I Love my U.MA.MI!

Foodie by Sybren Stüvel

It’s been four months since I arrived in New York City to continue my graduate study at NYU and I have to say that I am in LOVE with NYC. Despite its differences with LA, in terms of weather and fast paced environment, I am still thinking that my heart belongs to New York City. As days gone by, I have discovered lots of interesting facts of NYC that I wouldn’t have known before. I called it in my memory as “fun facts about New York City.” I guess, it’s true to say that by living in the city I will have a different experience compared to when I am only being a “tourist.” Among the adventures, my journey as a foodie excites me the most. Although I couldn’t really explore the city in four months, I clearly have expanded my foodie list on my Blackberry. And, the list is still growing!

By creating U.MA.MI NYC blog, I have shown my love on food and shared my experience in discovering New York City signature dishes and restaurants. Although this blog was initially made for my social media class assignment (note the “Assignment” category on the side bar), I am glad that I focused my blog theme on food instead of only on social media trends. With the lack of experience that I have in writing a blog, this assignment had pushed me to think outside the box. I am amazed on how many food enthusiasts have participated in social media platforms to promote their blogs, restaurants and online communities. As a result, I’ve learned great things about the foodie world through the whole process especially food blogs and smart phones’ apps that I have discovered to be an ultimate foodie in New York City.

Even though the post was made on a weekly basis, I had a hard time in narrowing down the materials for each post. There are so many things here in NYC that I want to write about. When I am in a cab or walking home from the subway station, I am always aware of my surroundings to see whether or not I would discover  a “new” material for my blog. I would walk slowly, look around and take notes. Otherwise, I would be looking at my foodie apps to punch in my location and see what restaurants are near by.

Despite the end of the semester (and the last blog post to this assignment), I will still continue writing on this blog. The theme will not change, but there will be more restaurants’ reviews coming up! I would like to thank my Professor, Laurel Hart, for giving me the opportunity to work outside my comfort zone and being a good mentor to my blog. The weekly comments that you’ve provided had helped me in improving my writing style, though it’s still far from being perfect. But, so far, this project has been one of my highlights for my first semester of graduate study at NYU.

Once again, thank you for everything Professor Hart. Without you, U.MA.MI NYC would not exist. For the rest of you (especially to those who subscribed), thank you for reading my blog! More exciting posts are coming up, so stay tune for more updates! In the mean time, if you have any suggestions for U.MA.MI NYC please tweet me at @DevianiAryW or send me an email at umami.nyc.blog@gmail.com.


Twitter Chats for Food Enthusiasts

As a Twitter enthusiast, you must be familiar about the use of hashtags. You may have used it to share your pictures, to express your feeling or to define a specific category. As a result, you will be able to look for a specific hashtag on the search bar. Then, you will see other users who share the same interest on your specific topic by using the same hashtag. It’s pretty cool to see how hashtags can make us all connected on Twitter. But, aside from all of these features, hashtags are also useful to create “Twitter chats.” Twitter chats is set for a specific time so that all the enthusiasts can tune together at the same time. It’s very convenient. Literally, you don’t need to be in front of your computer to join the chat; instead, you can always be on-the-go with a Twitter app on your mobile phone. If you miss a session, you can easily search the hashtag to overlook previous conversations. Overall, the whole process is very simple; yet, very engaging.

Hashtags (“#” Symbol)
Definition: The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages – Twitter.

So, what are  your benefits in joining Twitter Chats:

  • You can easily ask questions to the moderator of the Twitter chat regarding the topic
  • You can interact with other followers of the hashtag while sharing some information between each other
  • Be up to date with the trend on your topic within the hashtag community of that specific chat
  • You can expand your network within your topic of interest
  • You can improve your communication skills on social media
  • Perhaps, if you are an expert on the topic, you can be the next guest speaker for the chat
  • Have fun talking about your interest with the other members
  • Serendipity! You’ll never know what you’ll get from this experience

As a foodie myself, I have compiled some of the best hashtag options for Twitter chats on food. They are #HGEATS, #SundaySupper, and #Foodiechats. Although the Twitter chats may not specifically reside on the food topic around NYC, perhaps there will be some New Yorkers who respond to your specific questions. Keep it open minded!

