Il Buco Alimentari

Yes, it’s been a long time. So long, in fact, that we forgot to take a picture of the outside of the restaurant.

That’s okay. For Il Buco Alimentari, it is really the inside and the amazing food that counts!

This was a bad day for Fork. One of those days where words cannot be spoken until alcohol is consumed. Quickly, a cocktail menu. So  many choices, so much alcohol needed. Wait! What’s this? A Timo. Prosecco, Vergano Moscato Vermouth and fresh grapefruit. It was perfect. SLightly sweet, slightly tart, and bubbly.

As the badness of the day emptied while Fork emptied the Timo glass, our lovely waitress Christi brought us bread, olive oil and salt. Really, does life get any better than that?

Fork: “I am in a really bad mood. I don’t care what you order. Just do all the ordering please.”

Spoon: “Okay. I thought the cured meats looked good.”

Fork: “Okay. But, the artichokes. We have to have the artichokes. Oh, and the porchetta. And if we’re having porchetta then we should have the Bucatini Cacio e Pepe and not Gricia.”

Spoon: “well, since you don’t want to order …”

Amazing what a drink and bread can do for one’s mood!

Since our adventure to Rome last spring, Fork and Spoon have been in search of wonderful Roman style restaurants in the City. Il Buco Alimentari is one of these places.

We started with Fried Artichokes. Who can resist fried artichokes? These were small and delicate and crispy. The insides were still tender. The preserved lemon  gave them just the right hit of acidity. A little salt and you were good to go. It’s amazing we were able to snap a photo of these before they were inhaled.

We asked Christi which of the Salumi della Casa she would recommend. She suggested the assorted plate for two. Perfect. A little bit of everything! Some of the meats are made and cured in house and some are from outside sources. They were all amazing. Each unique, but each delicious.

You simply cannot eat in a Roman restaurant without having Pasta Cacio e Pepe. So simple. So delicious. Cheese and pepper. Perfect. We thought the portion a little on the skimpy side, but we still had a long way to go, so it was really okay – this time! Fork and Spoon were reaching for a little bit of bread to soak up the cheese and pepper on the bottom of the bowl when this manager-type person swooped in from NOWHERE and snatched the bowl off the table. WITH. OUT. ASKING if we were done. Sigh.

Next up – and one of the dishes we can never resist – Porchetta alla Romana. The meat was tender and very flavorful. It was served with shaved fennel, blood orange and mustard greens. We could have lived without the mustard greens. They really don’t add anything here. There were two teeny tiny slices of blood orange on the plate. The shaved fennel was perfect with the porchetta. The cracklings on top. Oh, the cracklings. Does anything really need to be said about cracklings? Nope. And over the shattering of the cracklings you couldn’t have heard us anyway!

When we ordered the Porchetta, Christi mentioned that the dish came without any sort of side and would we like to order something. One quick glance at the menu and we were done. Crispy Polenta. WHat this meant we had no idea, but it was crispy and it was polenta. What arrived were small abstract cubes of polenta, deep fried with shavings of parmigiano on the top. Not necessarily a great side to the delicate Porchetta, but a great side just the same! This would be great as an appetizer with some wine or prosecco.

You would think we would have been stuffed by now, but meal does not go by without dessert. It must be done. The roasted pear with semolina crumble and creme fraiche gelato was just too intriguing to pass up. The pear was amazing. Tender, sweet and gooey. Perfect with the tang from the creme fraiche gelato.

It’s a little crowded, the tables a little toooooo close together (and no one moves them for you), and VERY noisy, but once you start eating, all of this melts away and you are just being treated to fabulous cuisine.

With the exception of the thievery of our pasta bowl, this meal was amazing. And definite must try and for us a definite must go back to!

Il Buco Alimentari ~ 52 Great Jones Street ~ New York, NY ~ 212.837.2622
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The Mussel Pot

As you walk along Bleecker Street, you are at no loss for restaurants. Any cuisine you can imagine, any price point, fancy, casual, fast food, good food, not such good food.

Along this stretch of restaurants Fork, and new found friend, Whisk, came across  The Mussel Pot. And the Mussel Pot may be a combination of most of the above descriptions!

