From most to least favorable:
Torrisi Italian Specialties – The food was excellent. A sophisticated neighborhood restaurant with food that was familiar yet original. Both the decor and food showed a respect for the past and the personality chefs. I was a little apprehensive when I read that I needed to come at 5 pm toget a reservation. Would this be one ofthose annoying places full of attitude and not much substance? I was so pleasantly surprised that yes, while there was a line at 4:45, it wasn’t too long and the very pleasant and professional hostess came out and took everyone’s reservation for that evening. When we returned for our reservation, the front of the house was welcoming. Team service executed very well. The place is cozy and though the food and service was top rate, therewas something very down to earth and unassuming about the whole operation - charming and subtle in its sophistication. Presentation was simple but the food both tasted great and had sort of an intellectual whimsy to it. I would definitely return. I’m crossing my fingers that overwhelming popularity doesn’t turn this into a complete scene or an empire selling $40+ pies.
Red Rooster – brunch was a great experience. Very warm atmosphere, from the hostess to theserver, everyone was warm and welcoming. The décor, ambiance and everything about the room I would ratehighly. They had a band and a singing Christmas music and carols. I loved it. The fried chicken was crispy moist and camewith a flavorful hot sauce. Plenty of moist dark meat. We also tried the smoked fish plate which had great pickled vegetables and a variety of smoked fish. The place got really packed after noon, but before then, it was fairly easy to get a seat at the bar. This is the sort of neighborhood restaurant I love, good food, good service, I’definitely return.
Kajitsu – great place, delicious Shojin Ryori, JapaneseBuddist Temple Food. The first two dishes were absolute knock-outs. Presentation and execution is top notch. A few of the dishes were good and a few were just o.k. Despite it’sbeing vegetarian and seemingly devoid of most fat, I left very full and satisfied. Overall it’s a great experience and value.
Mile End – it’s becoming a tradition for this to be my pre-flight lunch. Nice to see that atmosphere hasn’t changed much. This time I had the matzoh ball soup, delicious. Poutine was not as well executed as last time because the cheese curds were cold and unmelted, but it still tasted good.
Prosperity Dumplings – this was a few blocks down from Frankie’s. A little outpost of Prosperity offering four for a dollar dumplings –the cabbage and pork fried dumplings were good.
Parisi Bakery – for bread and focaccia. Good bread.
Di Palo’s – got some fresh buffalo mozz, the clerk did not know the difference between all their imported buff mozz. The mozz actually turned out to be cream filled (burrata) though I didn’t like the flavor or texture very much. On the bright side, they were out of sheeps milk ricotta, so I got some of their house made ricotta and it was pretty good.
China Café – Szechuan in midtown, liked the beef tendon starter and the dan dan noodles, the rest of the items were just o.k. I think Szechuan Gourmet is much better, though I would eat here again if stuck inmidtown east. Chili boiled fish was notas flavorful as the one at OMI in SF. Service was efficient though they did make a few mistakes.
Community – Neighborhood restaurant with upscaleprices. Warm Lentil Salad good, fish ofthe day was over seasoned. Shrimp and grits were tasty, huge prawns, though overall the food is overpriced, so I wouldn't return.
Frankie’s 17 – Frankie’s in the LES for brunch. I was not a fan of their crostini – the toasts were a bit cold and the toppings were refrigerator cold. Out of the three we tried, the ricotta with honey was the only one I’d order again. Caesar was decent. J had eggs over easy and bacon. The eggs came in apool of clear liquid – we asked the server whether this was water, grease, or uncooked white. She seemed undisturbed by the presentation and said she thought it was probably uncooked white. Upon J saying that she asked for over easy –the server said, oh, would you like it cooked harder. It was clear that either the kitchen or the front of the house didn’t know or didn’t care what a plate of bacon and eggs should look like. The bacon, however, was delicious and L enjoyed the egg sandwich which is done on pizza dough. I had plans to stop in to Prime Meats which is run by the same crew, but I decided not to after this lackluster meal.