Faustina

If you weren’t looking for it, you wouldn’t find it. But once you find it, you won’t ever forget it!

Faustina will be – if it isn’t already – the new hip and happening place to see, be seen and to eat. Scott Conant, you have out done yourself! Fabulous atmosphere. Great bar. Great food. Friendly staff. Can a piece of cutlery really ask for more? For those of you out there who don’t recognize Scott Conant’s name, he is the owner of Scarpetta, both in New York and Miami. He is also the very particular judge on Food Network’s Chopped – he doesn’t like red onions and is of the school of thought against Italian seafood dishes and cheese. As a joking aside, Scott, Fork and Spoon would gladly debate you on that one!

Faustino popped up on Fork and Spoon’s radar due to two things – one, small plates; and, two, their fried chicken.  

But Italian seafood and cheese notwithstanding, Faustina is outstanding! Fork and Spoon have no picture of the outside, as there is nothing indicating the restaurant. You walk into the Cooper Square Hotel, the restaurant is to the left, but you enter through the right, through the lobby, down a hall and through a big, heavy door. But once you enter, you are greeted by an enthusiasm and warmth that is very welcoming and comforting.

Fork arrived early and decided to sit at the bar and have a drink. The bar also serves food and accepts walk-ins. Fork had a Ne’Roni cocktail – nero d’avola (a sicilian wine), gin, campari and sweet vermouth. Packs a whallop, let me tell you, but oh so good.  Along with the yummy cocktail, the bartender brought  sweet and spicy almonds. What a nice way to sit and wait for Spoon. As soon as Spoon arrived, we were shown to a table.

The tables for two are very large – all the tables are very large. banquettes against the wall, leather chairs opposite. Very comfortable. Very warm in decor. There are a couple of tables for large parties in the main dining room. Large round tables – so large that Fork and Spoon cannot imagine how people can have a conversation across the table. There is also a communal table that seats 12.

Our waiter, Justin, was terrific. Very friendly, very attentive, very knowledgable about the menu, eager to make a suggestion and not afraid to say what his favorite dishes were on the menu.

We asked for iced and were told that they didn’t have iced tea yet (Faustina, at the time of this review, was open for a week). Eyebrows raised, would Faustina need to be Chopped for this faus pax? After a few minutes of gabbing and perusing the menu, Justin returned to see if we were ready to order and Spoon asked for two hot teas and two large glasses of ice. Justin looked at us strangely, smiled, and said ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ Sigh. While he was going through this ritual, he found out there actually now was iced tea. The iced tea is good, NOT bottomless, and $4 a glass.

We were told by Justin that everything was served as small plates, and 3 to 5 dishes per person was suggested. That seemed like a lot, but I guess that depends on your appetite.

We started with the Stromboli. The stromboli was rolled with prosciutto and smoked mozzarella. Just the right proportion of each. There was just a hint of fresh basil in each bite as well –  basil always makes you smile and think of summer. The dough was great. A lot of times the problem with stromboli is that the inside dough is uncooked. This was cooked straight through and perfectly done. The bread itself had a nice crust and tooth to it. Five slices of stromboli nestled in a napkin. One complaint, it was stone cold.

The second small dish we decided to try was Grilled Ciabatta, Poached Duck Egg and Fonduta. What arrived were large chunks of nicely grilled ciabatta. You are so focused on these large slices of beautiful bread that it takes you a moment to notice the small cast iron skillet next to the bread. The skillet was about a 1/2″ high and about 4″ in diameter. The pan was filled with the fonduta – Italian cheese fondue. Nestled in the center of the fonduta was a perfectly poached duck egg. Oh, I get it. The ciabatta, the duck egg, and the fonduta, what a great combination. The fonduta was speckled with pepper and finely chopped herbs, the lightest drizzle of truffle oil on top.

Next came Burrata in Carozza with bagna cauda. Fork and Spoon are not fans of the anchovy.  We asked Justin if the bagna cauda could be kept on the side. Apparently, the bagna cauda is poured tableside. Perfect. They brought our beautiful little dish and a small pitcher with the bagna cauda. Justin, sorry, the bagna cauda is VERY fishy. Thank goodness we asked for it on the side. The Burrata in Carozza is perhps 2″ in diameter. The thinnest slices of bread, lightly fried, the gentle burrata nestled inside. Burrata is an Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. The outer shell of the cheese is mozzarella while the inner part is mozzarella and cream.  It is a very soft, delicate, creamy. Sadly, this was stone cold, which caused the cheese to seize a little. While the flavors were great, the coldness was a little unpleasant.