We arrived at 6:30 and the restaurant was empty. The garden tables were all full, but the interior tables were completely empty. The restaurant itself is lovely and warm, beautiful mirrors run down one wall and the room is lit by dainty glass chandeliers. The garden has 6 tables around a small waterfall and coy pond. Sadly, they were all taken, but we were able to sit at the table right next to the door.

Our waitress, Jacky, came over and introduced herself to us. Pleasant, warm, and attentive. We asked for the wine list and found a nice bottle of Pinot Grigio. Truthfully, the wine is a bit on the pricey side and this bottle was not chilled enough. THe bus boys were quick with ice, filling water glasses, and whisking plates away. Never once did they approach the table to remove a plate until it appeared both of us were done. HUGE points for that one!

We ordered two appetizers. They took a ridiculously long time to come out of the kitchen. The surprise in this? One of the appetizers was raw.

With or without the long wait, this appetizer was outstanding. Tuna Tartare. Seriously fresh tuna, sitting on a 1/2″ thick disk of guacamole. The guacamole was fresh and chunky and a perfect partner to the tuna. On top of the tuna were some microgreens and a splodge of a citrus miso mayo type condiment. To give the plate a little texture there were some house-made potato chips served alongside. The chips were a really nice addition to the tartare. You could scoop some up on the chip and have all the wonderful flavors at once.

Our second appetizer was Fried Calamari. Fork is a total sucker for fried calamari. Sadly, this was not so great. The presentation was lovely. We loved the idea of three sauces. And there ends the love fest. Fried calamari consists of 2 parts – the legs and the rings. There were perhaps 3 rings and all the rest legs. Whisk doesn’t mind the legs. Fork really doesn’t like them at all. Really, not at all. And the rings that were there were very chewy – like rubberband chewy – which usually means they were frozen. The coating, while really crispy, was not seasoned anywhere near enough.

Then there were the three sauces. There was a spicy remoulade – spicy here is the key word. I was too spicy to enjoy. The Fork and Whisk like spice in their food but not to the point of inedible. There was also a tomato sauce water. It was flavorless and so thin in consistency that nothing stuck to the calamari when you dipped it in the sauce. The third was a chimichurri. All we can say about that is  – meh! Really disappointing appetizer.

So, the schtick with the with the Mussel Pot is – well, really, it doesn’t need explaining – MUSSELS. There are 5 different cuisine styles and 15 different ways to have mussels. They range from intriguing to what were they thinking. What is glaringly absent from their line-up is Moules Mariniere.

The mussels are all served in individual stainless steel mussel pots. Okay, we get it. mussels, mussel pots. Cute. Problem? They are pretty tall and you are eating peering over the top of your pot, holding your fork or spoon at an odd angle. Really not a comfortable way to eat.

Whisk ordered the Paella style which included clams, chorizo, fennel, tomatoes, peas, white wine, saffron, bay leaf and lemon juice. The clams were unnecessary. The broth was  delicious. There was a background warmth to it that turned out to be cloves.  Really nice combination of flavors. 

Fork ordered the Posillipo style.  A light tomato sauce, garlic, white wine and basil. Very good mingling of Italian flavors.

There are plenty of mussels in each pot. They serve bread with the mussels so you can sop up all the sauce – which is also difficult with the gigantic pots! They bring a small slice of bread each, which seems kind of silly. But they gladly bring more if you ask.

Nothing really struck us for dessert. But we were instantly drawn to the Cheese Plate by the words “a variety of the finest imported cheese accompanied with honey comb, fig chutney and candy hazelnuts.” (They desperately need someone to proofread their menu). Okay. There was Brie. There was, to quote our waitress, some kind of parmigianio. There was Havarti with dill – the least dessert type cheese you could ever find.  There was fig chutney. There were candied pecans which were very soft, which means they have been sitting around a while. There were grapes. Now, if you are missing TWO essential ingredients on a composed plate and are subbing – don’t you think you should tell the patrons and ask if they would still like to have that dessert? We couldn’t recover from the honeycomb, candied hazelnuts and havarti.

