Category Archives: Food

Dining at Aleo

I had a lovely dinner at Aleo Restaurant & Bar earlier this week, which is a cozy adorable spot in the Flatiron/Gramercy area that showcases innovative Italian cuisine with  traces of Mediterranean flavoring.

For the entree, I chose New Zealand Lamb Chops, which consisted of grilled lamb chops, roasted potatoes, asparagus, cumin-marinated carrots, au jus and taziki white sauce. The lamb was cooked perfectly and had amazing flavor. I enjoyed it with the taziki sauce which had a strong yogurt and dill taste, and was slightly tangy. All the vegetables were wonderful, especially the carrots and potatoes. The carrots were incredibly flavorful and just the right texture. The potatoes were underneath the lamb chops and had soaked all the delicious sauces and spices from the lamb.

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My friend and I shared a dessert of  chocolate molten cake with vanilla gelato, which was wonderful. The chocolate was rich and delightful. I would have liked it if the chocolate inside was a bit more warm and melt-y but overall the cake had a lovely sweet and deeply chocolate-y flavor. The gelato was incredibly delicious and a nice change from the boring old ice cream accompaniment.

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Overall, a delicious, flavorful well seasoned and balanced meal with good service. I even received $10 off the bill because I had a birthday coupon, which made for a happy and a great end of meal!

Aleo_me

Aleo
7 W. 20 St
New York, NY

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Weekend in Toronto

Toronto

A friend and I spent the Labor Day weekend in Toronto, Canada and had such an amazing time. In the short time that we were there, we were able to cover many of the sightseeing hot spots: Kensington Market, Eaton Centre, St. Lawrence Market, CN Tower, High Park, Casa Loma (Castle on the Hill) which was absolutely gorgeous, Royal Ontario Museum, as well as famous neighborhoods and streets. Favorites include Bloor Street West, Queen Street, Chinatown, Korea Town, and more…

Toronto, Day 1:

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Kensington Market/Chinatown

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Toronto Eaton Centre, St. Lawrence Market, Yonge-Dundas Square

Toronto_CN Tower

CN Tower Experience

In the evening, we headed to the Distillery District but did not find it to be a very happening place, so we continued on our way and had dinner at an Indian restaurant called Bombay Palace. It was a nice, quiet spot with wonderful mango lassi and tandoori chicken/prawn/sausage/naan bread special that came on a sizzling plate.

Toronto, Day 2:

Toronto_Dupont

Dupont Subway Station

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High Park: Maple Leaf Bed

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In front of Casa Loma

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Casa Loma

After Casa Loma, we headed to Honest Ed’s, a huge discount store. We were quite hungry so our next destination was Baton Rouge, where we ordered the baby back pork ribs which were delicious! They were cooked perfectly and slightly crispy. I also enjoyed the two sides: French fries and rice pilaf.

When we were done eating, we made our way to one of the famous streets (and my favorite street) of Toronto: Bloor Street West. We walked along Bloor St West from the HR department store with hot pink flags, and went past the high end shops, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Bata Shoe Museum, University of Toronto, cute little shops and eateries (including Greg’s Ice cream where I had the Coffee Toffee flavor which was truly delectable and a perfect balance of rich coffee and sweet toffee), Korea Town and more!

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My Favorite Street: Bloor St. West

Toronto, Day 3

Today was the last day so I spent the morning at the Royal Ontario Museum which is quite cool with all different types of exhibits, ranging from fashion to Asian, to geology, to mammals and dinosaurs, from Neoclassical to Renaissance, from Greek to Roman and so much more.

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Royal Ontario Museum

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Royal Ontario Museum Fashion Exhibit

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Royal Ontario Museum Million Dollar Coin

I really enjoyed my time in Toronto, Canada and would definitely return!

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Outside at the CN Tower

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Lunch at Lavo

lavoI recently had the opportunity to dine at the fancy Lavo (Nightclub and Restaurant ) for Restaurant Week lunch. Inside, it’s beautiful, elegant and spacious.

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For my appetizer, I chose the Tomato Bufala Mozzarella Salad. It consisted of yellow and red tomato slices with mozzarella in between, topped with Parmesan-crusted crostini and onion on the side. Even though it was a simple dish, the presentation was lovely and I really liked the pop of colors. It tasted quite wonderful as well– Fresh, flavorful, and delightful.

