John Wozniak

I am serious food lover and cook

  • Website
  • Location: Ditmas Park, Brooklyn
  • Last bite on earth: Hmm...

Ya Lyublyu Chayhana Salom! Uzbek Food in Sheepshead Bay

Sorry meant @Jamie...

Ya Lyublyu Chayhana Salom! Uzbek Food in Sheepshead Bay

@Max yum! There are at least a few Uzbeki places (sort of tiny Uzbekitown) that look just like this place on Coney Island Ave heading North off of Kings Highway. Folks have been raving about one in particular but the name escapes me at the moment.

Reality Check: We Try Wendy's New Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger

The fries are pretty bad, they really are. I really like Wendy's but the fries are not improved; they are limp, have an odd taste from the fat used to fry them, are waaaauy undersalted and strangely mostly not long enough. My girl brought home the smaller pretzel cheeseburger and the dense pretzel bun definitely overwhelmed it. I much prefer the junior cheeseburger deluxe. It has the right proportions and ratio for a fast food burger. If you are hungry get another 1 or 2. The bun is light and does not detract. Ask for light something or remove or add and item so you are ensured a just made cheeseburger.

I still love the baked potato with a little butter, sour cream and those "chives". It's filling, pretty wholesome and a great value.

I really think that if SE tried the junior cheeseburger deluxe, off of the value menu, they would be a lot more impressed with Wendy's burgers. The proportions, buns and ratios for most bigger fast food burgers are all out of whack. They are all mostly pretty gross. Their (Fast Food Co's) attempts at "artisan" breads and buns are weak at best. It's "Angus"? Well it still taste like chemicals.

Wendy's ice cream-type-stuff is pretty bad. Be awesome if you could take Wendy's burgers and chicken, McDonald's fries and desserts (especially their soft serve), Popeye's fried chicken and coleslaw and some real onion rings under one roof. One can dream.

But getting back to the pretzel bun — it was much too dense even if it was with a double — it was just bad bread. It had the right look, but not the air in it that it should, nor the taste.

El Gauchito Butcher and Steakhouse: Get Yourself to the Argentinian

@Max: really interested in hitting this place up some day soon.

Have you tried the Ottomanelli's "Cowboy Ribeye" (Otto’s 1325 5th Ave - )? It's a solid steak made that much better by its pretty ridiculous $17 price tag. So far, it's the best steak for the money I've come across in my 10 years in NYC. Service is spotty (by being super nice I def got more server attention) but forgivable once the steak arrives.

Ask the Critic: 'Real' Chinese Food in NYC

@Max always looking for an excuse to go on a little adventure. It would be my pleasure to join you if I can. You are more than welcome to shoot me an email (via my website -- my first name & last if you are headed to CIA or Ave U. Sunset Park is a little out of the way for me.

Get Your Fried Salad at Ayada Thai

Looks really delicious.

Ask the Critic: 'Real' Chinese Food in NYC

When I abbreviated CIL I meant CIA (Coney Island Ave). Sorry, very tired.

Ask the Critic: 'Real' Chinese Food in NYC

@Max I really think SE is great (a valuable resource) and I want to make sure you guys (Carey et al) know that. I've been digging the Bronx coverage and Sheepshead etc. Here's the thing, you'll have to forgive me for thinking that an article on this here fine blog about NY food , and this article being about "Chinese food", is a little bereft for not having something from one of the two "big enough" Chinatowns in Brooklyn. Is the train ride really that prohibitive?

As a very poor professional cook I generally have not had the time or energy to go out much. :( Cooks eat way more McDonald's than we should. ;) I don't get paid to eat food (or paid to travel to eat food), but rather paid to make it. Cooks often don't get to eat much.

What I do know is that there is a very large and varied (but I believe currently primarily Pakistani) community ( ) and restaurants that are serving that community on Coney Island Avenue off around Newkirk in both directions. There are the sweets shops and the "fancy" places for events, steam table places and that sort of thing. I've had some really delicious things and some not so. The sweets are kinda one dimensional but I am sure if I explored it further I would find more variation. It can be a little "intimidating" at some of these places as they are very authentic and language can be a barrier. That is less and less so the case all the time though. If you go on Google Maps streetview you will see all the restos on CIL. Take the train to Newkirk (B Express) and walk a few blocks and walk around and if you see something that looks good, try it. IIRC, there is a fair bit of interesting flatbread at some of these places too. Lotta tiny taco places in bodegas with tiny griddles making super delicious food (on CIL and Cortelyou).

