Archive for the 'dairy restaurants in Brooklyn' Category

08
Mar
11

Cafe Renaissance


Last week RN and I had an early dinner at Cafe Renaissance (802 Kings Highway, NY 11223-2240; Tel: 718.382.1900). We were prepared for a sumptuous, scrumptious meal but even so we were pleasantly surprised.

RN opted to begin her early dinner with Sauteed Artichoke in a very aromatic lemon-garlic sauce. Delectable, she said.

I started with a colorful Green Dragon Sushi Roll, it consisted of spicy salmon, cucumber, avocado, topped with spicy mayonnaise and crunch…

Green Dragon Roll

We both found it succulent; the spicy salmon gave it just enough of a bite, a great meal starter!

Next I had a Citrus Salad

Citrus Salad

It came with Romain lettuce, baby greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, walnuts, pomegranate seeds and pomelo strips. The blend of flavors of fresh fruit and vegetables combined to form a perfectly harmonious symphony of wholesome flavors.

RN opted for the Healthy Salad, with low glyceride pasta, sauteed spinach, broccoli, olive oil, garlic topped with Parmesan cheese.  She described it as perfectly cooked pasta, with a superb cheese topping.

We then shared a Greek Salad with feta cheese, olives and more. Again, like the earlier salads, this one did not disappoint.

Starting the mains, we shared a very tender St. Peter’s Fish…

St Peter's Fish

It came accompanied with red, yellow, and green peppers with a flower carved lemon. It was juicy, tender and neither tasted nor smelled fishy. Quite good!

We segued the above dish with a Grilled Salmon for RN and a Salmon Teriyake for me. Both were delicious and while the list so far should have been enough to satisfy the most ravenous creature, we were not done yet…

We finished the meal by sharing a Four Seasons Pizza

Four Seasons Pizza

Its eight slices infour sections consisted of Vodka & Cheese (my favorite!!), Mushroom, Roasted garlic and Cheese, Tomato Sauce, Black Olives and Pesto over Cheese, and Roasted Tomatoes, Broccoli and Cheese. As a pizza connoisseur, I am compelled to give this combination very high marks.

We washed the meal down with a Bartenura Pinot Grigio 2008. A well balanced dry white wine with tangy lemon/grapefruit aromas and flavors and a great aftertaste. All in all it was a very enjoyable meal, beautifully presented, but…

Considering the amount of dishes we consumed and pleasantly surprised as we were at the consistency of freshness, quality, and unsurpassed flavor I felt obligated to speak to Cafe Renaissance‘ owner, Shaul Ashkenazi. We wanted to know about his background and how he developed the successful philosophy behind this eatery.

Shaul started out in the business under his father, 40 years ago; the father owned and operated a very popular restaurant on Tel Aviv’s Rechov Sheinkin. Among the restaurants habitués were many prominent politicians (including Golda Meir) and financial bigwigs who often concluded many a political or financial deal at the restaurant’s tables. Later, in 1975, Mr. Ashkenazi opened up his own place in Ramat Gan (Gute Gute), next to the Stock and the Diamond Exchanges.

Eventually, after the death of his father, since all his siblings were already in the US, he too emigrated to these shores. Ten years ago he opened Cafe Renaissance, he sought only quality fresh ingredients and required each Chef do things his way. While most Executive Chefs get to decide on the menu, here only Shaul and his wife Tikvah make those decisions. Any item on the menu gets rigorously tested by the couple and honed to perfection before it is ever served to any restaurant patron.

Shaul’s son-in-law Ronnie manages the Ashkenazis second venture Cafe Venezia (1391 Coney Island Avenue Brooklyn, New York 11230; Tel: 718.258.5400). We’ll just have to try it!

CS

Cafe Renaissance on Urbanspoon

02
Dec
10

Natural Village Cafe


Warm, welcoming, classy, delicious… these four words give us a faint idea of my impressions of Natural Village Cafe (2 Avenue I – across from Shoprite Supermarket – Brooklyn, NY 11218; Tel: 347.492.5337 or 347. 417.6424). The restaurant is cholov Yisroel and pas Yisroel, with a mashgiach temidi and under the certification of Harav Meir Goldberg of the Va’ad Hakashrus d’Flatbush.

Upscale atmosphere, organic fare, beautiful and healthy in every possible way...

Nina Shapir, who presides over this eatery is truly a fascinating personality, the personal journey that changed her life and motivated her to open this establishment is full of commitment and dedication.

Fourteen years ago, Mrs. Shapir – a very young mother of three – found herself sick and unable to move, unable to cope. It was not a question of being financially overwhelmed, any such concerns were well taken care of. Medical tests and treatments produced no positive results, on the contrary things inexplicably kept getting worse. She met Harav Chay Azoulay, from Herzliya, who told her the real malady was not physical but rather one that affected her neshama. After some thought, trying to make sense of Rav Azulay’s words, she went on a detox diet with the help of healthfood stores, intent on ridding herself of all negative energies. This decision was followed by six very hard weeks before she saw any measurable improvements but soon after she was her old active, curious, intelligent, enterprising self again.

