Presented by Gotham Magazine, Wednesday night was Via Dei Mille's one year anniversary in Soho, and I was honored to be there to help celebrate (and eat, of course). Even though Via Dei Mille is home to many celebrity clientele like Jessica Alba, Kim Kardashian and Alvin Valley, owner Giuseppe Tuosto keeps a humble presence, both in front of house and in the kitchen.
The night started off like any fine Italian affair, with Prosecco flowing and loud chatter. We were a group of four, and we were greeted by a very friendly waiter, complete with long "Euro-hair" and Italian accent. Now the picture was coming together; the candles, the roses, the jugs of fresh Sangria – if it weren't for Megan Fox and Jay-Z's faces all over the walls (above), I would have sworn I was in Italy. To celebrate this occasion, Via Dei Mille debuted their new menu for the night, and there were no limits on what you could order or how much, aka music to my stomach. I have been to a few restaurant events like this, and usually the menu is prix-fixe or family style. I was shocked and pleasantly surprised that they let everyone order from the real menu, it was great to be able to enjoy the real dining experience.
I started out with the beef carpaccio appetizer with arugula, lemon, truffle oil and shaved parmesan. The plate was so pretty, I almost didn't want to touch it and ruin it. But then I came to my senses. I love good beef carpaccio, but this one was great; with the tangy lemon and peppery arugula, the thin-sliced beef just melted in your mouth the way good sushi does. It was so light and refreshing, I ate almost the whole plate.
My decision for an entree was fortunately a good one. This is going to sound like a strange statement, but I am pretty hesitant about ordering pasta in Italian restaurants and rarely ever do so – I feel like a lot of the time it's hit or miss. Italian food in NYC has become so common (and popular with tourists), I feel like people stopped trying and stopped caring about the fundamentals of a good pasta dish. It's not as simple as it seems: the texture of the pasta, how well it's cooked, the right amount of sauce, the right amount of ingredients - it's not a dish to be overwhelmed or underwhelmed – it has to be just right. Even with all that floating around in my head, I had a strong feeling that this place made a good, fresh pasta. I ordered the Tagliolini in Almond, Basil and Garlic Pesto with Rock Shrimp and Manila Clams (I got it sans clams though – not a fan), and it was so good my mouth is actually watering right now thinking about it. The almond pesto was full of earthy herbs and garlic which clung to the meaty shrimps, and the pasta was cooked perfectly. That was the quintessential pasta dish with the creamy sauce and nutty bite.
Funny little side-note: I asked for some fresh-grated parmesan cheese on my pasta, and the waiter brought it over without hesitation but as he knelt over my dish, cheese in-hand, he whispered in my ear with his Italian accent: "with seafood??" I'm not even kidding when I say that he was dead serious. I shrugged and said, "I'm not Italian – bring on the parmesan!" Hasn't he ever heard of shrimp fondue or shrimp quesadillas? Jeez..
Dessert was also pretty amazing: chocolate cake with mint ice cream, and panna cotta with raspberry sauce. The chocolate cake was…heaven. Anything chocolate is ok by me, but this was one of those cakes that makes you wonder if chocolate has magical powers because you instantly feel better after you eat it. Small and rich with crushed hazelnuts, it wasn't too sweet or too bitter. It was PERFECTION. The panna cotta was nothing to sneeze at either, but paled in comparison to the chocolate cake in my opinion. Though I have some friends who don't like chocolate (I know – they need help), and they would have probably died for that panna cotta..
After that amazing meal, I can only hope to be back next year for their 2nd Anniversary celebration. Giuseppe greeted me at the door on my way out, and he was so soft-spoken and friendly – not the boisterous host you would expect. I thanked him profusely and asked if the pasta was house-made and he responded simply with "yes, yes of course," as if there were no other way.
Salute to Via Dei Mille's year of success!
Via Dei Mille
357 West Broadway at Broome St