Smarty Panties

Amazing Italian Restaurant: L’Artusi in the West Village! Must Go!

Aug 23, 2012 Author: Katie Lara | Filed under: 301, Posts to Transfer, Restaurant Review

So, it's birthday season and since I pretty much have a fat girl living inside of me dying to break free, birthday season for me means, time to eat! Luckily, my birthday falls at the end of bathing suit season! My in-laws are so awesome and took us to dinner at a restaurant I had been dying to try, L'Artusi (sister restaurant to what is apparently my husband's uncle's favorite restaurant, Dell'anima). 

The decor is adorable. Dark walls, white trim and very warm inside. There is an upstairs too where we sat, but it can also be rented out for a (very posh) private event. (Man, do I wish I worked at a company that could afford to have our office parties here!). The food was to die for. 

The waiter informed us that dishes are often served family style but were small plates. 

We started with the scallops ceviche (everyone else enjoyed, I tried it but not my thing so I can't really advise), tomato salad (included watermelon, panzanella-type bread cubes, watermelon and basil–this was fantastic), and the butter lettuce salad (hazelnuts, butter lettuce, gorgonzola–amazing). We also got the Fettucine Nero pasta (black noodles, rock shrimp breadcrumbs and tomato–this was delicious), and the Spaghetti (garlic, parmesan and chillies–definitely the standout pasta! Really simple but delicious)

For entrees my husband and I split the steak and the Garganelli pasta (mushrooms). The pasta was yummy but the steak was amazing. And the best part of the steak was actually the potatoes that accompanied it–cooked perfectly and covered with assorted crunchy herbs like parsley, rosemary and thyme. They also served a creamy horseradish on the side. Absolutely divine.

For dessert we tried the olive oil cake. You guys know that I'm a chocolate nut so while it was good, it's just not something that would ring my bell. My mother had brought in mini chocolate cakes with my favorite frosting she makes. I focused on that!

Thank you to my wonderful in-laws for a fabulous birthday dinner!

I highly recommend L'artusi! Check out the L'artusi website for more information.

Best Seafood Restaurant NYC: CATCH! Quite a Catch Indeed

Aug 23, 2012 Author: Katie Lara | Filed under: 301, Celebs, Lifestyle, Love and Travel, Posts to Transfer, Restaurant Review

This year for my birthday my hubby and I decided to check out Catch over in the Meatpacking District. Never sure what to expect over there, I was somewhat hesitant that although I had heard rave reviews from friends, that I was in for a night of haughtiness and pretention (not to mention small portions at a high price). I was so pleasantly surprised, I dare even say, I think that Catch is my favorite restaurant I have tried in the past five years (rivaled by no one in the seafood department, that's for sure).

The food was incredible, the service was shockingly personable and sweet. It's hard to believe that it's difficult to get a reservation in the 2-floor restaurant (with a posh/exclusive club on the third floor dedicated to the art of fancy rooftop drinking) just because of its massive size. But once I tasted the food and witnessed this hot-spot in action it was easy to see why. 

My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I would recommend almost everything we sampled as the best rendition of the dish I have ever had. Rock shrimp are perfectly crispy, doused in the ideal amount of mayonnaise and just spicy enough without being overwhelming. The crispy rice cakes were probably my favorite–crispy fried rice covered in spicy tuna. The textures are perfectly contrasting and the entire dish melts in your mouth. Perhaps most unique was the Lobster and cream mac and cheese. It was just the right amount of sauce, rather on the stingy side but ina good way. The dish was complimented by a delicious crunch of toasted breadcrumbs. YUM! We also had the crab spaghetti and truffle fries. While both were amazing I would recommend the other dishes over these just because the others were outstanding, these were just delicious. Dessert was original and heavenly, s'mores pizza: a crispy graham cracker crust covered in charred marshmallows and drizzled with melted chocolate.

It was the most wonderful birthday dinner I think I have ever had. What a wonderful husband! And he must have even pulled some strings, we were seated next to the cast of BOSS–Kelsey Grammer and Clare from original 90210! All my birthday dreams came true! 

Yep, I'm a creep. Too embarassed to be a tourist taking pictures of my meal for you guys but clearly not classy enough to keep me from taking pictures of Kelsey Grammer!

Catch is at 21 Ninth Avenue but the entrance is around the corner on 13th street. You'll see a C and an anchor above the door. You'll be lucky you've found this oceanic gem! Trust me! Check out the menu and more information on the Catch website.

Happy birthday to me! 31 is going to be a good year!

Best Upper East Side Brunch NYC: Parlor Steakhouse: Drinks Included for $25!

Jul 30, 2012 Author: Katie Lara | Filed under: 301, Food and Cocktails!, Posts to Transfer, Restaurant Review

Last week I Had the pleasure of seeing one of my very nearest and dearest friends for brunch. For $25 you get a brunch entree and 5 (Enormous) mimosas! (You can also get bloody Marys. The food is from a great restaurant. Far more respectable than most lower east side brunch places. Parlor is an excellent steakhouse and their booze is definitely higher class than any bottomless brunches I've ever been to!

I recommend the Steak and Eggs or the Parlor Salad with Salmon. (And if you feel like sneaking in some french fries they are amazing (get them with a side of bernaise!) They even have a great kids' meal.

Aaaaaaaaaa-mazing is all I have to say!