Nothing was terrible, but nothing was outstanding beyond the tuna tartare. The staff needs to be better informed of what is in each dish, what is not going to be available and most of all – how to pronounce things on the menu.

Oh, one last thing. If Fork or Whisk had gone downstairs to the restrooms before we ate, we would have left. There is. The worst. Fish. Smell. And (as if you need another thing) they have unisex restrooms. Gross. And the floors are all wet from God only knows what.

Try it. Perhaps your experience will be different. I, for one, am very glad I had a 30% coupon from Blackboard Eats or I would have been far more disappointed.

Mussel Pot ~ 174 Bleecker Street ~ NYC, NY ~ 212.260.2700
The Mussel Pot on Urbanspoon

Nougatine @ JeanGeorges

For Fork and Spoon, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant is love at first bite. The restaurants are beautiful, warm, inviting, staffed with people who are pleased to be there. Everything is perfect. There isn’t really one thing you can put a tine on.

Nougatine is just another piece of our heart that belongs to Jean-Georges.

It is amazing that those dining in Jean-Georges walk so close Nougatine and most never think to stop and dine there. Nougatine is the slightly more casual, slightly less expensive, but absolutely just as enticing as big brother Jean-Goerges. Uncluttered, ultra-modern, bright, light woods,stark even, and yet it is warm and comfortable, beckoning and welcoming. The acoustics are wonderful. 

Nothing is quick. Nothing is rushed. The staff smiles, is friendly, knowledgable and answer any questions you may have.

Fork and Spoon met here for dinner before seeing a screening of Toast. If you have not read Nigel Slater’s book Toast, please do. If you can see the film, please do. But, back to Nougatine.

While we were looking through the menu, we ordered iced tea. The tea is fresh, cold, nice sized glasses, and they give you one refill. We didn’t ask for a third to just see what would happen. But while refilling the tea, they remove your glass from the table, place it on a tray, pour and out the glass back. Same with the water, which is constantly refilled.

We ordered. Three appetizers and one main dish. We wanted to experience as many dishes as possible.

While we were waiting for our fist appetizer, our waiter appeared with an Amuse Bouche. A shot glass with a warm carrot and ginger soup, accompanied by a perfect rectangle of rye toast with a tiny dollop of mustard butter, a wedge of radish, and chive. Perfectly assembled. Beautiful to look at. Fork is not a soup fan, but this was warm and creamy, slightly sweet from the carrot and a wonderful smack of ginger was stunning. The perfect amount to win you over. The rye toast was crisp, a wonderful tang coming from the mustard butter with a spicy crunch from the radish. Oh, this was so a sign of what was yet to come.

One of our starters was Asparagus Vinaigrette with Sautéed Mushrooms. Crisp, slim, ultra-fresh asparagus all lined up. Perfectly cooked and seasoned, sitting in a pool of a light vinaigrette. On top of these beauties were sautéed mushrooms. Not sautéed so much that they lost their shape or taste. A variety of different mushrooms. So many tastes in one bite.

Now this second starter could not be passed by. Foie Gras Brulee with Strawberry. The top was really and truly brulee’d (is that even a word?). It was almost as much fun to look at as it was to eat. I love that tapping and cracking sound from a brulee. Soft and rich foie gras wrapped around a strawberry – yes, a fresh strawberry. Fork and Spoon had there doubts about the strawberry with the foie gras, but the combination was delectable.

Our third, and last starter was a Field Mache Salad. You wouldn’t think we could or would get so excited over a salad, but look at it. It’s lovely!  Tender field greens, crispy lardons of bacon, a light dressing, sunnyside up egg and snippets of chives. The crisp bacon gives a little extra texture and a smokiness against the peppery greens. And the egg, oh, the egg, once you cut into the yolk and it swims through the salad and mixes with the dressing, you suddenly have a wonderful richness that would not have been there otherwise. Perfect.

