NYC Restaurant Week, Summer 2016 (July 25 – August 19)

It’s one of the most wonderful times of the year! I say one of the most wonderful times, because this happens twice a year – once in the winter and once in the summer. It’s NYC Restaurant week, which means that it’s pretty much Christmas in July (and August).

Honestly, there are only a few things in this world that can truly make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

The first thing are puppies.

The second thing is food.

The third thing is Brett Eldredge’s voice.

Actually, food and puppies are pretty much tied for first. Sorry Brett, you’re still coming in third (although now that you have Edgar, we might be able to arrange something to get you a little bit higher on the list. HMU sometime, K?).

For those of you who don’t know (I’m so sorry you’ve been so sheltered up until now), NYCRW allows you to shove your faces with a special three-course, prix-fixe meal at certain restaurants throughout the city for a lower price than normal. AKA: great food that won’t break your bank. Most restaurants have specials for lunch, dinner and brunch seven days a week. Always make sure to check though, because some restaurants might exclude Saturdays and Sundays.

So what is a prix-fixe meal? Basically restaurants offer a minimum of three choices for appetizers, three choices for entrées and at least two desserts. There might be some restaurants that also offer drink specials, supplemental items and other à la carte options for an additional price, but that’s up to them.

Okay, so because I’ve been running around like a crazy person, I’ve really only had time so far to visit one restaurant on the list of 370 picked for this summer’s season. It was my best friend’s birthday and I wanted to treat her.

The list can get a little bit overwhelming but luckily OpenTable allows you to filter based on location and cuisine. Picking the location was easy (Manhattan), but the cuisine? There are just too many good options. I could go with American, Cuban, Italian, French…the list goes on and on. The problem was I wanted all of it. I have zero self control with food (by choice)…like the limit does not exist (you all wonder why I workout so much? So I can eat more). Texting a boy? I have literally all the self control in the world (mostly because idgaf basically all the time). But passing by a pizza place? Yeah, no shot. I already ordered a pie for myself (and no, I’m not sharing).

Anyway, to get back on topic, knowing my best friend, only two options really and truly made sense: burgers or sushi (now you probably get why we’re friends: same favorite foods, duh).

I decided on burgers because it’s been over a week since I’ve had one and that’s just way too long. I work in Midtown and she works in FiDi, so I needed to find something that was in the middle for us. After yelping the shit out of it, I decided on DBGB in the East Village.

Naturally, we got nothing on the Restaurant Week menu because we’re assholes. She ended up getting the Steak Tartare and I got The Yankee Burger. For those of you who follow me on snapchat, you’ve already seen the burger in all of it’s burger-y glory.

For those of who who don’t follow me, what the hell is wrong with you? Just kidding. Here’s what we got:

o   o-1

Images courtesy of Yelp

We also got calamari as an appetizer. And wow. Just wow. I’m genuinely not sure if I liked my calamari or my burger better. We all know how much I love burgers so for me to say my calamari came close is impressive in itself. The calamari came with a vidalia onion beer batter and I legitimately thought I had died and gone to heaven. As an Italian, it takes a lot for me to admit anyone’s calamari is better than my own. So that’s how you know.

As far as ambience, it’s such a cool place. I don’t think the images on Yelp actually do it justice. It’s so much bigger than you’d think. The only way for me to describe it is that I felt like I was in France circa 1950…but trendier?

Their drink selection is also pretty impressive. I ordered a beer that’s only available in two places in Manhattan. Manhattan! Do you know how much beer is in Manhattan?! It was by pure dumb luck that I managed to find a restaurant that’s only one of two places to carry this specific beer but I mean it must’ve been something special because I was feeling it real quick.

Pricing really wasn’t even that bad, despite the fact that we didn’t get anything off the Restaurant Week menu. For two girls who ordered beers, an appetizer and their own respective dinners, it came to just under $100. That’s honestly not awful.

The only downside to DBGB is its location. Unless you go to NYU or are okay taking a cab/hopping on the subway, it’s not too convenient to get to. Even coming in from Hoboken, it’s a 20 minute walk from the Christopher Street PATH.

Overall, I give it a 9/10, because of how far it is from everything.

Oh, remember how I said NYC Restaurant Week happens twice a year? I figured while on the topic, I’d included where I went for this past winter’s restaurant week: Butter Midtown

Butter is in the heart of midtown and pretty much smack-dab in the middle of Penn Station, Grand Central and the 33rd Street PATH. For any Food Network fans, this is definitely a place you’ll want to check out. Headed by Food Network star Alex Guarnaschelli, Butter was Guarnaschelli’s first restaurant as an executive chef. Since Butter’s inception, she’s made a name for herself on shows such as Chopped.

