Trattoria Il Mulino (Flatiron/Gramercy): Mangia Monday

TrattoriaIlMulino (1)

  • Why it’s worth it: Trattoria Il Mulino is the twelfth addition to Il Mulino New York’s global network of elite dining venues. This ‘straunt is the more casual, affordable and louder sister to Il Mulino New York, and is therefore an ideal intimate Italian ‘straunt for your next small or large dining party, date night or girls night out.
  • Vibe/layout: This spacious 140-seat ‘straunt baits a young demographic, and is unique in boasting an industrial chic atmosphere. Decked out with industrial accents, including concrete walls, exposed piping and light bulbs and a large NYC-themed mural by Vancouver artist, Tim Barnard, this ‘straunt offers an intimate dining setting for both small and large parties. The front section features tables for two, while the back section presents a sleek and sexy bar, which offers wood-fired pizzas as part of its late-night bar menu, and circular and rectangular dining tables for larger parties.
  • Ideal meal: Ricotta meatballs ($17) to start and ravioli ($26)
  • ‘Straunt tip: Grab dinner at Trattoria Il Mulino and then check out nearby speakeasy, Dear Irving.
  • Address: Flatiron/Gramercy, 36 East 20th St (between Park S & Broadway)
  • Prices: $10-$38

Trattoria Il Mulino on Urbanspoon

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Friday Night Dinner at Natural Gourmet Institute

Good Food for a Good Cause: A Friday Night Dinner to Remember

Natural Gourmet Institute

  • Why it’s worth it: Every Friday night, Natural Gourmet Institute is transformed into an intimate dining room, in which the Chef’s Training Program students and instructors prepare a three-course vegan Friday Night Dinner. The meals are innovative, delectable and exquisitely prepared. Last Friday night, I was fortunate enough to be invited to this wonderful culinary experience and the menu for our fabulous dinner was created by Chef Barbara Rich.
  • Vibe/layout: The cozy, candlelit dining room houses several communal tables that foster friendly conversation and culinary appreciation. Don’t come here to be antisocial; come here to embrace wonderful food with wonderful company.
  • Menu for the 10/10 Friday Night Dinner:
    • Antipasto: A whole Portobello mushroom cooked perfectly with pine nut ricotta; cherry tomato-basil salad with mixed greens & white balsamic vinaigrette
      • The white balsamic vinaigrette puts any store-bought dressing to shame. Period.
    • Secondo: Three-grain risotto & tempeh sausage; butternut squash, pearl onions & broccolini with parsley pistou
    • Dolce: Chocolate terrine; almond custard; raspberry coulis & ginger crisps
  • ‘Straunt tip: The curriculum is based off of the founder’s seven core principles: the food should be seasonal, local, whole, traditional, balanced, fresh and delicious. And that’s just what it is.
  • Address: Flatiron, 48 West 21st St #2 (between 5th & Ave of the Americas)
  • Prices: $48.99 (Use code TheStraunt and get 15% off – valid through 10/31/14)

A little something extra:

  • After dinner, Chef Barbara and the culinary students who prepared the meal came out for a post-dinner Q&A. Overall, I was very impressed by the deliciousness of the vegetarian meals that seamed so complex but used such simple ingredients. Not to mention that the white balsamic vinaigrette and the chocolate terrine blew me away!
  • With that said, if you are looking for something different to do on a Friday night in NYC, especially if you have a vegetarian friend or family member, we highly recommend checking out the Friday Night Dinners at Natural Gourmet Institute. The menus change from week to week, based on the ingredients that are in season. Not to mention… 10% of the proceeds from each dinner are donated to a charity.

Natural Gourmet Institute on Urbanspoon

Marta (Gramercy/Flatiron): Mangia Monday

Marta

  • Why it’s worth it: Marta, Danny Meyer’s new trendy rustic Roman pizzeria inside the Martha Washington Hotel, serves Italian appetizers in a way that can’t even be imagined. Marta is a hot spot for grabbing drinks with friends or a celebratory dinner with friends or family.
  • Vibe/layout: This two-leveled ‘straunt has a mezzanine with a bird’s-eye views of the main dining room below, which is anchored by an energetic open kitchen featuring two wood-burning ovens and an open-fire grill and surrounded by a big marble bar. Marta exudes warmth and communal energy,  and boasts soaring ceiling and wooden tables.
  • Ideal meal: Polpettine di tagliatelle (fried pasta “meatballs,” tomato, pecorino – think fried mac and cheese balls) ($9) & Suppli alla terrazza (green risotto, mozzarella – think risotto mozzarella sticks) ($6) to start; Capricciosa pizza (mozzarella, artichokes, prosciutto, olives, egg) ($15)
  • F.Y.I.: Danny Meyer, the restaurateur behind Union Square Cafe, Maialino, Shake Shack, etc, has teamed up with his Maialino chef, Nick Anderer to enter into the pizza game.
  • Address: Gramercy/Flatiron, 29 East 29th St (between Park & Madison)
  • Prices: $6-$29

Marta on Urbanspoon

ABC Kitchen (Union Sq)

So, your parents are visiting you in NYC in 2 weeks and instruct you to make brunch, lunch or dinner reservations… what do you do? Immediately go to Opentable and make a reservation at ABC Kitchen.

ABC Kitchen

  • Why it’s worth it: This ‘straunt is located at the ABC Carpet & Home department store, which means you can browse trendy chandeliers and other items before heading to the bar…but back to the restaurant, this is how I would like to eat at my fancy country house, if I had a fancy country house.
  • Vibe/layout: The vibe is organic and Hamptons, airy, open and relaxed. The theme is sustainability, as most things on the menu come from local suppliers; the menus are made from recycled paper, the dun-colored place mats are compostable and after closing time, all leftovers are sent off to the compost heap. Everything, including the antique armoires, reclaimed-wood tables, clay dishware, chandeliers and wildflower table settings are gathered from local artisans in CT, NY and NJ.
  • Ideal meal: House made ricotta ravioli, herbs and tomato sauce ($15) or akaushi cheeseburger ($24)
  • F.Y.I.: We recommend making reservations 10 days in advance, as this is a Jean-George Vongerichten ‘straunt.
  • For the artsy ‘straunters: Among the local artists and artisans who contributed to this ‘straunt’s decor are Jan Burtz (handmade porcelain plates), Jim Denney (recycle-wood tables), Eric Slayton (steel and concrete art installations) and Elena Lyakir (abstract nature photography).
  • Address: Union Square/Flatiron/Gramercy, 35 East 18th St (between Broadway and Park)
  • Prices: $8-$39

ABC Kitchen on Urbanspoon