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Posts Tagged ‘Dell’Anima’

I’m sure you knew the writing was on the wall (sorry, couldn’t resist) when you saw the photos of L’Artusi’s restroom. This bathroom was not only clean and well-kept, but imaginative! I was pretty impressed with their black and white spray paint decor that somehow looks like a field of flowers. And I also loved how they wrote the “must wash hands” message directly on the wall. All this combined with the subway tiles, Xlerator, and candlelit shelving push L’Artusi’s restroom to the favorite spot for December. Congratulations!

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This week’s restaurant review – L’Artusi on 228 W 10th St.   I had unsuccessfully tried to get in here twice before via reservation – granted each time was for a Friday night.  It is only through Elana’s stalking of the staff at the commonly owned nearby wine bar, Anfora, which secures us an 8:30 reservation.

My first thought about L’Artusi – what a cool space.  Its first floor is bustling with energy.  Dimly lit, yet festive – it offers a bar, a small chef’s table, regular seating and, in the back, a glimpse of the kitchen.  Our table is actually in the upstairs portion of this loft-style joint.  From our spot, I can view the downstairs crown or peep a skylight above.  Off to the side, is one of the more cooler looking private party rooms I could imagine.  Mental note for my upcoming 22nd birthday party.

Part owner and sommelier Joe Campanale, glides over to offer a wine recommendation to accompany our selections off the menu.  Our server applauds our selection.  Everyone here seems to be on the same page.  Already, it appears that we are in good hands.

Getting things started, we order their Ricotta cheese with some wafers and cranberry.  Really wonderful.  The Ricotta is extremely creamy, with a hint of thrill to it.  Yeah, thrill –  there is a little tang or punch to it.   The wafers provide a nice platform to scoop up some cranberries to mix with the ricotta.

Elana and I proceed to then split a dish of roasted mushrooms with fried egg, peppers and pancetta.  Extreme loads of flavor here, with the peppers providing a spicy after punch.  A strong and salty dish, I keep plowing my fork into this pile of goodness until its disappearing act.

We each order a pasta dish.  Elana selects the Mushroom Garganelli.  This is very solid.  It’s pasta in a mushroom, beefy ragu.  I get the autumn squash ravioli in a sage brown butter sauce.  This is excellent.  Great sage flavor here.  The homemade ravioli is thin and fresh, giving way to a warm, sweet squash inside.  We also split the cauliflower ravioli which, if you couldn’t see, is Elana’s “fav.”

For an entreé, Elana chooses roasted quail with butternut squash, cranberries, brussel sprouts and roasted garlic.  The skin on the quail is cooked to a perfect, snapping crust.  The bird itself is moist, and perfectly fatty and salty.  The sweet cranberries and roasted garlic, a kryptonite of mine of sorts, make this the top dish of the night in my estimation.  I opt for the braised short ribs with polenta and parmesan.  These babies are perfectly cooked, and the polenta serves as a filling, plentiful side.

For dessert, we get some olive oil cake.  It is a pound cake with, indeed, a distinctive olive oil taste.  It’s light and moist, with raisins and a whip cream to smother on top.  We also try the cranberry crostata with pecans and vanilla gelato.  Another winner here.

Service is near perfect.  A knowledgeable, attentive and friendly staff.  We never felt rushed despite the busy goings on of the restaurant.

As to the bathrooms, Elana was quite impressed – “the single bathroom (on the upper floor) was an avant guarde little oasis with spray painted circles and subway tiles halfway up the wall. It felt like a walk in art installation complete with porcelain throne and Exlerator!”

Spending a night at L’Artusi was time well invested.  The atmosphere is great, the staff is eager to please, and the food is high quality. Their menu is diverse and plentiful, making a return visit high on my to-do list.

Overall Movie ExperienceHeat

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By now you may have noticed that I go on and on about a certain wine bar in the West Village – Anfora Wine Bar. After my first encounter with one of the Producer Nights held there on Tuesdays, I just kept returning. Couldn’t help myself.

Aside from the wonderful food and welcoming atmosphere, the staff is very knowledgeable and helpful in the wine department. This is mostly due to the Joe Campanale, sommelier and Anfora partner.

I recently attended an exceptional Italian wine class that he taught at the Institute of Culinary Education. Joe has an immense wealth of knowledge on the topic of Italian wine and is an enthusiastic and well-spoken teacher.

On Monday, December 13th, Joe is hosting an Italian wine tasting at Anfora Wine Bar, and I would encourage you all to attend.

There will be wine. Good wine. Italian wine. And a very knowledgeable tour guide to take you through all of it. You can even learn something. For example: what kinds of wine you should be serving at that holiday party you decided to throw even though you haven’t done one lick of shopping for it and your Christmas tree keeps falling over. Oh sorry – that’s my reason! As an added bonus there will be meats and cheeses from Murray’s to complement the wine.

