A while back, I posted on twitter asking if anyone would like to dine with me at a Michelin-starred restaurant since I was running out of friends to eat with me. Surprisingly, I got a positive responses and I made reservations at a couple of restaurants with people that follow me on twitter or read my blog. On Saturday, I met a reader, April, at A Voce for dinner:
The restaurant has a great view of Central Park (it’s directly below Per Se) and we had a wonderful table by the window (it was a strange layout because our backs were both facing the window so we couldn’t actually see anything unless we awkwardly turned around). To start, the server brought us foccacia bread with a housemade ricotta:
The foccacia was really bouncy and had a great texture but was kind of flavorless, even with the addition of the ricotta. The ricotta had chili flakes and fresh basil in it, but definitely didn’t have enough salt to bring the flavors together.
Our server explained the menu to us and we were both interested in a lot of things on the menu, so we kind of ordered a bit of everything. Before going to A Voce, I read a couple reviews raving about the calamari (grilled calamari, zucchini, mint, cured lemon, pilacca):
One gripe I have about restaurants is that they tend to oversalt everything; when they’re putting the dish together, it tastes like they salted everything separately and then salted the dish when it came together as well. The calamari sat on a bed of zucchini and was topped with some hot chili flakes – incredibly tender and delicious, but overly salty. April said that she is usually immune to salt, but definitely tasted bits of the calamari that were more salty than others.
For our second appetizer, we ordered stracciatella (creamy pugliese mozzarella, roasted artichokes, bresaola, and lemon thyme):
The mozzarella was pretty salty on its own but I didn’t mind because it was the only salty component to the dish (surprisingly, the bresaola was not salty at all). I asked April which appetizer she liked more and I think she liked the stracciatella more because of the roasted artichokes (which were so cute and small!) They added a crunchy texture to the otherwise really smooth dish.
For our main course, we decided to order two main dishes and a pasta…I was already starting to feel a little full from the first two appetizers and the bread, but I soldiered on. For our pasta course, we split the linguine (summer squash, almond basil pesto, and ricotta salata):
This was probably my favorite savory course of the night – wonderfully tender and buttery shreds of zucchini, al dente linguine, all covered with a healthy portion of almond basil pesto and ricotta salata. The one downside was that it was really salty and could’ve probably done without so much ricotta since that seemed to be the saltiest part, but I really enjoyed the dish. I was just talking with a friend about almond basil pesto the previous night and we were saying how it was a great alternative to the usual pine nuts.
For our main courses, we ordered the baccala (salt cod with fennel fronds, peppers, and radishes):
I was looking forward to the cod because it’s one of my favorite types of fish, but I thought the dish was really flavorless (and it wasn’t properly salted, go figure!)
We also shared the pollo alla mattone (fennel and chili marinated brick chicken, Tuscan greens, gigante white beans):
Considering the method of cooking the chicken under a brick is supposed to make it more moist, it was definitely on the dry side. Also, I thinkMarlow and Sons does the dish a little better.
By the time dessert rolled around, we were both really full, but we decided to share an order of their bomboloni alla Toscano:
And the kitchen also sent over nectarine prosecco sorbet and ricotta cherry gelato:
And me and April with our desserts:
The bomboloni were really amazing – they were filled with a vanilla custard and we dipped them in bittersweet chocolate and added a bit of ricotta cherry gelato to make a perfect bite of fried deliciousness.
Our meal was very enjoyable, but we both agreed that since there are so many great restaurants in New York, it wouldn’t be a place we’d go back to on a regular basis (although, their prices are very reasonable and it seems like a good place for larger parties). The restaurant was really packed and I felt as if there were too many tables overall; it reminded me of a suburbian Maggiano’s where the tables are way too close to each other. I’d return for their linguine and their bomboloni, but otherwise, the dishes weren’t fantastic. On the plus side, I had a great time with April and we’ve already made plans to get pizza soon!