25 July 2010

a dinner at Cipriani Wall Street

We stepped into Cipriani Wall Street with thoughts of New York Restaurant Week. While the massive columns and celebrity rich past of the original Harry's Bar in Venice (Ernest Hemingway and Peggy Guggenheim were among the regulars) draw images of grandeur, the interior is a bit simple- bookshelves, lights that could be muted and kitschy Cipriani logos on every- single- glass and plate.

We took a seat at the bar for a cocktail while waiting for a table outside on the terrace. About thirty minutes later, we were seated (mind you, we had a reservation). We looked over the Restaurant Week prix fixe and found it unappealing. We decided to get the proper experience by ordering from the regular menu. Pitch-perfect servers brought us a bread basket and bottle of pinot grigio.

For our appetizers, we partook in the Bresaola and the Insalata di Fagiolini Caciocavallo E Pomodoro. The Bresaola came folded and laid over a bed of dressed arugula and thinly shaved fresh parmesan. Absolutely spot on, though I must admit I harbor a particular affection for all of those ingredients. The Insalata di Fagiolini also impressed me with large slices of Octopus served poached and chilled with braised green beans, halved grape tomatoes and black olives. Both plates were massive in terms of appetizers and better suited for larger parties- or perhaps just one appetizer to be shared between the table.

For our mains, we decided to continue dining family-style. We selected the Cotoletta Alla Milanese and Scallops. The Cotoletta is perhaps the best veal I've ever tasted. Lightly breaded, it nearly melted in my mouth with a sexy buttery aftertaste. The Scallops were a good contrast, plump and massive, they circled a pile of broiled and olive oil rich artichokes. Both dishes came with oversized bowls of white rice pilaf, which in my opinion could have been avoided all together. I'm not quite sure how we finished the plates (the rice went nearly untouched), but perhaps it was the two and a half hours we took to indulge.

What happened next- well it nearly ruined the idyllic New York dining experience. Three men in goofy smiles surrounded us with dying desserts- a slumped over berry and cream cake, something chocolate and something- well whatever it was- it had seen better days. A simple menu or perhaps a better presentation would have sold my already full stomach. This however, was discouraging. A detail, that I must admit I am thankful for, as we really didn't need to punctuate the night with gluttony.

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