Tag Archive | Truffled Macaroni & Cheese

Manhattan's Truffle Macaroni & Cheese Round Up!

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It is no secret that The Worley Gig is a huge fan of all delicious foods, and we try not to discriminate. But if we had to pick a favorite single food (rather than an entire ethnic cuisine, in which case Mexican FTW!) we would choose Macaroni & Cheese. Because, pasta and cheese baked together, yum. Over the course of the past year’s many restaurant reviewing adventures we have had the pleasure of sampling a current trend in Macaroni & Cheese preparation: the addition of truffles, or truffle oil, which elevates this humble comfort food dish into the culinary stratosphere. In this post we revisit five New York City restaurants featuring a Truffled Macaroni & Cheese dish on their menu. Feel free to pay any of them a visit and tell them we sent you!

Upstairs at The Kimberly Hotel

Truffled Mac & Cheese
All Food Photos By Anne Raso

Midtown Manhattan’s finest east-side rooftop dining experience is found at Upstairs, a swanky open-air cocktail lounge (with awesome nighttime views of the Chrysler Building) located on the Penthouse level of the Kimberly Suites Hotel (145 East 50th Street).  On our first visit last summer, our heartiest mid-week appetite was more than satisfied by an order of rich and fragrant Truffled Macaroni & Cheese ($12), baked en casserole to a golden hue. Simply perfect.  Rating: A

The Meatball Factory

Truffled Mac & Cheese from Meatball Factory

Chef Dave Martin takes credit for starting the Truffled Macaroni & Cheese craze while he was a contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef. His signature dish, a Black Truffle Mac ‘n’ Cheese ($11), is among the most popular items on the menu at The Meatball Factory (231 Second Ave at 14th Street). Chef Dave’s secret to achieving such delicious, cheesey-truffly baked goodness involves first cooking the cream base for the sauce until it develops its own “nutty” flavor, then slowly folding in both Fontina and Parmesan cheeses so that ingredients blend perfectly, preventing the sauce from “breaking.” This technique makes for a very creamy sauce and a unique integration of flavors that, when combined with the essence of black truffles, elevates this memorable creation high above “your Mama’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese” status. Rating: A-

Update: Sadly, the Meatball Factory Has Closed as of April 30, 2012.

Bahr Che

Black Truffle Mac & Cheese

At Bahr Che Wine Bar (tucked away at 26 Astor Place) their limited menu is enhanced greatly by the Lobster and Black Truffle Mac ‘n Cheese ($16.00) — one of the heartier choices on a menu punctuated by tiny salads. We especially enjoyed the big chunks of lobster tucked around tendrils of macaroni in a mild cheese sauce, but ultimately the dish called out for either more sharp cheddar cheese or extra seasoning (a few sprinkles of salt, even) to bring out the much desired black truffle essence. Rating: B-

DL

Ludlow Mac and Cheese

One of our favorite new dining spots on the Lower East Side is DL (95 Delancey Street) where they do their Ludlow Mac (Elbow macaroni, with creamy béchamel sauce and cheese) three ways, including a glorious Truffle and Mushroom ($15), version. This is a classically oven-baked dish with a crispy panko crumb topping and plentiful slices of fresh mushroom added, which goes a long way towards enhancing the rich and flavorful truffle oil-infused sauce. Rating: A

Sons Of Essex

SOE Truffle Mac And Cheese

Sons of  Essex is one of no fewer than three restaurants with the word Essex in its name that is also located on Essex Street (in this case, 133 Essex Street, between Stanton and Rivington). Sons of Essex is so enthusiastic about the Macaroni & Cheese trend that its menu even has a separate section dedicated to detailing the various types of Mac & Cheese that SOE serves. In addition to a daily Mac & Cheese special variety, each day of the week you can also get the Truffle Mac N Cheese ($16) made with elbow macaroni, Gruyere and a truffle cheese sauce, baked to achieve the crunchiest golden brown top you could ever ask for. Easily shared between two people, this dish answers the burning question, “What shall we have for an appetizer?” Rating: A+

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Chef Dave Martin Brings Gourmet Meatballs to 14th Street!


Chef Dave!

East 14th Street is quickly becoming a go-to neighborhood for the seeker of comfort foods. Think about it: the first IHOP in Manhattan proper just opened between Second and Third Avenues a couple of months ago. And now, just a few storefronts further east, in the corner lot once shared by an Arthur Treacher’s-Pizza HutNathan’s triumvirate of fast food, a new restaurant has just opened that specializes in one of our very favorite foods: Meatballs! The Meatball Factory – as it is called – is the creation of Chef Dave Martin. Known for serving up Foodie-esque yet accessible takes on classic American dishes, Martin was among the final three Cheftestants on season one of Bravo’s wildly popular reality cooking competition, Top Chef. Like fellow Top Chef alumni Angelo Sosa’s midtown eatery, Social Eatz, The Meatball Factory aims to elevate your palate for the American food favorites that you already crave.