1. The Hungry Goddess
Twitter: @HGEATS

The blog is created by Kimberly Moore where she is the Hungry Goddess herself. She’s a foodie, food writer, recipe creator, and co-founder of #HGEATS Twitter chat. Most of the recipes on the blogs were created by her. So if you are craving for some new recipes, The Hungry Goddess can definitely satisfy your craving. All the photos look very tasty and delicious. Join the chat every Wednesday from 12-1pm EST where you can talk about anything on food by using the #HGEATS hashtag

2. Family Foodie
Twitter: @FamilyFoodie
“Bringing back Sunday supper around the family table” – Family Foodie.

Family Foodie is a great for someone who’s looking for home cook recipes. As you can see from the slogan, Family Foodie is all about how to create a great Sunday meal. Each entry is very personal; I can sense the family love on every piece. The photos look delicious as well. It makes me want to cook some of the recipes. If you are interested, join #SundaySupper chat every Sunday when you can share recipes, tips and suggestions about creating a great Sunday supper meal for your family at home. You can contact Family Foody directly at familyfoody@yahoo.com for more information.

3. Foodie Chats
Twitter: @FoodieChats

The #FoodieChats hashtag was created by Steve Green, President of NetUpNow (hyperlink). Each chat revolves around different theme, but still solely related to food. The chat’s host @SteveGOgreen will then ask ten questions about that particular theme. I would say it’s pretty interactive. Its tumblr page has featured some amazing dishes from well reputable restaurants. It ranges from different types of comfort food. But again, every picture looks so delicious! If you are interested in joining #FoodieChats Twitter Chats, you may do so  today since Foodie Chats engages with its audiences almost every day. In fact, to celebrate its one-year anniversary on the hashtag, Foodie Chats community will have a live tweet event from restaurants across America. Perhaps, one of them is located somewhere around Manhattan. Follow @FoodieChats on Twitter to keep you updated on this upcoming event!

Lastly, for some of you (foodie bloggers) who are interested in establishing a Twitter chat, it is easy to do so. Make sure you’ve established a good hashtag that is eye-catching and easy to remember. Then, you just have to find a perfect time to broadcast the chat and gather your followers altogether. I believe that by establishing a Twitter chat, you’ll be able to promote your blog and yourself as a foodie blogger while interacting with other people who have the same interest as you. So, don’t wait for you to miss this opportunity!


The Secret behind Serious Eats’ Success

It was a gloomy weekend here in New York City and what a perfect time to cuddle under your blanket while sipping some hot chocolate. It was good to be home on a Sunday afternoon while enjoying the gloomy view of Manhattan from my window. But as a true foodie, I have to use my spare time wisely to uncover more stories within the world of food. At last, I have found Serious Eats, the holy grail for all foodies out there.

From the name itself, I can tell you it’s the real deal. Serious Eats can be your new best friend in finding local restaurants’ reviews, food recipes, food talks between NYC community burger specialists, pizza specialists and “photograzing.” Being created by Ed Levine, the author of New York Eats, Serious Eats has incorporated exceptional food bloggers, critics and chefs. From my first visit, I have spent at least two hours in reading the articles while googling about the featured restaurants. It was a really fun thing to do on a gloomy Sunday afternoon. Although there are still many other food blogs out there that are ready to be discover, I believe that I have hit the jackpot with Serious Eats.

About Serious Eats

Why is Serious Eats a successful website?