For our main course, Spoon and I decided we would share the Filet.  The filet was served over grilled scallions and mashed potatoes. On top of the filet were crispy, fried onions. I am sure some of you are thinking, a filet, so what. I can tell you so what – the filet was glazed with mirin, soy and sesame oil. When I tell you the flavor combination on this tender steak was over the moon good, I ain’t kidding. The flavors of the glaze with the grilled scallions was great. The little pool of the glaze under and around the garlic-y mashed potatoes made them even better. These were silky, smooth mashed potatoes. Almost more of a puree than a mash. This filet was inhaled at a record pace. We had to resist the urge to pick up the plate and lick it! 

We ordered 2 desserts. You know we had to.

First up was a Hazelnut Dacquoise. On top of the dacquoise was a deep, decadent chocolate mousse. So far so good. the mousse was actually in a cone shape. The inside if the cone was filled with a licorice ice, which was startling, overpowering and terrible. It was so in contrast to the delicate, sensual flavors on the plate that it was almost like skipping down the street and running face first into a wall. We scooped that stuff out quickly and put it on a side plate. There was a lovely berry compote to go along with this. Surprisingly light and delicate, this dessert really aims to please – without the licorice ice, of course!

Our second dessert was a lovely little Rhubarb Tart. Sweet and tart rhubarb sitting inside a crisp, flaky pastry. Perfect. Sitting atop the tart was a small creme brulee. The creaminess was perfect with the rhubarb. Strewn around the tart were tapioca pearls, slivers of strawberry and palm seeds. Beautiful for both the eyes and the palate.

One of the wonderful thing about Jean-Georges restaurants is their pleasant fulfillment of all your senses. Nougatine did not disappoint!

Nougatine ~ 1 Central Park West ~ NYC, NY
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Porchetta

A number of years ago, Fork, Spoon and the Salad Tongs went to a tasting at the Armory on Lexington Avenue. The tasting was a disaster. It was so crowded you couldn’t move. The food was running out of most of the stands – IF you could get near them.

The one thing we did try – and went back for – TWICE! – were little sandwiches from Porchetta a tiny place on East 7th Street in Manhattan. We had been trying to get here for 2 years. Blackboard Eats was the twist of fate that finally tilted us toward this oasis of delight.

Totally off topic – Blackboard Eats is a great restaurant program in NY, LA and San Francisco. You receive emails from them and if you are within their chosen number of participants to receive a coupon you get one. They have slightly changed their program now – the coupon costs you $1. Totally worth it for 30% off your dinner bill!

Porchetta was opened by Sara Jenkins and Matt Lindemulder.

They wanted to bring a classic food of their childhood to New York City. Porchetta is a roasted pork with crispy skin, seasoned with aromatic herbs and spices, garlic, sage, rosemary and wild fennel pollen. It’s a typical plate of Roman cuisine. It’s slow cooked Italian fast food that’s found on food carts all over Rome.

The aroma as you walk in is so heady – rosemary and sage and pork and garlic. Sitting in the display case are porchette. You just want to break the glass, grab a porchetta, and run waddle down the street as fast as you can.

The staff is very pleasant. The smells make you insane. The food is phenomenal. There isn’t much choice by way of drinks, but that’s okay.

This is mostly a take out place, but you can sit on a stool and eat. There are 6 stools facing a small U shaped counter. You can sit and face the beautiful porchette or sit and people watch the folks walking back and forth on East 7th Street. Either way, one bite and your surroundings will become a little fluffy cloud in heaven.

The menu is small and perfect. You can order a porchetta sandwich or a porchetta plate. The plates come with greens and beans. There is a mozzarella sandwich, though we’re not sure why. There are three sides – greens, beans and crispy potatoes with burnt ends.

Fork and Spoon both ordered the Porchetta Sandwich – no reason to mess with greens and beans! Beautifully aromatic, perfectly cooked, tender chucks and slices of pork on top of a toothsome bread. To add to this perfection on pane were shards of pork skin, painfully crispy and yummy. Fork was feeling a little tarnished around the tines when we decided on this Adventures, but one bite of this sandwich made all the clouds part and the sun shine. It is – well, divine is the perfect word.

