Posts Tagged ‘Gnocchi’

Robert Irvine’s eat! – Hilton Head, SC

Thursday, October 24th, 2013 by virginia


This year’s trip to Hilton Head was especially exciting because it was Baby J’s first time there (outside of my belly at least). We were excited to take her to the pool and beach and watch her play around. Sadly, she did not take like a fish to water. While she loves her bathtub and inflatable kiddie pool, she did not like the salt water, sand, or the bright Hilton Head sun. It was a struggle to get her slathered from head to toe in sunscreen (she also refused to wear a hat), and trying to wrangle a squirmy, greased up baby into a bathing suit is no easy feat. By the time we got her from the room to the pool, she was already tired and cranky, and being in the water didn’t help. We tried various floatation devices – rings, tubes, life vests – and nothing made her happy. Oh well. There’s always next year!

On the upside, J was great by the time dinner rolled around each day. She usually had a long, restful nap by the pool in the early afternoon and woke up refreshed for meals out. On the first night, we decided to try Robert Irvine’s eat! restaurant. Josh’s parents had eaten there before and enjoyed it, and we were curious because we knew of Chef Irvine from the Food Network but didn’t know much about his food.

The menu is split into two main sections – tapas and entrees. There are also various salads and sides available. Since the rest of our large group wasn’t due to arrive until the next day, we were able to take advantage of the tapas format and share a few of the small plates to start. The gnocchi with short rib bolognese was delicious, with chewy yet tender rounds of gnocchi and a rich, meaty sauce.

Gnocchi with short rib bolognese, pinenuts, and charred lemon oil

Gnocchi with short rib bolognese, pinenuts, and charred lemon oil

The fried green tomatoes, on the other hand, were a disappointment. They were heavily coated in a tempura-like batter that was soggy and flavorless. Clumps of surprisingly bland feta cheese were sandwiched between the tomato slices, which also did not help textural issues, and the only thing I could taste was the balsamic vinegar drizzled about.

Fried green tomatoes with brown butter, feta cheese, and balsamic

Fried green tomatoes with brown butter, feta cheese, and balsamic

It was pretty dark in the restaurant so I wasn’t able to get any pictures of the rest of our tapas. The she crab bisque, a Hilton Head staple, had a nice creamy consistency and a relatively good amount of crab flavor but was way too peppery. The pepper really hit the back of our throats and had us coughing a bit, which wasn’t a pleasant feeling. The coconut crusted Carolina shrimp was well executed with a nice and crispy crust, and the accompanying orange jalapeno marmalade was sticky and sweet, but it was sort of a pedestrian dish.

For our entrees, Josh and I shared the pork chop and the blackened snapper. The pork chop was massive and packed a lot of flavor as well, likely because it had been brined. The meat had a nice crust to it and was tender on the inside, and the accompanying sweet potato and corn hash, green tomato peach chutney, and red eye gravy added a nice balance of salty, sour, savory, and sweet.

Fennel brined pork chop with sweet potato and corn hash, green tomato peach chutney, and red eye gravy

Fennel brined pork chop with sweet potato and corn hash, green tomato peach chutney, and red eye gravy

The blackened snapper was surprisingly on the blander side. It was served with grits, red pepper and goat cheese coulis, and a balsamic reduction. The dish just needed more seasoning, as the individual components were cooked well but needed more pizazz.

Blackened snapper and grits with bay shrimp, tomato harvati grits, red pepper goat cheese coulis, and balsamic reduction

Blackened snapper and grits with bay shrimp, tomato harvati grits, red pepper goat cheese coulis, and balsamic reduction

We saw Tabasco ice cream as part of a dessert so of course we had to satisfy our curiosity. It was served alongside sweet potato bread pudding, and while it was an interesting combination (the ice cream did actually have some Tabasco flavor), it’s probably not something I would eat again. The bread pudding itself had potential but half of it was burned, which was a bit of a turnoff. We also tried an apple crisp that was nothing extraordinary.

Overall, Josh and I both thought that eat! was a bit of a miss. There were some hits, like the pork chop, which was the best dish of the evening, and the gnocchi with short rib bolognese, but the rest of the dishes were just so-so for varying reasons. Some were execution issues (the fried green tomatoes, the bread pudding), and others were seasoning issues (the bisque had too much and the snapper had too little). The meal as a whole was just inconsistent. It’s a pretty popular restaurant though, particularly on Tuesdays when tapas are half off. Usually, most of the small plates are in the $7-$10 range and entrees are on the pricier side at $25-$35. The only two entrees below $20 are a burger ($16) and fried chicken ($19). Our search for more go-to restaurants in Hilton Head continues (so far Red Fish has become our favorite place, and One Hot Mama’s has merited a repeat visit).

Robert Irvine’s eat!
1000 William Hilton Pkwy.
Hilton Head, SC


Thursday, October 6th, 2011 by virginia

Gnocco is an Italian restaurant in the East Village that I’ve read a lot of good things about. The menu is pretty extensive and there were many things I wanted to try. We ended up going there for a small birthday celebration on a Friday night, early enough that we could get a last minute reservation but still at a pretty decent time.

