2008 has thrown us yet another curve ball. I never used to consider November as part of the winter, but November 2008 was one of the coldest I can remember. I feel like I have been fooled into thinking we are well into the winter months. And in the winter, I cannot seem to get enough of Italian food. Hearty pastas, meats, and cheeses are the definition of comfort and food that warms you right up. This past month, I found myself frequenting more Italian restaurants than usual - all typically cozy and rustic in setting. A Voce, while still providing me with the hearty dishes I am craving, takes you to a place different from the rest.
Located below the office buildings near Madison Square Park, A Voce is the place to go to when you want to get a little dressed up and "go out" to dinner. The dining room is a very contemporary space with large leather tabletops and swiveling arm chairs. As I so often feel that I am waiting for the day when I no longer think of myself as completely young, this is a restaurant where you can feel grown up - in both your surrounding and your cuisine. And that alone can be comforting in itself. I like knowing that over my time in NYC, I am slowly, but surely growing up.
It was the best of both worlds - being seated in a sort of throne amidst a modern, chic setting while being served wonderful rustic Italian cuisine. Since most of the main dishes are on the heavy side, there is no need for each person to get an appetizer. The menu provides many options for starters and sides to share. We had an order of buffalo ricotta infused with olive oil, mint, thyme and chilies to be spread upon toasted country bread. The toasted bread alone is delicious! We also shared the Cassoncini - swiss chard and cresenza cheese filled fried dough accompanied with prosciutto di parma. These were delicious and a must - not too much dough and the perfect balance of the ingredients inside.
We were all on the same page - craving pasta for our main course - and each homemade noodle dish we ordered was a hit. My favorite was the pecorino and ricotta filled pasta with savoy cabbage, bacon, and black pepper. A Voce is known for their homemade ravioli which changes depending on the season. While this dish can typically be a heavy one, their raviolis are always light and full of extremely fresh ingredients. The current serving is mushroom filled with prosciutto and parmesan - a flavor combination that cannot go wrong. To attempt to incorporate some form of vegetables into our meal, we ordered a side of roasted butternut squash with brown butter, rosemary and balsamic. I am not going to pretend that this really was a healthy option, but it certainly is one of my favorite preparations of this seasonal vegetable.
As with most meals where every dish ordered was a success, it is impossible to turn away the dessert menu. Yes - we were completely full at this point, but A Voce is smart. They have designed the perfect dessert for four people to share - Tuscan donuts with chocolate sauce. We were each able to satisfy that small hankering for a sweet and not feel too guilty about it. Believe it or not, these balls of fried dough are actually light - they are not overly fried and are quite airy. But, if you really can't find the space (or these days, the funds) for dessert, not to worry! Complimentary biscottis are served as the bill arrives. A Voce certainly knows that the last quarter in 2008 has been a rough one - and recognizes it's in their best interests to leave a lasting, positive impression on its customers. Even if the bill does make quite a dent, this small gesture, along with the comfort of the swiveling Eames chairs and impressive contemporary art do make a difference when handing over the Amex. After all, it can be fun to act grown up every now and then, just as long as it doesn't become a regular affair.
41 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10010
Phone: (212) 545-8555