One Penn Plaza, NYC
Waiting on the platform at Valley Stream station we couldn't help but notice this young girl wearing a white see through shirt accompanied by some barely there booty shorts. I realized that we had something in common. We were both starving. She was starved for attention, and we were starving for some delicious NYC cuisine.
Our mission for the day was finding a quick bite to eat around Madison Square Garden. Midtown Manhattan is not really known for its culinary aspects; instead it is mostly filled with quick food joints that fill you up, cost more than they should, and leave you wishing you'd gone somewhere else. With all the flow of people and the hustle and bustle of tourists in this area, you'd think there'd be more quick and delicious restaurants. There very well may be, but finding a place with the right balance of taste, affordability, and atmosphere are shadowed by stores and souvenir shops. Since Mcdonalds and Chipotle don't fit in my pallet, we were determined to find all of you a delicious meal in an area of great convenience.
After a quick walk around, we noticed a place across MSG with tables and red umbrellas called Lugo. It didn't seem that busy (it was about 730 on a saturday), so with a quick look at the menu we decided that this was the place. Greeted and seated immediately, the first thing that stood out was that this was a very big restaurant. Huge windows lined the walls and the natural lighting added a warm feeling to this place. There was a neat wine wall in the center, and random spaces filled with bottles of olive oil, bouques of fresh pasta and artichokes.
Ah yes, the menu. It was also used as our placemats.
Lugo's menu had a wide selection of wine and the food choices were laid out in a standard Italian Restaurant format. They offer classic cheeses and cured meats in the Salumeria section, an Assaggini section which you can pick from a few small portioned appetizers, pizza, a hot and cold assortment of appetizers, pasta, basic side dishes and numerous main courses.
I started with a spiked pink lemonade special, which was a perfect balance of sweetness and sour with a nice kick. Dino decided to try a spice blended Italian Lager called Nuova Mattina. Nice and thick, you can really taste the coriander.
After devouring the bread basket, we were on to our appetizer special. Italian style edamame. Cooked with parmesan, garlic and olive oil, this classic East Asian pod of baby soybeans was transformed into a delicious italian snack! If you see this on the specials menu, get it! This not too filling starter was delicious and bursting with flavor.
As soon as we licked off the last of the edamame's, our food came. Now, we didn't go for a main course or anything too filling because we had a long night of partying ahead of us in the City. So we opted for the meatball pizza and the caesar salad, which we both split. We also got a side of Zucchini Fritti. The pizza was a thin crust, just perfect enough to support the meatballs, ricotta, mozzarella, roasted tomatoes and caramelized onions. The pizza could serve as an appetizer for a larger group, but it was perfect for the two of us. The meatballs were seasoned wonderfully, and the addition of the onions added tons of flavor. Highly recommended, whether as an appetizer or a course. Our side of Caesar salad had layers of uncut romaine lettuce, with parmigiano and anchovy-lemon dressing tucked in between, with croutons dressing the outskirts of the plate. So for you Caesar salad fans, this is one for the tasting! The side of Zucchini Fritti was a perfect addition. While it was breaded and fried to a golden crisp, it did not taste oily and the integrity of the zucchini was still in tact. It came with a parmesan based sauce, which Dino dipped everything in.
So all in all, Lugo was a great find in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. If you don't want to splurge on any mixed drinks or beers, this is a very affordable location for a quick delicious bite to eat. The staff was very friendly, and our waiter was very attentive. It looks like this place would get busy during happy hour and the after work crowd (since it is right across from Penn Station), but there is plenty of space and also accommodates outside dining. If you are in the area looking for a good sit-down place, check it out!
With Extra Love
Amanda and Dino