Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bits & Morsels

Cream puffs at Il Tinello.

Welcome home.
At Il Tinello, everything from the food to the service is superb. I've been going there for many years and have celebrated engagements, birthdays, and even divorces (no, not mine) there. So, I can say with certainty, that Il Tinello is the perfect restaurant for every and any occasion. The service is gracious and attentive and the host, Mario, greets each diner with a “welcome home." And Mario has a point; the atmosphere is unanimously warm and comfortable, and has an unmistakable genuineness that grows stronger with every visit. Plus, unlike trendy new "eateries," which open and close in a New York minute, Il Tinello isn't going anywhere. Not if I can help it.

The food is farm fresh/old-school Italian; an exacting recipe of atmosphere, service, and of course, food. But without the pretension. How a restaurant prepares a Caesar Salad is usually a good indication of quality and execution. Something as simple as a Caesar Salad can be a gluey mess in more restaurants than I'd like to admit. At Il Tinello, the Caesar is prepared tableside and it's one of my favorite salads throughout New York. As the waiter mixes the dressing you may ask him to hold the anchovies, but I highly recommend not fiddling. It will come with capers, anchovies and parmesan cheese.
Filleting the Dover Sole.
The menu offers what one would expect, a wide range of Italian dishes, and has even named some after its best customers or favorite personalities (Agnolotti ala Regis with mascarpone and asparagus is named for Regis Philbin). For the main course: If you like Dover Sole, don't look any further. A couple heavy-handed squeezes of lemon and you have a perfect dish. As I already mentioned, a good part of the dining experience at Il Tinello is its service, and watching the waiter precisely filet the sole is a treat to behold. The dessert cart is packed with tarts, cakes and fresh fruit. The cream puff with hot chocolate sauce and berries is an excellent choice, worthy of going off any diet. Il Tinello, 6 W 56th St (btwn 5th & 6th Ave), 212-245-4388.
Preparing the Caesar tableside.
Antipasti platter.
Clockwise from top left: Il Tinello, 6 W 56th St; Our host, Mario; Caesar salad; Orecchiette with fresh tomato sauce.
Dover Sole plated with snap peas and potatoes.
Clockwise from top left: The dessert cart with Chocolate Cake, Fruit Tart, and Tiramisu.
Cream puffs. Biscotti and an assortment of cookies.
Starting Monday, chain restaurants will be required to post calorie counts on their menus. At fast food restaurants, many menu items that appear to be a healthy choice usually contain more calories than you would expect. And if you are made aware of the amount of calories in your food, it just might influence your caloric intake for the rest of the day. If you discover your smoothie is 700 calories, you will most likely spring for a lighter lunch. Hopefully this will lead to healthier eating decisions. [AM NY]

This is a lovely blog post about a reporter organizing a dinner party in Iraq. It always amazes me to see how people connect over food and how preparing a specific dish can bring them home or as close as they can get. Next time you make gnocchi, try out this recipe. [NY Times]

Here is a list of restaurants that offer free bar snacks. These snacks are beyond the usual bowl of mixed nuts. Some of them are even healthy! At Pastis, you can snack on hardboiled eggs while sipping your cocktail. [Gridskipper]

Rising food costs are hurting pizza shops. As everyone knows, the price of wheat and dairy products are rising. Pizza shops can’t compete with value meals and smaller portions because at the end of the day they are selling pizza, not chicken nuggets. Something to think about the next time your order a pie. [The New York Times]

Till we eat again,
Jordana Z.

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