A Little Slice of Italy in NYC
August 17, 2011
NEW YORK, USA – In a city like New York there are plenty of authentic eateries– dumpling houses straight out of Hong Kong, curries direct from Mumbai, and tamales from our neighbors to the south. But when I start dreaming of the vino and crostini from the trattorias of Rome, I know just where to look: ‘Inoteca.
This cucina on the east side has all the elements of a true Italian eatery. Cozy nooks, a casual bar, a romantic dinning room. And just like in Italy, everyone’s here sipping and savoring–star-gazing couples take their paninis next to groups of laughing friends, and even families carrying kids and carriages are dinning on pastas and cheese plates. The walls are a dark, glossy oak and there’s a hint of sophistication in the air, but the atmosphere remains casual despite this chic European vibe.
Before heading into the dining room, be sure to check out the relaxed bar area, or liqouri bar, as they say. I could tell this was where the locals stop in to grab a quick bite or to catch up on gossip. There’s a great set of bartenders who really know their stuff, too. When I stopped in, the barkeep made a perfect wine selection for my friend and I, helpfully trying to match our tastes and appetites–we ended up with a dark red that really complemented the food. It was that same expert knowledge you’d expect from the staff at a local Italian café.
But of course, the food is the main attraction. The dishes are rustic, with the paninis coming on thick, hearty bread and the soft veal meatballs swimming in a heavy marinara sauce. And for an added dose of authenticity, the entire menu is in Italian (but don’t worry there’s a glossary!). Of all these dishes, the most memorable for me was the first course of burrata and honey over crostini. I first tasted these little pieces of heaven in Florence last year and have been dreaming about their smooth, creamy sweetness every since. Now granted, the Florentine dish still holds a special place in my heart (and belly), but ‘Inoteca’s light and silky version will certainly have me coming back for more.
If I had one gripe it’d have to be the not-so-great service. The hostess was shocked to find out we didn’t have a reservation and our waitress was just too slow with our dishes and the check (but really, isn’t that the way of the Italians?). So lesson learned–next time I’ll book ahead (a definite must), and sip my wine a little slower, because as long as they keep bringing me trays of my beloved burrata straight out of Italy, I’ll keep cleaning the plate.
Read more about ‘Inoteca in Our New York Guide.