Spanish Tapas, Wine – Chill Night in East Village

Living in uptown NY sometimes feels like I’m in a different world than the village. When I get the chance to go downtown, everything just feels so chill. After taking the subway for 40 minutes, I arrived at the street of Pata Negra – E 12th street, close to 1st avenue. My friend suggested this place because he has been there four times over the summer, since the food and the atmosphere were both fantastic.

Pata Negra is a small restaurant. There are about 8 tables in total, some can fit up to 6 people while some only two. All of them are high tables – which i adore. We had a reservation and took our seats next to the door.

The place is popular but not popular to the extent that you have to wait in line outside the door on a weekend night. When we were eating there on a Saturday night, all tables were filled. The waitress is a girl who goes to NYU, she is lovely and very friendly. She recommended a wine which she said was her boyfriend’s favorite, and offered us to taste it before ordering a glass. In case anyone wants to ask for this wine, here’s the label! Sangria is also a popular choice here, but after tasting it I thought it was very average and a little watered down, so I decided on red wine instead.

Caliza 2010 Syrah

Caliza 2010 Syrah

I let my friend ordered since he’s the expert at this place. We got the ham – named after the restaurant “Pata Negra” – that almost every table ordered. It came with a few pieces of bread. The ham was delicious and they were quite generous with the amount (i mean, for 40 dollars, they should be). The bread soon ran out.. Also this spanish restaurant does not give out free bread at the beginning of the meal, like many other restaurants.

The ham that every table ordered.

The ham that every table ordered.

Other than the ham, we got the Octopus which was the special at the time, as well as asparagus. The octopus was the most delicious thing I had had in a long time. It bursted with flavors and was so tender. I really hate it when octopus is really hard to chew on and swallow. But this octopus can be easily cut into pieces. I can’t say enough good things about this dish. It’s a must try!!

And the asparagus was, well, asparagus. So nothing too special there. It did come with two pieces of cheese, which I thought was a bit random as they did not really blend in with the vegetables.

The portion size for some of the food here was pretty small besides the ham, so the two of us did not feel as full after our three dishes. We ended up ordering 1 more dish to satisfy ourselves. Gambas al Ajillo – or shrimp with garlic. This is also HIGHLY recommended for any person who loves shrimp and loves garlic. The base of the dish comes with a lot of garlic soaked in oil. I’m a huge fan of garlic so it was perfect for me, but for people who don’t like garlic, don’t order it.

In all, Pata Agra is a chill little place for a date night or a friends night out. And definitely ask for the octopus specia

Pata Negra Spanish Tapas & Wine Bar

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Le Monde review


I decided to review Le Monde, a French restaurant on Broadway and 114th. It is one of the first restaurants that I’ve tried after coming to school here, simply because of the proximity to campus. It is also one of the only French places near campus – while there are plenty of Italian restaurants, the higher price of French food seems to be less popular among college students – which is understandable.

In terms of price range, Le Monde is definitely around the same as an average French place. A salad (the one in the picture, with grilled shrimp and couscous with fig) costs 14 dollars, while entrees cost anywhere between $17 to $25.

Mussel Monday is a really good deal – when we went on Monday, almost every table ordered mussels.

Highly recommended is this shrimp salad – my friend Andy discovered it and literally everyone who tried his recommendation loved it! (including me). This is what keeps me going back, for a light dinner, I would simply order this salad and it usually makes me full. The grilled shrimp is seasoned just right, and they give a generous amount. The shrimps are put on top of a bed of arugula, on top of couscous. The dish is finished with mango chutney and yogurt cucumber salad on the edge of the plate, which I recommend mixing in with the salad while eating. The mango flavor together with the couscous have a mouth-watering sweet flavor. As a whole, this dish is full of different flavors, leaving you wanting more!

Also recommended is the duck confit as an entree – to any duck meat lovers like me. I particularly enjoyed the combination of garlic roasted potatoes with the duck. The Coq au Vin is nothing too special but also delicious, as well as the lamb shank.

I would suggest against ordering the pasta here, since they don’t taste very good. There are at least five Italian places nearby where you can get better pastas!

They offer quite an extensive dessert menu – a lot of mousse based desserts, as well as tartes and creme brûlées. I recommend Mona Lisa, which I tried and was delicious – the description says it all “white, dark and milk chocolate mousse, flourless chocolate biscuit and chocolate glaze”.

In all, Le Monde is a decent French restaurant with traditional French dishes offered at an average price. Out of the restaurants closest to Columbia, Le Monde is definitely higher end and has a nicer ambiance. It’s a great place to bring your parents if they come to visit. Inside of the restaurant is decorated in a traditional French style – with black and white tile floor. When the weather is nice, lots of people opt to sit outside.


(above picture from, i do not own this picture)

Le Monde
2885 Broadway
New York, NY 10025

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Loving Italian Restaurants in NY!! Review of Pisticci

A lot of good things have been said about Pisticci among my friends at Columbia. A great spot for date nights as well as general friends get-together, Pisticci is a Morningside Heights neighborhood’s gem. The decor and ambiance at the place have just the right amount of classiness. Well-decorated and spacious, Pisticci definitely won’t disappoint your date or anyone important you decide to bring here.