There is also a substantial Tibetan community centered around Newkirk and Cortelyou and they seem to be the fastest growing minority in the area by quite some margin. There is currently one quite good Tibetan place on Cortelyou. They have momos. ;) I have a feeling we'll see another Tibetan focused restaurant or two in the near future in the area.

If else fails the Farm on Adderley always kills it, if you were disappointed with what you had prior. :)

Fisherman's Cove on Newkirk has occasionally amazing and always good jerk chicken. There is a very large West Indian population as well — IIRC they are demographically the largest. They cleaver up jerk chicken all day like it is going out of style. Their oxtail is amongst my favorite anywhere.

There is a place on Ave U a few blocks from the train that has roast meats that are every bit the equal of anything I have ever had in Manhattan's Chinatown. Seriously ridiculous roast pork.

Since I don't really fetishize food very much the names of these places hasn't been important to me, so forgive for not remembering more specifics.

More than any other reason I can think of to check these places out is how incredibly nice Ditmas Park is (the houses are ridiculous and it is major shooting site for a variety of TV shows including Boardwalk Empire — a block from my apartment and how nice the people here are. They deserve some spotlight for all they are doing food wise.

We Try Shake Shack's New Fresh-Cut Fries

@Holly this was before or after beef tallow?

Why McDonald's Fries Taste So Good By Eric Schlosser:

We Try Shake Shack's New Fresh-Cut Fries

@Kenji at this point Shake Shack has quite a few locations and sells a lot of fries. I don't think the people they will buy potatoes from would consider their purchasing small when all the stores are doing it.

I was thinking central, regional curing facilities (they don't have any commissarys?) each serving quite a few locations — if moisture variation is a big enough deal to warrant it.

@Holly that's fascinating and reassuring. Those fries where still double-fried in tallow right? So friggen good.

We Try Shake Shack's New Fresh-Cut Fries

If the age of the potatoes is an issue that should by up a whole bunch and store/age them themselves to minimize variation.

I never hated on their old fries but they were far from transcendent. Looking forward to this superior version.

Ask the Critic: 'Real' Chinese Food in NYC

Ask the Critic: 'Real' Chinese Food in NYC

@ddawg Flushing is similar in many ways yet it gets plenty of blogging love so deliberate or not I see a lack of parity in coverage. It is what is. It's disconcerting. Your right, it takes people going and instagramming and tweeting to get other "followers" to go as well. It will happen eventually as they'll need a new frontier and a new things to discover (that are really only new to them -- having already been serving their local community for years). It would help to have a dish from somewhere on Ave U fetishized to the degree the cumin lamb "chop" has.

There are interesting Bukharan and Pakistani restos on Coney Island Ave and some Tibetan (momos/dumplings are having a moment) on Cortelyou as well, but it gets virtually no coverage while restaurants in Queens serving nearly identical menus get lots of love.

As far as recs, my better half is Cantonese and we get lots of food from my MIL so I don't eat "Chinese" out very often. What I do know is that Ave U is totally legit because my MIL shops there and she is legit -- just a bit more than hipster food bloggers.

For recs, this may help:

My advice is to go to Ave U and explore and if it looks good, eat it. :)

Ask the Critic: 'Real' Chinese Food in NYC

So apparently there is no "real" Chinese in South Brooklyn (around Ave U) that is worthwhile? ;) How can you be more authentic than a true working class Chinese hood?

The continuing omission of South Brooklyn, caused, I imagine, by the fact that no one that works for SE NY lives in mostly ungentrified, mostly non-hipster South Brooklyn (or so it would seem) is getting a little ridiculous (could your map be more barren in Brooklyn? No.).

I'm glad Queens is having a foodie moment -- it's deserved. In a few years when everyone is priced out of even Bushwick/Ridgewood, I bet I'll be seeing a lot more South Brooklyn coverage. :) I can almost guarantee it. And yes, there is more to South Brooklyn than Sheepshead Bay.

nyc b&w cookie EMERGENCY!!!

Believe it or not the ( ) Entenmanns Ultimate Black & White Cookies are considerably better than any I've ever had fresh from an Italian bakery. These are softer and fresher still. They are available at CTown and Rite-Aid in NYC.

BTW, I am not kidding -- these are THAT good!

Reality Check: We Try Wendy's New Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger

" Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger was good. Very, very good."

"Because it may be Wendy's best burger...but it's still a Wendy's burger."

Vrigggght. ;)

Dear Local Pizzeria: Ranch is NOT Tuscan.

