Chicken and Waffles

Chicken and Waffles

I don’t know the origins of this dish, nor the proper way of eating the 2 disparate components of the plate, but one can’t really go wrong ordering the “Al Sharpton” at Amy Ruth’s. The chicken is piping hot, succulent and coated with a thin, flavorful batter while the waffle was sweet, soft and doughy. My friends and I devised different eating tactics. One could eat first the chicken before attacking the waffle base, or vice versa. Or, try waffle sandwich making with chicken in the middle and syrup on top. Either way, its best eaten with hands.

Amy Ruth’s

113 W 116th St

www.amyruthsharlem.com

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It had been an awful awful week at work, and as Friday rolled in, all I wanted to do was go home, order Chinese takeout and then crawl into bed and not get up for the next 15 hours. Unfortunately, I had to honor previously made plans with friends and as dinner time approached, made my way up 80 blocks to Pisticci, Sarah’s (our dinner mastermind) favorite Italian restaurant in Manhattan. With an Italian grandma, that is no small praise indeed.

It is easy to see why Pisticci earns Sarah’s praise. The decor is charming in a quirky, kitschy way, with canary yellow wallpaper on one end and a mural of painted bookcases (replete with painted hardcovers) on the other. The pieces of art available for sale are electic and original. The service is friendly, quick, laidback and non-obtrusive throughout dinner, and no one attempted to rush us through our very long meal. Last but not least, the food is straightforward and very tasty. We shared a heaping bowl of spaghetti and meatballs to start, with the pomodoro sauce done just right, not too watery nor tart. I was having dinner with a group of carbophiles so after spaghetti came more heaping bowls of pasta, all al dente and slick with a myraid of tasty sauces, the most memorable being Chri’s fresh tomato and mozzarella mixture and Joanna’s rich, lemony broth that was as seductive as advertised on the menu. My bowl of fresh maltagliati (ie “badly cut” pasta similar to my favorite mee hoon kuay) was one of the heaviest dish, the pasta mixed into a thick lamb ragu and topped off with ricotta as if it was not rich enough. Not too distinguished, but it was a comforting dish suitable on a very cool night.

We then slowly whiled the night away with coffee and desserts which like the savory dishes were simple, traditional and delicious. Katherine’s bowl of fresh whipped cream and fruits was no doubt the most decadent, but the most delicious? I’ll give that honor to the hefty brick of moist coconut cake and the chocolate mousse that was not too sweet, super-smooth and without the grittiness that sometimes plague mediocre mousses. The evening went quickly, as we passed around desserts, shared stories of our lives, and talked about everything, from food trends to books to politics. We finally left the restaurant after an epic 4 hour meal (3.5hrs for me the latecomer). After a very trying week, dinner with friends in a welcoming spot such as Pisticci was exactly what the doctor had ordered.

Pisticci

125 La Salle Street (Between Broadway & Claremont Aves)

www.pisticcinyc.com