Sant Ambroeus Soho – Fun Lunch, New Friends, Beautiful Food

Sant Ambroeus Bar Restaurant Soho New York Manhattan

After having a great lunch with old friends at Sant Ambroeus in the West Village, I was very much looking forward to having lunch with new friends. Tabelog.us is the United States Restaurant Guide launch of the hugely popular Gourmet Restaurant Guide Tabelog Japan. The people behind the US expansion, Lord Of The Forks and Cutie Patroller (yes, their Tabelog blogger names), invited me to lunch to talk about my plans for BarTaste, their plans for working closely with the foodie blogger community and Tableog’s expansion plans beyond the current cities of New York and Chicago. I am looking forward to some of the big things they have in store.

Sant Ambroeus Soho is a Milanese inspired restaurant with a  fun lunch crowd. The place is perfect for locals, business travelers, tourists and anyone who wants to entertain clients, colleagues, friends or coworkers.  It’s location in Soho puts you right in the middle of a great neighborhood. Go on a nice day or evening and leave some time to walk the neighborhood. Explore some of the very popular small shops, bars and restaurants, both new and old, throughout  SoHo. Sant Ambroeus’ central location puts you within an easy walk to other Manhattan neighborhoods like NoHo,  the Lower East Side  and Greenwich Village and the Bowery. Although I did not eat at the bar, it looked very inviting for a good meal, drinks, coffee or pastries. Great for women traveling alone on business.

We shared the entire meal. Everything was delicious and service was good with friendly fellow diners and staff. My favorites were the Cotoletta alla Milanese, a beautifully done and tender veal chop Milanese  and the Prosciutto e Mozzarella with wonderfully tasty prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella which just melted in your mouth.

Here are some photos of what we ate, loved it all:

COTOLETTA ALLA MILANESE traditional veal chop Milanese, garnished with rucola and tomato

 COTOLETTA ALLA MILANESE traditional veal chop Milanese, garnished with rucola and tomato

 BRANZINO IN PADELLA seared branzino in a light limoncello-caper sauce, seasonal vegetables

 BRANZINO IN PADELLA seared branzino in a light limoncello-caper sauce, seasonal vegetables

Sant Ambroeus PROSCIUTTO E MOZZARELLA San Daniele prosciutto with buffalo mozzarella and marinated artichokes

PROSCIUTTO E MOZZARELLA San Daniele prosciutto with buffalo mozzarella and marinated artichokes

Sant Ambroeus TAGLIATELLE SALTATE ALLA BOLOGNESE with a light veal ragù

TAGLIATELLE SALTATE ALLA BOLOGNESE with a light veal ragù

Now It’s Desert Time!

Their signature dessert: SANT AMBROEUS chocolate mousse cake with a chocolate custard centerTheir signature dessert: SANT AMBROEUS chocolate mousse cake with a chocolate custard center

Sant Ambroeus I BISCOTTI a selection of cookies

I BISCOTTI a selection of cookies

BarTaste Rating  ★★★★☆

Sant Ambroeus Soho on Urbanspoon

Cittanuova – A Great Treat At The Beach, Good Food & TVs with Sports

Cittanuova Italian Restaurant East Hampton New York Long Island

Do you recommend Cittanuova for:
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Co-workers, Colleagues or Customers?
Conducting Business; having a Business meeting?
Dining alone?
Women Business Travelers dining alone?
Friendly staff, patrons and good service?
Enjoyable food?
Meeting other Business Travelers?
Rating: 4.0/5 (3 votes cast)

 

Summer is over, not officially yet, but Labor Day has passed. We had a very nice bar meal outside of our usual locales. Here is an East Hampton review of one of my favorite bars to eat and watch sports or engage with a very friendly crowd. Trying to remember the good summer and extend it just a bit with this edition of BarTaste.

Out in the East End of Long Island in East Hampton I am enjoying a relaxing weekend with friends. I decide to break off to walk around the village when I come upon Cittanuova, a place where I have had many good meals and spent several Monday nights watching Monday Night Football in one of the few places with large televisions tuned to sports, Rowdy Hall is another. This being East Hampton, this contemporary Milanese Italian’s menu is higher end than others places televising sports, just another reason why I was pleased to be walking in the door to find a seat at the bar.

