Archive for December, 2006

billy’s bakery

I went to visit Katie Holme’s favorite cupcake shop!  Billy’s is usually really out of the way for me since I live and play in the East Village and LES area.  The only time I get to come to this neck of the woods is when I go to Chelsea Market, and after Chelsea Market, I’m usually too stuffed to go anywhere else.  This time, it just so happened that I was coming from the opposite direction towards Chelsea, so I finally had an opportunity to sample their infamous cupcakes. 

billy's bakery, outside decorating cupcakes

All the pastels here reminded me of Magnolia’s bakery, only more cozy.  Magnolia’s is a very strict “grr, get what you need and get out- don’t look around” type place to me, which makes sense because of the amount of consumer traffic they get.  Billy’s has a tiny seating area, bigger than Magnolia’s and smaller than my personal fave, Triple S. 

cheesecakes cupcakes

They also have a variety of cakes and cheesecakes in addition to cupcakes.  The cheesecakes looked really appetizing, but I just settled on trying just the cupcakes.  I tried the original vanilla and the carrot.   The carrot cupcake was to die for!  It was so rich and moist on the inside!  YUM!  The icing/frosting was also soo good (not too sweet) and not in the least bit hard!  The vanilla was a little on the doughy, cakey side (kinda like Magnolia’s, only not so much) so it was really good too.  I’m glad these cupcakes weren’t over the top rich or sweet.  I think Billy’s is one of my top places to get cupcakes now, but they still come after Triple S  [Sugar Sweet Sunshine].

carrot cupcake  inside of carrot cupcak

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burgers & cupcakes

 I stumbled upon this Burgers & Cupcakes offshoot on 37th & 9th walking down to Chelsea Market with Daniel one day.  Yes, we are true New Yorkers- we walk everywhere.  Their burgers looked really good, but I just had myself a slice of pizza just a few blocks ago.  We went in because they had a deal: 3 mini cupcakes for $5!  I didn’t even have to drag Daniel and we were already inside.

I was surprised that they had table service here.  I thought one would just order food and find a seat.  We went to look at the day’s selection of cupcakes to figure out what we wanted to order and took a seat by the window.  I decided that I should get some real food to eat along with the cupcakes.  I wasn’t hungry enough for a burger (though they looked smashingly delish), so I got a mesclun salad with cherry tomatoes and avocado.

burgers & cupcakes outside burgers & cupcakes inside

The salad was fresh, especially the avocado.  Look!  No brown spots!  =)  That always makes me happy.  I didn’t really like the dressing though- too much olive oil for my liking.  BTW, I did eat this salad all by myself because Daniel didn’t want to participate in my fattiness.  He says the cupcakes have enough calories alone- he doesn’t need to add to them.  Though, 15 minutes later, he wanted to go hunt down some White Castle, so….


We decided on the vanilla with vanilla icing [with the Christmas sprinkles], the carrot with the cream cheese and coconut icing, and the vanilla with the chocolate icing for the cupcakes.  The mini cupcakes are actually the size of regular cupcakes.  The jumbo ones were humungous.  They were very exciting to look at.  It turns out that these cupcakes have been sitting around for a while [it was only a bit past lunch by the time we got there], so the cupcakes were not as soft and fluffly as they could have been.  Also, since it’s been sitting outside, the icing has started to get hard on the sides, which was fairly disappointing.  The degree of sweetness was not too bad though; it wasn’t over the top sweet.  We just weren’t wowed by their cupcakes.  Maybe we shall try the original one next time.

3 cupcakes 

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The Saturday before Time Out NY’s article on the best pizza places in New York came out, I was already thinking of pizza.  It was just a mere coincidence that TONY had the same thought process.  Of course, the “best” pizza is always so relative and arbitrary.  And it’s New York- there’s almost as many pizzerias as Starbucks here!  Anyway, Eva and I compiled a list of places to go with the help of TONY.  We came up with about 8 places that were going to be in the areas we were shopping that day [we decided it’d be a good idea to walk off the calories].  Unfortunately, time didn’t permit us to visit all the places we wanted, but here’s a quick overview of our day. 


