Ai Fiori (Private Dining)

We are so thrilled to be hosting a very special celebration at Ai Fiori, a restaurant that means a great deal to us. Ever since our first taste of the lobster vellutata and trofie nero pasta, we have been in love. It’s so exciting to have our family and friends experience the dishes from which we derive so much joy. The decadent four course meal began with a delightful amuse bouche of parmesan panna cotta — the perfect starter. I could barely contain my elation as the lobster vellutata was being poured into my bowl… it was just as exquisite as I remembered. So elegant and rich, yet cozy and comforting. Truly the best soup I’ve ever eaten. Next up was the best squid ink pasta on the planet: trofie nero! This was a unanimous favorite among our guests. The beautiful astice (butter poached lobster) and tagliata (dry-aged strip loin) followed, and the night ended with two scrumptious desserts (olive oil cake and dark chocolate mille feuille). The food was perfectly complemented by a lovely selection of wines (prosecco, sancerre, pinot noir, and cabernet sauvignon) chosen by Sommelier Colin Thoreen. It was an extraordinary night and we are so thankful to the Ai Fiori team for making our event a memorable one!

Ai Fiori: 400 Fifth Avenue (between West 36th and 37th Street)

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Amuse bouche: Parmesan Panna Cotta

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The anticipation builds as the Vellutata is poured

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Vellutata (lobster velouté, perigord black truffles, tarragon)

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Trofie Nero (Ligurian crustacean ragu, seppia, scallops, spiced mollica)

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Tortelli (ricotta & mascarpone ravioli, sottocenere cheese, red wine glaze)

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Astice (butter poached Nova Scotia lobster, garden beans, gold bar squash purée, breakfast radish)

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Tagliata (prime dry aged strip loin, endive, potato terrine “cacio e pepe”, Balsamico, bordelaise)

Ai Fiori (Private Dining)

Osteria Morini

Homemade pasta is one of my favorite things in the whole world. So it’s no surprise that I would want to have my birthday dinner at Osteria Morini, which features a whopping fourteen different pastas! My fiance and I studied the menu before we came and knew exactly what we wanted: a couple of light appetizers (rucola salad with crispy speck, lambrusco vinaigrette, pears & parmigiano and the pasta pie with ragu antica & parmigiano), followed by our top four pasta picks (gramigna, torcia, cappelletti, and spaghetti alla vongole). (I was so excited that I actually forgot my camera at home! :( I didn’t realize it until we were at the restaurant, so it was too late to do anything about it. I apologize for the poor picture quality! The photos do not do these dishes any justice. Anyway, back to the food…) The meal was every bit as amazing as I anticipated — a truly magnificent pasta fest! I fell in love with the gramigna (macaroni with pork sausage, tomato and cream). It’s so simple and so tasty! I love pastas that feel like a warm, cozy blanket. :) I was also reunited with a longtime love, the cappelletti (truffled ricotta ravioli with butter and prosciutto) — another simple dish, but so rich in flavor. After such an incredible feast, I had the pleasure of enjoying three amazing desserts: tiramisu, milk chocolate budino, and assorted gelatos (espresso, pistachio, and salted caramel). Endless thanks to Chef Michael White, the Osteria Morini team, and Altamarea Group for an absolutely perfect birthday dinner!

Osteria Morini: 218 Lafayette Street (between Spring and Broome)

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Tasty House Sodas (sarsaparilla and lemon)

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Rucola salad w/ crispy speck, lambrusco vinaigrette, pears, parmigiano

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Pasticcio alla Morini (pasta pie w/ ragu antica & parmigiano)

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Gramigna (macaroni, pork sausage, tomato, cream)

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Spaghetti Alla Vongole (clams, leeks, white wine)

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Torcia (squid ink pasta, shrimp & seppia ragù)

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Cappelletti (truffled ricotta ravioli, butter, prosciutto) — my apologies for the blurry photo!

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Birthday tiramisu!

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3 amazing gelatos: espresso, pistachio, and salted caramel… and one delicious chocolate cookie

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Milk Chocolate Budino (chocolate custard, stone fruits, cardamaro granita, cocoa nibs)

Osteria Morini

Nicoletta

After finishing an amazing dinner at Sushi Nakazawa, we were in the mood for a midnight snack. I mean, raw fish can only fill you up so much. We all love Nicoletta so we decided to head on over for some gelato… which turned into two whole pies and a bottle of Lambrusco. SECOND DINNER! 😉  We housed everything except for two slices of the special pizza of the night: Meatball Parm. It was so good. I even got an Italian Wedding Soup to go (it’s my very favorite Italian wedding soup and I order it every time I’m there). The perfect end to a delicious evening of foodie fun. Second dinners rock!