Also, I have looked around and at $50 for wine and food AND education it’s quite a deal.

Did I mention there would be wine? Just checking…

Here is the formal information via the Facebook link:

Taste Italian wines to impress even the most knowledgeable oenophile when sommelier and Anfora partner Joe Campanale walks you through some of his favorite and most unique Italian vintages. Taking place at the newest sexy addition to the Dell’Anima/L’Artusi family, Joe will speak in depth about each distinctive wine and answer your questions as you sip thoughtfully through them. For your nibbling enjoyment each wine will be paired with Italian cheeses and meats from Murray’s so when you bring this party home you can doubly impress your friends with your new wine and cheese knowledge.

Event Details:
$50 for wine tasting and Italian bites with Joe Campanale; tax and gratuity not included.

To Reserve:
E-mail megan@anforanyc.com

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On Tuesday of last week, I learned (via my compulsive Twitter checking habits) that Anfora Wine Bar was having one of its “Producer Nights”. On these nights, they choose a specific wine producer and feature that producer’s wines by the glass for a very good price.

On this particular Tuesday, the wines featured were from producer Thierry Puzelat and included the following: Cheverny Rouge Clos du Tue-Boeuf 09, Le Rouge Est Mis ’09 and Ko Rose ’09.

Before I comment on the wine (which I enjoyed perhaps too much…), I would like to say that I am not a wine expert of any kind. I do know what I like to drink, but I’m happy to learn more about different wines from someone who has more knowledge than I do.

Which is one of the reasons that I wanted to go to Anfora’s Producer Night.

The other reason is that, although I had never been to Anfora, I knew that there would be good food to sample along with the wine, as Anfora Wine Bar is owned by the same wonderful group that owns Dell’Anima and L’Artusi.

So, I twisted my friend Meg’s arm (I think John was golfing…) and we set off for the long journey (a few blocks) to the West Village.

We managed to get two seats at the bar, which was advantageous because our bartender had great suggestions for both food and drink.

As we seated ourselves, a wonderous smell wafted by (probably fanned over by one of the chefs as both Meg and I were looking a little hungry). I stared at the bartender, eyes wide (and probably feverish) and said, “Is that GRUYERE cheese I smell melting?” I think he was alarmed that my nose exhibited such precision, but he nodded politely, smiled knowingly and said that yes, in fact it was Gruyere cheese and it was melting in one of their grilled cheese sandwiches.

Sold! And so it began, first the Gruyere grilled cheese and then the lamb ragu slider (which was named as one of NYC’s best sandwiches), all the while sampling the Puzelat wines. We especially liked the red one (Le Rouge Est Mis ’09).

At this point, Meg and I were happy to take a recommendation from our bartender on the home made ricotta cheese plate. The little pillow of ricotta that arrived was accompanied by slices of crusty bread, and a sampling of honey, mustard and a raisin and caramelized onion jam. We were delighted. And that was before we tried the cheese. The cheese was creamy, flavorful and perfectly salted. The texture was light (not too grainy) and very spreadable.

After this, Meg and I didn’t know what to do with ourselves. Mostly because we just fought over the last bites of the ricotta. Our bartender suggested some glasses of sherry to smooth ruffled feathers. He poured us two glasses of the golden-reddish-brown liquid and brought us a bowl of olives to enjoy along with it. It was a perfect combination and exactly what we needed with the sherry. And the sing-along of Sherry Baby wasn’t too shabby either.

As at Dell’Anima (winner of our Bathroom of the Month award), the bathrooms at Anfora were in tip-top shape, as you can see from the photo below.

Meg and I left Anfora very happy with both the bar and Producer Night. The next morning, I received this text from Meg:

She made a very good point, as I was just staring in my fridge hoping against hope that some mini cakes and champagne would appear. And that I could somehow convince my small, fluffy dog to bring them to me in bed. Not a chance.

So, I would make you, oh very smart reader, two recommendations. Recommendation the first: Go check out Anfora Wine Bar, either on a Producer Night (Tuesdays) or any other night; and The Second: have your fridge stocked with champs and tiny cakes for the morning after. Trust me, it helps.

Small, fluffy dog optional.

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Kudos to Dell’ Anima, the winner of our September Bathroom of the Month Award!

They scored some good bathroom points with the Xlerator hand dryer, the good smelling candle (even John thought it smelled nice in there), and that wicked cool mirror frame. Everything was on the up-and-up in there as far as our scout (John) could tell.

Just another reason to go back.

Membership in the Bathroom of the Month Club is closely monitored. Points are awarded for cleanliness most of all. Order and neatness also count. Extra bumps up the bathroom scale are given for Xlerator (or, my personal fav, Dyson) hand dryers. But if you have cool towels (like the kind you wash), that’s nice too. Little extras like nice smelling candles, interesting art and decor won’t hurt your chances either.

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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

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