Looks like a delicious slice. Taste is more important than "correctness" in my book.

The Pizza Lab: The Best French Bread Pizza

The Poles call this "zapiekanka". Pretty common in parts of Chicago, Greenpoint and Europe apparently.

Looks delicious @kenji.

We Chat With Gabe Thompson of L'Apicio, L'Artusi, dell'anima and Anfora

Great interview. This really resonated with me. Gonna have to try Gabe's food! :)

Staff Picks: Our Favorite Fast Food Burgers

The fact that none of you picked a standard Wendy's burger is _totally_ suspect. By _any reasonable measure_ Wendy's is the best of the common, National chains.

@Kenji you ever get to Paul's? ;)

Lombardi Pizza Co.: Truckin' Great Pizza in Edison, New Jersey

The pizza may be bangin' but a dude with a smartphone has no excuse when he doesn't update a public calendar for his business, especially if he will be closed for over 3 months. Eww.

The Pizza Lab: Foolproof Pan Pizza

The Pizza Hut of the 80's is not mythical — the pizza was truly all that and a bag of chips. Fried bottom, stretchy mootz, larded with toppings. Just totally effing delicious and the smell of it is burned in my brain for all time.

Anyone recently been to a "real" full service Pizza Hut and ordered a pan pizza in/to stay? I am willing to bet it (to this day) doesn't suck. I wouldn't assume it is bad. They have been kinda successful.

Great post and great looking pie @Kenji. This is the kind of pizza closest to my heart — soulful and satisfying. It's such a nice bonus the workflow is child's play and easily duplicatable.

Daily Slice: Pizza Rustica at Avellino's, East Hanover NJ

Sounds delish. Love quiche. Love pizza. Gonna have to make something similar. Bet they get rid of the "ends" of meat this way — cubing it and putting it in other dishes. Making antipasto or quasi-lardons are good ways to utilize the end/s as well.

Emeryville, CA: Playing Hot or Not with the Pizzas at Hot Italian

FWIW, this pizza looks spectacular to me — looks a lot like DiFara actually.

Chicago: Brave the Waldorf Astoria for Balsan

Klee Brasserie, Nice Pizza, Benoit, Marché du Sud and August @Paulie.

Join us: Ditmas Park Brooklyn Grandma/Square Pizza Crawl 2/18, Midday

Hey guys,

Just wanted to let you know that a small group of us is planning on sampling some of the better square slices in the Midwood/Ditmas Park, Brooklyn area on 2/18 (this Saturday). Some of the folks that are attending are "pizza/foodie luminaries" that live in the NYC area. Not going to name names but there are some heavy hitters, no question. If you join us you'll find out! :)

On the itinerary:
1. Lo Duca (for the killer Grandma). Here are some pics on Google of their pies (pics I took actually):
2. San Remo (awesome selection of squares)
3. Di Fara (time and belly permitting ;)


If you are interested in joining us, please contact me via my website ( ) me ASAP, so I can plan accordingly. It will be an afternoon of fantastic pizza and company!

Demystifying 00 Flour

One thing many home pizza makers struggle with is using 00 flour in a conventional home oven.

For those that have overcome this hurdle, how have you done it?

I have found 4 tricks that make it possible to use 00 and make very good pizza at home, even without a WFO. They are:
1. Use a little oil in the dough (1-2% or so). This helps keep it tender during longer bake times needed at lower temps.
2. Use a little honey or sugar to promote browning and spotting (around 1-2%).
3. Use the skillet-broiler method over a conventional bake unless you have stones above and under pizza and can preheat your oven for a long time.
4. Use as high a hydration dough as you are comfortable with (around 66%-70% or so).

Although it is admirable to use a pure Neapolitan style dough, it is not ideally suited for the home oven. With slight modification, 00 based doughs can work well at home. With a WFO, a leaner pure dough is fine, as the bake times are far faster and the temps higher. With home ovens, most failure amounts to trying to put a square peg in a round hole.

What are your tricks for 00? What has given you trouble? Let's help everyone conquer the infamous 00!


Super (Duper) Market: This Weekend in NYC

These days, there are any number of venues to see New York's small artisan purveyors: Smorgasburg, Hester Street Fair, maybe DeKalb or New Amsterdam Market. (Not to mention small retail shops like Bklyn Larder or Nolita Mart.) But Super (Duper) Market, put together by Paper magazine, not only has an excellent selection of NYC vendors, but a handful of great West Coast folk, as well. Here's a look at the vendors, people, and products. More

Nunzio's, a Classic Slice on Staten Island

A minimally beautiful little slice. Life rafts of mozzarella float atop a bright-red sea of fresh-tasting, chunky sauce—it's little more than crushed canned tomatoes, some salt, and a some basil. The crust is crisp and pliant and thin. You'll probably want a couple. More

Demystifying 00 Flour

One thing many home pizza makers struggle with is using 00 flour in a conventional home oven. For those that have overcome this hurdle, how have you done it? I have found 4 tricks that make it possible to use... More

The Food Lab: The Road To Better Risotto

At this late stage in the game is there anyone in the world beside hard-line Italians who doesn't know that you can make a perfect bowl luscious, al dente, perfectly mantecato risotto without preheating your broth or stirring constantly? That said, I've still got a ton of risotto questions left unanswered, so this week I decided to test just about every aspect of risotto I could think of to separate fact from fiction. Which type of rice is best? How much do you really need to stir? Is toasting necessary? And what about mounting with cream? 6.6 pounds of risotto later, I've got a few answers. More

A Sandwich a Day: Banana Nutella from Olympic Provisions in Portland, OR

Olympic Provisions is a Portland hot spot for charcuterie. Salumist Elias Cairo is a master of all things cured and smoked, and many of the charcuterie plates in town use their products. (We took a behind-the-scenes tour of their meat department last year). The sandwiches are some of the best in Portland and although many are porky and strictly for carnivores, this particular one is actually targeted to the Montessori school down the street. More

Sauced: Apple Butter

Sweet and appropriately spiced for the fall season, apple butter makes great use of the bounty of apples that is currently upon us. Especially if you don't know how to control yourself at the pick-it-yourself orchards like me. More

The Burger Lab: An Even Better Way To Make Any Cheese Melt Like American (This Time in Slices!)

I wanted full-flavored American cheese that not only behaves like American cheese once it's melted on a burger, but I wanted cheese that behaves just like American in every other way. American cheese that you can double stack inside a grilled cheese sandwich that oozes out into gooey puddles when you bite into it. American cheese that you can melt on the stovetop with a can or Ro*Tel for the ultimate upscale-trashy cheese dip. American cheese that you can pick up cold from the fridge, stack with a pile of bologna, and roll up into the best-ever midnight snack (don't other people do this?). More

Serious Grape: Our Search for the Best Riesling

These mineral-rich, low-alcohol wines are some of the most delicious whites we've ever tasted, especially in the $15 to $25 range. We tried about 45 bottles over the course of the past two months, paying attention to each wine and how it evolved in the glass. Want a cheat sheet? Here are a few of the highlights of our summer of riesling. More

Lunch Today: New Malaysia

I'm just back from eight days eating my way through Malaysia—Penang, Melaka, and Kuala Lumpur—and on the plane home, I sat next to a New York-living, Malaysia-born woman who told me I had to try "this Malaysian restaurant on the Bowery. Well, not really on the Bowery. Down an alley or something? Anyway, it's legit." More

Better No-Knead Bread

I've never seen what I consider to be a really satisfactory explanation of the science behind the No-Knead Bread recipe, so I'm gonna try and fill that hole here. And what cool science it is. In 2006, Mark Bittman introduced the world to a recipe from Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery, which had a whole bunch of home cooks opening up their Dutch ovens and exclaiming oh my goodness—I can't believe I just did that! It certainly had me thinking that. Even more interesting to me than that it works is how it works, because by understanding the how, we can then modify the recipe to fit many different baking situations, even improving its flavor. More

Astoria, NYC: A Great Burger in an Unlikely Spot at Astor Bake Shop

Astor Bake Shop opened just shy of a year ago in an unlikely place. Far from the subway lines that serve Astoria, it's a place you might only visit if you lived in the area or took a short detour south after a day in Astoria Park. The shop is the "labor of love" of chef-owner George McKirdy, a veteran of some fancy Manhattan restaurants. Although a bakery in appellation, it serves a short menu of breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes as well. Among them a very good burger, maybe even the best I've had so far in Astoria. More

A Sandwich A Day: The Braised Braciole at Rubirosa

Braciole, the Italian dish of thinly sliced meat rolled around a cheese, herb, and bread-crumb stuffing, is a staple of the Italian-American sunday gravy. Made with garlic-and-Parmesan-stuffed beef, the tiny involtini get seared and braised in tomato sauce until rich and tender. Like the meatball before them, it was only a matter of time before they got reinvented in sandwich form, and what a sandwich they make! More