Gnocco

One of my favorite Italian restaurants in the city, Gnocco is currently hidden underneath scaffolding on 10th street between Ave A and B , and is almost like a best kept secret. I recently had dinner here on New Year’s Eve, my second time, and always admire it’s Tuscan charm and unpretentious vibe.

Gnocco

Gnocco

The cuisine is northern Italian, heavily focused on meat, cheese and stuffed pastas. We first started off with the restaurant’s namesake appetizer, the Gnocco, and Arancini di Riso. The Gnocco comprises of homemade deep fried dough (similar to the Cassoncini from A Voce ) with a selection of cold cuts and is served unassembled; however the way it’s supposed to be eaten is by wrapping the cold cuts around the fried dough. Simple in concept, this dish is absolutely mind-blowing.

Arancini di Riso

Arancini di Riso

The Arancini is stuffed with creamy medley of peas, zucchini, mozzarella cheese and is supposed to be dipped in a spicy marinara sauce. The marinara sauce can be mistaken for tomato soup and can stand by itself. While I did like the Arancini, I still keep reminiscing about this past summer at Madison Square Eats where I tried a variety of them for the first time.

For our entrees, we shared the Tagliatelle con Ragu e Piselli (homemade tagliatelle pasta with beef ragu and green peas) and the Affumicata (pizza with smoked mozzarella, tomato sauce and Italian sausages). People always ask why I would choose to go out for pasta when I can make

Tagliatelle con Ragu e Piselli

Tagliatelle con Ragu e Piselli

it for way less. My personal philosophy is to pick dishes that would be difficult to recreate. I can appreciate a ragu because it can typically take hours for the meat to stew  and the Tagliatelle did not disappoint! As for the pizza, the combination of smoked mozzarella and spices of the sausage enhanced seemingly basic ingredients.

Unfortunately I didn’t order dessert, but on my next visit I will look Calzone Nutella. I look forward to the next visit and will have a difficult time picking something new to try.

Food: 4.5/5

Service: 4/5

Ambiance: 4.5/5

Value: 4.5/5

Overall: 4.4/5

Singapura

I first heard about Singapura after perusing the New York Times a few months ago. I never consistently rely on reading food reviews, but I needed inspiration since I have felt disconnected with the up & coming restaurant scene. After reading SeriousEats, I was reminded yet again of this place and decided to go before the New Year!

Sandwiched in between the Indian restaurants in Curry Hill, Singapura is situated next to Dhaba, one of my favorite spots in the area. The space is narrow, and the ambience intimate, with warm colorful lights shining down on the red upholstered booths and walls decorated with abacuses. The staff is friendly and seated us instantly despite the fact that the restaurant was full.

Malay Fried Chicken

Malay Fried Chicken

We started off with glasses of wine and ordered the Malay Fried Chicken ($7) and the Roti Canai ($5) with chicken curry. The Malay fried chicken came with sides of Sriracha and garlic sauce. The skin of the chicken was crisp and satisfying, but the flavor wasn’t anything beyond good. The roti was predictable and safe, and like the chicken, not memorable.

For entrees, we ordered the beef

Massaman curry

Massaman curry

Massaman curry ($15), Sizzling Lamb ($15) and shrimp Chili Garlic Noodles ($14). The Massaman curry, a simple, mild yellow curry with potatoes, peppers and peanuts is lightly spiced but very flavorful. The Sizzling Lamb, true to its name, arrives in iron platter reminding me of fajitas. Last but not least the shrimp Chili Garlic Noodles, my personal favorite, with scallions, bell peppers and shrimp.

Looking back on the meal, I wasn’t disappointed with any dish, but I can say that there are new dishes I would try the next time I return. In fact, we got take out from here the same weekend and ordered the roti (again) but tried the chicken satay, shrimp pad thai, nasi goreng.

Food: 3.5/5

Service: 4/5

Ambiance: 4/5

Value: 4/5

Overall: 3.9/5

A Voce Columbus Circle

Scrambling to confirm Holiday plans just one week ago, I decided on A Voce for our Christmas Eve dinner. A Voce has always been in the back of my mind as a place that I’d like to visit, but usually forget about it, until I hear about a friend’s experience or come across a restaurant review.

A Voce has 2 locations in the City, one on Madison Avenue and the other at the Time Warner Center. In all honesty I selected the TWC location based on the festive area near Central Park and also because the complex houses Per Se, Masa and the Landmarc–A Voce must be good in order to compete with these businesses, right? Kidding (kind of). I actually went through a minor period of remorse for not picking the Madison location with Uni pasta on the menu!

Our reservation was for 8:15 pm and the restaurant was completely packed. The ambiance is romantic and dim and my boyfriend and I were seated against the wall and had a transparent view into the large wine cellar that holds hundreds of wine bottles. Upon ordering, we received complementary, fresh focaccia bread and ricotta cheese with olive oil drizzled on top.

Cassoncini (swiss chard and crescenza cheese filled fried dough, prosciutto di parma) shown in front; and Pancetta (pork belly, figs, balsamic, pistachios) shown behind

Cassoncini (swiss chard and crescenza cheese filled fried dough, prosciutto di parma) shown in front; and Pancetta (pork belly, figs, balsamic, pistachios) shown behind

For appetizers we ordered the Cassoncini (swiss chard and crescenza cheese filled fried dough, prosciutto di parma) $11 and Pancetta (pork belly, figs, balsamic, pistachios) $13. Both delicious, the Pancetta offered a duality of  taste with the sweet figs co-mingling with the not overly salted, savory pork belly. The Cassoncini itself is a safer yet satisfying option, tasting similar to that of a Spankopita, except now wrapped in prosciutto.

I was disappointed that the Pici (cocoa pasta, duck bolognese, golden raisins, pine nuts) had sold out because I was craving longer noodles and was also intrigued by cocoa infused pasta. When informed that this was no longer an option, I scrambled to find something under the Primi section of the menu. Nothing especially jumped out at me and so I settled for the waiter’s recommendation of Agnolotti (cauliflower filled pasta, anchovy, lemon, breadcrumbs) $22. My boyfriend ordered the lamb and sausage tartare $39. My Agnolotti was rich in a creamy sauce with lemon zest. Each bite had the perfect combination of cauliflower and sprinkled breadcrumbs. The lamb was tender and delicious but nothing out of the ordinary. On the other hand the sausage tartare was an interesting addition to the dish, balancing the gamey taste of the lamb.

Agnolotti (cauliflower filled pasta, anchovy, lemon, breadcrumbs)

Agnolotti (cauliflower filled pasta, anchovy, lemon, breadcrumbs)

Lamb & sausage tartare (not on the online menu!)

We topped off dinner with complimentary marshmallows, Bomboloni alla Toscana (tuscan doughnuts, bittersweet chocolate) $11 and Semifreddo (semifrozen espresso mousse, espresso caramel, chocolate, milk) $10. Any dessert with chocolate never fails in my eyes, but I must say the marshmallows were a highlight because of the light lemon flavoring and the soft, half-melted texture. I’ve never had anything like this before.

All in all, the ambiance and food alone have made it worthwhile for me to revisit again. I’m curious to actually try the Madison Avenue location for comparison. The service was lacking and the waiter did not appear to be fully engaged (or energetic) when it came to serving his customers, which is not indicative of a 1-Michelin star restaurant.

Food: 4/5

Service: 3/5

Ambiance: 4/5

Value: 4/5

Overall: 3.8/5