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Kim WB

Felidia

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Went with a party of four to Felidia on Friday night, 7:15 reso.

I was disappointed. I didn't have expectations of a life altering meal, or even an excellent one, but on the other hand, I really love Lidia's cook book, and her general approach to food.

I had two major issues, one wth service and one with the food.

I understand that sommeliers LIKE to help people, but sometimes, a person just really wants to look at a wine list without so many intrusions. I think my husband was polite but firm..when they handed him the list, he said "I've been looking forward to this" ( I sold him on Felidia because of the Bastianich connection, and he's very hot on the Italian Wine Center right now, the store on 16th?17th?) and proceeded to look through the wines. Now, he's a major wine person, and Italians are his personal favorites. While we ordered sparkling waters and cocktails, the sommelier came up to him twice to ask if he needed help with making a selection. My husband replied "No thank you" and returned to the list. A few minutes later, the same person again asked if he needed suggestions..The second time, Bob just took off his glasses and gave the sommeleier a withering look. Now, it was not 15 minutes total, it was more like 5 minutes. When the waiter came, he told him he was ready to order the wines, and then the sommelier returned with an attitude. Once we ordered, he got a little better, but was still curt and dismissive..even with a 2 bottle wine tab that exceeded 300 bucks.

The appetizers were great: foie and calves tongue terrine, shrimp in vidalia onion, grilled ocupus salad, and a soup. We ordered an order of pasta to be split... the special with crimini mushrooms. Excellent, lots of sage, toothy pasta.

Entrees were unimpressive...just a bunch of things that didn't seem to go together..for example, I had osso bucco, which needed a knife and was not falling off the bone as I have had before. It was doused in a tomato based sauce. Then, whole or coursly chunked roasted vegs with a decidedly balsamic syrup flavor..tasty vegs..but made no sense with the meat. And, barley risotto, with a very strong chicken stock based sauce...no melding of flavors, not complimentary..all in all, 4 entrees, and each of us left some major componenet untouched. Bite by bite, there were no terrible flavors..but as a composite..just didn't work.

2 desserts samplers, which were just ok. Citrus and chocolate...nothing new or exciting, a coconut twist on tiramisu that almost worked except for texture, and being served in a little glass egg shaped glass, with a tablespoon..so there was no way to get it out. :unsure:

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My wife and I both turn 40 next Monday and we are going to Felidia's to celebrate. I am a Johnson and Wales grad('85) and she's along for my culinary ride. We like to go to famous chef's restaurants at least once but I must say we were dissapointed by our last visit to Mesa Grill. We had gone years before and we liked it alot. Oh well. any thoughts on Felidia's?

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I have the opportunity, since my husband is a serious wine collector, to attend a number of wine tasting dinners. Primarily, they are in the NYC area, but we've traveled to DC, San Fran, Atlanta and Chicago in the past 3 years.

By far, the Sept 19 event at Felidia was the best by far. It was a 97 Brunello di Montalcino tasting, which sets the bar pretty high before you even take a bite!

Sicilian Executive Chef Fortunato Nicotra presented a menu that complimented and was on par with the many great wines. Particular standouts were the Ravioli, and braised duck dishes. Since this was not your traditional white to red to dessert kind of tasting, he was able to use earthy and assertive flavors..wine aside, this was one of the better meals I've had in NYC. My last visit to Felidia, in March, was quite solid and good, but not to this extent. I've no idea if the executive chef improved, or simply was right on target for this small ( under 25 people) special event.

Lidia came out,and was gracious and charming..she is so approachable, she was engaged as I told her that her calamari recipe contributes to my happy marriage, it being one of my husbands favorites, and she agreed that cooking has contributed to many happy marriages...and then she looked at my husband and told him he looked very happy, so I must be a wonderful cook! ( I didn't want to tell her that after a generous pour of 97 Brunellos, my husband looked ecstatic, not just happy)

If you have the opportunity to attend one of these dinners, I'd encourage you to do so.


Edited by Kim WB (log)

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Sounds great. I once did a similar dinner at The Four Seasons with Brunelli that spanned a number of vintages including '97's that were young at the time. They also do a number of different wine dinners that are a lot of fun. Unfortunately, they have become a lot more pricey over time. Their Fete du Bordeaux dinner featuring the wines of Cos d'Estournel amongst others is set for late October, I believe. A number of well-known Bordeaux Proprietors will be in attendance.

