Avena, NYC

December 12, 2017

Avena opened in February 2017 at Lexington Avenue and 57th Street. It is a Northern Italian restaurant, reflecting the origins of its chef, Roberto Deiaco. Linda and I went for dinner on November 16, 2017.

We were seated in the back of the lower level, which has four tables and is the quietest part of the restaurant.  . There is a larger dining room up a flight of stairs. Linda started with a glass of Bruno Paillard Première Cuvée Champagne while I had one of Mirabella Franciacorta Brut Blanc de Blancs.

We chose from the à la carte menu and ordered a bottle of
2011 E. Pira e Figli “Chiara Boschis” Cannubi Barolo.

Our excellent young waiter, Nick, put it in a Barolo decanter for us.

It was superb.  

We were served a bowl of Swiss chard soup with a dab of milk from the cappuccino machine.


A basket was put on the table including bread, grissini and a tissue-thin rosemary flatbread, all made in-house. There was olive oil for dipping.

Linda’s first course was
Ravioli all’Uovo di Puglia e Petali di Tartufo

Our waiter explained that the home-made ravioli sheet is covered with ricotta and then a quail egg is broken into each hole where a raviolo will be formed.  The covering sheet is added and the ravioli are cut.  The butter sauce was good. The black truffles on top had little flavor, but the dish made a nice starter.

Mine was
Tagliolini ai Finferli

The thin pasta ribbons had the texture of eggy tajarin from the Piemonte. They were dressed with strips of chanterelles and topped with very small, crisp julienne pieces of speck, or dry-cured ham from the Italian alps. The mound of pasta was surrounded with a ring of parsley root purée, which added color and a hint of vegetable freshness. This was an excellent dish. The flavors and textures combined beautifully.  

Linda went on to
L’Anatra in Due Modi

There were five flavorful, tender duck breast slices on top of halved, large Champagne grapes. Alongside was a confit duck leg and a potato galette. The long wait for this course had taken a toll on Linda’s appetite and she only ate a bit of it although it looked promising.. 

My main course was
Maialino da Latte

Meaty ribs of suckling pig had been charred. Underneath were broccolini spears and pieces of glazed quince over a pork reduction sauce.  I would have liked more quince pieces as they were needed to moisten and enhance the pork meat, but the dish was very good. 

We did not order dessert, but were offered a Tiramisù.

This house-made tiramisù had a dome of custard on top of mascarpone cheese and a scoop of mascarpone sorbet on top.  

The cuisine was well designed and well executed. Unfortunately the wait for our courses was excessive. By the time our main dishes arrived, we found it difficult to enjoy them as we would have liked. Internet comments indicate that this is a common problem at Avena. I think it stems from the chef wanting to do too much himself. This is surprising as he has been top chef at much larger restaurants. We hope that he can work that out as he has a lot of talent. 



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