The restaurant is broken up into two long narrow rooms, and there is a nice garden out back with several tables. The place definitely filled up but it wasn’t so loud that we couldn’t carry on a conversation across the table. After we placed our orders, we settled in and munched on the bread they brought us, along with some fruity olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping. The bread had a decent crust and a chewy interior. It had a slightly sour tang to it, which paired well with the olive oil/vinegar combo.

Bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

We decided to get a few dishes to share as appetizers. First was the Affumicata pizza, which was topped with Italian sausage. The menu said the pizza had smoked mozzarella on it, but we asked them to switch it to regular mozzarella, which they did without any issue. The pizza was probably about 12″ in diameter, a decent size. The sauce was sweet and tangy, and there was plenty of mozzarella on top. The sausage was mild in flavor, which I actually preferred since it didn’t overwhelm the rest of the pizza. The crust had a nice char along the edges, though the middle got a bit soggy under the weight of the sauce, cheese, and sausage.

Pizza with mozzarella and sausage

Since we were at Gnocco, we decided to get an order of the gnocco appetizer. It featured homemade deep fried dough that was served with assorted Italian cold cuts. We were not quite sure how to eat the gnocco fritto, since some were puffier than others, but we ended up draping the cold cuts (it looked like an assortment of prosciutto and salami) over them and eating them like crostini. The dough had a nice crispy exterior and a slight chew to them. Flavor-wise, they reminded me a bit of the fried wonton noodles that you get at Chinese restaurants, but they were pretty good with the salty cold cuts. It was an interesting dish, nothing spectacular, but still tasty.

Gnocco fritto - deep fried dough

Prosciutto and salami to be eaten with the gnocco

Lastly, we got a plate of gnocchi to share as well. The gnocchi was served in a tomato sauce and topped with dollops of buffalo mozzarella and strips of basil. The potato gnocchis were just slightly dense but still pretty soft and fork tender. The tomato sauce was on the sweeter side but not overly so. The mozzarella added a rich creaminess to the dish, and the fresh basil really elevated the flavors of each component.

Potato gnocchi with tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, and fresh basil

For our entrees, Josh and I shared  the orecchiette pasta and the tartufata pizza. The pasta, which was perfectly al dente, was tossed with spicy Italian sausage and broccoli. There really wasn’t a sauce for the pasta, so most of the flavor came from the sausage. The only detracting component was the broccoli, which was mushy and bland. I wish they had used broccoli rabe instead, which typically has a better texture and a slight bitterness that pairs well with sausage.

Orecchiette pasta with spicy sausage and broccoli

Even though we had already ordered a pizza as one of our appetizers, I couldn’t resist ordering the tartufata pizza as one of our entrees. The pizza features fresh mozzarella, truffle sauce, mushrooms, and speck. Yes, I’m a truffle freak. Truffles and mushrooms are an unbeatable combination, and the pizza did not disappoint. The aroma of the truffle sauce was wafting off the pie but taste wise, it wasn’t overwhelming. The speck, a salty cured and smoked ham, helped cut through the richness of the truffle sauce and the cheese. The crust on this pizza was better than the sausage one we had earlier. It was light, slightly crispy on the bottom, and held up better to the toppings. My only complaint was that there wasn’t a whole lot of mushrooms on the pizza, and they were pretty unevenly distributed. Nevertheless, this was a terrific pie and I would definitely order it again.

Tartufata pizza with fresh mozzarella, truffle sauce, mushrooms, and speck

Underside shot

Overall I was pretty impressed with the food at Gnocco. The pastas that we had were well prepared and tasty, as were the pizzas. I wouldn’t say they’re the best pizzas in NYC, but the tartufata was excellent and is definitely something that I’m still craving. I thought the gnocco appetizer was a bit weird, though there was nothing really wrong with it; I just found it slightly boring, but the cold cuts were good. Service was efficient, although the waiter was a bit heavy handed with the wine pouring. Nevertheless, prices are pretty reasonable and the menu has a lot of variety on it. It’s a good place to go with a small group, as everyone will find something they like. It did get a bit loud though when the place filled up later in the evening, so go earlier if you want to be able to hear each other talk. I would definitely go back again, as there were other things on the menu I wanted to try.

337 East 10th St. between Ave. A and B
New York, NY


Thursday, September 8th, 2011 by virginia

Our friends Silva and Felipe have been raving about Mémé, a Mediterranean restaurant in the West Village that is related to one of their favorite restaurants, Virage. Pronounced “may-may”, which means “grandma” in French Moroccan, the menu features assorted tapas/small plates and heartier entrees that reflect the owners’ heritage. We’ve been eager to try it out because we’ve heard such great things about the restaurant, and we also really enjoy Virage as well. We were thrilled when we were able to go to Mémé with Silva and Felipe for a last minute dinner on a random Tuesday evening.