Butter is such a niche place. You better pay attention or you might just walk right past it. It’s a little hole in the wall on 45th, but as soon as you walk through the doors and head downstairs, it opens up to this grand room. The wine cellar is bigger than my apartment, and my apartment is huge by typical standards. The main dining room has foliage everywhere. My first feeling when I walked into Butter was that I was relaxed. There’s something very zen about it.

As far as the food goes, I actually did take advantage of the restaurant week menu (I went with my then-boyfriend and was trying to be semi-nice to his wallet). I ended up going with the fish of the day: Halibut.

I love halibut because it’s such a delicate fish. When cooked, you want to make sure that it just flakes easily with a fork. Typically drizzled with lemon, Butter took it a step further. They made a lemon tartar sauce, but it wasn’t thick. It’s difficult to explain…I mean granted this was one dinner I ate six months ago and I’m trying to remember as much as possible…the finer details are a bit hazy but I do remember it being amazing. If you’re anything like me, then you can imagine the flavors sort of melding together in your mouth. Wait, I’m actually getting legitimately hungry talking about this. Thankfully, because I got the fish of the day, which is ever-changing, I couldn’t find a picture to do my fish justice (which is good because now I don’t have to stare and drool at it).

So now that I’ve divulged some of my Restaurant Week picks, I think it’s super important for me to talk about my Honorable Mention: This restaurant wasn’t/isn’t part of restaurant week but I can’t not talk about it: Black Tap. Going to Black Tap was honestly a game day decision 4th of July weekend. Known for their famous milkshakes, they definitely brought all the boys to the yard. The most annoying thing about Black Tap is that you can’t make reservations at either of their locations so basically, if you do decide to go, good luck to ya.

But it’s so worth it.



Images Courtesy of Yelp

I mean I think I was in a legitimate food coma for about three days after. In addition to getting a milkshake, I also got a burger (did you expect anything less?) and tbh, it was actually mouthwatering. It got tweeted about, and then it got retweeted about. I can’t remember the last time I had a burger that good.

But honestly, if you really want to know all about Black Tap, their burgers and their milkshakes? Just follow them on insta: @blacktapnyc (but like seriously, just do it. I promise you won’t regret it).

Okay. So now that I’ve thoroughly made myself hungry AF writing this post, I’m gonna bounce and go grab some brunch in Hoboken.

Talk soon.



4-Ingredient Meals 

So last night I decided to make a food concoction with only 4 ingredients at 9:30pm. Why? Because I was super hungry and to be completely honest, too lazy to actually try and make a real dinner. 4 ingredients seemed doable…plus they were also the 4 things in my immediate reaching-vicinity. I was somewhat delirious because I had been awake since 4:30am but hey, workouts have gotta be done. So this is what I came up with (no, I didn’t give myself food poisoning…It was actually really good).

What I used:

  1. Celentano cheese ravioli
  2. Goya White beans
  3. Frozen Spinach
  4. Better than bouillon chicken stock

Ravioli: “Boil 4 quarts of water (add 1 tablespoon oil to prevent sticking). Add ravioli to boiling water. Simmer 5-7 minutes or until desired tenderness.” -Via celentano package. But unlike the package, I don’t follow actual measurements because…well I don’t really know why. I just don’t.

Beans: Drain the excess bean juice from the can. Fill a pot with water, add chicken bouillon and beans. I didn’t actually use measurements for this either because I don’t have measuring cups or measuring spoons #oops. Just go with what ya feel is right. Just make sure the beans are fully covered with water…and the bouillon isn’t overpowering. Bring to a boil and cook until beans are soft (about 8-12 minutes). It should be soup-like, with a whitish tint.

Spinach: Put the unopened bag in the microwave for 2-3 minutes to defrost.

Combine in a bowl and serve.

The full cook time should take about 15 minutes if you cook the ravioli in one pot and the beans in another at the same time. I obviously didn’t plan ahead so the whole ordeal took me about a half hour.

Because the beans are high in protein, and the raviolis are high in carbs, you actually don’t need all that much of this dish to make you feel full..Realistically, if you use the entire bag of ravioli, a full can of beans, and a quarter bag of spinach, you’d be able to easily get 3 servings.

If you want to portion it out (for one):

  • 5 raviolis=270 calories
  • 0.5 cup of white beans=90 calories
  • 2 oz of spinach=16 calories
  • 1 tsp bouillon=15 calories
  • Entire meal=393 calories

This will be more than enough…I promise you’ll be full! I couldn’t even finish the whole bowl below.

