During a recent dinner at dell'anima, we found ourselves deep in analytical conversation about Mad Men and Game Of Thrones, when one member of our party looked down at their plate and said, "Sorry to interrupt, but... this food is really good."
It's easy to get lost in conversation at dell'anima. The restaurant, for starters, is located right at that point in the West Village that we like to think of as the spot where the environment starts moving from "Oh This Is A Pretty Area" to "Let's Make Out Right Now." Pair that with a small space, dim lighting, and big glasses of wine, and you're in business. A discussion about the latest season of Castle could probably seem engaging. And yes, Castle is still on television.
But there's no question you'll pause conversation at some point, look down at your plate, and applaud yourself for your life choices. Or at least your life choices for dinner tonight. Because the food here is really, really good.
That's nothing new, as the Italian food at dell'anima has been excellent since the restaurant opened in 2007, but with time, it's only gotten better. Pretty much everything that's hit our table here has been cooked and seasoned perfectly. As a result, the board has convened and voted, and we're bumping up dell'anima's rating.
Dell'anima is always lively, but compared to its sister restaurants L'Apicio and L'Artusi, it's a bit more laid back and casual, making it an all-time Infatuation Date Night favorite. If you bring a date here and don't have a good time, that's on you. If it's going badly? You can always talk about how good the food is.
Buttery, grilled bread with your pick of a side dip. Get one - or three - to start off. We're partial to the avocado, which, with chili flakes, is somewhere between a DIY avocado toast and guacamole.
You know how a piece of octopus is horrible if it's badly cooked, and amazing if it's just right? It's just right here, every time - crispy and tender.
A noodle similar to tagilatelle but thinner. This is a fan favorite at dell'anima, and rightfully so. It's a take on carbonara with a poached egg and speck instead of bacon. Hearty but not terribly heavy, and really good.
We are never mad about a spicy tomato sauce pasta topped with breadcrumbs, but be warned this can be spicy as hell. If you don't like the heat, ask for it on the milder side.
Sometimes ordering a whole fish like this seems like a great idea, and turns out to be kind of a bummer. Not at dell'anima. This fish is super flavorful.
I don't know what they do to the crust of this chicken to make it almost taste like bacon, but it's incredible. I'm guessing butter is involved. One of the better chickens around.