Tag Archives: gnocchi

I Trulli

This place slings some really nice food that mostly takes inspiration from the Puglia region of Italy. Everything is really nicely crafted, from the mains and apps to the bread basket (with ricotta and focaccia) and cocktails.

We started with the grilled octopus with fennel, and the stracciatella (fresh mozzarella with tomato, kiwi and prosciutto). Both were awesome, but the stracciatella really stole the show. Amazing balance of flavors.

Next we had a pair of pasta dishes. First was a saffron and sausage pasta called Malloreddus. These were like a cross between cavatelli and gnocchi.

The other was Cappellacci with sunchoke, crab and jalapeño. I didn’t get that much of the sunchoke or jalapeño flavors, but the pasta was perfectly cooked and the crab was fresh and delicious.

The main courses were nice. First was the pork collar milanese.

This was perfectly breaded and crisped. I actually enjoyed eating this with some of the leftover ricotta from the bread basket.

The roasted rabbit was really nice as well. It was almost like a parmesan dish, but with some potatoes as well.

For dessert, we had apple strudel, which was beautifully presented like a beggar’s purse, and pumpkin bread with flan. Both were really nice and unique, but we liked the apple strudel best.

I highly recommend this place, and I plan to go back to try the rack of lamb very soon.

I TRULLI
124 E 27th St
New York, NY 10016

Patavini

Patavini is a shop that’s dedicated entirely to gnocchi. My wife and I stopped in to try some and we were blown away.

My favorites were the mortadella and pistachio stuffed, and the tomato and mozzarella stuffed. You can buy this stuff to go by the pound (or by the quarter pound, as little or as much as you want), or you can have them cook them for you and dress them up with their house made sauces, which are all pretty good.

They even have sweet/dessert flavored gnocchi, and a sweet sauce so you can have pasta for dessert. We tried both the tira misu and the cannoli flavors. Give this place a shot!

PATAVINI
1794 Broadway
New York, NY 10019

Via Vai

Located right at the end of the N/Q in Astoria is an amazing Italian joint called Via Vai (translation: Coming and Going).

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I was invited here for a free press dinner, but I can tell you honestly that this is some of the best Italian food around – especially the pizza. The flavors are not hidden with grated cheese or pepper on top at this place. You’re dealing with naked and natural dishes made from top quality ingredients. Everything comes to the table already nicely seasoned, and with great cooking technique there is no need for extra grated cheese or cracked pepper.

The first thing I noticed was that the staff can all speak Italian. In fact both people we met were from Italy. Valentina was from Genoa, and Manuel was from Rome. The crowd was good too; a full house by 7:30pm. Lots of neighborhood regulars were coming in, and the staff was eager to greet them. They even waved to people walking by on the streets – more neighborhood regulars that they know by name and sight. In fact the people next to us had clearly been there before, based on the conversation I overheard. They also spoke constantly about how great their pasta, shrimp and grilled veggies were. It seems like they had a great meal just like we did.

We started with some drinks: a Picus red wine, which was a nice blend of sangiovese and montepulciano. Very smooth. We also had a Staten Island hefeweizen from Flagship. It was the filtered wheat style: good flavor.

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The first thing that our lovely waitress Valentina brought to us was this plate of warm flatbread foccacia, which was like a pizza crust that was ever-so-lightly salted. It was served with olive oil that had a garlic clove and a rosemary sprig in it. Light. Perfect. I could eat this shit all day.

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Next up was a pizza, fresh from the brick oven:

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While I’m more of a traditional margherita pizza guy, this shit was so fucking good that I could see myself having this shit at least two or three times a week. A light, airy dough is made in house and allowed to rise for 48 hours. It gets crispy, soft, fluffy and absolutely perfect in terms of texture. This particular pie was topped with a fig marmalade, prosciutto, gorgonzola, truffle oil and arugula. This was Valentina’s favorite pizza on the menu, and Manuel told us that this is how he used to eat pizza in Rome.

