Breaking Passover at La Pizza Fresca

la-pizza-fresca-hasaki-0021Despite the fact that not a ONE of you contributed to where I should eat on Passover, I decided on La Pizza Fresca due to the rave reviews I found on Menupages. And though an $18 pasta dish is a little rich for me at the moment, by the looks of the place I figured I wouldn’t be disappointed.

My friends Sarah, Leora, and I arrived at La Pizza Fresca a little before 8pm thinking that we would be seated just in time to officially break Passover at 8:30pm. Suprisingly, we found the restaurant was still half-empty around 8pm but quickly filled up soon after we’d sat down. After a few attempts at catching the attention of our waiter, we finally got to ordering three glasses of their $13 White Wine Blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon, and Trebbiano. Since there were only two white wines to choose from (one of which was $8 and unappealing) we decided to splurge for the good stuff, which proved to be quite tasty and a large pour! Now onto the main course…

I gave the menu a quick once over though I already knew exactly what I wanted… The Rigatoni ala Siciliana.

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But it was fun listening to Sarah and Leora converse over their orders. Sarah, being a BIG pizza connoisseur, naturally wanted an excuse to have La Pizza Fresca’s pizza, once again! Though at one point her and Leora were very close to ordering the special Gnocchi made with asparagus and morels (woody mushrooms) they essentially wanted to eliminate the morels which I explained would compromise the flavor of the dish. Now, I am someone who is constantly asking for substitutions, but THIS dish should not be tampered with! So after all that they ended up with Margherita and Fresca pizzas.

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Though the food looked, smelled, and tasted very good, I couldn’t help thinking how small my $18 pasta dish was. I wonder what the half order looked like! Needless to say I was STARVING after eating my 8 rigatonis and 8 eggplant bits. Yes, the rigatoni was delicious and cooked perfectly and the sauce was as satisfying as whipped cream on an ice cream sundae but WHERE WAS THE REST OF IT?

I didn’t try the pizza though Sarah and Leora both enjoyed it. Would I go back, NO!!!! There are too many better priced Italian restaurants that serve excellent pizza and pasta and I haven’t even been to most of them yet. So I think it’s safe to cross La Pizza Fresca off of your list of NYC Italian Restaurants to try. Unfortunately they are overpriced, serve tiny portions, and have sweet french bread. Now who wants sweet bread as an appetizer?

Shmaltz HE’BREW Beer Tasting ON Passover

Last night I attended a PRIVATE Shmaltz Beer Tasting over at the Blind Tiger, thanks to  Foodbuzz.  Though this event was ironically held the night BEFORE Passover ended, I figured it was a unique opportunity that God had bestowed upon me. I mean it’s HE’BREW!

After making my peace with breaking Passover and arriving at the Blind Tiger I was immediately bombarded with dozens of eager beer drinkers, which I later learned were beer bloggers. Needless to say, the place was packed and I was happy to be among my fellow beer aficionados! Eventually Shmaltz reps Matt Polacheck and Sean Lynch found Christophe (of Chez What) and I and gave us a rundown on the 12 beers (coincidence I, think not) Shmaltz was serving that night.

After assessing our palettes, Matt & Sean decided to serve us a tasting of HE’BREW’s Coney Island Sword Swallower,  Rejewvenator, Jewbelation 12, and Coney Island Human Block Head (Aged in Jack Daniel’s Barrels). These four beers, as well as the others are considered to be vintage brews which will no longer be served (at least in NY) after Blind Tiger taps out. Lucky us!

Before last night, I hadn’t even heard of Shmaltz’s Coney Island line. Apparently Coney Island USA, a non-for-profit Coney Island corporation, approached Shmaltz about an exclusive line of “experimental lagers” to generate income for Coney Island. Though Shmaltz was hesitant at first, they decided to amuse themselves by designing a comical and entertaining line of lagers to reflect the personalities of Coney Island’s finest Sideshow talent. Shmaltz created a circus of five beers featuring Coney Island’s top Sideshow acts which later became Coney Island Craft Lagers.

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But despite the successful specialty circus line, Shmaltz’s original line began with HE’BREW.  Their existence began with Messiah Bold and later created Genesis Ale, which are still the only two beers sold in 6-packs at retail stores today.  Thankfully, HE’BREW was blessed with the births of many other joyous lagers including the Rejewvenator, my favorite of the four lagers I’d tasted. The Rejewvenator is unique in that its half lager-half ale (lager yeast that has been converted to ale) and naturally sweetened with California fig juice. Though the other HE’BREWs were excellent I believe the Rejewvenator really stood out from the rest; with the Jewbelation 12 coming to a close second probably just because of the 26 ingredients it took to brew it!

Now HE’BREW celebrates 13 wonderful years of livelihood (Mazel Tov!), and you have to be wondering, what’s up next? All I can tell you right now is, expect a BAR-MITZVAH lager made from 13 malts, 13 hops, brewed every 13 hours and served in 13 countries, 13 times a year OR some similar shtick.

For the details on the Shmaltz Brewing Company and specific vintage brews you’ll have to check back tomorrow…

And to find Shmaltz Beer Tastings at a city near you, visit HE’BREW’s MySpace page.

Where should I break Passover in NYC?

With Passover winding down, all I can think about is where I’m going to break it. I’m already dreaming of croissants and bagels so I figured I might stop dwelling on it if I put all of my energy into looking forward to the restaurant I choose for Thursday night, aka THE END OF PASSOVER!

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And what better way to break Passover with a nice pizza or a pasta eh? So, I’m obviously pretty set on Italian but I need some recommendations. So far my friends have come up with the following NYC restaurants:

Max
Supper
Frank’s
La Pizza Fresca Ristorante

We’re pretty impartial on location except for the UWS. So give me your best reco, please?