Monday, April 10, 2017

MOZZARELLA E VINO Casual Italian Food-Restaurant Review

33 West 54th Street, Midtown Manhattan, NYC

Even walking at an uncharacteristic for midtown Manhattan leisurely pace, it's easy to miss the small windowed street front to Mozzarella E Vino.
However-past the entrance -a big hearted casual eatery, and a welcoming staff- attributes for a fine dining experience for solo eaters-or a crowd-wonderfully exists...tempting enthusiasts of Italian food  willing to forgo showier dining non-essentials in order to concentrate on the most delicious 'rustic' cuisine, delivered professionally.

Casual in the cozy leaning decor -with metal coat hooks on the wall-taken up the damp chilly we
went, wooden tables with basic white china place settings/metal cutlery-that would serve as everyday accoutrements anywhere... a few plants lining walls-in the bar/dining area-long and narrow in the front-leading to an airy-glass ceiling area- with tables for two-to family size.

Really though, all these people (a full house on a recent Thursday night)- clearly come for the eats....from the fragrant crispy breadsticks/chewy classic dessert options, appearing in a well paced manner by a staff that replace dishes and appropriate utensils with a practiced rhythm- as professional as any dining establishment we've been to-including the terrific Il Gattopardo (review) down the street -part of owners' Gianfranco & Paula Bolla-Sorrentino trilogy of restaurants.

The seasonal menu at M+V-lists everyday Italian favorites-if one's daily home cooked lunch or dinner was conjured up using the freshest ingredients prepared by a talented chef.

Divided into focused categories...diner delights include very shareable classic Italian antipasto...featuring à la carte salads (insulate), appetizers-small plates including of course-several options of the namesake Mozzarella di bufala Campana, fresh seafood options, arancini (fried rice balls-veal, peas, mozzarella), choices of Buffalo mozzarella rolls (including one filled with grilled eggplant, sun dried tomatoes/arugula $16)... well as the restaurant's signature meatballs (polpette di carne $14 or as an entree) in a simmering tomato sauce, a selection of panini on ciabatti or baguette bread ($13-$15) a few fresh pastas (paste), soul- satisfying soups (zuppe $13-$14), a tantalizing curated cheese and/or dried/smoked/cured meats' plate -impressively selected from the dry-aging room (affettati and formaggi...salumi), and a few entrees and desserts-for those who want to eat in a traditional three course manner.

Wines by the glass---nice touch- the bottle is brought to the table! This crisp -mineral-y dry white Pecorino 2015 Ciavolich $15 =absolutely delicious. The red and white selections- from small vineyards unique to these shores...priced from $9-$22. Full bottles of vino, bottled beer,  and cocktails-plus 'unlisted' rare vintages and additional prestigious wine selections -are available too. 
To start----we fawned over the wine list-that featured unique small Italian wineries-including premium white or red selections-served by the glass - European style-in choices of 2, 4 or 6 oz size portions ($6-$45).
Italian Processco...always a great way to start an evening

crisp bread sticks-with rosemary flecks-and chewy  bread-to sop up the  spaces

In the mood to be part of the sharing economy, meal wise-our choice of dishes - focused on selections  that would easily tantalize a variety of palates-including picky eaters of only "healthier" fare, the carb avoiders, etc.
Calamari, mussels and shrimp salad, over organic friseé, arugula and oven-dried cherry tomatoes, with extra virgin olive oil, lemon and parsley dressing $19. Mix of fresh seafood -succulent tender bits -seasoned and lightly moistened with dressing.
Classic tasting of Buffalo mozzarella...buffalo provola and burrata served with cherry tomatoes $19 
Think you know what Buffalo Mozzarella REALLY tastes like??!!! Not if you buy it in a container at your average USA grocery store. Trust us -the  -fresh and homemade versions -pictured above-are a revelation...- smoked and lightly herbed  (basil)choices, with a touch of fragrant extra virgin olive oil dressing sliced cherry tomatoes that tastes like that were plucked at the peak of ripening- off the vine from a summer garden.

“Cacciucco di ceci alla Toscana” Garbanzo bean and braised greens soup, on toasted bread and pecorino Toscano$14 . Freshly made vegetable both wholesome chickpeas-at first bite-one can tell these legumes did t come out of a can-as they burst with flavor -served with a fresh twist of pepper and grated cheese-this simple' soup is actually a sophisticated blend of  seasonings. Good to the last drop-and perfect choice for a cold night. 
“Minestrone di verdure invernali” squash, cabbage and dried legumes $14 Fresh chunks of vegetables, tender beans, in a light broth-served with fresh pepper and grated Italian Pecorino, aromatic with bay leafs, thyme. Delicious Italian soup-cooked with seasonal vegetables -hearty satisfying flavor that would make an ideal lunch choice. 
Warm organic farro salad with roasted vegetables and burrata Pugliese $17-chewy texture to this healthy grain-faro is naturally loaded with fiber and protein...topped with oozy creamy mozzarella adds to interesting mix of flavors... moistened perfectly with vinaigrette dressing=this plate alone-had us planning our next visit. 

Homemade Meatballs-in a fresh tomato sauce-one bite had our foodie friend  impressed with this version-even stuffed from the above dishes...ended up taking home for lunch the next day...delicious re-heated! 
IMO-always room for dessert-aka doll della casa. Do Not Miss ordering the pistachio gelato-we've been to Italy several times-and this creamy cooling portion we had here-ranks right up with the best we had over there. The  dark chocolate and almond cake-is smoother taste than one would expect. Rich balance of the two main ingredients...with chopped almonds in  and adorning the light smooth chocolate-reminiscent of the texture of classic Italian ricotta cheese cake. $12
Before...and after...maybe, five seconds...the four devoured with after -dinner  espresso

AN à La Carte Menu will be served on Easter Sunday, April 16th, 2017.
Open: 11:30AM to 10:00 PM

33 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019