Divine Bar

Divine Bar is a wine bar and tapas restaurant. V and I went there for our birthday dinner tonight. I had scoped it out last week on the east side as a possible location for our birthday party, but decided it would be better for just a birthday dinner (partially because they serve only wine and beer at the bar - no rail drinks). My first impression was good the place seemed hip but not too trendy, you walk down a few steps to get inside and it had that kind of small downstairs feel, even with an upstairs accessible once you get inside. I felt like the crowd was slightly older than my age - which makes sense at a wine bar. I'm still in the mode of: drink whatever is cheapest, not what is the best Shiraz or whatever. Now that another year has passed, I'm edging ever closer to appreciating good wines. And, I got a wine Bible for Valentines day to figure it all out. So far, I know that Shiraz is masculine.

Anyhow, we ended up going to the west side location for dinner. It is just around the corner from "The Late Show with David Letterman" on 54th street between 7th and 8th Avenues. This location is much more open and trendy, with high ceilings and louder music. There was some kind of party going on upstairs, where we ate. I was expecting it to be more like the other location, but it wasn't bad at all. Being that it is a wine bar, we could order tasting "flights" of various varieties of wine. "Flights provide an entertaining and educational way to taste the range of wine flavors from a particular winery, region, country, or grape varietal." And so we did: 10 different reds between the two of us. We tried #6 and #9 and liked wines 61 and 93. I'm not going to get into much more of that. not until I finish the wine Bible at least.

As for the tapas, there is a great selection, of which we chose the baked brie, toasted ravioli (stuffed with lobster), tuna sushi roll, and the portobello, porcini, and shiitake quesadilla. Each was tasty and unique, a little different than we expected. We found it difficult to rate them or pick a favorite because they were each very good, and for different reasons.

Unlike V, I'd never before had toasted ravioli, apparently a staple in St. Louis. This was quite tasty with a lemon-caper-butter sauce and a nice crispy ravioli 'shell.' I found it a little thick-skinned, but I guess that's how toasted ravioli is. V called it "gourmet."

The tuna sushi was unique because it had a tortilla shell rather than the traditional seaweed wrap. The tuna itself was very good and the sauce had a sort of pesto-wasabi combo flavor that was nicely spicy. I felt like the tortilla added too much 'plain' to the flavor and texture.

The quesadilla's only problem was that we didn't eat it first so the cheese wasn't as hot and gooey as I would have liked. The mushrooms and suprise pine nuts and I think onions made it very tasty, and a good tapas portion size (about 6 inches around).

The baked brie was sweet and flaky and drizzled with some kind of caramel that made it hard to stop eating. There were also green and red apple wedges which added a nice crunch to the creamy cheese. I couldn't say it was my favorite because it seemed more like a dessert item with its sweetness...but it might have been my favorite.

We capped off dinner with fondue - white and milk chocolate with an assortment of fruit including blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, apple, and melon (too much melon). The chocolate was pretty good, but nothing amazing, and neither of us thought it was hot enough - the little tea candles burning below the fondue cups couldn't really do much to heat it up. Still it was a tasty end to delicious meal.

And I shouldn't forget to mention the cool chairs at our table! Both were velvet and comfortable, one was a swiveling armchair, which we had to share because we both wanted to sit in it. I'd like to try the east side location sometime, I think I'd like the atmosphere there a little better.

Family Corner

I dropped in to this little diner on the corner of 21st Ave and 31st St. this morning after moving my car for the alternate-side parking. I can't comment much on the food, I had a breakfast sandwich that was tasty, but the atmosphere and people really make Family Corner a nice place. The cooks were friendly, the guy who rang me up was friendly (he may have been the owner), and all together everyone seemed nice. Plus, the rest of their diner-esque menu looks appealing for a quick bite now and then - each category on the menu is a 'corner,' like the Breakfast Sandwich Corner, the Omelet Corner, the Sandwich Corner, etc etc. They cooked up my order very quickly, and it came to $2.15 - not bad, and they offer delivery.

