Del Posto Restaurant
Two of the very best meals I’ve ever had in my life were at Del Posto Resaturant in Manhattan. It is the only 4-star Italian restaurant in the USA. The first time I was there was for my brother’s 50th birthday. It took me nearly a month or more to get reservations, but I finally got them, thankfully because both me and my brother are accustomed to eating early, so a 5pm reservation was not a problem. Who knows, it might have even been earlier. But the music, the ambiance, the atmosphere and everything about the place was perfect. It was a very pleasant meal.
More than 7 years later I finally got to return. This time with no reservations but because of my friends at Michter’s, who produce the finest and most diverse line American Whiskey I know of.
So this time around we start off in the lounge (as we did the last time) and I decide on the MIchter’s Rye Sour. Probably the very best whiskey sour I’ve ever had, even than the ones I make at home. The reason is, partially because I am too lazy to go the extra mile to include egg whites which will make that very frothy silky smooth. But also, because I don’t want to waste an egg for something that is not going to lend so much more to the cocktail. But like bitters, these small things add up to change the chemistry, viscosity and experience of the drink that makes it a pleasure. Imagine sipping lemon juice and whiskey. Just the thought of it might make you squirm for a moment. But if that cocktail has a perfect balance of sugar, bitters and a silky smooth texture that is just so much more slightly thicker to be pleasing to the tongue, that my friends is what the craft cocktail experience is all about.
So after a cocktail in the lounge, we are seated. The waiter asks if I want another, but I never drink the same cocktail twice, ever, even at home. So I ask for the Bourbon Queen. It looks like a watered down Negroni. But when it comes its one of the most memorable cocktails I’ve ever had. It had the perfect balance of taste, and nothing of the bite.
Now we are seated and I see Joe, the president of
Chatham imports scouring over the wine list with the Sommelier on an iPad. He is excited to see wines on the menu which he loves. He selects the Gravner Ribolla which has an orange hue to it. The history of this wine is that it was originally stored in terracotta pots buried underground. Delicious. But there was more to come, at least half a dozen others such as Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Champagne, Ornellaia, and Gaja 2004 Barbaresco just to name those we can remember. Some were from the 1990s. They put each different wine in an appropriate corresponding shaped wine glass for the maximum aroma and experience. As you can see it is amazing there was any room left on the table for the food that was still to come.
While we are all engaged in conversation, drinking, talking, laughing, even enjoying the complimentary bites delivered while we decide on what to order. The first item was something savory, a bit chalky, I didn’t care for it, but the small bite size balls were delicious. The last thing on the plate were mini soup cups with a small round polenta ball.
Next they bring something that looked like buratta drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and a mini baugette, but it is bauletti which is Roman Sheep’s Milk Ricotta & Black Truffle Butter.
Although this is a great appetizer, we still have not yet ordered the “official” appetizer. I decided on the Lobster Salad “Continental Style” with lemon aïoli & soft herbs. It was delicious. The only real complaint I have about this place is on this particular night things were way too dark. I know that might be part of the ambiance, however, I had no clue how beautiful this dish was until I got home and adjusted the exposure to see what was actually on the plate. After all, if you are going to plate something as beautifully as this, wouldn’t you want the diner to actually see this piece or edible art?
Growing up Italian and being around Italian family, friends and food all my life, pasta is obviously nothing new. However, I can without a doubt say the very best pasta dish I ever had in my entire life was the Orecchiette with Lamb Neck Sausage, broccoli rabe, ricotta salata and crispy porcini. Everything about this dish was perfect, from the homemade pasta to the lamb neck ragu to the crispy porcini which was such a delicious finish to every bite. I since have tried to recreate this at home. Its unbelievable.
As if all of this is not enough, there is a main course. There are many options on the menu like beef, chicken or lamb, but I opt for something I never see, the stuffed artichokes. Waiters came around with some sides like broccoli rabe and potatoes and they were all delicious. The artichokes themselves were not overwhelming though. I am not sure if I am accustomed to an artichoke the size of a softball with tons of tough outer leaves, or if it was the stuffing or the taste, but this was not overwhelmingly impressive to me. Again, nothing wrong with it, but I was thinking that it might be extraordinary. I am glad I made this choice as it was not as heavy as some of the other items and most of us were already stuffed.
While all of this has been an amazing experience so far, its about to be the icing on the cake. Forget that, its better than the cake, the icing, or anything else. In fact, if any one of any one who knew what was about to happen, this would have been enough. What you are looking at is a bottle of the last release of Michter’s Celebration Sour Mash Whiskey next to the new one which is the first release in 3 years. Less than 250 bottles were produced. It comes from a secret recipe (of course), and only a spirit that Master Distiller Willie Pratt agreed to release. This is a man who is famous for hardly ever approving anything. This is also known as being one of the top 50 most expensive spirits in the world. Bottles can sell for as much as $5k ($5,000 US). And while its hard to put a number on something that you consume like a drink or a meal, this was priceless. How many people can say they finished a bottle of Michter’s Celebration Whiskey with the President of Michter’s, his son, his staff, and some of the best known non-professional (but very influential) food critics in all the City? Yea, it does not get much better than that. We cleared out the old stock to make room for the new, and I was very very lucky to have taken part in such a memorable evening. Bonus: having it carefully measured and poured by one of NYC’s finest bartenders and mixologists in the city, Estelle Bossy.
After all of this, I skipped dessert because I could not possibly eat more, and I am not a sweets type of person. However, they did bring out some mini ginger cookies and biscotti for the table which I was able to fit in with my espresso.
It was quite an amazing evening. It is past Midnight, we are the only ones left in the place and we are still going. It felt like the Rat Pack, closing the place, even outlasting the staff cleaning up.
I honestly cannot say enough great things about all of the people at this table. While we all enjoy the finer things in life, we all give back generously to charity. Everyone at this table is actively involved in many charitable organizations for those less fortunate in the NYC Metro area. For this reason it was such a pleasure to sit and break break (and whiskey) with such genuine people who are truly appreciative of life’s blessings and know how to give back.
Del Posto 85 Tenth Avenue New York City NY 10011
Phone: 212-497-8090 Website: delposto.com
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