Oh, My God. This buff Ronald McDonald, wearing an American flag speedo with a bunch of french-fries stuffed in his crotch; you cannot un-see it.
Photographed on Harrison Place in Buskwick, Brooklyn.
NOTE: Sadly, L’asso EV Has Closed as of July 2013
Against trend, we often side with the belief that most foods labeled “Healthy” might be significantly less tasty than their less healthy counterparts – case in point: Pizza. So, we had a pretty serious Come to Jesus Moment this week while dining for the first time at L’asso EV, a newcomer to the East Village, boasting a dedication to the organic, gluten free culinary approach, that manages to get just about everything right.
We were initially tempted to visit L’Asso with the promise of being served the “Best Pizza In NYC” (a claim we have heard many times before). And while we admit that L’asso EV’s pizza is insane, it is really a co-star amid an ensemble cast (menu) of tasty treats that will likely convert you to a regular customer.
With a smaller, original location at 192 Mott Street (at Kenmare), L’asso EV (Italian Translation : The Ace , with EV signifying the East Village) opened with an expanded menu at 107 First Avenue about 6 months ago. They are proud of their pizza – and rightly so – but L’Asso offers a varied menu featuring fresh, unique salads, appetizers, pasta and desserts that you won’t find on any other area menu. Aside from the delicious food, the space is totally cool.
Striking a fine balance of hip and classy, the restaurant is a perfect addition to this wildly popular and centrally located neighborhood which attracts both foodies and the artistically inclined crowd. Before we even get to the food, the interior is immediately inviting and comfy. L’asso EV’s appealing decor – a mix of clean chic and farmhouse kitsch – is enhanced by an impressive collection of art adorning its walls.
From a collection of Ashley Macknica photographs known as the Pizza is My Lover series, to a colorful pyramid mural painted directly on the wall by local street artist Dima Drjuchin, to an eclectic collection of tiny canvases scattered across the walls of the large back room (great for groups), there are almost as many beautiful things on view at L’asso as there are delicious things to eat. Innovative Chefs Jackie Gibson and Joseph Lee make sure of that.
Amid an enticing selection of big salads, we chose to start our meal with the Insalata Fresca ($15.00), made with cucumber, corn, tomato, cilantro, radish and salty, flavorful caciocavallo cheese dressed lightly with olive oil, lemon juice and soy sauce. It looked as good as it tasted!
The D.O.C. Bufalina Pizza appetizer was presented on a house-made bagel topped with Buffalo Mozzarella, San Marzano Tomatos and Extra Virgin Olive Oil ($6.00)
A major highlight of the evening came early (and unexpectedly) in the form of the Fried Tomato Appetizer ($14.00), which was recommended to us by our charming server/host, Paul AKA Love Jungle This is a satisfying plate of three, thick-cut slabs of Red (not green!) Tomato, well coated in a light, seasoned breadcrumb mix and expertly pan fried, drizzled with balsamic and served topped with huge ball of fresh mozzarella. OMG! Not only are the sweet, ripe tomatoes beyond delicious on their own, but the mozzarella is so soft, milky and fresh, this dish is nearly as luscious and decadent as a dessert.
A Trio of Eda’s Meat Balls ($11.00) – a mix of veal, beef and pork –arrived at our table fresh from the oven, baked in a ramekin with sauce and more Buffalo Ricotta. The meatballs are huge, flavorful, juicy, tender and highly recommended!
Gnocchi can be a fickle mistress, but L’asso’s Gnocchi Portofina ($13.00) are among of the lightest and fluffiest Gnocchi we have tasted. Served in a light tomato sauce with homemade ricotta, we would ask for an additional dollop of the accompanying delicious cheese when ordering these again.
L’asso Mussels (cooked with garlic, white wine and pancetta, $14.00) are served with generous helping of crispy, fresh herb-tossed French Fries accompanied by a fresh and creamy Pesto Aioli for dipping.
Finally, it was time for us to get down to the business of eating pizza, and our attentive wait staff created a special, off-menu (but soon to be on menu), item just for us: a Muffaletta Pizza, which they cheekily call The Big Muff ($18.00)! This round pie is based on the famous New Orleans sandwich, being topped with Green Olive salad and both mortadella and sopresatta before being buried in cheese. This pizza is so rich and loaded with toppings and yet the suportive crust stays crisp and light. A small pie can easily be shared between two people, with a shared salad, and it is doubtful you would leave hungry. We will concur that L’asso EV deserves to lay claim to serving the “Best Pizza in the East Village.” We will be back for more.
L’asso EV is Located at 107 First Avenue, Between 6th and 7th Streets in NYC’s East Village. Phone 212-837-2048 to make a reservation and visit their awesome website to find out about special nights and events.
Miss May from Pizza is My Lover Series
New Yorkers will stand in line for anything. This explains why there is generally an hours-long wait (rain or shine) at the Shake Shack burger stand located in Madison Square Park. The thing is, hype is a huge turn off for me and I refuse to wait 90 minutes for a burger. Luckily, there is an alternative for those looking to procure a delicious, fresh Hamburger, Fries and a Shake without having to invest the better part of the day, and it’s just few blocks east: Fresh & Fast Burger on 23rd Street between Park and Lexington Avenues.
I’ve written about Fresh & Fast before, when they had their Thanksgiving Charity Promotion to help feed hungry New Yorkers in conjunction with The Bowery Mission. The fact that Fresh & Fast is invested in giving back to the community ties right in with their dedication to using only the freshest, high quality ingredients to create one of the most delicious, juiciest burgers in town. Fresh & Fast serves only cuts of beef selected from NYC’s own Master Purveyors. Never, ever frozen, each burger is a custom-created blend by New York’s most respected meat company, featuring Angus prime cuts taken from the same cattle that supply premium steaks to the famous Peter Luger’s Steak House in Brooklyn. When a burger is really all about the taste of the meat, who could ask for more than that?
When I dined at Fresh & Fast this past week, my Cheeseburger was delivered to me within minutes, dressed with crisp veggies, served on a soft, toasted potato roll and so juicy and delicious I needed many extra napkins. A lot of people will compare Fresh & Fast to In & Out Burger, and I think the comparison is warranted, but I do like Fresh & Fast’s fries much better than In & Out. F&F has conquered the problem with making and serving fresh cut fries – which is that they are often soggy – by soaking their potatoes in a vinegar solution before cooking, which keeps the fries super crisp without adding any vinegar taste to the potato. Moving on the their shakes, I had the Neapolitan shake, containing vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream (with real bits of strawberry) all in the same cup. My shake was an ideal consistency: thick enough to stick to the straw but not too thick to drink, and not too sweet.
Fresh & Fast’s Menu is simple (besides various basic burgers they also serve Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Hot Dogs and Cheese Fries), which allows them to serve the food quickly and to focus on making a superior burger without a lot of bells and whistles. Check them out when you’re in the neighborhood and don’t have 2 hours to kill.
Update: Fresh & Fast Burger Has Closed for Business
Fresh & Fast is located at 111 East 23rd Street between Park and Lexington in the Flatiron District.
Disco Fries Night Fever
Last night I was making the scene at Heavy Metal Happy Hour at Arrow Bar, enjoying a refreshing 2-for-1 Vodka Cranberry special, banging my head slightly to some vintage Maiden and chatting with the Rev Dave from The Great Burger Conquest. Rev was sharing a few stories of the latest tasty burgers to make it onto his blog when the subject of Disco Fries came up. For those of you who have never known the pleasure, Disco Fries are french fries covered with gravy and melted cheese (sometimes the gravy can also be served on the side for dipping). Mmmm…I wish I had a big plate of Disco Fries right now.