Tag Archive | Neapolitan

Neapolitan Pies Hit the Upper West Side at Fratelli La Bufala

Fratelli la Bufala Restaurant Logo

Note Fratelli La Bufala Closed in 2014:
In Italian, the word Bufala (if you couldn’t guess) means Buffalo: as in the mighty animal and the delicious mozzarella cheese, but the word can also signify something that is meant to be a joke, or a humorous story. At least that’s what I was told when I visited Fratelli La Bufala, a new European-based chain Pizza restaurant that opened its doors on Broadway and 76th Street on April 27th. One might ask if New York City really needs another pizza restaurant, let alone a chain restaurant just getting its feet wet in America. But early signs point to Fratelli la Bufala having something unique to offer.

The Fratelli La Bufala brand (FLB) was established in Naples, Italy in 2003 by three partners, who created a whimsical back-story for their road to success, recounted as an old-fashioned fairy tale. The story goes that, after the loss of their father, the young and brave Fratelli brothers emigrated to different corners of the world in search of fame and adventure. After many years of hard work, they joined together their respective successful pizza restaurant ventures, which today account for 100 Fratelli La Bufala (literal translation: Brothers of the Buffalo) restaurants in major cities across Europe, and now in the US (the NYC location is only the second in the US after Miami) with plans to expand further.

Le Reale Pizza at Fratelli la Buffala

La Reale Pizza With Prosciutto (Food Photos By Anne Raso)

As soon as you enter the lively and bustling space, you’ll see the impressive black pizza oven attended to by three authentically regional chefs, who came over from Naples to work and train new employees in the ways of pizza making. Once we gazed upon these hot and deliciously fragrant pies travelling from the oven to various tables across the restaurant, we knew we had to taste them. Since we had brought only a modest appetite, we chose to focus on sharing one pie, knowing that future visits were likely so we could sample many other selections. Our choice was the La Reale ($20.50), a white (sauce-less) pie covered with mozzarella, provola and ricotta cheeses, cherry tomatoes, and plentiful portions of salty prosciutto. To us, there is no such thing as too much cheese, and this was one of the most luxuriously cheesey pizzas we’ve tasted. Dare we say it: Best on the Upper West Side! The pizza also has a wonderfully chewy-crisp thin crust, which is what you expect from old fashioned oven-baked pies like these. Add a big green salad and you’ve got a feast that will satisfy any appetite. Of course, we also had to try a dessert, and their rich and creamy Tiramisu ($9) ranks among the best. Mangia!

Tiramisu at Fratelli la Buffala

Tiramisu

With Fratelli La Bufalo open for just under a month, as expected, they still have a few wrinkles to iron out, which we’ll make you aware of now. When we visited, the gas grill was not yet in operation, which meant that none of the menu’s featured meat dishes (including the mashed potato-stuffed meatballs and the rib eye steak) were available. Likewise, several pasta dishes (and even a featured dessert) were unavailable for whatever reason, so it’s advisable to either stick to ordering the pizza, or be sure to ask before you start perusing the menu’s many color photo-studded pages if there are certain dishes which are ‘off menu’ that day.

On the upside, the NYC location is lovely and comfortable with an engaging ambiance. The interiors were designed by Lelia Castellano and include colorful murals and pop art paintings by Antonio Montariello. It’s simple, but chic, modern and unpretentious. And the pizza really is delicious.

Fratelli La Bufala is Located at 2161 Broadway at the Northwest Corner of 76th Street, New York, NY 10024 ( just blocks from the 1, 2 and 3 trains at 72nd Street). Phone 212-496-5303 or visit their website at This Link for more information. The Restaurant does not accept reservations at this time.

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Prince Street Pizza Serves Up a Delicious Slice With a Side of Local History

Prince Street Pizza Front Case
All Photos By Anne Raso

Here in NYC, we have a plethora of Pizza places going by the name of Ray’s, Famous Ray’s, Famous Original Ray’s, and endless variations on that ubiquitous moniker; it’s become a joke that even worked its way into the storyline of a Seinfeld episode. But the original Ray’s Pizza, the one that started all, was a joint located in Soho called Original Ray’s of Prince Street, which was first operated by Luchese crime family member Ralph Cuomo. Despite the checkered reputation of its owner, Ray’s was known for its fantastic Italian food and warm family atmosphere. Everybody went to Ray’s. Culinary history runs deep in the storefront restaurant at 27 Prince Street, and a new chapter to the story began on January 4th, when neighborhood local Frank Morano launched Prince Street Pizza in the same location where his family often ate Sunday meals together while he was growing up. Frank is an affable and customer service-oriented man; an already seasoned restaurateur who was seemingly born to contribute to the Pizza-making history of this particular address. Last summer, The Worley Gig proclaimed Donatella restaurant of Chelsea as the home of New York City’s best pizza, but we are now suggesting that, even if your current ‘hood has a pizza place on every corner, Prince Street Pizza could easily become the destination for your next slice – it’s that good!

