Like any heartfelt hiatus, mine lasted a little longer than expected. After all, it wouldn’t really have been a proper break had I not left you on your toes wondering when I would return. Wouldn’t it be terrible if on my return you were thinking, back already? Hopefully you are as thrilled as I am right now. In all honesty, I have been eager to write basically since the day I stopped. And now I’m sitting here giddy in the Atlanta airport as I tap away on the computer. Writing just feels good. And writing about restaurants - now that’s another story!
As promised, my time away from the computer was spent experiencing food and life to the fullest. So where do I even begin? I figure the best way to get back in is with a true bang. While I love nothing more than discovering hidden neighborhood gems, there is no denying how much I love and can appreciate the outwardly sparkling gems - the talked about restaurants that are actually worth your time, money, and indulgence. In my experience this is almost always my take on a Mario Batali restaurant. The man’s got talent. And Del Posto is no exception.
Located in a sort of no-man’s land between meatpacking and Chelsea, this large Italian restaurant opened nearly five years ago. Given it’s large size, ambiguous location, and simply the state of our economy, many may have assumed this would have been a short-lived venture. Del Posto has proven to be anything but. The difficulty in securing a reservation on even a Monday night is a definite indicator that its popularity is in fact continuously increasing. Since this was my first dining experience at Del Posto, I cannot personally attest to its improvement over time. But, I can say that it is certainly currently at a level of excellence that very few could ever attain and then maintain in such a demanding environment.
The setting alone is an experience. With the combination of live piano music as well as exposed balconies on the second floor, I felt as though I was transported to a previous era. It was truly romantic! So much so that I even noted and loved each delicate plate that the dishes were served on. Although, I won’t deny that my warm emotions may have also been influenced by the three delicious amuse-bouches that arrived at our table at the start of the meal. Without much surprise, the rest of the meal met up to this excellent beginning. Del Posto’s menu - both wine and cuisine - is an adventure. And, of course, with selections so inspiring, it was no question that we would order the five course tasting menu consisting of an appetizer, two shared primi dishes, one secondi, and dessert - all of which you have free reign to choose from any section of the menu. Since these mollusks are so rarely found on a menu, we started with the abalone carpaccio served with grilled asparagus and charred scallions. The carne cruda with truffled salsa, parmigiano-reggiano and shaved porcini mushrooms was the perfect complement to the sea snails. Both were light, yet full of flavor.
For the primi, we shared the spaghetti with dungeness crab, sliced jalapenos, and minced scallion and the ricotta pansotti with wild asparagus and black truffles. Both dishes were split into half portions, giving us a great sampling, but allowing room for much more. While both were excellent and homemade, my favorite was the pansotti which resembled a combination of mini tortellini and ravioli which immediately melted in my mouth. I was actually most surprised that the secondi portion of the meal ended up being my very favorite, especially since I was so pleased with how the meal started out. We ordered the seared duck breast with Apician spices, grilled apricots, and salt baked endive and the young lamb with lemon yogurt, chick peas and swiss chard ragu. There was a serious debate about which dish was better and basically ended with two completely cleared plates. Somehow, there was room still for dessert - the butterscotch semifreddo and the polenta cake baked in butter served with sage ice cream and caramelized sweet potato. The sweet and savory combination in the polenta dessert was incredible, but I was most impressed with the herbal ice cream which I so quickly devoured. Of course, no fancy meal is complete without additional treats from the chef and at Del Posto, this was no exception. There was not only one but TWO complimentary desserts to round out the meal. It's a wonder I didn't feel round myself by the end of the evening!
The night was one for the books. And I’m not the only one who seems to thinks so. I also know that any one reading this must have a list of restaurants set aside to try only on special occasions. Well, Del Posto should be at the top of yours. But, not to worry, I will soon bring you all back to reality. The Hungry Roach is back - and before long my latest neighborhood gem will be broadcast your way.
85 Tenth Avenue
New York, New York 10011
FOOD RATING (Out of 5):