Cittanuova Experience: No, not another burger. I can hear the sighs of relief, no worries, more burger reviews to come. On a cool, drizzly Summer Saturday I walk in and and find a couple of open seats at the bar which handles about 12 people. The restaurant and bar are full but not crowded, it is later in the afternoon, giving it a nice vibe. Lots of people in the Village today because of the weather and many have come to Cittanuova for a leisurely lunch, hang out or wait for friends. I take a seat near the right side. The bar faces the wall with three large televisions, all tuned to sports. Behind me the restaurant opens to a very inviting patio facing the street bringing the sidewalk activity into the restaurant.

Checking my phone I realize there is a Mets game on, not the Phillies, but the National League East will do. This is New York after all. I ask the bartender to change one of the channels from ESPN and Golf to the baseball game. The bartender is having difficulty finding a listing for a live game and the guy next to me thinks this is an encore game. We quickly realize this is a rescheduled rained out game. This guy, being a Mets fan, is quite happy. I am pleased as well and settle in for lunch.

I order the Sopressata Frittata special from the very nice and extremely hardworking bartender. The meal, spicy sopressata with spinach, provolone and piccante was delicious and the perfect late lunch/brunch cure for a somewhat dreary afternoon at the beach. They mistakenly tried to at first serve me the Chicken Milanese which looked delicious as well.

Business Travelers: Cittanuova is a mix of weekenders from New York City, a business crowd, and local residents. While it is away from regular business centers this is The Hamptons where business is  being done all weekend so having a good place to meet with friends, co-workers, clients or colleagues is cool. I know that there can be a wait at times and reservations are not accepted. An excellent place for women traveling alone on business. The location right on Newtown Lane, in the center of East Hampton Village, is ideal for a before or after meal stroll. The stores are very high end so prepare for lots of window shopping or big credit card charges. Parking in the Village parking lots is free but on days like today many have to cruise around the lots waiting for an open spot. Parking in the lots is limited to two hours and strictly enforced. Street parking may be more restrictive. Park on the perimeter of the Village, with less restrictions, and take nice walk into the center. Walk or ride to the beach. All beaches require East Hampton Village or East Hampton Town parking permits which are not issued for short periods. Some paid beach parking is available at Main Beach.

BarTaste Rating  ★★★★☆

Cittanuova
29 Newtown Lane
East Hampton, NY 11937
(631) 324-6300

Cittanuova Menu

Cittanuova on Urbanspoon

Jamonera – Spanish Small Plates, Delicious and Great Service

Photo Courtesy Jamonera



Business Travelers: Do you recommend Jamonera for

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Co-workers, Colleagues or Customers?
Conducting Business; having a Business meeting?
Dining alone?
Women Business Travelers dining alone?
Friendly staff, patrons and good service?
Enjoyable food?
Meeting other Business Travelers?
Rating: 3.6/5 (2 votes cast)

I remember reading a quote from Valerie Safran, who opened Jamonera with Marcie Turney, about why they closed Bindi, the Indian BYOB which had previously occupied the space.  I found the quote again on Foobooz: “After a while you get tired of hearing people say, ‘We don’t eat Indian food’.”  That was me, although I’ve eaten several terrific meals at Tashan.  Thanks for making the switch to Jamonera.

I walked into Jamonera on Thursday, March 29, 2012 a little after 7:30 pm.  I had been to Jamonera for dinner before and was really looking forward to sitting at the bar, having a meal and writing a review for BarTaste. Ugh, I was quickly disappointed as there were no bar seats available.  The very nice hostess said she thought some people were leaving soon but the place is small with nowhere to really wait.  I went across the street to a bench in front of Zavino (a good place for a bar meal, review to come) and did some email and tweets, it was a beautiful evening.  I kept my eye on the door of Jamonera (is it possible to stalk a restaurant?) and suddenly three people I had seen sitting at the bar walked out the door.  I quickly crossed the street and claimed one of the 3 seats on the short side of the bar.  Turns out this is the best place to sit.

