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Manhattan

Falai, surprisingly good experience

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Falai, surprisingly good experience

Peter | Aug 26, 2005 08:34 PM

We went to Falai on Clinton St. last night and were pleasantly surprised by the food and the service. First, I should say that we were expecting a somewhat typical mid-to upper end Italian restaurant, something on the order of Bar Pitti or Gennaro, i.e., good food but a neighborhood vibe.

The decor was a fantasy of white brick walls and crystals hanging over the bar/exposed kitchen. There was a patio out back that was packed even at 10 p.m. on Thursday. We had no problem getting a table for 2.

Of course, the food. For apps, we had grilled octopus with caramelized olives and baby potato slices, and snow peas with a ricotta tortino (sort of a ricotta flan). Plus an amuse bouche, and a basket of fresh breads, including raisin/rosemary and celery rolls.

We had wines by the glas ($9/10), me a viognier at the sommelier's suggestion, my wife a dolcetto. For entrees, she had a buckwheat pasta special with cockles and sea urchin foam, altho we couldnt really discern the urchin. I had tortelli stuffed with apple compote and goat cheese.

Desserts were millefoglio with milk gelato and orange essence cream for me, and a rum baba for my wife, plus petit fours and a glass of dessert wine.

All told, the bill was $92, which I thought was a screaming bargain. However, wine by the bottle was a bit expensive, with only 4 or 5 under $45. And we didn't have meat or fish entrees, which were about $22-24. But for what we paid, it's rare to get a sommelier, fresh bread service, amuse bouche and petits-fours. We've had plenty of indifferent meals that cost much more.

The service was perfect, solicitous but not cloying, and the waiter seemed enthusiastic about the food.

Can't wait to go back in the fall or winter when I expect the menu will change.

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