Each week in our new Off Duty series, we'll talk to some of our favorite chefs and industry folk around the country to find out their secret late-night spots where they like to grab a bite and a pint when their kitchens are finally closed. Next up: Michael Chernow and Daniel Holzman, the dapper dudes behind the wildly-successful The Meatball Shop.
What places do you like to go to when your kitchen is closed?
I love Frank Restaurant on Second Ave. between Fifth and Sixth St. -- it's got to be one of my top five favorite restaurants in New York. I used to work there, too. They are open til four o'clock in the morning on the weekends and until 1 o'clock on the weekdays. It's an Italian restaurant and they do a dish called the rigatoni ragu that inspired the Meatball Shop, actually. It's an incredible dish. It's very simple -- just meatballs and pork sausage in a red sauce with ragu. In my opinion, it doesn't really get any better than that.
What's your favorite thing to order?
I worked there for years and now that I don't work there anymore, I always get the rigatoni ragu but when I ate there on a regular basis, they have a dish there called Fava e Cicoria and it's a fava bean soup with roasted vegetables and you kind of dip the vegetables in the soup. It's a classic Pugliese dish and spectacular. I used to eat that regularly.
How did you first discover Frank? Did you go there to eat before you started working there?
I was working at other restaurants and nightclubs and it was this under-the-radar hot spot in the East Village. I really wanted to work there. I was 20 when I got hired and stayed there for about eight years.
Do you have any fun memories or anecdotes from nights spent there?
Do you want me to be totally honest with you or keep it PG-13?
When I first started working at Frank, it was definitely a late-night spot and I was also a bit of a maniac at that stage in my life. The first year I worked there when I was about 21-years-old, we all got drunk after work and I got a full-body massage in olive oil on the big community table.
What's your favorite spot, Daniel?
I definitely like Barrio Chino. I literally have no idea when I first went there or who brought me there. I actually have no memory of most of the times I've gone to or left Barrio Chino. It's a tiny little restaurant on Broome St. Great little Mexican joint. The margaritas are really delicious, the people who work there are really cool, and the food's tasty and cheap.
What are your favorite things to order?
The calamari salad. The margaritas are also pretty special. They have about eight different types of margaritas and I happen to like the elderflower version.
Any fun anecdotes?
I'm so sorry to do this to you and normally I would have stories but I'm completely drawing a blank.
Michael: The last time we were at Barrio Chino, it was definitely an experience.
Daniel: I was more drunk than I've ever been in my life. We brought the Jägermeister with us. I don't suggest that.
Frank, 88 Second Ave., NY; Mon-Thurs, 10:30am-1am; Fri-Sat, 10:30am-2am; Sun, 10:30am-midnight
Barrio Chino, 253 Broome St., NY; Mon-Fri, 11:30am-1am; Sat-Sun, 10am-1am
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