Executive Chef Gabe Thompson (formerly at Le Bernardin and Del Posto) and general manager Joe Campanale (a former sommelier from Babbo) have gotten things right with dell’anima. By sticking with what they know best --classic Italian cooking, using fresh products and seasonal fare--and then updated with some special touches of their own, they've built quite a following.
Their restaurant is the perfect place for intimate fine dining. A relatively new entry to top-flight NYC restaurants, this cozy and friendly trattoria mixes haute cuisine inspirations with the homey ambiance of the West Village. The praised dishes include crunchy Bruschetta (with five topping options), and the no-stir Risotto which maintains the rich flavors of the various ingredients. With a former sommelier as an owner, the wine list includes excellent Italian favorites.
If anything, dell’anima is sometimes a victim of its own success, accruing far greater demand for seats than can be accommodated in this small space, with reservations taken a month in advance.
As you step into Del Posto, there is this sense that you have entered the domain of a gargantuan personality, which is true, since it is the grandest addition to chef/entrepreneur Mario Batali’s empire (created with partners Joe Bastianich and Lidia Bastianich). With that in mind, this restaurant has both the opulent environs and menu that signifies the ornate style of a top-ranked, world-class restaurant.
The plush, softly glowing room with large columns and tall curtained windows suggest another era— like those you'd find in 19th century New York or Europe. As dinner unfolds, the servers address your every need. Beginning with the antipasti, the menu is stuffed with great dishes such as the Lobster Risotto for two, or an extravagant classic like Bollito Misto (a medley of rustic Italian offal products that are carved tableside); and the homemade Pastas are remarkably fresh. A sampling of the tasting menu provides a sublime experience in Tuscan-influenced Italian cuisine. And don't miss the tableside zabaglione for dessert. A great wine list features superior Italian selections. With Del Posto, Batali is determined to place Italian cooking on the same level as French haute cuisine, and succeeds.
You've got to hand it to master chef, TV personality and entrepreneur Mario Batali, he keeps rolling out hit after hit in the gastronomic galaxy. With partner Joe Bastianich and chef David Pasternack, Batali has established Esca as another signature Italian restaurant/cafe, and has again found an opportunity to earn a gold star.
The menu emphasizes super-fresh homemade pastas like Spaghetti enhanced with fresh chiles, mint, and a one-pound Lobster, and seafood dishes from an herbal enhanced grilled and marinated Sardines appetizer to the Crudo (think Italian sashimi made from such sea creatures as razor clam), Alaskan King Salmon with sugar snap peas, or the Grilled Calamari with salsa verde-- specifically Italian but created with a flair that elevates to the highest of haute cuisine. The whole fish for two, baked in a sea-salt crust that's cracked at the table, makes for a performance suitable to the neighborhood.
With its patio allowing for folks to sit outdoors in warm weather, Esca has the touch of a rustic eatery in some Southern Italian town. The ambiance is quiet with the faint sound of everyday life adding to the authentic feel of the culinary experience. Perfectly matched wine list spotlights regional Italian favorites.