Arrived early and the restaurant hadn't filled up yet.

Arrived early and the restaurant hadn’t filled up yet.

The pastas they offer are very standard. Highly recommended is the Maltagliati with ricotta, spinach and lamb, which includes lamb ragu over flat pasta. The ricotta is added last on top (as seen in the picture) so that you can choose to take some out for a lighter taste. But it sure tasted amazing with all the ricotta…. YUM. The lamb was tender, juicy. The pasta as a whole was well-balanced ratio of lamb and pasta, and is just the right amount of saltiness. In general, it gives a very home-cooked feel as it does include any fancy ingredients, instead focus on how all the ingredients of the dish work together.

Lamb ragu over pasta

La Spaghettata is a very popular option at Pisticci. You can either order a single portion or a big bowl of spaghetti that you can share. It’s as if you’ve been invited to an Italian home dinner party!

In addition to the pasta options, there are also some delicious entrees. The chicken grilled in sage is surely a healthier option. However, it tastes a little bland and is not as unique as the pasta here.


Chicken grilled in sage

Chicken grilled in sage

For desserts, Pisticci is famous for its Tiramisu – which is definitely going on my to-try list. What was tried this time was this delicious vanilla and chocolate gelato wrapped in a chocolate shell. it comes with expresso that can be poured over the dessert.



They can make your meal Gluten-Free for $5.

Pisticci is located at: 125 La Salle Street (Between Broadway & Claremont)
The closest Subway stop is the 1/9 to 125th street.
La Salle is two blocks south of 125th.


They also do deliveries and have a delivery menu on their website at

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Max Soha – Cozy Italian Place with Great Pasta

Max Soha on 123th and Amsterdam Ave. is a cozy little Italian place that feels extremely homey. A popular spots for couples as well as small groups, it does get pretty packed easily during dinner time. 

MaxSoha gets crowded on most nights.

MaxSoha gets crowded on most nights.

The appetizers here have pretty small portions. So if you’re in a group of more than 3, you might want to ask the waiter about the portion.

The pastas here are all amazing! “La Pugliese” – the phrase itself meaning a region in Southern Italy – has shell pasta and broccoli rabe, Italian spicy sauge. It is a pleasant surprise to see a decent amount of vegetables (broccoli rabe) put into pasta – usually it is used more or less as a decorations. It is mixed with the pasta thoroughly. The sausage is spicier than expected but still delicious. The whole dish is extremely rich in flavor, yet not too salty. The only vice might be that it might get a little oily as you get towards the bottom.

Also, the plates they use for each customer is different. And all of them are gorgeous!! This definitely highlights a homemade feel for the dishes.

Here’s a picture.

La Pugliese

La Pugliese

Basically all pasta dishes are recommended. Linguine del Pascatore is a seafood pasta dish with homemade black linguine. This one is definitely worth a try! If you’re feeling less adventurous, Fettuccine al sugo Toscano – with Max’s signature meat sauce is a safe and delicious bet, so is the Lasagna “mom’s style”. All pastas are around $8-$14.

1274 Amsterdam Ave (corner 123rd St), New York, NY 10027


Operation Hours: Monday-Sunday Lunch noon – 4:00pm Dinner 4:00pm – 12:00am

Payment Method: Cash Average Price (per person) $23

Alcohol: Beer and Wine

Take out: Yes    Sidewalk: Yes

Dress code: Casual

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An Italian Place You Can’t Go Wrong With

Out of all the Italian restaurants in Morningside Heights, Bettolona is definitely one of your best bets for a romantic date night. More spacious and chic than the cozy Max Soha (on Amsterdam and 123rd), it is definitely a lot tastier than V&T Pizzeria (Amsterdam and 113th). The pizza here is cooked in a brick oven. The price is very reasonable, and the atmosphere of the restaurant will make you feel casual and comfortable. The waiters and the owner of the place (he is actually Italian!) are very friendly and know the menu well.


Spinach Lasagna

Bettolona is known for the pizza – which they make with a brick oven – and homemade Italian pastas. The pizza is small enough – and so delicious – that one person can finish it. The spinach lasagna is made delicately and with amazing meat sauce. In all, both the pasta and the pizza here are of great, authentic quality.


Special – Stripped Bass came with Buttery Mashed Potatoes and Spinach

Bettolona also features specials everyday. Simply keep in mind to ask the price of “daily special”, since they don’t put the price on the chalkboard and you might end up having to pay slightly more than you expected (for example, the stripped bass “special” entrée was around $25). Also, the menu is entirely in Italian, so be prepared to use your smartphone to check some things out if you don’t know Italian!

In all, if you’re looking for a place near campus with authentic and great quality Italian food, you can’t go wrong with Bettolona. Highly recommended. They also do delivery.