I believe that it has a balanced web strategy between business, community and technology (as I referred it to Jeremiah Owyang’s Web Sphere). Serious Eats web strategist must have already incorporated all the skills needed to balance and maintain the three spheres’ elements. As a result:

  • Serious Eats appears to be more trustable and reliable among chefs, professional and food enthusiasts
  • Serious Eats is known among millions of people around the world
  • Serious Eats is among the top food blogs within the industry
  • Serious Eats has become an exclusive online community for food enthusiasts to interact and communicate with each other throughout the world

Community

As Owyang mentioned on his article, a good website strategist must understand the need of current and potential customers. In this case, Serious Eats has been successful in doing so. Although there are many blogs out there that can satisfy the cravings of many food enthusiasts, Serious Eats is able to distinguish itself among its competitors for being the top player because of its content excellence. Instead of focusing on only one concentration, Serious Eats is able to provide its users with varieties of information on food. So, visitors from different food interests may have reunite at Serious Eats. Whether or not you are a great cook who’s looking for new recipes or local food enthusiasts in New York City and Chicago or someone who just loves food, Serious Eats will always meet your high expectation.

Again, communication is not a one way street. Someone needs to respond on the other side. Other than being a successful food blog, Serious Eats is also an online community for serious food enthusiasts all over the world. Although currently it only serves big cities like New York and Chicago, I am pretty sure Serious Eats will cover other places soon. I am excited to see it serves in cities like Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Inside Serious Eats’ online community, you’ll be able to communicate with local or nationwide Serious Eats members in these different categories:

  • Food
  • Drinks
  • Sweets
  • Pizza
  • Burgers
  • Cooking and baking
  • Eating out
  • Food media and news
  • New York
  • Chicago
  • Site Feedback

Moreover, as a member, you’ll be able to enjoy the feature of “photograzing” which enable you to upload pictures of your dish. Then, other members will be able to comment on it. Nevertheless, you don’t need to be a member to browse pictures on photograzing. Lastly, to keep you updated, you can subscribe to different kinds of Serious Eats newsletters. Based on your interest, you can subscribe to a weekly newsletter, specific city newsletter, drinks newsletter or even recipe newsletter. You are basically in control of satisfying your food news craving. As a result, Serious Eats has enabled unique interactions between its users through its online community.

Business

From the business perspective, Serious Eats must have clear goals and objectives to be a successful website. As an online blog community for food enthusiasts, Serious Eats has been chosen to be an award winning top food blog and able to reach 1.7 million visitors monthly, as it previously mentioned on its page. From this statistic alone, Serious Eats has been able to deliver its objectives through its strategies in bringing those many visitors to the site. Through my analysis, I have assumed that Serious Eats’ objectives are:

  • To create and establish a reliable website for food enthusiasts that provides varieties of food related topics and unique blogging experiences
  • To establish an online blog community for food enthusiasts to interact and communicate between one and another, within food related topic categories
  • To increase an awareness of Serious Eats among its target users
  • To increase sales in advertising
  • To position Serious Eats as a go-to food blog for food enthusiasts among its competitors

Aside from delivering its objectives to its end users, I believe that Serious Eats has also been able to satisfy its internal teams through these objectives. Not only that the end users are its priority, but so as the creative minds behind all of those insightful articles. By publishing about 150 articles a week (accoring to the “About Serious Eats” video), there is a lot of creative thinkers being involved. For them to create these many articles are not easy. Those articles need to be well research before getting publish on Serious Eats. Meaning that, the bloggers will have a huge responsibility to publish a well thoughtful article while meeting the objective of the site and readers’ expectation. Looking at Serious Eats’ content quality, I am confident that the site has been able deliver its business objectives to both internal and external stakeholders.

Possible Competitors:
Epicurious, Food Network, Chow, and Smitten Kitchen.