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For my main course, I had the sliced strip steak with green peppercorn sauce. The steak, already cut was absolutely delicious– Juicy, tender with a mouthwatering sauce. The only complaint I had was that the meat had quite a bit of fat on it still and I prefer lean cuts of meat. The french fries had sprinkle of Parmesan and were skinny (just the way I like them), warm, perfectly crispy and incredibly good.

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My chosen dessert was the Oreo Zeppole with a Vanilla Malt Shake, while my friend had the Gianduja Budino, a chocolate pudding. The pudding was rich and extremely chocolatey but I preferred the zeppole. The oreo zeppole were delectable warm little morsels that melted in your mouth. The zeppole had an oreo filling with fried dough around it… They tasted sweet and perfect. The vanilla shake came in an adorable little cup with an oreo inside. The shake combined well with the zeppole, but each were delightful on its own.

I truly enjoyed my meal at Lavo! The service was pretty good, though it took awhile to get mayonnaise (for my fries) and I had to ask more than once. Otherwise, a lovely dining and culinary experience.

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Lavo
39 E 58th St
New York, NY

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RW: Sofrito | Nick + Stef’s Steakhouse | Bar Eolo

Summer Restaurant Week (July 21-August 15) is in full swing and so far, I have had the opportunity to have dinner at Sofrito (Pan-Latin), lunch at Nick + Stef’s Steakhouse and dinner at Bar Eolo (Sicilian Kitchen).

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Dinner at Sofrito

Appetizer: Empanadas… I chose beef filling for one of them and shrimp filling for the other. They were both quite tasty, but I enjoyed the beef one better. I also got to try my friend’s yucca crusted chicken which was wonderfully crunchy and came with sweet and delicious passion fruit dip.

Entree: Carved roast pork with Spanish rice and peas, as well as sweet plaintains. This meal was huge! I was only able to finish maybe half of it. The pork was tender like butter and the skin was incredibly crispy with great flavor. It would’ve been even better if there was more sauce. The rice was pretty good and went well with the pork, but the plaintains were just okay.

Dessert: Tres leches cake with whipped cream and strawberries. This was delectable: Intensely sweet, especially soaked in the wonderful cream and the fruit was a perfect companion.

Atmosphere: The dining area was chic and roomy, but we were not expecting the obnoxiously loud club music playing in the front. This made it extremely difficult to to hold a conversation and dampened the overall experience.

Service: Quite good… The waitress was attentive and nice.

Lunch at Nick + Stef's Steakhouse

Lunch at Nick + Stef’s Steakhouse

Appetizer: Chilled pea and lemongrass soup with peekytoe crab and garlic croutons. I was not a huge fan of the soup, but I did like the crab and croutons on top.

Entree: Steak Frites. (What else would you get at a Steakhouse?) The skirt steak came already cut up for our convenience, and was herb marinated with pesto sauce. The steak was delicious and full of savory flavor. The fries were thin and crispy, just the way I like them.

Dessert: Chocolate Mousse Cake. Rich, chocolate layered cake that melted in my mouth was sweet, soft, delicate and delightful.

Atmosphere: Classy, white and elegant

Service: Wonderful!

Dinner at Bar Eolo

Dinner at Bar Eolo

Appetizer: I was looking forward to trying the calamari but it was no longer on their Restaurant Week menu, so I had to settle for the saffron risotto ball. I was disappointed because there was only one risotto ball. Also, I couldn’t taste the saffron at all, but did like the cheesiness of it and enjoyed the beef and pea ragu in the center.

Entree: Seared halibut with roasted potatoes, tomato, mushrooms, capers with olive oil and sauce. The halibut was cooked to perfection, with a bit of crispy skin that tasted so good. I also really enjoyed the potatoes, sauce and everything combined together nicely.

Dessert: Warm flour-less chocolate cake with strawberries, pistachio cous cous and pistachio ice cream was well worth the $4 additional fee. The chocolate cake was truly delectable: Melt in your mouth, finger licking delicious. It was rich, velvety and tasted of pure chocolate. The pistachio cous cous was underneath the ice cream and tasted light, subtly sweet, luscious.

