Last Saturday night, Fred and I walked over to Tavern On Jane for a drink and some appetizers (don’t recommend eating there, at all, ever).  Across the way we noticed a brand new restaurant with people flowing out the door.  OK, not getting in there. 

Monday morning, I am at boot camp (that would be 3 years now) and one of the Marines, who happens to be a foodie is yelling out about some restaurant.  Ends up, one of the owners of dell’anima is in my class that morning.  I talked to him afterward.  Restaurant opens up this Wed night.  I got his email and got reservations for Friday night.  A total NY story.

Remember, this restaurant has only been open to the public for two days when we appeared on the scene.  It takes a few weeks for the kinks to be ironed out.  The restaurant is not that big.  Maybe 10 tables at most and a bar around the kitchen and a bar around the bar for eating.  Very snug.  Fortunately and unfortunately, the blogging world and the food industry has changed so dramatically over the past few years that when a new restaurant opens up, the world knows momentarily.  People flock and some places can handle it while others can’t.  So in some ways you have to be ready for the public the minute your door opens.  Also, if you are small, you hope for continuity with the locals in the neighborhood but at the onset the place is packed with everybody.  It is a very tricky line to walk on.

The glass front sets the tone.  Modern, simple and low-key.  You can watch the chef’s at work.  The ventilation might need a bit of work.  Service is good but not everybody is sure of what the other one is doing yet.  We ordered a bottle of wine and it took awhile.  Many conversations being had before it got to us. 

There are five parts to the menu.  Bruschette, Antipasti and Salad, Pastas, Second courses (main entrees), and side dishes.  Dessert is separate. 

We began with the Bruschette.  Toasted peasant bread served on a plate.  Along side are small round bowls of toppings.  Roasted cauliflower chopped with a hint of lime which was good.  Sultana which is boiled down raisins with honey and vinegar.  This was really delicious and different.  We also went with the white anchovies which was served with small slices of celery.  All good and liked the communal idea. 

For our appetizers we were all over the place which let me taste a lot of different dishes.  Grilled Octopus.  Octopus that has been marinated in a sharp spicy marinade grilled and served with frisee.  Good but a little heavy handed on the salt.  The arugula salad was beautiful.  Lots of baby arugula served with parmigiana-reggiano and lemon.  There was so much lemon in the salad, it tasted like a lemon salad.  Pieces of endive filled with an anchovy citronette and topped with pecorino.  Good but again too heavy handed on the salt.  Roasted beets (not enough beets) served along side a watercress salad and a dollop of a very rich yogurt.  Interesting.  Remember, they just opened up.  I believe as time goes on that the chef will be less heavy handed and more nuanced. 

Main courses were quite good.  Usually I find the appetizers the best part of the meal but not here.  The main courses were quite good.  One of us went with the tagliatelle Alla Bolognese.  Rich and really tasty.  Small portion.  Definitely meant to be eaten before the main course and not as a main course.  If the waiter realizes it is for a main course, then they should up the amount and charge accordingly.  The chicken Diavolo was served with slices of roasted squash.  The chicken had a bit of a bite to it (they used spicy paprika) and was juicy and crisp.  Really nice.  The striped bass was also cooked perfectly.  Served with a rapini puree and broccoli on the side covered with chopped olives. The broccoli was just steamed.  They could come up with something a bit more interesting.  As a whole, we really liked the main courses.

We would have opted for dessert but unfortunately the freezer was broken and there wasn’t any.  They plan on serving homemade gelatos and sorbets.  Gives us a reason to go back.

Good not great but again only the third night.  I will return to see how the kitchen has settled in.