RESTAURANT REVIEW
Ponty Bistro

Long before the two hour waits at Dirty French, there lies a cozy, neighborhood gem in the heart of Gramercy that has been serving up French-African food for nearly a decade. Ponty Bistro, with its warm, cherry wood furniture, and authentic African art, makes you feel like you might possibly be in a French inspired bistro in Senegal, where owner and executive chef Cisse was born. (The bistro itself is named for one of the main thoroughfares in Senegal.) Cisse is warm and charming, and much of his success lies in the relaxed, welcoming atmosphere that he creates – helping to motivate neighborhood regulars to keep coming back. The restaurant has done so well that the owners – Cisse and his cousin Chekh - managed to open up a second, more spacious location in Harlem. Featuring live music and catering to the African immigrant population residing in Harlem, Ponty is bound to be as big of a hit uptown as it is downtown.

WEEKEND PICKS
Weekend Pick: Parisian Brunch @ Hotel Chantelle
If sipping mimosas at noon is your thing, prepare for an exquisite brunch at the 1940’s Parisian-inspired Hotel Chantelle. You can quit daydreaming about Paris now, and satiate your wanderlust in brunch items like “Grapefruit Brulee” and “Croque-Monsieur Spring Rolls” right around the corner on Ludlow St. Not into the fancy-shmancy menu? Try the fool-proof liquid diet instead, and sip on their featured 92 cent cocktails to the sounds of live jazz. Dandy Wellington and his Band will be returning for another dapper afternoon of smart-looking people in tailored suits and top hats; an affair reminiscent of Gatsby meets Holly Golightly. For an elegant afternoon of French cuisine and penny-pinching cocktails, you can make your reservation here. Brunch seating will be available this Saturday from 11:30am – 5pm, but feel free to stay longer if you’re here only for the band (or just feeling a little too boozy after one too many Strawberry Lime Rickeys). Bon appetit! What: Parisian Brunch @ Hotel Chantelle When: Saturday, April 18th, 11:30am Where: Hotel Chantelle, 92 Ludlow St, NYC
RESTAURANT REVIEW
Brazilian Indulgece at Fogo De Chão

What does every New Yorker dream of? Well, of course there are an endless amount of answers to that question. At least when it comes to food, topping off every carnivorous New Yorker’s list will most likely be a perfectly curated steak. With an abundance of top-notch options in this city, sometimes we need a little help narrowing it down.

The Brazilian Steakhouse Fogo De Chão, located in midtown Manhattan at 40 West 53rd St., prides itself on “the Gaucho way of preparing meat.” Combining culinary traditions from both Brazilian natives and European influence, this restaurant has reimagined the southern Brazil technique, known as “churrasco” which entails roasting meats over pits of open fire to golden perfection.The three-tiered venue features contemporary décor which spans from the lounge area to private and semi-private dining rooms. As with any upscale restaurant, you can expect a suitable cocktail program. For a refreshing (and fairly potent) option, Fogo de Chão honors Brazil’s national cocktail with their signature Caipirinha, made with lime, sugar and cachaça, a distilled spirit made from sugarcane juice.

National Grilled Cheese Month & Spring Time Bliss

GRILLED CHEESE. How can something so simple evolve into an elaborate culinary genre of its own? April happens to be National Grilled Cheese Month and we’ve come so far from the days where grilled cheese meant two pieces of generic white bread, a few slices of American cheese, butter and a frying pan. The best part about this notorious and beloved sandwich is that no matter what your culinary abilities might be, whether you’re a broke college student or the executive chef at Michelin-starred restaurant, the majority of us can find a common ground with the grilled cheese.

We live in a dairy-obsessed world where many of us have graduated from processed cheese to fresh and artisanal cheeses. This means a whole new level of grilled cheese using everything from Havarti and Goat cheese, to Mascarpone to Gouda and Brie and every other gooey melting goodness you can imagine. Aside from dairy, chefs are getting crafty with bread options, fruits and vegetables, different preserves and spreads, whether it will be savory or sweet and even changing up the cooking method. We’ve rounded up a list of cheesy goodness for you to try this April whether you want to create your own or pick up a grilled cheese to go.

WEEKEND PICKS
Sunday Champagne Brunch at Beauty & Essex

Ever wished you could attend one of those fancy New York parties you'd only see in movies? Well, allow us to help you turn your wish into reality. Head to Beauty & Essex this Easter Sunday (and every Sunday) as the eloquent restaurant resumes its weekly Champagne Brunch affair.

At this weekend's brunch, extended until 6 pm, feel free to unleash your inner foodie and tantalize your taste buds with exquisite entrees, appetizers and delicious champagne cocktails on the eatery's upper level.

