Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Regional


emmapeel
 Share

Recommended Posts

Manu, the Peruvian restaurant is gone and Regional is about to open in it's space. I have no idea of what the menu will offer, but the space looks nice (blond and dark woods) and it has barrels as part of it decor. I don't know if that is for wine or beer. There is a bar, a banquette with tables, and in the front there is a communal table which is bar height with stools. The kitchen remains in the rear, but now has frosted glass. The lighting is reminiscent of Carne's, sort of drum shades hanging from the ceiling in a line, in orange and white. The doors/windows are capable of opening to the street. We're getting lucky with all these new places (Picnic, Creperie, Cafe du Soleil) opening. I'm really curious why the place is named Regional, and hope that it refers to the menu and not the cocktails.

Emma Peel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I stopped in the other day to look around. The menu is a hodgepodge of dishes from different regions in Italy--some from Campania, Liguria, and even Sardinia, where the owner's mother is from. He also owns La Giara, in Murray Hill. It will probably open this week.

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Yesterday evening I found myself at Regional for dinner with bergerka, ewindels and emmapeel. . . and what a delightful dinner it was. Finally there is a restaurant on the UUWS (that's Upper Upper West Side, for those if you who never venture North of 86th Street) I feel can become my neighborhood hangout.

The restaurant itself is just like dozens of inexpensive, simple, informal osterie I've visited in Italy in decor and feel. The roughly rectangular space is divided in half with metal racks on either side supporting white barrels which are used to store bottles of wine. The front half of the room has a bar (wine and very simple drinks) and a few large high tables. The back half of the room has the regular seating consisting of four tops and two tops with plenty of room around them.

The main thing that differentiates Regional from a small town osteria in Italy is that an osteria in the middle of, say, Umbria would only serve food from Umbria, more than likely would only serve food from the zone, and possibly would feature mostly a style of food particular to that town. Regional, on the other hand, features food from all the various regional styles of Italy: bagna caoda from Piemonte, bucatini alla gricia from Lazio, merluzzo alla ghiotta from Sicilia and so on.

Everything on the menu sounds good, and if our visit is any indication, it is all executed very well. More to the point, it all sounds interesting and authentic, and it's not dishes you're likely to have seen around town very often. Take a look through these pasta dishes, and I think you'll see what I mean: casoncelli al burro e salvia (veal & parmigiano-reggiano ravioli in sage butter), garganelli al ragu' di vitello (rolled quill-shaped pasta in veal ragu), bucatini alla gricia (thick hollow spaghetti-like pasta red onion and pancetta sauce), spaghetti alla chitarra con ragu' d'agnello (square strand pasta with lamb ragu), sciallatielli ai frutti di mare (fat pasta with squid, shrimp and mussels), maccheroni con salsa di melanzane e pomodori (tubular long pasta with eggplant, tomato and ricotta salata), strangolopreti al pan grattato ("priest stranglers" - spinach and bread gnocchi in thyme butter), bigoli con l'anatra (whole wheat pasta with duck ragu), cavatelli con cime di rapa (little dumplings with turnip tops and dried red pepper), tagliolini di Campobasso thin flat pasta with cured ham, onion and parsley), pasta gratinana con porri e funghi (pasta gratin with leeks and mushrooms), culingionis al pomodoro (sheep cheese ravioli in tomato sauce). By the end of the summer, I plan to have tried every one of these. Our waiter and the chef are both from Sicilia, and I hope to see more Sicilian specialties on the menu in the future.

One other thing I appreciated about our meal was the portion sizes. This was absolutely correct for an Italian meal. Even Mario Batali's restaurants tend to go too big in the portion size, so I was glad to see something reasonable. A half order of pasta (they gladly serve half-orders) and a full secondo with perhaps a shared contorno is just the right amount of food.

So: our meal. . . We started by splitting two appetizers: code di gamberi in pancetta (shrimp with pancetta) and frittelle di fontina con spinaci saltati (fontina cheese fritters with wilted spinach). The shrimp were good, but the fontina fritters were great. Little crispy golf balls with melted fontina inside. What could be bad?

