38 8th Ave @ Jane St
So far, dell’anima is my favorite restaurant of the year. I could tell you what dell’anima means by definition but just go find out for yourself. I was enthralled by the rotating seasonal menu with some mainstays. No one’s trying to reinvent the wheel at the intimate dell’anima. It’s just a little bit of perfection, served without a lick of pretension.
First of all, they had me at Roasted Orange Negroni ($12). It’s difficult to find a well-made version of the classic, balancing the components of gin (here, Miller’s), Campari, and sweet vermouth (here, Carpano Antica). Not only did we want to kiss the bartender for his efforts, we raved over the incorporation of muddled roasted orange. Sheer heaven! My guy enjoyed the Sangiovese “A Sirio” ($17/glass) from Toscana; it was warm, creamy and peppery, perfect for a day that couldn’t make up its mind weather-wise.
Unfurled tentacles of Charred Octopus ($16) were quite good, with smoky chorizo, white rice beans (who knew?), and bitter chicory, relieved by a judicious spray of lemon.
We shared two pastas next, paired with a clean, full-bodied Sicilian Etna Bianco ($14/glass). Excellent Tajarin “alla Carbonara” ($21) with seasonal ramps, speck (similar to prosciutto), and pecorino was topped with a shimmering egg to fork into the mix. Tagliatelle alla Bolognese ($17) offered a wonderfully rich meat sauce with a peppery bite.
The Orata “al Cartoccio” ($29) was perfectly paired with a sturdy, white Slovenian Friulano “Toh-Kai” ($9/glass). The fish came wrapped in parchment, cohabitating with fingerling potatoes, thyme, lemon and plump green cerignola and black olives, which were utterly transformed. It was superb and wildly flavorful. Skirt Steak ($25) with endive braised in a sweet orange sauce with mint oil was great, paired with the knockout Damijan “Kapjla” ($15/glass), cloudy and apricot in color, served at red wine temperature. Asparagus ($13) with Meyer lemon zabaglione (a creamy what-have-you) was obscenely good with a caper-anchovy vinaigrette and shaved parmigiano.
Flourless Chocolate Cake ($10) with Lambrusco zabaglione and amarena cherries and a gripping Poli Traminer Grappe ($14/glass) left us breathless with delight—and we left completely elated!
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