Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Approaching 20, NYC Restaurant Week Is Still Enticing

The colorful paella de Pescado y Mariscos from Socarrat Paella Bar. Photo from Socarrat Paella Bar.

YOURS Truly loves paella. Alas, I stopped eating it nearly seven years ago around the time I quit eating shellfish. Out of sheer ignorance, I only associated this wonderful Spanish soul food dish with seafood. But there is vegetarian paella – one filled with eggplant, cauliflower, artichokes, tomato, garbanzo beans, sugar snow peas, for instance.

The very one (Verduras) is on the NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2011 menu at Socarrat Paella Bar. What a bounty! Paella and restaurant week. The paella will be around for a long, long while. Restaurant week, however, is scheduled to end on 24 July but an extension is expected and inevitable.

This summer marks the beginning of the 20th anniversary of the biannual meals deals offered by New York restaurants – a significant number the best and most expensive in the town. More than 320 eateries, among them a dollop of newbies such as Socarrat, are participating in this latest edition.

The magic in progress at Junoon. Photo from Junoon.

Socarrat diners are not limited to vegetarian paella. Seafood lovers can feast on Arroz Negro paella (squid ink, bass, scallops, squid, shrimp). Tapas are on the menu, too: Alcachofas (fried artichokes, lemon, sea salt), for example.

Along with a number of traditional dishes on the menu of the Indian concern, Junoon, is the unexpected appetizer Seasonal Pakoras (coconut corn fritters & fenugreek asparagus spears). Dessert is atypical, too, from another of the restaurant week newbies: Chocolate Cheesecake – with Chantilly cream.

At Delmonico’s, a player who’s been in the restaurant week game since the start back in 1992, is Filet Mignon. The 8-ounce cut is accompanied by chef’s seasonal vegetables and is available at dinner only. The Delmonico Classic Steak (20-ounce boneless rib eye served with chef’s seasonal vegetables) is a possibility at both meals. The rub, though, is that it costs $15 extra.

Tribeca Grill soups, including the seafood version, are designed to cause the mouth to water. Photo from Tribeca Grill.

Keeping things lighter is another restaurant week perennial, Tribeca Grill. Two soups stand out: Chilled Sweet Pea Soup with Mint (Peekytoe crab & orzo salad) and Spicy Chickpea, Tomato & Eggplant Soup.

The NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2011 deal? The drill: $24.07 three-course prix-fixe lunches and $35 three-course prix-fixe dinners (excluding Saturdays, beverage, tax and gratuity).

Learn more about NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2011 at

After a Long Day at the Office, the Da Mikele Aperitivo
Square pizza and other Italian appetizers are free every day at Da Mikele. Photo by Peter J. Kubilus photo.

Da Mikele is not participating in NYC Summer Restaurant Week 2011 but the new Italian eatery in Tribeca with a Neapolitan-inspired menu still has a deal: free homemade vegetables, pasta dishes, pizza and so forth daily from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Buon Appetito!

Sfizi, or Italian appetizers, are part of a ritual called Aperitivo. Here, Italians leave work and those cares behind for a little socializing and relaxation with friends over drinks and snacks before dinner.

How lovely that Da Mikele chef-owner Michele Iuliano is replicating this Old World practice in the New World. No doubt, MI would be pleased if Aperitivo led to dinner at Da Mikele where for the last few months he has been turning out new variations on traditional Italian fare.

Learn more about Da Mikele and at

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