My husand and I had a mixed dining experience at this UES Italian restaurant yesterday (Wonki - have you been there - on east 83rd off 2nd?). We had eaten there years ago and I remember loving it although all I recall eating then was wonderful lobster-stuffed pasta. Last night, I had another outstanding stuffed pasta dish for an appetizer (unfortunately, I didn't pay attention to the waiter's description but I suspect you can't go wrong with the stuffed pasta at Erminia's).
My glass of red table wine was just right, dry with body (there was only one choice for red and one for white in glasses of wine).
My husband had a veal pasta dish with capers in a red sauce for an appetizer which was alright. For entree he ordered the chicken special--breaded with, I think, balsamic vinegar and salad on top. He described it as basic and good--I thought it was quite tasty.
My two appetizers in lieu of an entree were calamari grilled over mesquite with a sage sauce that was like a pesto (just the right consistency and interesting with the sauce), and a house salad with vinegar and oil house dressing (I like salty and this seemed neither under or over).
For dessert we shared a lemon tart which was acceptable. I asked for coffee but Erminia's only offers expresso or cappucino; the decaff cappucino was fine.
Service was excellent, the atmosphere was warm and despite being small (around ten tables), we never felt the slightest bit crowded. In addition, the acoustics must be terrific since we were never gave a thought to sound level.
My only real quibbles were bread and water. The bread basket was a mix of garlicky (not too much, not too little) flat bread plus 4 pieces of Italian bread, 2 of which were hard (i.e., stale) to the touch. When we requested a change of bread, however, no questions were asked and a new basket of fresh bread appeared quickly.
Our glasses of water (which we requested), however, were so bad that despite my dislike of soft drinks, I ended up taking sips of my husband's coca cola throughout the meal. WHY do some restaurants serve drinking water that tastes terrible? My husband's theory was the ice might be stale and based on that theory, I requested a glass of water without ice. While iceless water tasted less soapy, it was still not good. If I can get better water from my faucet at home, why can't restaurants? I don't believe it is simply a ploy to get customers to order more expensive bottled water. Is it possible that some restuarants just do not know how to "do" good water?