Last Saturday, a friend of mine was visiting from out of town and took me out on the account of her client. She asked me what restaurant in my neighborhood (East Village) I was intrigued with but had never gone to because it was too expensive. I suggested this restaurant on 9th St. near Av. A. We arrived around 9:40 P.M. or so and were given glasses of a solidly good, refreshing Chianti with a nice aftertaste that would have been a good vino da tavola in Siena while we waited for a table (I think we waited for about 30 minutes). We liked the wine and ordered an additional glass apiece with dinner.
Very good fresh, tasty bread of Tuscan peasant variety (thick crusts) was brought for us. For our food, we started by sharing a very good thin-sliced carrot and celery root salad which as I remember had parsley in it and a vinegar dressing without tastable oil as an appetizer (not a contorno, interestingly enough). It's hard to explain just how pleasant a well-made salad can be. We followed that by getting a kale soup thickened with polenta, which was a very good Tuscan soup - the kale was cooked but still somewhat crunchy, and the soup was flavorful, healthful-tasting, and somewhat peppery IIRC. Neither of us was hungry enough to have both a primo and a secondo, so my friend got only a primo - a tasty penne with ground sausage in a light cream sauce - and I got cinghiale (wild boar) which was broiled medium rare over a cherry-wood fire and accompanied by polenta and more kale in a red wine sauce. Both main dishes were delicious. We were too full to have any of the tempting desserts but, instead, got moscadello wine. It was Susan's first time trying muscat wine, and for those of you who haven't, unless you hate the whole concept of a naturally sweet and perfumy wine from sweet, perfumy grapes, you owe it to yourself to try it. This Italian moscadello was quite good, though not the best I've had. At its best, muscat wine is truly nectar of the gods.
The service was consistently helpful on that crowded night. The room is very pleasant, with brick face, and Tuscan pottery hung up to make the place seem like a rustic trattoria.
Also, as I am trying to reduce my sodium intake for health reasons, I asked for a reduction of salt and was somewhat successful (e.g. the salt was perceptible in the soup, but subtle, and not tastable in anything else IIRC).
My verdict: If you don't mind spending the c. $40 apiece I guess dinner cost my friend's client, go. It is a serious Tuscan restaurant, their ingredients are excellent, their preparation is knowledgeable, and the ambiance was pleasant. But get reservations if you don't want to wait awhile for your table.
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