A Voce

August 15, 2007

41 Madison Avenue at 26th. 212-545-8555. www.avocerestaurant.com

(August 11, 2007) Serious foodies maintain that if you can take the noise level, A Voce is one of the best restaurants in town. The four of us were lucky this Saturday night. We arrived at 8:00 and had our choice of outdoors or indoors. Since it was a beautiful night, we opted for outdoors and were rewarded with a very acceptable noise level. This is no small place—the outside seats about 100 people and the inside more. Inside décor is stainless steel, high gloss chocolate and vanilla lacquers, walnut floors and leather topped tables.

Chef Andrew Carmellini turns out food “inspired by the spirit of the seasonal simplicity in Italian cooking”.

Our appetizers included a sublime foie gras, smoothed out with moscato d’Asti and served on grilled Tuscan bread. The only quibble with it was that the bread was a little thick. Zucchini flowers, breaded and stuffed with ricotta were served atop a basil and tomato coulis. Duck meatballs, a signature dish, were napped with a sweet but not too sweet cherry sauce.

Gary’s ricotta, flecked with basil and served with grilled Tuscan bread was perfect. For our main course, Gary and I had the duck meatball appetizers and Judy chose the rouget, served in a gratin pan with olives and capers and finely chopped vegetables that formed the sauce. The taste was out of this world but the pan made it hard to eat.

Steve’s gnocchi topped with lamb ragu and a dollop of sheep’s milk ricotta disappeared quickly but not before we all had a taste and pronounced it spectacular. Somehow we all found room to split one dessert.

Judy chose a cherry crumb cake with peach sorbet that was the perfect finish.

Our Planeta 2004 was a nice touch. Of course, all of this is to be expected from a chef of Carmellini’s stature. He was named the James Beard Foundation’s Best NY chef of 2005 when he manned the kitchen at Café Boulud. Figure on spending about $75 each with a modest wine and tip.

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