Prince Street Pizza Rice Ball Stuffed with with Meat and Peas
Sicilian Rice Ball

Prince Street Pizza features a small but keenly focused menu offering a selection of unique starters, fried to order calzones and pizza options in both the Neapolitan (round pie) and traditional, thicker crust Sicilian (square pie) – the latter of which has spawned the in-house specialty slice known as the SoHo Square (Original Catch Phrase: “No Other Square Can Compare™”). Before delving into the hearty pizza options, we enjoyed a sampling of Prince Street’s amazing deep-fried Rice Balls in each of three varieties: Stuffed Prosciutto Balls (with Ricotta, Mozzarella and finely chopped Prosciutto), Neapolitan (gooey with melted Mozzarella and Romano Cheeses) and the Sicilian Rice Ball stuffed with a mixture of Chopped Beef and Peas in a Marinara sauce. Frank provided us with a selection of the savory sweet homemade marinara sauce and the creamy vodka sauce for dipping, which added to the comfort-food aspect of enjoying these crispy treats. The rice balls were a bargain, with an order of four being only $1.20 (for the Sicilian or Prosciutto) or 99 cents for the cheese only variety, so there is no reason not to start out your meal with an order. Dipping sauces (in 5 varieties) are .75 / .99 cents each. We were looking forward to trying the Crazy Calabrese (broccoli rabe & garlic wrapped in a Chinese egg roll and served with sweet chili sauce) but they were, sadly, not available on the day of our visit (providing us with a reason to go back!)

Prince Street Pizza Humble Ham Calzone
Humble Ham Calzone

Excited to try the Calzones, we chose the Humble Ham (just $7.00, wow!), which was huge and easily shared among three people. Overstuffed with tender, thinly sliced Ham, Mozzarella and a heavy curd Ricotta, the cheese melts and blends together to such a creamy consistency that my dining companions were convinced they were tasting a Béchamel sauce. All calzones, including Paulie’s Pepperoni (Stuffed with Cheese and Spicy Pepperoni, $7.00) and the classic ‘Cheese Please’ Calzone ($6.00) are served with a side of Marinara for dipping, or ask Frank for the sauce of your choice.

Prince Street Pizza Spicy Spring Pepperoni Sicilian Slice
The Spicy Spring SoHo Square

The feast continued with a fresh from the oven selection of Prince Street’s signature pizza slices. Named for neighborhood streets, the SoHo Squares include the Prince Perfection (Fresh Mozzarella with secret sauce) the Mercer Margarita (thin crust pizza, marinara sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil and garlic), the Broadway Breadcrumb (a cheeseless pie with seasoned breadcrumbs and tomato sauce) and the Spicy Spring (Fra Diavalo sauce, spicy custom-sliced pepperoni and fresh mozzarella). The Fra Diavolo sauce on our spicy Spring Square was tantalizing to our taste buds but not painfully hot, and it provided the perfect base for the custom-sliced pepperoni that curls up the edges and gets crispy in the oven. The crust on these pies is crisp on the bottom with a light fluffiness under the sauce and has just the right amount of chewiness. It’s easy to down several slices and feel like you have room for more. SoHo Squares are available by the slice for $3.50 /$3.75 or a whole pie for $24 / $26.

Prince Street Pizza Smoked Mozzarella Slice
Neapolitan Slice Topped with Fresh Smoked Mozzarella

Prince Street Pizza also features four Neapolitan pizza options including an old-school Marinara & Mozz called the Original Prince, the Boozy Broome (Vodka sauce, fresh mozzarella) and the Green Machine, topped with Pesto sauce, Cheese and Gaeta Olives. We enjoyed the fragrant smoked fresh mozzarella on our Fancy Prince slice, which you can ask for in place of the non-smoked variety. Again, the thin crust on these 20″ pies is crispy and light, so you can indulge in a few slices without literally feeling weighed down. The pizza here is absolutely, eye-rollingly delicious. Dare we say it? The Best in the City! Neapolitan pizzas are $2.95 / $3.75 per slice, depending on toppings, and $18 / $26 per 20” Pie. Additional toppings such as Anchovies, Italian Sausage and Sautéed Onions with Green & Red Bell Peppers can be added to your pizza for a nominal charge.

The restaurant is intimate – seating only a total of twelve customers (at two counters, one on either side of the room) at one time, but they do a brisk take-out business and offer a limited delivery radius. Prince Street Pizza also offers “curb side pick up,” allowing customers to phone in their orders, then drive or bike up to the storefront and have their order brought out to them. The complete menu can be viewed in its entirety at This Link, so get your order ready now!

Prince Street Pizza is located at 27 Prince St (Between Mott & Elizabeth Streets) in Soho, New York. Open late, phone (212) 966-4100 for specific store hours and more information.

Fresh & Fast Burger: Giving Shake Shack a Run for The Money

Fresh and Fast Double Cheeseburger
Fresh & Fast Double Cheeseburger. Yum.

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.

Fresh and Fast Cheeseburger Fries and Shake
Featured: The Black & White Shake

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.

Fresh and Fast Menu
What You See is What You Get

Fresh & Fast is located at 111 East 23rd Street between Park and Lexington in the Flatiron District.