Locanda Verde

In New York City, you often hear the names of hip and popular restaurants being thrown around.  One of these hallowed eateries that I've oft heard but never tried is Locanda Verde.  It has been featured on plenty of Food Network shows and highly rated on Yelp and Eater NY and all that jazz.  It had been on my NYC foodie bucket list for a while, and we finally had the opportunity to dine there!  

Dinner at Locanda Verde was a highly cherished occasion for me.  Apparently, reservations at Locanda Verde are also highly cherished, since it was packed on a weeknight and it took a lot of sweet-talking to get us in. We had dinner with Alex's gregarious and wonderful cousin Sam and Sam's beautiful and talented girlfriend, Jenn - both of whom are very dear to me.  It was one of those meals you hope would never end: romantic, delicious, and shared with good company.

Locanda Verde rocks a very sexy vibe, if that makes sense.  It's dark inside, everything glowing orange from tea votives and looking like a bar where Don Draper would be sipping his Old-Fashioned (sidebar: can you tell I'm a little sad about Mad Men ending?).  The service was fantastic and everyone was very knowledgeable about the food and drink.

We had something of a family style meal with all the restaurant's highlights: sheep's milk ricotta, blue crab crostini, winter salad, burrata, brussels sprouts, lamb bolognese pappardelle, lamb misti, and fire-roasted garlic chicken...and a little bubbly and a giant ice cream sundae to finish off the meal.  Everything was delicious (duh) but the ricotta was truly spectacular, so let's talk about it.  I like cottage cheese and farmer's cheese and ricotta and all that.  I like the Polly-O yellow tubs you get for making lasagna (I eat that stuff by the spoonful when I make lasagna).  But this ricotta was something else.  We got a huge dollop of ricotta drizzled with olive oil, sea salt, and herbs.  A few slices of buttery (slightly burnt) bread accompanied.  The ricotta was heaven: it had a silky texture, coated my mouth with richness and a tiny hint of saltiness and earthiness, and melted like butter.  I thought it was a little weird to serve burnt toast, but then I rationalized that perhaps the bitter burnt flavor was intentionally meant to counterbalance the richness and butteriness of the cheese.  Anyway, the ricotta was on point.

A close second favorite thing that we ate was the lamb pappardelle.  The pasta was cooked perfectly, obviously, but what I found most interesting was that when I coiled the thick sheet of pappardelle around my fork and took a bite through multiple layers of pasta, it led to the most curious and wonderful sensation: chewiness and softness simultaneously.

It was a hugely enjoyable meal and I can't wait to experience something similar again.  Go for the fame, stay for the ricotta.  Lots and lots of the ricotta!