Alto, NYC 2

December 6, 2010

On November 22, 2010, Linda, Jim and I dined at Alto.  We had enjoyed our meal there last March and were looking forward to a nice evening. We were seated in a little room upstairs with only one other table; this suited us well as it was nice and quiet. We ordered glasses of prosecco. After consulting the menu, we decided on the four-course option rather than the seven-course Tasting Menu. 

The amuse-gueule was a little cup of warm leek and potato soup with breadcrumbs.


We ordered a bottle of 2006 Antano Montefalco Rosso from Umbria.

This blend of 60% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino, plus a touch of Colorino and Merlot, was good and went well with the cuisine. (Sagrantino is a grape specific to the Umbrian village of Montefalco.) 

Linda’s antipasto was
Animelle Milanese con Gremolata di Mela
crisp sweetbreads, apple gremolata, celery root, veal cream

Linda wrote: “A very good, substantial serving of sweetbreads formed into rounds and crisped nicely. The sauces and salad complemented the crispness.”

Jim’s antipasto was
Passato di Funghi con Ricotta
warm mushroom soup, truffled ricotta, crisp ciabatta

Mine was
Terrina di Coda di Bue e Fegato Grasso
country-style oxtail and foie gras terrine, pear mostarda, pickled chanterelles

I enjoyed this as the rustic flavor of the oxtail and its natural gelatine were highlighted by the elegance of the foie gras squares. The pickled pear and mushrooms added a nice contrast to the slight sweetness of the terrine. 

Linda and my pasta was
Uova Bergese con Funghi
organic egg raviolo, truffled-parmigiano, pine mushrooms, crisp sweetbreads

This rich dish was invented by Nino Bergese, chef to the last king of Italy and author of a renowned cookbook. The flavors were subtle and enjoyable. The crisp sweetbreads gave a needed textural contrast and some meaty substance. Nice. 

Jim’s pasta, and Linda’s main course, was
Cappellacci con Fagiano Selvatico
braised pheasant ravioli, baby root vegetables, natural consommé

Linda wrote that she had preferred a second pasta to a meat course and was pleased with these light, but flavorful ravioli.

Jim’s main course was
Branzino con Bagna Caoda
seared branzino, piemontese anchovy butter sauce, sauteed spinach

Mine was
Agnello con Zucca e Lenticchie
roasted lamb rack, fall squash, braising greens, lentils, huckleberry jus

This was very good lamb, cooked just right. The fall garnishes were unusual for lamb, but were well prepared and went beautifully.

Linda’s dessert was
apple cinnamon doughnuts, caramel sauce

Linda didn’t find the beignets to be as light as they should be, but she liked the caramel sauce. 

Jim’s dessert was
piemontese nougat semifreddo, hazelnut cake, warm chocolate sauce


Mine was
Panna Cotta
blood orange-vanilla panna cotta, pistachio crema, candied pistachio

This was well prepared and nice. 

There was a dessert offered for the table
Chocolate Millefoglie layers of chocolate crunch, white chocolate creme, blackberry sorbet, chocolate caramel tuille

There was a lot going on here. 

There was a little tray of nice mignardises.

Our meal was very good, but was not as outstanding as the big tasting menu we had the last time, which had clearly justified Alto‘s two-Michelin-star rating. The service was excellent. The noise level was fine in our little room, but it sounded quite noisy elsewhere. Anyway, we can still say that we have not been to a better Italian restaurant in New York.

To see our meal at Alto last March click here.

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