Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Gastronomic Pearl On Minetta Lane

A visit to the big city had been on my bride's bucket list for some time, so to celebrate her day of birth this year I decided to treat her to a long weekend in New York. Since we travel primarily for food, I booked seats at several restaurants before we left our stately pleasure dome on the Gulf of Mexico. One of the restaurants was Perla in the West Village on Minetta Lane.

We braved New York traffic and missed our 6 o'clock reservation by mere minutes. We were graciously greeted at the door and guided to our awaiting table in this pleasantly stylish eatery. Nick, our professional and efficient server, immediately took our order for medicinal adult beverages. The Belle of Gulf Boulevard chose a Kimmy Gibbler with vodka, strawberry, orgeat and coconut. Orgeat syrup is a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar and rose water or orange flower water.

I could not resist the Hey Macarena, a tasty and thirst quenching beverage made with mescal, tequila, chartreuse, jalapeno and basil. It was so good I had to do the macarena twice.

Suitably medicated we moved on to our appetizers and entrees, but not before requesting a bottle of Contra Soarda Marzemino Nero 'Gaggion' Veneto Rosso (Veneto, Italy) to accompany dinner. Contra Soarda' ("hamlet on the slope") is an environmentally-conscious winery located just outside the Venetian town of Bassano del Grappa. This wine with soft tannins and hints of light berry fruit paired well with our dinner choices.

My bride's choice of appetizer was the rich and delightful Salmon Belly with celery leaves served with a creamy aioli.

I have never met an octopus that I could turn down, so the Octopus with oven dried tomatoes, eggplant and fett'unta (fetta meaning slice and unta meaning oiled or oily) had to be mine. That octopus was so tender and tasty it almost brought tears of joy to my eyes and the fett'unta or garlic bread provided the perfect perch for this gift from the sea.

For her main course, my dining partner chose the Agnolotti, a type of pasta typical of the Piedmont region of Italy, made with small pieces of flattened pasta dough, folded over the Perla filling of heavenly beef cheeks. Those little ravioli looking pasta purses elicited moans of pleasure from the Belle's side of the table.

Feeling the need to further boost my omega-3 intake for the day, I could not pass up the Black Spaghetti with squid ink soaked pasta, mussels, fennel and tarragon. This was a delightful dish with hints of the sea and subtle licorice overtones.

I was, at this point, too stuffed for dessert but the birthday girl did allow me a taste of the olive oil cake with muscat and almonds that Nick kindly presented to our table. It is still amazing to me that olive oil can produce such a tasty dessert.

Perla can be a tad on the pricey side depending on how big a piglet you may happen to be, and for us the bill came to a little under $200 for all food and drink. We added an additional 20% for Nick. This dining experience pleased my bride so it was worth every farthing.

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