Atmosphere: Lovely, cute restaurant in Chelsea with outdoor seating.

Service: The hostess and waitress seemed to be a bit confused throughout the meal, but they meant well.

 
Sofrito
400 E. 57 St
New York, NY

Nick + Stef’s Steakhouse
9 Penn Plaza
New York, NY

Bar Eolo
190 7th Ave
New York, NY

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Weekend in Warwick

I spent the past weekend in Warwick, NY with a bunch of friends. Here is an account of the fun and crazy times through pictures…

Arrival on Friday:

Barnyard that we stayed in

Outside the Barn House we stayed in

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Posing in nature, outside the Barn House

A view of the garden

A view of the garden

Inside the spacious, roomy, high ceiling loft-like barnhouse

Inside the spacious, roomy, high ceiling loft-like Barn House

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Posing at the stairs

Dinner on the grill

Dinner on the grill

Snap shot of some of us

Snap shot of some of us

Saturday:

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Hanging out in downtown Warick

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Time Flies… Love Stays

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Clock Tower on Main Street in Downtown Warwick

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Afternoon at the beach

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We had a lovely time at the beach

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Enjoying ice cream from Bellvale Farms Creamery

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Close up of the Bellvale Creamery ice cream: White chocolate with raspberry and dark chocolate chunks and Dark chocolate with fudge brownie and peanut butter flavors

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Snap shot with the Bellvale Farms colorful cow!

View of the valley from Bellvale Farms Creamery

View of the valley from Bellvale Farms Creamery

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Snap shot of the valley, clouds & sun

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Saturday Night at the Warwick drive-in movie theater to see the deeply emotional “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”

Sunday:

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Having fun on the wooden swing and the trampoline

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Eating well: Raspberries and salad

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Group photo of all of us who stayed at the Barn House this past weekend in Warwick, NY

The weekend may have ended, but the memories will last forever!

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Dining at Traif

I had heard a lot about the restaurant Traif, in Brooklyn and finally had the chance to experience it with a friend the other day. It didn’t disappoint. It was explained to us by the waitress the items on the menu are small bites meant to be shared so we chose a few items. I started off by getting a drink: Pomegranate juice, which was full of pure pomegranate flavor and not too sweet.

traif_inside

Our first dish was baked Muenster cheese with smoked chorizo and green apple, as well as crostini to dip. The cheese was warm and extremely delicious, along with the chorizo at the bottom. It paired perfectly with the apple and bread. We were even given more bread to finish the rest of the cheese.

traif_cheese
Next came the strawberry-cinnamon glazed baby back ribs, which were as delicious as it sounds. The ribs were coated with just the right amount of seasoning and sauce, and we could really taste the cinnamon spice. The meat came off the bone easily and tasted tender, hearty and a mix of savory and sweet.

traif_ribsAfter that was the BBQ braised short rib sliders with smoked paprika aioli and sweet potato fries. The short rib was incredibly juicy and had a burst of mouthwatering BBQ flavor. And the sweet potato fries were perfectly crispy, crunchy, and delightful. Some of the best I’ve tasted!

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Last was the broccoli rabe, which we thought would be a good, healthy choice but it came smothered in aged asiago, portobello truffle toast and fried egg. Each component tasted great on its own but combining the strong flavors of sauteed broccoli rabe, mushroom, cheese and egg is what made it a wonderful masterpiece.

traif_toast

The dessert was maple bacon mini donuts with coffee ice cream and this was amazing! Warm doughy, sweet, chewy donuts, glazed with caramel and sprinkled with bacon bits– What could be better? And the ice cream was very yummy, with authentic flavor of milky coffee.
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The meal at Traif, from start to finish, was exquisitely decadent, delectable and delicious! The service was spot on and attentive. I would go back again in a heartbeat to try other menu items.

traif_outside

 

Traif
229 S 4 St
Brooklyn, NY

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Afternoon in Williamsburg

I don’t go to Brooklyn often, but I visited my friend in Williamsburg, Brooklyn the other weekend and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Loved all the cute shops, great restaurants, cool graffiti. Plus, it’s very close to Manhattan, which is a big bonus. I got to check out my friend’s new loft and rooftop.

rooftop_me

The rooftop had gorgeous views of the city: Lovely buildings, Williamsburg Bridge, what used to be Williamsburg Savings Bank (now used as a premiere luxury events space)…

williamsburgThere were a lot of beautiful sights on that rooftop. This heart shape in the chain link fence, right in front of the gorgeous domed Williamsburg Savings Bank is one of those sights.

