Una Pizza Napoletana and Kish-Kash
I went to two new spots upon arriving back in NYC from the summer exodus. The first one is Una Pizza Napoletana. The other is Kish-Kash. Different food, different experiences, and very different prices.
Let’s start with Una Pizza Napoletana. Space is great; simple, airy and lots of light. We had a few of the small plates, one pie, one dessert and 3 glasses of wine. Marinated sardines with roasted green beans are absolutely delish. Simply marinated with olive oil and salt.
Their version of beef carpaccio had massive flavor especially with the crunch pistachio and chunks of salty Parmesan. That night we also had an octopus, white bean salad.
Pizza is prime and definitely has the crust we had in Naples. There are some serious pizza wars going on in NYC these days as more and more new places pop-up. We went simple with the Margharita.
Highly recommend leaving room for the tiramisu for dessert. Perfect balance of espresso, cream, and mascarpone. There is a slight crunch with a soft cream underneath the shavings and powder of chocolate. We were in an out in about an hour. So not a leisurely long meal. Total cost including tip was $160. It got me talking about the expense of NYC as we left the restaurant.
Later in the week, I met my friend for dinner at Kish-Kash. Kish-Kash is the latest restaurant from the owner of Balaboosta, Bar Bolonat, and Taim. All of them are good and Bar Bolonat is going under a short renovation right now. Kish-Kash is all about the hand-rolled couscous. Super casual spot decorated with blue Morrocan/African tiles, big pillows on the benches around the walls and two long communal tables down the middle including a few seats at the window overlooking the street.
Like Una Pizza Napoletana they only have wine. My friend and I were really hankering for a vodka so we reverted to our youth and brought a bottle of Vodka in a brown paper bag and added it to the fabulous Strawberry Pomegranate Ice Tea while we looked out the window. Figured it was the most conspicuous spot. We started with the cauliflower. Perfectly cooked with just the right amount of crisp served over tahini and roasted pine nuts and pickled golden raisins tossed over the top. Savor this dish.
Eggplant is also a winner. Roasted eggplant that is soft enough that no knife is needed. Cut in large chunks serves over a roasted pepper tahini and pickled red onions.
There is a variety of mains that are served with couscous. We had the spicy fish and the Moroccan vegetables. Both with different sauces but the concept is the same for all the dishes. I know because I went back again and had the chicken later in the week. The main courses are simply cooked with really intense flavorful sauces served over the top alongside the couscous. We also had the pickled lemon vegetables and they gave us a small dish of spicy harissa. I’d go back again and again.
We had two appetizers, two main course dishes, a dessert (also a winner of a deep-fried couscous with a fruit compote), a beer, an ice tea, and a side all for $80 including tip. Figure one less appetizer and two alcohol drinks short of what we had at the pizza place.
What I keep thinking about is the huge dichotomy of each meal’s cost and how to make a restaurant work in NYC with the exorbitant rents and more important, the cost of labor. It isn’t easy to make it work when you are paying $15 an hour for someone to wash dishes although I do believe in paying people a livable wage. Not sure what the answer is but it is hard to survive in this city without good food and the right price for the experience you have. That is why Brooklyn is where most of the new creative spots are opening because the rents make it work. As new spots open in Manhattan, we are going to start seeing creative ways to make it work. We have to.