Saturday, April 15, 2006

Greenwich Village/West Village

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Aki [181 W. 4th St. (bet. 6th and 7th Aves.) 212-989-5440]
It won't be easy to get a table at this tiny, tasty treat, but I recommend that you give it a try. It might be the only Japanese-Jamaican restaurant in New York, and the inventiveness of this fusion cuisine is most evident in the appetizers. I highly recommend two of them: Jamaica Chicken (jerk chicken with mango teriyaki sauce) and Tuna Mille-Feuille (tuna with apple, avocado, and a white balsamic vinaigrette). Both were splendid and creative. For my main course, I ended up just trying the Sushi Assortment (which was very good, but not unique), but I should have had the Jamaica Roll and the Dinosaur Roll instead. At least it gives me a good reason to go back. Also, they have a special $26 prix fixe dinner from 6-7 PM every night.

bite [333 Lafayette St. (at Bleecker St.) 212-431-0301]
Making brilliant use of a bizarre corner of a building space, this tiny place serves up delicious panini-style sandwiches at reasonable prices. I am particularly fond of the smoked turkey with pesto panini and the nutella/banana ciabatta.

Burrito Loco [116 W. 4th St. (bet. 6th and 7th Aves.) 212-675-1977]
They make the guacamole in stone bowls right in front of you! Dan is sometimes obsessed with this place and the guacamole is certainly excellent. The rest of the food is pretty good as well, but nothing out of the ordinary. Burritos, quesadillas, chimichangas, take your pick.

Corner Bistro [331 W. 4th St. (at Jane St.) 212-242-9502]
Strong competition for the burger joint, this downtown landmark is cheap, delicious, and open late. You may have to wait for a table in the back (at any time of day or night), but you can drink cheap beers while you do so. Don't mess around with something like chicken or chili. Get a burger and fries. Your taste buds will thank you.

Da Andrea [557 Hudson St. (bet. Perry and 11th Sts.) 212-367-1979]
It's in the West Village. It's trendy. It's good. And most surprisingly, it's very affordable. Homemade pastas for $10-$11 are the way to go in my opinion, but others might beg to differ. I chose to devour the Cavatelli with Pesto (and Shrimp and Salmon) as my main course and was happy with my choice. Also, the Caprese appetizer was excellent, as was the Torretta di Verdure according to my lovely assistant. The atmosphere of the restaurant is pleasant and appealing, giving you an authentic Italian feel. Furthermore, bottles of wine are pretty cheap! I was fortunate to stumble onto this place and I will be more than happy to return.

Gotham Bar & Grill [12 E. 12th St. (bet. 5th Ave. and University Pl.) 212-620-4020]
Fantastic food, high prices, and a beautiful setting. This is definitely one of the classier restaurants in New York, a true treat that lives up to its lofty billing. To start with, the Seared Foie Gras is so buttery and smooth that it is worth every overstuffed goose, or at least you will think so while you are eating it. As for main courses, my friends and I sampled three of them and they were all excellent (the only things left on any plate were bones), so your choice will depend on your preference. I had the Miso Marinated Black Cod, which obviously had a distinct Asian influence and wonderful accompaniments to the perfectly cooked fish. The Rack of Lamb was not too different from what you might expect, which means that it was tender and delicious, but not necessarily unique. Finally, the Roast Squab may have been the best dish of all, with that bird prepared exquisitely and consisting of tremendously tasty meat. The service is also very attentive and professional, with a free serving of petits fours serving as a nice way to top off the meal for those of you too full for dessert.

Joe's Pizza [7 Carmine St. (at 6th Ave.) 212-255-3946]
This is the famous Joe's Pizza seen on the big screen in Spiderman. Those of you like me who would thus assume that the pizza must be overrated would be pleasantly surprised to find out that it is actually very good. I usually go for the fresh mozzarella slice, although the traditional plain is solid as well. A good, quick, cheap dinner or late-night snack.

Osteria Del Sole [267 W. 4th St. (at Perry St.) 212-620-6840]
If it's good enough for SJP (Sarah Jessica Parker), it's good enough for me. The location is among the finest in the city, as you can look out on a beautiful section of the West Village as you dine on good Italian food. My favorite part of the meal actually was the bread, which came with an excellent dipping sauce of olive oil with roasted peppers. For my main course, I had the Pappardelle with duck meat and mushrooms. It did the deed. While the food is solid, the biggest draw here is definitely the location (and the chance that SJP might be hanging out at the front door while you look at the menu).

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