Next arrived Balsamic-Glazed Pork Spare Ribs. What a great presentation. The ribs were fall off the bone tender. Easy to eat with a fork and knife, small enough to pick up if you were the one lucky enough to have your back to the dining room.  The balsamic glaze was sweet, but not cloyingly so. The tomato chutney sitting on top was really good, a slight kick to it to add another layer to the acidic sweetness from the balsamic.

Finally arriving was our reason for being, the Friend Chicken. This was served on top of a very rich porcini and potato stufato. The chicken was great.  One pice of dark meat and one piece of white meat. The white meat was very moist. The coating on the chicken very crisp and very flavorful. We are still trying to figure out what it was. It was more than flour. Not necessarily a bread crumb. Whatever it was, it was seasoned perfectly. The stufato was so rich and tasty. More potato than porcini, but more porcini would have overpowered the whole dish, much less the potatoes.  They were the perfect ‘go with’ for the friend chicken.

Dessert was a very difficult decision. There are so many delicious choice.We again turned to Justin, and his choices were perfect.

Our first dessert was Apple Strudel. Let’s start with – this ain’t your grandma’s apple strudel. The filling was intensely apple. The crust was not a flaky puff pastry type crust , but more of a thin, pie crust. Delicious. Served along with the strudel was a scoop of cinnamon and cider caramel icecream. There were streaks of caramel adorning the plate. And – oh, wait – what are those? Not gelee. Not again. Not after the last debacle with gelee. Fork and Spoon tentatively picked up the gelee. WHEW! Cider. And yummy! What a great dessert.

The second dessert we have to try was the Torrone Panna Cotta. The name alone brought back memories of buying torrone at the San Genaro or St. Anthony Feast. You would walk up to the stand, ask for some, they would hit a piece off with a hammer, and you would merrily walk away, chomping, hoping your fillings wouldn’t come out. The panna cotta was light and delicate, and also dense and rich. The flavor was great. But then you add to that slivers of nougat, a drizzle of honey caramel, pistachios and a quenelle of milk chocolate ice and you have perfection. The last added bit of goodness were two pistachio meringue straws. Just another layer of flavor and crunch to this great dessert. You knew the flavor of the Torrone instantly.

This place is great. It was a fresh, hip vibe – great food, good music, big drinks, great new chef! Give it a whirl. You won’t be sorry!

Faustina at the Cooper Square Hotel ~ 25 Cooper Square ~ NYC, NY ~ 212.475.5700
Faustina at the Cooper Square Hotel on Urbanspoon

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La Lucha

Arriba! Arriba! Viva La Lucha – Sacalo del Ring (loosely translated to taking the fight out of the ring)!!

Nestled in the heart of the East Village is La Lucha. Think Mexico City street food meets Mexican wrestling, meets the East Village, all set in a seriously funky restaurant.

Fork and Shish Kabob Stick were in the East Village to see Dr. Brendan, the iPhone/iPod/iTouch doctor extraordinaire when we realized we were very hungry. Where to go? Where to go? Pizza? The Stick didn’t want pizza. Fork suddenly remembered reading about La Lucha, so we decided to give it a whirl.

La Lucha is very small. Seven tables of two. The banquettes are covered in a metallic, hot pink. The decor is Mexican wrestling themed. There are little Mexican wrestling figures on the walls, wrestling masks (mascaras) everywhere, Lucha wrestling memorabilia, bright colors, photos of Lucha wrestlers, and Mexican wrestling film playing on the walls from a projector. Great music. The place is seriously fun. Place reminded Fork – and you will see just how much tarnish is on the tines by this reference – of an old David Johansen (think New York Dollls) song – Funky But Chic.