WHAT TO EAT Loaded Dawg
Spring into Healthy Eating in 2015

As the ice finally begins to melt and the faint memory of sunshine starts to come back to us, it’s time to think about spring cleaning. By spring cleaning, we don’t mean packing up your bulky sweaters and planning for a garage sale, although there’s nothing wrong with getting organized. We’re talking about a spring body cleanse and beginning to think of all the different ways you can improve the way you live through healthy eating for spring 2015.

One of the best parts about living in New York City is the abundance of natural and organic options that have been popping up on every corner. From pop up food carts to gourmet restaurants to wellness centers and organic delivery services, NYC offers healthy options for everyone. You just have to know where to look.

WHAT TO EAT Traditional Eggs Benedict (Agave)
The Best Brunch/Delivery Spots for Your National Deskfast Day Feast

As any New Yorker will tell you, brunch is a big deal. Whether the hybrid meal's appeal lies in the justification of sleeping-in and cocktails before 2:00 or the upscale connotation that comes with the word, does it really matter? Because today, March 19th, you'll have another excuse to indulge in luxury grub for National Deskfast Day. This nationally recognized, culturally treasured, time-honored institution of a holiday may have its protesters - is it a fake holiday made up to justify our gluttony, who cares?

Most simply, National Deskfast Day suggests that you celebrate the occasion having the most important meal of the day delivered to the comfort of your own desk. We have to admit, eggs benedict and a bloody mary behind your computer monitor sounds like a great way to combat trivial Thursdays. Yet another perk of being a city-dweller is that there is never a shortage on delicious brunch or even on those that deliver these to-die-for delicacies. Now we have to look deep inside ourselves and ask: "who will be catering my Deskfast Day?"

WHAT TO EAT
Eighth Annual Village Voice Choice Eats


The Metropolitan Pavilion hosted the Eighth Annual Village Voice Choice Eats on March 13th for a Siesta-inducing fiesta of drinks, eats, and sweets from 68 handpicked local restaurants. The All-Star roster included savory favorites from Bobwhite, Casa Mono, John Brown Smokehouse, Kickshaw, Veselka and more. Booze was flowing freely from Crabbie’s, Sixpoint, Catskill Distilling, and over a dozen others, while our sweet-tooth was quenched by Carlo’s Bakery, Butter Lane, Doughnut Plant, and our favorite of the night, Ample Hills Creamery.

RESTAURANT OPENING
Artichoke Pizza Opens New Location in Astoria, Brings Joy to All

Oh Artichoke Pizza, that delicious, goodies-and-yum-laden slice of heaven. Lucky for you, Astorians, now there's no need to trek to one of Artichoke Basille’s Pizza's four other locations – three standalones all in Manhattan and a smaller space in La Guardia airport – to get your fill: the one-of-a-kind pizzeria just opened its latest outpost literally across the street from the Astoria-Ditmars stop on the N/Q .

The new spot, located at 22-56 31st St, takes over the space from the historical Frankie’s Pizza, a staple Astoria's pizza landscape. But we’re sure even neighborhood die-hards won’t complain about the now-close-at-hand availability of Artichoke’s signature slice.

BEST OF
Late Night Eats

Whoever said nothing good happens past midnight has never dined at these late night eateries. Whether your cravings includes pizza, shwarma, tacos or dumplings this list of our ten favorite stops in the wee hours will vanquish your hunger (and hopefully curb the unwanted effects of the extended happy hour you just left).

Mamouns (119 MacDougal St and 22 St. Marks Place)

Open until 5am

As the oldest falafel restaurant in NYC, Mamoun’s has all the street cred it needs to claim our hearts as the best falafel in NYC. Whether you are looking for Lamb Shwarma ($6-11.50), Chicken Kebab ($6-11.50) or Falafel ($3.50 - 6) hot out of the fryer, Mamouns is the best stop for Middle-Eastern cuisine after midnight.

RESTAURANT OPENING
Local and Sustainable Meets Fast and Casual at EXKi NYC

EXKi, the international dining sensation, has just recently opened its second restaurant on 28th st and Madison ave. The Belgian franchise was born in 2001, and has 78 locations around the world. All EXKi restaurants are dedicated to using local products whenever possible and their new Madison Avenue location features a large colorful map that shows the location of each farm that they source food from. The company spent weeks driving around upstate New York and the Pennsylvania countryside in search of farmers whose products met their flavor standards, and also adhered to responsible farming practices. With such rigorous standards, it's no surprise that the company is Green Restaurant Certified, which means that they partake in a number of sustainable business practices such as composting, using recycled materials for their napkins, pamphlets and utensils, and donating their remaining food to the City Harvest food program.