Ai Fiori is the latest in Michael White’s empire of haute Italian cuisine (Marea and Osteria Morini are the others). Osteria Morini is home of the Stracci Pasta, one of the best dishes I’ve ate this year. Ai Fiori has been on my list since it opened in April and has received accolades as one of the best new openings this year. I finally made it for a holiday dinner with colleagues which was the perfect occasion for this restaurant. Ai Fiori is located in the Setai Hotel on Fifth Avenue.
One of my downfalls lately is too much attention to the recommended dishes at each restaurant instead of just ordering what I want to eat. My meal choices closely followed the NY Mag what to order choice. We started with our own appetizer, ordered three pastas for the table and then each had our own entrees.
For appetizers we tried the Branzino and the Bone Marrow (not pictured). They were underwhelming. The crudo was fresh but combined with the caviar it was too fishy for me.
Michael White is the master of pastas and they did not disappoint. The Spaghetti was my favorite which surprised me because the first time I had Bottarga was in Italy and I despised it. The Agnolotti was very rich but delicious and the Risotto was way too fishy.
The main course was a lamb crusted in fois gras which was extremely rich. I finished it and was glad I ordered it but would not order it again. The other mains at the table were the Vitello and the Lobster neither of which packed as much flavor as the lamb but both seemed lighter.
I recommend skipping Ai Fiori and trying Osteria Morini or Marea instead.--DBlock
Forcella has recently been receiving a lot of buzz within the blogging community. I’m always up for trying new pizza spots and this one stuck out as a must get to before they get their liquor license. We arrived at 7pm on a Saturday without a reservation which was perfect timing to snag a seat at the bar with no wait. However it became quite crowded shortly after we sat down. The host and waiter were very warm and welcoming and both spoke Italian which I thought was a benefit.
The appetizer menu is limited so we went straight to two pies ordering the Montenaro from the fried pizza list and the Materdei (margherita and hot salami). Both were delivered to the table hot and delicious. The pizzas both tasted really good and were made with fresh imported ingredients. The Materdei was not as crispy as I would have liked but had a really nice char from the wood-oven. The bill was $40 for two people (two pizzas and two sodas) and it seems like this will turn into even more of a scenester place than it is now once they get their liquor license. I would gladly come back, if you are a pizza fan this place is definitely worth a try.