Who doesn’t love to venture to a well-known highly rated Zagat Italian restaurant? I hadn’t had a chance to stalk the menu before heading down to TriBeCa — so I had no clue what type of restaurant we were heading to. All I knew was it was Italian… Perfect!
When I walked into the restaurant we were greeted with a friendly “Buonasera” — many of those working at the restaurant seemed Italian. Their accents were perfection and if I closed my eyes, ate the food and listened to the wait staff talk in their native tongue, I would have felt like I was back in Florence.
While the ambiance was casual and comfortable — the space tucks in as many tables as they can on multiple floors. But who cares how cramped you are, as long as you have good food, company and conversation!
I am only going to share with you my favorite plates of the night. Off of the antipasta section of the menu I was encouraged to try the Cozze Al Burro which is steamed mussels out of the shell in butter, garlic and parsley with toasted bread. I was hesitant about this dish because it has been a while since I have enjoyed mussels. But, I always will try things again — and I sure am happy I did because this was probably my favorite dish! One scoop of the creamy mussels, butter, garlic and parsley combo placed on top of the crispy toast was to-die-for. I could help but think of my father and his favorite flavors and I know this is something he would enjoy very much! Being full of garlic, it’s hard not to love!
Another favorite starter was actually off of the specials menu. An Italian-style crepe stuffed with cheese and mushrooms was a great plate to hit the savory spot I was craving so much. The crepe itself you can hardly see — it was truly covered in a hefty portion of stringy mozzarella cheese. Baked to perfection, this plate should be on their permanent menu!
For our pasta dishes, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a different type of gnocchi. My experience with the potato dumplings, if that’s what you want to call them, have always been delicious but they are also very heavy in your stomach. Pepolino makes their gnocchi from spinach and ricotta rather than potato. Because of this change in ingredients, the Malfatti Burro e Salvia dish, was both fluffy and light. The spinach and ricotta gnocchi was covered in a butter and sage sauce — two beautiful ingredients I don’t think I could ever get sick of! What the plate needed though was a solid amount of parmigiano reggiano cheese grated on top … which was exactly what I asked for after taking my first bite! Perfection!
Okay, now I am going to share with you the biggest curve ball I have ever experienced in a restaurant! The final dish I ordered is called “Spaghetti Chitarra.” The description for this plate reads as:
Homemade square spaghetti with fresh tomato and basil
Okay. So, what would you think that dish is going to look like? Without even discussing it until the plate arrived, I thought it was legit SQUARE pasta, kind of like lasagna noodles except in the shape of a square. I was also expecting a red sauce since we saw the words “tomato” and “basil” in the description.
After further researching, why the heck didn’t I get “square” pasta I learned a few things:
- I am an idiot because it flat out says “spaghetti” in the description so we are going to get some sort of spaghetti noodles
- Chitarra is the Italian word for guitar — duhhh, that’s why my spaghetti noodles looked like guitar strings!
- And after searching around I couldn’t figure out why we didn’t have a red sauce like we thought we would have. I can’t find any specific sauce that is automatically assumed to be paired with Chitarra spaghetti.
This plate just caused major confusion… but in the end I enjoyed it! The edges of the Chitarra allowed the noodles to hold on to the cheese and butter in the dish — now, that’s my kind of pasta!
Overall I enjoyed Pepolino: the service was great, the restaurant was fun & comfortable and the wine list was perfecto! In all honesty though, Perbacco is still number one in my book!