Dieci – Excellent Japanese Style Italian Food

Dieci is a restaurant in the East Village serving Japanese style Italian.  Often times when one culture tries to adapt another culture’s cuisine to its own taste, the results are a disaster.  However, Japan has been able to take other cuisines and create something is different yet still good.  In particular, Japan is known for its French, Italian and Chinese cuisines.  In fact, Japan has Michelin star restaurants in such cuisines.  Dieci gives you a flavor for what this type of cuisine is.

The restaurant is a small room in the basement level.  It’s intimate and the type of place you would bring a date.  The service is always excellent and it’s an enjoyable place to have dinner.

Zuke Tuna Salad

This is sliced tuna with squash, snap pea and greens in a truffle soy dressing.  The tuna and vegetables are good quality, but the dressing was a bit too sweet.  It’s an alright dish, but I thought was a bit of an odd choice to put on the menu and didn’t really stand out. 7.5/10

Potato Gratin

This is small baked potato topped with uni.  This sounds awesome although I found that the uni and potato didn’t really do much for each other.  It’s well cooked, but it ends up just tasting like a creamy potato. 7.75/10


Chawanmushi is a savory Japanese egg custard that I grew up eating.  However, the chawanmushi at Dieci is far more decadent than what I grew up eating.  It has foie gras pureed into it, which gives it a much richer flavor.  It’s topped with mushrooms, chives and savory broth.  This is one of my favorite dishes here and I highly recommend ordering it. 8.5/10

Uni Egg Scramble

This is scrambled egg topped with uni and sturgeon caviar in a savory broth.  This is another dish I really like here.  The creaminess of the uni, saltiness of the caviar, the savory broth and egg really pair well together.  This is a great dish. 8.5/10

Brussel Sprouts

This is roasted brussel sprouts topped with parmesan, miso and walnuts.  It’s a pretty decent dish although I wouldn’t say it stands out. 7.75/10

Fluke Sashimi

This is fluke sashimi in a yuzu pepper and ceviche sauce.  This dish works better than the zuke tuna salad.  The sauce is not overpowering and goes well with the fluke.  8/10


This is squid ink tagliolini with calamari in a tomato sauce.  The tagliolini is has great texture and is perfectly al dente.  The tomato sauce compliments the tagliolini and calamari perfectly.  This is another dish that I really enjoy at Dieci.  8.5/10


This is ramen noodles in a spicy lamb bolognese sauce.  The noodles are al dente and bolognese sauce is hearty and goes well with the ramen.  8/10


This is fettuccine with sea urchin and calamari in a creamy sauce.  The pasta, uni and calamari are good.  However, I found the sauce a bit lacking in flavor.  If the sauce was a bit more flavorful this dish could be a winner. 7.75/10

Filet Mignon Steak

This is a filet mignon steak topped with a truffle soy reduction and mushroom couscous.  The steak is excellent and the sauce pairs perfectly with it.  The mushroom couscous is a nice side dish to go with the steak. 8.25/10

Japanese Red Snapper Chazuke

Chazuke is a simple Japanese dish that I also grew up eating which is simply rice with tea poured over it and topped with seasoning.  This is a more refined version with seared red snapper on top of grilled vegetable rice ball with hoji tea soup poured over it.  The fish was perfectly cooked and went well with the rice and broth.  This was a nice dish.  8/10

Chocolate Soufflé

This was a special.  It was a chocolate soufflé with earl grey ice cream.  The dessert is pretty self-explanatory and was really good.  If they happen to have this, definitely order it. 8.25/10

Overall, while not every dish is a hit, the dishes that are good are excellent and it’s become one of the restaurants that I regularly go to.  I highly recommend checking it out.

228 E 10th Street
New York, NY 1003
(212) 387-9545

Gaia Italian Café – Great Homemade Italian Sandwiches, Salads and Other Specialties in the Lower Eastside

Gaia is a casual cafe in the Lower Eastside that serves casual Italian food mainly sandwiches, salads and a few pastas.  I found this place fairly recently and I’ve been going most weekends for lunch for the last couple of months as the food is excellent and the prices are very reasonable for the high quality of food you’re getting.

The restaurant is in a weird location on Houston below the street level in a basement type area.  The room has walls with exposed brick and the floors are all wood.  It’s got around 6 tables with magazines on them and it’s generally a very casual place.

The owner is a nice Italian woman who does all the cooking herself.  She clearly takes pride in her food and I really like that.  I will say that while she is great, the other people there are somewhat incompetent and dealing with them can be a pain if it’s crowded as they re disorganized and don’t seem to really know what they’re doing.  However, the food is very good and the owner is great, so I don’t mind at the end of the day, but just a word of warning about that.

