Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bits and Morsels surveys Sandro's

Fried artichokes at Sandro's.

A few weeks ago I was reading the New York Times and I came across an article about meals worth traveling for by Mimi Sheraton. She wrote passionately about Sandro’s on the Upper East Side, located at 306 East 81st Street.

She wrote about their top notch Roman cuisine and their having the best pasta all'amatriciana in the world. I had never been to Sandro’s and outside of JH, none of my friends had ever been there or even heard of it. Sandro’s is named for Chef Sandro Fioriti. He is a big, warm personable teddybear of a man who makes everyone feel like family.
Sandro's, 306 East 81st Street. Inset: The menu.
The restaurant gets very busy so make sure to make a reservation or you will wind up waiting. Not that waiting for a table is so bad; you can always snack on cheeses and other antipasti at the bar. And the service at Sandro’s is genuinely lovely. The crowd: UES locals and people in the know. On this night, Jamee and Peter Gregory were there also trying Sandro’s for the first time. You can tell by their photo that they were having a great time.
Chef and owner, Sandro Fioriti. Sous chef, Alex Medina.
The dining room.
It is impressive how much food they create in the kitchen. For one, they make their own breadsticks, which are addictive. Oh, and make sure to order the fried artichoke. This is a Roman classic and at Sandro’s it's perfectly crisp and complemented with a light salad.

The salad special (on this night) was arugula with pears and walnuts; very refreshing. To counteract the healthy salad, I ordered the fried ricotta cheese in tomato sauce. Sandro’s version is up there with the best. It’s a bit heavy so just order one portion for the table -- I guarantee someone will finish it off. For the main course you can’t go wrong with any of the pastas. The spaghetti limone is a fragrant and springy dish that manages to be both light and rich at the same time. The desserts at Sandro’s were also impressive.
Sous chef Alex Medina shows us how to make Sandro's famous torta di nonna (over a cappuccino, of course). CLICK ON IMAGE TO WATCH VIDEO.
The torta di nonna is an apple pie that’s airy and moist and just plain better than any pie (or cake) that I've had in a long time. It’s a homemade, rustic yet lightly citrus flavored cake lined with doughy, juicy apples. It’s up there with my favorite desserts and when I mentioned this to Sandro, he invited me into the kitchen to learn how to make it.

306 East 81st Street
They make their own breadsticks. Arugula salad with fresh pears.
Bruschetta. Grilled vegetables -- eggplant, zucchini, tomato and radicchio.
Peter and Jamee Gregory. Fried ricotta cheese with tomato sauce.
Pasta with eggplant and ricotta salata. Spaghetti al limone.
Torta di nonna.
Chocolate mousse. Lingering around snacking on breadsticks and a carafe of dry white wine
You wouldn’t think it but there are actually quite a few places in New York where you can get your meat slaughtered and butchered to your liking. New York actually has one of the highest concentrations of live-animal markets. The market is growing because of the many immigrant groups who are used to getting their meats this way. This is far removed from the shrink-wrapped poultry and meats we are used to throwing in our shopping carts at the local Food Emporium. [NY Times]

A recent NY1 poll indicates that as a result of the recession half of New Yorkers have cut out going to restaurants. 49% of the people polled admitted to cutting dining out of their routine. This is not good news for the restaurant industry. On the flip side, there are a bevy of bargains and good deals presently available and worth investigating if you can find room in your budget. [NY1]

The newest trend in cocktails
is drinks that utilize smoke. Mixologists are doing everything from smoking ice and fruit to using actual smoke in their cocktails. I suppose this is one way to get your smoke fix. [Gourmet]

In the June issue of GQ, Alan Richman writes about the 25 best pizzas in America. This is a great resource. New York makes a good showing and if you haven’t been, you should check out some of the spots on the list. Lucali in Brooklyn is # 2. [GQ]

Until we eat again,
Jordana Z.

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