Review - A Voce (41 Madison Ave, 212-545-8555)
We had a pleasant dinner at A Voce the other night. For a Monday night, somewhat early before prime time, the restaurant was about 2/3 full, suggesting that its Zagat's popularity is definitely leading to lots of business. The decor is modern and stylish, perhaps more suited to something like Akvavit, than an Italian place.
We started with a glass of prosecco ($12) and some bread to nibble on. The wine list appears large, with lots of selections (especially Italian) at the sub $50 price point. I noticed plenty in the $30 zone as well, which would make it a good deal for a couple to get a bottle rather than have some indifferent by the glass. The menu is fairly compact, with a few daily specials, and other than the tripe seems to not be overly tilted toward the offal craze that Batali and others are offering.
Our first course was a plate of crispy sweetbreads ($15) which were plump, succulent and infused with a fresh white peppery flavor. I really liked them but the orange / citrus sauce they were in was a little odd. We also had a fine roast beet salad ($12) which was a good selection, and seems to be a staple at most restaurants at this time of year.
For our main courses we both picked pastas; I picked a lamb rigatoni ($25) and my wife picked a seafood ravioli ($24). The rigatoni was al dente and served in a mild red sauce flecked with dried ham. It was ok, but not really worth the money. The seafood ravioli was served in a metal brazier and had an interesting green sauce surrounding it, with a very soft rings of squid. She liked it and it was definitely unusual.
Afterwards, we had a plate of Tuscan doughnuts ($12) which were fried, creme filled dough, covered in powdered sugar, and then served with hot chocolate sauce on the side. Very tasty, but just as bad for you as a Dunkin Donuts Boston Creme. The service was excellent throughout dinner, and the stemware was top notch as well. We were in a bit of a rush to get out of there, but our servers sensed that and paced everything perfectly for us.
This is a popular place, and certainly deserves the praise it has been getting, but I don't think I would go out of my way to come here again. There wasn't anything really unforgettable here, and there are just tons of great Italian places in NYC that I have yet to try.