Dieci

Since Valentine’s Day fell on a Saturday this year, we opted to skip the crowds and the price hikes and dine on a Friday instead. After some research, I stumbled upon Dieci. Dieci, located in the East Village, serves up Japanese-inspired Italian dishes. Like most authentic Japanese restaurants in NYC, the restaurant is super tiny and only has about 4 small tables-for-two and one long bar table that seats about 10.

We arrived before our 6:15pm reservation and was able to be seated early – it was too cold to wait outside! We were offered menus and water right away – but we wanted some tea to warm up. They have quite a nice selection of teas but we both opted for some Hojicha. They make their tea in French presses and serve them in small teacups – I didn’t mind the smaller cups at all though because our waitress always made sure your teacups were full!

We started off with one of their specials of the day – the Enoki Mushroom Soup with Truffle Oil ($9.00). It’s sort of textured like a cream of mushroom soup but much lighter and more fragrant. I really liked it – especially since we were both freezing from the 10 degree weather outside and it warmed us up instantly.

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We decided to split a second appetizer since I’ve heard such good things about their Uni Scrambled Egg with sturgeon caviar ($18.00). I actually liked the combination of scrambled egg with caviar better but the uni was definitely fresh and not fishy. The caviar gave just the right amount of saltiness with the otherwise pretty tasteless scrambled egg. The dish size is pretty small but packs a punch in taste. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I had the Gnocchi with cod roe and crab cream sauce ($18.00) for my entree. It was so good! The cream sauce was salty from the cod roe and a bit sweet from the crab. The gnocchi was soft and pillowy, which made for a perfect combo with the light sauce. I absolutely love gnocchi with light and fragrant sauces!

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The Boyfriend went with the Tagliolini with squid ink, tomato sauce and calamari ($16.00). The picture definitely does not do this dish justice at all! The tomato sauce was very sweet, which I really liked. But the highlight of the dish was the pasta – it didn’t taste or have the texture of your traditional pasta. It was bouncier and had much more mouth-feel.

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For dessert, we decided on the Strawberry Compote ($8.00) with marscapone mousse and balsamic vinegar since every other dessert involved ice cream. It’s too cold for ice cream! The mousse was very smooth and the strawberries were super sweet. A great way to end an otherwise savory meal!

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Service was super attentive and our teacups were always refilled with hot tea. We got new cutlery for every single course, which was a nice touch. The restaurant was consistently full during our stay and we heard they were fully booked that night and Valentine’s Day as well. I’m not surprised because the food was delicious and service was superb. I can’t wait to come back for more pillowy gnocchi and savory uni!

 

Costata

Ever since the Boyfriend had his graduation dinner at Marea, we’ve been on an Altamarea Group quest. We ate at Ai Fiori during Summer Restaurant Week last year and now we’re trying out its sister restaurant, Costata. I managed to plan a weekday lunch since it’s just a few minutes away from my office. We arrived earlier than our reservation time, but they were able to seat us right away.

Costata doesn’t normally open for lunch so their a la carte menu for lunch is a bit limited. Their Restaurant Week menu, however, doesn’t lack for options. There are three choices for both appetizers and entrees and two choices for dessert. Plenty of options for even the pickiest eater!

For our appetizer, we both went with the Beef Carpaccio with crema di funghi, artichokes, pickled turnip and parmigiano. This was amazing and one of my favorite dishes of the day. The artichokes and pickled turnip were tart and just a bit sour, which really helped open up our palates and appetites.

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We decided to pop our Restaurant Week a la carte cherry and split their Garganelli with alla fiamma, speck, radicchio and truffle cream ($23.00). Our waiter suggested we have this as a “2nd course” and have it between the appetizer and entree. This was a great idea since we were able to space out our dishes and thoroughly enjoy each of them. Now, back to the pasta! The garganelli was cooked to a perfect al dente and tasted so good! It was super light and fragrant – not heavy at all. The speck and truffle cream together was danced nicely on our tastebuds. I highly recommend this dish!

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For my entree, I chose the Pappardelle with short rib ragu. The portion size looks small but it’s actually pretty filling! The short rib was very tender and gave a hearty feel to the dish. I didn’t much care for the carrots but the pasta itself was cooked perfectly and was super bouncy.

