A Michelin-Starred Chef Breathes New Life into A Voce Columbus
For all intents and purposes, the Time Warner Center is a shopping mall. But that hasn’t stopped some of the highest-end restaurants in New York from flocking to the glass-fronted tower overlooking Central Park; notably Thomas Keller’s three Michelin-starred Per Se, and the breathtakingly expensive sushi palace, Masa.
And while the sophisticated, seasonal Italian A Voce seems positively provincial by those standards, it’s also made its mark on Columbus Circle — drawing (not just a steady stream of well-heeled customers), but a remarkable array of talent as well. No, Andrew Carmellini never made the transition over from the original Madison outpost (he had a small matter of opening a veritable dynasty of restaurants to attend to), but it introduced New York to esteemed Chicago chef, Missy Robbins, who, during her five year tenure, earned the eatery its very own Michelin star.
Buoyed by big names for so long, it’s unsurprising that A Voce Columbus experienced a few growing pains (including the loss of that coveted star) when Robbins herself flew the nest in 2013. But with chef Riccardo Bilotta newly instated — who’s resume includes the three Michelin starred El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain — the restaurant could be primed for a revival, sustaining hungry shoppers with delicate, hand-crafted pastas, refined yet rustic antipasti, and 2700+ selections of (largely affordable) wine.
Since March is a truly transitional season, the menu currently has one foot still in winter, and one stretched optimistically towards spring, which means you’ll find chestnuts and brussels sprouts as well as asparagus and meyer lemon. Previously paired with beluga lentil salad and pumpkin crèma, the succulent, cream-centered globe of Burratina has a considerably fresher feel, now that it’s anchored in a pool of spicy ‘nduja, and scattered with emerald fava beans. And while we can never resist anything made with Santa Barbara uni (showcased in strands of scallion-flecked parsley Linguine, coiled around chunks of Alaskan King crab), even better is a market special of toothsome, kelly green Cavatelli, stained with stinging nettles, and tossed with crumbles of savory rabbit sausage.
When it comes to Secondi, you might find yourself leaning towards a lighter fish dish on warmer days, such as Icelandic Cod with watermelon radish and artichoke puree, before defaulting back to Roasted Chicken paired with farro and mushrooms on those (still far too frequent) 30-degree evenings. But if you ask us, spring is indelibly associated with Lamb, so you can’t go wrong with the hearty, herb-crusted, Colorado-sourced rack, perched on a crumbly coin of lamb sausage, accompanied by a tender rectangle of potato terrine, and offset by a concentrated swipe of Pink Lady apple mostarda.
If chef Bilotta keeps cooking like this, he has a strong shot at earning back A Voce‘s Michelin star.