I'm not sure if anyone else has noticed but there has been a massive resurgence of the food hall in the Northeast. As I child, I remember going to the mall with my mother and other doting relatives and the only place I wanted to go was the food court. What an extraordinary concept to have all types of food sold in one place! Imagine being six years old and having pizza (!!!), ice cream, hot dogs and chicken fingers at your fingertips. It sounds divine, doesn't it? Now I'm thirty one and you can only imagine how ecstatic I am to have the grown up version of this in almost every neighborhood in New York City.
Of course Chelsea Market had been around for some time but it wasn't until four or five years ago that I rekindled my love for food halls at the Todd English Food Hall at the Plaza Hotel. Not a true food hall in the sense I imagined but having a raw bar, a pizza (PIZZA!) station and more all tightly packed in the confines of The Plaza basement felt pleasantly nostalgic. A year later, Gotham West Market opened up on the edge of the Hudson river. A bit of a hike but more what I pictured a food hall to look like. El Colmado tapas, Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop and The Cannibal were just a few establishments to open outposts here. And just this weekend I made to Urbanspace Vanderbilt with Steph, a bustling space with roughly twenty vendors ranging from tacos to German pretzels and just about everything in between.
Steph and I started by splitting a Maple sandwich from Mayhem and Stout. It was the first one to grab my attention but during my next visit I intend to buy three to four sandwiches, split them and do my own "flight", if you will. They had their own version of a cheese steak, the "old timer" with horseradish and onion, and even a vegan option! Side note: there were a number of vegan options throughout the hall. The maple, sriracha soaked short disappeared in three large, flavorful bites. We were excited about the taco offerings from La Palapa Taco but sadly they were a steamed, mushy mess. The salsa verde or chimichurri sauce (I'm not sure which it was) would have been better on the side as it drenched both layers of tortillas making for a drippy mess. The fillings would have been more enjoyable if eaten in true taco style but sadly I lost all interest.
The best part of the visit was Roberta's Pizza. We tried the Millenium Falco special and holy Han Solo, this pizza was amazing. Just see the picture below.
The fresh basil played nicely off the pork sausage and the chili flake was just enough to even out the umami flavor of the parm. I'm still scratching my head as to why we ordered the small.
I forsee many missed trains in my future given the proximity to Grand Central. While my palate has (somewhat) matured, my inner six year old can't wait to eat everything, especially the pizza. Until the next dish, ciao!