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Manhattan

Sfoglia Review (v. long)

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Sfoglia Review (v. long)

MMRuth | Apr 5, 2006 01:44 PM

On Toot’s suggestion, and after walking by with the dog and reviewing the menu, my husband and I decided to meet our friend for dinner at Sfoglia at 7pm. It’s on the NW corner of Lex & 92nd. Because they don’t have a liquor license yet, we went up to K&D and bought two Italian wines from their “bargain bin” (“remnants”) – a Barolo and a Chianti Classico.

My husband and I arrived at 7 pm and were led to our table, which was along the banquet that stretches the entire right side of the restaurant. The host asked if he could take our coats. I wanted to keep my jacket because I didn’t have a handbag and it had my phone, money, cards, etc. in it, but he politely insisted, saying that he didn’t like the way the room looks with jackets hanging on chairs – which I have to agree with, and I gave him my jacket. The room is lovely – the tables are large, and look like the kitchen table in a farm house. Interesting flower arrangements – our table had a vase with Italian parsley and a rose, another table had two parrot tulips, a third a tin vase with cioppolini onions. (The flowers were later removed from the table when they started to get in the way of the food.) We saw our friend arrive with another friend on his way home, and invited him to join us for a glass of wine. An extra chair was quickly brought over, our wined opened and very piccante (and delicious) cured olives arrived.

The host soon came by to ask if we wanted some cheese while we were chatting, we said yes, and a plate of cheese and a plate of salumeri arrived soon after some bread. About halfway through our consumption of these, our waitress came by to tell us what was on the plates – gorgonzola, taleggio & a hard cheese, served with home made fig jam and wine crackers and bresaola, mortadella with pistachios and a sobresatta. All were excellent and the bread was some of the best I’ve ever had. Crispy on the outside, with a hint of salt and olive oil on the crust, with a chewy but light inside.

After our friend went home (and we had finished the first bottle of wine), our waitress brought over the dinner menus and said that when we were ready, she had a couple of specials to tell us about. We ordered: spaghetti carbonara, paparadelle with a ragu Bolognese and a salad, and then monkfish (the fish of the day), otara (a white fish) baked in a sea salt crust and the pork chop. Carbonara was pronounced by my husband as the best he’d ever had, paparadelle was tender and tasty and the salad looked nice. Main courses also excellent, as was the side of Jerusalem artichokes that I ordered. Only issue here was that the main courses were brought out, and then my fish was taken away to be filleted, which took an inordinate amount of time – I insisted that the others start, but being gentlemen they were reluctant to do so until I insisted for the third time.

By the time we had finished (I couldn’t finish my fish, which was served with olive oil and salt), we decided to pass on dessert. Didn’t see the dessert menu, but the lunch menu offered chocolate, espresso and hazelnut semi-freddo, a plate of home made cookies and gelati – maybe something else but I don’t remember. Our friend had a beautiful macchiato – nice and short. The check was $153 before tax, which included an $8 corkage fee (they only charged us one) and two bottles of sparkling water.

One gripe - which I left to the end so as not to taint the review – our $60 bottles of wine were served in small glasses the shape of a plain water glass – not a stemmed glass. I didn’t ask if they had wine glasses as I didn’t feel like making a fuss, but plan to call and suggest (after saying what a wonderful meal and evening we had) that they offer “real” wine glasses. The ones they use may fit in with their theme/ambiance, but when I’m drinking a decent wine, I think the wines benefit from wine glasses. (The same may be said for lesser wines, but that’s getting off topic.)

Also – the service was attentive and professional but a little stilted. When I went to pour myself a glass of wine (having given my glass away while awaiting the fourth glass for our “surprise” guest), the waitress, who was pouring water said no, please let me, it is my pleasure to serve you. I know that sounds nice, but the delivery was such that when I later went to pour myself another glass, I made sure her back was turned! I’m sure this will get smoothed out – it was just a little awkward at times.

So, those two minor points aside – it was a wonderful meal and I can’t wait to go back. We were so pleased about Café d’Alsace opening in the neighborhood, and enjoyed our meal there, but will now be returning here much more quickly that Café d’Alsace.

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