Restaurant Week (edit--which just got extended until the end of Feb!!) is a great time to try more expensive spots for a little less coin, which is why my friend & I snapped up a late lunch reservation at A Voce in the Flatiron District.
I arrived a few minutes early so I sat at the bar and asked the bartender to recommend a good red. He pointed to a Nero d'Avola from Sicily, which is also on special--$27 for the bottle, an excellent deal. A quick sniff of this red and I smelled a basketful of fruit--raspberry, cherry, black raspberry. It tasted even better--fruity, rich, not too sweet. A stellar suggestion.
My friend arrived soon and I took my wine with me to our table. She sat ont he banquette against the wall while I took the chair. Normally the person sitting in the seat gets the short stick, but these chairs are super comfy--I could have stayed there all day!
The bread came with some olive oil that was just too bitter for me. It had a fruity flavor at first, but a long-lasting bitter finish that I did not like.
For the first course, my friend ordered the apple salad with walnuts, root vegetables. Her salad was bright, fresh, crisp, and probably one of the most interesting and enjoyable salads I've had in a while. We definitely tasted some orange zest in there, a nice touch.
I don't normally get pasta at restaurants, but I am a sucker for some mezzaluna. They're like ravioli but usually so much thinner and lighter. These were just lovely well--with just a drizzle of sage butter and olive oil, just enough of the spinach-ricotta filling. Divine. I wanted more of course, but this was lovely.
Had I not just had squab at The Modern, I'd have opted for Patty's dish: Cornish hens over sautéed Swiss chard and big beans. This was a mouth-watering medley of dark meat, crispy skin, and scintillating spices.
I opted for the meatballs in broth--a dish I'd heard was one of their specialties. The meatballs were mini-orbs of meat and spices--lamb, veal, fennel, and seriously almost-searing red pepper.
I have never seen such tiny dices--how did they do this? I ate up every bite, drop, bit of this dish.
Much like my dessert at The Modern, I opted for another chocolate bombe type--this time it was chocolate semifreddo. I wasn't expecting it to be THIS good, honestly. Imagine the childhood favorite, The Fudgesicle, then imagine it ramped up and classed up and densely chocolately. Wow. Even Patty was impressed with this! It was wonderful.
I didn't expect much of Patty's order: a cannoli made of a wrapped pizzelle cookie with blood orange sorbet. The depth of this dish blew away both of us. My chocolate semifreddo was really, really good. THIS dessert, however, was phenomenal. I would come back just for a glass of that Nero d'Avola and this cannoli.
Seriously--how did they pack so much flavor into such a tiny treat?
We were there right as lunch service was ending, so Patty enjoyed her coffee while we caught up with each other. Once again I was amazed that such small portions could have us feeling so full at the end--it definitely made me rethink how much we eat without realizing it!
The vibe at A Voce was much more laid-back than I expected. Granted, that could very much have been due to the late hour, but still, we felt very welcome, very relaxed, and we were definitely well-fed.
This was a delicious and enjoyable lunch...not enough to topple The Modern from my list of favorites, but good in its own right, and that blood orange sorbet is worth a return visit.
41 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10010