Friday, February 3, 2012

Ristorante Aglio

                 Have you ever noticed that sometimes the most hidden, tiny and unassuming restaurants are the ones that turn out dinners better than the more recognizable places? Maybe it’s the tight kitchen where things just work in sync or the chef’s ability to focus on only a select number of plates. Nevertheless, what goes from burner to table is simply great food that most are not expecting. This was the case of dinner at Ristorante Aglio, located in a small brick-walled space along busy Church Street in the Tribeca section of NYC .The establishment recently held and hosted a blogger dinner where I was cordially invited to sample several dishes and drinks. Some stood out, others just stood, however the ambiance, service and attention to detail made this a place to remember. Let’s begin...
            Upon arriving, my husband and I were quickly escorted to our table where menus were presented to us. Water, either tap or sparkling, was offered while we admired the atmosphere and examined the menu options. Olive oil and choice of Focaccia-like or olive bread was the first item to enjoy. And here lies pure enjoyment, the focaccia-like bread was seasoned with rosemary and rich in olive oil flavor. Although a simple item to admire, when done well, it can make any dinner start off beautifully and set the mood for the courses to come. As for beverages, we each tried one of their signature cocktails: Basilico Fizz & Sylvia, The Monnalisa. The ladder was the winner here as it exemplified a well-thought out combination of ingredients- vodka, fresh organic mint, cucumber, ginger, ginger ale and agave. Excellently presented and skillfully mixed.

Sylvia, The Monnalisa
            As for appetizers, we ordered the Carpaccio Di Manzo (Beef Carpaccio with Truffle Sauce) and the Polpo E Patate Alla Griglia (Grilled Octopus & Potato.) Each had aspects to admire: the beef was incredibly tender and silky while the grilled octopus was tender, charred and drizzled with just enough fresh lemon. Conversely, the truffle sauce was a tad bit oily and the potatoes seemed to disjoint the seafood dish.

Grilled Octopus & Potato

Beef Carpaccio with Truffle Sauce
            Dinner soon followed and we were intrigued to begin. The Linguini All’ Aragosta (linguini with lobster in a tomato sauce) and the Agnello Alla Griglia (grilled Colorado lamp chops) were what we had ordered and each arrived to the table steaming with both flavor and seasonings. Although more lobster would have been nice, the tomato sauce was straightforward and simple enough to let the shellfish shine. Pasta was cooked to a perfect al-dente which, when forked with the tender meat, made for a great balance of textures. The lamb, although not as eye-catching, was exceedingly tender and juicy. Again though, the amount of protein presented was sub-par. Sides ordered a la carte included a bowl of rosemary roasted potatoes and deliciously addictive crispy fried cauliflower florets.

Grilled Colorado Lamb Chops

             To finish the meal, we selected 2 desserts to share. My husband chose the Catalana- creamy vanilla custard with a bruleed sugar crust and pistachio biscotti and I went with the Affogato-a scoop of house-made vanilla gelato drowned in a shot of espresso. Both sweets were admirable; however the Catalana had the most to admire. The bruleed crust was just perfect: crispy and crackly. Not to mention, the custard that lied beneath was beyond creamy. What we enjoyed the most was cracking the crust with the biscotti and dipping the cookie into the velvety bath. Attention to detail was obvious with the gelato dish due to the fact that the espresso was presented with the frozen treat, not already on and melting, the dessert. Genius!


            From almost walking right by this place to enjoying several courses, our evening was spent very well.  Although a few tweaks could be made, the seeds of greatness are there and with time, practice, and patrons, Ristorante Aglio will definitely be one to rely one.

            Ristorante Aglio is located at 277 Church St., New York, NY and is managed by the Plan-Do-See Corp., who also runs the Greenwich Grill and the Michelin-Rated Sushi Azabu, both in Manhattan.

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