The menu is relatively small, but packed with flavor. There are two salsas on the table, one a fresh tomato salsa and the other pasilla salsa. Both were very good. The pasilla salsa – made from chipolte peppers and tomatillos – had a very nice kick. The tortilla chips they brought to the table were freshly fried and most likely made from hand-made tortillas. They aren’t the usual thick fried tortillas you get in the average Mexican restaurant – which isn’t Mexican at all, but TexMex. But this is nowhere near average Mexican restaurant fare that most people in the New York expect. It’s Mexico City street food brought inside. This is the type of food that cutlery in Mexico City eat before going to La Lucha.

They also have Shish Kebab Stick’s favorite soft drink Jarritos – an added bonus. At the time of this writing they didn’t have a liquor license for beer and wine, you can bring your own, and they were waiting for their license to come very soon.

There are a number of Botanitas, small dishes, to share. Naturally, we started with these. By the way, most of the dishes are named after famous Mexican La Lucha wrestling moves or famous La Lucha wrestlers.

First we had the El Martinete (sort of like a pile driver wrestling move). Two taquitos – about 4″ in diameter – filled with fresh, thick refried beans and sprinkled with cilantro and cotija cheese. Added to the top is a plantain. We looked at each other and weren’t quite sure how the sweetness of the plantain would match against the acidic cheese and refried beans, but it really added a nice layer of flavor to the tacquito. The sweetness cut through the richness of the beans and the slightly sour flavor of the cotija. You actually were disappointed by there not being more plantain.

Our second dish to share was the Hurricanrana (a head scissor-like aerial takedown). This is also known as a chicarron de queso. Fried cheese. Again, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. Perhaps something along the lines of a mozzarella stick or maybe saganaki. What arrived was actually quite wonderful. It was like a giant frico, but made with what Fork assumes was queso fresco. Think of making a grilled cheese or a cheese burger and the much fought after melty bits of cheese that get left behind in the pan. Imagine a 10″ tube of it! My oh my! A little bit of the salsas on top and you have a very happy Fork.

Next came Super Porky. Super Porky is an infamous La Lucha and cross over WWE wrestler. The Super Porky was nearly a regular sized tortilla.  These fabulous tacos were filled with carnitas of pulled pork, pickled onions, lots of lime, and cilantro.  The flavor of the pork was incredible. Lots of lime squeezed over. Yummy pickled onions. Boy, oh boy, you could have eaten a lot of these! Carnitas is a type of roasted or braised meat, usually a boston butt of picnic shoulder cut. Just before serving it is shredded and then cooked at a very high heat to make it crispy. You have this mixture of softness and crispiness in every bite.

And last, but not least, we ordered Voladoras – another wrestling move. These were explained as quessadillas, but these are not a TexMex style of quesadilla. They actually look more like an Indian samosa. These are a corn outer shell, inside is gooey melted cheese.   There is a white sauce drizzled over the top and queso fresco. These were really good. Who says change isn’t a good thing? As a piece of cutlery Fork knows so well would say ‘viva le difference!’

The food here is amazing. There are special taco plates that need exploring. There is a brunch menu that looks like it must be tried. A little pricey? Yes. Worth every penny? Yup. Between the decor and the food, it’s impossible to leave La Lucha without a smile on your face.

Thought the fun was over? Nope. When you ask for the check, what arrives is a miniature Lucha wrestling ring and a small La Lucha mascara (mask). Tucked inside the mascara is the bill. Little packages of Canel Mexican chewing gum are scattered over the ring.

La Lucha ~ 147 Avenue A ~ New York, NY ~ 212.260.0235
La Lucha Tacos & Boutique on Urbanspoon

The Modern

You know Fork, Knife and Spoon have a special place in the cutlery drawer for Danny Meyer, and now we have another reason – The Modern. The Modern is located inside the Museum of Modern Art, and as with many of the Meyer restaurants, there are two restaurants in one, the bar room and the main dining room. Fork and Spoon had dinner in the bar room one night during Restaurant Week.

The Modern is sleek and contemporary. The bar room is slightly more cozy. Nice sized tables, seriously comfy chairs – for those of you who are The Odd Couple fans – the chairs were like sitting in a hand. The tables that are next to the bar are very small, very low and look very uncomfortable. While they take walk-ins in the bar room, they usually seat those at the ridiculous tables next to the bar. Call ahead and make a reservation for the bar room. The main dining room is also very nice. Very modern, very sleek, very white, and overlooking the sculpture garden. The cuisine throughout, very Alsatian in influence. In contrast to the plain white and black of the restaurant are some of the most beautiful flower arrangements you have ever seen – bold, bright and colorful.

