All posts by Elissa Johnson

Affinity for Desserts, Bakeries, Cool Lounges and Italian Restaurants.

Centolire Set to Auction Everything from Its China to Its Elevator

Upper East Side Italian staple, Centolire, recently made news suggesting that the restaurant will auction off its assets in order to pay back the mortgagee who is seeking unpaid debt , according to Grub Street. This auction, which features nearly every asset Centolire possesses, including its china, refrigerator and even elevator, valued at over $300,000,  augments a troublesome past few months for Pino Luongo’s delectable Italian eatery known for its sumptuous pasta’s and famous Caesar Salad.

(Photo Courtesy: ASM Auctioneers)

Dubious financial times emerged at the beginning of January when a federal Marshall seized the restaurants doors for failure to pay its taxes. Although the restaurant appeared to temporarily address the problem, an unappealing, and “for rent” sign was placed under the name. While employees at the restaurant recently contended that despite the sign, the “restaurant was engaged in a dispute with the landlord, which would be resolved soon” the fact that Luongo’s space is up for auction suggests that it is only a matter of time before one of the Upper East Side’s jewel’s will be closed for good. For more information on the auction, please refer to ASM Auctioneers’ listing.

Centolire Restaurant

1167 Madison Avenue,

New York, NY, 10028

P: (212) 734-7711

Serafina Opens in MePa; Per Se Introduces Five Course Dessert Tasting

Upper East Side Italian staple, Serafina, which in recent years has expanded to locations in Midtown West, Upper West Side and East Hampton officially opened downtown in the Meatpacking District on Little West 12th. Serafina, which has served one of the most divine Pizza Margheritas on the Upper East Side for the past decade, returns to the downtown scene for the first time since it closed the doors on its Serafina on Lafayette location. Serafina’s return to downtown evokes a degree of nostalgia as Serafina on Lafayette was once one of the most popular and boisterous restaurants downtown at a time when NoHo’s Butter and Pangaea were the hottest spots in town. As Pangaea, Rehab and Butter are now replaced with Double Seven, Avenue and Catch, it will be interesting to see whether Serafina’s MePa location can create the buzz and relevance equivocal to its former NoHo outpost despite the MePa’s over-saturated location that has arguably too many nightclubs and restaurants.

Serafina Meatpacking:

7 Ninth Avenue (at Little West 12th)

New York, NY, 10014

P: + 1 (646) 368-1110


As if New Yorkers need another incentive to justify a visit to arguably the best restaurant in New York, Thomas Keller’s Per Se is now serving a five course $65 Dessert Tasting Menu. Served in the salon, the Five Course Dessert Tasting will feature: Poached Meringue, “Glace a la Vanille,” White Grapefruit “Consumme,” Coffee and Doughnuts and Popcorn-Cola. Overall this tasting menu is not only one of the most awe-inspiring but it is also one of the most original and innovative in a city that is full of sumptuous food, further justifying why Keller’s Per Se continues to impress even the most discerning foodies.

Per Se:

10 Columbus Circle (4th Floor)

New York, NY, 10019

P: + 1 (212) 823-9335

Valentines Day in NYC: Prix Fixe Dining Guide

With Valentines Day around the corner, now is a perfect time to solidify reservations for that special dinner to commemorate the romantic holiday. Luckily, for anyone residing in New York City, nearly every restaurant tailors a specific menu that adheres to the special day. 2DineOut has curated our Six favorite prix-fixe Valentine Day menu’s for restaurants in NYC.

Atlantic Grill:

1341 Third Avenue,

New York, NY, 10021

P: + 1 (212) 988-9200

Prix Fixe Menu:

Favorite Dishes: Omakase Tasting and Surf & Turk to Share 


53 West 19th Street

New York, NY, 10011

P: + 1 (212) 255-4160

Prix Fixe: Selection of 6 dishes from the “Savory Tapas Menu” as well as complimentary dessert and cava toast for $75 per person.

