When all major New York City foodies anticipate the opening of another hot spot, the bar is set unbelievably high. Food must be perfect, service impeccable, atmosphere trendy and inviting. Perhaps no other 2014 opening has gotten as much hype as All’onda, a Venetian inspired restaurant in Union Square. Known for phenomenal pasta, utilization of high quality ingredients and surprisingly reasonable pricing, this place has everyone talking.
Reservations are hard to snag, as New Yorkers bundle up in their winter’s best to this beautiful restaurant tucked between coffee shops packed with college kids and graffiti-ed scaffolding.
Downstairs houses the bar area, completely separating those waiting from a table from those enjoying their meal. The upstairs dining room is designed with neutral tones, white washed exposed brick and different shades of wood in a variety of shapes and sizes. It’s warm and inviting, with both table and booth seating in this classy establishment.
We were seated in the back area of the restaurant, where regular tables fill the space instead of the high-end booths. There’s a divider pulled to the side, showing that the room is fully capable of housing a private party.
We glanced at the wine list, instantly surprised by the extremely reasonably priced drinks. Servers do not immediately offer a by the bottle list, so we requested once, finding a few really wonderful reds available for under $40. Total steal, especially at a trendy, Union Square restaurant.
We ordered a bottle of Pinot Nero, which is a fuller bodied version of Pinot Noir. It’s absolutely wonderful and perfect to pair with all of the Italian dishes to come.
The menu is divided into five sections, with two of the sections dedicated to highlighting their pastas and crudos. We decided to avoid the small snack section all together, despite the waiter’s reccommendation of the uni aranchini (my friend claimed it lacked the seductive uni flavor). Instead, we opted for two of the crudos, two pastas and a side dish. The waiter offered to divide the meal into three courses, with the side dish of polenta serving as the middle course. Perfect!
Razor clam crudo with sopressata arrived first.
The beautiful plating immediately catches your eye, with the light miso gelée keeping all of the components in place. The razor clam has a really subtle flavor, expertly prepared with a soft, tender chew. The slightly tart pieces of green apple, mixed with the really earthy miso gelée is lovely and simple. My only complaint would be the sopressata. When mixed with any of the other components, especially the dish’s namesake razor clam, it’s extremely over powering. For such a delicate dish and fish, sopressata added an intensity and spiciness that didn’t work.
The scallop crudo, while still whimsical, was much more balanced and delicate dish.
Who would’ve thought that slightly charred cauliflower would excellently pair with scallop crudo? The delicate nature of the fish, generously seasoned, was completely enhanced by the slight smokiness of the vegetable. The olives and anchovies added saltiness, combining really well with the spice mix sprinkled on top. Really beautifully prepared dish, showing how playful dishes can be prepared with the perfect amount of restraint.
For our mid-course, we ordered the side dish of polenta, which turned out to be one of my favorite dishes of the evening.
Seductive, creamy bowl of polenta with an earthy richness from the miso and mushrooms. This dish tastes like love, as cheesy as the sounds. It could comfort anyone on having a bad day. The mushrooms on top of the polenta have a slight crispiness to them, added another depth of flavor and texture to creamy polenta. It’s so reminiscent of southern grits, providing comfort through food.
All’onda is known for their pasta and incorporation of high end ingredients. We ordered the Bucatini with Smoked Uni and Lumache with Duck Ragu.
A high-end twist on a traditionally rich carbonara, the smoked uni coats every strand of the al dente bucatini. The subtle uni flavor isn’t as smoky as one might expect, but regardless it still has a beautiful earthy and creamy flavor. The spicy breadcrumbs adds a crunch of flavor and subtle spice, which cuts through the richness. A variety of fresh herbs adds another element of freshness to the ridiculous Bucatini.
As someone who loves Duck, I couldn’t resist trying the Lumache.
I’ve never tried Lumache pasta before, which seems like a cross between a penne and macaroni, with a grooves, curved shape, and open center. The flavor of duck is surprisingly subtle, only coming to the extreme forefront when tender pieces make their way onto your fork. Shaved pieces of dark chocolate gently coat the on top of the pasta, giving an added layer of decadence. Treviso is similar to raddico, with a slightly bitter flavor preventing the pasta from feeling too rich and heavy. It’s delicious.
Considering the decadence of the meal; quality ingredients, stunning plating, fabulous service and beautiful ambiance, All’onda stays in the extremely reasonable price range. It’s a wonderful addition to Union Square which tends to only house extremely expensive or totally dive restaurants.
All’onda’s that place that’s ideal for the young, trendy food lover, who doesn’t make enough money to splurge on a typical Monday night. Yet, it’s not the place to turn off the high-end clientele. You never feel for a second that it’s a place designed for the younger diner. No, it’s just right. The exact type of restaurant serving delicious food that won’t totally hurt your wallet.
All’onda – 22 East 13th Street – New York, NY
Location: Union Square, NY
Perfect For: Girls’ Night Out, Date Night, Casual Meal, Impressing Foodies
Reservations: Recommended, call (212) 231 -2236 between 11am-5pm
Favorite Dishes: Scallop Crudo, Polenta, Lumache, Bucatini