Technology

In terms of technology, Serious Eats is pretty advanced in delivering its content to its users. Just like any other successful blogs, Serious Eats has performed tremendously in keeping its users up to date with its content. Its medium has involved pictures, video, RSS subscription, email subscription, “members only” features, links to social media platforms, FAQs page and search engine within Serious Eats’ website. As a result, Serious Eats’ administrators will be able to monitor traffic, new and old users’ interactions as well as users’ feedback. As technology advancement grows rapidly today, I believe that there will be a new addition to blog technology in near future. As long as Serious Eats able to keep up with the technology progression while delivering its objectives, Serious Eats will surely continues to be the top online community for food enthusiasts around the world.

Conclusion

Overall, the three spheres are all interconnected. A website cannot be as successful if they only adopt each element individually or even two out of the three. It needs to maintain a balanced proportion of each sphere for it to be well-established in the long term. If Serious Eats is not as successful currently, perhaps I would not have found it in the first place when I googled “food blogs NYC.” It must have enough traffic to position itself as the second best result in Google. I am looking forward to see new features that Serious Eats will offer in the future. Perhaps, It may includes some new cities. But for now, I am digging for more updates on New York City’s local dishes and restaurants. I cannot wait to expand my “foodie” list on my Blackberry. As Serious Eats continues to grow, its sphere’s balance may have been updated; each area may have been weaker or stronger than one and another. However, if Serious Eats is able to maintain a good balance throughout its lifespan, it will carry its success for a long term and become a successful example for other food blogs across the world.


Eataly: “It’s Difficult to be Simple”

It’s officially spring here in New York City. With a recent heat spike last week, the weather has started to warm up. Empty tree branches have finally been replaced with blooming flower blossoms. It was definitely a good weather to have an afternoon walk around Manhattan. Although this week has been cooling up again, still, spring is just around the corner. Get excited!

To begin my spring adventure, I would like to introduce you to the world of Eataly. If you are an Italian food fanatic or Italian atmosphere admirer, this place is the right place for you. It’s located on the 23rd street between 5th and 6th avenue right by Madison Square Park. You can literally walk from the park to Eataly, perhaps after your Shake Shack meal. It’s super convenient. Eataly offers varieties of Italian dishes in every section of its area space. You’ll see a coffee bar by the entrance, fresh meat and dessert aisles right next to it, dining areas in the middle and kitchen appliances at the end. Basically, it’s a giant mixture of Italian restaurant and grocery store. Clearly, it’s difficult for Eataly to be simple since it has many “Italian” things to offer!

Currently, Eataly is pretty active in interacting with its audiences through different social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Foursquare and Yelp. They want their customers to be well informed in terms of their brand, food, events, employees and public reviews. I’ve been a huge fan of Eataly since the moment I’ve tasted their signature cappuccino and burrata. Now, with many platforms to follow, Eataly will sure to always keep me updated.

Eataly’s Facebook page is constantly being updated. By adopting Facebook’s new Timeline feature, Eataly’s page has been more attractive and easily accessible for current and potential customers. By looking at its cover photo, you can already associate the place with “something” Italian. Those pastas look incredibly tasty and delicious. Currently, Eataly NYC has 22,233 likes and 683 people talking about the place. It’s a pretty good statistics. When you like the Eataly’s page, you’ll be able to see its basic information (like address, phone numbers and store hours), public recommendations and timeline updates. Also, you’ll be able to send them a message. Therefore, customers will be able to express their thoughts and concerns “privately” without having them to write it on Eataly’s Facebook wall. The timeline updates include the announcement and publication of old and new products, events, chef collaborations, celebrity guests and news on employees. Similarly, Eataly’s has offered the same content and features through its Twitter account.

Among all of the updates, I was totally amazed on how Eataly announced a terrible accident on one of its employees by providing a short obituary through these two social media platforms titled: “In Loving Memory of Amos Veloz.” It’s shown how Eataly’s employees are equally as important as its customers. Through this memoir, the public is well informed about Eataly’s internal communication between the company and its employees. Overall, the company has elevates the use of top social media platforms to the next level. Not only that the company uses it for branding and marketing strategies but also for its internal communication.

