Lil’ Frankie’s

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By no means is Lil’ Frankie’s in the East Village new. They’ve been around making Neopolitan wood burning pizza and homemade pastas for years. But, this neighborhood gem also offers some delicious specials and dishes, and a super extensive wine list. So come hungry, thirsty, and hit up the ATM beforehand, since they’re cash-only. From the outside, you’d assume it was a small, intimate restaurant, but step inside, and work your way back through the winding passageways and there’s a back area, complete with a garden as well. 

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To start, I had their Stracciatella. It’s basically the center of buratta cheese, stuffed in a fresh tomato, and it’s so amazing. The cheese itself is rich, and super creamy, and pairing it with the firm and flavorful tomato atop olive oil and balsamic drizzle makes for a killer combination. 

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For my entree, I ordered one of their specials that night, Trout Almondino. This was so delicious, that I apologize in advance if it’s not a special when you’re there. The trout is filleted, and generously portioned, cooked to perfection, and topped with oil, lemon, beautiful herbs and spices, and sliced almonds. The fish is tender and so flavorful, and accompanied by a really nice, fresh spinach salad. I finished the whole thing, was full, but could have still found some room for more, it was that good.

The Shorts:
Name: Lil’ Frankie’s
Location: 19 First Avenue, NYC
The Long and Short: Would I go back? Definitely. It’s not my first time here, and it won’t be my last. With new specials always being turned out, you’re in for a treat whenever you make it in. 
Would I recommend it? Definitely. There really is something for everyone, especially if you’re a homemade pizza and pasta person. I also love one of their sister restaurants, Supper, so, check that out too. 

Hearth

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The great thing about living in NYC is that there are so many restaurants to try, that you could live here for years and still not get to everything. The bad thing about living in NYC is that there are so many restaurants to try, that you could live here for years and still not get to everything. So, you feel really lucky when a restaurant has been operating for years, so that you can still get a chance to dine there. Thankfully, Hearth in the East Village is one of these places, so, I finally got to check it out.

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This Italian inspired restaurant focuses on seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, served in a casual, yet sophisticated, environment. All of the aesthetic elements give you the feeling of warmth and comfort, paying homage to the restaurant’s namesake. I went in for brunch, and while the menu sounded great, I opted to go for my own build-a-brunch and ordered a couple starters as my main. First, I had their Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs. Now, I’m not a huge deviled egg person, but I love smoked salmon, so, that trumped the former. I really loved these, and if you enjoy smoked salmon, you’re not going to want to eat a regular deviled egg again. They have a really nice balance of the smoked salmon flavor mixed in the creamy and smooth yolk filling. Then, they’re topped with a little piece of crispy fried fish skin, adding a touch of crunch and texture.

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Then, I had the Balsamic Marinated Eggplant Toast with Ricotta and Basil. These little toast bites were amazing. They might look small, but they’re pretty mighty, topped with delicious and hearty ingredients, they make for an excellent part of your meal, or, as an appetizer to share. The eggplant has a fantastic sweet and slightly smokey flavor, completely tender, and a touch of tang from the balsamic. Then, the creamy ricotta adds a nice richness to the toasts, topped with basil for some fresh herb flavor.

The Shorts:
Name: Hearth
Location: 403 East 12th Street, NYC
The Long and Short: Would I go back? Absolutely. The food was awesome and the staff and service was outstanding.
Would I recommend it? Totally. Everything from the ambiance to the service to the food was on point, no disappointments here at all.