It takes a lot to surprise me, whether it is good or bad. Recently I received a tweet from ReSette, a midtown N.Y.C. Italian eatery. Prior to this I had not heard about this restaurant but I am always open to the unknown for you never know what you will learn. I immediately started typing their name into Google.
I was more than impressed by their website (always a good first impression) and their menu. Before I knew it I was having an argument in my head about what entrée to order. This was after I learned they make a pizza that has is made with figs. Figs are my favorite things to eat; they are actually right up there with pizza and coffee. It pains me that they are seasonal here so I use any chance to have some. This dish seemed like a combination of the most wonderful ingredients on earth. And I will soon know this for sure.
Since that original tweet sent to me on May 21st of this year, ReSette and I have exchanged messages and I am happy to report that the day of our meeting has finally arrived. Truth be told I am embarrassed it took me this long to get there but my chronic migraines do as they wish, usually when I have plans. But such is life. The one person that benefited from these changes is the cousin who got to accompany me on this mission. I was so looking forward to a great night out.
Coinciding with my date at ReSette was New York City’s Restaurant Week. Twice a year, every year, some of the best restaurants you have heard of offer lunch and/or dinner at a reasonable prix fixe. Usually the meals are three courses and you select your choices off a special menu. It is a great way to go out to eat in places you couldn’t normally afford. That has certainly been the case for me.
As is custom Restaurant Week extends longer than a week which is all the more reason to get out for one meal or another. It just so happens ReSette is my first meal during this time but will definitely not be my last. I have been waiting for this time of year to roll around.
I arrived at ReSette, cousin in tow, eager to eat. This place has a vibe all its own. There is a bar up front and as you walk towards the back by way of a narrow space you can’t help but notice the red décor, comfy seats, and well-designed arrangements. I was instantly delighted and at ease. Fun was going to be had.
Even though I had stalked this menu my choices changed when I placed my ordered. I surprised myself. I decided against the restaurant week menu for my first experience. We started with the aforementioned pizza as an appetizer. I ordered the linguine alle vongule and my cousin got the pollo con aceto balsamico.
We decided we wanted to try a little bit of everything. The only part of this plan that backfired was that we were too full for dessert. I already know that next time I will skip the appetizers so that I can try their tiramisu. That is my favorite cake and I am really curious what touch ReSette has added to theirs.
The pizza arrived shortly their after and looked as good as I pictured it. It is called Del Re, and according to the menu consists of “homemade fig jam, prosciutto, caramelized pear onions, and gorgonzola cheese". What a good combination.
The prosciutto I could have taken or left as that is a food that doesn’t affect me either way. The fig jam had such a sweet taste and I was pleased it managed to cover each entire piece. I was worried it would be used sparingly. The cheese was perfection and not overwhelming which is good since the flavor can have quite a bite to it. It was good but my only problem really was the crust. I knew it was a thin crust pizza but the bottom looked like a cracker with tiny holes in it. As soon as you took a bite you had crumbles all over you and the table. Truthfully it was like eating a Saltine cracker with those toppings on it. After two mini slices I was over it. But when I looked around everyone seemed to be starting with a pizza. I guess we were fitting right in.
As our entrees arrived I was convinced we ordered too much food. We already had a huge shopping bag containing the remnants of the pizza. The dishes were enormous and there was a more than generous amount of food. We each tried what the other had but ultimately I think our choices were the right fit for ourselves.
I liked the chicken (sautéed pieces of chicken breast with tomatoes, carrots, peas, in balsamic sauce over mashed potatoes) and veggies, as well as the mashed potatoes as they were delicious, but I think the sauce was a bit much for me. As for my pasta (manilla clams in a garlic extra virgin olive oil) I was in heaven. At first glance it looked very oily. I thought I would end up taking a few bites then call it quits for fear of upsetting my fragile stomach. Luckily nothing was further from the truth.
This ended up being one of my favorite dishes of all time. I never had pasta that tasted so fresh but LIGHT. I ate the entire plate and still felt good. I was full but not the point of no return. The “sauce” was light too. I tasted a hint of lemon but that was it. There were plenty of large chunks of garlic present, which would have made my mother happy. But those too weren’t overbearing. Even the clams were irresistible. Apparently long neck clams normally accompany this kind of dish. But these manilla clams were a whole other thing. So good it was delightful to scoop them up with the pasta onto my fork. This dish had such balance and was ABSOULTELY the right choice for me. Prior to arriving I had planned on getting the rigatoni ala vodka. I will have to save that for another time. Yes there will be another time.
The only other spaghetti/linguini dish I have had that was as good as this was from Chef Scott Conant at Scarpetta (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2012/09/for-scarpettas-spagetti.html). That dish is legendary for good reason. But this has red marinara sauce, heavier pasta, but to die for taste. These dishes are opposites of the same kind of food. Both are worth at least (but probably) more than one try.
The final special part of the evening was more on a personal note. As a chronic migraine sufferer there are many parts of the restaurant experience that can be a trigger. Between my triggers and medications I was on, I haven’t had a drop of alcohol in about six years. Recently in May I tried white wine now that I was off those meds. It didn’t agree with me. Hard liquor is out too. I want to be able to have a drink once and a while and enjoy. Surprisingly I found it last night. The waiter recommended a red Pinot Noir that was not too dry and my head and my body loved it. You could have knocked me down with a feather. First of all there was no smell. I can usually spot red wine miles away, my migraine brain gives me a nose like a bloodhound. But this nice sized glass of red wine topped off a perfect evening. I feel like I woke up from a long slumber to reenter the world (or at least the parts that can drink wine).
I felt many things when I first read that initial tweet but now all I feel is grateful. It was the first time any restaurant (or attraction) has inquired about my history of visiting their establishment. I hope this is a trend I can build on so that I may experience all my city has to offer and pass along the best of the best. My experience at ReSette certainly was.
So when you go to ReSette make sure you tell them The Queen has sent you.
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