The tables for two are extremely large and not crammed next to each other. Even with that Fork and Spoon overheard one of the strangest conversations. Two women sat at a table for two next to us. Same table, same view.  Fork faced the back of the room. Spoon faced the front. At the front of the room there is a large freestanding counter. Cutlery (not us, of course), napkins, glasses, tablecloths are stored on the shelves and on top are gigantic flower arrangements. Each one stood at least 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide – causing a virtual flower wall in your view. Directly behind the very full vases that are on top of the counter is an archway to the kitchen. Not a wide archway, mind you, perhaps 5 feet across. But with the density of the flowers, you would be hard pressed to see an archway –  and even harder pressed to know what was through it.  Upon later inspection – or snoopiness – we realized it was the kitchen, gleaming and shiny.

Anyway, these two women started a huge fuss. Neither of them wanted to eat facing the kitchen. Huh? You couldn’t have seen into the kitchen if you tried. Well, the fuss continued. They did NOT want to sit at this table, and neither of them would face the horror of looking into the kitchen. So they insisted the staff moved them. And they did. To a table with the exact same view, only further toward the back of the restaurant. Well, not much further, perhaps 15 feet further. Fork and Spoon are sure they were just angling for a table for 4, as those tables were not in that line of view.

The iced tea is very fresh, bottomless and served in beautiful glasses.

The Restaurant Week menu at The Modern was huge! 11 starters, 10 mains, 7 desserts! In a dining situation where Fork and Spoon usually have to find something to try, we found ourselves having more difficulty deciding what not to try – but we managed.

And, as always, one of the wonderful components of any Danny Meyer restaurant is the staff. The Modern was no exception. Our waiter, Brian, was fantastic. Knowledgable about food and ingredients. What he wasn’t sure about, he was very happy to go into the kitchen and find out. Turns out, Brian is a fellow foodie and spends his free time eating his own adventures at Eat This NY – check it out when you get a chance. Right now he’s on the quest for the perfect pizza!

By the way, the bread was amazing. There were tiny baguettes – maybe four inches long. Terrific, you can have 2 ends, the crusty outside and toothsome inside, and all to yourself. There were also slices of an earthy whole wheat bread. A little odd in the combination department, but oh so yummy.

Our first starter was the Tarte Flambee Alsatian. This was fabulous. Very, very thin crust – not a cracker crust, but an ultra-thin 10″ round bread crust. On top of the crust was creme fraiche, onions and applewood smoked bacon. Each of these ingredients has its own very strong and very independent flavor. Usually you would think of these ingredients with more subtle flavors. Yet, when together on top of the crust they became a wonderful symphony of flavors. Each ingredient complementing the other, but each still retaining their own unique flavor notes. We were also surprised at the size of the appetizer. This was a very generous sized crust and no skimping on any of the ingredients. Seriously good.

Our second starter was Warm Lamb and Goat Cheese Terrine.  Again, two very strong flavors that manage to compliment each other perfectly. The lamb was beautifully tender. The goat cheese, while strong in flavor, was the perfect foil for the lamb. Also in the terrine were toasted pistachios. All so Mediterranean in flavor, all so perfect together. Along with the terrine was a watercress salad, with an amazing dressing. The dressing was watercress, lemon, olive oil, s&p – and I can’t remember, but perhaps if Brian reads this he would ask the chef again for us!

When you sit for a meal like this, you just don’t want the food to stop coming. Each dish a delight. Each perfectly crafted and plated. Each flavor so well thought out and presented.

Our main courses were a little harder to pick. I left the decisions to Spoon. It is so much easier that way. Spoon always picks the right dishes. Fork just sees the ingredients and wants everything!

Our first main dish was Pan Roasted Hangar Steak with Spaetzle and Beluga Beans. This steak was beautiful. Beautifully cooked. Beautifully seasoned. Beautifully tender. The spaetzle was soft and buttery. Smaller than Fork has had before, about the size of a lima bean. The size was perfect to match the Beluga Beans. Beluga Beans are just a type of lentil. The lentils and spaetzle were in a rich broth. On the side was a small salad of watercress and frisee. Strewn on top were fried lentils. Yes, fried lentils! Very interesting. Not in the flavor aspect, but in the texture aspect.

