Thursday, April 3, 2008

Dell'anima Delivers

With the mediocre Resto still weighing on my mind, I was really hoping that "new and very noteworthy" in the case of Dell'anima was right on, especially since the four of us were suffering from some serious hunger pangs. We got to the snug West Village eatery, fronted by Babbo and Del Posto alums, to find it packed to the rafters. (Thank god for opentable.) As soon as we sat down, we got crackin' and ordered the bruschetta and octopus to fill our empty bellies. Here's how it went:

A bowl full of grilled fresh bread lathered with garlic and olive oil came out with a delightful assortment of spreads: garlicky parsley pesto, sweetly addictive raisin chutney, chunky chickpea doused in olive oil, a super smooth garlic confit and a creamy cloud of ricotta salata. We asked for another serving of bread (and out it came all done up)—couldn't let any of the amazing toppings go back to the kitchen. If the bruschetta was this good, we wondered if Dell'anima could keep it up and deliver on the rest.

Cut to the chase: The generous helping of grilled octopus pleased us all (even JA liked it, and she says tentacled sea creatures typically turn her off)—spongey and tender, skillfully seasoned, sitting atop a mess o' zesty cannelini beans and grilled endive. Our anticipation for the entrees was now at fever pitch.

I'm happy to report that Dell'anima earned raves all 'round. We'd all decided on the pastas, made fresh daily. I had the tagliatelle with bolognese sauce, and it was pretty damn good—almost as good as the irresistable rendition at my fave NY Italian joint Supper. JC's buckwheat pasta with brussels sprout slivers (below left) was spot-on—the broth-based sauce hit just the right savory note.

DY's spinach pasta puttanesca (above right) was a rainbow of zesty tart flavors, while JA's bowl of risotto dotted with sausage and salumi was just the right blend of creamy and firm whole grains. I've seen so many overcooked, clumpy and gummy versions, that I usually never order risotto. I'm glad JA did so that I could steal some of hers.

Phew. The pressure was off. I'd redeemed myself from having chosen Resto for dinner the night before. Big sleepy smiles were plastered on our faces as we stumbled out the door and home to bed.

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