last night at Alias...
wow, a fantastic meal! the new chef is formerly of Washington Park, and having read many bad posts I was a bit cautious about revisiting this past favorite of ours... but man was the kitchen on! everything we had was wonderful, so fresh and rich in interesting and intricate flavors.
red and yellow beets with generous dollops of DiPalo ricotta and decadent garlic croutons, big chunks of bosc pear mixed with balsamic roasted onions topped with a slice of grilled blue cheese bruschetta, a beautiful piece of Nova Scotia salmon on top of tasty grilled chard and veggies. the big hits of the eve were the braised short ribs (a fave dish of mine, best I've had this year) so tender and rich with hints of garlic, citrus, and other interesting flavors and these awesome little blue corn dumplings that gave the dish an unusual and rustic edge, AND the butter tart desert, such a heavenly buttery flavor. Every dish had a base of deep flavors.
The chef uses lots of fresh and seasonal ingredients, and the menu is tweaked daily (with broader focus changing weekly) - so what you see on menupage.com may not be available. But living nearby, this is very exciting to me - can't wait to go back next week and see what's new! (also - if you've been in the past - dishes have all changed, and do not have the eclectic ethnic focus as before) Great wine selection and service too.
Monday at Apizz...
ok, I live around the corner and love this place so this breaks my heart... the food was "eh", not very tasty. Started with spinach salad with white beans, pistachio nuts and lemon honey dressing - very bland, honey in dressing over-powered all flavors. Margherita pizza - I used to like their version (I like thin crust) - still has nice subtle smoky flavor (and they use fresh buffalo moz) but the crust was too thick, not crisp - just so-so overall (we left 2 pieces unfinished). I had a combo entree of their wild boar lasagna and meatball - both have gone downhill IMO, both were a bit tough and they just didn't taste fresh.
Saving graces: My friends baked striped bass was very good. The complimentary sauce, ricotta and bread that is served before the meal is wonderful (bread, sauce and ricotta were all excellent!) and the room is one of the best designed intimate rooms in NYC. The oven is huge and beautiful, and casts a warm glow across the room, the space is a small, old-LES building and they did an amazing job exposing the old brick and wood rafters. Even though I think the food has slipped it's still such a pleasure to dine in this warm and elegant room (especially this time of year) and I did not have my usual favorite (oven roasted mussels) so I'll be back. Ditto on the lovely wine list and service.
and one last note - they offer just about all their meat and pasta dishes in half orders. I really like that they do this - good for trying a bunch of stuff or if you can't make up your mind (and they're exactly half the price of the full entree.)