Restaurant Review, New York City: ‘inoteca
This Lower East Side corner is particularly warm and inviting due to a few establishments that have a common theme-large, open windows with seating and tables spilling out onto the sidewalks, creating almost a bit of a small town feel. My favorite piece of this Lower East Side corner is a place called ‘inoteca. Being a West Villager, I had grown fond of a place on Bedford called ‘ino, but always wished it were a little bigger. It was more of a lunch spot to grab a panini during an afternoon stroll in the neighborhood. ‘inoteca, however, has risen to the challenge of becoming a real restaurant. Like its neighbors, ‘inoteca shares the big, open window policy which allows for an open and airy feeling, which is quite refreshing on mild evenings. A bit noisy at first, the volume never really grew to a point where I couldn’t hear the person across from me. In fact, I stopped noticing the yapping level after a few minutes.
The first thing I noticed when I sat down were the 600 bottles of wine surrounding the room. I thought I had died and gone to Italian wine heaven.
The restaurant specials included some seasonal favorites of mine-being the end of the summer those included tomatoes and corn. I tried a tomato, corn and string bean salad and a stuffed tomato to start, along with a 7-piece cheese plate. The salad was incredibly fresh and full of simple ingredients that brought out the flavors of the crisp veggies. The stuffed tomato had a breadcrumb top and sat in a bath of tomato broth that had just the right kick and served as a great dip for the bread. The Formaggi (cheese) menu is extensive and I did not taste one cheese that I didn’t enjoy. My favorite was definitely the Taleggio as it reminds me of my other favorite Italian cheese giant-Parmeggiano Reggiano.
The big highlight of the dinner for me was the polpette-meatballs. These were no ordinary meatballs. The meat mix was a combination of sirloin, veal and pork but had this taste that I couldn’t figure out at first but after a few more bites realized what it was…the sauce covering the polpette was a sublime and light tomato sauce with grated orange zest on top. The orange zest blended beautifully with the other ingredients and gave these meatballs a unique taste that will definitely send me back for more.
Been to any great restaurants lately? Tell us about it!