Creative Takes on Comfort Food at Amused

Creative Takes on Comfort Food at Amused

This past week, I made the journey from the Where IN New York offices in the Flatiron District to Amused—a quirky eatery that just opened up shop on the Upper West Side. I bet you assume I took a cab or the subway to my destination, about 60 blocks north, right? Well, you’re wrong. With a menu consisting of creative spins on comfort food, like Truffle Parmesan Popcorn, Pig in a Pretzel, Black Angus Beef Mini Corn Dogs, and plenty of fancy versions of the tried-and-true classic grilled cheese sandwich, I decided to hoof it Uptown in an attempt to get in a workout before pigging out.

At the intimate restaurant—complete with exposed brick walls, an open kitchen, tables for two, a large communal table, and menu items scribbled in a bevy of colors on chalkboards throughout the space—I was treated to several interesting dishes by Executive Chef Stella Ballarini, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband, Gianluca. The duo is probably best known for their award-winning boutique catering company Scoozi Events NYC.

After getting the party started with the aptly named Rx- Prescription Party Starter—a sort of DIY cocktail consisting of an elixir of antioxidants presented in a pill bottle alongside a shot of shochu, both added to a glass filled with berries and lime—it was time to try the food. On my tour of the whimsical menu, I sampled the Hatching Egg, savory ravioli with creamed spinach; to-die-for Ramen Carbonara, presented in a larger-than-life ramen container with pork belly, ramen, peas, poached egg and carbonara sauce; and a Deconstructed S’more, an interesting, mess-free presentation of the campfire staple.

In its former life, the space Amused! currently occupies was once Say Cheese, a popular weekend stomping ground for grilled cheese fanatics. Amused! still offers several versions of the sandwich, and I got to try the French Onion, with Gruyere, Swiss and French Onion on Sourdough; and the Baby Cuban, with Swiss, Muenster, Mesquite Beer Mustard and House-made Pickles—why “Baby” you ask? Well, according to Stella, it’s because the sandwich is too young for the pork.

Also according to Stella, my favorite dish of the night also has an interesting back story: the General Zoe’s Cauliflower—a fun take on the famous General Tsao’s Chicken—sans the meat—gets its name from the owners’ 12-year-old daughter, Zoe, who takes on an authoritative role when she visits her parents’ kitchen.

Besides the Rx- Prescription Party Starter, when it comes to drinks I also suggest the Bloody Brewsky, a concoction consisting of Craft Beer, House Bloody Mary mix and Smoked Salt Rim; and the Tall, Dark & Handsome, reminiscent of a spiked Coca-Cola with Mother’s Milk Stout, Sparkling Apple Cider, notes of Coffee and Chocolate.

The cash-only restaurant is open for dinner Friday thru Sunday and brunch Saturdays and Sundays. Private dinner parties and pop-ups are held weekdays.

Add new comment