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For lunch, we headed to an Indian restaurant called Mahal Kita.  The interior was spacious and elegant, with chandeliers and brown/tan color scheme.

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As per usual at any Indian restaurant, I ordered a Mango Lassi drink. Since my friend frequents the restaurant, we got our drinks for free which was an unexpected and gracious gesture. The Mango Lassi was tasty, refreshing and not too sweet.

mangolassi

I chose the marinated rack of lamb with potatoes and peppers for my main course, which was delicious. The lamb was juicy, succulent, full of flavor in a delectable sauce and was slightly charred which is the way I like my meat. The medley of vegetables in an orange sauce was quite wonderful and paired with the lamb well, giving it an extra layer of flavor.

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The meal at Mahal Kita was wonderful, the service attentive and they had a 20% off dine in special!

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After our meal, we stopped into Pies n Thighs, the restaurant well known for its Southern cuisine which usually has an hour long wait to be seated… Luckily, they have desserts that can be purchased to go, so I got myself some apple pie (which I ate later). It was flaky tasty cinnamon spiced apple pie with a rich all butter crust… That crust was amazing.

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Then on my way back to the L train, I had to stop at Williamsburg Creamery, known for its homemade ice cream. I selected the White Raspberry with chocolate chunks and it was delectable and oh so mouthwatering and sweet! I also had the Vanilla ice cream with fudge and peanut butter, which I expected to like a lot more. It was actually too plain for me- The vanilla didn’t have enough of the fudge and peanut butter mixed in.

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Mahal Kita
184 Havemeyer St
Brooklyn, NY

Pies n Thighs
166 S. 4 St
Brooklyn, NY

Williamsburg Creamery
201 Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY

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The Ramen Burger

I had heard about “The Ramen Burger” as New York City’s next big food craze for awhile now and finally had the chance to try it this past weekend. My friend and I were wandering around St. Mark’s Place in search of a good Japanese restaurant. We finally came across Noodle Cafe Zen (my find!), where they were having 50% all sushi and a delicious looking lunch special. I was all set to order the salmon teriyaki until I saw the sign for The Ramen Burger. Total game changer and we both ended up getting it.

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It took awhile for the food to come, but it was well worth the wait. The Ramen Burger came with tortilla chips and a light green hummus-y dip. I thought the tortilla chips were cute, if a bit unorthodox in a Japanese restaurant. Though, it did look like the main chef was Mexican so he probably just wanted to add a bit of that flavor into the meal. We also tried a side of charsiu pork, which was way too fatty for me. I am used to the Chinese version which is bright red, lean BBQ pork so could not fully enjoy the Japanese version of the pork.

ramenburger

I did, however thoroughly relished The Ramen Burger. The ramen itself was fried and the meat patty was a blend of beef and pork. The meat was incredibly juicy, savory, flavorful and delicious. There was also tomato, green onion, Asian mayonnaise and a sweet dark brown sauce that worked well together. It was pretty messy, but definitely worth it to try to get a bit of everything in one bite. It was also very filling and satisfying.

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I’m glad I had a chance to try this food creation and I would even come back to the restaurant to try other menu items, such as the shrimp tempura roll, salmon teriyaki, chicken katsu and ginger ice cream. (I was all set to order the ginger ice cream while I was there this weekend, but sadly they were out of it!) Overall, great experience, tasty food and excellent service.

ramenburger_me

Noodle Cafe Zen
31 St. Mark’s Place
New York, NY

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Obao Hell’s Kitchen

I normally don’t write about Asian cuisine but this place impressed me enough that I went two times in one week, which is unheard of for me because I always prefer trying new restaurants vs. going back to restaurants I’ve already been to… OBAO Noodles & BBQ is a chic & trendy Vietnamese/Thai Fusion restaurant with several locations in NYC. The first time I went, my friend and I were seated upstairs underneath a ceiling of pretty sparkly gold material, making a very pretty atmosphere.