Our second main dish was Duck Confit a l’Orange with Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Fingerling Potatoes. Brian no sooner set this beautiful dish down in front of Fork and Spoon than it was devoured. This goes onto the list of best dishes ever. The duck skin was very crisp, but under the skin was the most wonderful, melt in your mouth duck confit. Under the greenery were roasted potatoes and brussel sprouts. Fork not usually the brussel sprout lover, loved these. The duck sat in a pool of wonderful blood orange sauce. The flavor was so incredible, we just kept eating and eating and eating until it was gone.

We were contemplating asking for another duck for dessert, but our sweet tines got the better of us.

First we had the Coffee Caramel Dome with vanilla icecream and amaretto gelee. First, let’s talk about the gelee. Those tiny cubes are the gelee. Personally, Fork didn’t taste anything resembling an Amaretto flavor. What stuck out was a pure alcohol flavor. It’s amazing how strong the flavor was in that tiny, little cube. Now onto the dessert itself. The dome was panna cotta like in texture. There were two layers – one layer caramel and the other coffee. What a wonderful flavor combination. The presentation was lovely, the dome had great texture and flavor, and as if those factors weren’t enough, the dome was topped with caramel and fleur de sel, and there were two thin sheets of chocolate leaning against either side of the dome. There was also a small bit of the caramel decorating the plate. An added bonus to this lovely dessert was vanilla icecream sitting on chocolate crunchy bits. Not sure if the icecream was necessary. It didn’t really lend anything to the dome, and seemed to be there as filler for the plate. Was it good? Yes. Did we eat it? Naturally. Would we have missed it? Probably not.

Our second dessert was the Hazelnut Dacquoise with Milk Chocolate Chantilly. So many great things going on here. The hazelnut dacquoise is a thin layer of cake, chock full of hazelnuts. Sitting on top of the dacquoise were two thin sheets of gianduja – hazelnut chocolate. On top of those was a quenelle of milk chocolate chantilly – which is really a milk chocolate whipped cream. And, on top of that, another sheet of the gianduja. There were little dollops of the chantilly around the plate each studded with a candied nut. This was so light and delicate, yet so deep and rich in flavor. The perfect ending to a perfect meal.

The Modern was fabulous. Definitely in the top 10 of favorite restaurants! Give it a try, you won’t be sorry.

Danny Meyer, what’s next? Maybe Greek?

The Modern ~ 9 West 53rd Street ~ NYC, NY ~ 212.333.1220
The Modern on Urbanspoon
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Mesa Grill

Cake Server had been dying to try Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, and while Fork has been on this adventure before, how could Fork possibly say no – especially during Restaurant Week. Fork had actually been to Mesa Grill with Spoon during Restaurant Week two years ago and – get ready for this – we had nearly the exact same menu. Fork can’t possibly imagine that Bobby Flay lacks the imagination to change the Restaurant Week Menu! Was everything still terrific? Yes – especially the company!

Cake Server arrived a few minutes before Fork and Mesa does not seat people until their entire party arrive.  With a table for 2, it’s sort of silly, don’t you think? If, let’s say, Cake Server didn’t show, Fork would still eat. Would they not seat Fork alone?

But let’s move forward! The bread basket is great. There were corn muffins that were half yellow and half blue, cornmeal and rosemary biscuits, and sourdough rolls of some sort. The yellow and blue muffins were mighty tasty.

Fork ordered Sophie’s Chopped Salad as a starter. This is exactly what I had last time, and I thought the same thing about it this time. Terrific. Chopped romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, cubes of cheese, beans, pieces of blue and yellow fried corn tortillas. The salad was lightly dressed, but sadly the dressing was a little bland. The salad is fairly large and the combination of ingredients make the salad really good and interesting. Every forkful a different flavor combination.

Cake Server ordered the Roasted Cauliflower and Green Chile Soup. What arrived was a thick soup, rich with the flavor of roasted cauliflower. Fork didn’t taste much form the green chiles, but the soup was quite good. There was an orange oil floating on top of the soup, it had a very slight kick to it and added a nice layer of flavor. Floating in the center of the soup was a blue corn taquito filled with goat cheese.  The soup tasted really goo, but it was really an off-putting color.

