Upon the recommendation of a new friend, K. and I met for dinner at Otto Enoteca Pizzeria tonight, one of the stars in the Mario Batali constellation of restaurants. It's more reasonably priced than, say, Babbo, but the food, decor and service still make you feel like you're eating in a place that was thought out a little more than most. (It also has the great address of 1 Fifth Ave.) The menu consists mostly of pizzas, pastas and antipasti, and fits all on one page. I had the penne puttanesca, which I've definitely ordered at other places before, but this dish was unique in my experience. I had a red Montefalco wine, which was goodnot exceptional, but decent.
The most interesting part of the meal was actually the cheese plate we shared for dessert (I'll have to come back again and try their gelato some other time). We had three cheeses, one each from goat's, sheep's and cow's milk. One actually came from the Coach Dairy Goat Farm, Batali's wife's family business, something I only discovered afterward. Served with the cheese were three sweet garnishes for dipping: honey with truffle shavings, an apricot and white wine compote, and a black cherry sauce. Such amazing combinations of flavors from the mixing and matching of these pair of trios. And for the first time, I realized how similar fruit-flavored ice cream is to this kind of cheese plateone's just more on the sweet side and the other on the savory. I've always had such a sweet tooth that I usually fly right over the cheese-as-dessert option, so I'm glad K. convinced me to go in a different direction tonight.
We had a quick after-dinner drink at Apple on Waverly Place. It's a Vietnamese restaurant too, but most of the patrons this evening had congregated on the couches and at the bar and around the outdoor tables. K. remarked on how nice it is to go out during the week, when every place isn't so mobbed like it is on the weekend, and I agreed. Sometimes, in fact, I feel like my weeknights are more booked up than my weekend is. Thankfully, gone are the days when the word "school night" was used as a serious deterrent from going out Sunday through Thursday.