Saggio, Washington Heights – Restaurant Review

Saggio, in Washington Heights, is the best Italian restaurant you haven’t been to.

The food options along 181st Street in Washington Heights have long impressed me. When I first moved to this neighborhood in July 2010, it was admittedly my first time there – I’ll let y’all battle out whether you choose to call this enclave Hudson Heights or not! – and I was simply impressed that there was a Starbucks located on the southeastern corner of my apartment complex! I’d stroll east, south, and north to find new spots to try, but I got excited when I saw the food options multiply outside my front door.

Saggio opened in late 2010, a few months after I planted roots. After a year and a half of traveling downtown for my pasta fixes, I was excited to see a spot open within a three-minute walk!

As indicated in my social media and previous posts, I moved back to this neighborhood in early 2022, just two blocks northeast of my old spot. I truly love this neighborhood and am glad to be back in a place where I can actually feel like part of a community; I love that I can walk north to 190th Street or walk down to 175th Street, see a neighbor, and give a genuine “hello!” because we’ve interacted at one point or another. After two spins on the Upper West Side and four years in Inwood, I never quite got that vibe. And have I ordered in from Saggio in my time back? Oh, many times!

Saggio has a delightful spacious outdoor patio space; in a city full of outdoor dining along the streets, it’s nice to feel secluded form the hustle and bustle, even if I have to give up my favorite pastime of people-watching. (Quel dommage!) Their menu consists of a variety of house-made pastas – boasting their “pasta by hand” outside of their entrance – savory dinner options, indulgent desserts, and inspired drinks.

Saggio – Antipasti

 I had one of my favorite content creators, Camille from The Cocktail Snob, as my guest, and we got to experience course after course of their offerings, starting with their ricotta costini topped with figs & honey, burrata, sautéed calamari, and steamed mussels. Mussels can be prepared horribly, to be frank, and I have had my share of bad mussels in New York City. Saggio’s mussels do not fall into that category; they were tender and cooked well without being too fishy, with a complementary white wine, tomato, and garlic broth that enhanced it. The calamari was also top-notch, not a rubbery bite in the bunch! The ricotta crostini was a perfect balance to the seafood appetizers, its milky and light ricotta + honey acting as a great counterbalance. You will never see me turn down burrata, and Saggio always comes through with theirs; their imported Pugliese burrata had that perfect creamy stracciatella, and the beefsteak tomatoes and basil its served with give me the illusion that I’m eating healthy. (Ha!) Well, the fennel salad with arugula, herbs, and parm surely helped me reach my recommended servings of vegetables for that day!

Saggio – Pastas

I was able to try three pasta dishes from them that I had never previously tried: Gnocchi Burro e Salvia, Lasagna Verde, and Tagliatelle Ai Funghi. All three of these are listed under their housemade pasta options. Though I’ve had Saggio’s gnocchi in previous visits – notably with their gorgonzola cream! – this was my first time having it prepared with a simple comforting combination of butter, sage, and parmesan. The Lasagna Verde boasts an earthy green pasta, served with beef bolognese and crisped mozzarella topping. This lasagna – served in an individual-sized long ramekin – holds together well, its noodles sturdy without falling apart like some lasagnas may. Finally, their tagliatelle is amazing, thick and perfectly al dente, and they do not skip on the funghi, for the mushroom lovers out there!

Saggio – Desserts

The night would not be complete without their desserts, and we got to exprerience both the Tartufo – a chocolate & vanilla gelati covered with a crackable dark chocolate shell – and the rich fudgy chocolate cake, served with vanilla gelato thta cut through the cake’s richness and fresh strawberries that added additions tart and juciy notes to round it out beautifully.

Saggio – Cocktails

I could not have asked for a better dining partner than Camille to tackle the cocktails that were slung our way. Perfert for a warm late summer evening, we started with fruity and refreshing options, such as the mezcal-based Consiglio Saggio, the gin-based Il Girasole, and the rum-based Fragola Basicilia. The mid-meal arrival of the meszal-based Anima Nera did not skimp on the habenero and black lava salt, an unexpected spicy and smoky treat.

