NYC Restaurant Reviews – Empellon, Craftbar and Cavatappo

A-Tooch has had a few interesting foodie jaunts recently, worthy of sharing with those of you who are also exploring the NYC restaurant scene.

I was excited to spend New Year’s Eve at Empellon in the West Village. The new restaurant lived up to expectations, cooking a variety of flavors and dishes even for the large NYE crowd. A lobster-pinenut queso fundido stole the show, along with an avocado and peeky toe crab salad and hand ground steak tartare with a pickled quail egg. The only disappointment was the dessert! Our cake was a bit dry and lacked a lot of flavor. After dining at WD~50, I had higher expectations of a restaurant owned by the former pastry chef. In any case, definitely worth a visit (you’ll be too stuffed for dessert anyway!)

For a belated celebratory birthday dinner (yes, lots of good eats these past few weeks) I finally got to check out CraftBar — the Tom Colicchio flagship that always appears on top NYC restaurant lists. The experience was as expected with great staff, a casual ambiance and a great modern American menu. Our braised pork belly with roasted apples and polenta was melt-in-your-mouth good. Fatty without being overkill, decadent and rich. It also didn’t hurt the cause that when my friend and I casually told the waitress we were celebrating both of our birthdays, they brought a candle in our shared dessert without hesitation. Weird, and cute at the same time.

The famous chef dining scene can get exhausting (oh, and pricey). One of my favorite casual, local spots is now just a block away from my new apartment. I call Cavatappo Wine Bar an “Italian tapas” joint since it reminds me of a little Spanish small plates place. The menu includes a great cheese selection, creative salads, pizza and gnocchi. Nearly every bruschetta topping is fabulous – my favorite is the speck and Gorgonzola. Most importantly, there are a number of items with truffle oil. Awesome, awesome, truffle oil. Cavatappo isn’t huge, but it is ideal for a date night or a glass bottle of wine and some apps with the girls. If you drop in (there’s also an UES location) Tweet @CavatappoNYC or heck-in on foursquare for one of the most social media savvy restaurants I’ve seen around these parts.

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One Comment

  1. Kathy
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 9:24 AM | Permalink

    Avocado and peeky crab salad, oh my! and…polenta, gnocchi and gorgonzola cheese..
    all some of my favorites!

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