Let us know if you hear of others before they occur :wink: With enough advance planning it might be doable and certainly fun.

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Doc, I believe that being on the Wine Library list, or the Italian Wine Merchants list, avails you to the earliest notice of many of these dinners. At least, that was the talk of our table last Sunday. Felidia is having the same tasting in early October, FYI, and they mentioned there is room left.


Edited by Kim WB (log)

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Doc, I believe that being on the Wine Library list, or the Italian Wine Merchants list, avails you to the earliest notice of many of these dinners. At least, that was the talk of our table last Sunday.  Felidia is having the same tasting in early October, FYI, and they mentioned there is room left.

Thanks for th info, Kim. Alas, I will be away. It does sound wonderful.

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If you're looking for an Italian style restaurant in NYC a great little place is Fedilia's in Manhatten around 58th and 2nd ave (check online for the exact address). It's not your typical Italian food, so if you don't like unusual dishes it might not be the place for you, but if you're willing to try different things, it's the place for you. Being from NJ it seemed a little pricey but compared to other NYC locations probably not too bad (Dinner for 2 with only 1 alcoholic drink about $130-$150). The staff was great and the food tasty if a little different than the "normal" italian menus you see.

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Courtesy of www.superpages.com:

Felidia Ristorante Inc

243 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022

(212) 758-1479

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Although I wouldn't expect so, given doyenne Lidia's high standards, I've heard rumblings that her focus has drifted elsewhere (primarily to Del Posto) and that her Flagship is the worse for it. I haven't been there for a while and wonder whether any of you have any thoughts.

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I love watching her TV Show and was also thinking of dining there for my Birthday..She makes you drool...the stuff looks so good.lol

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Yes.

My father (who is a vegetarian) and I had an excellent meal there a couple of weeks ago.

The atmosphere, as always, was quite pleasant. I very much like the intimate scale of the place; it's a big contrast to splashy places like, say, Del Posto. Crowd was the usual soigne UES bunch, (although there was a high percentage of very pretty young Italians and Croatians; hmm.)

Did the chef's tasting ($74 "and up," although the waiter didn't ask us whether we wanted to spend more, which IMO was an excellent service decision, since we weren't made to feel like cheapskates for not spending above this).

Wine service was extremely professional, if a little... er, enthusiastic. The wine steward was very knowledgeable and steered me well through the list, responding to all my questions without missing a beat. The final wine settled upon (we had only one bottle, a Teroldego which had been on my short list, though it moved from my #3 to #1 choice at the steward's suggestion) was excellent. The wine steward was a bit fulsome about the wine's characteristics, the history of the grower, and so on, but in a friendly way that wasn't *particularly* intrusive.

Food was excellent. Even given the limited palette of a purely vegetarian meal, the chef performed admirably. The amuses (a minature fennel-and-pear salad, a little roasted-beet tartare-looking dish, and some simple but beautifully-seasoned mashed chickpeas) were superb; the pastas (lots of these!) were IMHO better than those at, say, Fiamma (and only a shade below those at Babbo), and the secondi (various combinations of sauteed gnocchi, chard, and a wonderfully lemony-parsley-ish baked ricotta dish) were excellent, although I imagine I'd have enjoyed a meat dish more. (Those being plated just next to us at the center table looked divine.)

Lidia was there, which may have made a difference, although she was at the center of the bar talking to various guests throughout our entire dinner.

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Coincidentally, I just dined there with three friends last night. In a nutshell, everything was fine, though I was not as wowed as I remember being on my first visit a few years ago. Service was fine timing-wise, though otherwise it could use some polishing. Our captain was a sepulchral figure right out of Charles Addams who looked like his previous career was selling coffins and who was barely audible. Water was slopped on the table repeatedly, and the busboys had some serious acrobatics to get our dishes on the table. Minor quibbles. The food was all perfectly good and correct, but again, didn’t engage me the way I remember from my first visit. For starters we had: the grilled octopus salad (excellent); the chicken livers and foie gras (very good, though could have used a contrasting something to offset the overwhelming richness of the dish, which the little slice of confited quince didn’t provide); and a special of shrimp something served in a hollowed out onion, which bizarrely tasted like warm deli shrimp salad. For entrees, we had: the duck for two, which my friends raved over, even though the skin was not crispy like the Peking duck they prefer; braised beef cheeks and short ribs over a bed of “smoked mashed potatoes”, which was exactly as luscious as it sounds; and a special of raviolini stuffed with capon and foie gras in a butter / sage sauce with fresh truffles grated over it. As decadent as this sounds, it was actually a bit bland, though certainly rich and filling. Desserts were coconut and strawberry sorbets (neither particularly outstanding, you can buy better in many higher end stores); ricotta cheesecake (terrific); and a special of fresh ricotta from upstate served with a host of toppings and biscotti. This might have been better appreciated if we hadn’t been so gluttonous in the earlier rounds. With two bottles of wine and tip, the damage came to $108 a person. I was happy to reacquaint with Felidia, but no rush to go back any time soon.