For primi ewindels had garganelli al ragu' di vitello, I had bigoli con l'anatra, emmapeel had spaghetti alla chitarra con ragu' d'agnello and bergerka had strangolopreti al pan grattato. All were very good. I was particularly happy with my bigoli and duck ragu. The chewey, earthy bigoli worked very well with the rich ragu, which was full of duck meat. With our antipasti and primi our waiter recommended a pinot nero from the Alto Adige "Mazzon" from Kellerei-Cantina Tramin, which was nicely light with a bit of acid and not too tannic for the food.

For secondi emmapeel and I had scallopine d'agnello gratinato (lamb scallopine gratin with artichokes) while bergerka and ewindels had involtini di vitello (veal rolled up around sausage and cheese). By this time we were done with the pinot nero and our waiter recommended Barbazzale Cottanero Rosso, made with 90% mascalese nero and 10% nero d'avola (both native Sicilian grapes). Very plummy and fruity with good intensity of flavor and just enough tannin for the meat course. The dishes were more or less as advertised. There's not a whole lot I can say about them other than they were simple, well executed and just the right size. This is the Italian aesthetic: take just a few ingredients and treat them with respect. Most of the time, if you hear the title of the dish you know what you are getting.

Dessert was another high point. We split two. The first was a simple plate of Italian biscotti (meaning "cookies" in this case) with a caramel dipping sauce. The cookies spanned several regional styles, and were simple and delicious. That said, I am never going to have the cookies at Regional ever again. Why, you ask? Because the second dessert we tried consisted of ricotta fritters that were so light and delicious that I can't possibly think of ordering anything else there for dessert. Our water, with whom we had been chatting off and on for the evening, comped us a little moscato d'Asti.

All said and done, we got out of there for 60 bucks apiece including a tip at around 22%. I doubt I'll spend that much there again, simply because it's so close to home that I won't feel like I have to try so many things (or drink two bottles of wine!) every time I go.

Below are some pictures I took while we were there. Beware: they are very poor quality. The lighting was low and I didn't want to take flash pictures or make a spectacle of photographing the meal. They are heavily color corrected to make them visible. These were quick snapshots. If you have delicate eyes, do yourself a flavor and scroll right by these. I think these pictures do, at least, give an impression of the portion size and composition.

gallery_8505_1435_81.jpg

code di gamberi in pancetta

gallery_8505_1435_72005.jpg

frittelle di fontina con spinaci saltati

(hardly visible, I know)

gallery_8505_1435_51641.jpg

strangolopreti al pan grattato

gallery_8505_1435_8942.jpg

bigoli con l'anatra

(photographed using my famous "shaking hand" technique)

gallery_8505_1435_64013.jpg

spaghetti alla chitarra con ragu' d'agnello

gallery_8505_1435_48130.jpg

garganelli al ragu' di vitello

gallery_8505_1435_26124.jpg

involtini di vitello

gallery_8505_1435_47818.jpg

scallopine d'agnello gratinato

gallery_8505_1435_65114.jpg

biscotti regionali

gallery_8505_1435_2301.jpg

frittelle di ricotta

--

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't add much to Sam's description except to say that emmapeel, you are SO cool :cool: :cool:, and I cannot even tell you how excited we all are to have a place serving truly terrific, authentic Italian food in our 'hood. Not only that, the bartender didn't look funny at me when I ordered Campari and grapefruit juice. :laugh:

I'll be back at Regional on average once a week. I'll be the tall chick sitting at the bar drooling over the lemon ricotta fritters. Actually, I plan to go back there until I've tried everything on the menu, then start over again.

Edited to add: one interesting thing, we got there about 6:10pm and it was pretty empty. By 7:20, every table was full, the bar was full and a small crowd was waiting outside. That's impressive for the location, frankly.

:wub: :wub:

K

Edited by bergerka (log)

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh man, was that great or what! I have not had a meal that good that I didn't cook myself. bergerka, I will be sitting right next to you at the bar, starting with Campari, and finishing with lemon ricotta fritters, and perhaps an appetizer of the fontina cheese fritters with wilted spinach, mmmm :wub::wub::wub:. bergerka, you, Sam and Ed are terrific dinner partners and fantastic conversationalists...time flew! Let's continue with the menu until we can't eat anymore, (and you know for me that's really hard.) Sam, great narrative and pictures. Thanks so much for the perfect recollection of the evening.

