What a fitting time, the peak of the political season in America, to dine at a place named after the author of The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli. But unlike the politics of the book or the politicians of today, the dishes at Machiavelli are not deceitful, dishonest or evil. No; they’re real, honest and borderline divine. Actually… I take that back, as a few things about this place were indeed somewhat deceptive, but in a good way. I’ll get to that in a minute though…
I was invited here for a press meal through the restaurant’s PR group, Benvenuti. I went in with my food writer friend Jay, from The Dishelin Guide, to give this place a spin (but not a political spin). Here’s how it went down:
First, the place is really nicely set up. The large black and white checkerboard tile flooring and high ceilings give the illusion that this place is massive and palatial, like Italian architecture of old. But while Machiavelli boasts great elbow room and is set in a large corner property, it still has a cozy neighborhood vibe, especially with the enveloping, throne-like bar seating (great cocktail menu, by the way), antique light fixtures and live piano music. I suppose that counts as Machiavellian deception numero uno.
The meal begins with a basket of focaccia bread that’s served with a white bean paste, lightly drizzled with olive oil. Very nice.
We started with a shared app, the carpaccio. The meat quality was top notch; really soft and flavorful. I detected a hint of truffle, and the peppery arugula was deftly dressed with a bit of lemon vinaigrette that made the meat pop with each bite.
Next we tried two of their pasta dishes, all of which are made fresh, in-house, by the way. First was the tri-color gnocchi. These were light, airy and beautiful.
The second pasta dish counts as Machiavellian deception numero due; cacio e mele ravioli (cheese and apple) with a sage butter and lamb tomato ragu. Say whaaaaat?!?! While there was no deception about the ingredients on the menu, the marriage of cheese, apple, lamb and tomato was incredibly surprising. I highly recommend this exciting dish. And to think I was somewhat apprehensive about the apple prior to ordering…
Now onward to the entrees. First, a grilled rib eye with rosemary. This comes to the table pre-sliced and boneless, topped with a lightly dressed arugula salad (similar to the carpaccio greens).
The beef was cooked to a nice medium rare, through and through. It was trimmed of most fat, and what remained was soft, mild and edible, like beef jelly.
It was tender and juicy, but just needed a quick hit of finishing salt to knock it out of the park. The best way to eat this was to take a bite of the beef simultaneously with the arugula salad, after brushing off some of the excess herbs that would otherwise leave a bit of bitterness on the palate. I love the smell and flavor of rosemary when used in cooking; I just try to avoid eating the actual greenery. It did provide a great aroma though.
Our second entree was Machiavellian deception numero tre: monkfish that’s cooked osso buco style, right on the bone. You certainly get that characteristically hearty flavor from the process. Totally unique and wild. The flesh is actually injected with fresh herbs too, so a variety of flavors permeate the meat.
For dessert we tried a mille foglie; layers of philo dough with pastry cream between…
…And a chocolate pyramid, which was essentially a ganache with cookie crumble and a rich chocolate sauce at the base.
Machiavelli also offers a large selection of teas as well. I tried a pomegranate oolong with my dessert.
Service here is fantastic. If you happen to meet Tara, she will take excellent care of you, and she really knows the menu forwards and backwards.
519 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10024