly hostess and promptly seated to our table. Some of the tables are a bit close together but it kind of lends to the small, intimate, bistro atmosphere.

We each started out with a glass of wine. I ordered the sauvignon blanc from sancerre and Eric ordered a bordeaux. Both were delicious but Eric was very excited about the bordeaux. I had a taste and I understood why. It was one of the best bordeaux’s I’ve ever tasted. The aroma was so pleasent to smell. The taste was silky and smooth. It was so good, we ordered a bottle to accompany our dinner. The wine is a 2010 Grand Vin De Bordeaux Chateau Font-Merlet. If anyone knows where or how to get this, please let me know. It’s that good!

For the first course of our meal, we were served a smoked salmon with red beet and seaweed salad. It was delicious. The salmon was delicate and light. The seaweed added a briny, salty taste but the beet neutralized that very nicely.

For our second course, we ordered the bay scallop and artichoke au gratin, and the wild mushroom and shrimp in puff pastry. I also ordered their mushroom soup as well. I was in a mushroom mood. And again I have to add, the bordeaux went beautifully with each course. The bay scallop was wonderful. Cooked perfectly and the artichoke au gratin was the perfect paring with it. Both my mushroom choices were absolutely delicious. The soup had a fantastic consistency and was seasoned perfectly. The wild mushroom and shrimp in the puff pastry was fantastic as well. Plated beautifully, it had such a nice, earthy taste and the sauce soaked up the puff pastry perfectly. Outstanding!

For our entrees, I ordered the steak frites with truffle butter sauce and Eric ordered the pork loin stuffed with boursin, brocolini and mushrooms. Again, both were plated beautifully, but both fell a bit short to our expectations. I always order my steak medium rare and this was cooked more medium. Also, it wasn’t served hot, like it was just prepared. It was warm but within minutes, the temperature dropped considerably. The pork was also a bit overcooked but it was very good.

The final course, desert, we were served their chocolate “Marquise” with espresso sauce. This was delicious. The chocolate was a nice consistency and the expresso sauce did not over power the cake. This was really wonderful desert to finish off our meal.

Overall, I would say the entire meal was good. It was unfortunate that our entrees fell a bit short, but everything else was fantastic. Would I go back again? Absolutely! I loved the small, cozy atmosphere. Our waiter was attentive and extremely friendly. You did feel like for a few hours, you were in an actual Parisian bistro. We will definitely will be back and I will post a followup article on our experience. Bon appetite!

New York BIRTHDAY!!! Weekend!

There is nothing like celebrating your birthday in New York City. The lights, smells, and sights are something that for anyone who hasn’t been there, it is wonderful to experience! Since it is not polite to reveal one’s age ( cough,31, cough), I will not bemoan on getting older. Everyone should know by now how much I enjoy good food and good wine. One of my favorite television cooking shows is Iron Chef on the Food Channel. So for this weekend trip we made reservations at two of my favorite Iron Chef’s restaurants, Gato, owned by Iron Chef Bobby Flay, and Butter, owned by Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli. We also had to visit another favorite restaurant of ours, Robert, located atop The Museum of Arts and Design at Columbus Circle. And last but certainly not least, we always have to stop in the historic St. Regis Hotel and have a cocktail at the also historic King Cole Bar. Let the culinary journey begin!

We had to  change our reservation at Gato to a later time because our train from Philadelphia was running late. My fiance, Eric, called Gato and prayed that they actually had a later time available…on a Friday night…in New York City. Fingers crossed. Good fortune shined down on us! The host was so polite and understanding. He said even if we were still running a little late, they’d hold our table!

Long story short, we finally arrived in New York City and our excellent cab driver got us to Gato just about on time. The front staff were so nice and friendly when we walked inside. They were glad we made it and so were we! The restaurant decor and layout is beautiful. I’d say it was rustic yet cozy and intimate. Low lighting, exposed brick ceiling and there is a decent sized bar right in the middle of the restaurant with seating all around. We were shown to our table by manager Rebecca Gaggatt. She really went out of her way to make our dinner special. I have to say again, all the employees at Gato were incredibly warm and friendly.

We started out with a drink from the bar. Eric ordered the Lorenzo, made with Hendricks gin, Manzanilla sherry, St. Germain and cucumber. He said it was probably the best gin cocktail he’s ever had and after I had a sip, I’d have to agree. If you love gin, plan a trip to Gato and order this drink. Outstanding! I started with a glass of Cremant D’Alsace, Brut Rose, Lucien Albrecht from Alsace, France. It’s a sparkling wine made the same way as champagne but the wine undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle. Delicious!

Now to our appetizers! We started with their fresh ricotta, broccoli rabe pesto and house made focaccia. Eat this and you’ll never look at fresh ricotta the same again! It was so creamy and delicious. Add the fresh broccoli rabe pesto and the perfect bread paring for this, house made focaccia, and you understand why. Amazing! If it couldn’t get better, it soon did. We also ordered their roasted octopus, sour orange, bacon, oregano and shishito pepper dish. It’s a Gato favorite with the patrons and staff and I can see why! Oh my God! We’ve had octopus before but never as outstanding as this tonight! This takes octopus to another level. It was perfectly seared on the outside yet tender and tasty on the inside. It was perfect! We could have just ordered this all night and been satisfied but our entrees were next.

For our entrees, we ordered the tarragon chicken with crispy potatoes, goat cheese, dandelion and the charred beef with, Valdeon blue cheese, brown butter, red wine, broccoli rabe-ferro. The tarragon chicken was tender and juicy. The goat cheese was a great touch to counterbalance the tarragon. The charred beef was a bit overcooked to my liking but it was still absolutely delicious and the ferro was outstanding. And of course, with a great entree you need a great wine to go with it. We ordered a 1995 baga blend, tinto reserva, Quinta Do Poco De Lobo from Portugal. Yes, a 1995 red. The price was incredibly reasonable and the wine was amazing. With the seasoning and spices of our entrees, this wine was silky and smooth. A perfect balance. But I’m not done yet with Gato. Dessert is next!

For dessert, we ordered the dark chocolate and toasted almond torte served with a port gelato. Yes, it was as good as it sounds and even better. Chocolate and almond just pair so well and this didn’t disappoint. Add port gelato and you’ve died and gone to dessert heaven. It was the perfect end to a fantastic meal. And as a surprise, before we left, manager Rebecca Gaggatt took us on a mini tour of the kitchen and let us meet the chef that cooked our meal.

Gato exceeded our expectations. From the friendly staff, the warm, rustic decor, the food, drinks, everything was what you would expect from a restaurant owned by Iron Chef Bobby Flay. Don’t miss out. Next time you are in New York City, go to Gato. You will not be disappointed. Next up on the list, a Saturday morning birthday brunch at Robert on Columbus Circle.

For those unfamiliar with Robert, please familiarize yourself with them as soon as possible! This is already one of our favorite restaurants in New York. It’s located atop the Museum of Arts and Design at Columbus Circle and the views alone are worth the visit. Add the incredible service and food, and my friends, you have perfection. The attention to detail at Robert is outstanding. The front staff and waitstaff are so incredibly nice. Make sure when you reserve a table, that you ask for a table overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park. The views are so beautiful you may find yourself starring out the window for most of your meal.

A little background on Robert and us. Last year for my birthday, Eric Googled restaurants close to the Lincoln Center since we had tickets to see the ballet, Sleeping Beauty. He found Robert and made a reservation on my birthday for dinner. We had an incredible meal where our server brought out a chocolate cake with my name written in chocolate and a candle. This alone made them favorites of ours and we’ve always made a point to go back whenever we are in the city. Back to brunch.

To start my birthday brunch, we ordered the Isabell. It is made with Prosecco and St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur. It’s garnished with an edible violet. It’s almost to pretty to drink but we did and enjoyed the light effervesce immensely. For our entrees, I ordered the lobster Benedict and Eric ordered the classic eggs Benedict. Both were amazing! The lobster melted in my mouth. The hollandaise sauce was whipped to perfection. Even the english toast was beautifully crispy! To end a wonderful birthday brunch, we skipped dessert but our server brought out mini chocolate cakes for us to enjoy. This, my friends, is service to perfection. Please go to Robert whenever you visit New York. Go for brunch, dinner, whatever. You will not be disappointed! Now to the St. Regis for a quick cocktail and snack.

The St. Regis. What more can be said about this historic landmark. Look it up and you’ll see what I mean. Even if you are staying somewhere else, the staff treat you like royalty. One of these days, we’ll try staying here but for now, we always visit and go to the King Cole Bar. The bar is a historic landmark. And again, look it up and you’ll see what I mean. We kept it simple and ordered their charcuterie board which was delicious. I ordered a glass of La Porte Du Ceillou Sancerre and Eric ordered a Midsummer made with Bombay Sapphire gin, St. Regis cabernet, St. Germain and grapefruit juice. Everything as usual was delicious. The King Cole Bar is so warm and cozy you will want to stay for hours. And the fact that you are in a historic location, you’ll definitely want to stay for hours. Now, on to the my favorite Iron Chef’s restaurant. The place I’ve been dying to go to and now my wait is over. It’s time to have my birthday diner at Butter!

