disclaimer: i don't pretend to know that much about food and cannot use andrea-strong-like verbiage, so what follows is a common man's recollection.
i excitedly found the del posto number monday in new york magazine and figured that perhaps they'd start accepting reservations that morning at 10am (as per babbo). calling at 10 on the dot, i was right and made reservations for last night at 10pm (they were only accepting reservations for this week with seating times 5:30 and 10).
my friend and i, fearing possibly transit issues (thanks TWU!) that never materialized, arrived about 45 minutes early and were greeted by a VERY friendly hostess. i know some people have mentioned the "ice princess" who had guarded the door before; well, she seems to have been replaced by a much more angelic figure (i certainly got a warmer reception here than any of the times i've been to babbo). my friend and i had a glass of wine at the bar and then, surprise surprise, were actually seated early (nice that they didn't play the we-can-only-seat-you-at-your-time-or-30-minutes-later game).
my first impression of the space is that it's enormous and expansive. the tables in the dining area are very spaced out; one doesn't feel cramped in any way here. while the restaurant was full, it didn't seem like it, which i guess can be good and bad in different ways (i still think one could have an intimate dinner here).
they brought out the menus, and we were EXCITED. i wanted to replicate some of my best babbo-like experiences (which revolved around the pasta tasting menu, the lamb, and the sweetbreads), so we attempted to do just that, ordering the veal sweetbread appetizer, the 3-course pasta tasting, the lobster risotto for 2, and the lamb 3 ways (the waiter warned us that this would be an exceptional amount of food, but i told him i came to eat... and he saw the burning desire in my eyes and obliged). on the sommelier's recommendation (i know less-than-nothing about wine), we ordered a bottle of firriato, and while i'm not sure if the price ($85) ripped my face off, it was a terrific choice.
we started with some amuse that i really can't describe and don't want to b/c, well, it was pretty bad and very forgettable... definitely the lowlight of the meal. we both agreed: "vapid."
they then brought out the veal sweetbreads, which were very tender and bathed in some sauce containing golden raisins (a great contrast to the sweetbreads). this was a great start. next, onto the pasta... first was a spaghetti with crabs, scallions, and jalapeno. it was very hot, very good, with only a couple small pieces of crab (but this was a "tasting"). it's such an interesting dish that i only wish they used a more exciting pasta (orecchiette perhaps?). next was the gnocchi with passato and pesto. you get about 8 little gnocchi, half coated with passato (a somewhat sweet marinara sauce), half with pesto (i liked these more). also good, but not a standout. then, we have the ravioli di brasato with brown butter and thyme. absolutely delicious, somewhat reminding me of a lighter beef cheek ravioli. we used some of our bread to sop up the butter, which was terrific.
next came the lobster risotto for 2, served in very generous portions with a good spattering of lobster. i thought the risotto was cooked pefectly, but my friend thought it was a little too al dente. i liked it a lot and would've loved to have tried the other versions (particularly the pumpkin risotto). then we had the lamb 3 ways, and b/c i know very little about food and the waiter did not explain any of the dishes (a problem throughout the night, one of the few), i'm not sure what those 3 ways were. i think there was the lamb chop (standard), then some braised lamb (terrific), and then lamb in some crunchy balls (my favorite).
next, it was dessert time, and our waiter was shocked when we ordered 3 desserts (i think he then got the picture that we had come to eat). we ordered the gianduia (chocolate-hazelnut, caramelized pears, creme schlag), the crostata di ciocolato (chocolate tart, orange buttermilk gelato, cardamon spuma), and the apricot cassata di gelato (almond cake, brown sugar meringue, apricot-moscato brodo). now, i'm a chocolate fiend and was responsible for the first two, which were good but not exceptional. my friend chose the almond cake, and thank god she did. it was incredible and a great combination of flavors (the almond cake and the brown sugar meringue dominate the dish).
when dessert was over, we were treated to a nice sampling of macaroons, gelees, etc, a nice end to an otherwise very good meal.
in the past 2 months, i've been to babbo, l'impero, and alto, and i thought all of them were excellent. i had very high expectations for del posto, and from a food and service perspective, they were definitely met (i was particularly worried about the service since this was the first night they were open to the public, but other than the lack of explanation of our dishes, i had no complaints). i liked del posto more than alto and l'impero (sorry, scott conant), and slightly less than babbo (the pasta tasting at babbo is, in my mind, one of the best meal values in the city). when i return, i'd probably get two of the 3-course pasta tastings (6 pastas) and an order of risotto to really make an apples-to-apples comparison. in my most humble of opinions, i think it probably has a 3-star rating in its future.
oh, and post-meal, i asked the waiter for a copy of the menu (so that i could better remember the dishes), and he actually gave me one that i was able to take home. is one able to post the menu on chowhound? is that bad form or plagiarism? would anyone actually like to see it? let me know, and i can type it up later.
anyway, sorry for this being so long. i had a great dinner, and after reading this board for months and others sharing their experiences (which has helped me immensely), i thought i might be able to contribute in a similar way. enjoy.
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