Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Torrisi Italian Specialties

Warm mozzarella and DaVero olive oil, Torrisi

Rightly regarded as one of the best dining values in town, Torrisi's 7-course tasting menu gives diners a chance to try Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone's genre-redefining food for . . . well, not exactly a small amount of money, but not a weak-in-the-knees amount of money either. (For a glimpse at the twenty-one-course bacchanalia they also offer, have a look at our e-pal Katie's post here.)

Speaking of crumpling to the ground: the warm mozzarella and DaVero olive oil. This unassuming little bowl of heaven may have the highest ratio of deliciousness to simplicity of any dish in New York; it's a salty-sweet-milky-tangy mix that you could almost drink through a straw. 

Octopus, tomatoes, shishito peppers, and pizza seasoning, Torrisi

Our despondency at the removal of our mozzarella bowls was replaced by utter delight when our next course arrived. Easily one of the best things we ate all year, the octopus with shishito peppers, tomatoes, and pizza sauce balances on the knife edge of firm and quivering, burning and soothing. No one's Italian-American grandmother cooks like this, but it doesn't matter: these guys could crush nonna. 

Italian sausage pate with peppers, Torrisi

Next came the most playful course, a refined take on the classic sausage-and-peppers sandwich, offering a pistachio-dusted pate in place of the sausage, as well as liquified peppers and toasted bread. You can't carry it around or eat it with one hand, but you wouldn't want to, as its richness demands all of your attention. A lighter touch came with the kohlrabi croquette, which paired that satellite-shaped vegetable with apples and mustard for sweet crunch and subtle heat.

Kohlrabi croquette with apple and mustard, Torrisi

Pasta fagioli with smoked ham and kale bordered on a soup and demanded to be slurped. When we ate here, winter hadn't quite arrived, but now that it has, our thoughts turn to the possibility of purchasing this by the kettle.

Pasta fagioli with smoked ham, Torrisi

Beef and broccoli, Torrisi

A nod to Torrisi's Chinatown neighbors, beef and broccoli put an elevated spin on the stir-fry staple, eschewing thin, greasy slivers for a sliced steak cooked to pink perfection. Monkfish Dogana more or less melted in our mouths, so tender and smooth and oily it was.

Monkfish Dogana, Torrisi

Intended to clean our palates, the lemon-ginger ice blew our minds as well --- the slushy, needles-in-the-teeth Italian ice has been morphed into a back-of-the-throat explosion of prickly ginger. Then the cookie plate arrived, looking like so many dusty bakery display cases and tasting like none of them, one last conquest in Torrisi's reclamation of Italian-American cooking.

Lemon ginger ice, Torrisi

Cookie plate, Torrisi
  

1 comment:

Howard said...

gorgeous. wish they were vegetarian friendly.

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