1. L’asso.  41 Kenmare St.

I’ve been here previously but wasn’t a very big fan of their slices.  I wanted to come back this time with a more critical eye and taste it all over again.  I’m sure you’ve noticed the pizza-less picture here and that’s because L’asso had a really big order to fill that day sothey didn’t have any slices avaliable, so we didn’t get to get any pizza here.

ray's ray's kitchen
ray's pizza 1 ray's pizza 2

2. Ray’s.  27 Prince St.  The original.

Ray’s is split into two parts; a restaurant and a pizzeria.  Both spaces are small, but the cramped pizzeria never seemed to bother bother the customers waiting in line for pizza.  We got a slice off a brand new pie and ate it outside.  I love the stretchiness of the cheese on pizza when it first comes out of the oven and hasn’t congealed yet.  Mmm..  just thinking about it makes me drool.  The tomato sauce was more acidic than I expected, and Eva thought it balanced very well with the saltiness of the cheese.  She’s one of those who loves the combo of sweet and savory flavors in one dish.

ben's pizza ben's pizza inside
bens pizza 

3. Ben’s Pizza.  177 Spring St.

I’ve heard people rave about the Silician slices from here, but I can’t say that I appreciate those because there’s just too much breading.  The New York style I had was not the most impressive.  I would classify it as more than mediocre, and worth spending the money on, but nothing to write home about.  At least, not today’s slice.  This one was more on the bland side- no aspect of the pizza really stood out to me.  It was just a normal slice.  You can’t really go wrong with a slice from Ben’s. 

joe's pizza ben's pizza inside
joe's pizza slice joe's pizza closeup

4. Joe’s Pizza.  7 Carmine St.  Where Spiderman gets his pizza.  Open until 5am.

Whether or not it’s because of Spiderman, the line for Joe’s swiveled out the door.  I liked the tomato sauce because it wasn’t as acidic as Ray’s, and it had more flavor than Ben’s.  It tastes like very standard tomato sauce- maybe it was canned?  *shrug.  What I didn’t enjoy was that it was overheated quite a bit.  My cheese bubbled and browned in certain places, which put an end to my stretchy cheese effect.  The crust was crunchy and thin, which is essential for New York style pizza, but this time, it was overdone and a bit on the brown side.

beard papa's 

Right next door to Joe’s is a Beard Papa’s.  We decided to take a break and split a green tea cream puff (the pic was really ugly so I didn’t post it).  I wasn’t happy with the filling.  I usually go to the Beard Papa’s on Broadway & Astor, and they have a really thick creamy filling.  This batch of filling was a bit too runny in consistency and in turn, affected the cream puff’s flavor.

una napolenta

5. Una Pizza Napolentana.  349 E 12th St btwn 1st & 2nd Aves.

Apparently, at 3:30 in the afternoon, it was too early for pizza.  I didn’t know it was a sit-down place until we got there, and my guess?  They only offer dinner service.  Looks like I’ll have to come back for this one.

s'mac s'mac inside
s'mac brie  s'mac brie

Instead of venturing further uptown to finish the list, we went to S’Mac [a restaurant devoted to mac & cheese] and got ourselves some mac and cheese before we both went our separate ways.  It’s pretty pricey for mac & cheese, but they’ve got some good options, such as the brie mac & cheese that we ordered.  Creamy Brie, roasted figs, roasted shiitake mushrooms & fresh rosemary.  You can also choose to get bread crumbs on top, which we did.  The brie made the dish really heavy, but it was so good!  I enjoyed the saltiness of the fig with the soft mac and brie together with the crunchiness of the crumbs.  Eva lighted the sweet figs balanced with the saltiness of the brie and mushrooms with the crunchiness of the crumbs.  I say, it was a good balance of textures and flavors.

I didn’t find any spectacular pizza today, but I am going to work my way uptown and to Di Fara’s in Brooklyn, which was named #1 in TONY and by a co-worker.   Mmm… there is nothing like a good thin crust New York style cheese pizza.  =)

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