Cluck Cluck Chicken Meatball (All Food Photos By Anne Raso)

Having lived in a state of Meatballs-on-the-Brain for close to a week while anticipating our visit, we chose two types of meatballs to share: the Cluck Cluck Chicken Meatball, made with Bell & Evans Chicken, Esposito’s Chicken Apple Sausage and White Wine, and the Meatza Meatza (one of two beef-centric meatball varieties on the menu) comprised of Braised Certified Angus Beef Brand Short Ribs, Hangar Steak and Filet, Buffalo, Potato and Parmesan. Both choices were very naturally juicy, and because Dave uses no traditional “binder” (i.e. breadcrumbs) in his meaty mix, you are really going to taste the flavor of the meat.


Meatza Meatza Beef Meatballs

Other meaty concoctions offered include the Turducken (a mix of Turkey, Chicken and Duck, like it sounds), Lambda Lambda Lambda (Lamb, duh), Hog Wild (Pork) and the Vegan’s Dream meatless ball, featuring nine different types of veggies all mashed together with tofu and roasted garlic – yummy. All meatball selections are $8 for a generous 5-meatball portion, while the vegan choice is $9. Meatballs are accompanied by a side of your choice of eight homemade sauces, but for a few bucks more you can trade up to a selection of three different sauces, which seemed like the way to go – because if some is good, more is better! The Cluck Cluck was well complimented by the thick Salsa Verde of Roasted Tomatillos, Green Chilies and Caramelized Sweet Onions flavored with Lime, Fresno Chiles and Agave. We also chose a traditional Fire Roasted Marinara (super garlicky) and the Hells Bells Vodka Sauce made with Absolut Peppar – tasty, and excellent with beef. Kick up the fire in any of these sauces with a splash or two of the house-made Red Pepper Agave sauce found on each table.


Marinara, Hells Bells, Salsa Verde Dipping Sauces


Dave’s World Famous Black Truffle Mac ‘n’ Cheese

While on Top Chef, Dave takes credit for starting the Truffled Macaroni & Cheese craze with the introduction of his signature dish, a Black Truffle Mac ‘n’ Cheese ($11), which according to our server is among the most popular items on the menu. Chef Dave, who was quite visible in the front of the house on the night of our visit, joined us table-side while we savored – noodle by noodle – a shared portion of this delicious cheesey-truffly baked goodness, to personally describe his secret method of first cooking the cream base for the sauce until it develops its own “nutty” flavor, then slowly folding in both Fontina and Parmesan cheeses so that ingredients blend perfectly, preventing the sauce from “breaking.” This technique makes for a very creamy sauce and a unique integration of flavors that, when combined with the essence of black truffles, elevates this memorable creation high above “your Mama’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese” status.


Pureed Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic (Tastes Better than it Looks!)

While we certainly would have been quite satisfied with the Meatballs and the Mac, a side of Pureed Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic (with cream, of course, $5) sounded too amazing to pass up, and we were not disappointed! TMF’s menu also features half a dozen varieties of Crispy Crackerbread Pizzas (we hear that the Thai This Pizza featuring the Turducken Meatballs in a Green Curry Peanut Sauce is a favorite), plus Pastas, Sandwiches, Salads and even Poutine (aka Disco Fries, $5 – 10)! For dessert we were easily sold on the TMF Floatillas: traditional soft drink floats made with Dave’s Vanilla Mascarpone Gelato ($6)! On the night of our visit they were out of the Fanta Orange soda that makes up the Creamsicle, so we chose the Purple Cow Floatilla made with Fanta Grape – equally decadent and so huge we could not finish it!


Here is Chef Dave Bringing Us Our Massive Purple Cow Floatillas!

Last but not least, we tipped the scale of pure indulgence by ordering the Pig Sticks: Slices of Nueske’s Wild Cherrywood Bacon served with sides of Dave’s Malted Hot Fudge and Sea Salt Caramel for dipping! Pig Sticks are a dessert that should be enjoyed at least once by anyone who worships Bacon as much as we do here at The Worley Gig! As you can see from the prices listed in this review, The Meatball Factory is easy on your wallet: nothing on the menu is over $15. They also have a nice wine list with all bottles of wine is priced at or under $40. Beer lovers can choose from among 18 varieties on tap and 20 bottles of craft beer. With the welcome addition of The Meatball Factory to this East Village neighborhood, we just might turn 14th Street into a Foodie haven yet!


Pig Sticks: Oink!

UPDATE: I AM SAD TO ANNOUNCE THAT THE MEATBALL FACTORY HAS NOW CLOSED EFFECTIVE APRIL 30, 2012. RIP!

