Stephen Hanson is an impressive restaurateur. I have frequented his restaurants for years. His instincts for a successful dining experience have generally been spot on. Each restaurant has a different look and distinctive cuisine. Most important, the food is most always really good.
I am a huge fan of Blue Water Grill. Blue Fin in Times Square is also excellent but a bit overwhelming in size. Isabella’s on the Upper West side has been one of the few restaurants that has survived the many transformations of the Upper West side on Columbus Avenue. Dos Caminos which is now open on Park Avenue and Soho has innovative Mexican food and fantastic margueritas. I am not a big fan of Ruby Foo’s but certainly understand the popularity of that restaurant. Ocean Grill on the Upper East side I have never gone to and Park Avalon I found not good at all and that was a few years back. Fiamma in Soho is excellent. I have been trying to get back there for quite awhile. So, when he opened up a new restaurant near me, off we went.
My son had his piano recital on Saturday afternoon at Steinway on West 57th Street. Pretty impressive place to have his event but like every little nook and cranny in New York, so glad we were able to check it out. His request for dinner, since it was his night, was pizza. Ugh. So, Vento Trattoria which opened on Hudson between 13/14th because they happen to have a wood burning oven and make pizza. Also, a new place to check out. Perfect. We can have our cake and eat it too.
The restaurant takes over the obscurely shaped building on the corner of 14th between Hudson and 9th Avenue. The building has the dimensions of a small Flatiron building. It has been completely transformed over the past year except that the local dive is still on the corner, which keeps the neighborhood in check.
Vento has taken the first floor and second floor, opened them up so they are airy and clean. Unfortunately the sound issues in there are a huge problem. Although the ceilings are low, you literally can not hear the person across from you. I am not sure how they fix this problem but it is a major issue.
The staff is eager to please although they have not yet figured out standard protocol, like giving you a menu when you sit down. Otherwise, they could not have been nicer.
We started out with a few appetizers. The buffalo mozzarella is smooth, soft and yummy. The plate of proscuitto, mortadello and ham is delicious. We also had some frutti de mar, calamari and zucchini deep fried. This was ok not fantastic. The zucchini was a bit soft and the seasoning they used for the calamari was just ok. I am sure they will get it once the kitchen runs smoother. We also had the salad with a variety of different vegetables, asaparagus, edamame, tomatoes, etc. This was fresh, crunchy and the perfect amount of dressing.
Then we moved on to the main courses. The kids all have pizza – surprise! The 4 cheese pizza was intense and really delicious. The regular standard was good but would have wished to try the variety of interesting pizzas they had available. We had one pasta which was proscuitto, peas and truffles. Incredibly rich and incredible tasting. My mom and I split the pasta and the grilled sardines from the appetizers as a main course. The sardines were not good. Very dry with very little flavor. This particular appetizer needs some work.
My husband had a main course of fish which was very good.
We bagged dessert because we could barely hear each other speak and had enough. Guaranteed success is what I predict. The neighborhood is hopping more today than it did even one month ago. The place has a nice vibe. The food is as a whole really tasty and well priced. But, the sound thing….they have to work on that.