A Taste of NICO Kitchen + Bar

Newark, NJ

NICO Kitchen & Bar is an hidden Italian gem nestled in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark, NJ. The restaurant is owned and operated by Culinaire and its acclaimed Executive Chef is Ryan DePersio.

Once you enter NICO Kitchen & Bar, you instantly feel a shift in the atmosphere as the decor exudes a restaurant in Midtown Manhattan. Although the restaurant is spacious with many tables and a tall ceiling, you still get an intimate feel from the dim lights and warm colors that bounce off the walls.

A friend and I were sat in a comfy, leather bonded booth with a spacious table just ready to be filled with delectable plates of food. The waitress explained the menu to us, as she was very knowledgeable about the menu and made several suggestions.

We ordered an array of several dishes coursed throughout our meal experience. For the first course, we ordered Pomegranate Chili Wings, Lamb Meatballs, and Polenta Fries.

The flavors of the wings with creamy gorgonzola fonduta served my palette well with the  tartness of gorgonzola, light sweetness of pomegranate, and a hint of chili spice. The succulent lamb meatballs was served in a savory tomato sauce with roasted red peppers and crumbled feta cheese. Lastly, the toasted polenta fries was golden and crisp with a creamy interior.

NICO Kitchen & Bar has a brick oven and as noted by the server that the pizza dough was a family recipe often tested and perfected so I had to try to it. So we ordered the Magherita, a classic favorite with fresh ingredients.

For our third course we ordered PEI Mussels, Grilled Lamb Chops, and Buttermilk Baked Chicken. As the entrees arrived, the aromas were so inviting. The mussels were pan roasted in spicy shellfish broth with Sardinian fregola, fresh herbs, and served with a char grilled bread to dredge up the rest. The chicken was sous-vided then baked with a black truffle pesto, accompanied with broccolini and whipped potatoes. The grilled soy-paprika lamb chops were my absolute favorite, the textures of eggplant puree, wilted spinach, and sauteed turnips served as mouthwatering adventure.

Lastly, after eating all of this delicious food I was determined to make room for dessert. We ordered the chocolate sour cream cake and sundae. I must say that I’ve been to several restaurants and pretty much always have an idea of what the dessert is going to look like but not this time. The plate presentation was both surprising and appealing. Pure genius!

Come check out NICO Kitchen & Bar for both lunch and dinner. It is ideal for large functions, after-work cocktails, or an intimate date. Great food for fair prices.

NICO Kitchen + Bar
New Jersey Performing Arts Center
One Center St., Newark, NJ
Reservations accepted  by-phone or opentable.com  
Free Parking with Validation
Lunch Hours: Mon.-Fri.: 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Bar Menu available 3-5 p.m.
Dinner Hours: Mon.-Thurs.: 5-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat.: 5-11 p.m.

– Isaiah Kelsey


Comedian Ralph Harris Dishes Up A Preview of “My Momma Throws Down” Premiere

Photo Credit: Praise 98FM

New York, NY

From the producers of the popular cooking show, Iron Chef America brings us “My Momma Throws Down”. The show is about two mothers going head and head for the title of Queen of Cuisine. The show is hosted by Actor and Comedian, Ralph Harris (Dreamgirls, Last Comic Standing, etc.) where he draws us in minute by minute of this competition with a bit of comic relief to add more entertainment. Tonight’s judges include actresses Malinda Williams, Nicole Ari Parker, and Vanessa A. Williams of the past beloved tv show series, Soul Food.

Photo Credit: Rolling Out

I got the opportunity to chat with Ralph Harris a bit about the the show and what we can look forward to this season.

Isaiah Kelsey: What qualifies you to host this cooking show?

RH: I’m an amateur (home kitchen) chef and I enjoy cooking when I have a chance. Sometime road food can get boring so, I can’t wait to have some off time to cook a meal from a recipe I’ve found somewhere or something I picked up from a tv show.

As a food lover, I can appreciate the care that the “mommas” put into their cooking and I do my best to help the audience taste the food through the screen.

IK: How does this show differ from so many other cooking competitions? 

RH: “My Momma Throws Down” celebrates the love that these mothers put into their food. It’s not about who has perfect knife skills or the craziest flavor combinations, but about the pride that the moms take in creating delicious food for their families.