Saggio’s boasts an impressive housemade limoncello, notable for its 37 day processing time. A little thick, a little sweet, and undeniably lemony, a small glass of this to sip at the end a meal is the way to go and cannot be passed up.

Conclusion

The next person that tells me 181st Street is too far away, I’ll remind them that I’ve lived up here on and off for 13+ years, and the average time from Columbus Cirlce is a mere 20 minutes. Quit yer complainin’ and hop on the express uptown! Saggio is a restaurant worth visiting, whether you live a block, a borough, or a state away.


Note: This was a complemintary meal from Saggio for review purposes, with staff tipped 20+% based on total of items recieved. Thank you to the fine staff at Saggio for a stellar experience! All opinions in this post are my own.


Sour Cherry Sauce

Hey! I’m still alive, yet clearly not making good use of my yearly WordPress payments.

I’m doing the bare minimum here by posting this impossibly simple recipe, but at least it’s something stimulating and not me doomscrolling Twitter for the tenth time today.

So! Let’s talk CHERRIES.

On my Instagram Stories, I recently noted how I had created a Sour Cherry Sauce recipe, but did not have the energy or bubbling desire to post it. I asked – via a poll – if I’d post this soon, never, or 3 months down the road once stone fruit season was over and even the best SEO wouldn’t draw attention to it until June 2023. Most folks chose the latter, which was a relatively decent vote of confidence.

So, WOW, look at me being proactive and posting during peak Stone Fruit Season! Who needs an evergreen post?

Well, the state of the world has me lacking the burning passion to develop recipes, much less cook, much less eat somedays. And with the cost of me buy groceries being virtually tantamount to me ordering out, you know which direction I’ve been choosing. Oy! Still, summer produce has been leaving me inspired, and I love taking Saturday strolls through Fort Tryon Park, past the Cloisters, and up to the Inwood Greenmarket. I love when I used to live just three blocks south of here circa 2014 – 2018, but I’m also happy for any excuse to get my steps in…before saying “Screw it” and taking the A Train two stops home when I’m done.

Cherries, both sweet and sour, are currently shining, juicy, and begging to be consumed. I’ve been frequenting Samascott – an NYC Greenmarket regular – to get mine, $7 a pint being well worth it.

I always buy cherries, nibble at half of the pint, then think, “…and what am I going to do with the rest?” Most times, they meet their destiny inside of the compost bag in my freezer, but I actually felt inspired to try making a basic cherry sauce. As with most fruit sauces I’ve made, I aimed for 3 cups fruit, 1 cup water, and 1 cup fine white sugar; with this, I wanted to maintain some of the tartness so it would not be cloying. First time ended up being the charm for me; I love when recipe testing works in my favor, as…I am lazy. I’m just lazy. Ha!

I love to use this sauce in many ways, such as mixing it into oatmeal or using it to top a piece of cake; in particular, I love to use the syrup – minus the chunks of fruit – when making iced matcha lattes. They are pretty and delicious!

NOTE: If you have a cherry pitter, USE IT. I used to have one, but it finaguled its way to Narnia during the move to my new apartment; I cut eat cherry by hand to pit them all, making it look like a crime scene in my kitchen. Good looks.

Sour Cherry Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 pint sour cherries; sliced cherries should amount to roughly 3 cups
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 dash ground cinnamon (optional)

Directions:

1.) Rinse and dry cherries; remove pits and slice into halves or quarters.

2.) In a medium saucepan, add cherries, water, and sugar. Turn heat to medium and allow to come to a slow boil; turn heat down to low and allow to simmer until thickened. Add cinnamon, if desired.

3.) Once thickened, remove from heat and allow to cool. Add to airtight container to save; this will last in the fridge for up to seven days.