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Next up was polpette (meatballs). The sauce was chunky and fresh, nicely seasoned. The balls were very soft, and made from all beef, which I like. Lots of times the pork, veal and beef mixtures can get too dense. I tend to be a picky meatball guy and I really liked these. I still like my mom’s better because she fries them in a pan first to give them a crispy crust before plopping them in the sauce – so you get crispy outside and soft inside.

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Then we got to try this really interesting gnocchi special. The purple color is from the beet and ricotta based pasta dough (all pasta is made fresh in house). The sauces on top were twofold: parmesan fondue porcini mushroom. The dish was then finished with some truffle oil and crushed hazelnuts. This was unique and very different, and stunningly gorgeous to see in person. They were like pasta bubble gum balls. I didn’t really taste any beet, but the flavor was really good.

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Last, we had some kickass desserts. The absolute best panna cotta I’ve ever had. It was insane. Realllllly smooth and creamy consistency. The texture was flawless. Not overcooked at all. It was like creme brulee but not as eggy, not too sweet.

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Last was tiramisu. This was super light and whipped, with cocoa sprinkled on top. There were thin layers of cake between the ricotta, and there was just a light hint of coffee flavor, which I appreciated (I’m not into heavy coffee flavors in dessert).

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Clean bathroom too – that is always important!

UPDATE 4/3/16

My wife and I came back here to try out their brunch/lunch options. They offer a great deal where you get two entrees/items and a dessert for $28. This is probably enough to split between two people, but my wife and I each did our own to maximize the items we wanted to try out.

Our “starters” were a spinach and egg pizza, and a spinach and asparagus crepe. The pizza was great, once again. The egg really brought home the breakfast feel, and Manuel even drizzled some truffle oil over the top to give it an earthy punch.

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The crepe was light and fluffy, and thicker than one might expect when hearing the word “crepe.” It was somewhere between an omelette and a crepe, I would say. It was covered with a light tomato sauce and filled with cheese, spinach and asparagus. Beautiful to look at, and even better to eat. This was a perfect brunch item.

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We tried two pasta dishes for the “entrees.” First was this bucatini carbonara. Bucatini, if you don’t know, is a thick spaghetti that has a hole through the center, like a straw. The sauce was nice and creamy without being too heavy. The portion size was great for the price, and the onion, pancetta and seasonings were all top notch.

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The other pasta dish was a rigatoni alla grecia, which was similar to the carbonara but without the creaminess. This ate much lighter, but both dishes contained perfectly cooked pasta that was just the right amount of al dente.

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By then we were full, so we brought some of the pasta home with us, but we couldn’t pass up on the dessert. We shared the panna cotta, which we knew that we loved from our earlier visit. I had forgotten how smooth and creamy this was. Just perfect. This time the plating was a bit nicer too, with some orange slices and pistachios.

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I highly recommend this place, especially for the pizza and pasta.

VIA VAI
31-09 23rd Ave.
New York, NY 11105

Le Village

UPDATE: THIS JOINT IS NOW CLOSED

Le Village is a small French bistro where I recently had the opportunity to dine for a press dinner. It’s been open for about a year, on 7th Street near Avenue A, and serves up some really great classical French dishes. It opens for dinner only, all days except Tuesday, and the best part – it is BYOB with no corkage fee! One thing that some of you diners out there may be glad to hear: the menu is very diet-restriction friendly, as it offers many gluten free, vegan and vegetarian dishes that are incredibly good, filling and satisfying; a rare trio of traits in that world of dieting.

The animated and extremely personable chef/owner Didier also runs two other locations across town on Broome Street (La Sirene, another French place, and Taureau, a fondue joint). He’s truly passionate about food, and his spirit shines through the dishes as well. They’re innovative, exciting, energetic and fun, just like he is.

As he spoke with us, I got the sense that he has very high standards in what he serves. My suspicions were confirmed when he explained the rationale for 86’ing the burger that used to be on the menu: it wasn’t perfect in his eyes (and his girlfriend didn’t like it very much either). I can respect that: Don’t serve it unless you are 100% confident that it’s you’re best version of that item. Not only does he treat his food with great respect, but he treats his staff with great respect as well. It seems that he also applies his highly selective attitude in choosing who he has working for him. Everyone who served us and waited on us was amazing, particularly Benjamin.

