So maybe I was that annoying girl in junior high who ran to the front of the line at recess, and I may have crossed the starting line before the official even blew the whistle, and just maybe, I ate at Andrew Carmellini’s A Voce on opening night. A restaurant girl never tells.
Of course, I’ve been warned by countless critics to wait until after a restaurant had fine-tuned the food and ironed out all the wrinkles, but I was, well, I was hungry. By the dark of night, I scurried down to Andrew Carmellini’s new pad on Madison & 26th, a practical culinary wasteland except for Alex Urena’s new digs only blocks away. You might want to sit because what I discovered may astound you.
As if he’d moved in months ago, he seemed surprisingly at home in this serenely modern new space. From the waitstaff to the plates, everything seemed to be in place. If I had to find fault, A Voce had a little too much help, but who could hold being overstaffed against anyone. After all, he was doing it all to impress me.
From the eclectic wine list to the refreshingly simple menu, he did his best to wine and dine me. First there was vegetable antipasti, pasta e fagioli soup with a goat cheese spin and how could I not at least consider the prospect of grilled octopus. What to order, what to order? I happily settled on the duck meatballs antipasto basking in a heavenly dried cherry mostarda (simply–a cherry sauce).
Moved by the intense foie gras center of each tender bite, I was instantly taken with him.
Even the winter insalata, ripe with green apple, marcona almonds and watercress managed to be perfectly memorable.
He didn’t stop there. Rigatoni, pumpkin, lamb shank ravioli, he was eager to fulfill my every whim. Sadly, I wasn’t as intrigued with a tasteless white tuna dressed in citrus, atop an even less memorable cloud of parsnip puree.
I still longed for something sweet. Could he finish what he started or would I need to see someone on the side to satisfy my darkest cravings? He sealed the deal with a chocolate panna cotta laced with sour cherries, worth every naughty bite. It was then I knew A Voce was no passing fling. No, I’d be back for more…
RESTAURANT GIRL RANKS–
A VOCE — “WORD OF MOUTH” IN ITALIAN
NEW GUY ON THE BLOCK: ANDREW CARMELLINI (OF CAFE BOULUD STATUS)
THE TYPE: MODERN REGIONAL ITALIAN
DON’T MISS DISH: THE DUCK MEATBALLS
DON’T BOTHER: NOTHING (YET, BUT I’LL BE BACK;)
WAIT: NONE, BUT GRAB A RESERVATION QUICK BEFORE A VOCE’S THE WORD IN EVERYBODY’S MOUTH
$: ON THE PRICEY SIDE
FINAL WORD: WORTH A VISIT
41 Madison Ave. (at 26th Street) (212)545-8555
Until next thyme…;)