Quality Italian

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Midtown West. It’s not an area you’ll find me in often, but, I’ve gotta say, it’s a lot less scary than I remember it (and scary as in, loads of tourists lost in the streets and plenty of suits hustling around). Either way, retreating to an amazing restaurant always wipes away any fear of getting trapped behind a group on people rolling 4+ deep on the sidewalk when you’re in a hurry. So, I got to decompress at Quality Italian.

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The space itself gives a mixed feel of casual elegance, meets power lunch scene, with a touch of modern industrial aesthetic (the light fixtures are incredible). The service here is completely on-point and professional, so you really don’t need to worry about a thing (except what to order, because everything looks fantastic). A bowl of fresh bread is dropped off at the table, and I don’t care if you’re watching your carb intake or not, you have to try a piece. It’s warm, soft and buttery and topped with coarse grains of salt. It’s amazing, eat it.

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To start, I ordered a cocktail. I didn’t look at the menu, instead our server asked what type of spirits I usually like, and he had me at “tequila” and “spicy”. I looked back at the menu and couldn’t find the cocktail, but I was pretty sure he described it as a Tricolore Margarita.

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It’s brought out with just the huge, square, tri-color (hence, the name) ice cube, each color representing a different flavor element. The margarita gets poured on top, and, magic. As the ice starts to melt, the flavors all meld into the drink, giving you that sweet meets spicy wrapped up in delicious.

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For a starter, I had the Tuna “Panzanella” (Charred Shishitos, Tomato, Garlic Croutons). This was so delicious, I could have had a whole plate of it for dinner. The tuna is so flavorful, fresh and tender, and all of the ingredients compliment it so well. I especially really loved pairing the garlic croutons with the tuna, of course, the panzanella part of the dish. The croutons soak up all of the juices and sauce, turning the pieces into little mushy, bready, flavor bombs. Very technical term. 

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Then, for my entree, I ordered Grilled Branzino (Pesto Rosso). Unbelievably good. The full description of all elements isn’t present on the menu, so, I couldn’t 100% tell you what everything was, but I will say it was incredible. The fish is light, yet super flavorful, flaky and tender. It’s complimented by a rich and pleasantly sweet and savory tomato sauce with a touch of tartness, and halves of heirloom cherry tomatoes. It’s served atop a bed of large grain couscous, which, is also awesome. 

The Shorts:
Name: Quality Italian 
Location: 57 West 57th Street, NYC
The Long and Short: Would I go back? Absolutely. I will say, this isn’t the type of place that someone with my wallet could go to often, it’s definitely at more of a finer-dining price, but also very well worth it. 
Would I recommend it? For sure. Power luncher? Special occasion coming up? Just sold some of your old stuff on an app? Go here. You won’t be disappointed. 

 

The Gorbals

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So, I was hearing a lot of buzz about newcomer to Williamsburg, The Gorbals. I also heard it was inside of an Urban Outfitters. My curiosity got the better of me, and I had to check it out for myself.

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To lessen any confusion on how to get to the restaurant itself, step one, look for Urban Outfitters. Step two, hook a right to the elevator once you enter and hit #3 floor. Alternatively, there are stairs right before the elevator, you can take those too. Hey, you made it! The restaurant is rustic and charming, and…yup, open kitchen. My heart.

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And, like I said, it’s inside a store. Peek through the wall paneling and you can shop with your eyes. The menu encourages you to share dishes, and so, I did.

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But to start, I ordered The Son of a Gun (mezcal, tequila, pear puree, lime, almond syrup, mole bitters). This was a great drink. As many mezcal cocktails as I’ve had before, I hadn’t had one with pear puree. Why the hell have I not had one before this? It was fantastic. You have a little hint of smokiness from the mezcal, a little citrus from the lime, and then to smooth and sweeten it out, but not too sweet, is the pear and almond syrup.

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Then, there were four dishes ordered to share. To start, I had the Broccoli (soy, chilies, vinegar). Perfection. The broccoli is charred, giving it a great, light, crispy texture on the florets. At the same time, it also acts as a little sponge, soaking up the soy and vinegar sauce, giving it an incredible flavor.

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After that, I had Grilled Shishitos (charred eggplant). The peppers were mild, and had a tiny bit of charring on the outside, giving it a nice, smoky flavor. But, the best part of the dish was actually the charred eggplant, which was a pureed sauce underneath the shishitos. It was a little sweet, a little smokey, and also savory. Basically, it was delicious. 

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Next, was the Octopus (za’atar, olives, pine nuts). The octopus is is served as one piece, with a delicious tahini-like sauce on the plate, confected with pine nuts and topped with the fried olives. By the way, olives should always be fried. The octopus itself was amazing, it was plump, tender, and had a wonderful flavor, which was enhanced by the za’atar. 

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Last of the dishes was the Black Bass (radish, watermelon, bonito butter). This dish was a dream. The bass was so light, delicate and flavorful. If this were offered as an entree sized portion, I would order this every time as my main meal. The radish and watermelon salad was a perfect compliment, adding some sweetness and crunch, but also topped with a yogurt dressing, adding an herby and creamy element to the dish. 

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So, that was the last of the savory dishes, but since everything was so incredible, I had to go for one of their desserts. I had Sticky Toffee Pudding (black pepper ice cream, maldon salt). Unreal. This was so good, and perfectly portioned. The cake itself is light, warm, and coated and soaked with a rich, thick, toffee sauce, sprinkled with large granules of the salt, emulating a salted caramel. Topping the dessert is a black pepper ice cream, both sweet and a little spicy at the same time, which, to me, is a wonderful combination. Each component here went together so well, it was the perfect finish to the meal. 

The Shorts:
Name: The Gorbals
Location: 98 North 6th Street, Brooklyn
The Long and Short: Would I go back? Absolutely. Everything was on-point from the service, so the drinks, to the food. Oh, and they had a pretty killer hip-hop playlist going on.
Would I recommend it? Definitely. And, they have a rooftop that I’ll need to check out. You can order drinks and snacks up there, and then, you can go down to the main level and go shopping at Urban Outfitters. Day complete.