A Chinatown Turkey Plus Pizza Stuffing — Courtesy of Pizza a Casa

Restaurant Report Card: December 2011

Teany Cafe on Rivington St. reopened this week after being shuttered by inspectors late last month.

Each month, we post a report of restaurants in the 10002 ZIP code that scored 28 points or more on their health department inspections, the equivalent of “C” grades under the city’s rating system. We also call out establishments that excelled, by earning 3 points or fewer.

For more details on how the city grades food establishments, see the guide (PDF). Because of the way the online search function operates, we cannot link directly to individual restaurant reports here, but you can visit the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s website, type in the name of any restaurant and view the details of inspectors’ findings for all recent visits. You can also read our Restaurant Report Card archives here.

Please note that restaurateurs are permitted to post a “grade pending” certificate while they appeal an unsatisfactory score, so those listed here may not currently display a “C” grade in their storefronts.

This week, the city council launched an initiative to evaluate the 18-month-old grading system, which has drawn plenty of ire from the restaurant and bar industry. Read more about that here.

Here’s the report for December.

NYT Chronicles Pizza A Casa’s TripAdvisor Drama

Pizza a Casa, the learn-to-make-pie-at-home school at 371 Grand St., is having a New York Times moment today.

Reporter David Koeeppel delivers an interesting blow-by-blow account of the school’s battle with TripAdvisor, a travel site that categorizes and rates dining, lodging and entertainment venues for tourists. A few months ago, thanks to rave reviews from its students, Pizza a Casa sat atop the list of NYC attractions–above other “things to do” such as visit the Statue of Liberty, for example. Class sign-ups rolled in and owner Mark Bello was thrilled.

And then, TripAdvisor reclassified Pizza a Casa as a “tour” instead of an “attraction” and everything changed. An e-mail battle ensued.  The term “tour” was dissected and debated. Consultants were consulted.

Pizza Guru Shares Chinatown Turkey Tradition

Desperately seeking last minute inspiration for your traditional Thanksgiving feast? Oddly enough, there’s no need to look any further than Mark Bello, the mastermind behind Grand Street’s Pizza a Casa.  It turns out the guy obsessed with teaching people how to make a perfect pie at home, also is pretty ingenious when it comes to turkey.

You see, for the last three years, Bello’s holiday guests have been raving about his Chinese-style roasted bird.  Crispy on the outside — juicy and flavorful on the inside — this turkey has it all. Best of all, it doesn’t require any fussing around in the kitchen.

Talking Turkey with Jeffrey

Don’t let that big knife scare you. Essex Street Market butcher Jeffrey Ruhalter will be happy to help you prepare for Thanksgiving, which is only 10 days away. We stopped by over the weekend to learn about some of the options available for the big feast.

Here’s the scoop:

If you want a fresh, all-natural turkey (from an Amish farm in Pennsylvania), you’ll need to get your order in no later than the end of the day tomorrow.

But if you just need a regular fresh or frozen turkey, there’s still time. Jeffrey says you can order those varieties up until Monday or Tuesday of next week.  What’s the price difference? The all-natural bird will cost you around $4.75/pound — $2.29 or so for a regular fresh turkey — and $1.99 for frozen.

Pizza a Casa Lets a Little Light In

We were excited to learn you can now see inside the Pizza a Casa storefront (the front window used to be stacked to the top with pizza boxes).  Lo-Down contributor Mitch Weinstein caught those devoted pizza makers hard at work last night. He writes. “Pizza a Casa opens up. Last night, walking by, and whaddya know…you can actually see what’s happening inside! I wonder what happened to all those pizza boxes…”

Pizza a Casa at night - photo by Mitch Weinstein

Pizza a Casa

Mark Bello says he can teach anyone how to make perfect pizzas at home, from scratch. Individuals can attend regularly scheduled pizza workshops or you can book a private event for a group (of up to 16 people). The Grand Street shop also stocks a full line of pizza making tools and accessories.

371 Grand Street, near Norfolk


Weekly workshops:  Thursdays: 6:30pm to 10:30pm; Saturdays: 12:00 pm to 4:00pm; Sundays: 12:00 pm to 4:00pm. Store hours: Wednesday-Sunday noon-5pm.

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