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SobaAddict70

Abboccato

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Suckling pig, cooked and served in a sauce of milk and hazelnuts, was luscious. "Pot-bellied Ligurian ravioli" came in a walnut sauce that represented a nicely rich counterbalance to the pasta's filling of wild greens.
...buckwheat noodles with Savoy cabbage, fingerling potatoes, roasted garlic, sage and taleggio cheese arrived clumpy and phlegmatic.

Abboccato (Frank Bruni)

Soba

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What the Hell does "phlegmatic" mean in the context of buckwheat noodles? I guess we can rule out "showing little emotion," but the inclusion of "clumpy" also seems to defeat the alternative definition of "watery." Perhaps Frank is telling us they actually physically resembled phlegm, but that seems a trifle indelicate. He couldn't write for toffee when he covered politics, either.

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agree with Bruni on the duck carbonara - bland and a letdown (although i didn't think it was pretentious, just underwhelming and unsuccessful). disagree on the savoy cabbage pasta with taleggio, mine was delicious! full of flavor and textures playing off each other, cheesy, garlicky and rich but not overpowering the cabbage or potatoes wonderful on a cold night with red wine. two other great pastas - beet ravioli with poppy seeds (trust me, i was suspicious myself but they have the right sweetnes to them) and the wild greens pansoti in walnut sauce.

also had an excellent octopus salad with fingerlings, beans and pine nuts. nicely charred octopus, just right and not gelatinous or too chewy. crudo was pretty good each kind beautifully arranged on a small dish, all of which were set on a large one - fluke with fried capers and pink peppercorns, tuna loin with olive compote, giant clam with breakfast radishes and toro with green beans? (well, that's what my notes say). fluke was my most favorite, toro the least. the crudo is "chef's choice of the day," reminicent of Esca where chef de cuisine was before. pretty goof but not transporting. toro deserved better.

fresh, creamy mozzarella di buffala came with peach compote, balsamic, olive oil, tomato essence and basil water, each accompaniment in a separate little dish sort of like a tv dinner tray, with mozzarella the "main". almost like a deconstructed caprese, plus the peach.

grouper with cauliflower and raisins was pretty good (mother-in-law loved it despite always proseffing not to like "fussy" food. she also coudn't get enough of the peach compote that came with mozzarella)

good cheese selection, i liked the comparison of different age parmiggiano. tried only one dessert - a nut dumpling with grappa and cinnamon ice. the petit fours are delicious, esp. the cornmeal dimond-shaped cookies from northern Italy (i think they are called zaletti and sometimes have raisins in them but I don't remember whether Abboccato's did or not).

sommelier recommended a very nice $57 bottle of 2002 Dorigo Schiopettino one night, which went well with the pastas. another day we tried a number of their wine by the glass.

i do think that Abboccato is a little pricey (portion size very restrained) but realize that it's the real estate. don't love the heavy sales pitch of " a traditional Italian meal" of antipasti, pasta, main and dessert. i'll be perfectly happy to go back and eat some pasta with wine at the bar. i liked the food for the most part. they do better when not trying to be too fussy. Bruni is right about that.

ps - phlegmatic might refer to the appearance of melted (coagulating?) taleggio with bits of the cabbage etc. i don't think Bruni meant "weak," the taleggio is fairly assertive in smell and taste. also, the pasta is darker, not white. i wouldn't put it on the cover of Bon Appetit. but it IS delicious!


Edited by madziast (log)

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I also liked the Pizocheri, although I prefer it baked a bit with a little crustiness (like my wife makes it). It was a bit soft and slippery, perhaps that's what Bruni was commenting on.

The Mozarella came with a different assortment of tastes than you describe (olive oil, balsamic, both excellent, persimmon jam and blood orange...but it was all very good and although an unusual presentation, very satisfying.

I also thought the limonata caprese (three takes on lemon) dessert was excellent.

I don't think I would head far out of my way as a dinner destination, but as a very good pre-theatre restuarant I will definitely return.

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agree with Bruni on the duck carbonara - bland and a letdown (although i didn't think it was pretentious, just underwhelming and unsuccessful).

Duck seems to be one of Bruni's favorite foods. If it's on the menu, his reviews never fail to mention it. If you're opening a serious restuarant in New York, no matter what else you do, best be sure the duck is terrific.

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I also liked the Pizocheri, although I prefer it baked a bit with a little crustiness (like my wife makes it). It was a bit soft and slippery, perhaps that's what Bruni was commenting on.

mmmm....baked with a little crust - David, this sounds delicious!!! drop me a note next time your wife makes it :wink:

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Pascale le Draoulec reviews Abboccato in today's New York Daily News, awarding 2 1/2 stars:

I've dined on many a suckling pig this winter, but the one at Abboccato made me purr like a kitten. Cooked slowly in warm milk, the boneless pork is served in a white puddle, sliced and strewn with hazelnut powder. Snowy peaks of whipped potatoes enhance the winter-white effect of the dish, which mirrors the creamy leather palette of the debonair underground dining room.

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They've brought over pastry chef David Carmichael from Oceana. (not surprising, since Livanos family also owns Oceana and Molyvos, not to mention a diner or two)

It sounds like his desserts are earning the same rave reviews they did at Oceana.

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Another felicitous marriage is foie gras - the buttery interior bursting through the nicely crisp exterior - served with a potato dumpling stuffed with tomato marmalade.
At the other extreme, the tagliatelle Bolognese was a tepid rendition of the old tradition, chiefly because it tasted salt-free.
The pan-seared potatoes with pancetta and onion tasted reheated and - you guessed it - devoid of salt.

Chefs Jim Botsacos and Jake Addeo offer simplicity at its best in West Midtown.

Abboccato (Marian Burros)

Related discussion regarding Frank Bruni, his colleagues and the New York Times star system can be found here.

Soba

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