Tartina recently moved from Ninth Avenue between 45th and 46th Streets to the NW corner of 111th Street and Amsterdam Avenue and has garnered many new fans along the way. Prices are excellent for modern Southern Italian fare that is all made from scratch–that includes homemade pasta and desserts. All produce is organic and all meat, fish and cheeses used are artisanal quality and super-fresh. Service is unpretentious and swift, and the waitstaff really listens to customers to get gauge their likes and dislikes. The wait team does this in order to make good recommendations.
I recently went to Tartina for a press tasting and tried quite a few dishes but wanted to highlight some of my favorite ones. Tartina has a wonderful assortment of antipasti/appetizers to start off your meal and the overwhelming favorite with my fellow press guests were the Calamari & Shrimp Fritti served with homemade tartar sauce. The unique seafood combo was fried to a golden brown without being greasy which is a hard thing to do! I adored the Fritti Italia Plate which included croquets, arancino, panzerotto, frittellline and mozzarelline Milanese. The stunning Panariello tasted as good as it looked–it’s farm fresh buratta cheese enveloped by a crusty nest made of Grana Padana then laid over layers of prosciutto. The Parmigiana Sorrentina is an updated take on Eggplant Parmigiana made with fresh mozzarella, eggplant, shredded Parmigiana cheese and homemade tomato basil sauce.
The pastas we press guests shared were beautiful. The crowd pleaser pasta dish was the mussels in wine sauce over homemade penne (a special that evening) while my personal favorite was the Ravioli Caprese–which is homemade ravioli filled with fresh ages caciotta with grated Grana Padana in a fresh red sauce. The ravioli tasted like it had just been made an hour ago and the people at my table could not get enough of them. They were very filling and it was almost hard to move on to the main course, but one must do what they have to do as a food blogger, LOL!
Being a mega steak lover, I was wowed out of my seat by the Lava Stone T-Bone which cooked on the stone right at the table. This gives you the control of how each person at the table wants their meat cooked and one lucky soul gets the giant bone. You can get other cuts of beef cooked on Lava Stone as well, including sirloin. The meat is beautifully marbelized and just tastes so buttery. The portions are huge and six people can easily share a Lava Stone T-Bone if they have already had shared appetizers and pasta courses.
Other great main courses that press table shared included Grilled Whole Branzino served with roasted butternut squash and grilled asparagus but I wanted to move on to the wonderful assortment of desserts after having a few large slices of the juicy T-Bone. I got to sample five or six and they included traditional Tiramisu, Torta Di Fromaggio Alla Nutella (cheesecake covered with Nutella), Isolotto Caprese (hazelnut chocolate cake with vanilla gelato), Panna Cotta (traditional Italian custard with a unique pomegranate flavor and topped with pieces of fresh pomegranate), Cream Caramellata Alla Vaniglia (traditional creme brûlée) and Fragola (a pastry horn filled with marscapone and yogurt cream then topped with strawberries and blueberries). I am not sure I should be proud to say that I ate all of them (although I had help from a few other journalists), LOL! I do not know how I fit these luscious desserts into my tummy after eating three kinds of pasta and just as many appetizers–and then the steak–but I did it. And I would not hesitate to go back to Tartina tomorrow night and do it all again!
What were my favorite desserts? I honestly loved them all but the Cream Caramellata (creme brûlée) was in a league by itself. It could have a famous French pastry chef like Francois Payard shaking in his boots! The cheesecake was so creamy that I nearly passed out from joy and the Fragola not only featured a beautifully golden flaky pastry horn but the mascarpone mixed with yogurt was just beautiful. It was a unique non-sweet cream and mixed with the super sweet fresh picked berries, it was a sweets maniac’s delight.
I suggest that you run (don’t walk) to Tartina. It has great prices and the size of the portions are perfect for sharing. This is a great place for families and large parties (children are welcome). The atmosphere is warm and the whitewashed exposed brick walls and dim lighting give off a warm, cozy feeling. Tartina’s official address is 1034 Amsterdam Avenue and it’s official website is www.tartinanyc.com. The friendly and handsome chef Federico Terminiello hails from Campagna and is very accessible if you would like to learn more about the magic of his food preparation at Tartina. Reservations are recommended but not mandatory.