Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bits and Morsels discovers Il Gattopardo

Parmigiana of zucchini with smoked mozzarella, fresh tomato and herbs at Il Gattopardo.

First comes MOMA then comes an al fresco lunch at Il Gattopardo. After visiting MOMA's Marina Abramovic's exhibition (NYSD 3.22.10), I noticed a little restaurant across the street from the museum, a few doors down from Manolo Blahnik.

It was a glorious day and the outdoor tables were decidedly inviting, so I couldn’t resist giving it a try. My leisurely lunch turned out to be so enjoyable that I went back for dinner the next night. The restaurant was filled and Jeb Bush, who is one of their regulars, was there for dinner. The décor is understated, its main feature being its white brick walls and a lovely enclosed garden space in the back.
The entrance to Il Gattopardo. I stopped by for an al fresco lunch after visiting Marina Abramovic's The Artist is Present at MoMA.
Il Gattopardo is located on the ground floor of a mid-block townhouse. Il Gattopardo is named for Luchino Visconti's film, The Leopard, which came out in 1963.
The outdoor seating area.
Lunch for one at an outdoor table.
The generous bread basket.
An even more generous portion of Burrata.
Pasta primavera.
Home made biscotti.
Almost everything they serve (from the pasta to the biscotti) is made in house. Their signature dish is the Neopolitan meatloaf served on a heaping bed of mashed potatoes. In addition to good crispy salads, their burrata is an excellent starter. Burrata is basically mozzarella cheese with a soft creamy center.

Forget about dieting for the day because you don't want to miss out on their pasta courses. The spaghetti with tomato sauce and vegetables is one of the better pasta dishes I've had lately. For dessert: order the Cassata. It’s a blend of ricotta cheese and candied fruits wrapped up in marzipan (a marzipan lover's dream). It's a unique dessert, rarely seen on other menus around town.
Il Gattopardo's owner, Gianfranco Sorrentino. Il Gattopardo, as in Leopard, decorates the walls.
Il Gattopardo was originally located in MOMA under the name Sette MOMA; it has been in its current location since September 18th, 2001. Not only did it survive what must have been a rocky beginning, but today, it is flourishing. Il Gattopardo is owned by the ever-gracious Gianfranco Sorrentino and is (no, not you Gianfranco) one of the best kept secrets in Midtown.

Il Gattopardo
33 West 54th Street
A look inside the dining room.
Crispy salad with radicchio, friseé, fennel, carrots and young red wine vinaigrette.
Tomato and cucumber salad with aged ricotta cheese, red onions and basil vinaigrette.
Homemade pasta with eggplant.
Codfish “in casseruola” with black olives, capers, cherry tomatoes and potatoes.
Two dover sole being presented before fileted.
The Turbot as well.
Neapolitan meat loaf with chive mashed potatoes and spinach.
Lemon and rosemary grilled baby chicken with roasted potatoes.
Homemade ice cream - chocolate, nougat and hazelnut. Mixing the zabaione.
Chocolate cake.
Fresh berries.
Martini lunches are out. A booze-filled artery-clogging steak lunch is not particularly healthy or productive (which we already knew) or more importantly, "in." The new business lunch includes grilled fish, salads and iced tea. And no more bacon at power breakfasts, but rather granola and egg whites. [NY Post]

One of the most heartbreaking effects
of the recession is that many families have had to give up their pets. Animal shelters are getting many hungry pets, and as a result, charitable organizations are setting up pet food banks. Hopefully this will keep more animals and their families together. [NY Times]

The Hump restaurant in California,
which was recently accused of serving whale meat, has closed. Whale meat is considered an endangered species and cannot be sold legally in the United States. The restaurant, and one of its chefs, was charged with illegal sale of a marine mammal product for an unauthorized purpose and could face a year in prison and a $200,000 fine. [CNN]

Here is the recipe for the famous crack pie from Momofuku Milk Bar, just in case you can't make it in person. It’s a (very) sweet sugary pie that is heavily addictive, as the name suggests. [Al Dente]

Until we eat again,
Jordana Z.

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