I have to start off by saying – Wow! Del Posto was possibly one of the best dining experiences I’ve had in my life. And my husband’s actual words were “the best restaurant he’s ever been to”. I did have high expectations for Del Posto considering its pedigree – Mario Batali, Lydia Bastianich and Joseph Bastianich are its famous owners, but still it was even better than I could have imagined. Upon walking in, you see a grand staircase (which reminded me of the beautiful old staircase in the Titanic) which leads up to a second floor reminiscent of a theater’s balcony seating. We were escorted to our table, which was actually a banquette complete with pillows and very romantic. The ambiance was so relaxing, with a piano playing in the background and dimly lit by candlelight that pervaded through out the dining room.
The staff were all friendly without being intrusive, and were dressed in formal attire. It was interesting because although Del Posto is decidedly an elegant restaurant, it was not by any means formal or stuffy. I felt very at ease and relaxed. We were greeted by our Sommelier who offered us each a glass of sparkling wine along with a detailed description (too bad I didn’t write it down!).
Our head server (we had about four servers that catered to our every need), brought us the menus and explained that we could choose between the five course menu or the eight course Captain’s menu. We decided five courses would be plenty, even for us! While we ordered, a basket of warm homemade bread was brought to the table along with butter and lard spread. I know what you’re thinking – lard sounds gross, but it is actually sooo good with the right herbs and seasonings and on fresh bread.
Again, I am going to have to apologize for the poor quality of the pictures, but the lighting was very dim, and I didn’t want to blind everyone with my flash. As we sipped our sparkling wine, and enjoyed the melodious piano player in the background, one of our servers brought us the amuse bouche.
We tried cream of cauliflower soup with parmesan, chicken salad sandwich, and crispy polenta with baccalà (salted cod fish) and ricotta. I loved the cauliflower soup, it was so creamy and satisfying, like getting a warm hug in your belly. The chicken sandwich was very pleasant, but nothing particularly striking about it. And the polenta with baccalà was delightful, crispy polenta with the salty baccalà and creamy ricotta made for a very interesting bite.
And then a second set of amuse bouche followed shortly after. It was comprised of Bluefin Tuna wrapped in daikon, truffled chick peas, and fried buffalo mozzarella with dehydrated tomatoes. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a big fan of raw fish, so the tuna roll was a perfect bite to contrast the fried offerings that accompanied it. The fried truffled chick peas was like an upgraded “falafel” laced with decadent truffles, soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. Lastly, the buffalo mozzarella was fantastic, I liked the spin on the traditional marinara dipping sauce instead using a fancier approach with the dehydrated tomatoes.
This is totally my type of restaurant, I had already tried six different things, and we hadn’t even gotten to the appetizer yet! Speaking of the antipasto, I chose the Cotechino with Castellucian Lentils and Salsa Verde and my husband the Truffled Beef Carne Cruda with Parmigiano Reggiano and Watercress Buds. Cotechino (a type of pork sausage) is a very typical dish of Northern Italy, and I can’t say that I have ever seen it on a menu in the US, so I had to try it. The last time I had it was when I was living in Milano at our friend’s house, and she is an excellent cook. My memories of what it tasted like did not disappoint, and I was quickly transported back to Northern Italy with this sophisticated rendering of a peasant dish. The texture of the cotechino is much softer than that of a sausage, it’s more like paté. It was perfectly cooked and was a warm and hearty dish.
The next course is what I was looking forward to most – the pasta course, and we each got two! After much deliberation, we chose Spaghetti with Dungeness Crab, Sliced Jalapeño and Minced Scallion, and Lydia’s Spicy Calamarata with Frutti di Mare alla Marinara. I was a little skeptical about the jalapeños (what is this a Mexican restaurant?!), but I had heard that it was a very popular dish so I decided to be open minded.
I was very impressed by the Spaghetti, it was cooked perfectly al dente, and the flavors were amazing. The crab contributed the salty flavors of the sea while the jalapeño gave it a nice bite, the sauce was light and not overpowering and it left me wanting more!
And now for the Calamarata, which is one of my favorite pasta dishes, which I have eaten at many restaurants around the world… Excellent! The pasta was perfectly al dente again, and the spicy tomato sauce had the most extraordinary flavor – it was sweet and savory and definitely the best I’ve had in the US. It was filled with calamari, fish and shrimp which were all tender, moist and delicious. The fresh basil added some color and a fresh raw element to complete the dish. A++ for this one, Lydia!
As much as I wanted to ask for seconds of the scrumptious pastas, I knew it was time to move on to the entrées. I ordered the Sardinian Lamb Chop, Roman Artichokes, Bruised Mint and Saffron Potatoes, while my husband got the Heritage Pork Trio with Ribollita alla Casella and Black Cabbage Stew.
Again, I have nothing but good things to say… The lamb was cooked just as I had requested (medium rare), and was tender, juicy, and succulent. My husband’s pork which is typically a peasant dish was made into a refined voyage for your tastebuds.
As I was scrutinizing the dessert menu, I was struck by one that said “Melanzane e Cioccolato alla Napoletana with Sheep’s Milk Ricotta Stracciatella”, melanzane is eggplant and cioccolato is chocolate and I was baffled as to how this could be made into a dessert, so I had to try it. My hubby got the Chocolate Ricotta Tortino, Toasted Pistachios, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil Gelato at my urging since he’s not much of a sweets guy.
I could not have been happier with my selection! There was a thin crispy pastry on the bottom covered with the eggplant which had been caramelized, topped with the most delicious sheep’s milk stracciatella (chocolate chip) gelato, and then bathed in a warm chocolate sauce that was poured at the table. It was absolutely mouth watering, and I’m drooling a little bit right now just thinking about it :). Honestly, if the name hadn’t said eggplant, I would have thought it was a fruit under there, perhaps an apple or a pear, so don’t be intimidated by this savory ingredient as it made a delicious addition to this amazing dessert.
I shouldn’t even really call this “my husband’s dessert” because in reality I was the one that ate most of it! The chocolate and ricotta tortino was so rich and decadent, while still being light enough to truly enjoy. The cool olive oil gelato was an excellent pairing with this dessert, and didn’t taste “oily” as I had imagined it. As an added bonus, our server brought us a third dessert on the house, the Sfera di Caprino, Celery and Fig Agrodolce, and Celery Sorbetto, which coincidentally was one of the other ones I wanted to try. Caprino is goat cheese which was formed into little balls and covered with crunchies. In the middle of the plate is the celery sorbetto covered by the celery, and on the sides were the figs. Our server told us we should have a bit of each of the components in one spoonful in order to maximize the flavor experience. And so I did, and it really was quite a flavor combination – the creamy and salty cheese and crispies with the cold and refreshing celery sorbetto coupled with the sweetness of the figs made my tastebuds stand up and take notice.
I wish I could have tried one of each, but I was so full at this point, that I only managed to try one of the chocolate covered ice cream pops, and a champagne candy. After we settled the bill, we were presented with a box to take home, inside were bite sized home made pistachio cookies which I happily ate the next day.
Well I must say, Del Posto (Mario, Lydia and Joseph), you outdid yourself – Bravo! This is definitely the best restaurant I have been to in the city. Everything from the attentive service to the delectable food to the charming purse stools, was extraordinary. I had wondered why they chose the name Del Posto as the translation is “from the place” which I thought was a rather odd choice, but after dining there I truly have come to understand the meaning. The cuisine is truly authentic and “from the place” that it came from whether it be the region or the country of Italy.
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Del Posto | www.delposto.com | 85 10th Avenue