Moving on to other platforms, you can also spot Eataly on Pinterest. Although, it’s a pretty new platform, Pinterest has reached 12 million registered users according to App Data. Eataly’s Pinterest page is also new, but I am pretty sure that there will be more interactions coming to its page. There are many ways for Eataly to create more traffic to its page. Here are some of my recommendations:

  • Post pictures of new dishes on the menu
  • Invite famous Chefs to post pictures for their favorite dishes, ingredients or recipes
  • Pin pictures from other food bloggers
  • Pin pictures from Eataly reviewers
  • Invite the members to comment or pin Eataly’s pictures through Facebook and Twitter so they are aware of Eataly’s Pinterest
  • Tweet Eataly’s recent update on Pinterest
  • Link Eataly’s recent update to Eataly’s Facebook page

Surely, there are many other ways that can be as effective. Together with Facebook and Twitter, Eataly may have created an effective and collaborative effort between its management, staff and customers to share about its brand and restaurant.

Lastly, many people have already checked in at Eataly through their Foursquare account. Some of them have also uploaded yummy pictures to let us see their unique experiences at Eately. Once you checked-in at Eataly, you’ll see a “check-in special” reward for your visit. So, you’ll get rewarded for sharing your current location with your friends. I’ve checked in once and used the special reward right away. The Prosecco was tasteful. So, on your next visit, don’t forget to check in and you’ll get rewarded!

Overall, Eataly is the closest thing to Italy you’ll ever get in New York City in terms of food. It’s been popular among the New Yorkers. I believe that once Eataly has added more pins into its Pinterest page and maintain such a great company culture, Eataly will excel in its branding and marketing strategies. Not only that Eataly will be famous among the New Yorkers, but it will be known across the nation and the world.


Must-Have iPhone/iPad Foodie Apps for Cheap Eats

This week, I’ve been hunting for more foodie apps for my iPad. Foodspotting, Open Table and Zagat have been so helpful in terms of finding best dishes and restaurants in NYC. But, i think it is not enough in terms of discovering “cheap eats” around the city. I am pretty sure there are some delicious deals out there that I can use for my budget. Like Groupon for food, perhaps? Apparently, Scout Mob will uncover these deals for you from near by restaurants. How convenient is that? Don’t get thrilled yet. I have found a second app to accompany Scout Mob. If you are a huge fan of food truck, you’ll find this app very useful. I thought I could only find food trucks in LA, but apparently, it’s easy to discover one here in Manhattan with this app. It’s called Tweat.it. Both of these apps are originally an iPhone app, but these will also work on iPad.

1. Scout Mob:
“Mobile deals for the local serious.” – Scout Mob

Scout Mob clearly lives up to its statement above. For a foodie and local serious like me, I am excited to use Scout Mob to uncover nearby deals. After I finished with the installation, I straight away give this app a try. I gave a permission for the app to use my current location. Within seconds, many deals popped up. These deals are coming mostly from the local bars, wine bars or cafes at your nearby location. Currently, Scout Mob is serving 20 major cities in the United States, including New York, los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver and Boston. If you are looking for some good cheap eats, this app will definitely be an excellent choice. Most of the deals are 50% to 100% off. Looking at the restaurants that are participating with this app, all of them seem to have tasteful ambiance and inviting atmosphere. Also, the Scout Mob team has added little handwritten captions around every picture to display their personal thoughts. It’s pretty cute. Although I am not a fan of local cafe/bar, this app has changed my perception. I want to try some!

If you are scared of missing a deal while you are at school or at work (where you have no access to your phone), you can access Scout Mob through your computer. Just go to its website, insert your email address, and you will get a reminder every time a new deal pops up around your location. Then, you can share it with your friends through Facebook and Twitter. How convenient is that? I am loving it. Just like what I said before, it’s Groupon for food.

