There is a new restaurant in Harlem that I have been remiss in telling you about. I have eaten there a handful of times and fell in love with a couple of their dishes and the space, which was created out of reclaimed materials. It’s a minimal environment that invites the guests to create their own moment and highlight it with great food.
This new restaurant and I were sharing our first New Year’s Eve together. For the restaurant, it was its first New Year’s Eve open in Harlem. For me, it would be the place to celebrate my first New Year’s Eve with a new someone with whom I hope to be spending many more New Year’s Eves together.
While searching New Year’s Eve prix fixe menus in Harlem for the right spot for our moment, the standout winner was Vinateria (@vinateriaNYC, 2211 Frederick Douglas Blvd., 212-664-8462, www.vinaterianyc.com). Their six-course bacchanal for $75 showed a tempered approach and highlighted what they do best. We were very excited to get a table at the second seating.
When I think of Vinateria, I think of their delicious, lemony octopus and fingerling potato salad and rosemary and lemon panna cotta. In fact, a week prior to New Year’s Eve, I found my new favorite Vinateria dish: house-made black spaghetti with octopus and breadcrumbs. Just simply delicious! I hope that stays for a while.
The last day of 2013 couldn’t come fast enough. When it did finally come, we put on our best, took a few selfies with our iPhones and arrived on time for our seating. Planted right in front of their window–box herb garden, my nose was constantly entranced by the perfume of fresh rosemary. It really set the mood.
Before we knew it, the amuse-bouche (little one-bite foods to awaken the palate for the meal) was on the table in the form of the most delicate bacon and porcini fritters with truffle cream sauce. They not only awoke my palate, they slapped it around good.
The first course was ribollita soup, an Italian peasant soup that reminded me of my 2010 trip to Italy. It was heart and flavorful; I need to make that soup soon. For the second course, I had to choose the head-on prawns and grits. It had some saffron sauce that made me want every bite and to suck the heads too. You foodies know what I am talking about. The third course, pasta, was hard to decide upon, since they make all of their pasta in-house. I chose cavatelli with Brussels sprouts and butternut squash in brown butter–a great combination of flavors and the right amount too!
The fourth course was pan-seared steak with mushrooms and potatoes. Cooked perfectly medium with a lovely red wine reduction, it was the right, final savory bite! The fifth and final course was the sweet punctuation of a zeppole with saffron sauce and molten chocolate cake. Then came flutes of champagne and the countdown: 10, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one … Happy New Year!
We sent out 2013 with a great meal and a memory that will last forever. Thank you, Vinateria! I’m looking forward to your second New Year’s Eve celebration!
Happy eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl, on Facebookor chat with her on Instant Messenger at AskSCHOP, Monday-Friday, 6-8 p.m. For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog.