New York's dining options

New York has long been known for its all-American fare, such as Nathan's Famous hot dogs or the Carnegie Deli. These staples of the Big Apple have beckoned folks from all walks of life.

But beyond these culinary hallmarks are restaurants that highlight the city's melting pot characteristics. Many neighborhoods showcase Italian, Latin, Asian or healthy fare. Whether you're on vacation or just breezing through on business, you can't go wrong by sampling the variety of foods in New York.

Where Rome meets New York

Greenwich Village: This is where food trends are created. Restaurateurs aren't afraid to take chances here, and the result is creative, eclectic cuisine that is emulated nationwide. Nowhere is that more evident than on the village's corner of Minetta Lane and Sixth Avenue, where Bellavitae resides. What makes this Italian eatery different from so many others is its effort to import its ingredients, such as olive oils, vinegars and pastas. The restaurant's dedication to acquiring "all things Italian" makes Bellavitae a standout in the New York Italian crowd.

Bellavitae is so connected to imports that its owner, Rolando Beramendi, is the supplier to many of the city's other Italian restaurants. Bellavitae gets its name from a mix of the Latin "beautiful life" and "beautiful vines."

Different Asian fare

If you ever have a chance to visit the Chinatown section of the city, there's one place that you must visit for a unique culinary experience. At Nyonya, Malaysian food is the specialty. Modeled after a south Asian tiki hut, Nyonya offers generous portions of exotic dishes such as roti canai, an Indian pancake with curry chicken dipping sauce. Roti canai is Malaysia's national dish. If you are in the mood for something different, try Nyonya's curry spareribs. Noodle soups are highly recommended here and can be a meal by themselves. The prawn mee, a blend of egg noodles, shredded pork and large shrimp in a spicy broth, is enough to open up the stuffiest of sinuses. The drinks and desserts at Nyonya are also spectacular. Sooi pooi, a sour plum drink, and pulut hitam, creamy rice with coconut milk, are an excellent after-dinner treat.

The affordable hole-in-the-wall is a great place to experience something that we simply can't get back home.

Go veggie

Vegetarian restaurants aren't what they used to be, and that's a good thing. Today, you can travel the world over and find excellent vegetarian cuisine. On New York's West Fourth Street, Red Bamboo is a prime example of how you can get a great meal minus the meat.

Salmon teriyaki (yes, that is soy salmon), unagi don (sesame-seasoned "Japanese fish steak"), butterfly soy chops (soy "pork") and "chicken" parmesan (breaded soy "chicken") are all mouth-watering delicacies that make you swear that you are eating the real thing. Indeed, meat purists would scoff at these dishes, but open-minded visitors cannot resist the vegetable tempura or black bean ginger stir-fry, a concoction of zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, asparagus, cauliflower and broccoli.

The menu at Red Bamboo seems endless. Who knew that there could be this much variety at a vegetarian restaurant?

With so much culture packed into such a great city, it's no wonder that New York City has such a thriving and diverse dining community.

Bellavitae
www.bellavitae.com

Calle Ocho
www.calleochonyc.com

Red Bamboo Soul Cafe
www.redbamboo-nyc.com

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