If you are a local business and want to participate on Scout Mob, you can see reviews from other local business who already participated. These reviews are in the form of videos. It’s pretty detailed and easy to follow. Therefore, as a new participant, you will build a certain connection with these established users. You will see the benefits that they gained and hopefully you will earn the same benefits. Overall, Scout Mob has benefited both from personal and business aspects of consumers. Both foodie and local food businesses can enjoy and participate on the features of Scout Mob.

2. Tweat.it
“The coolest way to find a mobile food vendor near you in NYC.” – Tweat.it

From the name alone, Tweat.it reminds me of Twitter. But, looking through at the features that the app provided, Tweat.it clealry behave similarly like Twitter. It provides you with tweets from food trucks around Manhattan area. These tweets will contain any information regarding the food trucks’ open hours, locations and even job openings. It is pretty handy in terms of the bipolarity of New York weather at this time. I mean it’s winter, anything can happen. These food trucks might move location or close early due to the weather conditions. As a result, Tweat.it will keep us informed.

After I installed the application, I straight away put in my current location. Within seconds, five to six food trucks popped up. I was surprised that one of them is actually my favorite waffle place. Then, I clicked on its logo and the waffle truck’s info popped up. It says:

“De Carts: De Bierbeek is on Columbus Circle by Time Warner Center until 9:58” – De Carts.

Now, I know that they will stay open until roughly 10 p.m. tonight. Pretty accurate, I presumed. I would probably try going there after class and see whether or not they are still open. I am so excited!

On the other hand, if you access Tweat.it through your computer, you will see the trucks’ live tweets on the side bar following the food map in the middle. It’s pretty easy to use. In this case, you don’t need to sign up for anything. You just need to provide your current location.

This app surely will bring the unknown food trucks to be known. Especially, with the live tweets feature, you can easily follow your favorite food trucks on Twitter. Then, you can share their tweets with your followers to spread the brand awareness of these food trucks. You can also be writing about their food reviews. So, you are not only a foodie like me, but you can easily be a food critic. With lots of social media interactions through this app, I am sure that a lot more food trucks will be participating and Tweat.it will be more popular among the New Yorkers.

Conclusion

Both Scout Mob and Tweat.it have clearly impacted the small, local food businesses in Manhattan and other major cities in the United States. By participating in these apps, these businesses have created some sort of “advertisement” within the local market that may lead to an increasing diners traffic at their restaurants. Eventually, looking at their success, many will follow their foot steps. At the end, it’s proven how you don’t need to be a big player like Groupon or Living Social to provide the best deals in town. You can be the underdog and still adapting to its concept. Although Scout Mob is currently the underdog in terms of food deals, I believe that there is a huge possibility for it to grow in near future. Similarly to Tweat.it, perhaps it may expand to another major city in the United States. Based on my past experiences living in LA, the city of angels can be the next great candidate for Tweat.it. Due to the large amount of food trucks’ participants, I believe that many LA foodies and local businesses will gain as much benefits as those who reside in NYC.


My Venture Into the World of Michelin

Before the President’s Day weekend had started, I took an advantage of Zagat survey by signing up to its 7-days free trial online. I told myself, “it’s a long weekend and a perfect time to do some tasting menus.” From my previous research, I have been wanting to try Michelin starred restaurants in New York City. After narrowing down my options, I have decided to try Gramercy Tavern, Bouley and Sushi of Gari. Each one of them had received one Michelin Star as the best restaurant in its category and high ratings on Zagat survey.

