Best for Brunch: Dominique Bistro in the West Village

Brunch is pretty much a NYC staple. It seems like we’ve altogether abandoned the idea of “lunch” for a menu featuring both breakfast and dinner hybrids, and I’m sure not complaining. Brunch is my new favorite meal (followed shortly by dessert), and finding great brunch spots is sort of a personal mission of mine. A couple of weeks ago, with fork in hand, my friend and I were invited to stop by Dominique Bistro over in the West Village. Located on the cutest corner, you can’t help but feel like you’ve stepped away from the bustle of everyday busyness when you arrive at Dominique Bistro.



That relaxed kind of energy is maintained throughout. The inside of Dominique is modern, but relaxed and the service is attentive, but not overwhelming. You won’t be bothered by persistent servers here. In the mornings quite a few people stop by just for the coffee, and when we arrived there were already a few couples brunching. Dominique Bistro does sport an open kitchen set-up, but it’s all very well done and you definitely don’t hear the clatter of plates or pans coming from that corner. In keeping with that elegant Parisian feel, the actual restaurant is pretty small, but tall ceilings and large open windows open the space up in such a way as you don’t feel crowded at all.

Dominique Bistro in the West Village, NYC | read more at nyctalon.comDominique Bistro in the West Village, NYC | read more at

The brunch menu is ideal – you have savory options like Truffle Eggs, Eggs Provencal, and the classic brunch stand-bys Eggs Benedict and Avocado Toast, as well as a sweeter option in the Belgian Waffles served with fresh berries and chocolate mousse. I opted for the Duck Hash, boasting duck confit, potato, poached eggs, lardons, and arugula, while my friend had Eggs Benedict with prosciutto cotto.

Dominique Bistro in the West Village, NYC | read more at nyctalon.comDominique Bistro in the West Village, NYC | read more at

I’m not going to lie, I should have stopped half-way through the Duck Hash. It was insanely filling, but the flavors were so on point that I had to restrain myself from licking the plate. The Duck Confit was perfectly tender, and the lardons were crisp, a perfect accompaniment to the poached eggs (also done perfectly). There was no part of that dish that I didn’t love. My friend loved her Eggs Benedict. “This is exactly how brunch should be” she said, sipping her expertly made cappuccino “great food, done well enough that it almost feels too decadent for breakfast”.

Dominique Bistro in the West Village, NYC | read more at

Since then I’ve been poring over their menu, making plans to eventually head back to dinner. With entree options like Bouillabaisse, Duck Confit, and my personal favorite – Beef Bourguignon, Dominique Bistro is perfect for brunch, but definitely sounds like a sound option for dinner too! I can’t wait to head back!

Dominique Bistro
14 Christopher St
New York, NY 10014
(646) 756-4145

Just for the calamari…

I’ve tried to write this post at least three times already, so instead of going the “writerly” route – which after an exhausting week of running around for work and school projects, just isn’t working for me right now – I’m just going to be as bare bones as possible with this post. This Friday my sisters and I traveled over to Yonkers to try out a restaurant – Zuppa. We had bought a LivingSocial voucher, so we figured with overages lunch for three wouldn’t be too bad. The restaurant sounded sort of snazzy (based on it’s website and reviews), so we three raided each others closets to pick out our best business-wear appropriate for us ladies who lunch.

On arrival, we were led into the dining area – which was almost cavernous, but not quite. It’s one of those spaces that have high ceilings but is still on the smaller side. My sister loved the feel and artwork of the place. I, on the other hand, almost felt like Zuppa seemed more like a pop-up restaurant than a Yonkers staple.


We all ordered the Prefisso or Prefix – the three course lunch special. My sisters both ordered the Crostino, while I went for the Calamari. The calamari was far and away the best calamari I’ve had in years – yes, years! I would come back to Zuppa again and again just for the calamari alone. The calamari was crisp, yet light, and bursting with flavor. Served with a spicy marinara, both of my girls agreed that this was a brilliant dish.


The crostino, though plated prettily, was disappointing – house smoked ricotta, orange segment, and bitter greens on grilled/toasted bread – I tried my sisters crostini and they were mostly burnt, the house smoked ricotta was creamy but largely lacking in flavor.


