We ended up at L'Artusi thanks to my brother Hervé who sent me a voucher for my birthday. I had this restaurant on my very long list and we were planning on going there for restaurant week, but had to cancel, so I was thrilled to have an occasion to go there.
The Chef, Gabe Thompson is not unknown to me as we recently went to one of his other restaurants in Manhattan, L'Apicio, where we had a fantastic dinner. In fact, the menus at the two places have a lot of similarities. And for sure, we knew we would not pass on desserts as his wife, Katherine, is the pastry Chef and not only did we have amazing desserts at L'Apicio, but, when they appeared on the TV show The Best New Restaurant, she blew away the diners and the judges, Tom Colicchio being the host and head judge, each time with a different dessert.
We went at 8pm on a Friday and the place was packed. We saw couple of people trying to get a table without any reservation no success, the long wait being probably prohibitive. I should mention that when we left, there was a line at the entrance. It is a fairly large place, with a bar where you can dine and some tables overlooking the kitchen located in the back of the room. We got a table upstairs, where I noticed a private room that seem to also be their cellar. I really got lucky, because our table was right below two small lights and, when they dimmed the lights, we were not too much affected. It was not only important for the photos, but also because I like to see what I eat...
I was in the mood for a glass of wine and chose a red from Tuscany: Rosso di Montalcino, Collemattoni, 2013.
It went very well with the dishes I picked. We had to choose between the crudo (raw with tartare and ceviches), verdura (salads), pasta, pesce (fish) and carne (meat). The size of the dishes is supposed to go crescendo, but, ordering a pasta and a meat was definitely fine. The pasta I chose was the house made tagliatelle with bolognese bianco (meaning no tomato sauce) and Parmesan.
That was a fantastic dish: the tagliatelle, larger than what I am used to, were so good and perfectly cooked, bathed in a bolognese sauce that was very comforting.
My second dish was the quail. I admit that I hesitated between this dish and the octopus, but rarely see quail on a menu, so went for it.
The dish was small and I would have probably expected two little birds as the size was supposedly larger than the pasta dish. But in fact, I would have liked more, not because of the size, but because it was succulent. The quail itself had been butterflied, leaving only few bones to take care of. And that taste: quail is hard to cook as it can easily be overcooked and end up dry. At L'Artusi, it was so moist, with the skin perfectly seasoned and a slight heat from the chilies. It was served with pickled ramps and baby fennel.
Jodi decided to order two of the smaller dishes. The first one was the spring pea salad, composed of English peas, snap peas, poppy seeds, walnuts and yogurt.
It was quite good and I appreciated the texture of the dish, the peas being a bit on the crunchy side.
But the best was definitely the roasted mushrooms, served with pancetta, ricotta salata and a perfectly made poached egg.
This was very good and understand that, usually, Jodi does not like poached eggs: she inhaled it!
After a phenomenal meal, we could not miss the dessert from pastry Chef Katherine Thompson and decided to share the olive oil cake and the chocolate budino, an Italian chocolate pudding. Because of a large party, desserts took time to come, so our waiter offered me another glass of wine and comped the desserts, apologizing for the wait. This is great service and the kind of gesture that would surely make us want to go back.
But, back to the desserts. The olive oil cake was the best, even if the pudding was delicious, it surpassed it. There was no need for the raisins marmalade or crème fraiche mousse, as it was definitely standing on its own. The pudding itself was dense and very chocolatey, perfect for chocolate lovers.
We had a great time at L'Artusi and I understand why this place is so popular: not only the food is spectacular, but the service is outstanding, making the whole experience memorable. I highly recommend that place!
Enjoy (I did)!
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