The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

5 Memorable Eats in May: Motorino, Termini Bros, Shake Shack, Pylos, and a Smoke-A-Thon

A bunch of stuff happened since I went to Honolulu. Because that was three months ago. Yeah. To summarize things, I present you with five-ish of the most memorable places I digested stuff in May.


Motorino kitchenMotorino

Serious Eats won a James Beard award back in May. I don't think I mentioned it here, but if you read Serious Eats (and you should!), you already heard the news. YAY WOOT rock.

So we had to throw a party. And a Serious Eats-style party means reserving Motorino in Brooklyn for a night of pizza partying and packing in as many Serious Eats contributors and friends as we could.

FIRE, woot fire roasted chicken wings
Chicken wings.

The fire-roasted chicken wings were awesome, and I say that as someone who isn't that into chicken wings. Thin, crisp skin + juicy meat = success! Unfortunately, I don't know if they're serving them now since I don't see it on the menu and this meal happened almost three months ago. :(

pizza yeaaah

The main draw is the pizza, of course. My favorite pie of the night was a tomato sauce-less version covered in lots of cheese. Not sure if it was the quattro formaggi on their menu, but even if it wasn't, there's no way that four-cheese pizza could be bad. It's a stracciatella pizza topped with garlic, olive oil, sea salt, and basil, no tomato. No wonder it tasted like awesome. Thanks for the heads up, Amy!

prosciutto pizza brunch pizza brussels sprouts pizza sans meat spicy soppresata pizza
More pizzas!

Later in May I ate brunch at the East Village Motorino for the first time, accompanied by Alex, my brother, and my brother's two friends. Going to Motorino for dinner can result in an hour-plus wait and a grumbly belly, but at noon on a Sunday most of the world apparently prefers sleep over pizza, resulting in a gloriously half-empty restaurant. ...Glorious for us and not having to wait, I mean.

The pizzas were excellent as always—poofy, chewy crust with skillfully plopped toppings x 4. Alex ordered a brussels sprouts and pancetta pizza sans the pancetta since he's vegetarian, while the rest of us shared three pizzas: prosciutto (this may have been a special that day), three eggs-n-pancetta (made for the brunch crowd), and soppressata piccante (spicy sausage).

Motorino, Soft Serve, and Cake
A Bunch of Tasty Bites, And Some Liquids

Termini Bros

Termini Bros has some fantastic neon signage going on.

At the end of May I went to Philadelphia with Ed to do some research for our Serious Eats book coming out next year (hopefully). Unfortunately, the trip wasn't as successful as we wanted it to be—Capogiro and Paesano's were the best out of seven places we tried that day—but 89-year-old Italian bakery Termini Bros stood out for its charming "hasn't changed much in the past 89 years" ambiance.

mm, baked goods pastries
PASTRIES EVERYWHERE...because we're in a bakery.

The pastries were beautiful to look at, but the few things we tried weren't as delicious as we hoped they'd be. My favorite was their cheesecake.

In-store musicians
In-bakery musicians.

The bakery is worth checking out if you're in the area though, even if you're not that into Italian pastries. You might get a live music performance from these dudes sitting by the entrance.

Capt. Jesse G. Inc

And for no reason besides that I liked it, here's a sign I came across that day in Philly. If you want my attention, just make a huge sign that says "CRABS" in bold red lettering.

Shake Shack

Shack Burger omg I love you innards
Shackburger, come to meee.

The next day I met up with Angeline at Shake Shack on the Upper West Side for her first Shake Shack experience (she was visiting from Toronto). I usually go with a single Shack Burger ($4.75), aka a burger with all the fixings: American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and Thousand Island-ish Shake Sauce. Everything is just right: the meat is adequately salty and fatty (I've heard complaints that Shake Shack's burgers are too salty/fatty; like, yeah, that's why they're delicious), the toppings are fresh and complement the beef, the sauce isn't excessive, and the squishy potato bun is nicely toasted. It's a burger that makes me look at my partially eaten food and think, "WHY IS THIS THING I'M EATING SO AWESOME?" (or perhaps, "WAH IF THIF THIN [chew chew] AM EATIN [chew chew] SO AWFOME?") That doesn't happen much.