Photo by my wonderful coworker because he wanted to be included in WearsByRis (@matt_franzia).

I Know Guac is Extra

I looooove avocados…I also love breakfast (because pancakes and waffles).

And because I love avocados and breakfast so much, I thought to follow-up on my last fitness post, What Happened When I Stopped Being Italian for Two Weeks, it might be a good idea to write about some healthy breakfast alternatives.

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day…but recently I’ve realized that it’s just too easy to grab the closest thing to you because you’re not even awake because The Walking Dead was on last night and it mind-blew you so you had to re-watch it 8 times and didn’t get to bed until 3am. So instead of thinking about what we’re actually putting in our bodies, we just go with the most convenient option (which usually isn’t the healthiest). I decided to go with avocados because they’re a great source of healthy fat and can help make you feel more full and more energized to start your day.

Below I’ve included my go-to breakfasts for the week. They’re quick and easy; no more than 5 minutes!

The first recipe has two ingredients: avocados and cottage cheese. That’s it. All you have to do is scoop out the pits and you’re good to go. Season with salt, pepper, or whatever else you’d like.


The second recipe is also two (major) ingredients: avocados and eggs. Before you start, you need to make sure the eggs are hard-boiled. (For my millennial’s out there, read below for how to properly hard-boil an egg…cause you just never know with us).*


Once you have your avocados and you’ve hard-boiled your eggs, cut the eggs in half and take out the avocado pits.


Scoop out the centers of the avocados as well as the egg yokes. Put them in a bowl. Add salt, pepper, oil and cilantro (optional). Mash together with a fork until it’s a smooth consistency…or they look like green mashed potatoes.


Once you’ve mashed the yokes and avocado to your liking, spoon back into your eggs. Viola! People will think you’re a chef!


*How to Hard-boil an Egg:

  • Place the eggs in a single layer at the bottom of a saucepan. Cover with at least an inch-and-a-half of cold water (the more eggs=the more water). Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to keep eggs from cracking.
  • Bring the water to a full boil.
  • Turn off the heat, keep the cover on, and let it sit for 11 minutes (realistically 10-12 minutes…depending on the sizes of your eggs).
  • Strain out the hot water and run cold water over the eggs to cool them and stop them from cooking.

What Happened When I Stopped Being Italian for Two Weeks

I lost 10 pounds.

Yup, you read that right. I lost weight. No, I wasn’t even trying.

Let me backtrack and explain: when I say I “stopped being Italian,” what I really mean is that I stopped making enough food for a small army; I stopped eating until I felt like I was about to burst; I stopped not eating enough protein and I cut down my carbs. When you’re Italian, or at this point when you’re American, you tend to overeat…just because you can. I was giving my body way more than it actually needed and because of that my body had way more than it could process. I was feeling tired and weighed down.

I needed to make a change, especially now that I spend a good majority of my time working at my desk. I can’t just get up whenever I want and go to the gym like I did during college.

What I did:

  • Drank no less than 64 oz. of water a day…I had the most water before, during and after meals to increase fullness.
  • Cut back on intensive workouts to give my body a break. Instead of my usual two hours of boxing, I decided to go for a brisk walk for two hours around my neighborhood. We have a nice, big hill so I made a game out of it: I called my friends while I walked. It was a great way to get in my cardio and maintain all of my friendships as well.
  • I ate 6 small meals a day, instead of 3 big ones. I made sure to include drinking my coffee black, hot green tea and more vegetables into my diet. It kept my metabolism going throughout the day. If you really want to be all dedicated, try cutting sugar completely out of your diet. I couldn’t. I wasn’t that strong.
  • My portion sizes were A LOT smaller.
    • If you’re struggling with smaller portion sizes, try these simple tricks:
      • Use smaller plates and bowls. Not only will there be a limit on the amount of food that you can fit on them, but your mind will think you’re eating more food.
      • Cut your food into smaller pieces…just another way to trick you mind into thinking you have more food on your plate than you actually do.
  • I tried not to eat 4 hours before I went to bed. Sometimes I did and sometimes I didn’t. I’m not sure how much of a difference this really made.
  • I listened to my body. Being full doesn’t mean that you’re about to burst with your pants zipper down and your buttons undone. Being full means that you’re content…and the best part about it was that I could eat again in another two hours. So who actually wins here?
  • If you need some encouragement, use the MyFitnessPal app. It helps you log your food intake and track your progress. Downloading workout apps also make for quick and easy at-home workouts that you can complete at your own pace. Some that I’m trying out: SWORKIT lite, Hot5, Nike Training, Daily Yoga, Pump Up, StrongLifts 5×5, and Nike Running.