Nicoletta: 160 Second Avenue (at East 10th Street)

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Love this Lambrusco!

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(top): Special Pizza of the night: MEATBALL PARM 
(below): CLASSICA (pomodoro, whole milk mozzarella, aged parmesan, fresh basil)

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ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP (chicken broth, mini meatballs, ditalini pasta, sauteed spinach, parmesan)

Nicoletta

Ai Fiori

Ai Fiori has officially become one of my top three favorite restaurants of all time. I went back for the third time since February, and it was just as memorable as ever. The Vellutata and Trofie Nero are the two must-order dishes for me and my bf — we are obsessed with them! They are consistently amazing. Great service and fantastic food — that’s what makes me a die hard Ai Fiori fan for life!

Ai Fiori: 400 Fifth Avenue (between West 36th and 37th Street)

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Amuse bouche (whipped egg with pickled ramps and breadcrumbs)

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Special: (Spanish Mackerel Crudo, radish, caramelized onions)

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Vellutata (lobster soup, périgord black truffles, chervil)

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Trofie Nero (ligurian crustacean ragu, seppia, scallops, spiced mollica)

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Astice (butter poached nova scotia lobster, asparagus, morels, château chalon sauce)

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Birthday dessert!

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Petits Fours

Ai Fiori

Ai Fiori

Back at Ai Fiori for the second time in two weeks! This time we were celebrating a milestone birthday for a dear foodie friend. I was thrilled to finally be reunited with my beloved Vellutata… and it was every bit as glorious as I remembered it. Rich, savory, and luxurious — lobster soup at its finest! Another outstanding dish was the Trofie Nero (black squid ink pasta). I’ve never been a big fan of squid ink, but this homemade pasta with fresh seafood and crunchy crumbs was INCREDIBLE! I think I just discovered my new favorite pasta. Move over, Tortelli! (Just kidding. I still love you.) Continuing with the lobster theme, I went with the Astice as my entree, which was fantastic (I tried it last year and loved it). Time after time, the food at Ai Fiori continues to wow me. It is both elegant and comforting — a hard balance to achieve, but Chef Michael White makes it seem effortless. His homemade pastas and soups are simply the best!

Ai Fiori: 400 Fifth Avenue (between West 36th and 37th Street)

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Vellutata (lobster soup, Périgord black truffles, chervil) — this picture does not do it justice. It is amazing!

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Trofie Nero (Ligurian crustacean ragu, seppia, scallops, spiced mollica)

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Astice (butter poached Nova Scotia lobster, glazed root vegetables, Nebrodini mushrooms, Château Chalon sauce)

Ai Fiori

Ai Fiori

Our Valentine’s Day celebration was a day early this year, and we were super pumped to head back to Ai Fiori for some amazing Italian food. I’ve had Vellutata (the best lobster soup ever) on the brain for the last nine months and knew that I had to have it. As it turns out, Ai Fiori was serving a Valentine’s Day prix fixe and tasting menu from Wednesday through Saturday, and sadly, the Vellutata was not one of the options. I quickly got over my disappointment as I feasted on several incredible dishes, including the Zuppa di Zucca (a rich, creamy butternut squash soup with foie gras, brown butter and pickled squash), the Uovo in Brodo (a perfectly slow poached egg with black truffle and parmesan), the Tortelli (a ricotta & mascarpone ravioli topped with sottocenere cheese and drizzled with a red wine glaze), the Bouillabaisse (a delicious saffron broth with perfectly cooked scallops, langoustines, squid, mussels, clams, etc.), and finally, yummy petits fours and a refreshing set of pear and green apple sorbets. I am not exaggerating when I say that I literally devoured every bite of all of the above listed items. It was absolutely incredible! What a perfect way to spend pre-Valentine’s Day. Thank you, Chef Michael White, for yet another sensational meal. I’ll be back soon for that Vellutata!

