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Torrisi Italian Specialties

This Restaurant is Permanently Closed

[This restaurant is now closed.]

Restaurants like Torrisi are the reason that we spend all of our free time eating and writing about food. If you enjoy consuming as much as we do and aren't held down by underdeveloped taste buds, allergies or religious beliefs, you're going to love Torrisi Italian Specialties.

By day, Torrisi is the best new sandwich shop in Manhattan. Eat in or take out a gangster roast turkey or chicken parm. At night, all twenty seats are available for $50 a pop, at one of three frustratingly tough to attain prix fixe seatings: 6pm, 7:45pm and 9:30pm. The catch is, there are no reservations. The restaurant opens at 6:00, and it's first come, first serve. People start lining up to stake their claim on a seating around 5:30. If someone in your party can get there early, you'll have the pick of the litter. But by 6:30, it's not uncommon for the restaurant to be sold out for the night. You can always roll the dice and do a drive by - just be prepared for rejection. Luckily, Nolita is stacked and you can always try your luck at Public, Peasant, Cafe Gitane or Café Habana if you can't get in. We'd been trying to get here for a while now, but it's a hard place to plan for unless getting out of work early isn't a problem and your night is wide open.

If you're lucky enough to score a seat, your only choice will be between two entrees, usually a fish and a meat, and which bottle of fairly priced wine to pair with it. Other than that, your fate is in the hands of the kitchen. Four small appetizers arrive at the table, one at a time, followed by a pasta, main and dessert. It sounds like a lot, but really, it's the perfect amount of food. The service is excellent, food outstanding and overall experience truly unique. In theory, a prix fixe dinner at a low key Italian sandwich shop might not seem like something to get in line for, but trust us, it is. It's all worth it.

Food Rundown:

Warm Mozzarella
A staple on the menu, this warm disc of davero milk mozzarella cheese is damn tasty. We just needed more of the warm garlic bread it's served with. That stuff was incredible.

Broccoli Rabe with Dried Scallops
The scallops were pretty much undetectable here, but they added a faint salty-like-the-ocean taste. We're not sure if including dried scallops is a nod to the salted fish/Chinese broccoli thing, but it's definitely a little strange. While we happily ate every last bite, this was probably our least favorite thing on the menu.

Watermelon With Aged Goat Cheese
Watermelon salads are hot this summer, and if prepared correctly, like this one, they can be quite a treat. Cool slices of watermelon tossed with pickled watermelon rind and goat cheese. On a balmy summer evening, this is a nice little wake up call for your taste buds.

Pork Fried Rice
Pork fried rice at an Italian restaurant? Alrighty then. Thin slices of prosciutto qualify as the "pork" in this glistening bowl of fried rice, which was also highlighted by egg, lemon, onions and parsley. You ever seen anything like this? Check out the twitpic.

Shaved Bonito with Golden Nuggets
This right here is all about texture - sliced raw tuna and golden nugget potatoes tossed with some crazy sauce. We liked this, but it wasn't super memorable. Partly because it was less flashy than some of the other dishes, and partly because we had drank two bottles of wine by this point.

Dancing Ewe Ricotta Gnocchi
If you're lucky, this will be on the menu when you go. This might be the lightest, most delicate gnocchi you ever come across. Incredible.

Striped Bass With Pickled Green Tomato & Olives
You can taste the love and care put into each dish at Torrisi, and this fish entree exemplifies that. While it wasn't the home run the pork chop was, this was fresh and simple, and very satisfying.

Heritage Pork Chop
This right here is pork chop elite. It's up there with Little Owl, Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson in tier number one (who's got the fantasy fever?). Tender, sweet and delicate, this is one of the best chops we've ever had. Also served with a fatty, porky rib on the side. Nice touch.

Dessert Platter
A medley of Italian sweets arrive on a tray for dessert including rainbow cookies, mini cannolis, bourbon cream puffs and homemade milano cookies. A nice, yet surprisingly restrained way to end an Italian feast.

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