For entrees, Fork had the Pan Roasted Chicken with blackberry ancho sauce and cilantro pesto mashed potatoes. Eh. The chicken was a little dry. The sauce was nice, but really not enough of it. The ‘mashed’ potatoes were more like a warm potato salad than real mashed potatoes. They were pretty good, but really nothing to write home about. Fork is not quite sure where the cilantro pesto was, but there was not much of a hint of it. Fork is 90% sure this is what was ordered on the last trip!

Cake Server ordered the Cornmeal Crusted Chile Relleno. Another dish that was definitely on the last Restaurant Week menu. Fork must say, the presentation was beautiful. The pepper was stuffed with roasted eggplant and manchego cheese. The pepper had a really nice cornmeal crust, golden and crispy. Surprisingly, the pepper held it’s shape after the frying. Very nice flavors. Nice a savory, especially on a cold winter night.

Two desserts? How easy was that? Simply had to have one of each.

There was a Chocolate Peanut Butter Flan with Kahlua Whipped Cream. The Peanut Butter was so overpowering that there really wasn’t much of a chocolate taste to the dessert. This was pretty good though. It may have been the candied peanuts that were served with the flan that sold it.

The second was Pineapple Buttermilk Upside Down Cake. The best part of this was the pineapple vanilla icecream on the side. You couldn’t at first taste tell what the wonderful flavor was of the icecream, but suddenly it hit you and it was lovely. The cake itself was good. spongy and not too sweet. The pineapples were another story. They were very sweet, almost too sweet.

Bobby Flay and the Mesa Grill have a wonderful cook book. If you need another book for your collection – and who doesn’t – try the Mesa Grill Cookbook.

This was a nice meal, nothing extraordinary, nothing that stood too far out, definitely not to try again during Restaurant Week. The regular menu actually looks so much better. Perhaps it’s time to rethink the Restaurant Week menu. Isn’t part of the point in being a participating restaurant enticing diners to come back and try the full menu? I don’t know that this menu enticed me to do anything.

Mesa Grill ~ 102 5th Avenue ~ NYC, NY ~ 212.807.7400
Mesa Grill on Urbanspoon

Cafe Fiorello

One of the nicest parts about attending an event at Lincoln Center is the pleasure of eating at Cafe Fiorello . Cafe Fiorello is a wonderful Italian restaurant that has been in business across the street from Lincoln Center for 30 years.

The menu is huge. There are over 50 different antipasti alone. There are many Italian classics on the menu – really something for everyone.

When you first walk into the restaurant there is a seafood bar, with places to sit and eat and watch your dishes being made. The dining room is comfortable and warm, tables not too close together. Many small booths along the wall. Serving Spoon and Fork were lucky enough to sit in one of the small booths on the side of the main dining room. Because the booths are against the wall, no one bangs into one of the diners walking through the dining room.

The wine list is extensive and wonderful. Fork and Serving Spoon each tried the Vernaccia. Very light, Tuscan wine, crisp. Very yummy. With dessert, Fork had Moscato D’Asti with dessert – sweet, effervescent.

Fork and Serving Spoon had every intention of ordering from the Restaurant Week menu – we really did. It was a terrific menu. Three starters, three mains, yucky desserts. As an aside – the dessert is important too! So many Restaurant Week menus have really weak dessert courses. Why? Icecream is not a special dessert. But here, I digress.

Our server Curtis was terrific. Very enthusiastic about the menu, very knowledgeable about the ingredients, very accommodating, at ease, and friendly.

Although we were set for the Restaurant Week menu, once Curtis started to describe the special salad for the evening, our eyes started roving the regular menu – and that was that! Off to the regular menu we went!

For our starters we first ordered the special salad of the evening. A deconstructed salad that was mainly baby arugula with some field greens with a light, citrusy dressing. It needed to be light to stand up to, but not over-power, the peppery arugula and all the ingredients in the salad. There was a candied pear. Fork doesn’t think candied is necessarily the right word, but it was very sweet and was a nice contrast to the arugula. There were also chopped pickled beets, some sugared walnuts, halved grape tomatoes, a red currant gastrique, and a round of goat cheese that was lightly coated and fried. I know, I know, a lot of ingredients on the plate, but they all worked together so beautifully.

