You know you’re officially old when you start eating meals at 5:30 in the evening. In the case of my birthday dinner this past weekend, our reasoning for eating this early wasn’t because Husband J and I wanted the early bird special. Torissi Italian Specialties is just that popular. It’s also the size of my living room (okay, more like half of my not so big NYC apartment), so there are only so many people that can fit here. By 6pm, the entire restaurant was packed. After my meal there, I can see why.
Torrisi does not allow flash pictures, which is understandable in such a tight space. Please bear with these pics as I show you our extremely flavorful and rich meal there.
Oysters? Yes, please. Instead of a mignonette on the side, the oysters were already dressed. Husband J, the seafood expert, gave the thumbs up to these local oysters from Montauk, New York (about three hours away).
That was a expertly seasoned beginning to what was going to fun and flavorful meal.
Just so you know, if you get a reservation at Torrisi, don’t plan on perusing a menu. There is a set four course menu and actually a small group of people get a 20 course menu (you’ve got to reserve well in advance for that), so everyone’s getting the same thing. The menu changes weekly, so consult the website before you go. For some strange reason, I kinda like being told what to eat.
After our oysters, the march of the antipasti began. There were four, each very different from each other.
Warm Mozzarella DaVero
This lovely little ball of mozzerella was lounging the most flavorful olive oil with just a sprinkle of chunky salt to bring out the flavor.
I almost asked for the name of this olive oil because it really took the mozzarella to a different level.
We didn’t have the cheese by itself. It came with this crispy elevated version of garlic bread, whose ingredients were described to me, but I forgot when I ate a bite. I usually don’t care so much about garlic bread, but my goodness. Crispy with dried tomato. Wonderful.
I love the end of summer for the bounty of tomatoes, and this dish highlighted them well. The pickled red onion really added some zest and crunch when eaten with those sweet tomatoes.
Beef Carpaccio, Broccoli & Mushrooms
I have to admit that I wasn’t in the mood for raw beef (and I may never be), so Husband J took the lead on this one. There are two things that you need to know about Torrisi and this dish:
#1 The chefs here are always playing with the idea of what Italian food is. This is actually their translation of Chinese beef and broccoli into an Italian dish. Weird, yeah? There’s still the beef and the broccoli element, except it’s raw beef instead of stir-fried, and that broccoli is actually in a tempura batter.
#2 There is flavor in every single element on that plate. Sometimes l think chefs throw ingredients in a dish thinking you won’t notice that it doesn’t taste as good as everything else. Those pickled mushrooms, with their depth of flavor, could have been their own antipasto. I appreciate chefs’ attention to detail.
Dungeness Crab Straciatella
When I think of straciatella, I think of gelato. This dish was essentially a crab soup (a mussel broth base) with poached egg, and I want to say some rice (the waiters did a good job of explaining things, but it was my birthday, so I did a poor job of taking notes). This was by far my favorite of the antipasto since I love a good seafood soup. The weather has already started to cool a little here in New York City, and this was warm and comforting.
Did I mention that was all antipasti? We actually shared the carpaccio and the mozzarella, but the other two were individual for each of us. It was finally time for the past course.
Calamari, Rings (Torissi’s designation not mine) with a Spicy Pepperoni Sauce
I don’t really know what else to say this dish other than I kept telling Husband J that I wanted to recreate this at home. Simple, a nice spicy kick, and firm but tender calamari really is the perfect late summer pasta dish to me.
Did you notice yet that we haven’t gotten to the main course? Yes, that’s next.
We just got each of the main dishes.
Halibut with Black Olives & Anchovy
I ate this primarily, and I have to say that it wasn’t necessarily my favorite of the evening. It was nice to finally have something light after some of the rich food we had before. The halibut was poached and overall rather pleasant, but nothing too exciting.
Can you tell I was getting lazy with the pic taking? Anyhoo, I still wonder how chefs get chicken to be so soft. My favorite part of the dish was the hidden spice of the tomato sauce and the cooling house-made yogurt paired with it.
Since it’s my birthday there was no way we were going to miss the special dessert available that night.
Coconut Chocolate Cake
Do you like Almond Joy? Then you’ll like this…plus, I love the ginger ice cream with the rhubarb.
Clockwise from left: Cannoli, Tri-color Cake, Celery Spongecake, Chocolate Truffles. Surprisingly, I wasn’t ready to burst after all of this food (close though). Who doesn’t love mini-desserts?
While it was definitely on the early side, I was very happy with my birthday dinner. Even if I am making my slow march to middle age, at least it will be a delicious one.
Torrisi Italian Specialties
250 Mulberry Street
New York, NY