Favorite Dishes:  Patatas Bravas, Pan con Tomate, Arroz de Bogovante and Churros

Brasserie 8 1/2:

9 West 57th Street,

New York, NY, 10019

P: + 1 (212) 829-0812

Prix Fixe: Three course prix fixe $65 per person.

Favorite Dishes: Lobster two ways, Cote de boeuf for two


103 West 77th Street,

New York, NY 10024

P: + 1 (212) 362-3800

Prix Fixe: Chef Tasting (or Vegetable oriented Chef Tasting Menu) for $110 per person. Otherwise, a four course prix fixe for $82 per person is also available.

Favorite Dishes: Turnip Ceviche, Halibut Confit and Ricotta Gnudi

Fishtail by David Burke:

135 East 62nd Street,

New York, NY, 10065

P: + 1 (212) 754-1300

Prix Fixe: 3 Courses for $85 per person.

Favorite Dishes: Pretzel Crusted Crabcake, Seared Foie Gras, Roasted Lobster, David Burke’s Cheesecake Lollipops


344 West 11th Street,

New York, NY, 10014

P: + 1 (212) 352-2300

Prix Fixe: Five course prix fixe for $125 per person.

Favorite Dishes: Foie Gras Gugelhupf, Veal Tenderloin

United Airlines @ Turkey Sandwich on a Pretzel Roll

Over the years, food served on planes has been one of the most heavily scrutinized component’s of the airline industry. Recently, in response to the economic downturn and rising fuel costs,  airlines have attempted to cut costs by not offering complimentary meals on most domestic flights, unless seated in either business or first class. As United merged with Continental in 2011, I was anxious to experience the recently merged airline’s in flight meal on an international flight. Not only was I looking forward to the New York (JFK) to Sint Maartin (SXM) flight to taste the quality of the food, but I was also curious to see whether or not because the flight was considered “international” if the meal was complimentary. Although the meal was indeed not complimentary, a plethora of options existed on the menu. Despite the 7:45A.M departure, breakfast was not an option (even though it was offered on the menu).

I went with the Turkey Sandwich on a Pretzel Roll for $7.99. The sandwich sounded appetizing because of the choice of bread, a pretzel roll. Overall, the sandwich consisted of fresh smoked turkey, provolone cheese and lettuce. While the quality of both the cheese and turkey was comparable to a local Blimpie or Subway, the bread was fairly good. The problem with dish was mostly based on how dry the sandwich was. As a result, I was forced into drenching the bread with the side of stoneground mustard mayo sauce. Although the quality of the sandwich was above average for an in flight meal, I would have preferred more delectable options on the menu, considering it was not free. To be frank, I would have preferred a substantially higher quality meal even if it exceeded $15 because at $8 for a sub-par sandwich, why not spend slightly more for a decent meal?

Caribbean Air @ Escoveitch Fish Sandwich

Over the past several years, airplane food has deteriorated in quality considerably. In fact, some airlines have become so frugal, airline food, while seated in economy, can only be served if the passenger is willing to pay for it as complimentary meals no longer exist. As I have since become accustom to the recent developments regarding food served on planes (or lack thereof), my expectations have reduced to the point where I am pleasantly surprised when the flight attendant offers a free bag of chips. Therefore, my experience flying Caribbean Airlines for the first time was both positive and an unbelievably rewarding occurrence.

