Got there at 5:30 and was lucky to only have 9 people ahead of me and a few reserved for later times, allowing for me to get the first 6pm table. Well, counter next to the door but at least I got in.
Overall, I didn't find the food to be all that special, with the exception of the mozzarella and the goat cheese gnocchi with cauliflower. The mozzarella was really outstanding. Large pillow sitting in a pool of delicious olive oil. Combined with the garlic bread it was heaven in my mouth. The goat cheese gnocchi were delicious also. However, you got 6. 6 gnocchi. I could have eaten 16 and it could have used a little more cauliflower and sauce. I felt like the portions were elf sized. Two of the "antipasti" were more like amuse bouches and had no place in the meal. The radishes were literally 4 shavings of radish with some butter. The radish dish was puzzling because it did not resemble anything Italian. And the mackerel was a thimble of fish with some eggplant. Neither were special. The last antipasti was a veal "shank" with bean salad and bone marrow. This was a small strip of braised veal shank which was tasty. You can't go wrong with bone marrow and the salad was refreshing but again nothing to go nuts over.
When ordering the waiter said the duck was cooked medium. I specified to him I'd like it cooked extra rare if possible and he said it wouldn't be an issue at all. Naturally, My duck was an overcooked 2 ounce slab, which was sent back. When the replacement came out it was still overcooked and quite tough (even after I saw them bring the dish to show the chef behind the counter for his approval which he OKd before serving me the new plate). At that point I just ate it and cut my losses there. If there is anything I hate it is when a restaurant cannot cook meat to temperature you specify. My biggest pet peeve, especially since this is something that a decent home cook can master quite easy. I can let certain things go but that is not one. And then when the new plate comes back looking pretty much exactly the same as the original flop that is unacceptable. Fool me once shame on me, fool me twice shame on you.
Dessert were more like mignardises. I have gotten more petit fours at places like EMP, Gotham, Daniel, etc. after I have had 10 course feasts. Here they give you 4 different little pastries including a seven layer, mini cannoli, butternut squash carrot cake, and chocolate celery cake. Good for a little sweet treat but again nothing incredible.
Service was extremely friendly throughout, if a little absentee. It certainly is not the most comfortable dining environment which I came in expecting. They sat me at the counter right next to the door and I felt like I was intruding on the table next to me for the 2 hours I was there. I didn't feel like staring at the window the whole time so I turned my body to face the dining room at times and felt awkward because the guy at the next table was grilling me the whole time. Also, I am not sure if it was because I was alone or in the corner but it seemed like everyone was getting served before me. Every course that came out seemed to hit the other tables first, regardless of whether or not they were seated before me. Maybe this format works for some, but for me it didn't. I like having choices and obviously at Torrisi the only one you have is the main course (and only 2 at that). I kind of felt like I was at a family party or a wedding. You know, how everyone gets served the same food pretty much at the same time. Except I was at the kiddie table that gets everything last.
All said it came to over $65 with tip and I didn't leave full. Not to say I want to feel uncomfortably stuffed when I eat but I'd like to be satisfied. Still, I knew what I was getting myself into as far as the menu and I am glad I went on this night because I got to try the two dishes I wanted to. Glad to have the experience. But I think once was enough for me....for dinner at least. I think I would definitely come to try their sandwiches during lunch hours.
Torrisi Italian Specialties
250 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012