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BEST OF NYC: SD26 San Domenico Italian Cuisine

10 Jul

By Christabelle…@CBellesCloset (*Pure Editorial, Non-Paid Post*sample)

WHAT: SD26 Contemporary Italian Cuisine

WHERE: 19 East 26th Street
Madison Square Park
New York NY, 10010
T. 212-265-5959

SD26 - 19 East 26th Street NYC

SD26 – 19 East 26th Street NYC

WHY WE HEART ITSD26 combines the necessities of a classic Italian fine-dining experience with a warm welcoming, part-of-the-famiglia feel. Owned by legendary father-daughter restauranteurs Tony May & Marisa May, SD26 promises and delivers  an authentic Italian dining experience…one that transports you right to that boot to the east.  From the Northern Italian-born and bred Executive Chef Matteo Bergamini, to the pristine service, mouth-watering menu and the always delightful visit from Marisa May herself, you start to wonder if the SD really means San Delizioso!  With a beautiful culture-inspired decor spun with a modern, sexy NYC vibe, incredible Italian food and a 750-label wine list, Italy is miles closer than you think. No passport needed.

WHAT TO ORDER: If you can only order one thing from SD26, make it the “Uovo”- a Soft Egg Yolk filled Raviolo with Truffled Butter ($23). BRACE YOURSELF  for the deliciousness of this dish may be too much for you to handle. In fact, do yourself a favor and order one to eat there and one to go. You will find yourself having psychotic cravings for it’s buttery goodness in the middle of the night.

WHEN: Brunch (weekends only), Lunch and Dinner

Monday through Friday Lunch from 11:30-2:30pm; Monday through Thursday Dinner 5:30-11pm; Friday and Saturday Dinner: 5:30-11:30pm

Delivery, Private Dining and Reservations are available

Tony May, Owner SD26 ; Marisa May, Co-Owner SD26 Matteo Bergamini, Executive Chef SD26

Tell Marisa May that Christabelle sent you (and then ask her to send me an UOVO to my new office!)

Mangia! Mangia!

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signature xo CC




BEST OF NJ: Mangia, Mangia at Piccolo Trattoria

27 Jun

By Rissabelle…@CBellesCloset (*Pure Editorial, Non-Paid Post*sample) 

On a recent shopping trip to Princeton, NJ Team Christabelle (i.e. CC and I) decided to plan ahead in having dinner at the famous Piccolo Trattoria in nearby Pennington. We had heard from friends and colleagues alike that we needed to eat there and our Italian DNA agreed it was a long overdue visit.

While we didn’t find the shoes we were looking for on said shopping spree, we certainly found one of our favorite new Italian restaurants, which in my book is a bigger score. After a day of unsuccessful retail therapy and building up a seemingly insatiable appetite, we entered the restaurant and were immediately greeted by all of the lovely scents that encompass traditional Italian dishes. Fresh tomato sauces with garlic and basil, and the smell of baking cheese wafted through the air. Our stomachs grumbled in unison and we knew we were in for a food-gasm that would pacify and soon make us forget about our shopping misfortunes.


The atmosphere made us feel right at home (I mean, we are both have a mix of the proverbial ‘boot’ in our bloodstream). The menu choices were vast and each trumped the next on the list – so deliciously described we had difficulty choosing, which according to our server, is not uncommon at Piccolo’s. We agreed upon family style (i.e. sharing and taste testing it all!) and we ordered an array of carbs, cheeses and meats…then sat anxiously awaiting their arrival to our table.

Starting with the Stuffed Portobello with Crabmeat and Arancina Di Funghi Appetizers. The mushrooms were tender, juicy, and the white wine sauce made the crabmeat sparkle with life.  The Arborio rice balls came sprinkled with white truffle oil, which complimented the breaded and fried wild mushrooms and tomato cream sauce seamlessly (CC is a sucker for anything ‘truffle’). Insalatas soon joined the appetizers – I opted for the Citron Insalata complete with Radicchio, fresh fennel, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, ruby red grapefruit wedges and baby arugula came dressed with extra virgin olive oil and aged Sherry vinegar – a sweet citrus ensemble that set my palate for the rest of the meal to come. Christina ordered the Insalata Di Arugula, a more classic salad with fresh ingredients of red onions, mozzarella and their house dressing.