At this stage, Nina decided to help others who, though similarly afflicted, may not be aware of the real source of their health troubles. She went on to study Healing Arts at The School of Natural Healing in Utah from which she graduated. Seven years ago her first organic restaurant opened its doors. Her partner, however, was not frum and it proved frustrating eventually Nina bought her out. In 2008 she moved to the present location which combines her personal philosophy, her exquisite sense of aesthetics and the true love of a foodie for superb fare. She also has an an office adjacent to the restaurant where she treats the many in search of natural healing.

The restaurant sports geometric patterns on its walls and ceiling, with warm earth tones that give us a clue to the owner’s style and personality. Chef Bobby Brabaloni is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America – America’s foremost Culinary School – a fact which becomes obvious when you see the presentation, smell the aromas and taste the wonderful flavors.

My companion and I started our early dinner with a dish of Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed Mushrooms

It consists of white mushrooms with sauteed onions, creamy pesto sauce, melted mozzarella and feta cheeses with a kick of chopped parsley. It was a perfect opener to a memorable meal.

We segued with their Village Pizza

Village Pizza

It came in a sesame crust, red onions, mushrooms, two types of mozzarella cheese and their very own red sauce. I know pizza, I’m a pizza addict and I must confess this one ranks among my favorites. My companion also found it delicious.

Next we had their Salmon Salad…

Salmon Salad

A superbly tasting salad fresh romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, grilled salmon, pan sauteed red inions, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms with a subtle teriyaki sauce. A fitting crown to our meal!

Wholesome food, warm ambience, reasonable prices, a nice bakery on premises… I know I’ll be back again and again.

CS

Natural Village Cafe on Urbanspoon

24
Oct
10

Pizza at Basil


Recently, this blog was chastised on chowhound.com for not having any photos of Basil‘s pizza in either of my reviews of this superb restaurant (here and here), even though its menu offers a full array of mouthwatering pizzas. I had to agree the particular commenter was absolutely right, which gave me the perfect excuse to return to Basil (270 Kingston Ave; Brooklyn, NY 11213; Telephone: 718.285.8777) for the omitted shots. Ahhh, the things we do to keep our readers happy.

This past Thursday I made my way to the restaurant anticipating a superb pie. I entered their doors at 4:00pm to a front room overflowing with early diners, and was directed to the recently opened backroom. It’s a comfortable large room featuring two fireplaces that generate a warm and cozy atmosphere.

In spite of the early hour, there were some people there already. I ordered a Pizza Margherita a la Genovese, it came with home made mozzarella (made in house from  curd), fresh San Marzano tomatoes (most chefs consider these the world’s best for sauce) and pesto.

Pizza Margherita alla Genovese

Extreme closeup of the above...

I accompanied the pizza with a delightful glass of 2007 Ramon Cardova Rioja. Made fully from Tempranillo grapes from old vines around the Spanish village of Haro, in La Rioja, this bright ruby red wine paired perfectly with the pizza, totally complementing and enhancing its taste; a marriage made in heaven.

As I finished this superbly made dish, I got to to speak to Basil’s new Italian Executive Chef, Andrea Milazzo.

After graduating from the very exacting culinary school in Alassio, in Italy’s Liguria region on the gulf of Genoa, – Savona Province, Chef Andrea went to work in Montecarlo for world famous Alain Ducasse’s Le Roi Louis XV restaurant at the Hotel de Paris (regularly listed on the Conde Nast Traveller Gold List). After a while he left for Munich, Germany, where he operated his own establishment for 8 years.

A few weeks ago he accepted the position of Executive Chef at Basil. When you speak to Chef Andrea, his passion for food becomes all apparent. I asked him what is his main criteria in creating a new dish or a variation of an old classic, his quick response was: “I follow my senses!” To determine how good his senses are, I asked the Chef to prepare me a special dish – regardless of price – that I would take home; even I was unprepared for the resulting masterpiece…

Chef Andrea Milazzo dramatically flambeeing his special dish for The Kosher Scene

He made me Gnudi alla Toscana. Gnudi (nude) are close cousins to gnocchi but more tender. Whereas gnocchi are made from semolina, wheat flour, bread crumbs or potatoes, gnudi are made from Ricotta cheese.

Watching the Chef at work was like being a spectator at a George Balanchine choreographed ballet, the graceful, elegant and precise moves coupled with the facial expressions, all bespoke of truly inspired artistry at its highest levels.

Before starting the preparation of the dish, Chef Andrea had me inspect all the ingredients. Starting with the superbly aromatic in-house made truffle oil (truffles are infused for two weeks into pure Tuscan olive oil, the result is great scent and a very distinctive flavor), the fresh tomatoes, spinach and cheese all combined for a beautiful symphony of taste and aroma, well worth many an encore. Bravo Chef Andrea! Bravissimo!!!

CS

RELATED POSTS

Basil – Pizza & Wine Bar

Breakfast at Basil

Preserving or Policing the Dilemma?

Basil on Urbanspoon




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