Jovia, given up for dead by some observers after the departure of ace chef Josh DeChellis last year, is showing strong signs of life. Recent visitors report assured, inventive Italian-leaning food from DeChellis’s successor, Eben Copple. “Our meal was nothing short of magical,” raves Peter Wells.

Their dinner positively killed. The first hint of deliciousness: an awesome new soup—a creamy yet not heavy celery root purée with mussels, anchored by an ale base, deepened by a swirl of balsamic, and lifted and refreshed by mint.

Two heavenly pastas followed: house-made pappardelle with black olives and mushrooms, and bucatini all’amatriciana in a rich, meaty, truffle-scented sauce of braised veal cheek. Then, two near-perfect secondi: short rib perfectly braised in red wine sauce, served over luxurious polenta, and tender, chill-banishing venison in blazing crimson beet sauce, served over root vegetables and broccoli rabe.

Before dessert, a revelatory palate cleanser: house-made quince paste under a scoop of tangerine gelato and a crush of pistachios, with an unexpected but welcome herbal note from parsley. Finally: light, refreshing torta di limon, accented with fried sage, candied lemon wheels, and sugared walnuts. And a masterpiece in chocolate, budino di cioccolata, with a deep smoky note from Lagavulin scotch. “Stupid delicious,” Peter sighs.

Service was cheerful and warm, even for a couple of walk-ins seated in the bar area, and this fabulous dinner for two totaled just $143—little more than half the bill for a recent splurge at Brooklyn’s River Cafe, and 10 times the experience, adds Peter.

Jovia [Upper East Side]
135 E. 62nd Street (between Park and Lexington avenues), Manhattan

Board Links: Burke and Wells Return: Double Review, River Cafe (Brooklyn), Jovia

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