Ai Fiori: 400 Fifth Avenue (between West 36th and 37th Street)

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Amuse bouche: white bean puree

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Zuppa di Zucca (butternut squash soup, pickled delicata squash, brown butter, foie gras)

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Uovo in Brodo (slow poached egg, black truffle, parmesan, focaccia)

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Tortelli (ricotta & mascarpone ravioli, sottocenere cheese, red wine glaze)

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Bouillabaisse (saffron broth, langoustine, scallops, bouchot mussels, rouille)

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Assorted sorbets (pear and green apple)

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Petits fours

Ai Fiori

Nicoletta

Chef Michael White never lets me down. I knew I was going to love his newest restaurant, Nicoletta, a casual pizzeria that opened last summer in the East Village. Since we were having a big family dinner, we went all out and ordered meatballs, rice balls, fingerling potatoes, Italian wedding soup, two salads (panzanella and arugula), lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken parmigiana, and four different types of pizzas: classica, carbonara, parmigiana, and calabrese. Whew! And that’s not including dessert — vanilla gelato with assorted toppings (salted caramel, pistachio brittle, crushed oreos, you name it).  I sampled a little (and sometimes a lot) of pretty much everything… and was a very happy camper. The meatballs were outstanding — so moist and flavorful. I think I inhaled three of them as soon as they hit the table. The suppli (deep-fried rice balls with mozzarella and pork ragu) and fingerling potatoes (with pecorino, lemon, and truffle oil) were both amazing. I must say that the Italian wedding soup was the best I’ve ever had (I took it home so I could enjoy it again later). The broth did it for me (it was so delicious) and, of course, those mini meatballs. I’m a huge fan of Chef Michael’s pastas, and the spaghetti was no exception — it was cooked al dente with a great tomato sauce. All of the pizzas were fantastic, particularly the parmigiana pizza which had fried eggplant. On top of the amazing food, our server couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful — he really gave exceptional service. Such a fun night with great company and delicious Italian food. I’ll be going back very soon with some more family members that I know will love it as much as I did. :)

Nicoletta: 160 Second Avenue (at East 10th Street)

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POLPETTE (brick-oven baked neapolitan meatballs, pomodoro, bread crumbs)

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ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP (mini meatballs, pasta, sauteed spinach, garlic, chicken broth, thyme, parmesan)

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PATATE (crispy fingerling potatoes, pecorino, lemon, truffle oil, parmesan fonduta)

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SUPPLI (risotto, mozzarella, pork ragu)

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CLASSICA PIZZA (pomodoro, whole milk mozzarella, aged parmesan, fresh basil)

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SPAGHETTI & POLPETTE (semolina pasta, neapolitan meatballs, pomodoro, garlic, parmesan)

 

Nicoletta

Marea

Marea features some of the best seafood and homemade pasta dishes that I’ve ever had. MUST HAVE DISH (if you like sea urchin): Ricci (sea urchin, lardo, and sea salt) — it’s fresh, creamy, rich, salty… reminds me of the ocean. I tried the fusilli with red wine braised octopus and bone marrow for the first time.  WOW.  The photo does not do it justice. It was phenomenal! The octopus was really tender and the bone marrow added a great unctuousness to the dish. By the time the whole branzino came along, I was stuffed, but still had to try it — very light and delicate with just a touch of lemon. I’m going to have to try making salt-baked fish at home now!

Marea: 240 Central Park South

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RICCI (sea urchin, lardo, sea salt)

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ASTICE (nova scotia lobster, burrata, eggplant al funghetto, basil)

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FUSILLI (red wine braised octopus, bone marrow)  ONE OF THE MOST DELICIOUS PASTAS I’VE EVER HAD!

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BRANZINO (whole fish, salt baked)

 

Marea

Ai Fiori

I’m a huge fan of Chef Michael White and his style of cooking. At Ai Fiori, I fell in love with the Vellutata (lobster soup) — absolutely one of the most delectable soups I have ever eaten! The zucchini soup was also extremely tasty. As always, Chef White does not disappoint when it comes to homemade pastas. The Tortelli (with ricotta, mascarpone, sottocenere cheese, and a red wine glaze) was rich and cheesy. You can bet that I will be coming back for more lobster soup and pasta in the very near future!

Ai Fiori: 400 Fifth Avenue (between West 36th and 37th Street)

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Vellutata (lobster soup, perigord black truffles, chervil)  BEST LOBSTER SOUP EVER!!!

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Zuppa di Zucchine (chilled zucchini soup, mayan prawns, basil, lemon)

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Tortelli (ricotta and mascarpone ravioli, sottocenere cheese, red wine glaze)

Ai Fiori