It’s rare that a restaurant makes you feel so comfortable that you continue to joke with the waitress, stay for hours and already plot when you can come back. It’s even rarer that a nice New York City restaurant immediately makes two younger looking girls feel like VIPs.
On a frigid, Saturday night, my sister and I trekked into the city for a close friend of mine’s birthday party and wanted to get a nice dinner in before. Our final destination was East 4th Street, so we needed to eat somewhere relatively close to avoid the bitter cold. I craved pasta, and decided tonight would be the night I would complete the L’Artusi, dell’anima restaurant trio by finally trying L’Apicio.
We walked inside to a bright, smiling hostess who quickly offered to take our coats. Immediately, the service felt unusually welcoming, in such a great way. When the city and streets are dark and gloomy, there is nothing better then a cheerful face to completely change your mood. Plus, the restaurant is designed to exhibit a feeling of comfort, with bright lights softening the industrial metals and wood.
We were originally seated in the bar area, and kindly requested to move to the main part of the dining room. The manager quickly accommodated our request, offering his sincerest apology. He continued to come by and check on our status, making sure we were having a wonderful dining experience and offering recommendations.
Our waitress was even more lovely. A charismatic recent law school graduate, she walked the perfect line between friendly and professional. The service obviously enhanced our experience from the start, but the food held its own.
Leigh and my tight knit relationship is solidified by the olive theory; the concept where you are closest with a person when hates olives and the other can eat all of them off the haters’ plate. We faced a difficult decision since the octopus appetizer contained olives and could not be served oin the side. Our waitress was quick to the rescue, splitting the dish so one was prepared with olives, the other without.
The charred pieces of octopus are cooked beautifully, with the smokiness running throughout every bite. The dish surprisingly packs an elements of heat coming from the pepperoni and a simple dressing. Fregola is a type of pasta, similar in size and texture to couscous. It makes the dish a little bit heavier, acting as a very hearty appetizer.
I have an affinity towards sweetbreads, yet I was planning to share with my slightly less adventurous sister. The maitre’d explained that the Agnolotti stuffed with sweetbreads and mascapone was the ideal dish for a newbie.
These beautiful packages encased the most seductive combination of sweetbreads and marscapone. Homemade, thin pieces of pasta, cooked to the ideal al dente gives a necessary bite. It’s a contrast with the silky, smooth interior. The brown butter sauce was sweet and rich, completely enhancing the flavor yet again. My sister easily became a sweetbread convert.
We also ordered two vegetable sides, to be slightly healthier.
The shaved Brussels Sprouts are lightly sauteed, wilting them and giving a little less crunch then the traditional raw version. They’re well seasoned, and a refreshing side.
This was the best vegetable out of the two, which is surprising considering how much I love Brussels Sprouts. The crunch from the outsides of the squash is ridiculous, with the crispy sage adding another level of flavor. Order these when they are in season.
When you see Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream cake on the dessert menu, it would be a crime not to order it.
Quite possibly one of the best desserts of all time. Salty and sweet, hot and cold, crunchy and silky. This dessert has everything. The layers of praline and chocolate cake are sandwiched between the chocolate-hazelnut ice cream and the salted-caramel gelato. It’s decadent, but without going over the top.
L’Apicio creates a warm and comforting environment, serving fabulous food. Each individual made us feel welcome. While I favor the food at both L’Artusi and dell’anima, the vibe at L’Apicio makes you forget. Just order lots of agnolotti, octopus, and a ridiculous ice cream cake for dessert and you’ll be blissfully happy for the rest of the night.
L’Apicio – 13 East 1st Street – New York, NY
Location: East Village, NY
Perfect For: Casual Meal, Girls’ Night Out, Date Night
Reservations: Recommended via OpenTable
Favorite Dishes: Octopus, Agnolotti with Sweetbreads, Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream Cake