Because the promise of burnt ends was too alluring to pass by, we also ordered the Crispy Potatoes with Burnt Ends. Crispy potatoes. Crunchy burnt ends of porchetta. Rosemary. Need anything else be said? I don’t think so.

So sorry we waited so long to get there. So delighted that we finally did – and will again and again!

Porchetta ~ 110 East 7th Street ~ NYC, NY ~ 212.777.2151
Porchetta on Urbanspoon

David Burke @ Bloomingdale’s

I love David Burke. There is something completely childlike about him. His food and restaurants are full of whimsy. A characteristic that calls to Fork’s soul.

It was natural that after a bit of retail therapy at Bloomingdale’s Fork and Spoon decided to have dinner at David Burke’s restaurant in Bloomingdale’s. Spoon had eaten there before, and said the food was wonderful and the restaurant had the same feeling whimsy as David Burke’s other places, both on the plate and in decor.

There is a great meal deal at this restaurant – the Blooming Deal – 3 courses for $25. You are served an appetizer, main dish or pizza and dessert. Really not a bad deal at all.

The iced tea is bottomless and refilled very quickly.

If you’re going to David Burke @ Bloomingdale’s for some of that famous David Burke magic. Don’t.  The food is good. Actually, very good.  But there is nothing fun or whimsical about it. Spoon was quite surprised at how different this dining experience was from the first time Spoon had been there.

The service started off very standoff-ish and cold, but as time went on, our waiter warmed a touch. It’s hard to be cold to Cutlery as cute as Fork and Spoon.

One of the waiters came over with a basket of popovers. They could have been – should have been warmer, but that doesn’t take away from their amazing flavor. Every cheesey, peppery bite was delightful. It was a nice beginning to a meal.

Our first appetizer was Macaroni and Cheese. Fork thought the macaroni and cheese was a little bland, like it needed bacon (and what doesn’t). It was very nice and cheesey, though, the pasta cooked perfectly. The crunchy, toasted panko and flecks of herbs on top was a nice touch.

Our second appetizer was Beef Chili Nachos.  A very generous serving of chili, corn tortillas, topped with guacamole, salsa, cheese and sour cream. These were really good. Zesty chili, cool avocado with cheese and sour cream over crispy crunchy tortilla. The plate, however – as you can see – was a sloppy mess. You know, we eat with our eyes, and this wasn’t necessarily appealing and really a little surprising.

Now, we have 2 courses down and not the tiniest bit of whimsy in sight.

Our first main dish was a Prosciutto, Arugula & Basil Pizza. Thin crispy crust. Perfect actually. Generous amount of prosciutto and a garden of arugula. The mozzarella was fresh. This was a cooked sauce. It wasn’t fresh tomatoes. It was more like strained tomatoes, like Pomi, and not doctored up with any fresh herbs.

Our second main dish was  Grilled Filet Mignon, served with whipped potatoes, vegetables and crispy onions. The steak was amazing. The beef was so tender and so flavorful, it needed nothing else on the plate. The filet sat atop mashed potatoes. Not terrible mashed potatoes, but not spectacular mashed potatoes. The vegetables were green beans, carrots, asparagus, beautifully cooked and crisp tender – and for some reason, brussel sprouts, blech. Sitting on top of the filet were crispy, frizzled onions. This was actually a very nice dish, but it was cold!

The set up at David Burke is very strange. As you walk into Bloomingdale’s on the 54th Street side, to the right is the take-out part of Burke in the Box. This is where the kitchen is. To th left is the dining room, which is where we ate. The food all comes from the other side. They bring each dish over under a cloche. Because these sections are on different sides, the timing of the food isn’t great and the heat of the food isn’t consistent.

It is not possible to go to a David Burke restaurant and not order Cheesecake Lollipops. Love the little trees. Love the little cheesecake pops. Love the raspberries. Love the Bubble Gum Whipped Cream. Total smash hit, both in taste and visually. Slight unhappiness – all of the cheesecake pops were wrapped in saran wrap. Some of the little spaces were missing pops. There were repeats of some and only 1 of another. That being said, these are so yummy. Little bites of perfection all wearing different robes of flavor. There were cheesecakes dipped half in milk chocolate and half in dark chocolate and then rolled in chopped peanuts; some in a cherry shell with chipped pistachios; and some tasted of caramel with chocolate cookie crunchies.

