Monday, April 23, 2012

In the neighborhood.

When I moved to the Upper East Side, it wasn't because the neighborhood was a happening hot spot. I needed a place in a hurry, and a friend's cousin was subletting her super-cheap studio. It seemed like kismet, and I moved in a week after I first visited the place. Seven years and two apartments later, I'm still here - mostly because it's a ridiculously easy commute (to work, to the East Village, you name it) and pretty cheap, in Manhattan terms. But, of late, it's turning into a halfway exciting place for food and drink, too.

Spigolo has been a big part of the neighborhood's self-improvement plan. It opened a few years back, and has been serving delicious Italian food to standing room only crowds ever since. Every time I visit, I realize I don't go often enough.

On my most recent trip, I started with a house cocktail, the Bulleit Burlesque. A mixture of rye, cherry and ginger (I honestly can't remember the exact ingredients), it was a spicy take on a Manhattan - so of course I loved it.

For my starter, I ordered Spigolo's take on the Caesar, a half head of romaine topped with anchovy dressing, Parmesan and piping hot, lightly fried rock shrimp. I loved the flavors in this, but it was a bit overdressed. I ended up pushing about half the sauce to the side - but nothing could ruin the contrast of the plump, toasty shrimp with the crisp, cold lettuce.

On my insistence, Kyle and I split an order of the Romano potatoes. From what I can tell, these bad boys are boiled, then smashed, coated with a bit of cheese and salt, and crisped on the grill. They are, in a word, ridiculous.

I was lucky enough to visit early in the evening, before the restaurant sold out of their house-made chicken and broccoli rabe sausage, which was split, grilled and served on top of a cold farro salad. The sausage - unlike so much chicken sausage - was moist, flavorful and a perfect texture. And the salad was a little creamy and peppered with roasted tomatoes and cold cucumber. So, as you can imagine: I loved it.

Dessert at Spigolo is particularly good - the co-owner is also the pastry chef, and she does a fantastic job. My favorite of the two we sampled last week was the sticky toffee bread pudding. I'd even go so far as to say that the sticky toffee sauce was as good as my own, and I loved the whipped cream/mascarpone combination that topped things off. (So much so that I might copy it.)

Over the next few weeks, I'll be offering up a few more reasons why the Upper East Side isn't seeming like such a bad place to be these days. Stay tuned! In the meantime, get your butts to Spigolo before they take that bread pudding off the menu.

1561 Second Avenue
Between 81st and 82nd Streets


Ken said...

Hungry just looking at that. Well done.

Meg Blocker said...


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