For me it was the fritters of fontine cheese and ricotta. The scallopine d'agnello gratinato was perfect. I hope I don't find myself there this weekend... but I'm dreaming of it.

Edited by emmapeel (log)

Emma Peel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That looks quite yummy, i am craving for good Italian. My last experience with Italian food in NYC was at Petrosino on Houston St. two weeks ago. Very, very unhappy.

thanks for the nice report!

"A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg." Samuel Butler
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I cannot second enough Sam's enthusiasm for Regional. I can't imagine having a better time than we did Wednesday night. Terrific food, better wine, even better company.

I will however just add the "disclaimer", not of course really needed for gulleters, who would automatically appreciate such a place, but maybe for their guests: our terrific and charming waiter mentioned he was relieved by our enthusiasm, as they've received complaints from some customers that what they're serving is "not real italian food." This isn't entirely surprising: the neighborhood is not known for its culinary broadness, either in its denizens or offerings, which makes Regional such a welcome treat. But if you or yours are expecting huge portions of heavily sauced overcooked pasta a la Carmins or Olive Garden, this ain't it (thank goodness).

And in case we didn't make it clear: those fritters? Heaven isn't the word.

Food, glorious food!

“Eat! Eat! May you be destroyed if you don’t eat! What sin have I committed that God should punish me with you! Eat! What will become of you if you don’t eat! Imp of darkness, may you sink 10 fathoms into the earth if you don’t eat! Eat!” (A. Kazin)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not much to add, but we also enjoyed a recent meal there. The veal ragu was delcicous , as were the salads to start. They need some type of muffling for noise, because it is loud.

Thank god there is a place in the neighborhood setup to have a drink and a snack.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not much to add either, but make a point of visiting.

Good pastas.

Good service.

Wine list could be better

Time past and time future

What might have been and what has been

Point to one end, which is always present.

- T.S. Eliot

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ate there last Saturday (July 2) with my husband. Appetizers, though interesting, were lukewarm. I had the pizzelles, he had the shrimp. They both tasted good but had been clearly sitting for some time. Pastas and entrees (ordered as separate courses) came out together. They took the entrees back and returned them later. The pastas were extraordinary, and worth a repeat visit. Entrees were mediocre. My husband's steak was cooked properly but had a very odd tasting sauce. My involtini, which were supposed to contain sausage and parmesan, contained liver.

The wine was fine. Service, both waitstaff and bussers, were indifferent.

I will go back, because the pastas were that good, and I am sure they are working out new service problems. And I will also go for salumi and cheese, a personal favorite.

Edited by Mulcahy (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hate to be a naysayer...but the wife and I have been there twice now (it's right around the corner from us) and i am not half as impressed as the rest of the posters...

I find the service to be terribly slow and inattentive (forgetting dishes, drinks, credit cards, etc)...

I find the atmosphere loud and chaotic...

And I find the food to be just OK...certainly not transcendant...not even out-of-the-ordinary...

We so much WANTED to love this place...to have a great Italian restaurant literally right around the corner...and maybe that's why we're so disappointed...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Went back to Regional on Monday night for a second visit, and I'm really pleased to say that it was just as good as the first time! There were three of us - we shared an order of the fontina fritters (much better than the first night), then I had the veal ravioli with sage butter (terrific :wub: ), one of my companions had the bigoli with duck ragù (also delicious - I love this sauce) and the other had sheep's milk ricotta ravioli with tomato sauce (the only minor disappointment - the tomato sauce was slightly too sweet and overwhelmed the delicate filling of the ravioli). We then shared among the three of us the lamb shank special (braised with mixed veggies). It was HUGE (plenty for three!), flavorful, juicy and really good...sort of a lamb pot roast, if you will. For dessert we had the lemon ricotta fritters, of course, and also tried the cheese plate (three cheeses - you can also get five for slightly more). While not as fabulous in quality as Celeste's amazing cheese plate, this was a hell of a deal for $9, a lot of quite good cheese (we had a six-month old pecorino, a stracchino - yum - and a gorgonzola dolce) and comes with honey and fig.

