Let me start by saying I was very reluctant to go to Del Posto - My favorite restaurants tend to be smaller, more intimate spots such as AOC Bedford, Dell'Anima, Apizz, etc.). Del Posto's grand size and close proximity to Meatpacking was an immediate turn-off. However, I was told by many friends that despite all that, Del Posto was worth the trip - that the food and service were exceptional...
I should have gone with my gut.
Let's start with the service: I had an 8:30pm reservation and was not seated until 9pm. Only after I complained 5 times and asked to speak to the manager did I get an apology. The maitre'd fed me one excuse after another and the manager did nothing to help the situation. It was only after 20 minutes that they sent someone over to offer us a tasting from the kitchen - but unfortunately it was a completely unappetizing fried rice ball. Once we sat down the service improved...
Atmosphere - this didn't surprise me at all, but still...the only way to describe it is that it feels like you're in a hotel lobby somewhere in the midwest. And the servers present the menu to you as if you are at a theme restaurant.
Food - I really wanted to love it. I am usually a big fan of Mario Batali - Lupa and Otto are 2 favorites. But nothing I ate was exceptional, or even mildly satisfying. Here's a rundown...
-Amuse Bouche: shot of soup - tasted like watery milk; artichoke chips - ok, not very tasty; fried potato dumplings w/tomato paste - I'll give them a point for this one, but again, nothing special.
-Roasted Winter Vegetables w/truffled hazelnuts: this was actually a good dish - fresh, crisp vegetables and I love the taste of truffles.
-Cauliflower Sformato w/poached lobster: the lobster was cooked well but the cauliflower custard had little flavor
-Rare Tuna w/Bresaola: Loaded w/salt and that was all I could taste. It overpowered everything else on the plate.
-Lamb Chops: tender and juicy but lacking any flavor. The accompanying tomato paste would have been great, but once again they used too much salt
- Dessert: this was on the house - they brought out sorbet/gelato sampler, semifreddo, lemon tart, and panna cotta - all were just ok, none stood out.
The plate of tiny cookies they brought out at the very end was the best part of the entire meal.