Dinner is fabulous but when we travel, and do the tourist thing during the day, tasty but quick lunch spots are a must. In a city like Manhattan, restaurants are a dime a dozen, and unlike dinner, you don’t want to waste your afternoon in a restaurant eating lunch when you can be shopping and seeing the city. Fortunately for us, we knew where we wanted to eat while in New York City; like our dinner reservations, our lunch spots were perfectly planned. We do not leave food to chance! Here is our guide for the best lunch spots in NYC.
Lombardi’s Pizza does not take reservations, so sadly when the whole gang showed up for lunch, we had to sit separately.
Lombardi’s holds the title as the first pizzeria in the United States. In 1897, an Italian immigrant brought the Napoletana pizza to New York City. In 1905, Lombardi’s was licensed by the City of New York, becoming America’s First Pizzeria. Over 100 years later, Lombardi’s is still known as one of the US’ best pizzerias. The restaurant is cash only and its most famous pizza pie, which we did not have a chance to try, is the Clam Pie Pizza made up of hand shucked clams, oregano, fresh garlic, grated Romano and black pepper, and fresh parsley. As a little side note, the menu states that the clams may contain shell and sand, this just adds to the authenticity of the pie.
So we sat down and ordered Grandma’s Meatball as an appetizer. Two huge 4 oz meatballs made up of pork and beef were topped with Grandma’s Sunday Gravy and thick shavings of Romano Cheese. This is Italian grandma’s gravy so it is tomato sauce, not American gravy. These were by far the most tender meatballs that we had ever tasted; the meat was so moist and juicy that we couldn’t understand how these meatballs so easily rivaled every other meatball that we had ever had. The tomato sauce was perfect, and we grew eager to soon taste it on our pizza, and the fresh Romano cheese was perfection. This was not topped with grated cheese but thick shavings. Truly the perfect Italian appetizer!
At Lombardi’s, you can get your pizza with tomato sauce or as a white pizza with olive oil and ricotta. Once you choose your pie you can add premium or regular toppings: premium toppings are 4.00$ each and regular toppings are 3.00$ each. Premium toppings are: pancetta, pepperoni, sweet Italian sausage, meatballs, anchovies, ricotta impastata and extra fresh mozzarella. Regular toppings are: coal oven sweet roasted red peppers, sautéed garlic spinach, sliced tomatoes, red onions, Kalamata olives (may contain pits), fresh wild mushrooms and extra tomato sauce. If that isn’t enough you can also buy Lombardi’s pizza sauce at their restaurant, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, house vinaigrette dressing, coal oven sweet roasted red peppers and their Kalamata black olives.
We happily tried Balthazar, a Parisian brasserie in SoHo, New York. Famous and popular, few have gone to New York City and not stopped at Balthazar. Their restaurant even boasts an adjoining bakery that had delicious pastries such as maple-pecan and sweet potato pie, chocolate bourbon pecan pie, and so many more.
If that wasn’t enough, their hangover drinks sounded fabulous, especially at the end of a long weekend filled with alcohol. Though we went for brunch, many of their lunch plates sounded appealing such as the chicken liver and foie gras mousse, and their steak tartare, which if it is anything like Pastis’ (another McNally restaurant), we would have swooned over. The fact that they have an after hours menu further makes it perfect. For once, we kept our stomachs in line and it got us to miss out on a delectable little basket of goodies.
We started our meal with freshly squeezed orange juice and grapefruit juice. We had already fueled up on coffee while we waited the 45 odd minutes to get the table and we were ravenous.
Even during brunch, we require an appetizer to begin our meal. We chose the cheese platter which offered a selection of cheeses of the day. We opted out of the glass of CroftRubyPort with our cheese plate: the only acceptable brunch cocktails are mimosas and Bloody Marys, and we just couldn’t do it. We were also a bit hung-over from the action packed weekend. The cheese plate arrived with a blue cheese, a brie or camembert creamy cheese, a spectacular goat cheese and a magnificent tomme de savoie. We had never tried tomme de savoie before and we fell in love; good ol’ Whitey even discovered where we could get it in Montreal. The cheese platter was plentiful and came with some dried fruit and country bread; it was a great beginning to our brunch.