The Park Slope Gastronome

Back in Park Slope.

Monday, April 19, 2010

lunch at restaurants I can't afford dinner: Del Posto

The best lunch deal in New York can be found at Del Posto. This is a three star restaurant (possibly four in the near future) serving three courses plus a bunch of extra nibbles and bites for $29. The meal is worth every penny (and probably more, but don't tell the owners). Molly and I had a lunch date with a pair of Brits recently where we were spoiled rotten, starting with a round of complimentary Bellinis. Our party of four is then present with this trio of starters. In the foreground left are gougères-y type things studded with bits of mortadella. To the right are suppli, Roman rice balls with mozzarella in the mix. These are usually coated in breadcrumbs, but Del Posto rolled them in cooked rice and then sprinkled with gold dust. The cups are filled with stracciatella, a sort of egg-drop soup. So simple, yet so delicious, which sums up Italian cooking so often.

Wait, there's more! We then we get a second round of amuses: wedges of buffalo mozzarella dipped in shaved black olive (or was it cocoa...or both?), mini crostada with whipped cod and chickpea fritters filled with cheese. De-li-cious. Please give me only bite-sized tastes from now on.

Oozy, cheesy fritter innards.

For my first course I chose the roasted vegetables with robiola sformato and truffled hazelnuts. in addition to the veg, there were some bites of fruit, including a wonderful wedge of roasted pear. I am a sucker for robiola and have been from the first time I tried it at a little cicchetti stand in Venice some 8 years ago.

Instead of our second course, the kitchen sent out plates of the agnolotti dal plin with Parmigiano-Reggiano. They were served in a napkin nest and we were instructed to take a veal and pork filled packet (still a little wet from the pasta water), and dip it into the cheese before popping into our mouths. Incredible. I could have eaten these all afternoon long.

I had a doozy of a time deciding on a second course - pasta or protein? Once I saw my plate, I knew I had made the right choice. This is Carlo's stracchiotte with frutti di mare alla marinara.
Note the gorgeous two-toned pasta, first of all. The perfectly cooked pasta mingled with rings of perfectly cooked squid and lumps of scallop and this incredibly light, but flavorful sauce of tomato, onion and garlic. I would have a difficult time NOT ordering this on any return visit.

Before we move onto our dessert course, we get a modified cheese course, assembled table side by pastry chef Brooks Headley (a friend of Molly's, hence the extra special treatment. I know you were wondering!). But wait, I haven't even talked about the bread we were served. I didn't take any photos of it because I was too busy stuffing my face with grissini, olive rolls, mini baguettes and foccacia slathered with fancy butter and lardo! So Chef Brooks explains that Lidia, one of the owners, requires that he incorporate vegetables in his desserts, like this eggplant crostada. Here he spoons melted robiola (again!) over the slice.

And then drizzles chocolate over it. A weird combo, but the eggplant was so sweet and tender, it could have been mistaken for fig. The chocolate cut through the funk of the cheese and so it worked!

This was our palate cleanser - a rhubarb creamsicle. That would be rhubarb sorbet on the bottom and olive oil gelato on top and olive oil drizzled over it. The garnish was a piece of brown butter cookie. Yum.

For our official dessert course, we played pass the plate with four different offerings. TI can't remember all the components, but the base was some sort of chocolate, duh. There was also a chocolate twig and the ridged, potato chippy looking thing is actually crumbled penne rigate pasta!

Fennel pollen cheesecake with rhubarb and blood orange, with torn pieces of bread to be used to sop up the remaining juices. This was a cool flavor combination because we were at the tail end of blood orange season and the very beginning of rhubarb.

Chestnut cake with warm plum macedonia, crushed chestnuts and yogurt gelato. More yummmm.

This was the most interesting dessert of the quartet: sfera di caprino with celery & fig agrodolce & celery sorbetto. The little balls are goat cheese rolled in breadcrumbs (I loved the chef's use of bread in his desserts), the dark stuff is the fig and aged balsamic, if I remember correctly. And the green stuff is shaved celery and the sorbet. More veggies in dessert and more incredibleness! The celery was so refreshing.

But no, we're still not finished. We end the meal with more bites, this time sweet and charmingly displayed on a cheese grater. From left to right: mini bomboloni; roasted dates filled with cheese and sprinkled with sea salt; pineapple "jolly ranchers"; chocolate-olive oil popsicle rolled in breadcrumbs.

I thought we were done, but then the drawer was pulled out and there were more bites! Candied grapefruit flavored with Aperol (I think), another mini crostada but sweet this time, of course (I love the parallels with the savory bites), chocolate covered honeycomb (think of the deliciousness of a Crunchie bar and then multiply that tenfold) and caramels wrapped in edible rice paper.


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