July 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Noi Due Cafe: A Manhattan Staple That’s Here to Stay

Every once and a while you walk into a restaurant and are hit with an immediate vibe. As a person who walks into many restaurants, I’ve encountered many such vibes. Sometimes it’s a sophisticated one, a casual one, or maybe even a homely one. But when I was invited to Noi Due Cafe I was hit by an inherent impression that the crowd was having fun.

Even dining on the later side of a day in the middle of the week with suboptimal weather, Noi Due was packed when I got there. The Upper West Side staple was full of young professionals seemingly hanging out with their friends while sharing conversations, pizzas and laughs. The space isn’t huge and the demand is high, so there’s a good amount of people (and therefore, noise). But don’t be deterred, the cuisine is worth it.

The first thing that I spotted on the menu that I couldn’t pass up was the Fried Goat Cheese. This set of six medallions comes with some cherry tomato marmalade. While uncommon on kosher restaurant menus, fried goat cheese has become a very popular dish in non-kosher places over the last decade. The crunchy outside, rich and creamy inside (goat cheese is best for this reason), and the sweetness of the marmalade made for an awesome balanced appetizer.

Though not really an appetizer, the personal pizzas are perfect for sharing. Nobody will blame you for ordering one as a first course. After all, many people start meals with bread. Pizza is bread.

Whether you need an excuse or not, try the MVP Pizza. Though I have selected it as being the most valuable pizza, the MVP here stands for marinara, vodka and pesto. Those three sauces are laid across the top of the pie (above the crust and cheese) in stripes. This is sometimes called a “flag pie” because the sauces are (kind of) green, white and red like the stripes on the Italian flag. Whatever you want to call it, it’s delicious. My pizza was cut in such a way that each slice had some of each sauce. This allowed me to get full appreciation for the variability between the tart and flavorful marinara, the creamy and rich vodka sauce, and the herbaceous and bright pesto sauce.

After a million jokes about how Jews want their restaurant food to be made in a very precise way (thanks, Jackie Mason), that’s not something you need to worry about here. Noi Due allows you to design your own meal by choosing both your pasta and your sauce. My personal recommendations are to order the housemade pastas. Noi Due makes their own gnocchi (I’d pair that with the creamy basilico sauce) and their own ravioli (both cheese and sweet potato). For me, there’s nothing like a good cheese ravioli paired with an arrabbiata sauce. The spiciness offsets the filling of the ravioli perfectly.

Noi Due Gelato internal.

One downside of building your own bowl is that you have to make a decision. If that’s the kind of thing you have trouble with, don’t worry. Noi Due also has a few featured pasta dishes for you to choose from. I absolutely loved the Spinach Pinwheel Lasagna. This is more of an expertly crafted pasta dish than a big bowl of carbs (though we all love a big bowl of carbs). The plate features a trio of pinwheels made of a lasagna noodle rolled up with spinach, mozzarella, ricotta, and parmesan. Served with some of their pink sauce, you’ll delight in dredging a piece of a pinwheel in the sauce before tasting the great combination of flavors and textures. The best part is that the pasta is slightly crispy on the outside from being baked, while having a more classic texture on the inside. I’d even venture to say that you might want to order this as an appetizer to split if you are in a party of three.

The pasta might be the biggest attraction at Noi Due, but there’s also a great choice out there that allows you to try some great fish while still getting your carb on. The Sole Francese features a few filets of pan seared sole laid over a pile of spaghetti. The sauce (lemon, butter, white wine) works well for both the fish and the pasta, the cherry tomatoes and capers provide a nice punch, and there’s a slight crunch from some slivered almonds. Fish and pasta are an underrated combination and this is your chance to really get a good taste of what the two can do together.

Award Winning Halva Nagila Gelato

While there are desserts on the Noi Due menu, I’d urge you to head next door for your final treat. Noi Due Gelato has a wide selection of flavors including ones that are pareve and vegan (save those for another time when you can’t have the dairy choices). They are most famous for their Halva Nagila flavor that was crowned the best gelato in North America at the Gelato Festival World Masters in Los Angeles earlier this year. Owner Golan Chetrit will take the flavor to the next stage of the competition in 2025, hoping to earn a spot in the finals in Italy.

Even if halva isn’t your thing, try the Peanut Butter (rich and smooth) or the Salted Caramel Pretzel (great blend of salty and sweet). If you’re looking for suggestions for when you come back and need to stick to pareve, I’d recommend the Passion Fruit or Limonade if you are looking for something very acidic and strong, or the Mango if you want something more mellow and creamy.

Fried Goat Cheese

Noi Due Cafe has been around for a while and my money says that it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. As popular as ever, it is most people’s go to for dairy dining in Manhattan. The newer additions such as Noi Due Carne (their meat sister restaurant), Noi Due Gelato, and their event space next door to NDC show the growth of Chetrit’s business.

It’s popular for a reason. Join in on the fun.

 

Noi Due Cafe

Dairy – Italian – Waiter Service

Sunday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Saturday: 1 hour after Shabbat-midnight

(212) 712-2222

noiduecafe.com

491 Columbus Ave., New York

OK Kosher (Cholov Yisroel)

Sole Francese

Noi Due Gelato

Dairy – Counter Service

Sunday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Monday-Thursday: noon-11 p.m.

Saturday: 1 hour after Shabbat-midnight

(212) 712-2222

noiduegelato.com

489 Columbus Ave., New York

OK Kosher (Cholov Yisroel)

Spinach Pinwheel Lasagna

 

MVP Pizza

 

Pasta options.

Nati Burnside is a freelance writer living in Fair Lawn and a man of many interests. He can be reached at [email protected].

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