Saturday, October 1, 2011
Dining: Sicilian Italian Fare @eolorestaurant
190 Seventh Ave (21st St.)
From my NY Food & Drinks column
in the the current issue of h Magazine LA:
You don’t have to look far and wide for Italian fare in NYC, finding a fresh take on a true Sicilian menu is however surprisingly something you don’t find easily in Manhattan. Chef and Proprietor Melissa Muller Daka has opened up a charming spot smack in the middle of Chelsea that will surprise and definitely delight your palate; she calls it her love letter to Sicily.
Eolo, Italian for Aeolus, whom according to mythology is ruler of the wind. As the story goes, Eolo lived on a small, volcanic island off the coast of Sicily and was a favorite among the Greek gods. He gave Odysseus a wine bag ﬁlled with wind to speed his historic voyage home. Nearly there, Odysseus’s curious crew opened the bag, the winds escaped and their ship was pulled back to the Sicilian archipelago.
Wandering off of seventh avenue south on a windy rainy evening, the warm glow of this family friendly rustic destination had me relaxed and enjoying the fresh dishes here faster than I could ask, where’s my umbrella? With a menu that varies monthly according to the Sicilian cultural calendar & seasonal availability, the dishes are rich and satisfying without being too heavily sauced.
The seasonal drinks list has a bevy of fresh puree’s, infusions and syrups made daily; a remarkable feat for a small dining spot like this, kudos to the chef’s husband who was tending bar the evening I arrived. The Sangria was fruity and full bodied with a blend of fresh fruits that change daily.
Salads are artfully plated, including the Arugla salad, which comes with shaved radish, walnuts, shaved Parmigiano in a cup of lettuce. Dishes are easily shared and come in two sizes, which afford you the chance to sample a wide range of the ample menu here. Starting with a sampler, their Polpettini Giuggiulena of seared lamb & beef meatballs with cauliﬂower, onions and sesame seed cream are meaty with familiar spices that happily melt in your mouth. The grilled octopus is a heavenly delight that is slowly braised with black olive tampenade and chili oil, which adds a subtle kick, leaving the fish tender and rich.
Tagliatelle al Ragù , with their signature fresh pasta has a richly sublime short rib ragù, with ragusano cheese foam that blends effortlessly on the plate. Truffle oil adds a lingering smoky smoldering after-effect that rounds out the flavors perfectly.
The menu here is a fresh take on all things Sicilian, a journey for the soul and the palate brought to life in such tender loving hands of the chef that you can tell she’s aiming to transport you beyond the plate to a world of flavorful enjoyment; her passion is palpable here.
The enjoyment builds to a nice crescendo for the deserts offered here created at the hands of pastry chef Tony Marcos, they’re not to be missed. The fresh ricotta sampler is a plate of sweet hedonism for the eyes and the stomach. Their signature Sfinci are incredible little Sicilian treat; ricotta cheese, flour, and sugar fried to an elegant golden brown with a delicious vanilla-orange pastry cream and comes with rich chocolate dipping sauce.
Taking a step off the bustling streets of Manhattan here transports you to the
shores of Sicily, drink in the flavors and enjoy the journey.