NYC Restaurant Week 2016

NYC Restaurant Week is a glorious thing — venues from all around the boroughs (but especially in Manhattan) set up unique and affordable prix fixe menus to get patrons excited about varying culinary prowess. $29 for lunch and $42 for dinner, generally.

This was my first year participating but definitely won’t be my last.

Here’s the two spots I HAD to hit up before the deal was over.


 

DELMONICO’S

Regardless of if you’re a NY native or a visitor, you have to know about Delmonico’s. This place is one of the oldest jewels in our city’s history, rich with tradition and flavor. Yes, it can be pricey on a normal occasion. But it’s well worth the experience.

From the outside it looks as lowkey as a high end place could possibly be — shaded windows and maroon awnings at the ground level of a brown brick building in the quieter intersections of the Financial District. But upon entering, you’re greeted by friendly young hosts wearing all black, and led into a banquet hall with several chandeliers, beautiful carpeting and marble columns, and servers in crisp white and black uniforms buzzing with grace past you. The clink of glasses and cutlery is peaceful whether it coincides with the hum of fellow customers or stands alone when you’re the only group dining at the time. There’s also a private dining room downstairs for more intimate parties, reflecting Delmonico’s reputation as one of the first in NY to have a private dining option at all.

So getting to the important stuff: what did we order?

Appetizer: Wagyu Beef Tartare with Charred Bread, Quail Egg, and Bitter Greens (Not on the prix fixe menu)
Appetizer: Lobster Newberg Carbonara
Appetizer: Blue Crab Cake with Avocado Crema and Yellow Chili Oil
Entree: Petit Mignon with Broccoli and Potatoes
Entree: Pasta with Chicken (I apologize for not remembering the name clearly)
Dessert: Baked Alaska (signature dessert consisting of Walnut Cake, Apricot Jam, Banana Gelato, and Meringue; Delmonico’s proudly claims on its website to be the first to create this dish in 1867)

Everything was spectacular in terms of taste. I especially loved my petit mignon (I just love steak in general, but there was no need for extra steak sauce on such a juicy plate), and though it isn’t pictured, our second dessert was the mini NY-style cheesecake. Which was fantastic. Delmonico’s is not a place you go simply for the wealthy aesthetic — you go to eat wealthy, too.


MAMO

A few days later, I went with my boyfriend to Mamo, which is a more modern but just as legendary culinary experience iconic to our city. My parents and some of our friends have been here on special occasions, and we wanted to also participate in that contentment.

Mamo is also an Italian place, but the style is slightly different. On the official website, Mamo is described as “A purveyor of affectionate Italian & French Provençal dining experience. Made in Antibes in 1992.” While still high-end in value and selection, it isn’t as grandiose as Delmonico’s. That’s not particularly a negative aspect, though. In fact, the colors are a lot brighter to give a crisper feeling to the simplicity of the environment.

As for the noms…

Appetizer: Carpaccio di salmone (Fresh Salmon with fresh Mozzarella, Olives, and Arugula)
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Entree: Rollatina di coniglio farcito (Rabbit and Potato Fingerlings)
Entree: Filetto di orata alla griglia con verdure all’olio (Grilled Seabream with vegetables)
Dessert: NY Cheesecake with Raspberry sauce
Dessert: Creme Caramel (Caramel Flan with fruits and nuts)

Mamo’s dishes were surprisingly heavier than we expected, despite the small portions. However, they were still plenty enjoyable! I never really had rabbit before and it’s not my ideal meat in retrospect, but I admired how Mamo prepared it anyway in terms of spice choice and how tenderly the skin and meat would fall off the bones. I basically licked my plate clean during dessert — that cheesecake was cloud-like, and the perfect combo of dry and sweet. And on the other side of the table, the boyfriend inhaled pretty much everything he was served, except for the olives.


Both of these restaurants have been on my Must-Eat list for at least a year if not longer. So having a chance to even sample a segment of what they serve was a blessing to a culinary enthusiast like me. I may not be studying to be a chef at this moment, but I’ll always jump at the chance to eat good and be merry.

Have you ever experienced NY Restaurant Week? Any awesome food ventures to recall? Share your thoughts and experiences with me in the comments below.

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