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The Boyfriend went with the Sirloin Flap with bearnaise, arugula and fries. I had a piece of his sirloin and it was pretty tasty. It was cooked perfectly to his requested medium rare and wasn’t chewy at all. I also really enjoyed the fries – they were semi-thick cut and very crunchy on the outside. The fries were very evenly salted – so nicely done that I didn’t even need ketchup!

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For dessert, the Boyfriend decided on the Vanilla Panna Cotta with citrus, sicilian pistachio and blood orange sorbet. The panna cotta was very nicely done but I really liked the blood orange sorbet – just the right amount of tart and sweetness combined.

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I had the Torta di Mascarpone with marscapone mousse, lady fingers, amaretto and coffee crema. It’s basically a neater version of a classic tiramisu. In my honest opinion, it’s an even better version of a tiramisu. It was refined, neat and tasted so good! It had just the right amount of bitterness from the coffee and just the right amount of sweetness from the lady fingers and marscapone mousse. It might have been the best dish that I had the entire lunch!

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Service was attentive without being intrusive. Our water glasses were consistently refilled and we received new cutlery for every course – no taste mixing at all! I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch and definitely plan on returning for dinner to try their regular menu.

Onomea

When I first heard about Onomea opening in Williamsburg, I quickly put it on my “To-Go” list. I’ve been to Hawaii two times now and I love everything about the cuisine and lifestyle there. I’m always craving Longboards, Hawaiian Sun POG, Loco Moco and Poke – especially the Loco Moco. I’ve even tried to recreate it myself but my beef patties never end up as good!

After months of saying we were going pay a visit to Onomea, we finally set a date and went through with it. We ended up inviting a friend to come along since he’s never had Hawaiian food before. We arrived around 6:30pm and was seated right away with menus. It’s a pretty small menu with just a few options in each category but don’t let that fool you! The food here is delicious!

They have three beer options – it’s not much but I was seriously conflicted. I’ve had both Longboard and Big Wave before in Hawaii so it was really a matter of which I missed more! We all decided to go with Longboards ($7.00 each) though because it is Kona Brewing Company’s most popular beer.

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I ordered the Poke ($13.00), which is Ahi Tuna with white onions, seaweed, green onions and sesame. I’ve had tons of Poke before and I thought this one was pretty good. It was a decent sized serving and the seasoning was on point.

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A friend ordered the Spam Musubi ($5.00), which is spam and rice wrapped in seaweed. Spam Musubi is a super common snack in Hawaii and I’ve tried to replicate it without any success. This one was a very tasty version. The spam was nicely seasoned and served warm. I just wish there was a little bit more rice like the Hawaii versions!

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I ordered the Loco Moco ($14.00), which featured a Teriyaki burger served on a bed of rice with a sunnyside egg and topped with gravy. Loco Moco is also super popular and common on Hawaii so I’ve had plenty of these too. It’s one of the top foods that I miss from Hawaii because it’s just so tasty and hearty. It’s comfort food at it’s finest and this one really hit the spot. The burger patty was cooked nicely and wasn’t tough at all. The gravy was on point! I really liked that it was sweet and salty at the same time – there was a nice tang to it.

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Our friend ordered the “Hawaiian Size It” option for an extra $5.00 and I have to say it’s a great deal. For an extra $5.00 you get an extra order! He managed to finish all of it – I have no idea how but he really enjoyed the gravy and patty!

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The Boyfriend went with the Teri Burger ($11.00), just to try something else. The Teri Burger is a Teriyaki beef patty on a toasted bun with mayo and lettuce with your choice of fries or salad. I had a few bites and it was pretty good. The burger was juicy and flavorful.

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We were all pretty full but you know me, I always have room for dessert! They had two gelato flavors as well as a Coconut Custard with toasted coconut shavings. It’s a big dessert so definitely more than enough for sharing. There’s a nice layer of jelly on the bottom, which I really liked.

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Service was attentive and we were constantly asked if we needed anything else. The vibe is really nice too – everything is all blue and earthy. The music is constant island jams and it just feels very laid back. I can’t wait to be back again to satisfy my Hawaiian food cravings! Now if only they could get some Dole Whip!