What happened when I went back to being Italian:

  • My body couldn’t handle all of the food in front of me. It wasn’t really sure what to do eating such big meals. I felt sick a good majority of the day.
  • I had a headache from the lack of water.
  • I found myself bored-eating. Never good.
  • It was easier for me to lounge on the couch.

I want you to make no mistakes: I didn’t go on a diet. That’s such a harsh word. It makes me think that I’m not allowed to eat ice cream or cheeseburgers…and I love ice cream and cheeseburgers. I still ate everything that I loved. All I did was regulate my diet and I made sure I was actually paying attention to the actual serving sizes. They’re there for a reason.



What Would Blair Waldorf Do? Mug

In honor of Gossip Girl day (January 26) coming up next, next Monday (if you didn’t know gossip girl day was next, next Monday, shame on you!), I decided it was time to add some gossip girl things into my life. What I found was this AMAZING mug with my life motto on it (more or less). If you’ve ever watched gossip girl, there’s no denying that Blair is a force to be reckoned with. Basically, she’s an inspiration. So, when I found this little guy (the mug), I HAD to get it.

If you want a mug just like mine, look no further than The Trendy Sparrow! Not only does she have Blair but she also just added a Serena mug! She has a ton of other mug designs and prints, as well. She also has an Etsy shop.

I got my mug within two days of ordering it.


Hope you guys enjoy shopping!



Holiday Sangria (You’re Welcome)

Apple, Pear and Pomegranate Sangria

I’m obsessed with this sangria recipe because sangria. It’s also super easy!

Traditional sangria is amazing as it is but this is a nice, wintery change that’s perfect for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or New Years.

I’m silly and forgot to take pictures because I was so excited…so as soon as it’s done, I’ll upload them!

We like to double the recipe because it’s only supposed to serve 10 people…so I’ll include the original measurements and the doubled measurements as well.

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 12 hours (leave overnight)

Total time: 12 hours 5 mins

Serves: 10 (or 20)


  • 1 (or 2) bottle(s) dry white wine
  • 2 (or 4) shots of Brandy
  • 2 (or 4) apples (peeled, cored, and sliced very thin)…Granny Smith apples are the best but it’s your preference
  • 2 (or 4) pears (peeled, cored, and sliced very thin)
  • 20 (or 40) whole cloves
  • 1 (or 2) teaspoon ground nutmeg (fresh is better but I use whatever I have in my cabinet)
  • 1 (or 2) bottle(s) champagne, prosecco, chilled
  • handful pomegranate seeds (fresh or frozen)

Obviously, you can change the ingredient measurements. I personally love apples so I’ll add more than just 4. It’s all up to you and how big your pitcher is.


  1. Combine pears, apples, cloves and nutmeg in a large pitcher. Cover with white wine. Refrigerate for 24 hours (or overnight).
  2. Fill a champagne flute half way with the fruit/wine mixture. Add 2 shots of Brandy. Top with champagne and several pomegranate seeds.

Like I said, it’s pretty easy! I hope you guys enjoy it! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


Workout/Eating Preparation for Thanksgiving

Halloween is officially over (thank goodness…) which means that we can finally move onto probably the most important holiday of the year: Thanksgiving. I mean it’s the holiday that lets you eat all day. What’s better than that?! Other than Christmas and probably your birthday, Thanksgiving is the holiday that keeps on giving (food to my stomach).

If you’re anything like me then you love to eat. Thanksgiving provides everyone the opportunity to eat whatever they want, whatever amount they want, whenever they want, and then sleep it all off afterward without feeling guilty (I know I certainly don’t)…but for those few of you who actually do feel guilty (you really shouldn’t), here are a few tips and tricks to get through the holiday.

We’ll cover three main topics you can use on your own to start preparing yourself for the greatest holiday of the year:

  1. Exercise
  2. Pick healthy alternatives
  3. Portion control.

Let’s first talk about exercise. Exercise is extremely vital to living a healthy lifestyle. You should already be exercising regularly as it is but if you’re not, definitely start as soon as you can. A common misconception is that you have to kill yourself while exercising in order to get result. While for some this may be true, you need to do what is best for yourself. If you can’t run a mile, it isn’t a big deal. Walk a mile instead. Do what you can do but make sure that you’re doing something.

One of my favorite exercises that you can do is “five-minute abs.” There are a couple of ways you can do this: five abs exercises for one minute each; 10 abs exercises for 30 seconds each; one abs exercise for five minutes. I don’t recommend the last one because you’ll only be targeting one area of your stomach; you want to get the most possible out of your five-minute abs. I recommend doing five abs exercises at a minute each. The pictures below indicate which exercises I like to do the most for my five-minute abs.

