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blog swirl & savor

Felidia, Delizioso!

Beth Ribblett

The reservation for our much anticipated dinner at Felidia was Tuesday night. I was able to
arrange it through one of the Bastianich staff who visited us last summer (thank you Caroline!). If you spend any time with us or in the shop, you know how we feel about Lidia and her wines. She and her son Joey own the Bastianich winery in Friuli and La Mozza in the Maremma (Tuscany). The Bastianich Tocai Friulano, Vespa Bianco, