Friday, May 20, 2011

Lexington Sugar Rush

Two bakeries have opened on Lexington Ave in East Harlem. Lloyd's Carrot Cake has opened their second location in East Harlem. The new shop is located on Lexington, between 99th and 100th Streets, next to Vinyl Wine. And, Giovanna's, the Italian restaurant on Lex between 100th and 101st streets, has opened a bakery next door to their original outpost. Sweet!

See the East Harlem NYC Lloyd's Carrot Cake review.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lost Cat Found

A bit of good news on this rainy week...or a humorous hipster sign...I really can't tell.

Piatto d'Oro

Sauce and Lady

Walk East on 109th Street, and keep going…and going a bit further –– just pass the giant brightly-lit car wash that floods the street in an eerily glow sits Piatto d’Oro. This Italian restaurant is a quirky hidden gem, decorated with lots of pinks and mint greens, plenty of those classic black and white snapshots, and pink roses on the tables. The décor, the tunes (Louis Prima, of course) and the adorable and attentive Italian staff are staples of many Italian joints, and truth be told I was having a bit of déjà vu. But, “What was it exactly that was making me feel like I’ve been here before in the best way?” I asked myself. Well, I knew instantly what Piatto d’Oro reminded me of when my meal was placed in front of me, and I suddenly wished I had ordered spaghetti and meatballs so my date and I could spaghetti kiss a la Lady and the Tramp. If the waiter came out with an accordion I would have done a few Lady-like shy blinks and kept right on eating.

As any respectable Italian joint knows, it’s all about the sauce, and Piatto d’Oro delivers on that and more. My date and I tried the fried zucchini appetizer ($5.95), penne with vodka sauce ($10.95) and the chicken Sophia Loren ($15.95) (yeah, it's a big breast of chicken (get it?!), and it's stuffed with prosciutto and mozzarella with a shiitake mushroom brown sauce). Everything was completely devoured and then the sauces were soaked up with bread. Go here with someone you're comfortable eating a lot in front of.

Piatto d'Oro
349 E 109th Street (near 1st Ave)
They also do take-out and delivery.
Also see New York Magazine's review.

I apologize that these photos are a bit "Law and Order" crime scene-esque. The Hipstamatic App can be a bit addictive.

Digging into the fried zucchini.

A complimentary shot of sambuca.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Italian Harlem Relic to Close

In the Papers

The New York Times profiled Claudio Caponigro's East 116th Street barber shop this week, and it seems that this 60-year-old Italian Harlem relic will be closing very soon.

The Times Writes:
It has become a beloved museum of the old-fashioned barber trade, attracting political leaders, entertainers and underworld bosses who mixed with the neighborhood’s declining corps of Italian men, as well as the generations of Puerto Rican and other Latino men who have displaced them... But now the rental pressures of a gentrifying neighborhood are threatening to close his shop, which along with Rao’s celebrity-packed restaurant, is one of the last relics of Italian East Harlem.

Read the full article here.

Do any of you go to Caludio's for a trim or a shave? Do you know of any other Italian Harlem relics in danger of closing?

Photo Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

Follow me on Twitter for more East Harlem news @GloriaDawson

Monday, May 9, 2011

Do We Live in the Desert?

The USDA's new Food Desert locator map was dissected by the Village Voice this week, and it turns out that East Harlem is not considered a food desert after all, at least not according to the USDA. According to the Village Voice, this may have something to do with the how the USDA identifies food deserts and that the USDA may consider efforts like fresh produce carts acceptable access to produce. The Voice notes, "if it's hard to identify food deserts across the country using nothing more than algorithms, then within New York City, where "grocery store" can mean "corner deli" and "mile" can mean "two trains and a bus ride," it's virtually impossible."

Read the full piece in the Village Voice here .

I certainly think East Harlem could use a few more grocery stores. What do you think?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

An East Harlem CSA

A community supported agricultural share or CSA is a great way to support local farms and get very affordable farm fresh produce. New York City offers plenty of options for CSAs, but I've never heard of a CSA up here in East Harlem. Now, the produce isn't grown here, of course, it's grown Upstate, but the pick up is at La Marqueta and supports the farms that sell their produce at that market. Breezy Hill Orchard, one of the vendors at La Marqueta, is offering shares for pick up from June to November. Vegetable and fruit shares including strawberries, carrots, apples and egg shares and pasta shares are available. A full vegetable share costs $375 for the 20-week season, a full fruit share is $220 and a half is $110, the egg share is $75 and the pasta share is $85. For more info head up to La Marqueta at 1590 Park Avenue and 116th St, or call Ann the CSA coordinator at (845) 2266-3979.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Message Just for You

I imagine everyone who walks by one of James De La Vega's impromptu works of art thinks that the message speaks just to them.

Lunch at Cafe Ollin

Small Mexican joints line the streets of East Harlem and many are worth stopping in for a torta or taco to go, but Cafe Ollin is a place where you can and should sit and stay for awhile. Walking inside the nondescript restaurant you'll no-doubt immediately notice the bright blue painted walls. The walls don't look jarring, as you might imagine, instead they are fun and festive and welcoming, as is the overall vibe of the place. Let that festive feeling dictate your beverage choice and pick out one of the brightly colored drinks from the case in the back. There's no alcohol here, but you can get your fill of Mexican style fruit and even Sangria flavored colas as well as traditional soft drinks. Now it's time to start snacking, and you can't go wrong with a crispy tostada to start. For your main I'd suggest trying a torta or cemitas, they come filled with traditional ingredients like beef, chicken and chorizo, or you can go more experimental with ham, pork and pineapple or cactus and potatoes. I've been working my way down the sandwich choices on the menu and haven't been disappointed yet.

Have you been to Cafe Ollin? What's your favorite sandwich?

Cafe Ollin
339 East 108 Street
New York, N.Y. 10029
(212) 828-3644