Next was the second course – I had the Salmone; grilled salmon, pesto, roasted potato, fagiolini, and moscato wine vinegar – the salmon was slightly overcooked, but the flavor of the pesto and crispness of the roasted potatoes were nice. My sisters ordered the Spaghettini and the Cavatelli. I would have preferred either of theirs to my salmon. Zuppa nailed it with cooking the pasta perfectly al dente – which is a big deal to us Italians y’know ;). The Cavatelli, with smoked ricotta, pasta, speck, and crunchy radicchio, was loaded with flavor. Deliciously creamy with the speck lending great bacon-y flavor to the dish. The spaghettini was simple, shoestring pasta, sun dried tomato pesto, and mushroom. I love the flavor and simplicity of the dish – I just wouldn’t pay $24 or even $15 for it for lunch.


For dessert the girls had the seasonal gelati trio – which happened to be Basil, Ligonberry, and Pumpkin. I had the Honey Jameson Pannacotta garnished with honeycomb and a rice crispy treat. They were all delicious and a sweet ending to our meal.


All in all, our little lunch outing came out to $46 (including tax & tip) in addition to the value of the voucher ($60). If you decide to stop by Zuppa, please be advised, the sparkling (seltzer) water that they offer you is not complimentary and at lunch is $6 a bottle – which they didn’t tell us, nor was it indicated on the menu – until we saw the charge on the receipt. I thought that was rather shady of them as it was offered as an alternative to water and the waiter kept returning to refill our glasses and empty our bottle of sparkling water without our request. That being said, the staff was friendly enough, and didn’t give us any issues with our voucher. While there were some highlights to the meal (calamari, and cavatelli) I have to – with reluctance – admit that the meal wasn’t was I was hoping it would be. A meal at a restaurant should never be a case of choosing between what’s good and what’s flavorless. This was a case of dressing up for a meal that doesn’t dress up for you.

If you’ve been to Zuppa, let me know what your experience was like! If you haven’t, what’s one of your most memorable dining experiences?

Either way, I still plan on returning to Zuppa, even if just for the calamari…

Zuppa Restaurant & Lounge

59 Main St, Yonkers, NY 10701

(914) 376-6500

*P.S. All pictures were taken with my new Nokia Lumia 635 – which is pretty awesome for snapping pics in dimly lit settings IMHO! Plus, I didn’t have to lug around my DSLR!


Agrovim Highlights Iliada at Nerai NYC

Greek food definitely rates at one of my favorites, so when I was invited to join Agrovim – Greece’s leading olive oil producer – at NYC’s Nerai for an exclusive Greek dining experience, I was naturally pretty excited! Agrovim, who recently released their Iliada line of olive oils hails from Kalamata Greece where locals are such big fans of the oil that it’s even used in spas!


Nerai, located over on East 54th is known for offering a contemporary twist of classic Greek cuisine. I was excited to meet Agrovim reps as well as celebrity partner Billy Zane (Titanic, anyone?), who regaled us with the tale of how their partnership came to be. After doing a tasting of their exciting line of flavor infused oils we sat down to dinner highlighting Agrovims extra virgin olive oil.


Appetizers featured Grilled Octopus, Chips Nerai, Carpaccio, and Greek Salad – which were all in Greek style, capitalizing on simple but flavorful ingredients. My favorite was the Carpaccio – the yogurt foam and squid ink really did it for me.

For the main course we were given the option of Halibut a la Polenta, Marinated Chicken Souvlaki, and Shrimp Santorini all prepared with Iliada olive oil. I opted for the Shrimp Santorini – which was ridiculously good, I loved it!


For dessert we were treated to Loukoumades – home-made doughnuts, honey syrup, and candied walnuts; Saragli – hand-rolled baklava with almonds and pistachio; and Portokalopita – a sponge-filo cake with orange syrup. They were all decadent and a perfect end to a lovely evening.


I’ve already started to experiment with Agrovim’s Iliada oils (look out for that update!) and can’t wait to return to Nerai. For a complete listing of Agrovim & Iliada olive oils, check them out at!

Restaurant Review: Dinner at Grace’s Trattoria

I recently had the pleasure of joining Grace Balducci Doria as well as key members of her staff for a press tasting of some exciting dishes on their menu. Having never been to Grace’s before I was completely blown away with how delicious the items on their menu were and am really looking forward to the next time I return! To see a complete recap/review of my whole experience as well as plenty of pictures click on over to From Val’s Kitchen where the full article is!


If you live in or visiting NYC, I highly recommend that you stop by Grace’s Trattoria!

Grace’s Trattoria
201 E 71st St, New York, NY 10021
(212) 452-2323