Fatty's Cafe

Totally off the beaten path is a place we are sure you'll return to whenever you need to get away. Fatty's is the cheapest getaway in the city, great food, cocktails, atmosphere...

Fatty's Cafe was recommended by a friend and my guess is that if it weren't for that, I'd never have even set foot in this restaurant that now is on my list of "places to become a regular."

When we walked in the door, my first impression was good, I noticed an interesting mix of people, including families, some couples and small groups and people at the bar, a good crowd for a Sunday night too. The little place was almost full. My next thought was that everything on the menu would be vegetarian, it just gave me this sort of hippie vibe. That would be good for a diet at least.

The problem with a diet is that you have to eat healthy food, and on a lot of menus that limits you to the salad. And a lot of the time making a unique salad is a challenge, so it just seems like a waste to order the salad when there's so many other truly unique things to try on the menu. Such is as it was at Fatty's.

My impression was way off - there were definitely meat items on the menu, and it all looked very good. We ended up ordering several appetizers or "goodies" rather than main courses. here's how they ranked:

First, The Grilled Cheese of the day was, if I remember correctly, a sandwich with zucchini, mushroom and red pepper. I may not have the ingredients exactly right, but I know that it was delicious. And cheap.

Second, The Black Bean Bowl (not on the linked menu) was a hot bean dip with what I believe were house made chips. It was covered with sour cream and scallions. Amazing. We practically scraped the huge bowl of dip clean.

Third, Empanadas. We had one cheese and one beef. They were good but nothing amazing, to me.

Fourth, Fatty's Calamari was unique, almost a tempura style with a puffier fried breading. It didn't stay very crispy but was otherwise tasty. It came with an alioli dip which we enjoyed.

I'm interested in trying the burrito, and perhaps their build-your-own salad...and the burgers look great, as do the sides. I'll definitely be bringing others in on this little secret down the street from my apartment. Am I getting repetitive saying I'll be back? I guess I'm going to have to try more than one restaurant a week. I will have to remember to bring cash, as we found out, almost too late, that they don't take credit cards.

Finally, I found out who Fatty is - but I'm not telling.

Mama Mexico

I've dined at Mama Mexico at least three times now, having gone to celebrate my birthday this year and last. There are several great things about dining here starting with the margaritas. They somehow get the ice in the frozen margarita to be extra smooth and easy to drink. The made-at-your-table guacamole is tasty and at $13 might not be worth it but I like it. We split the 'Fajita Mamá' which came with "Marinated grilled chicken, skirt steak, scallops, onions, zucchini, peppers, fresh tomatoes and mushrooms," and was very good. And all together we were full, and happy (not just because between two of us we finished a full pitcher of margarita).

The place is a little pricey, and reservations are recommended. We waited 20 minutes for a table or two, but there were a lot of larger parties waiting for tables. I'm not going to become a regular, but I'll be back.


This restaurant was a complete surprise favorite. Mundo Cafe and Restaurant is just off Broadway at 32nd St. in Astoria. I've walked by it dozens of times (yes, I just moved here, but I've been to the neighborhood before) and I always thought the place looked odd and honestly, kind of uninviting and scuzzy. But last week I walked by and picked up a copy of the menu to peruse and it looked fantastic, and not too expensive.

We dined there just a few days later and had a wonderful meal. The place is tiny, with enough seats for maybe 25 people. The atmosphere is nice with art for sale on the walls. When you're walking by outside you can see into a window into the kitchen, and it too is tiny - not much bigger that the kitchen in my apartment. There were just two servers for the whole place. The were very helpful and friendly.