Service was excellent - our waiter from last time was there, and remembered us, but this time we were served by a nice young woman (who was also willing to help me out when I asked her how, exactly, she got her hair to look EXACTLY THE WAY I WANT MINE TO LOOK!) who was attentive, cheerful and not afraid to tease Sam. :raz:

I'm already looking forward to my next visit. Yay!

K

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Went there last night with Sam, his girlfriend, Kathleen and their friend, Sarah (SarahD).

I'll let Sam describe better, but Regional lives up to the hype. To those who've naysayed it, it's difficult for me to believe that the food didn't live up to expectations.

Everything was wonderful. I'll definitely be back. Now if only I didn't move away from the UWS. :shock:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

Had a really enjoyable dinner tonight at Regional.. I am forever grateful to bergerka for showing me the light.. The place is a treat.. Its smart, its fresh, its an ordinary place in Italy and a super authentic better then average New York Italian Restaurant.. Its an UWS Heavyweight for the food conscious..

Started with the fontina fritters with spinach.. Also had the carpaccio with arugula and anchovy oil.

Spinach was cooked perfectly.. Oil and garlic.. The fontina fritters consisted of bread crumbs, a little ham, parsley, egg and fontina cheese all deep fried.. Great.

. gallery_15057_1168_776597.jpg

The carpaccio was super fresh served over super fresh arugula, and an anchovy oil with a side of lemon..That's what I hope to get and rarely do when I order this dish. Something so simple so hard to get.. But that's often my frustration with Italian Food..

gallery_15057_1168_8124.jpg

Pasta Course:

Whole Wheat Bigoli with duck ragu.. So cool that they serve Bigoli.. I have been actually looking for a Bigoli maker for some time now.. I was so shocked to order it here.. I asked the waitress to find out where the chef got his bigoli maker.. The waitress walked me into the back and I met the chef.. He told me in confidence that he put the dough through a medium setting on a meat grinder.. This information alone was worth the trip a hundred times..

Big chunks of duck.. Real solid dish.. This is a half portion because we also split:

gallery_15057_1168_526626.jpg

Ravioli stuffed with spicy ground veal in a butter sage sauce.. This was certainly good..

gallery_15057_1168_481231.jpg

Meat:

We split the lamb gratin.. A lamb gratin,at an Italian Restaurant, on the UWS.. Word.. Wasn't the best thing I have had, a little lamby, a little dry, but a like the idea a lot..

gallery_15057_1168_433602.jpg

Service got real slow towards the end so we made dessert and coffee at home. Even though the House Chianti we ordered a bottle of was horrific, the grappa list looked interesting.. \

Looking forward to going back

Edited by Daniel (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't figure out why my parents hated this place. I wasn't with them and haven't been to Regional yet, so I can't offer a personal opinion, but they said their meal was so terrible that they think anyone who likes the place must be an idiot. I don't think that really counts as an ad hominem insult because they aren't eGullet Society members and don't know any of you. But I'm curious whether any members have actually had a genuinely lousy meal there. My parents don't buy the idea that their ordering wrong could explain the quality of their meal, and I do respect their knowledge and opinion of Italian food a great deal, but I also respect you all. I'm not sure whether I should have shared this, but it's been gnawing at me a little.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Daniel - oh, damn, I should have told you to order the Nerello wine - it's fabu.

Pan - did they go on a Monday night, by chance? I ask because the ONE night I have been when the food was slightly off was a Monday. Otherwise um...I dunno...it's been very consistently good.

K, who will absolutely admit to being an idiot about many, many, many things. :raz:

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't figure out why my parents hated this place. I wasn't with them and haven't been to Regional yet, so I can't offer a personal opinion, but they said their meal was so terrible that they think anyone who likes the place must be an idiot. I don't think that really counts as an ad hominem insult because they aren't eGullet Society members and don't know any of you. But I'm curious whether any members have actually had a genuinely lousy meal there. My parents don't buy the idea that their ordering wrong could explain the quality of their meal, and I do respect their knowledge and opinion of Italian food a great deal, but I also respect you all. I'm not sure whether I should have shared this, but it's been gnawing at me a little.

Pan,

I really think its time you get your parents on Egullet :biggrin: .. What did they order or dislike about this place..

Edited by Daniel (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

[...]Pan - did they go on a Monday night, by chance?  I ask because the ONE night I have been when the food was slightly off was a Monday.[...]