A week later I went to Shake Shack again, this time in Madison Square Park, to meet up with my friend Sandy and her husband Chris visiting from Vancouver (ALL THE CANADIANS ARE COMIN'!!). This time I went with a Shroom Burger ($6.75), which in theory is a breaded and deep fried portobello mushroom "patty" filled with muenster and cheddar cheese, but in reality is a giant slab of cheese wrapped in a barely perceptible layer of portobello mushroom, breaded and deep fried to a molten goo. If they got rid of the mushroom and just make a deep fried cheese slab burger it probably wouldn't taste that different, unless the mushroom provides crucial structural integrity. If you're into crispy-and-explosively-goopy cheese in a bun, you'll love this.

Day 2 For an Out-Of-Towner: Shake Shack, Top of the Rock, and Grand Sichuan
Top 5 Burgers in NYC + Recent Episodes in Extreme Shake Shack-ing
Shake Shack, Lombardi's, and Stuff in Chinatown
BURGER EDITION: Shake Shack and Rush Hour


oo, pots

Whenever Alex visits I try to find good vegetarian food neither of us have eaten before. Greek restaurant Pylos was an easy choice after I read Maggie's review of their vegetarian options.


Alex, Amy, and I shared four veg-friendly dishes. My favorite was the simple horiatiki ($10), a large bowl of halved tomatoes, sliced onions and cucumbers, capers, kalamata olives, and a few slabs of feta cheese dressed in extra-virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar. I ought to just make this sort of thing myself. And eat more salad.

haloumi sote me stafylia kai tsipouro

My second favorite was the haloumi sote me stafylia kai tsipouro ($12), thick slices of sautéed haloumi cheese topped with a grappa reduction, halved green grapes, and toasted pine nuts. Gooey cheese is great, but so is chewy (like pressed tofu), crispy cheese. Salty cheese and sweet grapes is a great combination. Someone should put that in a sandwich. ...Yes.

bread n stuff spanakorizoanginares moussaka
Complimentary pita and dip, and OTHER FOOD.

We also tried the spanakorizo ($6), a spinach rice pilaf with feta, lemon, and black pepper, and the anginares moussaka ($11), artichoke heart moussaka layered with caramelized onions, herbs, and three Greek cheeses, and topped with béchamel sauce. I don't remember these dishes as well as the first two, but we polished off everything so...methinks they were good.

The food was a bit more expensive than what I usually eat for dinner, but it was also more refined. In the end I was pleasantly satisfied without the blimp-like feeling I have 90% of the time.

Memorial Day Smoke-A-Thon

menu gettin food eaters over there!
Food party!!!

For the third year in a row Michelle of Thursday Night Smackdown invited me to her annual Memorial Day Smoke-A-Thon, which meant for the third year in a row I spent my final Monday in May lounging in her charming Jersey City backyard, stuffing my face with ribs and pulled pork while stewing in my own sweat (seriously, the last three Memorial Days have been hot as balls...and by that I mean "the sun is ungodly bright and burny and pissed off" hot). And since Michelle has a lax guest policy, I brought eight friends. Everyone wants a piece of the action! For good reason:



pulled pork




three potato and onion salad






BANANA PUDDING like whoa Pudding --> plop


Lee Anne's brownies


mm pudding Alex + hat sitting on the steps


baby! Little kids are cute


'Twas a fantastic day. Thank you, Michelle!


349 E 12th Street, New York, NY 10003 (map)
319 Graham Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211 (map)

Termini Bros
1523 South 8th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147 (map)

Shake Shack
366 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024 (map)
11 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10010 (map)
Three new Shake Shacks opened this summer, on the Upper East Side, near Times Square, and in Miami. Check their site for more info.

128 East 7th Street, New York, NY 10009 (map)

Michelle's Apartment
Nuh uh.


Amy Blogs Chow / August 9, 2010 12:24 AM

Hey Robyn! The non tomato sauce pizza at Motorino is called stracciatella and sorry you didn't find more in Philly. Great write-up regardless! Looking forward to June...

roboppy / August 9, 2010 3:17 AM

Amy: Thanks for the info! I'll add it to the post, Cheese + olive oil + salt + garlic + basil = WIN.

