After a rather awful day filled with problems, and the cancellation of several other plans for dinner, my companion and I went into NYC. I had made last-minute reservations at both Le Madri and Tuscan Square, and we wound up being very late for both. My intention was Tuscan Square, but it looked empty, i was not as impressed with the actual menu as the one on their web page, and we decided to head down to Le Madri instead.
Arrived at Le Madri without reservation (8:30 on a Thursday nite) and walked inside. It was like walking into a the home of a good friend, we were welcomed and treated extremely nicely by the Maitre'D. All of our day's concerns just dissappeared as we sank into the VERY comfortable chairs. The room is large, open, and airy, very comforting and relaxing.
Our waiter was extraordinarily friendly and extremely competent. The busboys and runners were even friendly and seemed to speak decent English when we asked for things. At one point in the meal, ANOTHER waiter came by to ask each table how they were doing, as well as several times the Maitre'D and of course our waiter came over to make sure everything was ok. All in all, excellent, fast, friendly and competent service, the kind it is often hard to find.
The food was outstanding, leaving us filled without that "stuffed" feeling, and no "teency" portions to be seen. a wonderful rosemary foccaccia type bread and a generic white, slightly sour loaf along with good olive oil were brought to the table first. they also have wonderful "grissini" bread sticks but you have to ask for them
(chicken livers with onion, sage, grilled bread)
The chicken livers with deep dark caramelized onions was wonderful, a very heavy appetizer but worth it, surrounded by a drizzle of real aged Balsamic vinegar, served on a chunk of grilled bread which soaked up the chicken liver and onion juices - perfect.
fried calamari and "small fishes" served in a paper cone, along with some zucchini slivers. excellent, soft calamari, and tender tiny fishes.. (anchovies? tiny sardines? really tiny smelts?)...everything was properly crisp outside and soft inside and well seasoned. they even serve the lemon with a "cover" made out of cheesecloth.. one of those little loving touches that does not go unnoticed by me...
next we split a mesclun type salad, which they were kind enough to split onto 2 dishes for us. Fresh crisp mesclun greens, with some sprouts mixed in. also mixed in were paperthin slices of red onion, but just enough to add a tiny flavor note to the mix. slivers of radish, and grape tomato on the side. the salad was perfectly seasoned and dressed, and also had tiny snippets of fresh chive, and leaves of fresh parsley. i LOVE fresh parsley in a salad (at home i will often make a soft lettuce like boston or bibb,and mix it with parsley in a simple vinaigrette). this also helps to clear the palate between courses.
I had the risotto (which i have been craving) - a perfectly prepared version with slivers of asparagus mixed in, topped with two absolutely succulent seared sea scallops (Diver scallops, and you can tell the difference in how wonderful). also hidden in the risotto for a wonderful burst of fresh flavor were tiny tiny bits of lemon zest. perfectly seaseoned, "toothsome" and divine.wonderful!!!
My companion had the Bucatini, (hollow spaghetti) with lobster meat, served in a tomato, olive-oil, parsley and chili pepper "sauce"... it was very much like a spaghetti version of an excellent Fra Diavolo, but much more subtle and flavorful. I personally don't prefer to eat lobster meat (execpt claws) because i find it tough and chewy, but the large amount of meat on top of the pasta was wonderful and succulent. excellent dish. the sauce was excellent, tasting of lobster and tomato, with just a slight amount of "heat" from the chili flakes, and the pasta was perfectly al dente.
Le Madri also has one of my favorite wines, Biondi-Santi "Sassoalloro", a heavenly food-friendly wine from a small, talented producer, although a tad pricey at $79 (admittedly, its hard to find this wine so i can understand the markup).
Dessert was a Vanilla Panna Cotta with "winter fruit compote". The panna cotta was light and delicate and wonderfully creamy smooth. the only complaint of the evening came from the fruit compote, which was entirely overwhelmed by the taste of cloves and both of us did not really eat. thankfully it was on the side and didnt interfere with the panna cotta.
also had an EXCELLENT espresso, obviously their barista knows how to run the machine, piping hot and covered with a thick "crema", to end the wonderful meal.
total for 2 people with apps, salad, wine, dessert came to just under 200 without tip.
All in all, a WONDERFUL dinner, and Le Madri is HIGHLY recommened for its friendly staff and excellent food. I will be going back as soon as I can!!!