I order a drink and ask for a menu.  The bartender was very nice and attentive and extraordinarily busy.  Lots of people working here, one guy behind the bar was just wiping glasses. They could have helped out the bartender a bit, maybe with place settings at the bar for example. The bartender worked fast, furiously and efficiently and my service did not suffer at all.  I often will just drink some of my cocktail before ordering a meal and did just that this evening. I’ll order something else to drink with my meal. The bartender nicely asks to borrow my menu (menu shortage?) to show someone else, promising to bring it back which he does but I already knew what I was ordering.  Maybe some trees were saved?

I order the Spanish Breakfast and it just looks good but tastes even better.  A nice start to a Thursday bar dinner.  It was served on a skinny plate, long and narrow.  I’ve encounter this before while eating a bar meal at Valanni.  Maybe I’m a sloppy eater but I struggled to keep the food on the plate again, eating some of it off the bar. It was all worth it. The Spanish Breakfast was delicious and I highly recommend it. I remembered a Marcie and Valerie connection to Valanni and found Marcie mentioning it on Grub Street Philadelphia. Perhaps the skinny plates came along.

I’m ready for another course, my bar neighbors say the Papa Frita is very good, it sure looks good, but I already know what I am ordering.  I order the Mergues Sausage which was terrific.  What else to follow the eggs on my Spanish Toast?

Jamonera has about 8 seats on the long side of the bar and 3 seats on the short side. The long side faces the wall so the best place to sit, if you can, is the short side 3 seats which allow you to see half the restaurant and out through the windows onto bustling 13th Street. Food is terrific, service wonderful and the Sangria is not bad as well.  I highly recommend.

BarTaste Rating  ★★★★☆ 

Jamonera
105 South 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
215-922-6061
Jamonera Menu
South Philly Review Jamonera Review

Jamonera on Urbanspoon

Valanni – Good Views, Good Food

Really like those under the bar hooks.


Business Travelers: Do you recommend Valanni for

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Co-workers, Colleagues or Customers?
Conducting Business; having a Business meeting?
Dining alone?
Women Business Travelers dining alone?
Friendly staff, patrons and good service?
Enjoyable food?
Meeting other Business Travelers?
Rating: 3.3/5 (3 votes cast)

Walked into Valanni on Tuesday 3/13/2012 about 8:15 PM, sat at the bar and ordered a drink and asked for a dinner menu.  Not too crowded with lots of seats available.  The few people there began drifting out, sounded like they had been there since happy hour. Tuesdays in general are an easy night in most places to get a seat at the bar for dinner.

Valanni has been around for a while, since 1999, and the food is always good.  The location is on a happening little strip of Spruce Street close to several other popular restaurants making the street scene enjoyable.  The front of the restaurant opens up, floor to ceiling, to the street with a large sidewalk seating area.

I order the Grilled Merguez and the special Hawaiian Wahoo over polenta.  I’ve learned from past experiences to order each course separately while sitting at the bar to eat to avoid having the plates come out too quickly.  The strategy worked.  The lamb sausage was delicious with lots of onions which I particularly like. It was served on a “stylish?” long, thin plate (10 in by 2 in?). Every time I tried to eat a bite some food some slipped off the plate onto the bar.  Despite the mess it was very tasty.  The fish was great as well, flakey white fish cooked perfectly and yummy polenta.

I like the bar at Valanni because it is almost perfectly square, about 8 seats per side, so every point offers some view.  Bars in the center of the room work well bringing the bar patrons into the restaurant instead of facing the wall.  Unfortunately lots of Philly real estate is long and narrow making this setup difficult to achieve.  Valanni’s bar does have several structural obstructions which make some seats a little Siberian-like but there are plenty of goods seats if you choose carefully.  I sat at the back wall giving me a view of the entire bar and most of the restaurant out to the street.  Probably the best bar seat in the place.  Other patrons were friendly although not many there.  Bartender was friendly and attentive although three beautiful girls walked up to the bar distracting him a little. One small television, so if you go to watch TV your seating options are very limited and you might have competition selecting a channel.  No TV on tonight.  They seem to put the TV on for major sporting events but I’m sure they would accommodate requests.

Food was very good, bartender nice.  I rate the place 4 stars really because of the square bar.  I’m very partial to this design and it really draws the bar eater into the restaurant.

BarTaste Rating  ★★★★☆ 

Valanni
1229 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
215-970-9494
Valanni Menu

Valanni Restaurant and Lounge on Urbanspoon