Trattoria Italienne: Where The Best European Flavors Mingle!

I was thrilled to be able to visit Trattoria Italienne at 19 West 24th Street in the Flatiron District last night–several food blogger pals have raved about their experiences there to me in the past month! While it is billed as Northern Italian with Southern French fusion style food, I noticed a lot of Spanish influences on the menu items.
For instance, my dining guest Joyce and I started out with a bowl of mixed Spanish and Italian green marinated olives. The six or seven different shades of green in the bowl made it ripe for the subject of a painting–but the olives tasted even better than they looked. The soft flesh of the larger Italian olives and the firm flesh of the Spanish olives just made them the perfect starter. We teamed them up with Gigante Beans with sliced sweet red pepper in olive oil and it was the perfect way to start off a fabulous evening in Trattoria Italienne’s dark and intimate back dining room.
Did I fail to mention the unbelievable naturally sweet organic carrots with fresh Herbs De Provence that we were served? Wow, they were so tender and lightly sauteed in olive oil. If you could cook carrots like this, you would always get your kids to eat them.
We next had to get their famous Fougasse. The Trattoria Italienne kitchen crew does many different types of fougasse–which is a bread shaped like a leaf–including fruit-accented sweet one for desserts. We had the fougasses that is currently listed on the dinner menu under Stuzzichini (aka traditional bar snacks), which had squash blossoms and anchovies. It is hung on a hook in the traditional Provencal way, giving it a rustic charm, and was still warm.
We then had two types of Northern Italian prosciutto aged 24 and 36 months respectively. We were told to swirl it around the delicious homemade skinny breadsticks provided along with some home churned soft butter. Needless to say, this mouthwatering combo literally melted in our mouths.
Next up was the Roasted Little Gem Lettuce with a broken Caesar vinaigrette with Spanish boquerones. This was what my dining partner called “an elegant deconstructed Caesar salad” and I could not agree more. One portion is three little green heads on a plate and it seems to be super popular as I noticed six different tables getting it at the same time that we did. I imagine that it is so popular because it is as healthy as it is tasty.
My dining partner and I then shared the widely heralded Pappardelle with Tuscan red wine beef ragu with English peas. If you are a fan of any sort of pasta Bolognese style, this will blow your Crocs off. There is a tremendous amount of beef in this dish and you can tell that it is high grass-fed quality. It is super-satisfying and filling and the freshness of the homemade tender Pappardelle could not be beat. I am still dreaming about it today!
We shared a second pasta entree that is probably the most popular one that Trattoria Italienne serves–Gnocchetti with bouton Chanterelle mushroom and vin jaune. As you might have guessed, these are tiny, super light gnocchi done in a butter and oil sauce with fresh shredded basil scattered throughout. The Chanterelles and thinly sliced and ultra-tender. This is what I call a pasta “dream dish” that can please palates across the board. People would gladly give up their strict gluten-free diets for a day just to taste this culinary wonder!
We finished up with interesting desserts–definitely the most French part of Trattoria Italienne’s menu. I ordered the legendary Coconut Cake with a side of French Vanilla gelato to share with my friend while my friend had the baked pear with cinnamon ice cream. Chocolate lovers should take note that there is a tremendous amount of Valrona filled and covered chocolate desserts to choose from including an Entremet (Gianduja Frozen Mousse with hazelnut dacquoise and orange mousse) that is off the charts. Often the wait staff will bring over complimentary homemade chocolates to diners at the end of a meal including ones made with Jamaican rum, passionfruit and espresso.
Trattoria Italienne’s official site address is www.italiennenyc.com and there you can see the entire menu except for desserts since they like to change them quite often. Reservations are recommended but not required since this is a very large space. The front dining room is light and airy while the back one is dark and mysterious with rock music playing in the background–so you get two totally different dining atmospheres to choose from.

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