|Bolzano's Bar Cucina|
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Those of us who find cooking dinner for six a challenge have to take our hats off to Sam Hazen and Bobby Perillo, the chefs at Bolzano’s. Why? This new theater district eatery seats over 300 people (indoors and out). Perhaps it’s no surprise than that Bolzano’s is the brainchild of Marc Packer, the restaurateur behind the very popular (and large) Tao. Here, he has transformed the former tourist trap Charley O’s in Shubert Alley into a surprisingly soothing and elegant spot – all brown woods and neutral furnishings.Review By: Brian Scott Lipton
As is true of every something-to-please-everyone menu, not everything works brilliantly; but there are a lot more winners here than one might expect. One of them is the supremely refreshing and not-too-sweet white sangria, which is the ideal beginning to any summer meal. You can then head straight to the crudo, including a trio of hefty squares of sashimi-grade tuna topped with warm leeks and bits of pancetta. Or you can sample something a bit heartier, like baked clams casino. They’re decent if not triumphant – and must be eaten while hot.
Pay close attention now: You can easily overlook the house’s signature dish -- since it’s buried under the “side dishes” section. But do not, under any circumstances, pass up “spaghetti in a meatball” (Nope, it’s not a typo, nor did I have too much of that delicious sangria!). It’s a large intensely flavorful meatball that’s been stuffed with some pasta and just a dash of cheese, all napped in a yummy homemade tomato sauce. I could happily make a meal of two of these (at $7 each) and some of the house’s excellent bread.
But then, I’d have to pass up my favorite dish at Bolzano’s, the extraordinary cavatelli topped with braised short ribs, mushrooms and carrots. Yes, it carries a hefty price tag for a pasta dish ($23), but it’s worth every penny! Decidedly lighter (if no less generously portioned) are the house’s gnocchi in a pleasing pesto sauce.
Entrees at any restaurant -- especially Italian ones -- are usually a bit of a let-down, but the Chilean sea bass marsala actually held up its end of the bargain: the lightly-breaded fish filets soak up just enough of the tasty/mushroom wine sauce. Meanwhile, I ordered the garlic roasted chicken not for the poultry – which is perfectly fine and garlicky – but for the accompanying sweet sausage bread pudding. Since my doctor (and your doctor or anyone’s doctor) won’t approve, we just won’t tell them. Anyway, it’s just as decadent and delicious as it sounds.
Those words equally apply to the tiramisu panna cotta, a glassful of excellent custard and ladyfingers shot through with a razor-sharp espresso sauce. While I was afraid to indulge too heavily in that finale – for fear of being awake all night -- I managed to down every last bite of the moist orange cake topped with orange slices. However – making up a little for that sausage bread pudding -- I left the accompanying dollops of mascarpone on the side of the plate. You, however, might choose to go whole hog. No one will blame you.
Neighborhood: West 40s
Chef: Sam Hazen
Entree Price: $25-30
Payment: Amex Visa Mastercard
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