There was a lot we wanted to try off of the menu. We ended up going with the Cheese & Spinach Dip, the Ottoman Dumplings and the Crab meat Burger. Everything was good though a little different than I expected. The dip was very spinachy with cheese melted on top. I had expected it to be more blended or creamy. We ate it with little pita wedges, which there weren't enough of. The dumplings were smaller than I expected, about the size of grapes, each with a little piece of ground beef inside. The yogurt sauce was mellow and tasty. The burger was great, with huge chunks of crab and great herb-seasoned fries on the side.

We definitely liked the place and will be back - there's a lot more to try!


"Patsy's Italian Restaurant is a traditional, family-owned and operated Italian restaurant located in the theater district on Manhattan’s west side." I went there for lunch today with my office. The food was good, if pricey, and the service was excellent.

I had the veal chop ($35), which was huge and not as tasty as I expected, perhaps full-grown beef is more to my tastes. We also had calamari and fried zucchini, which were good, but to me could have used a bit more salt and and could have been crispier - is this a result of the no-trans fat law in NYC? Dessert was excellent: I tried the carrot cake (magnificent), chocolate cake (light) and Italian cheesecake (almost lemony).

Overall: glad the office paid for it, glad I got to eat there. Beware the mirrored staircase.


"Sac's Place boasts one thing that only a handful of pizzerias in this fair city can claim: A coal-fired oven." - Slice

Pizza for dinner was very good, very authentic but it didn't quite hit the spot for the salty-greasy-pizza I was craving. This is a good thing though. The pizza was delicious, we had it with prosciutto and portobello. There was a generous amount of each with good portions of sauce and cheese. The crust was great, nicely crispy and chewy with a little char from the "coal-fired" oven. Additionally the quick service was nice and the prices were reasonable: $40 with tip for a medium pizza and two glasses of wine.

P.J. Carney's

In a city that boasts literally thousands of bars & pubs, one name is legendary: P.J. Carney’s.

I went to P. J. Carney's to meet up with some friends for a drink, but ended up having a bite to eat as well - So I might as well write about it! I had a bowl of French onion soup which was pretty good but I felt could have had a bit richer flavor. I added salt but that wasn't quite what it needed. We also shared some onion rings which were very good. There service was friendly and the drinks were good - the reason we came was because my girlfriend was there a few days ago throwing back French martinis with a friend and they wanted to come back! I'll definitely consider this an after-work drink spot, but probably wouldn't seek it out to go out for dinner.

Carnegie Deli

My friend Jay and I enjoyed a filling and boisterous lunch at New York's famous Carnegie Deli (awesome website) today. I probably won't be going back anytime soon, unless I have a visitor in town who wants to go. For two sandwiches we spent $50.

Now, these are the famous gigantic sandwiches that are about 8" thick, piled high with turkey or pastrami or roast beef. The club has a pile of bacon four inches high! Tempting... But in the end I wasn't all that impressed with the sandwich meat, especially for the price.

I had the open face "Lil Abner" brisket sandwich with gravy. The brisket seemed dry, even with the gravy, and the fries on the side weren't too crispy. It was served as a heap of meat on a few tiny pieces of bread. My kind of sandwich! I finished the meat. Jay had a turkey and roast beef sandwich that looked great, but I didn't try it.

Overall this restaurant is famous and it is an experience to dine there. There are hundreds of celebrity photos on the wall, many with the Deli's President, Sanford Levine, pictured alongside the stars - and we saw him there making sure things were moving in such a busy but small restaurant. Our server was an older woman who barked at customers, "get me your order quick because I don't want to come back here again!" The atmosphere is really the attraction at the Carnegie Deli, not the mountain of bacon.

Euro Delights

Euro Delights is a great little creperie on Broadway in Astoria. I like both the sweet and savory crepes, try #57 or 58. The service is friendly but I've always found it odd that they don't bring you your check (or even ask). Perhaps this is a European style where they'll just let you sit there as long as you like. Every time I've been there we end up getting up and walking up to the register to pay the bill. I need to take better advantage of that prime sitting time, it is a great place to sit and watch people walk by on the street outside, and see the old bartender from Gibney's Pub across the street smoking his pipe.