Other cooking shows tend to have a bunch of very experienced chefs, who have had major time in front of a camera, but these mom’s don’t try to be anything but themselves.

IK: How can other “mommas” become apart of this show as well as audience members? 

RH: Interested “mommas” should check out TVOne.TV for casting updates for the next season. There’s also a page on facebook that was created for the show [http://www.facebook.com/pages/My-Momma-Throws-Down/283601711700423 ] , and any questions regarding the show, typically get answered in a day or so.

IK: What does your “momma” cook best? 

RH: My mom used to make the baddest sweet potato pie in Philly [Philadelphia, PA]. Then after years of trying to figure out how to get four grown kids out her house, she just stopped like Forrest Gump. Now, my siblings and I are always checking on her to make sure she’s eating.

I think she has a private food stash somewhere!

IK: Where is this show filmed? 

RH:We shot the show in Atlanta, at Turner Studios.

Check out “My Momma Throws Down” tonight on the  TVOne Channel at 8pm EST. Check your cable provider for additional times and channels. Follow Ralph Harris on Twitter @RalphHarris to chat with him about the show!

Momma Let’s Get Cooking!
Isaiah Kelsey

Ethiopian Treasure In The Village

West Village, NY

Have you ever had Ethiopian food? Well Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant resides on Macdougal St. between West 3rd Ave and Bleecker St, though it’s pretty hard to notice due its location one flight below the sidewalk. This restaurant serves as a great getaway for a cozy date for two or intimate party. A hole in the wall as it would be considered ,but as you enter Meskerem it has a typical restaurant atmosphere with no cultural or traditional decor signifying its Ethiopian theme. That is, until you order the food.

In the Ethiopian culture, food is served without any eating utensils. Instead, a spongy and addictive flatbread called Injera is used to dip and pick up a variety of mixed chicken, lamb, and vegetable mixtures that are typically creamy and often include lentils as a key ingredient. The bread fills you up quickly when combined with the entrees, so don’t order too much.

For lunch, Meskerem also serves as a small haven for one that transcends the business and loudness that can sometimes overwhelm city life. Many single diners order the Vegetarian Combo for themselves, which gives you great value for it’s price, while groups often order about three entrees to split, because Ethiopian food is also good for sharing.Each entree at Meskerem averages about $11, although you can get some delicious Sambosa appetizers (try the beef ones) for under $10.

Get ready for lots of strong flavor combinations, as garlic is a favorite. I recommend that you order a mixture of spicy and mild dishes to balance out the fresh, yet distinctive flavors. Meskerem is a hidden treasure that anyone would enjoy and experience that you won’t forget.

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Gabriela Garcia

Choice Streets- NYC Finest Food Trucks Feature

Hello Readers;

Check out my feature, “Choice Streets- NYC’s Finest Food Trucks” on Mobile Food News!

New York, NY

Village Voice hosted their first year of Choice Streets, a food truck version of Choice Eats at the Intrepid Museum on Pier 86 last Tuesday. This event highlighted some of NYC’s finest gourmet trucks from savory to sweet……”

To read more, check out the link……http://www.mobilefoodnews.com/?p=25721


Isaiah Kelsey

Meatball Obsession: Get Your Fix On!

New York, NY

If you’re searching for a Italian fix on the go Meatball Obsession has what you’re looking for. I discovered this small meatball shop right off the NJ Path Train as the savory aromas drew me up the steps quickly.

Meatball Obsession offers large grandma-style meatballs with the option of pork, beef, or turkey in a homestyle marinara sauce. You can order these meatballs in 1-3 quantities with prices ($4, $7, $10) , which comes with toasted focaccia breadsticks that you can dip into your hearty sauce. For a small additional fee you can add toppings such as mozzeralla pearls, crispy pasta, or shredded cheese.

These meatballs can be served as not only just a quick bite but a meal as well. If you don’t have time to stop pass they will deliver for free starting April 30th with a minimum $10 order. Delivery zones range between 5th Avenue to 7th Avenue and 18th Street to 8th Street. You can place an order at http://meatballobsession.com/or call at 212-260-8646. Meatball Obsession is open daily 7am-11pm, located at 510 Sixth Ave. [at the corner of 14th St].

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Get Your Taste Of Italy On The Go!

