The Zupperites

All the Fixins Wixoms
Allison Cheese and Dewine
Andrea Maitre D'Attanasio
Colin Not a Meal Missin' Nissan
Emily Talk Food I'll Listen Nissan
Tenny "Give me a beer, son" Pearson
Dan Butter My Rollman
Mike Pork and Beany Sweeney
Molly I'll Have Some Moyer
Nick and Alex Wasted at the Bar Spahr
Paul Dinner's Over That's All Foulkes
Jane Put a Fork In'er Gallagher
Nancy Chicken A La King
Phil Kiss My Grits Covitz

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Z" is for Zelebrating at Zampa

“Z” night was zensational. In keeping with our 26-month-in-a-row alphabetical puns, that’s the best way I can think of putting it. For months, we joked if we made it to “Z”, we ‘d have to do it up big - celebrate in style. And that we did. We put on the fancy high heels, suits and ties and met for martinis and champagne at the new bar at the Jane Hotel. Among the glitter and alcohol, we toasted to (what we believe) is the first ever A-Z dining experiment in New York City (maybe even the country?). We chose Zampa as our last restaurant and considering the first image on their website is a sketch of a pig, we deemed it the perfect place. It was cozy yet big enough to hold 15 of us, and loud enough so we could laugh and tell stories about the past 2+ years without more than a few stares. And, most importantly, we ate almost every morsel from our multi-course meal. Awards were given: “(Near) Perfect Attendance – Michael Sweeney”, “Best Dining Adventure – Dan Rollman for Nurnberger Bierhaus Staten Island” and “Worst Dining Adventure – Colin Nissan for Kombit in Brooklyn”. Appropriately, A-Z Pinot Noir bottles were awarded. Dan even designed original Mr. and Mrs. Zupper Club t-shirts for us Sweeneys.

Is it the end of an era? The end of some edibly wonderful dining experiment never to be repeated? After 26 consecutive months of alphabetical New York dining, it was hard to believe we were actually finished. We really did it (without skipping one letter!) We were all still friends, and we even added a few along the way. Some of us got married, some had babies and some simply got drunk and hooked up after the Zupper night was over. Some of us lost jobs, started new companies, some wrote books and some went on to learn how to cook. If you live in New York, you know how busy life can be. Just running errands can sometimes be tough, let alone trying to get a group of friends together every month AND securing a reservation in a New York restaurant. Although A-Zupper club franchising has begun (friends in LA and SF have mobilized regional groups), the excitement and support that each member of our wonderful, delicious club has made would be hard to replicate. It was one of those things we didn’t expect to keep going - like one of those book clubs that sounds exciting at first but that you eventually can't find the time to commit.

It wasn’t about fancy four star dining or being the first to try a trendy new restaurant. It was about scouring every “C” restaurant in the Zagat guide (“there are so many damn restaurants that start with Café!!”), sorting alphabetically on (“how could there be so many frickin’ restaurants in Williamsburg!!”), stressing to find just the right summer “S” type place. It was about finding a restaurant in every borough – even if it meant freezing your toosh off waiting in line to take a bus in Staten Island, or "gingerly" walking through the Bronx to seek authentic Italian. It was about the hundreds of cheesy, alliteration filled emails and the comical replies. It was about friends visiting from out of town and emailing specifically “can we get it on a zupper night?” (or trying to schedule productions around when we were meeting next).

But most of all it was about eating. And being together. So is it an end of our own little era? Not really. No one is ready to let go and an idea for Zupper 2.0 has already begun. Introducing A-Zupper Club: Around the World. A group of friends, one month at a time, one letter at a time, one country at a time, in alphabetical order... until we reach Z.

Who wants some African grub?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

"Y" is for Yucan, and should, go to the Yuca Bar

"Y" could also stand for "Y didn't we write this 3 months ago when we went and could remember what everyone got." But we didn't. So we don't. But we do remember the place was good. And lively. And unpretentious. And the right price. And, truthfully, a whole lot better than expected. Which is why this little A to Zupper Club has been a stroke of genius for these past 25 months. Not only does it give us a chance to make up stupid names for the friends who get together every month (and for the ones who never show, like, say, Matt "Hells, no! I can't go!" Vescovo!) but it gives us a reason to check out places we might never have ventured into. Like the Yuca Bar. So if you find yourself in the East Village and are in some dining club with friends where every month you have to eat in a restaurant that begins with a different letter of the alphabet, check out the Yuca Bar. Just remember to write about it before the club gets to Zuca.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"X" is for xcitement at Xunta!

