Gelato and Osteria Morini

April 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

Dessert before dinner. That’s how Laura and I started this evening of eating, which turned out to be all about Italian flavors. We actually stumbled upon this outpost of L’Arte del Gelato by accident, tucked away into the corner of 7th Avenue and Barrow Street, and after a long afternoon of wandering downtown on a sunny day, we couldn’t wait until after dinner for a sweet bite. Laura had the mixed berry and amaretto (my new favorite) and I had grapefruit campari with budino di riso (rice). What I always love about the gelato here is the incredibly bright and intense flavors – grapefruit is slightly bitter but sweet and bursting with citrus, amaretto tastes like the purest form of almond aside from eating the nut itself.

After more walking, we were completely exhausted and starving once again (no surprise there). Luckily, we were very close to Osteria Morini, Michael White’s more casual Italian restaurant, and sat down to a very leisurely meal of cured meats and insanely good pastas.

We began with a selection of meats and cheese – prosciutto di Parma, sopressata (a sweet cured pork sausage), and quadrello di Bufala (a semi-soft cheese made from buffalo’s milk). Our selection also came with a generous side of accompaniments and bread. There was grilled bread, bread studded with currants, and a puffy bun-like bread along with dried figs, roasted almonds, and a master-fat-like spread tasting strongly of pork and herbs. I can never really find complain about good quality cured meats and these were superb, and as someone who usually doesn’t care much for cheese, this buffalo’s milk choice was quite good, not too funky and quite creamy and smooth.

The pastas, however, were the hands-down highlights of the meal, and I finally got to see what all the Michael White fuss is about. If he make a seemingly simple meat sauce this great, I can’t wait to see what he does with the bone marrow and baby octopus fusilli dish at Marea. We ordered the cappelletti, a truffled ricotta ravioli with melted butter and prosciutto, and the gramigna, macaroni with pork sausage, peas, cream, and black pepper.

I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but these dishes were among the most comforting, yet most intensely flavored, pastas I’ve ever had, and you could tell that they had been made fresh. The cappelletti especially hit you on the head with its truffle and ricotta filling – creamy, earthy, and out of this world – and didn’t even need the extra prosciutto to make a strong impression. The gramigna was equally packed with flavor; the pasta had the perfect texture and wasn’t overwhelmed by the pork sausage and cream sauce, and that extra sprinkling of Parmiggiano didn’t hurt either.

So, another Italian food gem in Soho. This, like OTTO, is a place that’s perfect for unwinding after a long day at work or school. You could just pull up a chair at the bar, order a glass of red wine or a cocktail and one of the amazing pastas, and just take your time savoring each bite.

L’arte del Gelato
75 7th Avenue S (Barrow Street)
New York, NY
212.924.0803

Osteria Morini
218 Lafayette Street
New York, NY
212.965.8777

Lunch with Laura at OTTO

October 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Yeah, yeah, another lunch at OTTO. But this time it was necessary, since my sister Laura is currently going to school only a couple blocks away and she’d never been before. We started with an antipasti of shrimp, chickpeas, and chiles. Spicy and surprisingly flavorful for a cold dish.

Antipasti

Then for mains, we stuck with my favorite pizza, the prosciutto arugula, and ordered the pasta alla norma, which may be my new favorite dish. Eggplant, bufalo mozzarella, and tomato might not sound that exciting on paper, but OTTO executed this pasta wonderfully. I loved mixing all that delicious gooey cheese with the crispy but tender eggplant and tomato until it emulsified into a creamy, rich sauce and the pasta was perfectly al dente, with just a little bit of bite.

Pasta alla Norma

Prosciutto arugula pizza

And of course, a meal at OTTO isn’t complete without a taste of the olive oil coppetta. This dessert is seasonal, so every time I come back, the components have changed. This time, accompanying the olive oil gelato we had figs stewed in red wine, fennel brittle (which I didn’t really like because of the strong anise flavor), Concord grape sorbet, and orange curd. Divine.

Olive oil coppetta

So, Laura’s verdict? She absolutely loved it and said she’d come back again and again for a relatively inexpensive but refined pasta. Lucky for her, she can do that.

My new favorite ice cream flavor

June 26, 2011 § 1 Comment

When it comes to ice cream, I tend to stick to the classics. Rich, bittersweet chocolate, a good tart raspberry sorbet, maybe some creamy, nutty pistachio.

Flavors at L'Arte del Gelato

L’arte del Gelato in Chelsea Market had all of those, but when Laura and I went a couple weeks ago, I found myself drawn to the grape sorbet and rice pudding ice cream. My God. That grape sorbet is my new, hands-down favorite flavor. And that includes the amazing pear sorbet from Bent Spoon in Princeton. You know how grape medicine always tasted absolutely vile? If it tasted like this, I would’ve chugged it all the time. It actually tasted like real grape.┬áLuscious but clean, tart but sweet, with actual grape skins mixed in.

budino di and grape

The budino di riso was the perfect contrast against the sorbet, with its luxurious creaminess. It never occurred to me to “freeze” rice pudding and call it ice cream, but it worked here. And the texture, with all those little pearls of rice, was something new.

Laura raved about her peach sorbet and panna cotta (creme caramel) but I was too blissed out with my own cup of heaven.

L’Arte del Gelato
75 Ninth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
212.366.0570
http://www.lartedelgelato.com/index.php

Shake Shack and Otto

January 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

Wednesday was a really good day. Anne, Maria,Tonia, and I went to the Tim Burton exhibit (photos on dessin numero 1) where we didn’t have to wait in any lines because we’d ordered timed tickets beforehand. His drawings were amazing, and there was even a letter to Johnny Depp asking him to insert the “everything’s edible except you because if i could eat you, that would be called cannibalism” line! The only gripe I had were the crowds, but I guess that could only be expected with such a popular exhibit.

Because it was way too cold to eat outside, we headed to the Upper West Side to grab some Shake Shack. On the way, we passed the Fordham Law School area, which was wonderful. Going to school there would definitely spoil me.

Shake Shack was awesome, as always. Delicious, well-seasoned burgers with a tart freshly squeezed lemonade. Even better? They had Food Network playing on their televisions, so we got to jeer at Sandra Lee combining canned ingredients while we chomped on our food. Whatever’s going on with Scripps and Cablevision better be solved soon, because I will not tolerate being parted from Food Network for very long.

Afterwards, we spent a good chunk of time in Soho, mostly on Spring Street. We checked out the crazy skeletons and bottled penis bones at Evolution (where I seriously contemplated buying a butterfly wing pendant and Tonia had an equally hard time deciding whether or not to get the beetle wing earrings), made the obligatory trip to Uniqlo, and had a good scrub down at Sabon, where I bought a lavendar apple scrub that may just be my new obsession.

Dinner was at Otto, because we wanted something light. The pizzas definitely surpassed our spaghetti alla carbonara, which I’m going to remember for next time. My favorite was definitely the prosciutto arugula, mainly because I can’t resist good prosciutto and the greens balanced out the meat’s delicious fattiness.

However, the best part of the meal was definitely the Olive Oil gelato. So creamy, so tasty. My first bite got all the sea salt sprinkled on top so that wasn’t too pleasant, but after that, sigh. The olive oil taste doesn’t really hit you until later. At first, you just taste the rich sweetness. Maria and I also ordered a tangerine sorbetto that was packed with citrusy flavor.

SO: culture, shopping, and delicious food all in one day. We traveled from midtown to the UWS to Soho, covering most of Manhattan. Can you think of a better way to spend your time?

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