Isaiah Kelsey                                                                                                                                                    

Cafetasia: All The Flavor Without the High Prices

Photo Credit: Eveats.com

Greenwich Village, NY

If you’re looking to grab something quick on your lunch break, a seemingly fancy restaurant like Cafetasia might not catch your eye. But that’s one of the charms of Cafetasia, it has all the ambiance without the prices. The restaurant is very spacious with plenty of seating, though sometimes in the afternoons at lunch the restaurant gets incredibly busy.

Cafetasia is a particularly good spot for lunch for one because of the large counter it has up against the floor-to-ceiling front window of the restaurant. You can sit and enjoy your food while also getting some work done.

The $8 lunch special is one of the best deals around the Lower East Side. It comes with an appetizer, with dishes like Edamame Wasabi Salad or Shrimp Shumai, and a surprisingly hearty entree. A large bowl of Pad Thai (add a side of peanut sauce to moisten it up a bit) will do you in, or one of the incredible stir fries will be sure to satisfy your taste buds. Regardless,  you will leave very full and satisfied, getting your eight dollars worth and then some.

Photo Credit: newyork-guide.net

However, if you are looking for a place for date night, Cafetasia is also a great pick during the evening. The floating candles create a hint of style and dash of flair, together great ambiance. I would recommend this restaurant for a causal date as sometimes you might have trouble hearing your date, as it can get very loud.

So come by to check out Cafetasia for lunch or dinner an at either location in East Village (8th St. between University and Broadway) and Greenwich Village (85th Ave A. at 6th and Ave A). It’s affordable even by many college students’ standards, and delicious too. Food always tastes better when it doesn’t break the bank.

Gabriela Garcia                                                                                                                            U.F.P Contributor

NYC Most Exclusive Speakeasys Revealed

Keep it down. We’re trying to drink!

It is often said that good friends will meet you at the local dive bar for happy hour tequila shots. But great friends will squeeze inside a phone booth with you while you wait to get into a literal hole-in-the-wall joint for a fine cocktail. Or perhaps that’s just my saying. But like the high quality of these bars, you will also want high quality company to drink with at my top picks for speakeasy bars in the city.

Please Don’t Tell
113 St. Marks Pl

kThe cat’s out of the bag. The beans have been spilled. You’ve heard it through the grapevine. Everyone seems to know about this amazing place that is indeed hidden behind the phone booth in Crif Dogs. How charming is that? Perhaps not as charming as the bouncer and the friendly bartenders who are clearly in love with their fancy mixology professions. They make their drinks strong and provide you with quality ingredients to sip on. Cocktails are about $15 each, and considering the quaint and not-so-hidden gem that PDT is, this is quite a deal for amazing drinks.

Death and Company
433 E 6th St.

As Ernest Hemingway once said, “Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk and that will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” Find this inspirational quote and many more sprinkled all over the Death & Co. menu as you search for your drink of choice. Choose your drink here based on alcohol categories from whisky to brandy to champagne mixes and allow the bartenders to whisk your palette away with their creative blends. Personal favorites include the Rita Hayworth and the Green Flash. The bouncer does regulate the flow of patrons so you may have to wait outside for a bit before getting seated, but the time will fly with their extremely welcoming and personalized small talk.

8th St. Wine Cellar
28 W. 8th St.

Now this may not exactly be a speakeasy, but if you can make it for the 4-7 happy hour specials you can do very well for yourself on their $5 red or white house wines. But regardless, wine enthusiasts should rejoice for a bar that is specifically catered to their love of fermented grapes. Tucked away in a basement entrance, 8th St. has a varied selection of wines and great pairings of food and appetizers like meatballs in marinara sauce or yellowfin tuna sliders. The atmosphere is laid back yet classy, so you can feel right away home without the needing to dress to impress.

Angel’s Share
Village Yokocho
8 Stuyvesant St.

Small, tiny and romantically intimate. Don’t be fooled by the somewhat exclusive nature of Angel’s Share–if you’re fortunate to get a seat you’ll be sent straight to heaven and won’t soon forget it. The feeling that you are left with after exiting is mostly that of “out of this world,” as if this well-known speakeasy transported you completely out of the city streets. Their most tried and true cocktail is the Early Grey with Ginger Beer as well Stormy Weather, a refreshing, fruity drink that won’t overload you with sugar.

Diana Tsuchida U.F.P Contributor