Oh, that garlic and truffle soup. So delicious, rich, creamy, garlicy (which I don't usually love), mushroomy, and enough for three people. Maybe the best soup I've ever had. DC's fontina fondue wasn't in the same league, but was still very good. He said the steak could have been more tender and flavorful, but with the cheese, who cares? The mushrooms were excellent even without the cheese. It's too bad the bread wasn't great, but again, with the cheese....
For entrees, I had the spring pea risotto, which was somewhat disappointing. The peas were fresh and good, the creaminess and rice bite were nice, but the flavor was off; I guess it was bland. I asked for some shaved parmesan, which the waiter brought right over, but it didn't help. On the other hand, my DC's gnocchi with short ribs were terrific, as advertised here. I had to try the gnocchi (even though they were contaminated by the meat). My DC remembered my quest for pillowy gnocchi and said, "these make me think of pillows," so I broke the vegetarian code on a technicality, and they were the best I've had. After all the dense, gummy ones I've had at Taranta, La Campania and other joints that should know better, these light, spongy pillows were the Holy Gnocchi Grail. (I do love the ones at Sel de la Terre, but theirs are seared, which gives an unfair advantage. I've also preferred the sauces at SDLT, but for the gnocchi itself, you can't beat Grotto.)
For dessert, I had the chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream, which was unoriginal, but perfect. The center was warm and gooey, and there were equal parts cake and ice cream--hooray!--instead of ice cream disguised as a melon ball that usually comes with dessert. DC's strawberry shortcake was disappointing. The biscuit was soft and fresh and boring, and the too few berries could have been riper. Compared to the the version we had recently at Eastern Standard, it paled.
My raspberry bellini was light and refreshing, with a glob of raspberry puree at the bottom of the glass, and the peach bellini was even better. DC's coffee was good and strong.
We had two cordial servers, and they didn't miss a beat. The room is smaller and louder than I'd anticipated, but I liked the cozy, bohemian feel. DC said it felt like a restaurant you'd find in Manhattan. Parking was a breeze; we got a spot right across the street.
I look forward to going back in colder weather. I think the rich food and cozy atmosphere would work even better then.