Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Long Weekend of Excess

Maybe it won't compare to Steve's weekend of similar excess in Chicago, but while we're measuring I'll line up my Memorial Day weekend with anyone. I'm sure everyone has eagerly anticipated hearing about it...

It started on Thursday morning. I was in court in Staten Island, a much easier, and far more relaxing environment than my usual spot in the hellhole of Kings court. I finished before 11 AM, grabbing an early beer and slice with a colleague at Pier 76 on Bay Street, only a five minute walk from the courthouse in Richmond Terrace.

Although Pier 76 was opened by the progeny of Joe & Pat's, the pizza was disappointing. I got two of the freshest slices from the first pizzas of the day: pepperoni and a Sicilian. Both slices were heavy on the cheese, with a thin, chunky tomato sauce. The crust was fine, but could barely hold the torrents of grease from the cheese and sauce. I'm glad to have tried it, but I'm doing a Staten Island Pizza tour this weekend and am preparing to have my mind blown. The best part of the meal was hearing the bartenders share their Fleet Week stories.

Pier 76
76 Bay Street
Staten Island, NY 10301
(718) 447-7434

That night I ate with FP and a friend of hers at Roberta's. We write about it more than enough here, so I'll skip the details. However, it would exhibit a distinct lack of due diligence on my part if I failed to mention the Cheesus Christ. The holy trinity of cheeses on this pizza are: mozzarella, taleggio and parmesan and is topped with hot honey and black pepper. The three of us (all veteran eaters) ate our slices in silence. Unreal. The single best pizza I've tried at Roberta's (and I've tried a lot of pizza at Roberta's). Luckily, we also got to try more of that aged duck and extreme 90-day aged Wagyu beef from Chef Mirarchi.

The next day brought the return of the soft shell crab sandwich. This time I made it with The Meathook's house bacon, with its slightly sweet, maple-y taste as well as Chinatown soft shell crabs, a Balthazar ciabatta, mayo, and a simple spinach salad with lots of pepper.

Killer. I split it.

I was up early on Saturday to grill burgers with friends in Prospect Park. I slacked on grinding my own meat this time, but the burgers turned out well anyway. By this point I was sporting a fine farmer's tan.

Sunday was similar, but this time I hung out in Astoria, Queens where my friend Jeremy grilled up a leg of lamb and Dave put on some chicken. We stood watchfully over the lamb, cutting off caramelized pieces of fat and popping them into our mouths. As far as I'm concerned this is the only way to grill.

I tried and failed to do the second dinner meeting up with friends at The Brindle Room. I've finally determined that the always fabulous (OK, except maybe one time) burger has the taste of buttered popcorn. Still, I was so full I couldn't eat the whole thing. Embarrassing.

With the help of Vita Coco coconut water, my cold brewed Intelligentsia iced coffee (from the new coffee shop on Franklin Avenue, Daily Press), I rallied on Monday to eat a Fatty Melt at RUB in Chelsea, yet another place we've written about multiple times. Sorry readers.

I was barely in the mood for a burger, but eating the Fatty Melt restored me. You know what else restored me? This amazing celebrity sighting:

This is Wallace Shawn eating ribs, right? Not inconceivable.

Next, it was time to head to Jackson Heights, Queens for a Bangladeshi meal at Khaabar Baari organized by Jeff Orlick. This was my first Bangladeshi experience, but soon I'll be heading to Neerob in the Bronx.

Served buffet style, we were given the option of three types of pullao: beef, mutton and chicken. Pullao is very similar to biryani, and interestingly the West Indian restaurants in my neighborhood call their spiced rice dishes pullao rather than biryani. A variety of fried foods were also served, including "potato chop," which was almost like a fried breakfast hash brown imagined through a Bangladeshi lens, as well as ingara, samosa and onion pakoras.

According to the chef, the kingfish were marinated for quite a long time. The tender white meat went well with a fiery chutney (I hope they call it chutney in Bangladesh-- correct me if I'm wrong).

Below, the above-mentioned fried foods. This is only a small sampling of what we ate, since Jeff will surely have a far more detailed post on his site (and I don't want to steal his thunder).

Breathing heavily and overwhelmingly exhausted, I headed home, determined not to eat anymore on Memorial Day. However, my willpower lost out to my overwhelming curiosity when I decided to bust open the fermented glutinous rice wine I'd made a few days earlier. The sweet wine makes for a great post dinner drink, and is almost as good with Bangladeshi leftovers. Read more about making it here.

At times like these, when I'm still relieved to have survived a potential rapture, I opt for the comfort foods. I promise I'll be trying new things in the coming weeks, but hopefully everyone else had as good an eating weekend as I did.


  1. Please, thunder!

    I wonder if you will like Joe and Pats more than Pier 76. When I went there last year, I thought it tasted very similar to J&P, maybe even better. More convenient, that's for sure.

    And is the chutney you are referring to: the tomato Bharta? also, we had eggplant bharta - which is not on the menu. I found it very interesting that all the vegetables are imported from bangladesh. Thanks for coming, I am interested in how the bronx place compares. The people here said this was the best, but I have a feeling that people from this area like to deal in superlatives.

  2. Thanks again Jeff.

    I've been to Joe & Pats once-- I liked it much better than Pier 76. Actually, the Sicilian was actually probably better at Pier 76, but the regular slice at J&P's blew Pier 76 away.

    Yeah! The tomato bharta! The whole time the chef was explaining the dishes I was cursing myself for not bringing pen and paper.

  3. I paid a visit to Pier 76 last year and was really pleased by the plain slice. Looks like additional "research" is in order!