obao upstairs

I ordered the Sambai Spiced Calamari, which had an Asian twist, and was the best I’ve had ever! The calamari is mixed with scallion, onion, and served with cucumber relish sauce (sweet, and slightly sour). The calamari deep fried in butter spiced sauce, served warm and extremely crispy, savory and delightful, while still being tender on the inside. So good that I would go back and have it again… Not something I usually do.

obao calamari

The service the first evening was quite slow, but I went back with another friend, we were seated downstairs and service was excellent. The interior had cool orange-y lights, wooden walls and a trio of Buddha statues.

obao downstairs

This time, I tried the Thai Ice Tea which was deliciously sweet, cold and refreshing.

obao drink

My friend and I shared the appetizer of fresh shrimp rolls, which consisted of poached shrimp, vermicelli, bean sprouts, mint, and hoisin peanut dipping sauce. The shrimp rolls came upon a nice display on a long wooden plate and was pretty good. I would’ve liked a bit more flavor and definitely more sauce!

My main course was the Southeast Asian Fried Rice, which had a ton of ingredients (always a good thing for me): Shrimp, thai chorizo, thai pork sausage, cashew nut, pineapple, tomatoes, onion, scallion. Everything came together beautifully and I enjoyed the dish, though could not taste the thai chorizo. Overall, though, it was quite tasty and all the flavors and ingredients were fresh and delicious.

obao rice

My friend ordered the crispy duck with broad noodles and that was wonderful. Incredible savory flavors mingling together! The portions were very generous; we both had to take home at least half the meal.

Next time, I would like to try the crispy Vietnamese Spring Rolls with pork, shrimp, taro & mushroom, as well as the crispy (whole) sea bass.

obao me

 

Obao
647 9th Avenue
New York, NY

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Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding

Photos by Marlisa Douglas

Photos by Marlisa Douglas

I recently received complimentary tickets to Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, the longest running interactive Off-Broadway experience in New York City. While being seated for the wedding ceremony, I spoke with Johnny (Tony’s brother), who remembered me as the smart girl in high school that he used to cheat off of, so we had a good laugh about that. We are also introduced to the loud-mouthed Italian families taking part in the wedding, including the crazy brothers and cousins, aunts and the hilarious grandmother. (Pictured below)

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Tina walked down the aisle toward the stage and looked beautiful in her billowy beautiful wedding dress!

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The ceremony was lovely, starting off with Sister Albert Maria singing a religious song and getting the whole audience to join her. One of Tina’s bridesmaids and her maid of honor read from the Bible (the well known love passage from 1st Corinthians 13:4-8 and a scripture about marriage). There was also the ceremonial lighting of candles and vows being exchanged between Tony and Tina.

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After the ceremony, we all headed to Guy’s American Kitchen for the reception. My friend and I sat at the Sinatra table.

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Upon arrival, I saw the lovely & pristine layered white wedding cake…

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Dinner was provided… We had bread, which was just your run of the mill soft bread. Then came large vegetarian dumplings with soy sauce, served on a bed of purple lettuce and vinaigrette. The dumplings were pretty tasty, but there was only enough for one each. I would’ve liked to have another one. A bit later, we went to the buffet for our entree, which was salad, pasta with vegetables and tomato sauce. I enjoyed the vegetables the most– They were fresh and flavorful but the rest of the meal was mediocre.

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Then there was cake… Even though it was a small piece, I really enjoyed it. It was light, fluffy, not too sweet and tasted delicious!

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Also at the reception, we met Danny Dulce the wedding singer. Danny really knew which songs to perform and my friend & I had a great time dancing to the tunes. We got to see a extravagant Champagne Walk and then the drama continued as the bride, groom and all parties got drunker as the night wore on… Tony & others from the wedding party taking their shirts off, ex lovers getting back together, Conga line, the bouquet/garter toss and more!  There was also a fight between Tina and her pregnant maid of honor (as well as best friend) and later, between Tony and his brother, Johnny. Tony later told me not to encourage his little brother!

I had such a wonderful time at Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding and found it to be an original, creative and incredibly entertaining immersion experience — You really feel like you are a part of the wedding!

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Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School,
120 West 46th St.
&
Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar (Downstairs)
220 W 44th St
New York, NY

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