Upon dining at Xunta, no one knew how historical this event was going to be. At press time, Xunta is currently closed. We caught a glimpse and shared in the end of an era. Well, almost. Although it doesn't look like much from the street, Xunta was quite happening on the inside. The underground tapas joint felt like a nice blend of East Village bar and authentic Spanish restaurant. Authentic in that the service was extremely slow, and they provided impressive entertainment of flamenco musicians and dancers. East Village in that there were congregations of post college kids sucking back sangria. Not that we should talk - the 12 of us sucked back a few buckets of beer as well.

The food was at times quite delicious, and other times quite terrible. Shrimp soaked in chili oil and paprika were fantastic (for bread dipping as well as you can see [PIC]. If the place actually existed anymore, the spicy potatoes and manchego with quince jam would also be worth going back for. We could have used a bit more imagination when it came to the tortilla española, rice and grilled dates with bacon. We could have used a live, breathing cook to make the marinated clams and chicken (it was so un-noteworthy I've forgotten what kind) actually edible. We probably ordered way too much, but it's better that than too little. We had to debunk the myth most men are accustomed to. Poor Mike has been abused by spending $75 on dinners with semi-anorexic girls who only order small plates of olives and two green beans (in which he usually has to devour a large burrito afterwards). Not this night, not with the Zupperites.

"X" at Xunta was xcellent fun, with an xceptional crowd. Xtra thanks to Covitzs for organizing!

"W" is for Walkers

Walkers is the type of neighborhood place that won't win any major awards, and you won't want it to. You don't want the creepy old guys at the bar to go away, not even the douche-y banker guys. The setting is so comfortable and worn in, you're happy with the slightly rickety chairs and background banter of the locals at the bar. From first impressions, you might expect simple pub grub, but the menu actually has a bit more than the typical burgers 'n nachos. There's an old school vibe that is as eminent in the staff as it is in the setting. Walkers is an inviting atmosphere... we were there on a pleasant summer evening, but I'm sure there will be return visits to get cozy as the weather gets colder.

We spent the first part of the evening have a lengthy debate on whether our waiter was from the Bronx, Ireland or the South. And we barely had any drinks at this point. Turns out the gregarious fellow was indeed from Atlanta (and the rest of us are absolutely clueless). For the grub, we started with a couple healthy treats - cornmeal crusted oysters and fried calamari (oysters were the best). Entrees ranged from free-range roasted chicken, burgers, and the semi-famous cowboy chili. Again, you're probably going more for the atmosphere than for the food, but nonetheless we are eaters and eatin' we did.

The paper table cloths and crayons were a nice little treat for several of our attention deficit Zupper members. Nick had a field day drawing lovely pictures of bleeding animals and a recent depiction of how he cut open the middle of his nail. Appropriate and lively discussion for dinner you can imagine.

Overall, Walker's is a neighborhood gem that should be appreciated as a good place to go after work, for a late Sunday afternoon meal or really whenever the hell you're thirsty.

Monday, September 14, 2009

"V" is for Veloce Pizzeria

We had been wanting to do a solid pizza and wine evening for the past few letters or so. Call it fate, but a new pizza joint had just opened to high acclaim, with the name Veloce Pizzeria. Veloce Pizzeria was just about as perfect as a pizza evening one, or 14 people, could hope for. What a turnout. What was originally 9 people slowly crept to 11, then 14, and then who knows, I think we lost count. I'm pretty sure we caught the unassuming waiter off guard because of his slightly off-putting attitude at first. But that iciness was quickly subdued (no doubt because of our charm and good looks) and he was a dreamboat for the rest of the night. You know who else was a boat of dreams? The host/manager. Our party wasn't small, or on time, or for the number of reservations we had originally made, or quiet, get the point.. but he was wonderful and accommodating and made us feel like we were guests of the house. (All Devin had to do was sell his soul and offer a few favors in the back of the kitchen. That's it.)

