Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Del Posto

I had only ever walked into the space in daylight, before they even served lunch. It is a cavernous dining room with marble and wide balconies and lush carpet where the tables are. By night, the glow of candles and table side sconces turns the room into a giant Deco-era piano bar (and yes, there is a piano, under the stairs).

Del Posto offers two menus, both price fixed. We chose the lesser of the two, five courses, which has more flexibility; the seven course menu is set in its courses and does not allow for guests to choose their food from the larger menu.

Prosecco arrived within moments. I didn't complain, even though I had already downed a near perfect white peach bellini at the bar. Next, a trio of amuse bouche: gougeres with mortadella; sticky saffron risotto balls; and a clarified chicken broth striated with egg yolk. Then, crusty bread and whipped lardo, an Italianophile's dream spread.

Our 1996 Riserva Barbaresco had been aged in barrique, which I noted to the sommelier. "Do you prefer a more traditional style?" he asked me. I said yes. He told me he would make a note on my reservation so that the next time I have dinner they would serve me something less pronounced. The night was full of comparable attention to detail.

I let the server steer me towards a beef tartare with porcini mushrooms and shaved parmesan when she told me that the kitchen could not produce the goose liver special without almonds (I'm allergic). Her selection won me over, full of crunch and salt and smooth edges. Then came the first of our two pasta courses, a pasta called caramelle, which looked like cellophane-wrapped candy and oozed with gorgonzola and black truffles. A whole wheat spaghetti came with chunks of mirepoix and shaved bonito flakes. The pastas are the star of the whole Del Posto show.

But my lamb--a mixture of leg, t-bone, and other gamier parts--was not to be outdone. Cloaked in a perfect puttanesca, it was the ultimate combination of unctuous fat and tender meat. I still had room for dessert, a butterscotch semi-freddo with candied melon. Every portion served was modest, preventing the post-meal guilt so often associated with four star dining. There was even room to enjoy the final glorious moments of our meal, served in a box grater: a caramel in edible paper, a tiny ice cream bon bon on a lollipop stick, a chocolate truffle, two pieces of candied fruit, and a golf ball-sized beignet filled with citrus cream.

Del Posto
85 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10011

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