My friend recommended we go to Dell’Anima to check out their aperitivo offering, which runs from 4-6pm on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in the bar area. It’s based on the Italian tradition whereby so long as you are partaking in their drinks, you are welcome to partake in some of the appetizer offerings they have available. We went on a Friday around 4:40pm. The bar was full, but not packed with patrons behind the occupied seats. I was a little disappointed that there was not more available this particular day. There was a dish filled with various types of olives and another with various grilled vegetables. Most of the glasses of wine were in the $11-15 range, with the specialty cocktails costing $12.
We saw there was space open in front of their “kitchen”, which opens directly into the seating area, so we chose to sit there in order to watch the food being prepared. We began our dinner with a selection of three of their bruchettas, which seemed to be a popular option based on the trays we’d seen carried by us. We tried the lilly confit (caramelized cippolini onions and garlic), cannelli beans with chili, and a rapini pesto (made with walnuts and pecorino). Don’t be too shy to ask for more bread. They bring you far more of the toppings than they do bread, and they’ll happily bring you more. I expected to like the lilly confit the most, but I liked the powerful combination of the pesto topping. It was a strong pronounced difference to the bread. If they sold this to go, I’d have asked for it on the spot. Very well done. The lilly confit was probably my second favorite. It was a very pronounced garlic taste which paired with the caramelized onions gave it a sweet flavor – a bit too sweet for my taste when accompanying the garlic. The bean topping favored a very subtle version of hummus. It was good, but in the middle of the other toppings it almost got lost.
We chose to start with the casunzei from their pasta menu, which was a ravioli of golden beets, poppy seed brown butter, dried orange, served with a ricotta salata. The dish was visually probably one of the most aesthetically interesting I have ever seen for something so simple. The beet-filled pasta gave it a pinkish purple glow, in contrast to the brown butter and white cheese topping. The cheese was amazingly fresh, the shredding of which we were able to watch. You could truly taste each element of the dish in layers – first the beets, then slowly the butter, next the fresh ricotta, and finally the hint of orange. Very unique and I would highly recommend.
Finally, we elected to try the skirt steak, which was served with a braised endive marmalata, salsa verde, orange, and mint. We asked for it to be cooked rare. Our server noted that they recommend medium rare, which we acknowledged and stuck with our original request. Much appreciated. The meat came out in nice slices, with a tender pinkness at the middle of each cut. Nicely done. I don’t know that I would consider the braised endive marmalata a true marmalade – it looked more of the consistency of the pesto which had accompanied our bruchetta earlier in the meal. Like the ravioli though, I liked the way different flavors of the dish would again come across in waves. The orange here I think was overpowered by the meat. The salsa verde was nicely complemented by the slight hint of mint. As one who rarely eats meat, I’d say this one warrants including.
We didn’t opt to try any of their desserts. None sounded super inspiring and I’ll admit to an ulterior motive in passing, which was to check out the “preview night” of the Cupcake Stop (review to follow shortly). Next time, I’d elect to skip aperitivo and instead pull up a chair at their bar and order either the pesto bruchetta or the casunzei and just watch the people.
38 8th Ave (at Jane Street) – 212.366.6633 – Reservations Recommended