Dell’Anima. I dined there Monday night with my friend Nicole, who hinted that I might fall in love with the place. She was right. I realize I have a type when it comes to favorite spots. It is this: unfussy, laid-back vibe, nice people, with food I could eat every night, but can’t really execute myself. I’m a big fan of perfect execution. That said, I ate at the chef’s counter and saw precision in action. Watching these guys (and one very cool girl) produce dinner for me and everyone else in the place was really fun. For those who don’t want to see the substantial amount of butter used in the sauce to make ricotta ravioli and almost every other pasta on the menu, or if you have an aversion to smelling a little like roasted garlic when you leave, there are tables in the front and dining at the bar. Dell’Anima reminds me of Lupa in terms of simplicity and the focus on seasonal ingredients, but it’s smaller and the menu easier (while it only offers 4 entrees, it does have 9 pastas on the menu). It’s a fantastic place for a date, or for an intimate dinner with friends. This place is a keeper! Here’s the breakdown:
COCKTAILS: A really beautiful Roasted Orange Negroni ($12) and an ever-refreshing Aperol Spritz ($8). For those who don’t know Aperol, stay tuned as I plan on devoting a chapter to the awesomeness of the spritz.
WINE: Barbera “Vigna Clara,” Viberti 1996 from Piemonte ($13). I was perplexed by its cloudiness when my server poured it, but in fact it was a really nice full-bodied barbera with a dry finish. They offer a good selection of wines by the glass and an extensive bottle list.
EATS: Avocado bruschette was like Italian guacamole- mashed avo with lots of lemon and sicilian olive oil spread over toast. Super fresh.
Arugula salad with lemon and shaved parmigiano-reggiano. This was only ok, and I can’t believe I’m going to say this but the salad was over-cheesed. When you can’t taste the spiciness of arugula, there’s a problem. And I don’t think it was the arugula.
Ricotta ravioli was formerly the “secret dish” at Dell’Anima, but they’ve since added it to the menu. The raviolis look like plump pillows in a simple sauce of olive oil, butter- more than you want to believe, cracked black pepper, and finished with pecorino. It’s indulgent and addictive, but that’s the only one we tried. Nicole wasn’t into ordering every pasta on the menu so I had to content myself with pasta observation: tagliatelle bolognese, the risotto, orecchiette, and garganelli all caused severe watering of the mouth.
Entrees: hake, a delicious flaky white fish (that I sadly never see on any menu) seared and served over juicy artichokes and tuna bresaola, the latter which seemed more like plate decoration than anything of culinary worth, and the chicken “al diavolo.” The chicken was a killer version served over wilted spinach, spiced perhaps with paprika or cayenne, and notable for a good crispy skin and super moist meat.
Dessert: Espresso Almond cake with sweet cream gelato and candied almonds. This was really damn good. Almost incredibly so.
38 Eighth Ave nr Jane St