During the rough winter months, one thing to look forward to, besides a hot bowl of soup, is a cup of hot chocolate. And I’m not talking about a watered-down package of instant hot chocolate. I’m talking about hot chocolate that’s been brewed in a black kettle pot. During one of the coldest months, February, there’s a Hot Chocolate Festival at City Bakery in the Flatiron District. Each of the 28 days there’s a different flavor, like: Caramel Hot Chocolate, Banana Peel Hot Chocolate and Rum Raisin Hot Chocolate. It’s best to try to grab a cup of “magic” during the week or you’ll be waiting on a long line if you wait for the weekend at City Bakery. But when the party, er..ah, festival is over, this in New York City, and there’s no shortage of options for hot chocolate.
Traveling through my old neighborhood in Brooklyn, Clinton Hill, I had to stop for some of the best pizza in New York City. Luigi’s Pizzeria is a small hole-in-the-wall spot near Pratt Institute – you can grab a slice to go or stand around and enjoy it. I was there once when some old patrons were ordering pies to freeze and take back to Florida – there’s nothing like NYC pizza!
Some people say it the crust that makes the pizza and others think it’s the cheese, but at Luigi’s it’s definitely the sauce. There’s something special in the sauce that makes this pizza stands out amongst the rest. The only downside, as the neighborhood is being gentrified, prices tend to go up but $2.45 for a regular slice?! Ouch!!! I can’t say it wasn’t worth it, but it’s steep for Brooklyn…a new Brooklyn, I guess.
Luigi Pizzeria, 326 Dekalb Avenue @ St. James Place 718-783-2430
What’s better in New York City than a 24/7 restaurant? One that serves Latin food! In the city that never sleeps, it’s not always easy to find quality food at 3:00 a.m. – or at 4:00 a.m. after a long night out. Coppelia, the latest venture from celebrity chef Julian Medina, is a Latin-fusion restaurant. The pastel colors, retro light fixtures, checkered floors and window shudders on the wall transports you back in time – somewhere out of old Havana.
Coppelia calls its cuisine Cuban, but I found it to be more of a fusion of Central and South American flavors from: Peru, Argentina, Mexico and Venezuela. For a small restaurant it has quite a variety on its menu. I’ve been to Coppelia a handful of times. I was impressed with the guacamole and chips appetizer – it comes with three different chips: plantain, corn and boniato chips – I’m partial to the plantain chips. The mac ‘n cheese with pork belly had a real kick. It’s not as dense as the mac ‘n cheese I’m used to but it has so much flavor from the chicharron. My favorite dish is the salmon with pureed boniato potatoes – I almost licked the plate. The penil, roasted pork with yucca, is also good and it was a very hearty serving too.