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pennoni dressed with cold-pressed olive oil, parmigiano reggiano, and traditional gremolata

pennoni dressed with cold-pressed olive oil, parmigiano reggiano, and traditional gremolata

Boiling yourself some pasta on a weeknight is hardly a new idea, and certainly not some gourmet shit. However, its also one of those go-to meal ideas that can easily be brought up from depressing to delicious with a few simple steps. Good pasta, with a few adornments, doesn’t always need sauce (delicious though some tomato sauces may be).


  • Cold-pressed olive oil, which preserves the fruity and grassy flavors of the olives. Used for dipping, dressings, and finishing, never for frying chicken breasts.
  • Real parmigiano reggiano, not the shit in a green can, and not the cheap store-brand imitation. Look for the dimpled, capitalized lettering on the rind that spells out “parmigiano reggiano.” The flavor is nutty, creamy, salty, and slightly sharp. Eat it on your pasta. Eat it on some bread. Eat it with cured meats. Eat it with a fork.
  • Imported dried pasta or freshly-made noodles may seem unreasonably expensive compared to a box of Barilla, but when your goal is to appreciate the subtle nuances of wholesome, traditional ingredients, the same goes for your pasta as well.

But remember: sometimes there’s just no replacing Annie’s mac and cheese. Or Kraft, I guess, if you’re a total sucker.


Gremolata is designed specifically to be added to a dish right before eating, often times to liven the flavor of long-cooking roasts of meat. However, the bright, pungent, acidic hit is fantastic over pasta. The traditional recipe goes as follows:

  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • Handful of parsley (flat-leaf, if possible), minced
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Squeeze of juice from lemon, just to bring the mixture together

Simply mix and sprinkle over whatever needs a punch of flavor. In addition to pasta, try it over bread with some of that wonderful cheese and cured meat, or on some roasted vegetables after they’ve come out of the oven. The basic formula of aromatic (garlic, or even onion) + herb (parsley) + citrus  (lemon, zest and juice) is incredibly flexible. Here’s my short list (which I’ve tried and love):

  • garlic + thyme + lemon + orange on roasted chicken (especially good with some dark meat and a piece of crispy skin)
  • garlic + red onion + cilantro + lime on avocado slices with toasted bread
  • garlic + onion + parsley + lemon on ripe tomato slices = deconstructed bruschetta (also good on bread)

I’m bound to get all weird with this concept, so I’m sure I’ll have more ideas sometime soon. Something Asian, perhaps? That sounds like it could be promising…

– Max.


If you’re east of the Bowrey and wanting to celebrate your inner Frenchist, stop in at Lina Frey. The bistro, with the entire storefront open to the street , was bustling and energetic when I ate there last Saturday night. We were seated by Manon, one of the proprietors, who only added to the charm of the atmosphere with her accent. Service was good as well.

Food prices were really quite fair,  though drinks were a bit pricey. My friends were satisfied with the moules au poivre and hamburger. Their brussel sprouts in a balsamic reduction were perfectly seasoned and cooked, but I was longing for a bit more balsamic reduction. Also, the french fries were good, if not uninspired, dressed with rosemary and truffle. oil. (which I’ll let slide this time.) What really surprised me was my savory crepe, which was fantastic. Tender in the middle, crispy and browned around the edges, stuffed with wonderful emmental cheese and mushrooms. And also, quite large. If for nothing else, go for the crepes. I regret not having more of an appetite, because I missed out on another one for dessert.

The best $12.00 I've spent in the East Village since that time at that place with that guy.

Mushroom and emmental cheese crepe served with salad. LE YUM.

 Lina Frey

201 East Houston Street (btwn. Orchard and Ludlow)

– Max.

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Yeah, it's a metaphor.

– Lauren and Max


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