Easy Work From Home Lunch Recipes (Because We’re Still In A Pandemic)

I still remember my last day at work prior to the pandemic: March 17th, 2020. I was taking the next three days off to do a remote 3-day SQL boot camp, and my manager at the time told me that she argued for me to be permanently WFH to counter the – at the time – alternate weekday scheduling that had started in early March. (Bless working in Infection Control with folks that understand it ain’t easy being spleenless during an unprecedented pandemic. 🙃) I spent the next three days in said SQL boot camp, our teacher up in Ottawa doing his best to teach under circumstances that had him shaken up as well.

Needless to say, it’s two years later, I still work remotely – with the occasional pre-planned office day – and I couldn’t code SQL to save my life. But I do know what it means to join tables! (Someone…give me credit…PLEASE…)

Just me saying “Hello!” from Washington Heights, yet again. (Or Hudson Heights if you choose… 🤪)

I recently moved back up to Washington Heights near the GW Bridge, my current apartment two blocks away from one I lived in circa 2010 – 2014. It’s so great to be back in this neighborhood, and even better to be back here with a roomy eat-in kitchen. My work schedule, by and large, does have that 2 p.m. lull which allows me to whip up quick yet tasty lunches, and rarely do I order out.

Here are a few easy – to – make work from home lunches that have been doing the MOST:

NOTE: There are no exact measurements for these work from home lunch recipes, just months and years of tacit knowledge being explicitly stated in a non-organized way. Ha! No lists nor proper set steps as there should be in a food blog post, just vibes. 😎✨😅

Work From Home Lunches: Breakfast Quesadilla with Baby Spinach, Cheddar, & Tomatoes

I eat this more for lunch and dinner than I ever do for breakfast. (Then again, I’m usually never hungry until about 2 p.m. on any given day!) My Our Place pan makes the crispiest quesadillas ever, so this recipe has been on ample rotation.

To make my scrambled eggs, I whisk together two eggs with a squirt of mayo and a splash of whole milk. Next, I grab a handful of baby spinach and roughly chop, then I’ll quarter a 1/2 cup of cherry or grape tomatoes. I’ll mix the vegetables into the egg mixture. I’ll melt a tablespoon of butter over medium heat, and add to my Our Place pan. I’ll scramble the eggs until they are just set, remove from the heat, and set aside.

Pre-grated cheese is my friend for quick meals – I always go for Cabot – but if you don’t have any, grate up about 1/2 cup of cheddar or Colby Jack cheese. I’ll wipe out my pan, add another small pat of butter, then let is melt over medium heat. I’ll add a large flour tortilla – I go for burrito-sized! – and add 1/4 of the cheese to one half of the tortilla. Once the cheese has started to melt, I’ll add the scrambled eggs on top of the cheese, add the remaining cheese on top of the egg, and fold over the other half of the tortilla. (…got it?) I’ll give it a quick – yet – careful flip to make sure it’s toasted evenly on both sides, then I’ll cut into quarters and devour.

Work From Home Lunches: Breakfast Quesadilla with Baby Spinach, Cheddar, & Tomatoes

Work From Home Lunches: Mac & Cheese with Truff Black Truffle Mayo *or* Mac & Cheese with Sautéed Red Bell Pepper & Tomatoes

I have become a huge fan of Banza Mac & Cheeses; I think it’s a polarizing brand, as most folks do not enjoy the taste and / or texture of chickpea pasta. I eat gluten – a lot of it! – but I enjoy the slight nutty flavor of the pasta, and the cheese sauce is some of the best I’ve ever had from a boxed mac & cheese! I always have at least four boxes of these in my party at any given time, so I’m ready to go.