Butter is owned by Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli. To me, she is the GOAT (greatest of all time). She can take the simplest of ingredients and make you think you’ve died and gone to heaven. Whatever you have in your pantry, she can show you how to make a wonderful meal without having to spend a fortune on extra ingredients. She comes across as down to earth, not flashy or showy. Someone who can be your best friend but also put the fear of God in you. She is a world renowned, highly respected Iron Chef. What’s not to like? But, back to her restaurant, Butter!

When you first walk in to Butter, you have to go downstairs. You are immediately met by a wonderful hostess and taken to your table. We were seated at a corner booth that overlooked the entire restaurant. It may have helped a little that Eric told them that this was my birthday! The service was second to none. We started with the Purple Paradise. This single drink actually serves two people! It’s made with hibiscus infused absolut elyx, absolut citron, berry liqueur, shiso, yuzu, lemon and prosecco. Who comes up with these drinks!? The best part was that it was served in a chilled pineapple rose gold container. The presentation was stunning and the taste was delicious. It had everything, citrus, lightness and sweetness. It was perfect and it came with two straws! Bottoms up!!!

Now for our appetizers. We truly indulged. First we ordered their oysters on the half shell, a full dozen. It consisted of both east and west coast daily selection of fresh oysters. It was served with a miso mignonette, serrano chili vinegar and a house made cocktail sauce. Best oysters we’ve ever had? Yes. The accruements that accompanied the oysters were great individually and combined. The balance of brininess of the oysters paired beautifully with the citrus spice that the oysters were paired with.

Next, we ordered the stuffed Northshire Farms shishito peppers. It came with lime, sour cream and smoked shallot dip. The smoked shallot was a perfect compliment to the spiciness of the shishito peppers.

For our entrees, I had the “Tiffany’s” of entrees. I got Creekstone Farms New York strip steak. This steak came perfectly cooked medium rare. It came with roasted hen of the wood mushrooms and tarragon butter. Now I’ve had a lot of steaks. Paired with a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape Domaine Lou Frejau 2010, I literally started to cry. It was beautiful. It’s what a perfect steak and perfect wine should be. Oh, and I need to add this as well. The steak was not a typical 8oz cut. This baby was at least a 12oz cut. I couldn’t finish it but it tasted just as great the very next night for leftovers. Eric ordered the pan roasted chicken breast with whipped Japanese sweet potatoes and sage. Again, this was avery large chicken breast and he couldn’t finish his either! The chicken was juicy, buttery and tender. The sweet potatoes were perfect. Not too sweet but nice and creamy. Now on to dessert!

For dessert, we ordered their double chocolate cake with a meringue on top along with a house made whipped cream. Along with dessert, we ordered two glasses of 100 year old Grand Marnier. Yes, I said 100 year old! It paired beautifully with the chocolate cake. A perfect end to a perfect birthday dinner. We liked Butter so much that we went back for brunch the next morning before leave to go back to Philadelphia.

Brunch at Butter. Come with a full appetite and empty stomach. You won’t leave hungry. Remember when I said she takes the simplest ingredients and makes you feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven, brunch is what I meant by that. Eggs were perfect. Fennel sausage was decadent. Skirt steak melted in our mouths like, well, like butter! Both salads were gorgeous. The sexy smoked salmon was gone in minutes. Breads, pastries, fruits, you name it, Butter had it. Top the brunch off with a carafe of their peach mimosa and freshly brewed coffee, and you are set. We spent the better part of two hours eating through the entire menu. Or at least we tried. It was simply delicious. The best part? It’s only $40 per person, all you can eat. Come hungry my friends, come hungry.

I have to add one final note about Butter. The decor of the restaurant is stunning. It’s spacious, modern yet warm and inviting. The dining area is big and spacious as well as their bar area. You can also purchase a signed Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli cookbook if you so desire. We were hoping to meet her that night but out hostess informed us that she’s been busy taping new episodes of Iron Chef. Hopefully next time we go, I’ll finally be able to meet her!

Dinner at Gato!


Birthday brunch at Robert!



Cocktails and a snack at the St. Regis’ King Cole Bar!



Dinner at Butter!



Brunch at Butter!