I had heard about Sauce on one of the food blogs I read. My first thought about it was “If it’s truly an Italian restaurant, why isn’t it called ‘Gravy’?” Once I got to Sauce and tried their menu, I understood exactly why it wasn’t called Gravy. Sauce, in fact, isn’t very Italian at all.

sauce avocado salad

avocado salad

Located on Rivington and Allen, Sauce has a fairly hip location, and its interior clearly reaches for that certain, exclusive feeling. Dim rooms with tiny wooden tables and chairs situated too close together fill the joint. MDP asked, “Why’d they give us this table?” which was located just steps away from the restrooms and kitchen (which, reflecting upon the layout, probably shouldn’t be so close together). “I don’t know,” I replied. “But it’s better than that one.” I gestured to a lone table in the midst of several other tables that would have been impossible to maneuver behind.

If you look online at Sauce’s website, their menu is basically illegible. It’s impossible to know what description goes with what dish and so on. At the restaurant itself, the menu is much more clear. We were presented a thick list of specials–which seems odd to me. Why not put more on the regular menu instead of having so many specials each night? I digress–and selected the avocado salad off that menu for our appetizer. Initially, I had thought that we would get their garlic bread, sold by the piece (another oddity), but they fed us delicate slices of bread and vegetables soaked in olive oil when we sat down.

The avocado salad was a bowl filled with chopped iceberg lettuce with a can of corn kernels and slices of tomato dropped on top, and one half of an avocado carelessly placed on one side of the dish. I enjoyed the salad, although I wish they had included more avocado. A light, barely perceptible vinaigrette coated the salad mixings. I was so hungry at the time that I wolfed down my portion of the salad in no time.

sauce chicken parmigiana

chicken parmigiana

For my entree, I opted for the chicken parmigiana because, I figured, even non-Italian restaurants can get that right. MDP got the gnocchi alla sorrentina, which is just gnocchi with melted mozzarella on top.

My chicken parmigiana was fine. The chicken itself was tender and easy to cut through, but they put way too much of their eponymous sauce on the chicken and not enough mozzarella. The ratio was off. In addition, they offered me a side of homemade spaghetti, which was voluminous and dense, with ample amounts of their sauce on top–but no spoon to eat it with. Also, there wasn’t any parmesan cheese on the table for my dish. They just put some on top of the spaghetti at their own discretion. These hints clued me into the fact that Sauce is not entirely authentic.

MDP’s gnocchi came out in a very tiny dish. They were spinach gnocchi and he commented that they were just okay. He didn’t like the sauce either.

I wouldn’t recommend Sauce. As I said, any Italian restaurant that even hints at the stuff that you put on spaghetti should be called Gravy. That’s the Italian way.

You know I don’t like Italian restaurants (because I find I can make the dishes better at home), so take my review for what it’s worth. Maybe Sauce doesn’t want to be authentic, who knows. All I know is that I’m not going back there.


78 Rivington Street

Lower East Side, NY

Take the F/M to Delancey/Essex, walk up to Rivington then left.


Joy Burger Bar

joy burger bar burger and fries

burger and fries

The name conjures warmth, doesn’t it? Joy Burger Bar.

When you walk into the corner burger shop at 100th and Lexington, you’ll see a handful of tables and a literal burger bar where you can order your food. This is another one of those places where you order the food and then sit down–which, as I’ve stated, gives me anxiety about finding a seat to eat.

But, luckily, we got to Joy just in time, before the hungry masses came in about 30 minutes after we sat down.

There are a few nice things about Joy.

First, they offer three different sizes for the hand-packed, fresh ground meat burger you can order: 3 oz., 5, oz. and 8 oz. I chose the 5 oz. burger because I wasn’t extremely hungry that night. MDP got the same.

Second, Joy allows you to put as many toppings on the burger as you want and they have delectable sauces to go around. I chose the garlic mayo, avocado, cheddar and raw onion to top my burger, while MDP got the lettuce, tomato, sauteed onion and chili sauce for his. He ordered a pickle, too, but that came on the side for some reason. My burger was outstanding! Though, MDP said it doesn’t compare to the Shake Shack, his burger must have been pretty good since he put it away fairly quickly.

joy burger bar patatas


Third, Joy’s beers are only $4! How can you beat that? Maybe they’re priced competitively for the neighborhood. Whatever the reason may be, we were happy to enjoy a Blue Moon and a Sam Adams for the price of one beer anywhere else.

Fourth, Joy offers a number of delicious sides, such as traditional french fries, sweet potato fries or as they term them “patatas,” onion rings and more. I especially enjoyed the patatas, which are accompanied by pure maple syrup–yum! A little sweet, a little salty, a little piece of heaven.

Lastly, Joy gives you a playing card with your meal. When your food is ready, they’ll call “Queen of Hearts” or whatever card you received. I liked this. It’s a cute, quirky touch to the feel of the ambiance.

After dining at Joy, we walked down to 86th Street and went to the Shake Shack for a concrete. Talk about mad house. There were people sitting on every perch they could possibly find to eat their meals. It was insane and exactly the kind of set up that gives me gut-wrenching anxiety.

Do try Joy, whether you’re in the ‘hood or not. It’s just a quick 6 train ride up to 103rd, then a challenging walk up a steep hill to get to the burger shop. Everything is cheap, everything is delicious. Go, tonight!

Joy Burger Bar

1567 Lexington Avenue (at 100th Street)

East Harlem, New York

Take the 6 to 103rd, walk south three blocks. It’s on the east side of the street.