‘inoteca reunion

Thursday, November 30th, 2006 | All Things, Eats, Friends

Trinity Church, as seen from Wall Street:

Trinity Church

Met CF and CL for what has been turning out to be our annual reunion dinner. Having left the final arrangements until the last minute, we were shut out of a dinnertime table slot at The Stanton Socialthose AvroKO spots are popular! Plan B: ‘inoteca.

Ah yes, the Lower East Side. According to the recent New York magazine feature on the half-life of hot neighborhoods, it’s the cool place to be. No, wait, not anymore. Yes, it is. Whoops, too late.

The restaurant on the corner of Rivington and Ludlow opened in the summer of 2003, an offshoot of beloved West Village wine bar, ‘ino — which most know as the spot that launched a thousand hot pressed panini into the New York culinary scene in 1998. ‘inoteca’s larger, airier space adheres to the formula that made ‘ino so popular: warm, rustic vibe, a menu showcasing an extensive (and exclusively Italian) wine list and simple, small plates, each carefully assembled with fresh, high quality ingredients.

I met my friends at the bar, and the three of us were shown to a table downstairs, all candlelight, dark wood, and bottle-lined walls. We were the first ones there, and over the course of the evening, we could hear the crowd trickle in above us, eventually spilling below, until the noise level reached a low, rumbling roar.

The menu comprised just one page, divided into six sections: Insalata & Antipasti, Piatti, Pane, Fritto, Affettati and Formaggi. Yes, all in Italian. Hmm. I was lost beyond bruschetta and panini, so we enlisted the translation skills of CF and our server, who no doubt is used to such confusion from the restaurant patrons.

It all looked tempting, so we opted for a couple of the panini, assorted bruschetta, a cheese plate with three hard cheeses (giving the server license to choose for us from among the daunting 20+ options), the grilled calamari with borlotti beans and the antipasti plate: a glorious spread of spicy sopressata rounds, florets of grilled cauliflower, kalamata and green olives, a wedge of vegetable frittata, slices of olive oil-roasted fennel, and pickled red onion and carrot, over which were criss-crossed a pair of long, brittle breadsticks. We did not this night order the celebrated truffle egg toast — a creamy concoction of poached egg gently nestled into a thick cut of ciabatta bread, drizzled with truffle oil and shaved cheese… not unlike a gourmet version of “Egg in a Basket” — in which I’d indulged many a time at ‘ino.

The food was flawless, and the wine and ambience warming, but we could not escape the pall of sadness cast over the evening by CL’s news. We gave ourselves over to reminiscences, grateful for longtime connections and the support of old friends.

Columbus Avenue

There are 2 Comments ... ‘inoteca reunion

December 12, 2006

It’s funny that Eggs In a Basket was one of the reasons that Alan Moore pulled his name from the movie version of his version of the Count of Monte Crisco . 🙂

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