At a Glance
What is it?
An Italian restaurant from celebrity chef Mario Batali and restauranteur Joe Bastianich.
Where is it?
What kind of food is served?
Traditional northern Italian dishes with Batali’s flair for the dramatic.
What is the atmosphere like?
Warm and casual, like dining in a private wine cellar.
How is the service?
Outstanding. The staff really knows their stuff.
What are the prices like?
It is pretty pricey to eat here.
What else do I need to know?
Many of the wines come from Batali and Bastianich vineyards.
What’s the bottom line?
A great example of what happens when restaurants pay attention to detail.
Sometimes you can’t always taste the difference in quality that price often brings with it. Is a $20 hamburger necessarily twice as “good” as a $10 one? It’s subjective at best and often an exercise of degrees.
Let’s start with the dining rooms, which are gorgeous with warm lighting, golden tones and rich woods, and shelves of wine bottles creating a feeling like you’re eating in a private, very rich wine cellar. If you believe that setting a mood is a part of a fine dining experience, you’ll be more than satisfied here.
The menu is northern Italian, so no spaghetti and meatballs here. It’s all done with a sustainable mindset, using locally sourced produce when possible and wasting nothing. They are proud that they don’t just use part of the pig or lamb, but find uses for the whole thing such as a lamb’s tongue appetizer done with chanterelle mushrooms and egg. It’s worth noting that the menu changes seasonally so you may not find everything mentioned below when you visit.
Antipasti features a few salads and some adventurous palate items like the aforementioned lam’s tongue, a lamb neck “fritti” with artichokes and salsa verde, a pork belly dish with asparagus, and warm tripe as a few examples. If those are too far afield from your taste buds, go for the house cured salumi platter, which gives you choices of meats from delectable prosciutto to salami and more. It comes with pickles and marinated olives and is a fantastic way to start a meal, especially if you’ve got a good group who wants to sample a bunch of different tastes.
Signature on this section includes the grilled octopus, done with a spicy limoncello vinaigrette. This is not breaded and fried calamari, which allows one some plausible mental deniability in terms of understanding what you are really eating. No, these are hunks of octopus tentacles, suckers still attached. If you can get past that, the meat is tender and delicately flavored.
The pasta list does have spaghetti on it, but in this case it is done with garlic chives and lobster. Other options include tagliatelle with asparagus, pappardelle with veal and pork ragu, orecchiette with spicy lamb sausage, and linguine with clams, probably the most traditional dish on the menu.
You would be remiss in not sampling the gnocchi with rabbit confit and braised Swiss chard. These are simple but delicious little dumplings, topped with tender meat and a earthy green sauce. Fantastic.
Main courses include pork Milanese with fennel and spring greens, lamb Spiedini with lemon pepper yogurt, a grilled pork chop with pickled green strawberries, steak and ribeye options, and more. I sampled the lamb leg done with charred parsnips and unexpectedly spicy Calabrian chili. While good, the cut I tried was a little fatty and just a touch undercooked. It was a minor disappointment, but it was the only one of the evening.
Scratch that – the other disappointment is that I didn’t have time or stomach space to sample something from the dessert list, which includes tiramisu, chocolate torta, gelati and sorbetti, cannoli, biscotti, and more.
Don’t miss the extensive wine list and the very knowledgeable sommelier. They will find the perfect pairings for whatever it is you are hungry for.
The service was fantastic throughout the meal and not just because I was there to review the restaurant. I pay attention to how the staff treats other guests and they were just as knowledgeable, friendly, and fast with the other patrons as they were with me.
Prices can bring about a little bit of sticker shock. My meal with a couple of appetizers, a pasta, and a main course – granted, more food than one person should or could eat – came out to over $100 and that’s before wine, tax, or tip. Starters are generally $15-$20, pastas $25-$36, and main courses starting around $36 and going way up from there.
But this is one of those rare cases where the quality of the food may very well justify the high price tag that comes with it. Every bite is distinctive and demanding of your taste buds’ attention. If you have to pay a little extra for that it may be worth it.