Didier’s perfectionist view on food translates to a perfect meal. I’m dead serious. Just about everything I ate was the best version of that particular item I’ve ever had.

For example, the French onion soup that we started with: absolutely amazing. By far the best I’ve ever had. Imagine, if you will, your Thanksgiving turkey stuffing floating atop a steaming bowl of thick, hot, velvety onion soup before being topped with a generous-but-not-massive amount of crispy-yet-melty cheese. Unbelievable. And after you let this beast cool down, the soup only gets better and better. Your taste buds sense all sorts of deep and rich flavors when the heat settles down. I can’t even fucking remember the last time I actually WANTED French onion soup, and now I can’t stop thinking about it. Didier took it to the next level, made it exciting. Amazing part about this: if you want, it can be made gluten free and fucking vegan, with ZERO GODDAMN CARBS!

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Another example of bests: the best Brussels sprouts I have ever had. Want to have your mind blown into thousands of bloody little brain bits? They were served with strawberries. Fucking… FUCKING… STRAWBERRIES, MAN – YES YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY! Perfectly caramelized and crisped, the sprouts were offset with a little bit of zing and sweet pop from the strawberries. It’s an unexpected match made in heaven, that, again, demonstrates Didier’s facility with food.

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Okay I’ll hit you with another best. The best Coq au Vin that I’ve ever tasted. Preparations for this dish start a week in advance at Le Village, as the chickensies bathe in wine. When finally served, what you have is a delicious, home-style yet refined stew of unbelievably deep flavor. The meat is so tender, the “gravy” so soulful and satisfying. This is where you go to learn what this classic French dish is all about, what it should actually taste like. Not only is Didier innovative, but he can really rock the shit outta the classics as well.

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Okay let’s get to the other menu items we sampled. We tried these miniature ravioli. The earthy aroma and truffle flavoring really made for a unique appetizer. I could easily devour an entire bowl of these.

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We’re in a fucking French restaurant, for God’s sake. Of course there is an excellent foie gras pate of sorts, with a slice of truffle right on top! Oui!

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These baked gnocchi au gratin were light as pillows despite their creamy, truffled Mornay and Swiss cheddar sauce. It’s very rare to find a chef with a hand skilled at NOT making dense, heavy gnocchi, especially in a cream + cheese base. These were fantastic, and definitely a recommended item.

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Finally, the seared duck breast with green beans and sweet potato was served with a unique and hearty unsweetened chocolate sauce, and garnished with pistachio nuts and red beeper coulis. Perfectly cooked, juicy, and delicious. This satisfied my meat needs for sure. And I am really excited to hit Didier’s other restaurant across town. Apparently the hanger steak there is pretty outstanding.

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My favorite of the three desserts we tried was the banana brûlée. The banana pudding was rich and creamy, and beneath the cracked surface of the brûlée sugar was some banana and wafer for texture.

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The lava cake was good as well, but since I am married to The Cake Dealer, I am admittedly spoiled when it comes to all-things-cake. Her cake is still my favorite.

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Finally, we tried the tart. This was nice and light, very refreshing.

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You should definitely check this place out if you get a chance. All the menu prices are incredibly reasonable, and you save money on booze by being able to bring in your own wine or beer for no corkage/opening fees. Get on it!

UPDATE 2/23/17

The duck rillette was very nicely crafted. It tasted authentic and home made.

While the baked mussels app was a bit small in terms of portion size (only 5), it delivered big on flavor. These reminded me of escargot in their preparation. I just wish they had rinsed the mussels better before cooking, as several of them had some sand or grain in them.

My wife got the baked aged goat cheese tart for her entree. Very different and unique.

I, of course, had steak. This was a butter poached hanger steak. It had a great flavor to it, imparted from the poaching process, and the meat itself was incredibly tender. 8/10.

LE VILLAGE
127 E. 7th St.
New York, NY 10009