Our second starter was Cheese Fravioli.  This can be ordered with two ravioli or four ravioli. Fork and Serving Spoon looked at each other, not wanting to be piggies, but thinking two ravioli would not be enough. Curtis to the rescue. He told us the ravioli were rather large, we should order two. And large they were. Each a four inch square. Fried and golden. Crisp on the outside, tender on the inside. The filling is Stracchino cheese. Stracchino is a mild cow’s milk cheese – said to come from the milk of tired cows (stracca meaning tired). It is said that milk from tired cows is richer in fats and more acidic. Fork doesn’t know about that, it was DARN GOOD! When you cut into the ravioli the cheese was soft and stringy, great flavor. But, if that isn’t enough for you, each ravioli was topped with slices of prosciutto. Holy McMoly. A few more of these and a gigantic salad and you would be set.

But of course we couldn’t just leave it at that!

Both Fork and Serving Spoon ordered the Sliced Prime Steak with Potato Fonduta. A beautiful 28 day dry aged steak. Nice sized portion. Cooked perfectly, seasoned beautifully. Now, some may think that would be enough, but oh, no. This steak was like butter (think Mike Meyers imitating Barbara Streisand here). Fork could have used a fork to cut through this steak. It literally melted in your mouth. Just amazing. Served along with the steak was a potato fonduta. Fork isn’t quite sure how to properly explain this to you all. It’s a potato pie, covered with melted cheese. Fonduta is a fondue. So Imagine a potato pie, slices of mushroom, nicely seasoned, covered in meted fontina and mozzarella. The texture is amazing. Potatoes were nice and firm, the mushrooms gave it a nice earthiness, and the cheese was not quite as liquidy as a fondue, slightly more solidified. So, so good! Just a little complaint – it might be nice to add a little vegetable to a plate – but at least in this case there was something on the plate besides the steak.

The really bad dessert choices on the Restaurant Week menu is what really pushed the envelope for Fork and Serving Spoon to switch menus. Cheesecake or icecream. Yuck.

Serving Spoon ordered the Cannoli Siciliani. What arrived were two beautifully plated cannoli. These were not what you automatically think about when the word cannoli is said. The shells were almond tuille. Very light and crispy. Nice almond flavor. The filling was made with ricotta cheese, but it was much drier than the usual cannoli filling. There were chocolate chips scattered throughout the cream. The cream wasn’t overly sweet. The cannoli were sitting in a pool of blueberry sauce. Blueberry sauce in February – now, you know these weren’t local and most likely frozen, but the sauce was still yummy. Scattered around the plate were sliced, toasted sugared almonds.

Fork ordered the Limoncello Tart. Before Fork starts – what is with the MINT? Do you see the tree in the middle of that tart slice? Why? Who eats it? Does it really look great? If you think your dessert can not stand on a plate without foliage, maybe your dessert needs some vavavoom of it’s own. A sugared mint leaf or two, okay, but this nearly required a machete along with a dessert fork. Thick, sweet, buttery graham cracker crust. Fork loves a good graham cracker crust – and this was a really good graham cracker crust. The tart crust was filled with luscious lemon curd. Tangy, citrusy, sweet, lemony, yummy. To make this even better, the lemon curd had a brulee top. Really! As you were putting your dessert fork into it, it cracked. Perfect topping for the tart. The caramel brulee, slightly burnt sugar taste was great against  the tart, sweet lemon curd. There was a quenelle of whipped cream – could have been a little sweeter. And what is wrong with a dollop, what is with the ever present quenelle. Chefs are making quenelles out of everything. Enough already – so over the quenlle. At the side of the tart was a small pile of long, very thin lemon zest. Not sugared. Not candied. Just lemon zest. Why? Lose the herbage, make the whipped cream a dollop, and either lose or candy the lemon zest and this dessert would be stellar.

If you are going to Lincoln Center and need a fab place to eat, this is the place. Actually, if you need a dynamite place to eat this should be on your short list of choices!

Cafe Fiorello ~ 1900 Broadway ~ New York, NY ~ 212.595.5330
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