The food, oh the food. It was all dynamite. We started with these insane fried porchetta meatballs...mmmmm meatballlssss... the only thing i could use to describe them was that they tasted so, well, porky. That melt in your mouth porky sweet and savory tenderness all wrapped up in a thin little blanket of fried crust. Umm, hello? Delicious!

The pizza, oh the pizza. It was sicilian-esque, square style and the waiters placed them on double towers in almost a royal manner. We tried a variety: porchetta sausage, prosciutto di parma on fontina, mushroom complete with hen of the woods and oyster mushrooms, margherita and garlic & clam.
Each was piping hot, containing perfect layers of all the essentials: crisp outer layer of dough hiding a chewy, more soft interior. The outer crust was flecked with baked in cheese and had a bit of charred taste, nodding to the slice's fiery start. It was just the right amount of dough to support the sauce, cheese and toppings. None of the layers overpowered the other, they all seemed to meld together into that perfect bite. The quality of the ingredients was top notch. Not too much of a surprise, especially when you consider you've got Miss Pork USA Sara Jenkins as one of the partners. The house wine is also a good thing to note - we thought they were a great deal, with the Rose being the favorite.

It was a night of old friends - shout out to the SF crew: Craig Mangan, Tod Puckett, Paul Charney, Devin Sharkey - coming together, eating, laughing and drinking. Imagine the classic television show, Cheers. It was like that, except with better clothes, better food, better atmosphere and way hotter women. Take that Shelley Long!

Veloce Pizzeria gets an official "Approved by Zupper Club" stamp (a few of us have already been back). And the conveniently located Tile Bar (not it's official real name, we're not sure there is one) was a great dive-y spot for pre and post cocktails. Thanks to the SF crew for making it one of the most memorable nights, we miss you and "we're always glad you eat pizza."

disclaimer: the lovely shot of the pizza slice was not from our photo-challenged group. it's from a nice guy on flickr.

"T" is for Taco Tuesday at Tenny's

T is for:
a pretty girl named Tenny
who made good looking Tacos
on a Tuesday in May
and even chips & guac... mmm... Tasty
where beers were drunk and all were gay

T is for:
a Tenacious cook and hostess
and Three other solid foodies
big Thanks for her rooftop party
but points off for making me write this,
and for it being so Tardy.

Friday, July 10, 2009

S is for (short) and Sweetwater!

Sweetwater in Brooklyn couldn't have taken place on a more sumptuous, Spring evening. It was one of those early Spring nights that only East Coasters can truly appreciate (well, maybe mid-westerners could too). The flowers were budding, the birds were chirping and dirty hipsters were hanging out of bar windows, toasting the chance to wear colored Ray-bans and cut-off neon tank tops once more. Sifting through the sidewalk parties that seemed to take place outside every establishment (even the pet store was going off), we found ourselves nestled in the backyard patio of Sweetwater on N 6th St. The outside decor felt like an entirely different place than the more subdued, French-bistro interior space. The beer selection was a tasty one, but most of the group ended up with the Pilsner. We ordered a good sample of dishes that were pretty straightforward (except maybe the lamb burger served with tzatziki on an English muffin). The other straight up beef burgers were also tasty, served on the English muffin with caramelized onions. Other faves included the lovely, earthy beet salad, roasted chicken with french lentils and spinach, and pan seared salmon with mashed potatoes. The cook may not be Top Chef material, but the outdoor atmosphere combined with the consistently good fare made it a two thumbs up.

The entertainment of the night must have been when the ladies at the table learned an important, eh maybe not important, but rather disgusting revelation. It had to do with berries and pebbles and such. It's best not to get into details at the dinner table blog. You gross boys and lucky girls know who you are and hopefully don't have to be reminded.

We welcomed Adama to New York, and her first Zupper night (along with her lovely sister, Fatou). Hopefully we showed them a good night and didn't offend them too much. Nick can do that sometimes. Also, the Zupper family raised their pints to toast Phil and Andrea as they shared their last Zupper meal before marriage (clearly a sign of good luck).