Earlier in the week I wrote all about my first evening out since becoming a mother. I mentioned that a friend and I went to L’Artusi in Manhattan and recommended the restaurant to any New Yorkers or to those of you visiting NYC. Normally I would not write about a meal at a local spot since many of you may not have the opportunity to try the place. However, this meal is worth detailing and hopefully you’ll enjoy my recap even if you never actually make it to L’Artusi. Also, I feel slightly justified in writing about an exceptional Manhattan dining option because New York is a popular destination for many travelers. Y’all might come to New York soon, Right? Exactly.
If you know me personally, I’m sure you can guess how this meal began…
I arrived at L’Artusi about five minutes before our reservation time. The space immediately reminded me of a coastal home with its rich blue walls, gray and white striped ceiling, and white bar. It almost felt nautical and was somehow classic and trendy at the same time. The restaurant is open, but warm and has a casual elegance that I imagine appeals to a variety of diners. I gave my name to the hostess and figured I would enjoy a cocktail at the bar while waiting to be seated. However, by the time the drink list was in my hand, my friend was behind me and we were being led to our table. Sweet.
We decided to order a glass of wine to start because the wine list is extensive. And that’s an understatement. Though Prosecco was not an option (sadly), a sparkling alternative was quickly suggested by our waitress. We thumbed through the book of wine options, which are sorted by region, and sipped the lambrusco bianco we had be served. Overwhelmed, we quickly asked for a bottle recommendation. We thoroughly enjoyed the red we were encouraged to try. It was lighter than we wanted, but paired perfectly with every dish and turned out to be a better choice than we initially realized.
After studying the menu and hearing the specials, it was difficult to choose what to order. So many enticing options! Knowing we wanted to try at least one special, as well as dishes the restaurant is known for, we relied heavily on our server. The kitchen prefers everything be ordered at once, so once we knew the “must-haves”, we quickly chose our crudo, verdura, two pastas, and a pesce.
We started with the Beef Carpaccio. The meat was sliced oh-so thinly and topped with tiny rye croutons, a horseradish cream, some kind of citrus, and drizzled with olive oil. Holy yum! The meal got off to a phenomenal start. The beef literally melts in your mouth and the flavors were perfectly balanced. It was amazing and we both wanted to drink the pure, Italian olive oil.
Next, we had the Roasted Mushrooms, which are served with pancetta, ricotta, and a fried egg. It is a hearty, flavorful dish. We were told it’s a popular choice, and I can see why-it was very enjoyable, but my friend and I kept going back to the carpaccio ready to lick the plate.
For our pasta dishes, we selected the fettuccine special of the evening and the Orecchiette. The special was served with ramps (which any southerner will swear are collards) in a buttery, seemingly light sauce. Very good. The orecchiette comes with sausage with an oh-so-rich base and is incredible. At L’Artusi, it’s all about the pasta. I have no words for how tasty their delicate, homemade pasta is, but I will say I could have eaten two more bowls. Easily. And I’m still dreaming about it nearly a week later. Mmmmm…
Then came the fish. We decided on the Striped Bass since it seemed light and we knew the preceding dishes were not. The bass is served with white beans, chorizo and Meyer lemon, and offers a clean, refreshing flavor, especially following the boldness of the prior courses. We agreed it was a perfect palette cleanser, preparing us for dessert.
To finish our delightful meal, we needed something sweet. Obviously. Once again we opted to seek assistance from the waitstaff (which had changed at some point, though we were unaware…not sure if that was intentional or not, but hopefully server #1 got her share of the tip). We chose the Olive Oil Cake with Fresh Whipped Cream and the Hazelnut Chocolate Torta with Salted Caramel Ice Cream. The first is apparently the house specialty and the second a crowd favorite.
The cake was amazing-unbelievably moist-and the clear winner for us. The whipped cream accompanying it was overly salted, but that didn’t deter from the balanced main dish.
The torta left something to be desired. Maybe because I am such a chocolate and caramel lover and had high expectations, or maybe because both the dish and the ice cream were too salty (some salt would have been a beautiful balance for this dish, but ours was past that point and probably just seasoned with a heavy hand at the end of someone’s shift). Either way, by this point we weren’t complaining. And both desserts were plated beautifully, as you can see.
L’Artusi offered a wonderful meal, delighting my friend and me dish after dish. We loved the atmosphere, the wine, and the food. It was the perfect choice for my first night away from Bebe and I can’t wait to revisit soon. I have my husband drooling over the Carpaccio already (and not by accident-wink, wink).