Spend the day with a good friend and you're guaranteed a good time!

The Liberty NYC: Finally a Fun Bar Near Penn Station, Madison Square Garden and Herald Square!

Jun 13, 2012 Author: Katie Lara | Filed under: 301, Food and Cocktails!, Intoxicology, Posts to Transfer, Restaurant Review

Yesterday I checked out the Liberty Bar on 35th Street between 5th and 6th. This is painfully close to my office so I was psyched when a cool bar finally emerged in the death trap of horribly annoying tourists that typically surround me. 

The Liberty is not just your average watering hole, they also serve haute bar food in addition to a large menu of classic cocktails. They also have a good wine selection that won't break the bank (They have a  Merlot for 8 and a Malbec for 9). Overall it is a great addition to the horrendous Herald Square nightmare. 

The space is open and airy with an enormous 34-foot bar at its hub. With old-fashion drinks a-plenty you'll certainly need some snacks. Luckily they have amazing options like tempura green beans with sriracha mayo, duck-fat fries (I didn't sample, obv), and the most amazing warm olives I've ever tasted. Perfect bar snacks! And when I'm not being healthy I am definitely coming back for the Grass-fed Organic Burger! YUM! I've been searching for grass-fed beef for a year! 

As far as Herald Square is concerned, give me The Liberty, or give me Death!

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Best Italian Vegan Food! Famous John’s in New York Offers a Vegan Menu

May 22, 2012 Author: Katie Lara | Filed under: Food and Cocktails!, Restaurant Review

Always on the lookout for a fabulous Vegan option, I was thrilled when I learned that John's Italian Restaurant offers a Vegan menu

No, seriously you have no idea how fabulous this is for me? A real Italian restaurant that knows what they're doing, and they offer options of items that I love but converted into Vegan! Ahhhh. Seriously I can hardly contain my excitement!

Pasta with Vegan Alfredo sauce! Vegan pizza with Daiya cheese!!!!!! Seitan marsala! All my italian favorites done by professionals!

I can't wait to try it out! Have you tried their vegan menu? Thoughts? Leave 'em in the comments!

Best Burger Place NYC! Bareburger: It’s Organic and Grass Fed!

Dec 23, 2011 Author: Katie Lara | Filed under: 301, Restaurant Review

I recently had the pleasure to visit Bareburger in Greenwich Village. The restaurant that boasts free-range, grass-fed meats and that to me is something splurge worthy! When I eat beef, grass-fed is the only way to go. In addition to the typical beef, turkey and veggie, Bareburger also offered portabella, lamb, elk, bison and ostrich – not my thang but people seemed pretty excited by it! Also, you get to choose among a brioche bun, multi-grain roll, iceberg lettuce wrap, a wheat flour rap, or a gluten-free tapioca rice bun.

We also ordered the pickle sampler, which was delish! The bread and butter pickes were my fave, followed in a close second by the spicy pickles and garlic pickles. They have tons of different fun burgers and amazing dipping sauces. 

At around $10 bucks a burger, Bareburger's prices are reasonable for a sit-down meal in the Village. I also appreciated the vegetarian options of both a veggie burger and a portobellow! And in warmer weather, the Greenwich Village location has some prime outdoor seating so you can devour your burger al fresco!

I'd say it's a must-try! The ambience is adorable and casual. The service is quick and friendly.  

Visit Bareburger at their Village location or online.

535 Laguardia Place
New York
(212) 477-8125

Ballato’s: Scenes From an Italian Restaurant: Smartypanties.com Review of Manhattan Hotspot, Ballato’s

Nov 7, 2011 Author: Katie Lara | Filed under: 301, Food and Cocktails!, Posts to Transfer, Restaurant Review

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After reading a rave review in the New York Times about Ballato's elite celeb clientele the forever-tourist in me made a mental note that I HAD to get there. Saturday night I end up down the street with close friends after a few glasses of wine and the clock struck 1045 and we figured that maybe we had a chance in hell to get in. You see, on my way to my friend's apartment I noticed a massive crowd waiting outside the door. Luck would have it, by 10:45 at night there weren't that many people left. We walked in, past Emilio Vitolo, the owner who scrutinizes Ballato virgins newcomers from his front corner table. 

We quickly felt at home though after ordering zucchini fritti and baked clams (both of which were cooked to perfection). The entire menu is classic, unfrilly dishes. And the Tuscan decor set the perfect tone for a perfect class of wine to go with your delicious plate of pasta! We sampled the Spaghetti and Meatballs and Chicken Parm, both of which were the moistest meatballs I've ever tasted and pounded to perfection, respectively. 

We didn't see any celebs but our meal was impeccable. There is a private dining space in the back to host celeb clientele like Lenny Kravits, Billy Joel, Drew Barrymore, Tom Hanks amongst others. Keeps the rif raf like moi out!

Honestly this restaurant feels like one of those great NYC gems that only the locals know about. Food is delicious, ambience feels authentic, portions are good and prices are reasonable. 

Be sure to eat the bread and get some meatballs! Tell 'em Smartypanties sent ya!

Visit Ballato's in NYC! You'll Grazi me! xoxo

Check out my sweet pics…

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All that remained of my dinner!

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Celebs sign the wall! One day, Emilio! One day… Smartypanties will be up there!

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