Service remained attentive and the wait staff kept us supplied with food, drink and humor for the entire night.  CC’s pasta dish, Rigatoni Alla Vodka which was pasta folded with Parma prosciutto in a vodka cream sauce evoked the following quote from her “I want to make babies with this meal…!” In the land of CC – that is a HUGE compliment. A seafood lover, I dined on the Tilapia Mare Chiaro, which included baby shrimp and jumbo lump crab meat (in a divine garlic white wine sauce) and grape tomatoes served with a sautéed filet of Tilapia served over capellini. O. M. G!

Each bite was better than the previous, I couldn’t stop even when I was getting full. It was so good I almost didn’t want to share with CC, (who was busy re-producing with her Rigatoni, so it worked out well).

At the end of our meal there were no to-go-boxes needed, but elastic waistband pants could have been used. Total end-of-the-meal bonus – a surprise greeting from owner Fahmi Elebad. An absolutely delightful man, his story is one of inspiration. He started from the bottom- really the very bottom, as a dishwater in another restaurant. Staying true to the phrase ‘Living the American Dream’ he tirelessly worked his way up,  now offering fresh, and authentic Italian cuisine at three Piccolo Trattoria restaurants.  A generous man, his business supports other local communities through ways of fund raising, in-kind and monetary donations, with a focus on Youth Groups, Community Organizations, and K-12 Schools.

We give Piccolo Trattoria our highest 5 star rating and recommend making your way here for a visit – whether coming from NYC (a bit over an hour), Princeton (20 minutes) or even further away, it is worth the trip. Your tummy will thank you (and US!)

Mangia, mangia!

Piccolo Trattoria
800 R Denow Road
Pennington, NJ 08534

Phone: 609-737-9050
Fax: 609-737-9025

Newtown: (215) 860-4247

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rissa sign         FTC GUIDELINES BLURB 2013

Ortaggi! Guilt-Free Frozen Yumminess?! Talk about a Treat!

23 Jun

By Rissabelle…@CBellesCloset (*Pure Editorial, Non-Paid Post*sample) 


When Christina told Kara and I we would be attending the launch of Ortaggi at Flywheel NYC (which included an intense spin class) my first thought was ‘Hold up…If we are going to get a great work-out, why would we ruin it by eating sorbet right after?’ (Which I can assume would be the thought of most). Then the good news came – Ortaggi wasn’t a sugary processed sorbet at all, but instead a certified organic, preservative and dairy free, 100% natural and vegan cold and creamy treat made from vegetables, fruit juices and herbs- Now that’s a snack that’s post work-out worthy.


Immediately I was intrigued and began to look more into this interesting new frozen goodness. Ortaggi came about from two friends who craved a nice cool frozen treat after a grueling sweat session, but didn’t want to experience the dreaded “snacker remorse”. Enter Ortaggi – which means ‘vegetables’ in Italian – offers the best of both worlds in a delicious, creamy frozen treat similar to a sorbet but without the guilt of processed sugars and calories. It’s actually good for you! Suddenly, the inspiration for the launch began making perfect sense. Kara and I (sans CC) made our way to Flywheel to try Ortaggi flavors following a spin class. It was packed, but in a good way, filled with other men and women also eager to sweat it out in spin and celebrate with the various delicious flavors of Ortaggi afterwords.

The class was amazing. We had a fabulous instructor who kept us excited and encouraged, even during the most intense sessions. The music was also perfect, keeping everyone fired up and in the zone. I had only attended one spin class prior a while back, but this one was much more fun! Or, as fun as an intense cycling spin class could be, while I was trying not to look too winded 🙂

After the class, we each received a box filled with Ortaggi gifts! They included an Ortaggi work -out top, 6 Ortaggi samples in their own containers, and came complete with a very cute, teeny tiny spoon along with product info. The flavors fusions included:

  1. Carrot +Mandarin Orange
  2. Red Pepper + Peach + Lime + Agave
  3. Avocado + Cucumber +  Parsley
  4. Beet + Tangerine
  5. Celery + Cucumber + Basil
  6. Spinach + Kale + Pineapple

Each was bursting with unique, well blended flavors and really was the perfect guilt-free treat after working up a sweat. Kara enjoyed Carrot and Mandarin Orange flavor while my two favorites were the Avocado, Cucumber, Parsley and the Beet and Tangerine. No guilt here! 🙂

Be sure to grab a flavor of your interest when it hits stores near you. For more information and general inquiries, about Ortaggi contact

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rissa sign






Crafting CupCakes…Brewing up Baked Beer Goods

4 Jun

(*Pure Editorial, Non-Paid Post)
Christabelle is #Obsessed with this…@CBellesCloset

