Tag: Italian

Noodle Pudding

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008 | All Things, Eats

After work, CF and I headed into Brooklyn Heights for dinner at one of her favorite neighborhood spots. Just one stop from Wall Street, up the unreliable elevators and north along Henry Street, we came upon a signless storefront with a wrought-iron picture window, near pretty Cranberry Street.

The name of the restaurant is Noodle Pudding — and it’s no secret to Brooklyn Heights residents, who pack the place regularly. Contrary to what the name might suggest, it is not a Jewish deli, but a trattoria. The dimly lit dining room was warmly appointed with mahogany accents, glowing chandeliers, artwork-laden ocher and exposed brick walls. Solid, inexpensive Italian fare with pastas in the $9-13 range, meat entrées topping out around $22 for the Osso Buco. In 2006, the New Yorker deemed Noodle Pudding “the epitome of a decent neighborhood restaurant.”

According to CF, who dines here on a near-weekly basis, the restaurant’s specials are consistently good. Her favorite among them is the pasta with wild boar ragù (also a specialty of The Violent Femmes’ Brian Ritchie as I recall) — this endorsement coming from a vegetarian. That particular dish wasn’t on the menu tonight, so I was not tempted to break Lent. (Five more days until Easter…!) I can, however, recommend my Strozza Preti Alla Sicilian (pasta with eggplant, tomato and ricotta), which was fresh and simply prepared, accompanied by a very reasonably priced glass of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo — my favorite everyday wine of late. (Pair it with pizza!)

About that confounding name: according to The Rough Guide to New York City Restaurants, Noodle Pudding is so called because the proprietor, Antonio Migliaccio, is known to his Jewish friends as “Mr. Kugel,” which is the rough Italian-to-Yiddish translation of his surname. So many of Migliaccio’s friends ribbed him over his choice of restaurant name that he decided to forgo a sign in front. Honestly,” he said, ”I got embarrassed.

The dessert offerings included a bread pudding ($5), but oddly enough, not a single noodle pudding.

Tile mural inside the Clark Street subway station via the entrance of the Hotel St. George, once the largest hotel in New York City:

Clark Street station

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Burrata at La Bottega

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008 | All Things, Eats

After popping in at Pasita for an apéritif with SK, I left him to his dinner while I set off to meet MLF at La Bottega inside the possibly haunted Maritime Hotel. I strolled in through that familiar lobby, where my friend was waiting at the bar with a glass of red wine and a smile.

The hotel restaurant has a casually rustic Italian feel, reminiscent of ‘inoteca or a slew of other downtown Keith McNally clones: long bar, prominent wood pizza oven, white tile, wooden tables, wine bottle-lined walls… The Times less charitably described the decor as a “mix of Italian trattoria and 1950’s high school.” La Bottega’s biggest draw, though, is its beautifully lit, tree-lined patio; on warmer evenings the deck overflows with the bold and the beautiful — or is that the beautiful and the damned? — and offers a prime vantage point for MePa people watching.

La Bottega

We were spared the crowds this chilly winter night, but the green twinkling lights just outside the picture windows cast their own warm glow over us.

La Bottega

Tonight MLF, who knows how I love cheese, introduced me to the joys of burrata, a specialty fresh mozzarella originating from the Puglia region of southern Italy. The decadent cheese derives its name from burro, the Italian word for “butter.” To produce it, cheese makers stretch a still-warm, thin layer of fresh mozzarella curd around a pillowy soft blend of heavy cream and tender, unspun mozzarella curds, or stracciatelle (“little rags”). Traditionally, the delicate pouch is sealed off with a topknot, brined and then wrapped in asphodel (similar to leek) leaves. The relatively recent trendiness of burrata in the United States poses a challenge for suppliers of the extremely perishable cheese: burrata imported from Italy is usually two days old by the time it reaches New York, one day old if it’s flown in from California, where artisanal producers like Gioia Cheese Co. hand-form up to 1500 pounds of burrata balls a day.

At La Bottega, it’s served up in a lusciously rich Insalata Caprese: the soft pouch surrounded by halved grape tomatoes and torn basil, and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper. Once pierced, the burrata gives up its sweetly creamy, oozing center — perfect for scooping up with pieces of crusty bread. Wow. 

Dim lighting doesn’t do the dish justice, but here it is:


The San Francisco Chronicle, in a 2006 article about burrata, wrote that the cheese’s “gushing inner richness has sent shivers of desire up and down the West Coast.” Here on the East Coast, pound-size servings are available for sale at purveyors like Fairway, Zabar’s, Agata & Valentina and Williamsburg’s Bedford Cheese Shop — check out their rather evocative description — a few of which also carry versions of burrata filled with porcini mushrooms or black truffles.

Tagliatelle al Ragú Bolognese — fresh pasta ribbons with beef, pork & veal ragú:

Ragu Bolognese

As we made our way through a leisurely meal, our seats vibrated to pounding beats coming from the Hiro Ballroom below, where the Hip Rock Reggae show with guest DJs Biz Markie and Roxy Cottontail was in full swing.

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