This place has been on my list for quite some time, so I was excited to go for Restaurant Week; in fact, it was my first Restaurant Week dinner so far, and I was pretty happy with it. I wouldn't say it set the bar super high for everything that follows (in my case, about 5 more restaurants), but it was very good and I really liked the atmosphere and the decor. It's a pretty big place inside, which I wasn't expecting, but it was nice and open with a modern feel. Only downside of the night was an event that was being held on the first floor, so some guy was talking into a microphone for a little while, then there was clapping, silence, clapping, you get the idea. Made for some awkward conversation between myself and Alexis. Not that I care what she thinks. That loser.
When we sat down, we were presented with an iPad that contained the wine list and cocktail menus. It makes me feel old and out of touch to say this, especially considering I own an online food blog, but I find it weird that restaurants do this now. Call me a dinosaur, but I like my menus on paper. I face computers and iPods and Blackberrys all day and night – the restaurant is my little salvation where I can take a break from the slew of technology – so is it too much to ask that my menu not come with batteries? Sigh. I slid my finger across to the wine list and selected a nice Pinot Nero. Done.
Here's a funny thing about me and Alexis going out to dinner – we've been friends for so long that when we pick a restaurant, we look at the menu beforehand and pretty much know what the other person is going to order. Sad but true. So I knew she was going to get the raviolo filled with egg yolk (I still don't get how they do that) and truffle butter, and I got the mussels with cannellini beans in a tomato and parsley broth. Obviously the more decadent, rich dish would be the raviolo; I mean, it's pasta, egg yolk, cheese, and truffle butter. Hello artery cloggers. Delicious artery cloggers. You know when you hear people classify food as "sexy"? Well, this would be a good example: the round raviolo is poked and all this egg yolk and cheese spills out into the truffle butter…yes. It was sexytime.
Mine was a much lighter plate; if the raviolo was "sexy", then this was "art". Very colorful and very good as well – the mussels were tender and honestly, the only reason I started eating mussels in the first place is because the broth that they come in is so damn good – give me a nice piece of Italian bread for dunking and I'm set. And speaking of bread, a guy walks around with a large basket of four different kinds of bread for you to choose from. Nums.
Considering I had a light dish as an appetizer, I felt it was ok to order some pasta, so I got the chitarra pasta in tomato and basil sauce. Simple and classic. Alexis, true to form, got the beef cheeks with polenta. I swear to god, put polenta on a flip flop and she'd eat it. Not that she made a wrong decision in her ordering, because it was tasty. If the idea of "beef cheeks" freaks you out, I'll tell you that it tasted similar to short ribs and was very tender. Now Chitarra in Italian means "guitar" and is in reference to the machine that is used for cutting pasta, which is supposedly made with guitar strings. Those crafty Italians. Regardless, it was yummy. It reminded me very much of the spaghetti pomodoro at Scarpetta (not as good though). It was cooked very al dente and the sauce was nice and creamy, it just didn't have that same "holy crap" factor that Scarpetta's does. It was even presented the same way! That spaghetti is to die for and I have had few places come close to it – fortunately, SD26 is one of them.
Best part of restaurant week? No sissypants "let's split one dessert" business. Each person gets their own dessert…and eats it too. Alexis (again true to form) got the panna cotta, and I (also true to form) got the tiramisu. They brought out a platter of mini Italian cookies gratis for the table (also something they did at Scarpetta), but the winner here was the tiramisu. The panna cotta was good but a little too sweet, and the tiramisu was fluffy and creamy, with just the right amount of espresso and cocoa. Whomever thought of tiramisu deserves an award – it's one of my favorite Italian desserts.
SD26 gets a thumbs up for Restaurant Week, but I would come back regardless – good food, good wine, good bar…good times.