For those that are experienced in the kitchen, wine may be a familiar ingredient to cook with, but many people don’t even consider using craft beer in their recipes. While it may not be commonplace quite yet, more and more people are learning that craft beer can add a flavorful dimension to a variety of dishes. Whether you’re an accomplished cook and a craft beer connoisseur, or just starting to build your culinary and beer knowledge, a few simple tips will help anyone create a meal that is sure to impress.
Craft Beer Cupcakes

Look for high-quality craft beers for cooking, like Samuel Adams Boston Lager. Samuel Adams is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year; through the years they’ve remained at the forefront of America’s ever-growing craft beer community because of their attention to quality and focus on innovation. Just as you carefully select the ingredients for your dish, you should be sure the ingredients in your beer are the highest quality. If you like to drink a certain beer, chances are it will be delicious to cook with.

Spice it up: Craft beers are a unique culinary tool that can bring out hidden flavors, balance complex ingredients, and pair well with bold or delicate flavors equally. The ingredients used in craft beer provide an inherent spice package that creates an added depth of flavor without overpowering the taste of other ingredients. This built-in spice packet also makes cooking simpler, infusing dishes with exciting flavors that might be difficult to achieve otherwise.

Experiment: Don’t be afraid to try incorporating beer into a variety of dishes. Samuel Adams brewer Jennifer Glanville advocates for experimentation. “I encourage everyone to incorporate craft beer into their cooking. If you have a favorite dish and a favorite brew – find a way to put them together. There are so many options when cooking with craft beer,” she stated.

Craft beer for every course: Because of the variety of craft beers on the market today, there is a beer that fits in any recipe. Various beer types can fit in marinades for meats, sauces, and even desserts. Glanville recommends making a marinade with Boston Lager for steaks and burgers. The malt flavor in the beer emphasizes the caramelized flavors of the meat, and the beer’s citrus and spicy notes from the hops intensify the flavor of the dish.

To show just how tasty a dish made with craft beer can be, Samuel Adams worked with Chef David Burke to create a beer-infused cupcake that is worthy of any celebration – especially the brewery’s 30th anniversary. Burke says of the partnership, “Samuel Adams continues to experiment with ingredients and brewing techniques, just as I experiment in my cooking, so it’s been exciting to see how we’ve been able to push culinary boundaries through our unique partnership.”

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Boston Lager and learn how simple cooking with craft beer can be, whip up a batch of Boston Lager cupcakes and toast to your new culinary know-how.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager Cupcakes Recipe (makes two dozen cupcakes):

by Chef David Burke

1/2 cup butter

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/4 cup cocoa powder

3/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup Samuel Adams Boston Lager

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for Boston Lager Buttercream Frosting:

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon whipping cream

2 tablespoons Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Directions for Boston Lager Cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl. Beat together butter, sugar and cocoa powder in a large mixing bowl. Add in eggs and mix until thoroughly combined. Slowly incorporate dry ingredients until well combined. Pour in water and beer and finish by adding salt. Stir until mixture is smooth and there are no lumps.

Line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners. Pour approximately 3 to 4 oz into each cupcake. Bake in oven at 325 degrees for approximately 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Directions for Boston Lager Buttercream Frosting:

In a standing mixer, whisk together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Add vanilla extract, Boston Lager and whipping cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed.


signature xo CC


Dinner at Tiffani’s…

23 Mar

By Christabelle… @CBellesCloset (*Pure Editorial, Non-Paid Post) Dinner at TIffani

Many of you dreamed of taking Tiffani Theissen (formerly Tiffani-Amber) out to dinner back in the Saved By the Bell days…fast forward to 2014  – your dreams have become reality. Now you can have Dinner at Tiffani’s once a week – Sunday to be exact.

The stunning and oh-so-talented-cook-in the kitchen, actress and Super Mom Tiffani Thiessen, hosts an intimate dinner party with her celebrity friends Nathan Fillion (Castle aka my #1 crush), Willie Garson (Sex and the City), and Lindsay Price (90210). Join them all as she preps and creates some of her favorite home cooked dishes. Dinner at Tiffani’s (airing on The Cooking Channel) promises to serve up some great food, delicious drinks and entertaining stories from some of our favorite stars.

Question is…how do I get an invite to dins?!? #whywasntiinvited 

That’s ok Tiff, I still love you girl…#dinnerattiffanis

Tune in every Sunday on the Cooking Channel (check your local listings for times)


signature xo CC


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