Went there last night for my wife's birthday. We'd never been and I'd heard mixed reviews. Intentionally didnt search and read all the chowhound comments, since someone warned me that there were pages of them, mostly oldish & not all positive. At any rate, we had a GREAT dinner! This morning, I looked at the chowhound posts and figure that I have to weigh in on this. Prepare for a long posting.
We showed up for our Saturday 8pm res., made a couple of weeks ago without trouble. No push to hang out at the bar. No frenetic Saturday night disorganization, common in many places who try to overbook or squeeze in regulars or notables. They were efficient & friendly and we were taken to our table within a couple of minutes. However... we were seated at the only table for 2 in the front upstairs, at the window overlooking E58th St. (and its scenic construction crews at work). Two big parties around us. Very isolating. It would have been a disaster. We got up, went back downstairs and asked for a better table. No hesitation on their part, we were re-seated with apologies in the upstairs rear dining area, at an excellent table. We were both impressed and relieved. No attitude, just an intent to please. A great start.
The wine list is extensive and expensive. The sommolier was totally down to earth, spoke with clearly understood descriptive phrases and, although he recommended a $110 bottle at first (after hearing from us what we like), he didnt blink when I told him we wanted to keep it to under $70. The $60 bottle of Italian red he then recommended was excellent. He had shown us some that we were familiar with in our price range, but this was better, since we got to experience something new within our range and taste. He couldnt have been more interested and motivated. More points for service with content.
The spread and breadsticks were great, the breads that came around even better. A hearty Italian bread to my wife, a slice of walnut bread and a dried tomato foccaccia for me (I took two different breads, since I'd noticed that he wouldnt be back for seconds).
A chowhound reviewer panned the ravioli a couple of years ago, claiming no taste of pear. My wife ordered it (half order as an appetizer) & will remember it forever. Had to be the best ravioli ever, with a hint of the pear changing it from a simple dish to ambrosia. My taste of her dish confirmed, for me at least, her appraisal. My "duck, duck, goose" trio (duck foie gras, duck carpaccio and goose terrine) was very good as well. Each was well prepared, flavorful, well textured and generously portioned. We were happy.
Entrees were a lamb dish for my wife which she loved and a veal dish for me which I could go on about for a page or so (but wont). Suffice it to say that what looked like two simple thick fillets of veal with spinach on top, revealed that someone understands how to use quality ingredients (the veal was thick, juicy and flavorful in its own right) in combination so as to not overwhelm the main aspect (the veal itself) but to add flavors and tastes that accent it and make it unique. Maybe not everyone still thinks of entrees as the crux of a meal, but I do. I'll never guess exactly what went in there (hints of cheese) as I didnt really read the details in the menu, but this was a winner!
For dessert, the chocolate platter for 2. Not an overwhelming amount of chocolate (this is a good thing in my book) but 4 different desserts with chocolate as a main ingredient. It was great and we shared one (generously poured) glass of "coffee tequila" & 2 espressos (done right).
Okay, so the check was $260 (with a large tip). It was over 2 hours of good food, ambience and attentiveness that we thoroughly enjoyed. We knew the price range going in &, in my opinion, it's one of the places in NYC worth it. There was no downside for us.
Anyone else been there recently?