September 09, 2011

Belated Birthday Dinner: Manzo

That Sara & I share a birthweek (among other things in common!)--hers is 2 days before mine, and every year, we take ourselves out for a fun dinner. This year our schedules were a bit hectic, so it was a week later when we got together. We decided to try Manzo, the only restaurant in Mario Batali's "Eataly" establishment (read more about the vast empire that is Eataly here) that accepts reservations (all other restaurants in the, well, complex, are first come, first served).

We ordered a bottle of Friulano wine, but they were out, so the accomodating sommelier brought us a bottle of the Lidia Bastianich Friulano, but gave it to us at the lower price of the wine we originally requested. This was delightful and tart and bright, and sweet and lovely. Win!

Manzo is Italian for meat, and that was the focus of our meal, but first, some bread & cheese...

The obligatory bread basket brought us some so-so focaccia (it was just too bland to be noteworthy), but some delicious, toothsome, sourdough-tasting type bread. I'm glad there wasn't more of this because I would have eaten every slice!

Our server was quite helpful and she explained that portions at Manzo are smaller than most places so customers can sample more of the menu. We still weren't starving, so we opted to split a app, a pasta dish and an entree in hopes of having room for dessert.

First came the mozzarella with brown butter and guanciale (pig cheek, similar to bacon or pancetta). This was super-soft and fresh, a tad too salty, but the crunch of the guanciale was a nice offset to the cheese. The crunchy-soft pieces of garlicky bread were the perfect foil--what a great combo.

THIS is the split portion of pasta---the Tajarin with Sugo d'Arrosto (classic sauce from Italy's Piedmont region that is basically drippings from a roast--YES IT'S DELICIOUS). This was quite lovely. My first bite was not fully covered in sauce, so I thought I might be disappointed, but the second bite and every one after that--sooo good.

And half the normal pasta dish was more than enough for us!

For our main dish, we got the hay-smoked veal chop. This chop was HUGE. I couldn't believe this was considered a 'smaller' portion. Have you ever taken a fresh piece of hay or straw and chewed it? That sweet, grassy, fresh flavor was perfectly infused in this chop. What a scrumptious dish!

I was also delighted to find that the broccoli rabe (atop the chop) was absolutely delicious. Normally I pass on this vegetable, as it's usually too bitter to enjoy, but this had a wonderful, savory, earthy flavor that was quite impressive.

Thanks to our sharing strategy, we had enough room for dessert: a chocolate crostata with plums and sliced almonds. This was deep, riiiiiich chocolate. Very good. Very rich. Perhaps pushing it as far as our bellies' boundaries, but yeah, worth it.

Manzo was a delicious experience, the service was spot-on--attentive but not intrusive or harried, and I would definitely recommend it for a hearty, mouthwatering meal. Che delizioso!

Manzo @Eataly
200 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10010
(212) 229-2180

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