Excellent service, delicious food and a lovely dining room add up to Dopo, from the creators of the popular theater district restaurant, Dopo Teatro. The ochre walls of the long narrow room, hung with paintings, leads into what will be a sweet garden to open shortly for outdoor dining (and will be heated and accessible in winter.)
Young chef Patrizo D'Andrea shows his stuff with a portabella Carpaccio starter topped by a large serving of buffalo mozzarella; the portabella translucently - thin, enhanced by a drizzle of balsamic served alongside. Other first courses include an octopus and baby artichoke salad and roasted farm veggies infused with basil oil, the vegetable selection dependant on what is freshest that day.
Presentation is elegant--my lamb entree was a masterpiece of tender meat, miniature potatoes, tiny artichokes and chanterelles. The lamb was medium rare as requested and the whole as pleasing visually as to the taste buds. My companion's homemade ricotta gnocchi with baby lamb ragout was a stand-out with good quality Parmesan and the right amount of sauce. Pasta lovers can also enjoy tagliatelle paglia e fieno with spinach and egg hand-mixed into the dough served with a rich black trumpet and chanterelle mushroom ragout that somehow manages to feel light or simple, elegant spaghetti alla Checca, with fresh tomatoes, roasted garlic, basil and shaved Parmesan. We passed on the roast Cornish hen with figs in a Port wine reduction and the jumbo grilled shrimp with smoked butter but I bet they are equally pleasing.
Desserts, both the tiramisu and the ricotta cheesecakes were a tad too sweet, possibly in a nod to American palates. Coffee is excellent and the bread basket yielded a variety, all with nicely crisp crusts. The staff is largely Italian, always a good thing in a restaurant that serves cuisine of that country. Chef Chef D’Andrea has great credentials having spent a year each cooking in Spain and Switzerland, before signing on with Cipriani’s, a tour of duty that took him from Harry’s Bar in Venice as chef de cuisine, to Hong Kong, and then to New York to Cipriani’s Rainbow Room and Cipriani Downtown.
Wine, an important part of the dining experience at Dopo East, is under the direction of Gianni Onofri, who foresees a list of some 600 predominantly Italian bottles. By the glass, Dopo East offers six whites and nine reds including a Super Tuscan Integolo and Cicarello’s Nero D’Avola. Besides enhancing the already impessive list, Onofri looks forward to a wine bar and special wine dinners.
Dopo is on a weird street due to the 59th Street bridge traffic but it's worth seeking out. Enhance a night at the movieplex on 61st or simply go there for a delicious meal, served with care and brightened by an attractive setting and well-chosen wine.
[Update: Dopo East has added a new wine room with separate entrance and expanded wine list. New chef, Giuseppe Moschiano, with new menu , much of it based on produce from Union Square market. Outdoor garden now glass enclosed so it can be enjoyed year' round--roof is retractable for warm weather months.]