I haven't written about a restaurant in a while. But when I realized that I have been repeatedly thinking back to this one dinner I had over a month ago, I decided that it is probably worth writing about. The restaurant that made such a lasting impression is A Voce at Columbus Circle. It is a contemporary Italian "chain" (if you could call it that. Its only other location is on Madison Ave.) but don't let that put you off. Sure, it has a Michelin star. But what I loved was that the food was the main focus, without the potential pretension that can accompany fine dining. The dining room was dimly lit, but was casual enough to feel completely relaxed. Although not quite an "open kitchen," there is a large window where you can look into the studio where the magic happens. (This is all I remember of the interior. Oh, and they have cool light bulbs hanging over the bar.) The restaurant claims to have views of Columbus Circle and Central Park, although there are mostly a few large semicircular banquettes next to the window, and they all face into the restaurant. The service was very friendly and prompt.
(More after the jump)
All these details create an environment to showcase many great dishes, each simple and delicious but detailed enough to make it interesting. I hadn't had a meal in a while that was, in my opinions, pretty much flawless from start to finish.
I started with a cocktail which (I think) was called the Fiore Bianco? And it was one of the most delicious things to ever come in a glass. Elderflower+white cranberry+vodka. It was fruity, fragrant and slightly floral without tasting like you're drinking granny's perfume. (They also have a 64-ish page wine list, if you're into that.) While you peruse the menu, you are served some bread for the table. But this isn't a few slices of baguette and a couple pats of butter. Nope. You get warm, soft foccacia and a dish of milky smooth homemade ricotta, dressed with olive oil, red pepper and basil. It was a good sign of things to come.
A Voce has a changing "fresh sheet" to go with its usual menu. For starters we had roasted beets with pistachios off the "fresh sheet", and Pancetta from their usual offerings. The second starter was an incredible strip of pork belly, caramelized and crisp on the outside, melting and rich on the inside. The heaviness was balanced with balsamic vinegar, fresh figs, and pistachio.
For my main course, I had striped bass. This was perfectly cooked and served with beans and lacy, singed, paper-thin slices of grilled cauliflower. I also tried the papparedelle tossed with braised veal shank. Served very casually in a bowl, the pasta was tender and flavourful.
The desserts were just as delicious. I had the Semifreddo di Torrone, which was an ice cream/mousse hybrid and tasted of honey. I also sampled a rich, dark chocolate walnut tart which paired very nicely with a cinnamon gelato.
When I eat out in New York, I usually try to go to a different place each time. However, I think I will put A Voce on my list of places to repEAT. (Oh so punny. Pardon the lameness.) I realize that my (rave) review is a little overzealous, so I hope it does not give you overly high expectations should you go.
You should go.
A Voce Columbus
10 Columbus Circle (in the Time Warner Center)
New York, NY
Image credit: LASplash