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Manhattan Italian

English is Italian

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English is Italian

Etcetera | Apr 24, 2005 12:29 PM

We went to English is Italian for dinner on Friday evening. I (adventurous foodie) thought it was good, but not great. My wife (not so adventurous) thought it was just ok.

The idea is kind of nice. Priced-fixed meal, as much as you can, or want to, eat with the possibility of a few upgrades. $39 each for antipasti, pasta and meat courses.

The antipasti course is delivered first. A wide selection of stuff:
Deli meats including prosciutto, mortadella, sopressata, etc...; Two kinds of fritter (salt cod and polenta; three kinds of "dips" (chicken livers, sweet pea puree, green onion salad; cured salmon; An egg dish (egg sunnyside-up with asparagus and mushroom). While we were eating these, the waiter returned with an array of stuff: artichoke casserole, string beans in gorgonzola sauce, eggplant caponata (the best thing on the table), and one other that I can't recall (obviously not memorable).

We sprung the extra $15 for the "made at your table" buffala mozzarella. It was not much of a show, but the cheese was fresh and warm, plated with very fresh tomato, basil and vinaigrette. I am not sure that it was worth it in the shadow of the very big antipasti course.

Next came the pastas. Sweet pea ravioli, tagliatelle bolognese (which had a heavy indian influence of curry/cumin that did not fit in with the meal), papardelle stuffed with artichoke (that was not completely dechoked, resulting in my choking a bit). These were all fair, but there were two pasta offerings that were very good: The shells with fontina cheese and the creamy mushroom risotto. Both of these were simple and nicely prepared.

The meats included one fish, one chicken and one beef.
The fish was sea bass in a cucumber puree, chicken was cacciatore with a risotto style pasta. The beef was brisket with braised greens. These were all good, but not great.

My opinion about this place is that it is more about variety than about quality. It was nice that many ingredients were fresh and seasonal. For a non-adventurous eater (read: my wife) it was a bit much. There was little that she actually enjoyed (the eggplant and the pasta with fontina were here faves). For the more adventurous eater (that's me), it was fun to have such a wide selection of foods, but there was nothing really out of the ordinary, nor was there anything that was truly spectacular.

I would go back if I had a group of friends/family that wanted to go out for a fun meal. I would not go back for a regular dinner.

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