Oyster Sliders @ Island Creek

500 Commonwealth Avenue,  Boston, MA

Two suggestions to enjoy Island Creek at its best:

1. Sit at the bar: you will be in the best position to explore the details of the interiors design.

2. Order the oyster sliders: you will have an ecstatic oyster experience.

The sliders are a simple concept: a lightly toasted bun, with a fried oyster, a couple of arugula leaves, lightly marinated onion and mayo-based sauce. What makes them great is the quality of the ingredients and the careful preparation.

The ingredients bring flavors that support the oyster, without taking the main spot on the stage. The sauce is light, the onions are smoothed by the marination process and the brioche bun is delicate. The crunchy breadcrumbs create an incredible contrast with the texture of the oyster. The arugula adds freshness without being overly bitter. All these components gravitate around the oyster: its bouquet of flavors elevates all the ingredients, making this dish an absolute delicacy.

The first bite is a memorable sequence: the fluffy and sweet bun, the fresh arugula, the sauce, the crunchy coating and, finally, the oyster.

The meal could finish here. However, if the doctor recommended avoiding fried dishes, you could go for a fine fluke carpaccio or  for a selection of the oysters of the day.

  

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Lobster Roll @ Top of the Hub

800 Boylston Street #52  Boston, MA

One of my personal rules for choosing a restaurant states that restaurants in panoramic locations are more likely to provide memorable views than memorable food. There are obviously some exceptions to this rule, and the Top of the Hub is one of these.

The lobster roll is served in warm and delicious bun loaded with lobster, mayo and celery. The lobster is available in quantity and quality; the mayo is light and not overwhelming. The celery should be in smaller amount, however it adds freshness and texture that counterbalance the lobster-mayo combination. The house-made chips are crunchy, flavorful and never enough.

Overall, an outstanding roll that is just a few notches below the lobster roll stardom

If you wonder how the view is, take a look at the picture below.

Pizza @ South Brooklyn Pizza

122 1st Avenue, New York, NY 

South Brooklyn in Manhattan is not an oxymoron. At least it is not an oxymoron since when this pizzeria appeared in the East Village a few years ago.

The place is small but it has all that is needed for a great pizza by the slice. There are two types of pizzas: round and rectangular. The latter – also called Sicilian-style – is the one you should try.

Since the baking takes longer, the rectangular pizza is available in more limited quantities.  In case there was a customer like me immediately before you,  you may need to wait for a new batch to come out of the oven. Rest assured that the quality of the pizza is worth the short wait.

The Sicilian pizza has a crunchy crust at the bottom and a tender layer of dough at the center. Tomato sauce all the other ingredients are really top-notch.

You can check the quality of the cheese by contemplating the windowed refrigerators located  below the countertops place on one side and on front of the window. Additional sauces – spicy, garlic, and others – are available at the countertop tables.

The Sicilian-style pizza is also good for a home delivery. It can be re-heated quickly and without loss of quality in an electric oven (avoid microwave, for this delicate task).

Chicago Pizza @ Pequod’s Pizzeria

2207 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”  are two masterpieces in their respective genres. They share the same building blocks – a handful of musical notes – to produce two completely different types of experience. Both experiences can be extremely positive, provided that different factors are properly combined together: the quality of the score, the abilities of the musicians and the personal preferences of the listener.

If you have read until this point, you may be wondering what is the connection between music and pizza. Your curiosity will be immediately satisfied!

Traditional pizza and Chicago pizza are like a classical music theme and rock ‘n’ roll song (you can decide which one is what). They use the same “musical notes” – flour, water, yeast, oil, tomato, cheese, salt, herbs and spices – to produce different kinds of culinary experience. Both of them can be really good, provided that they are prepared with care and tasted without prejudices.

Tasting a Chicago pizza and expecting an experience similar to a traditional pizza is like asking for a stage diving at a cello concerto. A total failure, most likely.

Today we want to taste Chicago pizza and we will evaluate it as a… Chicago pizza. With this idea in mind, we enter Pequod’s.

Pequod’s is home to one of the best Chicago pizzas you could find. It is located in a residential neighborhood, which makes the tables less crowded and the experience more enjoyable. The waiters are friendly and efficient.

The Chicago pizza has a thin crust at the bottom and on the sides. The consistency and flavor of the crust create a balanced contrast with the fluffiness of the dough. The dough itself is not heavy and it is perfectly integrated with tomato sauce and the cheese on the top.

Each slice starts with a moistly bite of tomato sauce and cheese, and ends with the rich flavor of the melted cheese crust. The seven inch “personal” pizza is also the right size for   a meal that will leave you with the desire of “just one more slice”.  A good reason to come back.

Pizza @ Pizzarte

69 West 55th Street, New York, NY 

Finding a good pizza in Midtown is an almost impossible task. Most of the places offer pizza by the slice: a quick bite of dubious quality for lunch breaks at the office and for tourists rushing between Central Park and Times Square

Pizzarte is an appreciated exception to this general rule, and also a good reason for adventuring above 23rd Street.

The location is 40% pizzeria, 40% restaurant and 20% art gallery. The “Pizzarte” name obviously combines the pizza and the art gallery concept, but it is also a statement about the approach to the preparation of pizza.

The tomato sauce is lightly sweet and dense, blending properly with the melted mozzarella. The mozzarella did not release water, leaving the baked dough with a balanced texture (even though I would expect it to be a little bit fluffier, for a Neapolitan pizza).

They also have a magnificent pizza tartufata and delicious fried pizza. The wine list is really interesting: it helps with the challenging task of pairing wine with pizza. The service was  polite, efficient and entertaining.

This is one of the few places in midtown where it is worth to come back again and again.

Lobster Roll @ Ed’s Lobster Bar

222 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 

This is the definition of lobster roll.

The lobster blossoms in generous quantity, with a good blend of different pieces. The sauce is not overwhelming and does its job: keeping the lobster pieces together and providing a layer of delicate flavor. The bread is lightly toasted and gives a pleasant contrast with the tenderness of the lobster.

Handling this big boy is a challenging and rewarding task. Your fingers will get greasy with the lobster meat and with the crunchy fries. That’s not problem: most likely everyone around you is doing the same.

Pizza @ Via Tribunali

122 Ludlow Street, New York, NY 

A few years ago we observed the first signs of a “pizza renaissance” in New York, with several good pizza places opening in the East Village and in the Greenwich Village. Now, the picky foodamentalist can benefit from this trend, finding good pizza in almost any neighborhood. The beloved Lower East Side makes no exception.

“Via Tribunali”, in Ludlow Street, takes its name from one of the main street in Naples. The pizza – prepared in neapolitan style, of course – comes actually from the West Coast, where the first “Via Tribunali” locations were opened.

The ingredients used in the pizza are top quality: rich of flavors without being to heavy. The “salsiccia and friarelli” is a rare find outside of Italy: our compliments to “Via Tribunali” for daring to include this pizza in the menu, and for being successful in the execution.

The dough is the only area of improvement: it seems to be not soft enough, requiring excessive effort to chew it. This is particularly noticeable in the crust surrounding the pizza.

Overall, there is one more good reason to go the Lower East Side.