Once you’ve gotten exercising down, you need to make sure that you’re eating to support what you’re working off. If you go to the gym for an hour and then go eat a cheeseburger, chances are that you just canceled out your workout. I may do this on the reg but it’s because I love cheeseburgers too much to say no….and I also workout multiple times a day…so it’s fine.

Getting back to my point, it’s important to make sure that you’re not eating poorly. This brings us to some healthy alternatives. There are certain things you can eat that taste the same but are actually better for you. My favorite example is eggs verse egg whites. Egg whites have about 100 less calories than regular eggs and hardly any cholesterol at all. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had an egg white omelet this week because the number is actually embarrassing. Here’s a little hint, I’ve had them for dinner…

If you’re nervous about not feeling full, don’t be. Add things into your omelet. I like to add vegetables: mushrooms, broccoli, and spinach. I also like to add cheese. I switch between mozzarella and the cheese that you put on your tacos (you know what I’m talking about…four cheese Mexican or something…I forget what it’s called, but it’s delicious). Salt and pepper are a staple in my omelets.

A great example of a healthy alternative for Thanksgiving is sweet potatoes verses regular potatoes. I’m not personally an advocate for sweet potatoes, I actually hate them, but they have much more nutrient-rich centers verses the traditional potato (which I do love).

It’s extremely easy to find healthy alternatives for pretty much all food. You can normally just Google what you’re trying to replace (I Google basically everything) or there are also plenty of books on it as well. Personally, I like the “Cook This not That” books.

Okay, let’s move onto portion control. It’s extremely easy to over-eat on Thanksgiving. I do it every year (no regrets). But again, for those of who are concerned, there are a couple of ways to prevent this:

1. Drink a lot of water. Water always fills you up. Add a lemon or lime to your water for a little extra kick, too.

  1. Eat slowly. Your food will still be there in five minutes, don’t worry. It’ll also be there tomorrow when you have those awesome leftovers. Fun fact: the more slowly that you eat, the faster you’ll burn off the calories you’re eating…so if you eat more slowly, you’ll actually be able to eat longer.
  2. Try to get three different food groups onto your plate: Turkey can be your protein; green beans can be your vegetable; and sweet potatoes can be your carbohydrates.

I hope this helped!

As promised, here are the five-minute abs exercises I like to make sure that I’m targeting my entire stomach.

I’m 100% apologizing now for the fact that I can’t keep a straight face in any of these and I just look straight-up silly (I’ve never taken pictures of myself while working out before so it was a new experience). Hey, if you can’t laugh at yourself, what can you laugh at, amiright?

And before you ask, yes, those are boxing bags/a boxing cage behind me. Boxing is my primary workout (I also do weight training and cardio but that’s for another blog post).

What I’m wearing:

1. Thai Sit-ups

I love this one…because it requires me to lay down.

Start with your entire body stretched out on the floor. It’s just like a crunch but you keep your legs flat on the floor. Crunch as far up as you can. You’re basically trying to touch your toes.

IMG_7632 IMG_7633

2. Russian Twists.

Start in the middle and then move from side to side. Make sure that you’re touching the ground on each side to really get the full effect. Also, keep your legs up in the air; do not cross them.

IMG_7618 IMG_7619 IMG_7621

3. African Sit-Ups.

I have no idea why they’re called african sit-ups but they’re awesome and I love them. They hurt but they hurt so good.

This exercise is three movements in one. So today, 3=1.

Crunch up first with your left leg; then crunch with your right leg; then crunch with them both.

That’s one rep. So if you want to do 10 african sit-ups, you’re actually doing 30 movements.

IMG_7623 IMG_7624 IMG_7627

4. Plank

Everyone knows and loves (hates…?) the plank. It’s difficult but it really is one of the best things you can do.

This is a standard front plank but I also like to add an additional :30 seconds on both my right and left sides. You obviously don’t have to do that.

Keep your body flat, do not arch your back, and keep your stomach in.


5. Rub your shins

Quick appearance from my double chin hayyy (insert peace sign emoji).

Anyway, start with your back on the floor and your legs up at a 90 degree angle.

Crunch up, rubbing your shins.

Do you see where the name came from…?

IMG_7634 IMG_7630


All photo cred goes out to my FMPFL (focus mit partner for life): Mel

Okay, I know this was a seriously long post and I really appreciate you guys putting up with all the nonsense I just threw at you.

I hope this helps you prep for Thanksgiving. If it does or if you have any comments, questions, suggestions, don’t be afraid to contact me!



P.S. they should really get emojis on computers.