People, food blogs exist for a reason. A few months ago Ed Levine told you about “The Best Italian Restaurant Nobody Knows About”. He gave you the number and huge incentives to call: celebrity chef, quiet room, $41 tasting menu. So how come on Friday, when Diana offered to take me out as a belated birthday gift, I called that number and we were able to get a table at 9:30 PM on a FRIDAY night? How come when we got there the bar was almost empty and the Enoteca barely buzzing? Why aren’t the people who line up at Lupa, who clamor for reservations at Babbo, beating down the door at Del Posto?
No, not the expensive half that I put down last year; the area by the bar. Because this, my friends, is a secret that shouldn’t be secret much longer. For $41, you get four courses of Mario Batali food in a pristine setting. Don’t believe me? Click ahead.
Look at this basket of beautiful bread–bread as good as any I’ve had in New York–served with butter and a highly unusual mini-plate of lardo:
Check out Diana’s first course–Beef Carpaccio with Pickled Olives and Fresh Mozzarella:
“Mmmmm,” she sang as she ate it. “This is so good.”
Check out my “Puntarella con la Salsa”:
Puntarella is a kind of wild celery that, in this case, was beautifully dressed with a garlic/anchovy emulsion. (I suspected that the word “puntarella” might have an unsavory origin; but when I told the waiter that I thought the word might be “dirty” he gave me the weirdest look. Puntarella! Doesn’t that sound dirty?)
Look at this plate of Orecchiette with spicy pancetta and bitter greens:
Honestly, now, that’s an enormous plate of FRESH pasta and not just fresh pasta, extraordinary pasta. This is pasta prepared by THE pasta expert of our time. Some might pay $41 for this alone!
Diana’s I liked even better. I wasn’t going to take a picture but then we switched plates halfway through and I just had to make a mental note. This is bucatini alla Amatriciana: (wonder what that means? Where’s Clint Eastwood when you need him?)
Ok, so the meal wasn’t all rose petals and unicorns. I wasn’t entirely thrilled with this turkey osso bucco:
It was nicely prepared but it didn’t have the unctuousness of a real osso bucco; the turkey was a bit dry inside. Though I loved the polenta.
Diana had the swordfish which was nice, if a bit boring.
The dessert though. Check out this dessert!
That’s a chocolate tart with caramel inside and some kind of crema as a garnish. And look, gold leaf on top. That gold leaf costs $41 AT LEAST!
But it doesn’t stop there. They give you a plate of cookies:
Are these people mad? Are they trying to lose money? Do they just love the customer so much that they want to create the most wonderful experience they can for the least amount of money?
How ironic that a restaurant I accused of charging too much for too little has an enoteca that charges too little for too much. This is an extraordinary deal and, not only that, for an extra $20 you can get a wine pairing with every course. Diana and I splurged and I took notes:
With our antipasto we had Tocai Friulano, Bastianich 2004. With our pasta we had Nero D’Avola, Firriato, 2004. With our entree we had the best: Ripasso de la Valpolicella, Zennto, 2003. And with dessert we had Moscato D’Asti, Elio Perrone, 2003.
I have several friends who are really mad I’m posting about this. They like that this secret is still a secret and they don’t want it to change. Because Ed already posted it, though, and because I’m suspicious of how much my little post will really have an impact, I’m sharing this great find with you. Go out to Del Posto, spend $41, have an exceptional meal and tell people you know and trust. When something appears too good to be true, it probably is; and in this case, that means it probably won’t last.