5 out of 5 stars


3143 Broadway (Broadway & La Salle St.), New York, NY 10027

Tel: (212) 749-1125

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A Great NY Restaurant Week Pick

Ocean Grill is hands-down the one of the best picks among Restaurant Week selection! Not only was the environment great for an upscale yet cozy date night out, the food was absolutely delicious!

Waiters were very friendly and knew the menu well. The dining room looked as if it was converted from a townhouse. It could get a little noisy on nights when the tables were full. But generally the environment – with dim lighting and Hampton style decorations – was good for a romantic occasion.

Out of the pre-fix menu, the port poached Bartlett pear salad was delicious, even though there was a bit more goat cheese than expected.

Star of the night was the entrée – seafood cioppino. A linguine pasta with a generous serving of seafood: shrimp, clams, mussels, and hake, finished with red wine and tomato sauce. The smooth texture of the linguine and the fresh seafood combined to make it the perfect pasta dish.

Ocean Grill offers a very wide variety of options. From the regular dinner menu, the miso-glazed Chilean sea bass is highly recommended. Perfectly tender and full of flavor, a friend (a total foodie who has tried out a ton of restaurants) has described it as “the best sea bass” he has tried and has come back to the restaurant several time just for this dish!

Besides several seafood entrees, Ocean Grill is famous for its raw bar – with different types of oysters, clams – hand- selected and seasonal. It also offers a sushi bar with a wide selection of maki rolls.

To learn more about New York Restaurant week, follow this link


384 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10024

b/t 77th St & 78th St in Upper West Side

 Phone number:

(212) 579-2300

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Jean-Georges’ Nougatine – Outstanding Ambiance, Average Taste

For those who have heard of the 3-Michelin star restaurant Jean-Georges, it must be exciting to know that there’s a more relaxed and more affordable version of it here in New York. And it’s called Jean-Georges’ Nougatine. Literally across from Jean-Georges, Nougatine is known as the casual counterpart of the even classier Jean-Georges. The ambience and service at Nougatine were impeccable – definitely Jean-Georges standard – the dishes have not lived up to the standard of the price. Despite that, it is recommended as a restaurant to bring and impress your date on a special night. Especially since it is known as the place one can easily bump into celebrities.

Conveniently located on the ground floor of Trump Tower at Columbus Circle, Nougatine occupies the front room of Jean-Georges – so people who dine at Jean-Georges will be led into the room through Nougatine. Nougatine is decorated with a modern classy feel, and the tables are arranged so that it is rather spacious. It has a rather busy bar – yet even if one sits at the table closest to the bar, one is not disturbed by the noise. Since noise kept at a minimal level, the ambience of Nougatine makes it a good place for an elegant date night.

Overall, the sauces that came with each dish was creative and made each dish a lot more interesting. Many of the sauces used had a tropical flavor – passion fruit or mango. During the miserable winter of New York, it is surprising yet delightful to have these flavors interspersed throughout the meal. For example, even though the appetizer Tuna Tartare with Avocado could have used some more texture in the tuna, the sauce it came with  – ginger marinade – made up for it and gave the dish some bonus points.

The night’s favorite dish was without a doubt the Foie Gras Brulé. The foie gras was creamy inside, extremely rich in flavor and was finished with crème-brule-like crispy outer layer. It crunches on top and has a delightful sweet flavor. A must try!!

Tuna Tartare

Tuna Tartare


Two entrees that the tasting menu came with included Slowly Cooked Salmon and Caramelized Beef Tenderloin. While the passion fruit sauce served with the salmon was delicious and brought a very tropical taste to the dish, the salmon lacked flavor and did not demonstrate anything special. The beef tenderloin was cooked with good texture and was good overall, but was a tad too salty.


Slowly-Cooked Salmon

Slowly-Cooked Salmon


Dessert tasting included a small serving of chocolate lava cake, and a scoop of passion fruit sorbet. While the chocolate cake was delicious, it was not that different from other restaurants’ lava cakes. On the other hand, the sorbet was very rich and had a very smooth flavor – definitely recommended.

The tasting menu ($88) offers the restaurant’s selection of signature dishes, which had five courses. Since the portion size was rather big, and the tasting menu came with two entrees, it is recommended for those who have a smaller appetite to order a la carte.

Appetizers range from $15 to $23 and are in rather big portions – generally enough for two people sharing.  Entrees range from $19 for cheeseburger with Russian dressing and crispy onion to $24 for Gemelli pasta with pest, to more expensive, such as $48 for Maine lobster, or steak. According to Zagat 2014, it does offer a $32 prix fixe lunch that is definitely a good bargain.

Nougatine is also participating in NY Restaurant week and offering cheaper prix fixe lunch and dinner menus. Reservations are needed. Click here to browse more about this event.


Try next time: House Made Fruit Sodas, including Black Cherry-Yuzu, Ginger-Lemon, and Passion Fruit-Lime.

Dress code: its own website’s advice on dress code is “smart casual” – which is pretty accurate.

Address: Trump International Hotel and Tower

One Central Park West, New York, NY 10023

Phone: 212.299.3900

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 stars



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