For my birthday, Jessica treated me to a wonderful dinner at Del Posto Del Posto. For those of you who aren’t in the know, Del Posto is Lidia and (her son) Joe Bastianich’s and Mario Batali’s largest (at least fiscally-speaking) venture. About two weeks ago, Jessica grabbed reservations on OpenTable and let them know it was my birthday, and asked if they could do anything special. And they did.

In my oh so (not) humble opinion, they gave us the best table for two in the house. It was located in the upper level, to the right where there are only three tables and ours is in middle over-looking the entire restaurant. It’s substantially quieter up there and you feel like you’re in a private space. We were seated by the greeter/maitre’d and then visited by our waiter, who spoke with an accent and oddly forgot words like “herb” which I assume he uses regularly. But it’s forgiveable because he was a great waiter with a wonderful personality. Same with the two busers who served us bread, water, and cleared — great personalities and heavy accents.

While perusing the menu a complimentary course was served, like an amuse bouche, although it was called something else (neither Jessica or I caught the word used). It was comprised of a pea soup beautifully served in a clever, shot-sized glass; a slice of cured ham on a small plate; a fried zucchini flower with basil pesto on a second small plate; and, a slice of zucchini and slice of squash over fresh yogurt on a toast point, on a separate plate. And in that order they ascending from horrible (neither of us could finish the pea soup) to wonderful (we loved the flower and even more so, the toast point).

We opted for the $85 per person Del Posto Menu, which allowed for each of us to choose an antipasti, primi, secondi, and dolci. It was noted as a five-course meal, since each of our primi’s would be served in halves and then shared, in other words, half of my primi went to Jessica and vice versa. It was a great way to enjoy the food, and I highly recommend it.

Jessica started with lobster and polenta, it tasted phenomenal and included a substantial portion of lobster. We loved the polenta, but both agreed it was more of a corn pudding then polenta. I started with the “Artichokes DUE” which offered a well fried (almost bronzed) artichoke heart, that was presented beautifully as a flower and then acidic sauce of cut hearts and perilla. Both were delicious, the latter being the best of the two.

We then moved on to the primi Jessica selected: Spaghetti with Crab, Chive Blossoms & Havanero Oil– that was my favorite dish of the night. The crab was completley superfluous in the dish, succumbing to the incredibly taste of the not-too-spicy oil. It also included a sprinkling of bread crumb, which we didn’t like. We independently thought they were crab shells, and decided the texture variation didn’t overcome the odd-factor.

Then we shared my selection: Crisped Potato Gnocchi with Braised Pork Shoulder, Celery & Nepitella. The gnocchi were just seared on one side and otherwise quite soft and flavorless. The pork was cooked perfectly but also didn’t have much flavor. Fortunately the celery and the nepitella brought A LOT to the party. In fact, the nepitella, also known as Nepeta or CATNIP, was the really winner. Both of us loved the flavor and so we must be part feline. Meow.

By the end of the pasta dishes we were already feeling full. But we persisted on to Jessica’s entree, the Cacciucco with Burnt Fregola and Red Mullet; and my entree, the Slow Baked Wild Salmon. The cacciucco was served over some type of barley and included pine nuts. Jessica enjoyed it, while I was underwhelmed at best, particularly due to the over cooked seafood. After I got home, Bill told me that he’s heard Batali say on TV that traditionally Italians cook seafood longer than Americans. I haven’t heard that myself and can’t find anything about it online, but I don’t care for it.

My fish was not over-cooked, but had no flavor, less than typical salmon even. The best part of the dish was actually the avocado. In fact, not just because of the avocado, the dish was California Cuisine-style, odd for a generally, Italian-inspired menu. I recommend skipping this dish.

Finally, for the dessert course, Jessica had the Soufflé di Cioccolato: Chocolate Souffle, Hot Chocolate, and Brandied Cherries with Espresso Gelato, which she enjoyed; but we both thought was a wintery dessert. I had the Sorbetti, four flavors of sorbet, I think they were mango, lemon, passion fruit, and raspberry.

They also brought over a cart of nine or ten types of petits fours. We were very full by this point, but tasted all of the sugary treats. The hazelnut white chocolate petit four was my favorite, but I found them all too sweet.

In the end, we think this is the amongst the best service in the city — a real 10 out of 10. The food was quite good too, at least an 8 out of 10. Particularly, we enjoyed the unique dishes that we’ve not seen at any other restaurant. I highly recommend you give Del Posto a try.

posted by Lon at 09:42 PM Filed under Italian, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.