Friday, May 7, 2010

Next Magazine - Allegretti

46 West 22nd St

Chef Alain Allegretti deserves a humanitarian award of some sort. His alchemic culinary mastery drove us into spasms of delight, wringing our hands, rolling our eyes, leaving us with little choice other than a wish to shower him with kisses in thanks for serving us his illicit divinations summoned from regions of Italy and the southern part of France—and what a pleasure to simply be in the room that sommelier James Morrison graciously attends, so elegant and comfortably lit.

A Flatiron Negroni ($14) seemed appropriate to get us started, here with Bluedog gin and Campari but also inspirational additions of sparkling wine and muddled grapefruit. We skipped the Tuna Tartare ($16) served in a crispy lavender taco as it sounded vaguely vaginal, however we nearly wept over the criminally outrageous Burrata Cheese ($9) with olive oil and balsamic vinegar all wonderfully worthy of gross indecency charges. No less culpable was the Octopus ($16), extraordinary twists of the fish, gilded by a farro salad with fava beans and a few well-appointed daubs of tonnato (Italian for tuna) sauce.

Provencal Fish Soup ($13) tasted like the fresh, salty air in the Old Port of Marseille (but much better than the soup I had there), with garlic croutons, brisk shavings of gruyere and a gorgeous saffron rouille. We reveled in the fond orbs of Olive Ricotta Gnocchi ($16) with roasted tomatoes and crisp bacon. Deliver me!

The lord of the manor also treads the boards with equal dexterity when it comes to dishing out meat or fish, which is a rare and enviable talent. We loved the Branzino ($29) with a fennel trio that stunned with stuffed fennel confit, fennel salad and a fennel saffron jus on top of that. Perfectly pink Citrus Crusted Duck Breast ($28) was pretty devastating too with a savory, sumptuous spring vegetable gratin served alongside with scrumptious nuggets of rosemary polenta.

Dessert was beside the point but we had it anyway. Clafoutis ($10) has all of our favorite things including strawberries, rhubarb, chocolate and crème fraiche. Further props go out to chef Allegretti that we weren’t sent out in a wheelchair.

This article was first published in Next magazine.

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