I have high expectations when Danny Meyer opens a restaurant. Union Square Hospitality Group is responsible for some of my favorite establishments, Eleven Madison Park, Union Square Cafe, Shake Shack, and more. He is known for bringing great food to the table with spectacular service.

I met with two girlfriends for lunch, all three of us culinary school grads who had gone in different directions. Mary Helen is on the TV production side these days, food shows of course. Anna is food styling all over the place. I’m still putting away on this blog! There was so much to catch up on and so much to celebrate.

With some recommendations from our waitress, ordering was a breeze and soon golden fried artichokes  were glowing on our table. I enjoyed them, tender on one side, light and crisp on the other, dipped in an anchovy bread sauce.

Carciofini Fritti: Fried Artichokes & Anchovy Bread Sauce

Our other appetizer was a salad with celery, fennel, hazelnuts, and pecorino. I didn’t get much fennel but the overall effect was nice and bright, light and refreshing. A few initial bites were extra acidic but it seemed to soak into the salad after a while and mellow out.

Insalata di Sedano: Celery Fennel, Hazelnuts & Pecorino

After the starters, it seemed like ages before the pastas came out. Thank goodness for a fresh bread basket that we near cleaned by the time Mary Helen asked a server what happened. They explained that we had taken longer with the starters and so they held back the pastas. It still took a while for them to come after that…

The garganelli had the best texture, fresh pasta at it’s finest. The green olives were strong, over-powering even rosemary and certainly masking the rabbit.

Garganelli: Braised Rabbit, Green Olives & Rosemary

The Agnolotti was my favorite flavor profile, a mildly sweet pumpkin filling with a light butter sauce accented with balsamic and ricotta salata. The pasta itself was too soft though, over-cooked and starting to mush together.

Agnolotti di Zucca 2

The Malfatti fell in the middle, a nice pasta with juicy tears of suckling pig, enjoyable but not memorable.

Malfatti al Maialino: Suckling Pig Ragu & Arugula

We chose two desserts and were gifted an extra as an apology for the wait. The Gianduja inside was good but the bread pudding was mushy, like wet soggy bread. The pine nut and lemon tart was just kind of bland. The almond and apple crumb cake with caramel gelato was the best but only average compared to any fruit crumble from anywhere.

Gianduja Budino: Chocolate and Hazelnut Bread Pudding Torta Sbrisolona: Almond & Apple Crumb Cake & Caramel Gelato

Lunch was over-all mediocre. The starters and pastas felt fresh and made with good ingredients, yet nothing stood out as something I’d come for again. The service was so-so and apologetic. The desserts were a fail. The three of us felt like it just cost a little more than it was worth at $49.13 per person (with tax and tip), not the usual reaction when you leave a Danny Meyer place.

posted by jessica at 01:26 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.