Not only was I shocked to notice that the flight was inclusive of a complimentary meal, that seldom exists in today’s world, but more importantly that the food was actually good. Since Caribbean Air‘s routes are heavily concentrated within the Caribbean, I was not surprised to notice that the meals served reflected the tastes and flavor of the Caribbean. On my flight to Kingston, Jamaica, Caribbean Airlines served a Escoveitch Fish Sandwich on Whole Wheat, served hot. The sandwich was not only acceptable, it was actually quite good, consisting of flavor and a spicy zest that gave it the necessary kick. After finishing the sandwich, I was sufficiently excited and ready to try the food of Jamaica, as Escoveitch Fish is one of Jamaica’s signature dishes. In reflecting on my experience dining in the sky with Caribbean Air, I can not help but express my frustration over the fact that most domestic airlines (Continental/United, Delta, American) inexplicably can not serve a comparable meal even at a price (all of their a la cart sandwiches are so profoundly tasteless and devoid of any identifiable flavor its almost insulting). Nevertheless, Caribbean Air underscores the fact that delectable complimentary meals still exist on some airlines. Now, if only Caribbean Air integrated WiFi…

Liguanea Club @ Esoveitch Fish in Jamaica

Although Liguanea Club is famous for its tennis facilities, it also offers one of the best restaurants in Kingston. Serving an authentic and eclectic mix of Jamaican fare, Liguanea Club serves iconic Jamaican dishes including Jerk Chicken, Ackee, Saltfish and Escoveitch Fish. Having never experiencing Escoveitch Fish prior to my trip to Jamaica, I went with the Jamaican specialty. Akin to most dishes in Jamaica, the Escoveitched Fish, which is technically a red snapper, was fried and garnished with onion and carrots. In addition, the dish included an assortment of sides including banana, potato and bread.

While the fish was tasty, I did not find it as spicy as it is described to be, by most guides’ accounts. The biggest issue I found with both the fish and the side dishes was the overwhelming degree of salt used. In many ways, the profound portion of salt and minimal use of olive oil and other spices undermined the overall flavor of the dish. Furthermore, the magnanimous portion of starches served as the sides was an unwise choice. Overall, while it was rewarding to experience a truly Jamaican dish, the outcome was a bit disappointing. Perhaps, I will go with my gut instinct and order the Jerk Chicken on my next meal in Jamaica.

Liguanea Club:

New Kingston, Kingston 5

P: + 86 968 3483

Pat LaFrieda’s Big App for Meat

Iconic meat purveyor, Pat LaFrieda, has followed the popular trend of creating a iPad application to promote and expose brand awareness. Akin to Domino’s recent iPad application, LaFrieda’s “Big App for Meat” is both fun and resourceful. Although it isn’t cheap ($6.99 on the iTunes store), the application serves as the “definitive butcher’s guide to every cut of meat.”

Big App for Meat features:

  • Over fifty minutes of video that features butchery
  • Tour of the dry aging room that showcases a half million dollars worth of steaks
  • Interactive 360 degree rotating meat

For more on Pat LaFrieda, please refer to his site.

Laduree’s Macaron: the Perfectly Extravagant Patiserrie Serving the Best Macaron

If you have walked down Madison Avenue over the past few months, you may have noticed a distinct and profound line that pervades on the southwest side of Madison and 71st street. Maison Laduree, the famous Macaron purveyor from Paris has created quite a bit of buzz ever since it opened on Manhattan’s Upper East Side on August 22nd. Known as one of the most revered patiserrie’s in the world, Laduree serves not only the most famous but also the most succulent macaron on earth.  For anyone not familiar with a macaron, it is a sweet confectionery that is made using almond powder, egg whites, granulated sugar, icing sugar, ground almond and food coloring. 

Laduree serves a variety of colors and different flavored Macaron’s including: Foret Noire (Black Forest), Grapes Cinnamon, Granny Smith Apple and Red Fruits. In addition to the unique flavor, the macaron’s are lethal because of their inimitable texture that combines a delectable  crunchy shell juxtaposed with a soft jam on the inside. Although the macaron’s are certainly not cheap, at $2.75 each (or $24 for 8), they are nevertheless worth the prohibitive price-tag. With the holiday’s coming up shortly, the macaron’s make for a killer gift that should be acutely appreciated. Although representatives at the UES patiserrie intimated that an upcoming opening in SoHo was probable, the long, exhausting lines out the door will have to be accepted in order to experience the exquisite Parisian imported delicacy.