I always split my boxed mac & cheeses into two servings. For the first, after combining the pasta & cheese, I stir in an healthy dollop of the black truffle mayo. It adds an incredible depth of flavor, and I love to serve it with a simple side salad, because – as food content creators have been saying tongue – in – checkily for years – BALANCE. For my second serving, I’ll reconstitute my mac & cheese on the stovetop with a splash of milk and a small pat of butter, while lightly sautéing some red bell pepper and quartered grape tomatoes on the side. I’ll add the pepper into my mac & cheese, and occasionally hit it with an extra dose of cheese from my fridge; a nice 4-cheese Mexican blend is always a winner here!

Work From Home Lunches: Tuna Salad with Cucumber, Bell Pepper, Feta, & Red Onion

For someone that is averse to virtually all seafood, I love tuna, one of the fishiest fishes out there! There is nothing subtle about its taste, so it’s even beyond me why I love it so much. But, all these years later, a tuna salad is still one of my fallbacks for a quick and satisfying meal.

If you haven’t already picked up on this, these recipes involve very loose measurements. So grab a can of solid white tuna, pop it open, and drain; for me, I always get mine in water opposed to oil. Flake it apart in a large bowl.

My go-to cucumber is always a seedless; cut one in half through the middle – width-wise, not length-wise! – and dice. Take 1/2 of a small red onion and dice. Take 1/2 of a bell pepper and dice. (Are we sensing a theme here?) Mix vegetables with tuna, and add in two heaping tablespoons of mayonaise; add more to your liking, I prefer a binding coat of mayo to my tuna salad rather to have my ingredients swimming in it. Sprinkle in some feta. Season to taste, I love to go for some garlic powder, either fresh or dried dill, and a grind or two from my Trader Joe’s Everything Seasoning Grinder.

Work From Home Lunches: Tuna Salad with Cucumber, Bell Pepper, Feta, & Red Onion

Work From Home Lunches: Yogurt Bowl with Fruits, Nuts, & Seeds

So. Damn. EASY. Some days, there just isn’t time to eat a solid meal, but I can make something simple more elaborate and filling. More often than not, I just rip the top off of a pack of yogurt, add my toppings, and go to town. On occasion, I get fancy…such as if I need Instagram or website content. *ahem* Please don’t make me explain how to assemble a yogurt bowl, I hope you can figure that out on your own. (Ha!) I gravitate towards Siggi’s and Icelandic Provisions when it comes to yogurt – skyr, rather! – because if it ain’t thick, I don’t want it.

Work From Home Lunches: Yogurt Bowl with Fruits, Nuts, and Seeds

I’ll continue to post my work from home lunch standbys on my blog and on my Instagram, because they won’t be slowing down anytime soon! Continue to stay safe and eat well, y’all! ✌️

I feel like I should have done a grandiose “2021 Year in Review!” blog post weeks ago, full of accomplishments and lessons learned in the realm of food blogging.

I was too focused on too many other things to make conscious food blogging decisions throughout 2021. Let’s be honest. Ha!

I shared a few recipes, managed to increase my website traffic by some miracle with minimal effort, made a solid four figures in supplemental income from just three collaborations (two of them were even with brands I liked… 😆), and kept my head on while starting a few position at my hospital remotely while doing my previous infection control data role and current project lead role concurrently for roughly six months. 

I’ve got no gems or true wisdom to share, I’m just glad I’m still here, sane enough to whip up this post. 😂

This labradoodle coat From Lucky Brand was my favorite Pandemic Purchase, with this iced chai coming in at a close second. 💁🏻‍♀️

However, “spark” is my word for 2022, and I think I’ll have my spark again in the coming months. I’ll soon have a space to cook, photograph, and create unencumbered, and I think having my autonomy back is going to make a huge difference. I’m not looking to move mountains and hustle with dozens of campaigns, but I am happy I have a space larger than 3′ x 3′ to work in soon with ample natural light so I can show off avocado toasts once agin. (Remind me, is this 2022 or 2017? Haaa…)

Here are a few highlights from 2021, where I was actually able to grab an outdoor drink with friends every now and then and still managed to avoid COVID despite being directly exposed to Omicron a few times in December. (Gotta love the “new normal”, awful phrase be damned!)