Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tuttobene's Pizzeria

Tuttobene's Pizzeria

By far and away my favorite pizza near LIC where I live. Now if you live near me by the water. We have Bella Via Restaurant, San Remo Pizza, Testaccio, Manducatis Rustica, Masso, Juniors Cafe and lastly Food Cellar which imo is the best value in the neighborhood. As for quality I like Testaccio the best, but again a little more pricy then I would go w/ Bella Via. That said I am a pizza lover. I mean who isn't. My family is from Brooklyn. I grew up in VA and no good pizza to speak of there when I was growing up. I went to Syracuse University where I first had a true thin crust NY pie. Since, then I have eaten at about every NY pizzeria that in note worthy. Grimaldi's Artichoke pizzeria, Otto pizzeria, my favorite is Crunch on 2nd ave and 52nd street.

Anyways. I got home from out of town late Sunday night. We drive BQE through Greenpoint to LIC. We passed Tuttobene's, I called said we live right over the bridge would you please deliver us a half sausage half cheese pie w/ an order of buffalo wings. They thought about it then. Bam, they gave in to my charm and said they would be right over. Sorry, I have no pictures of this meal. My wife and I were starving and ate it for a late afternoon meal then finished it off for dinner. For $24 pie and wings that was a good deal. They came quick and was very good if not the best delivery pizza I've had in LIC over the last 10-12months. So, on Monday I decided to give it a shot again. I wanted to go for a walk. I mapped it out about a half a mile further then walking to Momo Ps1 or same distance to Citi building. Around 1 mile walk not bad, you get some exercise there and back after you eat a pie to yourself, lol.

It was well worth it! I saw the guy making a white pizza w/ Ham looked so good I said "I'll have whatever that person ordered". I sat down nice server offered me a drink. The soda cans are only $1 and lunch specials for personal pies are $6.99 w/ $1 per topping. Ended up being the best damn $10 lunch I had in a while. I also ordered side of Balsamic Vinegar. I dip my pizza in it, goes great w/ White pie, trust me.

They use Oak wood at around 800 degrees

Couple things I do want to mention. Delivery not as good as when I sat down and ate it. So in the future if I am planning on driving by I will pick it up myself.

#2 place had some flys in there when I sat down. Which to some ppl can be annoying. it was quiet lots of orders being made and only 2 ppl in the place. I would just suggest to management try to keep it a little cleaner for those who want to sit down and relax to enjoy the meal. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Grandma's Meatballs

Grandma's Meatballs

In my family the recipe was passed down from my Sicilian Grandmother to my parents in Bay Ridge Brooklyn, NY to me. It all starts from animals my Grandmother had access to and her parents back on there farm in Italy. I have a reason to believe that a Traditional Italian Meatball comes from a COW. Meaning the ingredients they started w/ were Beef and Veal end of discussion. Any other combo is fine to use and might taste good. But a Traditional Italian Meatball was either straight Beef, Veal or the way my family makes it a combination of the two. In my opinion is the best tasting overall flavor profile that you can come up with. I known a lot of people add pork or lamb. To me that isn't traditional it is more new aged thinking. The more meats or for this thought process mix animals. When you mix together other cuts of meats in the same ball ruins the simplicity and flavor complexion.  Distracting you from what could be the best meatball you have ever had. Same goes to a bolognese sauce I use to create the best Lasagna and baked ziti you will ever have. I don't use ground sausage i sear (sweet or spicy sausage links depending on our mood) then let cook in the sauce. You will get the flavor from the fat of sausage w/o getting a sweet or spicy bite in the actually meatball changing the end results. This trick I have learned and helped me perfect my sauce. I cook sausages and meatballs for about 1 1/2 hr.  Two different recipes the Sauce and the Meatballs. This piece will feature the Meatballs. As to what u want to serve them on or with is up to you.

You can try to change perfection like I have tired over and over, continuously failing over the years to out do my Grandmothers Meatball. Or just stick to the recipe, TRUST ME you can't make it better.


1/2lb (80/20 beef)
1/2lb (veal scallopini) If you don't have a meat grinder at home like I do. Find ground veal. Don't give in to the pre-made mixes make sure to just get VEAL/BEEF 50/50.
3 cloves garlic
half sweet onion
1 cup bread crumbs - I use two day old baguette. What ever bread I gtt for the week i grate the bread crumbs. If u don't have fresh bread crumbs which in my opinion makes a huge difference use Italian bread crumbs.
1 cup Parmesan Reggiano - Make sure to buy the good stuff, expensive but makes a huge difference.
1 tablespoon Parsley
1 egg
splash of milk
Pinch (Salt, Pepper, Oregano, Onion Salt, Garlic, Powder)

Step 1 - As u see above I have a whole sweet onion and 5 cloves garlic. I use my food processor and mix like below. I use this for 3 different stages. I use 1/3 for the meatballs. 1/3 cook in olive oil as the base for my sauce. I use 1/3 for pan that cook the extra ground beef and veal in pan to throw in the sauce to make bolognese.