864 Madison Avenue,

New York, NY, 10021

P: + 1 (646) 558-3157

W: www.Laduree.FR/EN

Smith And Wollensky Credit Card Scam; Da Silvano Owner Accused of Groping

Two scandalous pieces of news pertaining to the restaurant industry surfaced on Friday. Steakhouse chain, Smith and Wollensky, gained notoriety as an apparent credit card scam involving $600,000 in purchases was revealed. According to the Office of the District Attorney in Manhattan, led by Luis Damian “DJ” Jacas, waiters who worked at the steakhouse aligned with others who worked at Wolfgangs, Capital Grille and JoJo corroborated and stole vital credit card information that led to over $600,000 in fraudulent purchases. Once the crooks gained possession of the credit card information, Jacas used a “network of shoppers” to who engaged in profound shopping spree’s at some of the finest luxury brands including Hermes, Cartier, Bergdorf Goodman and Jimmy Choo, among others. Please refer to the New York Daily News’ article for more information. While the news will certainly damage the image and brand of Smith and Wollensky, it is important for the public to differentiate and distinguish the waiters from the restaurant itself. This speaks more to the cruel nature and risk of the business in which every once in a while, employees engage in vicious acts of injustice that should not be tolerated. Hopefully, Mr. Jacas’ punishment will sufficiently address his acts of iniqiuity.

In addition to Smith and Wollensky, Da Silvano also  garnered attention this morning as the famed Tuscan restaurant’s owner was accused of sexual assault. According to the New York Post, Silvano Marchetto was accused of repeatedly groping the genitals of the manager of a nearby parking garage on 122 West 3rd Street. The manager, Samuel Cruz, claimed that the incident was both “uninvited and unwanted.” According to the claim filed with the Manhattan federal court, the parking garage manager seeks unspecified damages based on gender discrimination, assault and battery. While the veracity of the plaintiff’s claim remains obscure, one would have to reserve suspicion and doubt as this could be yet another example of someone trying to play the victim in order to personally gain both attention and money at the others (Marchetto’s) expense. Considering the ridiculous claim charged and the fame (and fortune) that Marchetto has amassed with Da Silvano, the accusation seems dubious.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi: Sneak Peek

Last spring, one of the hottest films to debut at the Tribeca Film Festival was David Gelb’s Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Gelb’s film documents legendary 85 year old sushi chef, Jiro Ono, who is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi, one of the most famous and iconic sushi restaurants in the world. Sukiyabashi, located in Tokyo, Japan, is famous for serving some of the finest sushi in the world at $300 per person. In addition to serving some of the finest and most expensive fish in the world, the three starred Michelin restaurant is also unique for only being able to seat ten people. Below is the official synopsis of Jiro Dreams of Sushi, courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival. Jiro Dreams of Sushi will be released on March 9th, 2012.

(Photo Courtesy: Magnolia Pictures)

An appetizing documentary in every sense, Jiro Dreams of Sushi follows 85-year-old master sushi chef Jiro Ono, owner of the esteemed 10-seat, $300-a-plate Sukiyabashi Jiro restraurant in Tokyo. From the ins and outs of the tuna auction to the proper way to massage an octopus, director David Gelb dynamically profiles all aspects of the craft in mouthwatering style and detail, paying lushly photographed homage to the process of preparing the artisan sushi that earned Jiro an elite three Michelin stars.

Beyond its cinematic celebration of the art of sushi, Jiro is also a film fundamentally about family, tradition, and the value of hard work. The complicated relationship between the master and Yoshikazu, his son and heir apparent, is a story of legacy, succession, and intergenerational tension—universal themes that transcend the specificity of their epicurean world. This emotionally resonant study of a son living in his father’s shadow is couched in an operatic spectacle of some of the world’s preeminent chefs at work, making Jiro a tasty treat that will satisfy all viewers’ cinematic cravings.