I WANT MY WHIMSY BACK!

David Burke @ Bloomingdale’s ~ 1000 3rd Avenue ~ NYC, NY ~ 212.813.2195
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Sel et Poivre

Fork and Spoon were invited to a Press Tasting Dinner at Sel et Poivre on the upper east side of Manhattan.  And while we don’t want to do too many of these – we prefer anonymous visits – after looking over the everyday menu we decided to give it a whirl.

Sel et Poivre began 20 years ago as a mother/daughter owned restaurant, over the years it evolved into what it is today a husband/wife owned restaurant.

The space is small and getting through the bar to the dining room can be almost impossible.

Fork and Spoon arrived and met our host and hostess and were truly looking forward to this dining experience. The dining room is lovely and warm and our dining companions fabulous. The photographs that line walls both upstairs and down are wonderful, some by famous photographers, some family photos. The bread – fabulous (yes, one of the important things in life, like bottomless iced tea).

To start we were served Fish Soup. Spoon had the sense to say she doesn’t eat fish and was offered another dish – which we will get to. Fork wanted to try the dishes being offered and specifically asked the waiter if there was any shellfish in the soup. Nope. None. No shrimp shells? Nope, notta a one. Okie dokie. Sigh – you know what’s coming, right?

Anyway the soup was very interesting. A bowl of flavorful fish soup is brought to the table along with a plate of toasts, grated cheese and an aioli. It’s sort of a do-it-yourself soup. Very interesting. So the owner comes by, Fork asks – ‘Is there shellfish in the soup?’ ‘Why yes, yes, there is. They use shrimp heads and shells.’ The blanch that came across the tines of the Fork must have clued him into a problem. Off he went to the kitchen and this was the answer he came back with. Sit down, you’re going to love this one. ‘Yes, we always use shrimp shells and heads in the soup, but the chef said (ready?) not in this batch.’  Fork must looked as though I was forged yesterday. The itching commenced. And this set the tone for the rest of the meal as far as Fork was concerned. Thanks for the hives. They were in places no self respecting fork should have them.

You know what? Tell the truth. Inform your staff. Fortunately, Fork is not as highly allergic as I once was.  Anyway, let’s continue…

Spoon (smart cutlery) was brought a lovely plate of pate and the typical accoutrement. The pate was very good. Along with the pate were cornichon, toasts and a grainy mustard.

Following these was a Celery Root Remoulade with Red Beets. We loved the contrast between the bright celery root and the ruby colored beets. Light, refreshing, slight curry flavor to the celery root. All together a nice simple dish.

Our next dish was Skate with Lemon Capers and Basmati Rice. Fork loves skate, and this was very well prepared – butter, lemon, a light saute, some capers, what could be bad. Skate – for those of you who have not tried it – is from the ray family. It is a light and delicate white filet. The skate was served with basmati rice.

Spoon – the non-fish eater (smart cutlery) – was given an alternative dish – which was originally going to be steak, but turned out to be ravioli. The ravioli was filled with smoked mozzarella and asparagus and served with a light tomato and cream sauce. Very good ravioli. (Odd that, ravioli filled with mozzarella being served at a press dinner in a French restaurant, but it must be the itching taking over again.)

Our last course before dessert was Calves Liver a la Lyonnais with mashed potatoes and brocoli. The liver was smothered in onions. There was a little quiet chatter between the Spoon and Fork and Your Vicarious Experience. Fork had never eaten calves liver before, Spoon wasn’t a fan. We all thought it an odd dish to serve. Fork is of the belief if the liver didn’t have feathers at some point, it shouldn’t be eaten. Being the good sports that we are, the 3 of us tried it. I can’t describe the taste – I was too busy itching at the time – but it isn’t something I would like to try again. The mashed potatoes and brocoli were very good. Does that help?

For dessert we were served a Terrine de Chocolate, which sat in raspberry coulis. The terrine was light and chocolatey, very smooth and rich. The raspberry coulis a perfect balancing act with the chocolate.