Step 2 - Mix 1/2 lb beef and 1/2 lb veal - please do NOT over mush together they more you play with the meat the more likely it will fall apart in pan. Same goes w/ burgers.

Step 3 - use 1/3 mix of sweet onion and garlic. Or use 3 cloves and little less then half the onion

Step 4 - add cup bread crumbs - shake the bowl do not use your hands yet

Step 5 - crack your egg, splash milk and add cheese, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, onion salt, garlic powder and some people like Tom Colicchio at this point add a spoonful of Ricotta. This is up you my Grandmother doesn't use it so if its not in my fridge I don't go out my way to buy it. I stick to my recipe.

Step 6 - Mix the components and be gentle not to man hand the meat. 

Step 7 - Form meatballs

Step 8 - The way I cook the meatballs is in the same pan I used w/ the ground meat to start. After I cook the sausages in that same pan. I use for a third time w/ a thin layer of olive oil. Searing the meatballs as you below. I couple picks show the foam I create.

Another picture shows the burnt pan that the meatballs cook in. This step is key, I want you to understand searing the meatballs off this pan codes the flavor on the outside and keeps the juices of the beef and veal on the inside.

Step 9 - I move the meatballs to the Sauce w/ the ground meat and sausages. I cook for 1 1/2hr any longer is unnecessary. Those that cook sauce for over 2-3hrs is only need for a huge pot and over 5/6 cans crushed tomatoes. The more tomatoes you use the more is needs to be cooked down. Only 2/3 cans crushed tomatoes, that I use will become thick w/ in for 2 hrs.  I will explain in a different post. 

Final Step - Serve over spaghetti w/ a meatball and sausage

Or just serve the meatballs over some meat sauce and dive in!!!

This is the process to making the best meatballs you will have in your life or mine. Only took me 10 years to give in go back to my Grandmothers recipe. That she got passed down to her. So, just over 100 years of my families history goes into these meatballs. I hope you enjoy!!!

I have personally tried multiple different styles of meatballs over the last decade. I have tried ground chicken, turkey, lamb, veal, sausage, bison, and different cuts of beefs and all the combinations possible with the above ingredients. In the end I had finally gave in and reverted back to my Grandmother's recipe. So, don't get me wrong there are plenty of different tasty combination of one type of meat Beef, Pork, Veggie, even Chicken balls. I suggest if you are ever in Manhattan go to the Meatball shop. They have gone to the next level. They offer there balls as a smash on a brioche or hero and some of the best sliders you will ever try. They even serve over salad, polenta, risotto, creamy parmesan, spicy meat sauce and more.  My point is that there are great ways to eat a meatball and different ways to make one.

photo below is from the Meatball Shop - My favorite combo
Spicy Pork Spicy Meat Sauce over polenta

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Garlic Mashed/Whipped Potatoes

Garlic Mashed/Whipped Potatoes

Very easy to prepare and every time I make it I always get compliments. Since today is Thanksgiving I thought I would share my recipe. When I was growing up I always wanted to contribute, so over the years this became my specialty. Now I make it on demand for my wife atleast a few times a month and has become a addiction. For my recipe one stick to 4 potatoes honestly isn't even a lot of butter. Famous French chefs are known to use equal amount of butter to potatoes by weight and is the trick for most restaurants, but even I think that is a little overboard. To me I focus more on the garlic and cheese than the butter. You can get the potatoes more creamy w/o the extra butter, but does take a repetitive process of mashing and stirring if you don't have a hand mixer as the pictures below will show. Happy Eating I hope you enjoy!


4 peeled and chopped evenly white, yukon, or idaho potatoes
5 cloves Garlic, minced
Garlic Powder
Salt and Pepper
Parmesan Cheese
1 stick Butter, the better the quality butter the better the taste. But, use what's available

Step 1 - mince garlic should have a decent size chunk like below

Step 2 - chop potatoes in to little, but not too small pieces. If u chop to small will fall apart in water and if too big they won't mashed good. 

Step 3 - Very important, when u drain the potatoes. Similar to pasta leave a little water in the bottom of the pan helps w/ mixing and adds flavor in my opinion. Add your stick of butter, a splash of milk and spread the minced garlic around. Add salt and pepper. 

Step 4 - Mashed the ingredients then add about 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese and stir into the potatoes. taste, and if not enough garlic at this point I add garlic powder and more salt to your liking. Can't go wrong w/ more graded cheese either. Again this part is up to you and your taste buds. But, who doesn't like more garlic ;).

Step 5 - If u do not have a hand mixer. I suggest you ask for one for Christmas, one of my favorite kitchen appliances I own. This drastically helps out mix the ingredients and whips the potatoes, so you don't end up w/ chucks of garlic or too much butter. Evenly spreads the flavor. If you don't have this I suggest to use your hand masher at least 2 to 3 times.

Step 6 - end result should look like below and serve. This example I did not use parsley I ran out, but at this stage I would reccomend to add parsley and stir into the final mixing stage.

Embedded image permalink

Sunday, November 18, 2012

How to cook the perfect NY Strip Steak

People ask me most how to cook a Perfect Steak. Actually is very simple w/ some easy tricks i learned and can teach you today step by step.