I'll see if they remember.

K, who will absolutely admit to being an idiot about many, many, many things. :raz:

You, an idiot? I hardly think so. :laugh::wink:

My parents have read some threads I've sent them from time to time and were beneficiaries of recommendations of the Li Family Restaurant in Beijing, Amma when Suvir and Hemant were there, and some other places, but I doubt they'll sign up any time soon, partly for reasons that would be really off-topic to discuss in this thread. But definitely, they could have interesting things to contribute if they wanted to.

Oh, I can't remember what they ordered, either. Sorry.

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Michael, this may be going further astray from the topic and I don't know whether it describes your parents, but I have found that most people who seemed disappointed with Regional went there really expecting Italian-American food, and what they got was fairly straightforward Italian trattoria food. I can easily see how someone with those expectations who ordered, for example, Regional's cavatelli con cime di rapa, and got a dish of consisting of nothing more than small shaped dry pasta, turnip greens, red pepper flakes and evoo (no sauce, no cheese, etc.) might be disappointed. But this is actually a dish that is very traditional in the Italian aesthetic.

In my experience, the only pasta dish that is a little disappointing is their culingionis al pomodoro, which suffers from a too-sweet tomato sauce that conceals the flavor of the sheep cheese in the ravioli. That said, the secondi are mostly okay, but not at the same level as the pasta dishes. If someone went to Regional and had only a secondo, I can see how they might not be impressed. As mentioned above, they also don't seem to have their stuff quite together all the time when it comes to delivering the courses. It's not unheard of for them to try serving the primo and secondo together, or to bring the secondo out before the primo is finished. And if, for example, I am having a half-order of pasta as a primo and then a secondo while my dining partner is having an appetizer and then a full order of pasta, it is highly likely that the appetizer will come out alone, then the two pasta dishes, then the meat dish -- even though I specifically requested that my half-prder of pasta be delivered together with her appetizer and then her full pasta order be delivered together with my meat dish.

--

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Michael, this may be going further astray from the topic and I don't know whether it describes your parents, but I have found that most people who seemed disappointed with Regional went there really expecting Italian-American food, and what they got was fairly straightforward Italian trattoria food.

Well, I went to Regional several months back expecting excellent authentic Italian food, and what I got was above-average UWS food with ambitious names. The menu reads beautifully, but dry, overcooked shellfish is dry, overcooked shellfish, whether it comes with scialatielli or linguine. The bigoli with duck ragu was interesting, but a failure as a dish--the pasta weirdly grainy (in fairness, I'm not normally a fan of whole wheat pastas...but as with everything I don't like, I assume that's because of the examples I've had, not the dish itself), and the sauce too sweet and one-note. It was clearly something that could have been delicious if prepared very well, but it missed the mark. And our fish (don't remember what, may have been a special) was simply bad.

Moreover, the atmosphere was straight UWS: bright lights; hard surfaces; painfully noisy. Waitstaff not terribly knowledgeable or competent. Breezy graphic design on the menu behind (IIRC) a laminated sleeve, like it was some fast-casual chain. And prices to match: Large portions and cheap prices might be authentic for many parts of Italy, but in NYC it's a clear danger sign, and with good reason.

And before you ask, I've spent 4 months in Italy and therefore thought I had a decent idea what to expect. Maybe that was my problem, combined with the glowing testamonials from the perhaps-desperate UWS residents here. In fairness, aspects of the food wouldn't be that out of place in many actual Italian trattorie. But there are a lot of mediocre Italian trattorie.

Of course, every restaurant will have off nights (this was a tuesday, for what that's worth); I don't mean to imply that all the positive reports are wrong or ill-informed. But if we're looking for a simple reason why Pan's parents thought the food was bad, it just might be because the food was bad. They would have been far, far better sticking in his and my neck of the woods. Maybe that's not a surprise, but for any other unsuspecting readers thinking Regional transcends its location, not in my experience it doesn't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For what it's worth, my parents lived in Italy for over 2 years and were both fluent in Italian at one time -- I mean really fluent, to the point that when they traveled to Bologna, they were laughed at for being "fiorentini," and my mother translated documents from Italian to English professionally.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...