Leonti, NYC

March 12, 2019

Adam Leonti was chef de cuisine at well-regarded Vetri Cucina, in Philadelphia, for many years. In November, 2018, He opened Leonti in the old Dovetail space on West 77th Street.

Judith and I went for dinner on March 10, 2019, to celebrate her upcoming birthday.

The dining room has been spread out from what it was under Dovetail and seems more comfortable.

We started with a house cocktail:
Bitter Orange
amaro nonino, campari, ginger, spumanti brut.

This was delicious.

Two quite complicated stuffed olives were an aperitivo.

A little cup of rich, salty beef brodo was served.
There were fresh, good hot sourdough bread and focaccia in the basket. The chef mills his own flour.

We made our choices from the concise, expensive menu. From the extensive wine list which was inherited from Dovetail we ordered a bottle of
2012 La Torre Riserva Brunello di Montalcino. 

It was very good.

Judith’s first course was
Cinnamon Scented Fettucine
wild boar ragù

She thought that the cinnamon was way overdone and took any subtlety out of the dish. That it was served warm, not hot, also detracted.

Mine was
Roman Artichoke Lasagna
mint, parmigiano

This was way overcomplicated and unnecessarily inventive. It was a lasagna only in that there were two béchamel-soaked pasta squares layered between sort of an artichoke mush. (I think that was what it was; hard to tell.) The mint leaves added a pervasive and not really welcome flavor. The artichoke topper was soft, not crisp as a “Roman” artichoke should be. 

Judith’s main course was
Stuffed Rabbit
cipollini, pistachio, grappa carrots

She found this okay, but boring.

My main was
Chicken in Pastella
sourdough batter, agrodolce, puntarelle salad

This also was boring. Puntarella salad implies whole leaves not sort of a cole slaw. 

For dessert Judith had a birthday-decorated plate with
Chocolate Budino
candied hazelnuts

Very nice.

I had
Ricotta Sbrisolona
goat’s milk, blood orange

This was good, with the blood orange sorbet offsetting the dryness of the crumbly cake.  


These were good. We were not too full to enjoy them, as we had not finished our main courses.

Well, obviously we were disappointed. It is peculiar that the chef makes such complicated dishes, very different from what one would be served in Italy. That is not at all what he professes. He said in an interview on Eater;

While it’s a fine-dining, white-tablecloth experience, the food is meant to be “simple” and “pure,” Leonti replaces what used to be American fare with elegantly plated yet uncomplicated Italian dishes.

The service and pace were very good; the noise level energetic, but not too bad.


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