1lb NY Strip
1 stick of butter
3 cloves garlic
Salt & Pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Step 1 - wrap saran wrap around the steak mold into even level so 1 inch of the table. Push in the side w/ your hand and bring meat to room temperature.

Step 2 - melt 1 stick or half a stick of butter in the microwave or stove top. After melted skim the top of layer of the melted butter. Mince your garlic and press into the steak all around and generously add salt, i prefer sea salt all around w/ pepper to your liking. More important to add salt and garlic pepper is up to you. After you have seasoned the steak pour the melted butter after it has cooled down a bit. Then dress w/ olive oil like below. You don't need to set aside to marinade long just a few minutes and hold in the air letting it drip off before you put on the grill or use a grill pan at home on the stove or use the grill pan put in the oven turn on to broil.

Step 3, 4, 5 - Most important part to a perfect steak is NOT to move around on the grill. Don't play w/ it just flip it over three times every 3 mins for a total cook time of 12 mins at about 400/450 degrees. Never put over a open flame if the grill flares up blow on it quick this will cause it to cook unevenly. 

one flip is below
After total 6 mins rotate up and down and flip this bottom picture is on 3rd and final flip the top you can see is perfect grill marks and is done.
Step 7 - After last 3mins for a total of 12 mins you can take it off put on a cutting board and let it SIT for another 5/10mins this will allow the juices to flow back all around the steak. Heat causes the juices to go to the middle if u don't let it rest and cut into the steak to soon it will explode, yes even ruin the steak causing it to not cook evenly.

Then after a total about 20mins from start to finish you should end up w/ a steak like below juicy & moist but still not bleeding on the plate. This is considered in the industry as medium rare.
Step 8 - I slice up a NY Strip Steak as follows in evenly cut slices to serve for the table.
Step 9 - I enjoy my steak w/ Garlic whipped potatoes that's another special of mine. This night I went w/ that and corn on the Cobb. Yes two starches if u want cook up some spinach and rice doesn't matter I'm here to tell u how the steak not what goes w/ it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Blend LIC

This is a start of a series of reviews for local LIC foodies. It will begin with a tour of LIC’s best (I hope) and most affordable weekday lunch spots at a $10 value.  The target audience is people, like myself, that either work in the area, work from home or just want to get out enjoy a walk around the neighborhood and have a great meal in LIC. My goal is to find a fun, affordable and most importantly delicious meal. To find restaurants that are not just hit or miss, but something you will remember, recommend, and come back to again with friends. This week we started out right!

I went for a walk up and down Vernon Blvd, checking out the menus off the stands and chalkboards on the street for a Monday afternoon special. I had remembered that my wife and I stopped by the Blend Food Truck outside MoMoPS1 over the summer, on a Saturday leaving the ‘warm up’ event and really enjoyed the fresh made tacos with authentic tortillas. So, when I walked by their sign advertising ‘lunch specials for $7.95’, I said to myself this is a win/win scenario.

I sat down around 12:30-1 pm pleased it was not packed, but definitely more popular then others spots I walked by. I immediately noticed a diverse crowd. In the back were few parents with their kids. I sat near the front, where there were a few full tables of people on a business lunch. Then there was me by myself, just wanting to sit down, enjoy the ambience, perhaps watch a soccer game on T.V and have a good cheap meal. Blend is a Latin tapas restaurant. They call themselves a fusion restaurant. Yet when you see the picture of the food and look around at other dishes, I would say more simple authentic Latin food. Definitely a good meal, but nothing unique I wouldn’t expect anything on the menu to blow you away or have you thinking ‘what’s that I have never tried that before’. Anyway, I ended up ordering the most expensive lunch special on the menu. Before you think anything of it, it was $7.95 +$1. Churrasco – Grilled Skirt Steak ordered medium rare and was cooked to perfection. All lunch specials are served w/ rice, beans and fried sweet plantains, very generous portions. The rice and beans were what you expect plain, simple rice and beans. Plantains were actually better than I’ve had other places, the thick cut ends up making the plantains fluffier and they were not over cooked so came out perfect.
If you check in on Foursquare you get 10% discount just show you server your phone .In the end my total bill was, $8.95+tax – 10% off = total $8.77 before tip. You can order food to go so for under $10 purposes it met the cut off. Total bill in the end including tip was $10.77 for an overall tasty meal. I will definitely remember my meal, recommend it to you and come back w/ friends and that was the goal. I hope you try and tell us all about your time and if I was able to convince you to give it a try.

Blend provides plenty of affordable lunch options.
·      Entrée specials for 7.95 w/ served w/ rice, beans and fried sweet plantains
·      Sandwiches for $6.95 served w/ French fries, sweet potato fries or salad.
·      Tapas they call Tapatizers ranging from $3-$7
·      Salads ranging from $5-$8 add chicken $2, avocado $3, or shrimp $3
·      Empanadas $3 each or Empanada sampler special for $10
·      All sides $3 each check the downloadable PDF menu online