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Della Rovere Report (a bit long)

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Della Rovere Report (a bit long)

Deenso | Apr 13, 2005 10:33 AM

Three of us had dinner at Della Rovere (250 W. B’way) last evening. The menu’s posted on menupages.com, so take a look – there are some really intriguing things on it. We had a terrific meal. The place has quite a European feel to it, with yellowed walls, very high ceilings and expansive windows looking out onto a vest-pocket park at the corner of Beach Street and W. B’way. Above the bar, there’s a mezzanine lined with wine storage, as well as a small table that looked like it would seat two – maybe four. My only décor complaint was that the banquette seats are extremely deep – so deep that those sitting there had to lean forward at the table with no back support at all. They could use some bolsters or something. But it’s a small issue…

The kitchen is open to the dining room and it’s surprisingly quiet. It was fun to watch the chefs working back there and check out what we should order next time we go. Tops on that list will be the bistecca alla fiorentina with grilled baby leeks. It looked spectacular. They serve it for one or for two.

Service was friendly and efficient. We never had to look for anyone to refill our water glasses or pour our wine (Fontodi Chianti Classico). Even the busboys seemed earnest and anxious to please.

Small rolls, shaped like mini-torpedoes (semolina, I think), were accompanied by a dish of grated parmesan, crushed red peppers, maybe a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a generous pour of olive oil. With the crushed peppers, the dip was a little too spicy for me, but my husband and our guest had no problem with it.

Appetizers: seared scallops with cannelini beans and applewood smoked bacon; a salumi plate; yellowtail with endive, orange and mint vinaigrette. The appetizer portion of scallops was, honestly, enough for a main course: three enormous scallops, beautifully browned on the outside, just cooked through on the inside, over a bed of lovely beans. Even my husband, who really doesn’t love scallops, was enthusiastic about this dish. The salumi plate was not too much, but still enough for us to share: mortadella, speck, fennel sausage, dried beef, salami, prosciutto. The mortadella was the clear winner, but all were very tasty. I didn’t taste the yellowtail, but my husband extremely happy with it.

Main courses: two orders of roasted cod with toasted bread salad and black olive oil; sautéed duck breast with pancetta-wrapped leg rillette and a butternut squash raisin crostada. I tasted the cod and it was lovely, but I was much too involved with my duck. It was served medium (pink, not red) with a lightly crisped skin, with not too much fat between it and the flesh. Excellent. The stuffing inside the crostada, which was like a fried beggar’s purse, was a little too sweet for my taste, but the little cigar-shaped pancetta-wrapped rillette was the absolute best thing on the plate. We also ordered a side dish of Tuscan-style fingerling potatoes with aioli. Wow. Perfectly seasoned and roasted little potato coins, ready to tip into a rich, garlicky mayonnaise. That’s definitely on our must-order list when we return – and return we will, for that steak Florentine.

We opted for a cheese platter instead of dessert and ordered 3 more glasses of wine, since we’d finished our bottle. I can’t name the cheeses, but it was all good. The waiter asked if we wanted her to select for us, which we did. There was plenty on the assortment for all three of us; we even left some. She brought a couple of tiny “delices” to go with the coffee – a couple of different biscotti, a sugar cookie, a miniature chocolate something-or-other.

We sat down at 8:30 and left two hours later, feeling full but not stuffed (which is a nice way to feel) and with a little chianti-induced glow. Dinner and wine for three of us averaged out to just under $100 per person, pre-tip, so it’s not for the budget-minded. All in all, it was a lovely meal and I’ll be looking forward to our return.

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