Monday, February 05, 2007

Restaurant Reviews: Assenzio and Mamlouk

Big foodie weekend for me. Two lovely dinners out (both on 4th Street) and a Super Bowl party at the apartment. I'll post about the SB tonight - I finally have pictures to post.

For today, a recap of two dinners.

Friday night: Date night with the husband at Assenzio on 4th Street between A and B - a Sardinian restaurant that gets very good marks for great food at pretty inexpensive prices.

We had a shaky experience to start. We arrived at about 9:15 and were told the wait was going to be 10 minutes. Surprised because the place was packed, we sidled up to the bar. Fifteen minutes later we decided to get a drink and were told the wait would be another 15 minutes. A little frustrated because I would rather just be told the actual time then be strung along. Then the bartender asked if we wanted to eat at the bar since it would be another 30 minutes at least. OK, so now it is nearly 10pm and we still haven't been seated.

The husband decided to talk to the manager who asked us not to leave, promised he would seat us soon, apologized profusely and bought us each a glass of prosecco. Good first step to get us back on track.

We were seated shortly thereafter. The manager was also our waiter and was ridiculously attentive - he apologized about 10 times, the 11th might have been too much.

On to the food. We started with fried calamari and zucchini - very good, not different then expected. We also had a tuna carpaccio salad with arugula, cannelloni beans, and oranges. This was fantastic. Really fresh and perfectly dressed.

For entrees we had the mini pasta dumplings with wild boar ragu and the pappardelle with mushroom and truffle sauce. The pastas were fresh and the sauces were rich and delicious.

We split a bottle of red wine from Sicily - I wish I wrote it down because for the price, it was pretty unbelievable. I may call and get the name.

The meal ended with tiramisu which was the only thing that didn't hit the mark, it was a little wet for my taste - too much coffee.

We paid, very happy with the meal, and then the manager came over and asked us not to leave yet. He came back with 3 shot glasses and a bottle of honey grappa. We all did a shot - and all former wrongs were righted.

Saturday night: Girls night out at Mamlouk, also on 4th Street between A and B. This is a truly great restaurant block. There are at least 2 other spots that I want to try.

I had heard good things about this Middle Eastern restaurant. It is a $40 price fix and there isn't a menu, you just get dish after dish, after dish...after dish....

Really, this went on for over 2 hours.

I can't remember everything that we had but some highlights were the hummus, the cheese that came with the pita, the lentil soup. the salad with spicy pita chips, the lamb meatballs, the sauteed white fish, the spinach with tomatoes, and the avocado spread. Again, these are just highlights - there were probably another 5-10 dishes that were great.

The real winner was the baklava. It was drenched in butter and was perfectly sweet and flaky, and the cinnamon really shone through. This typically isn't a favorite dessert of mine, but I have definitely changed my opinion. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

The decor is exotic and cozy at the same time - lots of pillows, intimate booths, low light, copper tables, lots of red and yellow, etc. The kitchen was open and added to the notion that we had walked into someones home and were being treated to a feast. Adding to the experience was a belly dancer who performed midway through the meal and the hookah pipes that other tables were enjoying.

Earlier in the night, we were deciding between this restaurant and Moustache - a favorite of mine with locations in the West and East Village. As I was doing a little research this morning, I found out that Iraq-born chef/owner Salam al-Rawi also owns the Moustache restaurants. So, it all makes sense that Mamlouk's was as good as it was. It is worth noting, that unlike Moustache, it wasn't a cheap restaurant. Four of us had the price fix and we split two bottles of wine - we got out of there for $75 each. But, it is a great experience and never once did I doubt that we got our money's worth.

Back too work now and looking forward to my lunch of leftovers from the Superbowl Party last night.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like your husband is kind of a tough a$$ the way he manhandled that manager. Its all about the results.