Before reading this post, please note that, in accordance with the FTC guidelines, I must disclose that I was contacted directly by the restaurant or a PR and that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!
I was recently invited to try Abbottega, an Italian restaurant that opened this year in the West Village. I like the way the owner, Davide Ranucci narrates the story of this family business that started 100 years ago in Italy:
It all began in 1913 when my grandfather Giulio opened his “Osteria” in Montefiascone, a small town with an enchanting view of the lake Bolsena, just 60 miles from Rome...a territory, with a high concentration of mountains and hills.
At “Abbottega” in all these years, we have proudly served our traditional meals to our guests (including Cardinals) who used to come to us by carriages, bicycles, motorcycles, antiques automobiles (with drivers always blowing their horns twice) and today, with modern cars equipped with A/C and navigation systems!"
Entering the restaurant was like traveling to Italy: they did a great job with the decor made of white bricks that sometimes look weathered, the dark solid wood tables and the counter at the entrance that not only features wine from Italy, cured meat or cheeses, but is also where the Chef will make fresh pasta. Yes, all their pasta is fresh and this is definitely a plus for a restaurant! They should definitely mention it on the menu (wink, wink)!
Interestingly, "bottega" is the studio of the master artist in Italian, where apprentices and students learn by participating in the work. It was a good opportunity to taste the creations of the artist, the Chef!
In the back, where we got seated, is a large photo of the owner's Grand-Mother, overlooking the dining room, as if she was still present, making sure the tradition continues. Her photo is also on the menu.
They served us a tasting, with a glass of Falanghina from the region of Campania in Southern Italy, a white wine sipped cold. While waiting for the food to come, we looked at the small menu that was definitely mouth watering. Roy, the manager of the restaurant explained to us that they are serving simple traditional dishes using organic ingredients and grass fed meat.
We started the dinner with some bread and appetizers:
The bread with a spread made with arugula, potato and some parmesan cheese. Quite good.
Then came the Carpaccio di salmon marinato: salmon carpaccio served with spinach and oranges.
It was served with some mayonnaise. Good and fresh, the best combination was the salmon and orange together.
The second appetizer was the Crema di pomodoro e gamberi or chilled tomato soup with shrimp:
Now, that is what I am calling shrimp! They were of a nice size, butterflied, perfectly cooked and paired well with the creamy tomato soup. That day was a very hot day and we surely appreciated that the soup was chilled.
The last appetizer was the Calamaro Spadellato or sauteed calamari with tomatoes and green beans.
I always have a bit of apprehension when I eat calamari, because sometimes you end up with something rubbery and chewy. It was not the case: very tender and simply prepared with a bit of pepper.
Then we tried the fresh pasta!!! The first dish was the Ravioli di carciofi or artichoke ravioli.
These ravioli were Jodi's favorite! They were served with crispy prosciutto and parmesan. The ravioli was fantastic: very thin with a delicate taste, I could imagine the same dough with so many combinations, from mushrooms, to cheese, squash...Also, I typically do not like artichoke if not in a salad, but it was pretty good served in a ravioli. The only part of the dish I did not like was the crispy prosciutto that rendered too much saltiness.
The second pasta dish was the Lombrichelli Amatriciana:
When the plate came to the table, we could smell the tomato sauce that was delicious. The pasta, that were cooked al dente. I would have preferred them just a bit more cooked because they were thick, but otherwise, they were good.
Then was the secondi or main course (what, so far it was just the appetizers???). They served us the Tagliata di manzo or grass-fed skirt steak with roasted vegetables.
Once you have tried a great steak in a steakhouse, it spoils all your future experiences and makes you more picky about meat. That is why I rarely order meat if I am not at a steakhouse. But when I do, I sometimes have a good surprise. It was the case at Abbottega: the meat was very good! Cooked medium, it was extremely tender and had this delicious taste that meat will have when grilled. Also, the sauce all over it was made with beef stock that was reduced. I appreciated the fact that the sauce was not overpowering allowing the meat to shine. The vegetables were eggplant and zucchini that were a nice complement.
Finally was dessert! At this point, we were wondering how this will end as it was definitely a spectacular culinary experience! They brought us three desserts:
From left to the right: yogurt cake with candied oranges and drizzled with creme patissiere (also in the bottom right of the photo), espresso panna cotta and strawberry semi fredo. My favorite was the yogurt cake that interestingly is called "plum cake" in Italy, although there are no plums in it! It reminded me of a yogurt cake I baked at school when I was a kid and brought back some good memories! The semi fredo was also very good and refreshing with a nice texture.
You are probably wondering why I did not talk about the panna cotta? It was not my favorite. I love coffee (some say I bleed coffee), but not in desserts and the panna cotta did not change my mind.
We finished the dinner talking to Roy about the restaurant and his past experience in some well known NYC spots. He surely made this experience pleasurable, providing us some quite interesting information. I have now added Abbottega to my list of favorite Italian restaurants in New York, next to Morandi!
14 Bedford St
New York, NY 10014
Enjoy (I did)!
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And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!