Zagat survey has an excellent reputation among foodies around the world. It’s very trustable. Comparing its reviews to Yelp’s , personally it’s unbeatable. I already considered that Zagat as the expert in the restaurant world. Without having paid subscribtion (beyond your free trial), you will not be able to view and create Zagat reviews. So, it is pretty exclusive. With Yelp, no membership fee is required; anyone can write anything on the site. But, with Zagat’s requirement, it will definitely minimize any false or misleading reviews. It will also minimize the chance for people to get paid to write a review. So, diners’ experiences are more valuable in Zagat better than in Yelp. Although both of these apps are available on the smart phones and Ipad, overall, Zagat’s innovation concept is still winning. Especially, with its creation of Foodspotting, Zagat clearly focuses on being the leader within the market. As a new user both in Zagat and Foodspotting, I am already amazed of its capability. As soon as I spread the news to my friends, they straight away installed these apps on their gadgets. Often, they would asked, “Is it the same as YELP? Or, is it better?” I would say, “It’s different and you’ll get addicted to it. Trust me.” Also, for some of you who have Foursquare, it will be a good opportunity to earn your “foodie” badge through Zagat-rated restaurants. Not only that, but you can also share your location with your friends so that your friends may also be aware about the restaurant. What a good way to advertise the restaurant, right? As a result, I am confidence about my three options.

Gramercy Tavern

Gramercy Tavern is located in the heart of Flatiron district, between Broadway and Park Avenue South. With Mike Anthony as its Executive Chef, Gramercy Tavern has set a high standard for its exceptional dining experience. As you walk into the restaurant, you will get a comfortable ambiance through its decoration and staffs. You will see the bar in the front section of the restaurant and the dining room right across from it. As we get seated to our seats, the atmosphere was quiet. I looked around and everyone seemed to have a good time with their parties. The tasting menu was very tasty, especially the desserts. And of course, the staffs were very friendly and had great attention to details. Our waiter, especially, had never fled the scene. After we received each course, he always asked, “How’s everything? Do you need anything else?” Even the restaurant’s manager had spoke with us, which was pretty impressive. But, the remarkable service did not end there. After we’re done with our meal, the waiter would give us a muffin, wrapped in a beautiful plastic bag that has been prepared for our breakfast the next day. Isn’t that unique? Gramercy Tavern clearly puts its diners into an exclusive dining experience that will make the place memorable. My friends and I are absolutely satisfied. We are coming back to Gramercy Tavern for a second visit. It will not be our last.

Bouley

First of all, I am not a huge fan of French cuisine. The only place that I would considered was XIV by Michael Mina in LA. But, after reading the reviews on Zagat and Michelin, I thought that I should give it a shot. Bouley is located in Tribeca with its Executive Chef David Bouley. When I walked into the restaurant, my first impression was “this place is so cute!” You will be greeted by this massive shelves of apples at the entrance. Then, you will walk on a short hallway before entering the main dining room. The color scheme on the decoration was pretty inviting. I felt like I was eating inside a French aristocratic home. The lunch tasting menu was delicious. The little macaroons for the desserts were just too cute. I wondered how the dinner menu would be. I am pretty sure it will be more exciting. The service quality was similar as Gramercy Tavern. The waiters were all there to serve you and to make sure that you will have a great dining experience with Bouley. Will I come back again? Absolutely.

Sushi of Gari

Zagat survey has three different reviews on three different Gari restaurants. They are all owned  by the same owner. The one that I went to is located on the 78th street, Upper East Side. The place is pretty small but you will get the “authentic” ambiance of a traditional Japanese restaurant. During my visit, I ordered the Omakase tasting menu. From what I’ve heard through the reviews and word-of-mouth, the Omakase is what Sushi of Gari best known for. It features the chef’s signature sushi and sashimi based on the day’s catch. So, the seafood will be extremely fresh. For dinner, I ordered the sushi Omakase. I got three sets of sushi platters that featured four types of sushi on each platter. At first, I was thinking, how can my appetite be fully satisfied with only 12 sushi? I was wrong. These 12 sushi were tasteful. Each sushi has each own taste, texture, and experience to remember. By the end of the third platter, I was full and very satisfied. For dessert, I ordered the grean tea crepe cake from Lady M. This cake was my secondary factor  to why I wanted to try Sushi of Gari. I’ve been a huge fan of Lady M cakes; definitely, it’s one of the best dessert place in town. Overall, I would recommend Sushi of Gari for anyone who wants to explore the art of sushi dining.

