Looking back on the month of July, I unexpectedly ate out WAY more than I initially intended to, and had better meals than I ever anticipated. The real highlight here (surprise, surprise) is Lilia, which blew me away and I cannot wait to get back there. Read on for the myriad of culinary institutions I visited in the month of July, and don’t forget to follow #caros_eats on Instagram for all of the drool-worthy photo documentation!
Lilia – The little Williamsburg Italian spot that people live and die by, this restaurant lived up to all of the crazy hype and more. Walk in, get there when it opens, sit at the bar, and bask in the glory of it all. The wine list is phenomenal – I tried one of my favorite vermentinos here. Get the frittelle, any seasonal special apps they have, and the agnolotti. I could have easily ordered a second of the agnolotti, but I would have judged myself, not gonna lie. Next time I’m coming back with a crew so I can sample the remainder of the menu (and maybe order that pasta all to myself).
Chip – A cookie bakery to rival Levain? Say it isn’t so! The little nook in Gansevoort Market seemed to talk a pretty big game on Instagram, so I had to check it out. The verdict: mixed reviews. The sugar cookie was good but nothing mind-blowing, the PB chocolate was just like Levain, and the oatmeal apple pie was inedible – I tossed it. Stick with the classic.
San Matteo – After trying many a disappointing restaurant on the upper east side, I finally found a keeper. This is officially my go-to neighborhood spot for fluffy neopolitan-style pizza. They do a simple white pizza with cherry tomatoes and fresh basil and burrata that is to die for.
The Golden Hour – The newly revamped courtyard at The Highline Hotel is my favorite incarnation yet of this beautiful Chelsea space. Grab an aperol spritz or a glass of rose and sit outside under a shady umbrella, or bask in the summer sunshine. Either way, this is a great place to sip and snack outside.
In the Dez – Let me tell you, I wanted to love this place. Cool female chef, awesome logo and imagery, and Israeli food (one of my favorite things to eat). But honestly, it just felt contrived. The space is so over-done and over-branded, everything felt like it was just there for photography. And the food was just ok. I tried a passable beet hummus, and Sabich salad was too heavy on the potato and the eggplant was too greasy for my taste.
Gem – Even though I can’t afford to do the dinner tasting menu here (a girl can dream), I did check this tiny LES space out during the day for its cafe incarnation, and it really is lovely. There’s not too much happening here menu-wise, I grabbed a cold brew and there’s a small selection of pastries, but it was quiet and empty and that felt like such a luxury in which to drink my coffee and catch up on email.
Alidoro – At last, the OG of Italian sandwiches in New York! I came to the midtown location, I sampled the classic Pinnochio sandwich, and I came away a happy woman. The sandwiches are huge so sharing is a must, but you can tell how fresh and well-made every element of every sandwich is here. My new go-to (it’s official).
Blank Slate Tea – The sister spot to the beloved all-day cafe Blank Slate, the cafe next door specializes in, you guess it, tea.
Javelina – Calling all upper east-siders: Javelina has a weekday breakfast taco window. I had eaten dinner at the original Javelina in Flatiron when it opened and was unimpressed, but this tiny window doles out perfect egg/queso/chorizo tacos on everything bagel tortillas to morning Q-train goers and it is glorious.
Mah Ze Dahr Bakery – If there’s a new soft serve spot in town, you know I’m checking it out, especially in the heat of summer. They change up the flavors here pretty regularly, but I sampled the fresh strawberry and mascarpone and they were delightful. The selection of artisanal toppings definitely does not hurt either.