Eat | Drink | New York
New & Notable Restaurants & Bars
Here is a sneak peak at some of the restaurants we've highlighted in the April 2014 issue, on stands now.
NYC's New & Notable Italian Restaurants
By: Alan Tardi
You might wonder why NYC would need yet another Italian restaurant. And then you walk into All'Onda and it all becomes clear. Billed as "modern Venetian cuisine," chef Chris Jaeckle (formerly of Morimoto and Ai Fiori) offers a whole new take on Italian cuisine.
All'Onda, 22 E. 13th St. (btw. University & 5th Ave.),
Yellowtail crudo comes with red kuri squash, pepperoncino and soy; raw tuna with cerignola olives and kizami wasabi. Both, served on earthy raku dishes, have the minimalistic elegance of Japanese sushi, as do barely steamed razor clams with miso aspic and diced sopressata. Every dish seems to have an extra facet to its flavor, like the polenta with wild mushrooms and porcini broth enriched with an egg yolk that's been cured in miso, or the rigatoni with duck ragù, deepened by the addition of bitter chocolate. Across the menu, exotic herbs, diced pickled vegetables and umami seasonings make the dishes sparkle.
Such out-of-the-ordinary food requires an out-of-the-ordinary wine list, which All'Onda's consultant, restaurant veteran Chris Cannon, has readily provided. He's studied it with sparklers, from biodynamic Prosecco to violet-scented Lambrusco, as well as a bottle-fermented Verdicchio Brut Riserva from Garifoli, and mined Italy's goldmine of obscure grape varieties for bottles with the dexterity to take on Jaeckle's complex dishes.
Ristorante Morini, 1167 Madison Ave. (btw. 85th & 86th Sts.),
At Ristorante Morini on the Upper East Side, the latest installment in Michael White's bourgeoning empire, the vibe is decidedly fancier and the food more classically Italian but it is also uncommonly delicious. Mare Nostrum, for example, combines baby octopus, calamari, shrimp and scallops with saline sea beans and briny olives in a delicate broth spiked with colatura and a discreet touch of pepperoncino. And White's rendition of carbonara finds a perfect balance between rusticity and refinement that would make even a hardened coal burner swoon (though they might wish the short housemade bucatini-like pasta was just a bit more al dente). And while beverage director Richard Anderson services the neighborhood with a list deep in Champagne and grand cru Burgundy, he's also stuffed it full with unusual gems, like pignoletto from Emilia-Romagna and Dettori's Ottomarzo, a plush red made from a rare Sardinian grape called pascale.
Marco's, 295 Flatbush Ave. (nr. Prospect Pl), Flatbush, Brooklyn, 718-230-0427, marcosbrooklyn.com
If it's something more relaxed and casual you're craving, you can't do much better than Marco's on Flatbush Avenue, opened by Francine Stephens and Andrew Feinberg, owners of the seminal Franny's pizzeria. In fact, this place is the original site of Franny's before it moved to larger quarters up the street. Where Franny's focuses primarily on pizza, Marco's is an all-around neighborhood trattoria offering simple, full-flavored dishes like buttery tagliatelle with Parma ham, preserved swordfish with romanesco cauliflower and all manner of dishes from the word-burning oven. To complement such hearty, straightforward food, Stephens put together an all-star list of lesser-known regional Italian wines, from Ermes Pavese's Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle from Valle d'Aosta in the north to Occhipinti's Frapatto from Sicily. It's an inspired take on what it means to be a neighborhood restaurant, and more proof that it's an exciting time to be drinking and eating Italian in New York City. █
This article first appeared in Wine & Spirits, April 2014.