Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Manhattan Italian (Paolas)

Last night we went out with Aviva's "cousin" Stacy (this is a point of contention, as Stacy is not actually related to Aviva by blood ... although she is none-the-less family), who had generously offered to take us out to dinner to celebrate our engagement. She made a reservation for the three of us at an elegant Italian place called Paola's, on 84th between 2nd and 3rd on the Upper East Side.

The place was fantastic, two reasonably sized wood paneled rooms, covered in wine bottles and lit with a soft yellow light. We were ushered into the second room and sat down at a small table facing the window. The room was small and intimate, but also larger than many restaurants, meaning that the table was a normal size and very comfortable. The menus, green-hard backed sheaves containing a number of fabulous delicacies, appeared soon after we sat down, carried by a pleasant, knowlegable and well-dressed gentleman. He was particularly helpful with the wine, given that the wine I initially ordered from their rather extensive wine list was not available (isn't that always the way, 150+ wines and the one I pick was not available). It was not the largest menu but very richly appointed with far too many excellent choices to make choosing a meal an easy decision.

We settled on starting with baked scallops topped with porcini mushrooms and baby artichokes crisped in the style of the Roman Jews (being Jews ourselves we figured that the way the old Jews have done it would probably work for us). Not the best scallops I have ever had, but only because I have recently had ludicrously incredible scallops. These were just ridiculous incredible (as every fan of Spaceballs well knows, ludicrous is slightly better than ridiculous). We then went on to the main courses; a massive bowl of seafood stew, gorgeous shrimp, squid, mussels and fish in a thick, rich red sauce (Aviva), a bowl of homemade pappardelle pasta with sweet duck meat ragout (Stacy), and grilled lamb chops with a tomato and couscous salad (myself).

Oh. Wow. Sooooo good. The fish stew was amazing, and the pappardelle was incredible ... but the lamb chops, wow, amazing. Just incredible. Dinner was finished with a nice selection of deserts; cheesecake, chocolate mousse and flourless chocolate cake. The deserts were very good, not incredible ... but as we sat and talked in the glow of the meal, we were incredibly satisfied. An amazing restaurant, which simply added to the exceptional company and the generally great evening, which, like so many, was finished with a BxM10 ride back home, which, coupled with the heavy meal, basically wiped me out, and I got home and crashed immediately.

Can't wait to go back though ...

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