And just like that. I've headed to the upper east side and I've already splurged on a meal. In all honesty, I went to Elio's prior to my confessions of my recent attempts at being on a budget. And, while I'm being completely honest, I would head straight there again tomorrow. Elio's is a New York City institution - and one that I will never hesitate to splurge on to be a part of. I have been going here since my days as a loyal Virginian and when looking around the room, I'm pretty certain that actual newcomers are few and far between. While clientele is typically older, this is still a scene. There is a buzz in the air as both diners and staff seem to be enjoying life to the fullest. And, how can you not when you've happened upon such authentic Italian cuisine that's never changing and not going anywhere?
I am waiting for the day when I make a reservation at Elio's and they actually seat me within five minutes of the actual time I've reserved. But, I have a feeling that day is nowhere in sight - as mentioned earlier, nothing is changing about this place. A glass of wine at the glamorous wooden bar will allow for some stargazing (I can't remember the last time I went without seeing someone famous) and the friendly staff will make up for it at your table- it's just a matter of getting seated. There's a reason this place is so popular and full of energy despite a packed house and long waits. Elio's is old school Italian in New York City at it's best.
It would be a sin to visit Elio's without starting off with their fried zucchini. These are thin, crispy, and not overly fried. Once that order is in, the next decisions are never quite as easy. While the menu is always the same, everything is guaranteed to be delicious. Each dish is always perfectly prepared - always so simply and with no frills. Other starters that I recommend sharing are the raw mushroom salad with fennel andParmesan, the roasted red peppers and anchovies, and the shrimp and white bean salad. One of the great secrets of Elio's is knowing that even if something isn't on the menu, it's still a possibility. On one occasion, when my waiter discovered my love for mushrooms, he brought out a delicious starter of mixed, marinated mushrooms. Whenever I have asked about this dish, it magically appears in front of me within a few minutes.
The main courses are just as enticing - and follow the same rules. If you ask a waiter which dish is best, he will respond by then asking you what it is that you really want to eat. Tell him exactly what you are in the mood for and that too will appear in front of you. On my last visit, it was penne pasta with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil prepared with a medium level of spice. While this may sound rather basic, no matter how closely you look, this is not listed anywhere on the menu. And, each and every ingredient is as fresh as it gets. If you aren't craving pasta, go for the chicken or veal scaloppine - an excellent preparation of this classic Italian dish. Another trustworthy option is always the fresh fish of the day, usually cooked simply with olive oil and lemon.
So while Elio's does not fit into my new fiscal plan, it's not that far off from having your own personal, Italian chef. And in the world of personal chefs, this is more than a bargain. So, you see, it's all relative in the end. Without question, an occasional trip to Elio's will always have a place in my life. While I will never be able to claim being a regular, I will certainly never be a newcomer.
1621 Second Avenue (@ 84th)
New York, NY 10028
FOOD RATING (Out of 5):