And actually I gotta update my post because there was another good place we went to in Philly: Paesano's for sandwiches. Methinks that'll go in the book. Other stuff we ate was okay, but not good enough for "best in the country!" status. Ed and I will prolly go back to Philly in the fall to find more fooood...

kim / August 9, 2010 7:56 AM

i also wanted to try Pylos, but the prices do deter me from trying (especially since Astoria has lots of Greek restaurants).

Do you have a fav pizza joint? There are so many good (and new) ones in the city! Nice eating gatherings! Love potluck :)

KC / August 9, 2010 12:32 PM

If you're going to go to Shake Shack, you might as well get the Shack Stack. I order it all the time now and haven't looked back. Perhaps to my growing belly, but whatever--SHACK STACK! :D

Jason Chen / August 9, 2010 4:38 PM

So tasty looking. I still haven't been to the Shake Shack :(. Someday! SOMEDAY!!

Angeline / August 9, 2010 5:42 PM

We're taking over. Watch out.

(I'm talking about Canadians if that isn't obvious.)

I need to go back to Shake Shack to try the Shroom burger or Shack Stack.

Lydia / August 9, 2010 5:49 PM

My husband and I reminisce about Shake Shack (particularly the Shake Stack!) all the time since we went to NYC for our honeymoon last year. We're from Vancouver too! Friends? :)

Jodi / August 9, 2010 10:49 PM

There is a wonderful sandwich made with halumi, which I ate often when I lived in Cyprus. Fried halumi, cucumbers, tomatoes and bacon, toasted and pressed. My all-time favourite sandwich EVER!

roboppy / August 10, 2010 12:08 AM

kim: Motorino is my fave pizza joint! :) Not that I've been to that many pizza places. But it's also the Serious Eats' office's fave.

KC: I love the Shack Stack, but it's too much for one meal. :[

Jason: Sweet jesus! Whenever you come back to NYC, we'll goooo.

Angeline: You shall eat them all. I'LL HELP YOUUU.

Lydia: Haha, awesome! I hope your honeymoon was full of awesome fooood.

Jodi: Hooly crap that sounds awesome! Waah! Wah. Note to self, gotta make that sandwich.

Lingbo / August 10, 2010 12:11 PM

OMG this was amazing. I love your captions. "human nuggets" hahaha.

I think my favorite part was the "what am I eating" with chews in the middle. Amazing.

sea / August 12, 2010 11:44 AM

Tudor Cafe (5 Tudor Place) is a Mediterranean deli and has halloumi sandwiches. Halloumi,tomatoes, lettuce, vinegarette on baguette--very very good. One of my favorite midtown east places for lunch.

janet Choi / August 15, 2010 7:10 PM

love fried halloumi - i usually eat it with salad but with grapes - genius! sandwich? genius! it doesn't take much to be a genius in my book. also shake shack - so perfect. i'm 1000% happy it's supposed to come to dc. unless it gets there by the time i'm done with school. then i'll be 1000% sad.

roboppy / August 17, 2010 2:44 AM

Lingbo: Every time I speak semi-comprehensibly with a full mouth I will think of you!

sea: Thanks for the rec! That does sound awesome.

Janet: Halloumi + whaever = GENIUS!!

Edd: June may be an even better month! I gotta put that post together.

Phyllis / August 26, 2010 9:58 AM

Yep, I'm already here (originally from Vancouver) And the last time I went to Shake Shack was with some friends visiting from Vancouver!
Oh, and how I loooove that sopressata picante pizza from Motorino :)

Joan / August 31, 2010 8:23 AM

Mmm the Motorino pizzas look delish!!! I'm so amazed that you are still doing such prolific blogging and great posts! I've had a bit of a slump lately after traveling...

John / September 19, 2010 11:33 PM

So Robyn, we'll be in NY between the South Street Seaport and One NY Plaza for 10 days. What do you recommend? I'll be working long days, so a trip to NJ is probably too much this trip.

Jill / October 4, 2010 6:09 AM

Jill from Malaysia here. Keep up the good work! Love your flog! You take awesome photos too. What camera are you using?

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