Anyhow, onto the food:

Bresaola Carpaccio with Arugula, Parmesan:

Bresaola is a salt cured beef.  It was tender and delicious and paired perfectly with the argula and parmesan. The owner squeezed a lemon over the whole thing, which really kicks it up a notch. This is my favorite dish here. 8.75/10

Arugula Salad with Cherry Tomatoes in Pesto Sauce with Parmesan:

This salad is self-explanatory, but it is excellent.  The pesto sauce goes really well with the parmesan and argula.  This is really good. 8.5/10


This sandwich is prosciutto cotto, mozzarella, tomato, anchioves and mustard.  As a note for all of the sandwiches, the bread that is used is homemade and is amazing (I’d give the bread 8.75/10).  It is thin and crispy and has great flavor. All the ingredients in the sandwich were good.  However, the mustard was sweet and prosciutto cotto isn’t a salty meat, so I thought it made the sandwich a little too sweet.  I would’ve liked it much better if it wasn’t sweet mustard. 7.25/10


This sandwich is speck, taleggio and mixed vegetables.  Speck is a type of ham and taleggio is a type of cheese that reminds me of brie cheese. The sandwich tastes just like it sounds and it was quite good. 8/10


This sandwich is bresaola, goat cheese, lemon and black pepper. The saltiness of bresaola goes very nicely with the goat cheese and lemon.  This might be the best sandwich I’ve tried here.  8.25/10


This sandwich is chicken cutlet, pesto sauce and tomatoes.  The chicken cutlet is breaded and fried and then topped with pesto sauce and chopped tomatoes.  The pesto sauce is very good and the sandwich is tasty.  The only downfall was the chicken was slightly drier than I like, but still good. 8/10


This sandwich is mozzarella di bufala, tomatoes and basil.  This is a very simple and self-explanatory sandwich, but all the ingredients are excellent and paired with the awesome bread this was very good. 8.25/10

Angel Wings:

The owner bakes all of her own pastries, which is commendable as that is quite time consuming.  The angel wings are best if you can get them out of the oven and taste great with coffee.  They are not quite as good if they’ve been sitting around for a while.  8/10

Brioche with Orange Marmalade:

This is pretty self-explanatory.  It was decent although next time I’d prefer it with Nutella, which is the other option. 7.25/10

Lemon Cookie:

This was a lemon cookie with white frosting.  It was okay, but I thought it was a little flat flavor wise.  6.75/10

Strawberry Jam Pastry:

This was an almond paste pastry that was topped with strawberry jam.  I’ve always like almost paste pastries, so that was good.  However, the strawberry jam was too sweet and there was too much of it, so it was a bit overpowering. 7/10

Greek Yogurt with Strawberry and a Touch of Coffee:

This was a simple dessert of Greek yogurt, freshly cut strawberries, honey and coffee powder.  Everything was fresh and delicious.  I really liked this dessert. 8.5/10


I’m not the biggest coffee drinker, but this coffee was quite nice. 8/10

Pear Juice:

While it had good flavor and was freshly squeezed, it was sort of room temperature, which I didn’t think went over so well since it was a pear.  7/10

Overall, I really enjoy Gaia a lot and I’d highly recommend checking it out.

251 E Houston St (between Avenue A & Essex St)
Manhattan, NY 10002
(646) 350-3977

Rubirosa – A Different, But Good Kind of Pizza

Rubirosa is a spin-off of a famous Staten Island pizzeria called Joe & Pat’s Pizzeria.  From what I’ve read the pizza menu is exactly the same as Joe & Pat’s.

Generally, it seems like you can categorize most pizza places in Manhattan into two categories either they are “typical NYC-style” pizza places where they serve pizza slices that are bigger and are the typical that you see on every street corner (a la Ray’s Pizza or Bleeker Street) or they are part of the “authentic” Neapolitan pizza crowd (a la Motorino).  Rubirosa doesn’t fit into either of those molds and definitely has its’ own style of pizza (more about that later in the post).

The restaurant is dark with lots of wood finishing.  It is long and narrow, but is bigger than it looks when you first walk in.  It’s a younger crowd generally and they play a lot of rock music.   It’s definitely a fun atmosphere.  The service was good and our server was really nice.

On to the food:


This was a platter consisting of assorted prosciutto (18th month Parma), speck (alto adiage), sopresseta, mortadella, mozzarella and maybe one other cheese.  All the meats and the cheeses were decent, but not amazing.  6.75/10

Stuffed Artichoke:

Some people had recommended this dish to my friend.  It was literally an artichoke that was stuffed with breadcrumbs and was baked and pecorino was melted on top.  It tastes exactly like the ingredients sound, but it was pretty decent.  7/10

Vodka Pizza:

We ordered a small half and half pizza so we could try two different toppings.  One half was topped with vodka sauce and fresh mozzarella.  The vodka sauce was creamy and had a good flavor and the mozzarella was good.  What is really different about this pizza is that while it is very thin like a Neapolitan pizza, the crust doesn’t bubble up and get airy like a Neapolitan pizza.  The crust is actually really crispy, not like burnt crispy, but crispy in a good way.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a pizza like it before, it was very unique.  I’m generally a fan of Neapolitan pizza and not much of a fan of NY-style pizza fan, this pizza was somewhere in the two in its’ own unique way.  Overall, I liked this quite a bit in a sort of comfort food type of way.  7.5/10

Fresca Pizza:

This was the same except with fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil. It was also pretty good, I liked the vodka pizza slightly more, but it was a close call, this pizza was also a little lighter than the vodka pizza.  7.5/10

Overall, I enjoyed Rubirosa, the pizza was good and different.  I’d recommend trying this place out to try pizza that is definitely a bit different in the pizza world.

235 Mulberry St (between Spring St & Prince St)
Manhattan, NY 10012
(212) 965-0500