Have you ever been to a restaurtant where the food is good, the service is good, the ambience is good and yet something didn't click - leaving you with a mediocre experience? That's what happened this Saturday night at Taralluci e Vino on 18th between Broadway and 6th (this is the 2nd location, the first is in the East Village).
The husband and I were looking for something new, inexpensive and Italian. T e V fil the bill. We also wanted someplace that felt like we were going to a much more expensive restaurant - i.e. nice ambience, creative menu. Again, T e V seemed like the perfect choice.
We walked in and immediately the decor and vibe seemed perfect. Very New York City without being too trendy. We were seated quickly at a table right next to the waiters station - not ideal, but not the worst.
The wine list was good, but compared to the prices of the food, it seemed a little expensive, though certainly not unreasonable. We ordered a bottle of Italian red, something called Fontaveccio somthing or other. It was great.
For starters we had "Screppelle m'Busse" - parmesan cheese filled crepes with hen broth (or chicken soup). This restaurant is known for this soup and it didn't dissappoint. The crepes were so delicate they melted as soon as you put them in your mouth and the soup made you sort of wish you had a cold to cure.
We also had "Vitello Tonnato con Caramello al Limone" - cold veal roast with tuna-caper cream and lemon caramel sauce. Our waiter highly recommended this, so we ordered it even though it wasn't really popping off the menu to us. It was ok, the flavors didn't make any sense to me. The tuna was very canned tuna-y. And the veal didn't have much flavor. I have no idea what the lemon caramel sauce was doing there.
On to the entrees. "Capriolo Ripieno ai Pistacchi e Pinoli con Spatzli alle Castagne e Pere al Forno" - pistachios and pinenuts stuffed venison, chestnut spaetzle and roasted pear. This was delicious. The venison was so tender and the pistachios and pinenuts really shone through the other flavors. The only complaint here was the small portion size. It wasn't like a french restaurant where the flavors might warrant it, it just seemed like that was how they kept the price down.
We also shared "Ravioli al Guanciale Affumicato con Brasato di Coniglio e Scaglie di Grana Padano" - house smoked pork cheek tortelli with braised rabbit and grana padano shavings. Again delicious, but small portions. The sauce was very light and you all know how I love anything braised. So we were fine with the flavors.
The thing is, I felt like the chef didn't really believe in what he or she was cooking. That sounds like the most ridiculous foodie thing to say, but that's the only way to describe why this restaurant didn't work. All the other pieces were there.
We got out of there for a cool hunny ($100) and stumbled home a bit lighter on our feet from the wine. It was that really warm Saturday night and unlike the restaurant, the city clicked for me.