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. 

 

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The District Miami

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While my hotel in Miami Beach was beautiful and had some fantastic food and beverage options, it’s important to branch out and experience some local gems. So, I entrusted in some locals to take me in the right direction, straight to The District Miami.

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They serve contemporary Pan-American cuisine, with the best dishes of North, South, Central America and the Caribbean, in a really warm environment with exposed brick and wooden clad walls. You’re brought out some little rolls to start, or as I’ll refer to them as, little butter bombs of deliciousness. They’re warm, with a slight crispness on the outside, but pillowy on the inside, a little sweet, and melt in your mouth.

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To drink, I had their El Limo (Don Julio Tequila, grapefruit puree, lime, spice). I can always have my drink a little spicier, so I think this one could have gone a little boost further, but it was a really nice drink, a bit of sweetness and tartness with a very smooth tequila. 

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To start, we had to get their Sweet Yellow Grilled Corn (chipotle mayo, crumbled feta cheese, ancho). Man, I love corn, especially when it’s served like this. Each little cob comes skewered, so you can save yourself from some of it getting all over your fingers. The corn was sweet, crisp, and coated with a creamy chipotle mayo, and a touch of salt and texture from the feta cheese. 

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I can never pass up octopus, if it’s on the menu. So, I ordered the Cast-Iron Octopus (quinoa, sweet peppers, cilantro, roasted eggplant puree, olive vinaigrette). We’ll get the minor issue out of the way, which was, I wish there was a bit more flavor to the quinoa, a touch of salt, a little pepper, just to enhance the sweet peppers and creaminess of the grain. But, there are little dots of olive vinaigrette, which, if combined with the quinoa, add for that perfect saltiness. Don’t even bother using that for the Octopus, because it’s perfection and doesn’t need anything added to it. It had the perfect amount of char on the outside and totally tender on the inside, with excellent flavor and pretty much melts in your mouth, just like those little butter bomb rolls. 

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Then, I had the Tuna Tacos (tartare, guacamole, Togarashi peppers, scallions, yuzu mayo, toasted sesame seeds). These were so delicious. What I immediately noticed, and loved, was that these were served in root-chips instead of the regular tortilla (think Terra chips, the white one with red flecks…yeah, you know which one I’m talking about). The tuna was fresh, generously portioned in the mini tacos, and the other components went so nicely, complimenting each other’s flavors.

The Shorts:
Name: The District Miami
Location: 190 NE 46th Street, Miami, FL
The Long and Short: Would I go back? Absolutely. The aesthetic is great, the service is wonderful, and the food is on point. 
Would I recommend it? Definitely. Everything on the menu sounded delicious, so, you might have a tough time deciding, but I’m sure you’ll love whatever you choose. Insider tip from my fellow diner, “the best burger I’ve ever eaten”. So, there’s that.