Torrisi Italian Specialties in Nolita has been on my radar for a while with the blogosphere singing the praises of their delicious hoagies and homemade mozzarella. Newly opened (they just started offering dinner service), this 16 seat restaurant offers something new and exciting in the area of Manhattan I like to call “The Italian Disneyland.”
The weather was unbelievable so I made a date with “English Playboy” Paul Russell and “Midwest Stud” Matt Leiker to eat, drink and be merry. My dinner mates never disappoint and what better way to celebrate the arrival of Spring than with a leisurely stroll from the Financial District (where both boys live) to Nolita to sample the delectable dishes of Torrisi.
Co-Chef/Owners Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone hail from the hallowed institutions of Cafe Boulud, Del Posto and A Voce and have brought with them a vast knowledge of refinement, creativity, and originality. The modest storefront is done up to look like an old-fashioned New York food shop withTorrisi and Carbone restricting their pantry to only domestic ingredients (DaVero Olive Oil from California, Parisi Bakery Rolls, and Iowa’s La Querciaprosciutto). They cook with fresh seasonal ingredients and change their menu daily.
Dinner is a prix fixe set menu with classic Italian American fare (at $45 without alcohol) and is projected onto the blackboard wall (see above). Our waitress informed us that the only thing we need to do is pick our choice of main (tilefish or chicken) and everything else will be brought to us. Soon after we placed our order, a bounty of fresh antipasti items came to our table.
Our antipasti items of the night consisted of homemade warm mozzarella dripping with Da Vero Olive Oil and milk thistle cream with garlic and herbbruschetta, an arugula salad with cured pork jowl and dried cantaloupe bites, a roasted cauliflower saute, a smoked sable crostini with bagel spice, and a swiss chard stromboli with rabe flowers. The perfect start to an amazing meal that left us wanting more, lots more!
After polishing off our first bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, we quickly changed gears and ordered a mild Sangiovese to accompany our mains. Soon after our wine glasses were filled; we were delivered three warm plates of homemade macaroni surrounded by a bevy sautéed ramps. Ramps recently began showing up on Springtime menus and they were a great addition to the silky smooth pasta.
Soon after devouring the pasta, our main dishes arrived. Both Paul and Matt went with the Devil’s Chicken festooned with Evans Yogurt, while I chose the Tilefish with Fulton Chowder and Pilot Crackers. Both were delicious; the chicken (accompanied with a small bed of greens) gave a little kick, and thetilefish was light and flaky ensconced in a creamy tomato based chowder.
Dessert was a breath of fresh air and exactly what we wanted, first a delicious grapefruit granita came to cleanse our palates with a bevy of homemade pastries following soon after (Hudson Bourbon Cream Puffs, Espresso BeanNougat, Pizelle Cannoli with Ricotta Cheese and Candied Orange, Rainbow Cookies, and Chocolate Dipped Jam filled Cookies).
My only disappointment of the entire evening were the espresso beannougats, a cacophony of unpleasant texture and taste.
Apparently this place has one of the best turkey sandwiches in the city, which we were delighted to try, but their heros and rolls are only served at lunch (11am-4pm). Guess I will have to rush back this weekend!
Torrisi Italian Specialties
250 Mulberry Street (between Prince and Spring)