As we ring in the New Year, we resolve to be healthier. Eating a balanced, reduced-fat diet is a major part of achieving that goal. However, with colder days ahead, it will be even more challenging to stay away from those not-so-healthy comfort foods.
Last weekend, my family fell in love with this healthier version of our favorite comfort food– mac & cheese. This yummy recipe, which I discovered on EatingWell.com, uses creamy low-fat cottage cheese, hidden layers of spinach and whole wheat pasta for extra fiber:
Makes: 4 servings
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
ITALIAN FARE AND PERFECT DATE SPOT RIGHT IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Po – West Village
31 Cornelia St
Date nights are a treat now that my husband and I are parents. When we do get out, I prefer good food at a low-key, intimate setting and he just prefers anything Italian. Our night couldn’t have been more perfect when we found all of the above at Po in the West Village.
The Italian American restaurant is nestled on a quiet neighborhood block. The friendly staff is as laid back as the reggae music playing over the speakers yet, they’re equally attentive to everyone and everything. Fredi, who oversees the modest dining room, seems unmoved by the crowd coming and going (we later find out that it’s best to book a table 2 to 4 weeks in advance).
We start with a crisp bottle of Pino Grigio and white bean bruschetta. The four courses that follow are a nice balance of simple dishes with spices that are not too overwhelming or too bland. His roasted autumn squash salad with melted fontina. My white bean ravioli in a balsamic brown butter sauce. We feed off each others plate and eagerly await the next round.
The Pan American: A Fusion of American Tastes in Nolita
By Miss Jane
This Nolita eatery offers a fusion of North, South, and Central American cuisines, with a menu that boasts several comfort food favorites.
But first come the great drinks. I started with a spicy cocktail called the Opium, made with GIVEN Liqueur, triple sec, lemon juice, cinnamon and grapefruit. It was tangy and delicious.
Another great one to try is the house favorite, L’uva, a light and fruity drink made with muddled grapes that has just the right mix of sweet and punchy.
For appetizers, I highly recommend the rabo encendido, a flaky oxtail meat-filled pastry reminiscent of a Caribbean beef patty.The meat is well-seasoned, light, and tender.
If you’re in the mood to start your meal with a salad, the Pan American Salad would be a great choice. The fresh, crisp greens are complimented by sweetness of the dressing, Hudson Valley cheese, spiced almonds, papaya vinaigrette and hearty Caribbean squash.
Legal is Regal in Long Island
As a Longer Islander myself, it’s great to find a gem surrounded by the numerous restaurants up and down Old Country Road. In the midst of Roosevelt Field Mall is Legal Seafood and the name says it all. Not only do the boasts a great seafood fare, from the lobster to the scrumptious swordfish, its also a bit incognito unless you’ve had the pleasure to dine there or a local who knows about the many menu offerings.
Legal, is family-friendly and great for a date, especially with the theater right next door. The seafood bar has a wide array of raw oysters from the north Atlantic, east and west coast. Simply ask the friendly wait staff about wine selections and they will select a great choice to ignite the palette.
Delicious Artisan Pizza in the Village
by Miss Jane
Golosi takes your typical pizza spot to artisan heights with its fresh ingredients, many imported straight from Italy. I visited its second (and newest) location, a quaint Second Avenue eatery with an upstairs seating area that’s perfect for enjoying a slice or two with a date or a group of friends. Choose from a variety of traditional Italian pies that are not your usual New York-style pizzas. Golosi’s are brick-oven baked, starting at 12 inches, and piled high with toppings. My favorite was the 4 Stagioni, which had a thin chewy crust topped with a hearty heaping of mushrooms, olives, artichokes, and ham.
If you’re more into keeping things simple, try the Diavola, which has tomato, mozzarella, and spicy pepperoni, or the Margherita– a favorite among customers–which has tomato, mozzarella and basil. Enjoy your slice (or pie) with a glass of wine, beer, or soda of your choice. They also offer iced coffee, hot tea, espresso, and cappuccino.
Not in the mood for pizza? The menu boasts salads, Paninis, calzones, and pasta dishes (with one stand-out being the penne alla vodka, a dish with a creamy, sweet red sauce topped with grated mozzarella.) For dessert, I had the Pizza Nutella, which was a taste of chocolaty heaven with its delicious crust and powdered sugar. It’s almost like a crepe and was simply divine! (And perfect for sharing!) Whatever you do, don’t leave without getting at least one scoop of gelato. It’s smooth and creamy, and Golosi has a wide variety, from hazelnut to mint chocolate chip to Nutellla to classic vanilla. Other traditional desserts are offered, including cheesecake and tiramisu.
All in all, Golosi is the perfect spot to pop in, enjoy a slice, watch a game or two (yes, they do have a flat screen upstairs), and enjoy the company of family and friends–minus the sports bar hype and the typical no-frills, Formica chic most New York pizza shops offer.
Looking for a taste of Northern Italy in NYC—Gnocco Restaurant, located in the East Village serves up their special homemade deep fried dough with a selection of Italian cold cuts or tender Octopus with peppercorn With classic Italian flavors and spices, including fresh mushrooms, tomato and basil, the cuisine will delight the palette of anyone who enjoys an Italian fare.
Set apart from the busy East Village streets, this small, rustic restaurant with murals and photos aligning the walls, creates an intimate, casual atmosphere. Sample the various pastas made on- premise from pumpkin to La Pizza Di Gnooco. Executive Chef Gianluca Giovanetti creates a simply delightful menu with menu options ranging from oven roasted monk fish fillet wrapped in a crispy layer of Parma Prosciutto or oven roast herbs rack of lamb.
Choza Taqueria: Not Just Your Typical Fast-Food Taco Joint
By Miss Jane
Upon first entering the fairly new location for Choza Taqueria, there’s the usual set up for a taco spot: fresh ingredients, buffet-style behind a Plexiglas wall, with servers scooping out the meat, sauces, and condiments of the customer’s choice; a cash register at the counter; tables and chairs set up nearby; photos of stacked cans, fruits and veggies.
But don’t get this mixed up with any other popular taco spot: the ingredients and flavors are what make Choza stand out among the rest.
The Madison Avenue eatery, which has another location in downtown Manhattan’s Open Air Café, offers tacos made traditionally Mexican–with a gourmet flair.
Brazil, here I come or at least I’ll travel to the East Village until I can make my way to South America. Last week, I ate at the casual, energetic hotbed Esperanto Restaurant located on 9th and Ave C. The food was an aromatic blend of Brazilian, Chilean and Peruvian cultures to entice customers from all ethnicity and tastes. With dishes served up with smiles and an atmosphere filled with music and laughter—how can one not catch Brazilian fever.
If you find yourself in Alphabet City, dip into this exotic locale with its green and yellow hues, bamboo chairs and Brazilian motifs adorning the walls. Whether you’re in the mood to dine or have a refreshing drink, try their house special Mojito Royal served with champagne, sagatiba, fresh passion fruit and mint lime.