“Pay attention to the specials.”
I don’t know many times I have written that sentence, but I do know it’s been a lot. The Infatuation: helping restaurants sell day old food since 2009.
But this time it has a different meaning. This time it has more to do with how we choose the restaurants we review than it does that panzanella your waiter is pushing on you.
After several years and nearly a thousand reviews, we now find ourselves in a situation in which we need to limit the amount of places that we write up such that you are only getting to the stuff that matters or fits a need. A bunch of 7.2’s aren’t gonna do much for you. Extra emphasis on the places that really matter will. Which brings us to Al Di La.
It should probably go without saying that any place in this town that’s been open since 1998 is still good. Consistency is the only way to keep people coming back year after year, let alone decade after decade. But Al Di La is more than just good. It’s special. In a city with so many Italian restaurants that even the American ones serve pasta, few are actually memorable enough that you make a mental note to bring your mom there next time she’s in town. Even fewer have a menu that is perfect from top to bottom. Fewer still know how to serve a bottle of wine at the right temperature (why do so many Italian restaurants store their wine above the oven?). But the best part about Al Di La is that it’s simple. No gimmicks, no scene, just rustic Italian food that will never fail you.
So, while we remind ourselves to pay attention to the specials, let this serve as a reminder that you should too. Some are restaurants in a class of their own. And some are just day old food.
A swiss chard and ricotta gnocchi, served in a brown butter sauce. As you can see, there’s a lot of swiss chard in the mix, making it taste quite a bit more like greens than it does pasta. Maybe that makes it…healthier? Either way, it’s good, but we like to spend our stomach space on the other pastas more.
Everyone likes pasta that’s been filled with stuff, and the stuff in Al Di La’s tortelli changes with the seasons. Sometimes it’s corn, sometimes it’s squash (seen below).
Tagliatelle Al Ragu
Simple and absolutely perfect. This is a must order on every Al Di La visit, as far as we’re concerned.
Spaghetti Neri Alla Chitarra
Squid ink and and garlic and spicy things. Plate of pasta/Christmas wish list.
Saltimbocca Alla Romana
Two pork chops, pounded thin, topped with sage and prosciutto. This is what you order if you want something more than pasta.
Al Di La is known for their risottos, and has rotating specials for them. Order one to share – they’re generous portions and always tremendous.
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