After comparing reviews from both Zagat and Michelin, these restaurants are clearly stand on the standards of these results. None of my experiences have gone below their percentage scores on Zagat. These restaurants are exceptional! The public and the experts have already reached an agreement on how to rate these restaurants. Clearly, they are on the same page. If I can put these reviews on tags, they will definitely become a mixture of trustworthy taxonomies and folksonomies.


Discover: Machiavelli on the Upper West

After living in NYC for a month, I have expanded my “foodie” list on my blackberry through word-of-mouth and different online medias such as Foodspotting, Zagat Rated and Open Table. I have tried most of them already, but there is still something missing on my list. I haven’t found enough “delicious” and “worth trying” Italian restaurants in the heart of Manhattan. So far, I’ve only tried Basta Pasta and Babbo. Their signature dishes are pretty good; especially, Basta Pasta’s sea urchin pasta is a MUST try dish. Aside from that, I am still in search for more undiscovered delicious Italian food house. Perhaps, newly opened Machiavelli can be my next destination.

Basta Pasta Sea Urchin Pasta by Deviani Wulandari

Machiavelli is located at 519 Columbus Avenue, around the corner of 85th street, in the heart of the Upper West community. After reading its review on the New York Times, I am intrigue with the description of its majestic interior based on the critic’s experience, Julia Moskin.  As she clearly mentioned on her opening statement:

“Eating at the grandiose Machiavelli is like visiting a museum of Italian food — complete with long-winded exhibition catalogs. Reams of paper arrive with the menu, bearing tales of the muralist who decorated the walls, the ceramist who designed the plates, the coloratura soprano who even now is singing into your ear.”

By looking at this statement, I can only imagine how beautiful the restaurant atmosphere will be. I am pretty sure that a visit can be a very enjoyable experience. You will be able to enjoy delicious Italian food while witnessing grandiose Renaissance arts inspired murals on the wall. The restaurant owner, Nathalie de La Fontaine clearly found a new place for all of her art collections. Another positive aspect that she has added to this experience is by providing different music performances each day of the week, both for lunch and dinner. This unique diners’ experience will definitely distinguish Machiavelli aside from its competitors and soon will become a hot topic among New York foodies.

Moving on to the menu, Machiavelli offers enough varities of Italian dishes. Among all, Moskin has differentiate the menu by price and dish type which in my opinion is very helpful. I would say that the prices are pretty standard and affordable for Italian fine dining restaurant. I am very excited to try the lamb chop ($37), Bologna tortellini ($20) and signature pastas ($17-22) during my first visit. Hopefully, it will be very soon.

Overall, Moskin has done an excellent job in providing us with the reviews on the New York Times. She laid out all the important elements that I need to know about Machiavelli. Especially, as a new restaurant, there is not much reviews out there that I can rely on. By being the headline on the New York Times Dining and Wine on Valentine’s day, my eyes were drawn upon this article. The New York times’ review has set the stage for Machiavelli among the other Italian restaurateurs. I am pretty sure, lots of New York Times food lovers have already read this article and ready to have some tastes on Machiavelli’s signature dishes. As a result, these readers may be the next reviewers or critics that may lift up the restaurant’s reputation. Whether it is good or bad, the modern social medias will definitely keep us up to date.

Currently, Machiavelli maybe be ahead of its competitors for the new upcoming Italian restaurant. But, as its popularity rises within the heart of New Yorkers, the restaurant will need to always have a high standard. Especially, with more reviews and critiques rise to the surface, Machiavelli will need to handle any challenges quickly and professionally. These reviews will definitely expand the restaurant’s clientele but Machiavelli will have to maintain its good reputation along the way. With such accomplishment, surely, Machiavelli will be a successful and well known Italian restaurant in the Upper West. Machiavelli will absolutely reunite Italian art lovers and food admirers altogether under the same roof.

For more information on Machiavelli, click here.