This week’s review is of Dell’ Anima, located at 38 8th Avenue in the West Village. In Italian, Dell’ Anima translates as “This Joint is the Muthaf****** Chronic.” So much for the provinciality of gangsta rap!
No, seriously… I think, literally, it means – “Of the Soul.” But feel free to comment and correct me, and risk sounding like a complete pompous, know-it-all smart ass. Anyway, my soul was pretty damn hungry… and I was looking forward to stepping inside.
Sis volunteers to get us both a drink – we have to wait about 30 mins for a spot to sit down on this crowded Saturday night, so we eek our way to the bar. Elana orders a glass of red wine, while I opt for the Lombardi Sangria; similar to a normal sangria with some strong and syrupy supplement, which diminished the ordinary sweetness of sangria in favor of stronger drink. And at $12 a pop, I was half expecting the bartender to instantly morph into a dancing coyote ugly babe – but the drink is damn good.
“Excuse me, Elana? We have two spots open at the chef’s table.” Wonderful. For those unaware, Dell’Anima has a “chef’s table” dining option: about 6-8 open spots overlooking the kitchen to watch their masters at work. It’s very fast paced and entertaining – 3 cooks doing the restaurant version of the 3-man weave inside a 10 square foot area while churning out artful, sophisticated plates.
To kick things off, we get three types of bruschetta: The Rapini Pesto with walnuts and Pecorino, The Ricotta, and the Cannellini with preserved tangerine. Each item comes in its own bowl coupled with basket of untouched bread. As we dip pieces of bread into each, it is hard to determine a favorite; each is different. The Pesto has a cool, but spicy kick to it; the Ricotta is creamy, yet light and the Cannelini is similar to an oily hummus, yet more rich and golden in color.
As an antipasti, Elana and I split Quail topped with prosciutto garnished with grapes and bits of (what we think was) Parmesan. Dreamboat City. It is loaded with flavor, as the fatty quail, teamed with the salty, also fatty prosciutto, make an awesome yet not-overdone combination. The bird is effortlessly devoured, as are the grapes and Parmesan cubes.
For pasta, Elana selects the Gnocchi with pickled pork and some sort of sharp cheese, while I order the Orechiette with bone marrow. The Gnocchi, which of course is homemade, is tremendous. Glorious potato dumplings, cozily nestled between delicate hunks of pickled pork – which, by the way, form the foundation for its sauce – and under shaved layers, of aged cheese. The Orechiette was equally impressive – small shells of pasta, moderately covered in oil and well placed bits of bone marrow – which adds huge flavor. Bone marrow is kind of like clusters of fat, mixed with butter, injected with cholesterol – a steady diet of this would probably cause you to drop dead – but for now, it’s just awesome. And it just sounds cool, too:
Q: “What did you have for dinner tonight?
A: Oh, you know, some leftovers…
Q: What about you?
A: BONE MARROW
Needless to say, both meals were completely dominated.
We order some well earned after dinner drinks – Espresso for Elana, and Limoncello for me, which, not surprisingly was great – strong, smooth and sweet.
The service here was very attentive and frequent. Never once was my water glass unfilled, nor were our drinks or orders neglected. They even brought out an extra portion of bread to mop up the left over bruschetta.
The bathroom was down a flight of stairs. It was a unisex room, but it smelled pretty good and had an Xlerator, which made me excited.
Feel free to take your shorty here, playas. Definitely date appropriate. Cramped and crowded at times, but who cares really. A great place with little-to-no chance of disappointment.
Overall Experience – Heat