Go Wasabi

I can't tell much about sushi, but I thought what I had at Go Wasabi was good. There are some good deals to be found on the menu, like the "Maki" specials which include soup (miso, seemed overly fishy) and salad with 3 different sushi rolls (18 pieces) for a pretty good price.

I had a tuna tempura roll which was different than I expected in that the Tuna was more cooked than I'd have preferred and there wasn't a tempura crunchyness, but it was good. I also had the "SoHo" which had shrimp tempura, avocado and a spicy orange sauce. I can't remember what else was in it, (and it isn't listed on their online menu) but I found it to be very tasty, if HUGE - these were 2-inch wide rolls which I could barely fit in my mouth.

The service was adequate and amusingly everyone on staff says goodbye and thank you as you leave the restaurant.

Mezzo Mezzo

Mezzo-Mezzo might mean “half and half,” but this place gets the whole Hellenic taverna thing right. - Time Out New York

Valentines dinner at Mezzo Mezzo was cool, literally. Each of the five courses of the fixed price meal were delicious but some could have been served hotter. My guess is that a lot was pre-prepared for the menu and the holiday and was simply waiting under heat lamps - the service of each course was speedy and right about on time if a little early.

The lobster bisque had enormous chunks of lobster meat and was quite tasty. I wished it were warmer. The salad was nothing special, but tasty and refreshing before the stuffed portobello mushroom caps. These had a crab/cornbread stuffing with some melted cheese on top and were very tasty. I expected the mushroom caps to be larger (just 2.5" across) but in a five-course meal, portion size is important and this was just right.

The main course was "flounder stuffed with crab" which used the same cornbread/crab stuffing as the mushrooms. Very tasty, a little sweet, a little buttery. I found a few bones in the fish, but nothing outrageous. We also got mixed vegetables and mashed potatoes making it a very filling course. I brought home leftover fish, which was great for lunch the next day. Finally, baklava for dessert was flaky and sweet and delicious.

The service was friendly and the manager/owner even came by to see how the meal was. He seemed like a good person to know (I saw him offer another table a free round of drinks). The decor was warm with log-cabin style exterior walls and heavy wooden tables and chairs. The stone/brick walls added to the look. Apparently the weekend scene is big too with bell dancers and what appeared to be a dance club upstairs.

Ditmars Gyro Place

The first place I went to eat after stepping foot off the moving truck, this restaurant, on the corner of my block will definitely become a standby for me if only because they serve Halloumi. This Cypriot goat cheese doesn't melt - it browns on the grill and is so tasty it ranks as one of my top 3 favorite cheeses of all time. You can order it as a side or it comes on some sandwiches (though in rather thin slices). I feel like you really lose the taste of the cheese if you eat it with bread or many other flavors, so I prefer to eat it alone. Other good food is the gyro, which I believe is available on the spinning rotisseries in chicken, lamb and beef (or pork, not sure which).

I felt like the service is friendly and welcoming - you can take-out or sit down to eat. It is one place where I hope they begin to recognize me, I'm guessing I'll be dropping in a lot at least!

My 'Yelp' Reviews

I'm cross posting my restaurant reviews on another site, Yelp. Here's a map of all the places I've been.

Yelp is...

...the ultimate city guide that taps into the community's voice and reveals honest and current insights on local businesses and services on everything from martinis to mechanics.

...just real people, writing real reviews, and that's the real deal.

...a fun and engaging place for passionate and opinionated influencers to share the experiences they've had with local businesses and services.

...the definitive local guide in the San Francisco Bay Area and a force to be reckoned with in Chicago, New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Seattle. But really, we're everywhere. From Austin to Madison and everywhere in between, reviews are coming in from all over the country!

...word of mouth marketing - amplified. Savvy local marketers now have a great channel to effectively target local consumers.