Last night The Brooklyn Bite was off to Manhattan (via the bridge and tons of traffic) to a family birthday dinner at the new East Village hot spot, L'apicio. L'apicio is an Italian themed restaurant from Executive Chef Gabe Thompson and beverage director Joe Campanale both of L'artusi (one of my favs!), dell'anima, and Anfora fame. In addition to the great modern Italian fare, there is also an extensive wine list, and a deep cocktail menu. The space is modern and slick, and larger than I would have guessed. There is a comfy looking lounge area in the front, and a main room with a mixture of stand alone tables and cushioned booths.
We sat by the bar where the friendly and helpful bartender attended to us until our party arrived. I had the delicious Spicy Dirty Martini, with celery bitters and b & g peppers and juice.
Spicy & strong, just my style.
We were 6 people which definitely has its benefits (now I can order the whole menu without anyone giving me dirty looks!), and order WE DID!
Check out the full menu here. L'apicio menu
We started with the Grilled Endive salad with pecorino; Romaine salad with anchovy croutons, Escarole with pecorino-buttermilk dressing, and the Bosc Pear with blue cheese and hazelnuts. All were decent salads, though maybe a little cheesy and slightly redundant. Next we ordered the bruschetta with fried egg, and tuna carpaccio with olives and artichokes. Both were excellent. I'm a sucker for anything with a fried egg on it, and fresh tuna carpaccio is always a good thing.
The pasta course was by far our favorite. The best was the Mezzalune with cauliflower, capers and pine nuts, it had great texture and delicious flavors. The Spaghetti with spicy tomato sauce, was simple and excellent. The Orecchiette with ribollita ragu, and the pasta special with porcini mushrooms, were also both delightful additions. Each pasta tasted unique and exquisite in its own way.
Next came the roasted mushrooms, chillies, and ricotta salata
from the "polenta alla spianatora" section. Another winner.
The main course. By this point we were all pretty full, but the fish was fresh and all the flavors worked well. The Red Snapper was prepared with black lentils, sofritoo crudo, and frisee, and the Branzino was grilled with chickpeas, chilis, and olives. Maybe not the most memorable part of the night, but solid fish. The creamed kale was the only thing we had all night that was a flop. The roasted brussels sprouts on the other hand, were great and went well with the fish.
The night ended with dessert including a banana chocolate torta, chocolate cake, and some gelato. The chocolate cake was better than the banana torte, though honestly none of the desserts were exceptional. Coconut gelato was pretty good, pass on the rosemary gelato.
All in all, I would definitely recommend L'apicio. The place was cool and trendy, the food was excellent, and we had a beautiful birthday dinner.
Neighborhood: East Village, Bowery
Good For: Drinks, Date spot, Birthday, Large groups
Bite Mark: *** & a half