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I had dinner at Felidia on Saturday night and couldn't have been less impressed. This was to be a celebratory meal, and while my companions are all charming and good company, the same could not have been said of the waitstaff...when we saw the waitstaff.

The restaurant was running as if it were in it's first week of business, with lots of kitchen-waiter kinks to iron out...not a well-established restaurant with Grand Dame of Cuisine at it's helm.

The kitchen was obviously slammed that night with multiple big parties. So, giving them the benefit of the doubt, I'd explain away their not taken our order until 50 minutes after we were seated (and only then after batting our eyelids with more and more fervor at various waitstaff), to the restaurant trying to give the kitchen a little break. But then a waiter should come over and announce his presence, hey, even WELCOME us to the restaurant. All basic niceties that one expects from a top-tier restaurant. Or even, say, the Olive Garden.

Dinner for our 8:15 res was finally served at 9:50. We did have apps, but they were all of a sudden in such a hurry to clear our table that they did a big no-no and cleared all the dishes while one of our party was only half-way through her pasta. Dinner was not rushed to us after this, so it's not as if it were waiting in the wings. It was just unprofessional.

Finally we began to catch on, and by the time it was dessert, we straightforwardly asked the waiter how long it would take, and he exasperatedly (and honestly) replied, that the kitchen was slammed and we wouldn't get it for a long time. So we opted for the bill and that was that. The check was tossed on to the table with a perfunctory thank-you.

The food itself was fine. A few standout dishes (the gamberi and a green linguine with speck) but the cod maindish was flavorless, and i thought it odd that on a highly-touted seasonal menu they proudly offered parsnips 3 different ways.

So, as you can tell, we were very disappointed and won't consider going back. Not in a town like NY where there are so many gracious and delicious restaurants.

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I try not to judge any restaurant too harshly based on Friday/Saturday nights, Valentine's day... etc..... but that's friggin ridiculous

at 20 minutes I would have gotten up and informed the hostess

at 45 minutes I would have chewed out the manager

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I've been crazily busy the last couple of months, and haven't had time for posting/blogging. But I must say that I had dinner at Felidia a couple of weeks ago, and it was absolutely superb. Just superb. Mind you, it was a Tuesday evening in the middle of summer, and the place was not even close to full.

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Felidia is also great for lunch - not so busy. Great menu. I have lunch meetings there pretty often. They do a roasted branzino at lunch that is very simple but really great.

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We've dined at Felidia before (seems like it's been here forever and it is close to a lot of nice design shopping). Have enjoyed the pasta - not so much the fish. But it is close to the hotel - and - in light of Bruni's thumbs up review a few years ago - we thought we'd have a light latish dinner there (we were still somewhat full from lunch).

My husband never met an offal dish he didn't like. So we split the starter of chicken livers prepared three ways. This dish was a real winner - and a bargain to boot ($12). Plenty for 2. Then we split a pasta main (tagliatelle with rabbit) and another offal course (calves' liver). The calves' liver was very good - prepared perfectly. The pasta was a bit too al dente for me - and too salty for me as well (other people who prefer their pasta a little firmer and saltier than I do might have thought it was fine).

My husband had 2 glasses of paired wines which he enjoyed. I had a gin and tonic (restaurant didn't have bottled tonic - which I think a restaurant at this level should have).

We declined dessert - but were offered a lemon tiramisu on the house (which we couldn't refuse). Nice assortment of Italian type cookies too (most of which we're now eating in our hotel room with our morning coffee).

Now chicken and calves' liver aren't foie gras - but they're mighty tasty. And man cannot live by foie gras alone :smile: . I understand why Bruni liked this restaurant - and recommend it. Probably - from what I've read - I would still stay away from the fish. Robyn

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