Never again will I doubt the heavy accents at Tiella. Black cuttlefish ink linguine? Risotto with lobster and grapefruit? In my head I'm thinking, "am I hearing this correctly?" Then I pick up the menu, and yes, there is grapefruit in the risotto. I'm surprised because this seems like just another small Italian spot on the UES, but ok, Tiella, you have piqued my interest…
The menu here sounds delicious, and we were starving, so, when in Rome. Or in this case, when in Naples - since that is where the concept of the tiella comes from, and I will explain momentarily how Tiella puts their own spin on the tiella. Confusing maybe, but delicious. Tiellas are dishes that are baked in a wood-burning oven in small cast iron pans; usually in the style of casseroles. Tiella (the restaurant) puts a twist on it by baking small pizzas in this style in their very own wood-burning brick oven, which happens to be the smallest restaurant brick oven allowed by New York State. So, is it any good? Well we got the special of the night (porchetta, mozzarella cheese) and the Stracciatella (creamy cheese, prosciutto, black truffle, oil). Mmm..you can't pass that up. Both were really tasty, but I really liked the porchetta – it was just so tender and savory. The crust was great in my opinion (I like a thin crust), except they might want to throw some extra wood in that tiny oven because the other pie was kind of cold.
We had a little taste of the calamari, which is also baked in the tiella with mushrooms, lemon and olive oil. I'm partial to fried calamari (who isn't?) and there are few places where I will actually eat grilled/roasted calamari. Tiella has made it's way onto my list as one of those places. It was a really great fall dish; warm, earthy and peppery.
What would an Italian meal be without some pasta? Plus, do you really think I wouldn't HAVE TO try the risotto with lobster and grapefruit? That's just too weird, but I tried it because Mario (the very hospitable co-owner of Tiella) and the waiters all recommended it, as well as the special of the night, the black cuttlefish ink linguine with shrimp and crabmeat. Damn. Testing my boundaries a little, but I allowed it. The risotto was good, but not nearly as good as the ink linguine; the grapefruit in it wasn't overpowering, it just added a citrusy bite. The lobster and crabmeat in the fresh linguine was awesome (and you don't even taste the ink or whatever you might be thinking). We loved it. I was getting full but it was one of those situations where I didnt want to stop eating it. However, I knew rack of lamb was on it's way as well as dessert so I put down the fork…
The rack of lamb was good and cooked well (actually cooked medium, but you know what I mean), but I was still thinking about that pasta. If you're more of a meat eater though (and I usually am) I would recommend it – and the broccoli rabe on the side was yum too. Keep in mind with these photos that everything we had was split for us in the kitchen, so we were sharing everything which is why the portions look small.
Sweet, sweet finale. Moist angel food cake covered (more like encased) in an orange cream sauce and a chocolate tart for me. Shocking. Chocolate is everything that is right with the world. The cake was actually better though, I have to admit. The tart was ok, it was a chocolate crust that wasn't very chocolatey (booo) filled with whipped cream and chopped strawberries. A less-serious chocolate person would be fine with this, but I was craving something along the lines of a chocolate crust filled with chocolate mousse and topped with chocolate ganache. Yes, I'm aware that I have an addiction, and I'm ok with it.
Tiella has only been open for 3 months and they were very busy last night. The wine was flowing (good wines at that), and the conversation was lively amongst everyone in the restaurant.