As a collaboration among Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich (of Lidia’s Italian Kitchen) and Lidia’s son Joseph, Del Posto offers more than your typical Italian fare. Set in a cavernous space in the Meatpacking district, Del Posto offers top-notch service along with its cuisine (case in point – my eating buddy’s purse was offered a chair. Really? Really.) I recently took advantage of Del Posto’s prix fixe lunch menu. At $29 for antipasto, entree and dessert of choice, it is a fairly economical way to get an idea of what this restaurant is all about.
We were first presented with amuse bouche:
I’m not exactly sure what the top left morsels were, but I believe there was pork involved, ‘nuff said. We also got a seafood salad in crispy pastry, and a chilled tomato soup in a celery salt-rimmed cup. I admit I licked all around the cup. Come on, you know you would too.
I don’t usually document the breadbasket, but the presentation of two spreads warranted it – especially when one spread was lardo. Even if you don’t speak Italian, I’m sure you can guess what it is. And it was scrumptious!
Our first antipasto was the Warm Cotechino with Umbrian Lentil Vinaigrette & Dried Fruit Mostarda. Cotechino is a fresh pork sausage; this presentation was accompanied by a dried fruit compote – I believe the fruits were cherries and prunes. The cotechino was warm and slightly spicy, nicely balanced by the compote.
Our second antipasto was the Insalata Primareva della Terra. A spring garden salad is usually pretty run-of-the-mill; however, Del Posto’s take on it was beautiful. See for yourself:
Flowers in my food often confuse me – is it a bouquet? Am I supposed to eat that blossom? But my eating buddy put the salad away pronto, so it looks like this dish was both pretty and yummy.
Our first entree dish was veal agnolotti with ramp butter. Agnolotti is a stuffed pasta. In this case, you could tell at the first bite that it was freshly made, and the ramp butter was delish! (I loooove ramps!). However, I kid you not, I took the picture below before taking any bites. I count 17 agnolotti, each being the size of a Starburst. I ate as slowly as I could and finished it in 5 minutes. Sad.
We also had the Halibut with Caponatina, Crunchy Fregola & Moorish Spices. Caponatina is a stewed eggplant, celery and olive mix, while fregola is similar to couscous. The halibut was tender, juicy and not over cooked, while the caponatina was flavorful but not overwhelming to the fish.
We had quite a few options for dessert, and the four we ordered did not disappoint. You’ll see that they’re all very different, so your liking will depend on individual taste. I will say that each was well-balanced in terms of flavor and texture – you can’t go too wrong with any of them. In addition to Lidia’s Sweet Pea Cake with Local Strawberries & Strawberry Gelato (first picture), we had:
Sfera di Caprino with Celery & Fig Agrodolce & Celery Sorbetto
Featuring goat cheesecake balls and celery sorbet, this unconventional dessert was both rich and refreshing.
Tartufo al Caffe with Dark Chocolate, Sant Eustachio Coffe & Candied Lemon
There was nothing too outrageous about the tartufo, but its dark chocolate flavor was intense. A definite must-try for coffee or chocolate fans.
Butterscotch Semifreddo with Melon Agrumata, Crumbled Sbrisolona & Milk Jam
I LOVE semifreddo. You can almost see the creaminess oozing out of the photo. The butterscotch wasn’t too overpowering (I was afraid it would bring back memories of those bright yellow candies) and I wanted to lick that caramel milk jam of the plate. I didn’t, but I wanted to. Maybe next time.
To top off our extravaganza of desserts, we were presented with a complimentary dessert sampler.
From left to right, that’s candied grapefruit with caramel and amaretti crumbs, a sweet/savory fruit tart, bombolini (orange vanilla cream mini doughnuts. I had one and had to close my eyes for a few seconds), and chocolate olive-oil popsicles.
If you’re looking for a departure from your typical pasta and red sauce Italian fare, Del Posto is worth a sample. Taking traditional ingredients and creating new presentations, the chefs yield some delightful surprises. I admit the ambiance was a little *too* fancy for my everyday comfort. Then again, I’m not a particularly fancy girl, and if I must pretend fancy-ness for a few hours to revel these scrumptious dishes, it’s worth it.
At $29 for the Prix Fixe lunch, it’s worth a try.
Del Posto 85 10th Ave. (at 15th St.)