We got to the restaurant around 8:45 and the place was packed. It’s not a huge restaurant but it was a beautiful night and they had tables set up on the sidewalk, which were also full. There was a little bit of a wait but since it was so nice outside we didn’t mind enjoying the fresh air and catching up as we waited for a table to open up. A short while later, we were seated inside. Even though the restaurant was full, the noise level wasn’t too bad and we could still chat pretty easily.

After looking over the menu, we decided to share a few small plates/tapas to start. Since Silva and Felipe are so familiar with the restaurant, Josh and I told them to order whatever they thought was good. They selected four different dishes to share for our appetizer, and then we each picked our own entrees. After we placed our orders, we dug into the dish of olives and pickled vegetables they gave us, along with some bread and seasoned olive oil. The bread was really quite good; it had a sturdy crust, a chewy texture, and was studded with briny olives.

Olives, seasoned olive oil, and pickled vegetables

Crusty olive bread

Our tapas arrived shortly, and we all eagerly dug in. First up was the ricotta gnocchi with truffle cream. There’s a similar dish at Virage that Josh and I have tried before, and we absolutely love it. This version was just as tasty, with soft, delicate pillows of ricotta gnocchi swimming in a rich, creamy sauce flavored with truffle oil. The truffle flavor is fantastically intense. After all the gnocchis were eaten, Josh and I used lots of bread to mop up all of the sauce.

Ricotta gnocchi with truffle cream

Next there were spicy carrots, which are seasoned with Moroccan spices. It was really an interesting dish, and I’m curious as to how the carrots are prepared. They’re soft but not mushy, and have a wonderfully exotic flavor to them. These were certainly far from a boring old bowl of carrots. If I knew how to make these, I’d eat carrots more often!

Spicy carrots with Moroccan spices

Both Silva and Felipe love the merguez at Mémé, which is served with hummus, pita, and chopped salad. The sausage had a nice snap to it and lots of spices mixed throughout the meat. It was very flavorful and paired well with the hummus and salad.

Merguez sausage with hummus and chopped salad

Lastly, we had an order of fried artichoke topped with shaved manchego cheese. The artichokes were delicately crisp on the outside, and the salty manchego really complemented them well. There were two dipping sauces on the side, an herb aioli and a tomato/red pepper sauce, but I actually enjoyed just eating the artichoke and manchego plain. It was a pretty big portion and easily shareable.

Fried artichoke with shaved manchego, baby greens, two sauces

For our entrees, Josh and I went halfsies on Mémé’s couscous and the lamb two ways. The couscous featured merguez, chicken, vegetables, and chickpeas cooked in a broth and served over couscous. I’ve never had couscous in broth before, just dry and fluffy, so I thought it was a bit unusual but interesting. The chicken was falling off the bone tender, and the vegetables featured yellow squash, potatoes, and carrots. It was a hearty, comforting dish. My only complaint was that it was a little under-seasoned so it was slightly bland, but they do give you an herb mixture and some harissa on the side to liven things up a bit.

Mémé's couscous - merguez and chicken, vegetables, and chickpeas cooked in bouillon over couscous

The lamb two ways featured lamb chops served on top of ratatouille and mashed potato and a lamb kebab with hummus and chopped salad. I asked for the lamb to be cooked medium rare, and it was perfectly executed. Both the chops and the kebabs were tender and well seasoned, and the meats had a nice gamey flavor to them. The ratatouille tasted fresh and sweet, and the mashed potatoes were a good accompaniment. I really enjoyed this dish.

Two way lamb - chops with ratatouille and mashed potato; kebab with hummus and chopped salad

Felipe had the lamb burger, which is what he always gets apparently, and Silva had the short rib bourguignon. It was a massive serving of short rib that had been slow cooked in red wine, mushrooms, and shallots. Josh and I had a taste and the meat was tender and well seasoned, and the sauce was intensely rich with red wine flavor.

Overall Josh and I both really enjoyed the meal we had at Mémé. We were glad that we experienced it for the first time with Silva and Felipe since they’re so familiar with the menu. There are so many tapas on the list that we wouldn’t have known where to begin. Nevertheless, I definitely would like to go back and try more of them, as the menu is incredibly diverse and extensive. Prices are pretty reasonable with the smaller plates ranging from $7-$12 and entrees averaging about $20 each. The portions are big enough to share, and it’s a great place to go with a small group.

We were too full for dessert but Silva had thoughtfully brought us some macarons from the newly opened Lauderée on the Upper East Side. We ate them after we got home and though they got a tiny bit smashed in transit they were still light, crispy, and very tasty. The rose flavored macaron had a nice floral taste but wasn’t overwhelming. I preferred the pistachio flavored macaron though, which captured the essence of pistachio perfectly. It was the perfect finish to a lovely evening.

581 Hudson St. between 11th and Bank St.
New York, NY