Sel et Poivre ~ 853 Lexington Avenue ~ 212.517.5780
Sel Et Poivre on Urbanspoon

Riverpark

Tom Colicchio – my hero. Beautiful restaurants. Great locations. Fantastic food. Great service. Riverpark is no exception. Well,two exceptions, this place has a GREAT view and participates in Restaurant Week. What a bonus!

Now, it is a little difficult to get here. It isn’t really near the subway or the bus. You can drive there, and for the moment, parking is free if you eat at Riverpark. The view is beautiful and on a clear day you can see up and down the East River.

Riverpark is tucked in an ultramodern office building. You walk through the lobby and through a door and you are just transported to a special place.

The decor in Riverpark is very similar to Colicchio & Sons – dark tables, lots of windows, white plates, big bar area. The host staff is super friendly – and remember repeat customers as if they come in every day.

The Restaurant Week menu had 6 selections each for the appetizer and main course. A little something for everyone. As we sat pouring over the menu, our waiter, Tom, brought us iced tea, bottomless? A basket approaches – we’re always excited by the basket – and tucked inside was Pretzel Bread. Warm, salty, dense, slightly crisp outside – hopefully a sign of things to come.

First came Iberico Pata Negra – literally translated to black hoofed ham. This particular strain of hog is found only in Spain, and has only become available in the U.S. in the last 5 or 6 years. This is a cured ham, not a smoked ham. It melts in your mouth. Very much like prosciutto, just a slightly different flavor. The Jamon was served with triangles of slightly charred, grilled bread – perfect accompaniment.

Our second starter was the Duck Liver Pate, also served with charred toast, and the most wonderful reduced, sticky, yummy cherry – hmmmmm – stuff! Almost like a a cherry preserve that was reduced and most of the liquid sucked reduced out of it. It was perfect with the rich duck pate. There was a little rosemary and salt sprinkled on top of the pate. I know, I know, this is heart attack on a plate, but there’s just a little pate and it is absolutely exquisite.

Spoon had Fettucine with Pork Ragu. Smelled wonderful, tasted even better. Fresh fettucine perfectly cooked with a rich, meaty, deeply flavored pork ragu on top. Sprinkled over the ragu was fried rosemary. Perfect touch and flavor to go with the ragu.

Fork ordered the Fried Chicken Sandwich with pickled vegetables and garlic mayonnaise. Put the words fried chicken in any dish and Fork will eat it, can’t be helped, it’s an addiction. This was a very large plate of deliciousness. Very generous sized chicken breast, crispy crunchy fried to absolute perfection. Sitting on top of the chicken were great pickled vegetables, perfectly crispy and vinegar-y and spicy to boot. THe garlic mayonnaise was really perfect with this, added a kick to the whole sandwich. The only thing that kept this from being knocked out of the park was the roll. It wasn’t bad, it certainly wasn’t good, it was just EH. Served with the sandwich were my downfall in life potato chips. Really, I was only going to eat one, maybe two – HA! Also a lovely salad – to cut some of the richness and give one a modicum of healthiness.

Dessert! Most times very little thought is put into the dessert course in Restaurant Week menus – not so at Riverpark – actually not so at any Tom Colicchio restaurant.

Fork ordered the Beignet served with a kumquat compote and vanilla custard. Soft, pillowy clouds of fried dough. Tender, tender inside, slightly crisp outside, perfect. The kumquat compote was tart and sweet. Lovely on the beignet. THe vanilla custard was fabulous. If the little ramekin had been a little bit bigger Fork and Spoon would have jumped in. It was intoxicating.

Spoon ordered the Apple Crisp with dried cherries, cognac and creme anglaise. Wonderful crispy, buttery, sugary topping. You dive into apples and cherries and warm spices. Pour in a little creme anglaise and you have another winner. Perfect for a chilly winter day.

This was so worth the wait. This was so worth the trek to the edge of Manhattan. This will so be a place we come back to again and again!

Riverpark ~ 450 East 29th Street ~ NYC, NY ~ 212.729.9790
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