The Meatball Factory is Located at 231 Second Ave. or 251. E. 14th Street – depending on whom you ask – at the Northwest Corner of 14th Street and Second Avenue. Currently Open for Dinner Only, Hours are Monday – Sunday 6:30 PM – 11 PM. Credit Cards Accepted! Phone 212-260-8015 for more Information!

Upstairs at the Kimberly Hotel: Much More than Just Rooftop Cocktails

When you get right down to it, there are woefully too few days in a New York City summer where the planets align to create weather that’s both seductively warm and miraculously free from precipitation, making for the perfect scenario for a rooftop dining experience. We enjoyed just such a cosmic occurrence one evening last week, when we were fortunate enough to snag a prime table at Upstairs, the luxurious rooftop restaurant and bar located on the Penthouse level of the Kimberly Suites Hotel. Unlike similar venues that may flaunt coveted Rooftop views of our fair Metropolis while phoning it in when it comes to service and consumables, Upstairs backs up its bragging rights with an impressive menu of gourmet eats and signature summer cocktails that will add significant value to your evening of memorable views.

With its retractable glass ceilings and walls (just in case the clouds roll in) and mix of old Hollywood meets Modern Penthouse Garden design, Upstairs is a place to see and be seen. We spotted the very handsome Fabio Viviani of Top Chef Fame seated with a lively group at a table close by, and it’s likely that other local celebrities might have been mingling in the considerable crowd. But make no mistake, the atmosphere is chill and attitudes are checked at the door. People come here to relax, unwind and enjoy some seriously delicious food.

Truffled Mac & Cheese (All Food Photos By Anne Raso)

We brought our heartiest mid-week appetites which were satisfied by orders of rich and fragrant Truffled Macaroni & Cheese baked en casserole to a golden hue ($12), and Crispy Baby Artichokes tossed with fresh grated Parmesan Cheese and Fresh Lemon ($14).

Crispy Baby Artichokes

Curious to sample as many dishes as possible, we added Spiced Duck Cigars (heavy on the curry and hot pepper) with Pomegranate Dipping Sauce ($13) and a trio of juicy Kobe Beef Sliders topped with Cheddar, Tomato & Pickle ($15) complimented by a side of extraordinary Crispy French Fries accompanied by a dish of luscious Chipotle Mayonnaise ($7).

Spiced Duck Cigars are Studded with Toasted Pistachio Nuts

Kobe Beef Sliders: Tiny But Tasty!

For seafood lovers, Upstairs offers a wide offering of delectable dishes including a generous portion of Yellowfin Tuna Tartare with Spicy Avocado and Ginger Olive Oil ($18), Lump Crab Cakes with Ginger-Mango Salsa and Spicy Chili Sauce ($17), crowd-pleasing Crispy Calamari ($15) and the popular Lobster Sliders ($21), among other selections. We can enthusiastically recommend everything mentioned here. Order several small plates and you’ll find that all appetizers are large enough to share between two people, leaving you comfortably stuffed.

Strawberry Souffle

And stuffed we were – yet we couldn’t resist being tempted by dessert. We sampled the petite Strawberry Soufflé with Whipped Cream and Tarragon Strawberry Salad ($11) – which is the perfect size to top off your meal, even if you think you can’t swallow one more bite.

Caramel Ice Cream Sandwich

We also indulged in the Caramel Ice Cream Sandwich (Vanilla/Caramel parfait Ice Cream between Two Chocolate Wafers) served with a side of Salted Vanilla Carmel sauce for drizzling on top and Fresh Blackberries ($11). Both were delicious and unique. Service at Upstairs is attentive and gracious. Our waitress stopped back at our table often to make sure we had everything we needed, and even Executive Chef David Andrews (formerly of Gotham Bar & Grill) stopped by for a brief chat about his delicious creations. Having worked with Chefs such as Marcus Samuelson and Angelo Sosa, he is very down-to-earth when he talks about his food, and he has the most adorable, subtle Tennessee accent. The impeccable combination of food, service and location make Upstairs an ideal destination to impress your out of town friends with a taste New York hospitality, but it’s a self-indulgent retreat for locals as well; because, really, where else can you take in the best views of the Chrysler building in town while sipping a cocktail named after Yoko Ono?

Upstairs is located at the Kimberly Hotel, Penthouse Level 145 East 50th Street (East of Lexington) in New York City (Take the 6 Train to Lexington and 51st Street). For reservations please phone 212-888-1220. Hours are Monday – Wednesday 5 PM-1 AM, Thursday – Friday 5 PM-2 AM, Saturday Brunch served from 11:30 AM-3:30 PM, (Upstairs will be open 6 PM-2 AM, Sunday Brunch served from 11:30 AM-3:30 PM, (Upstairs will be open 3:30 PM-11 PM). Proper Attire is Required, so dress to impress and leave the sneakers and cut-offs at home!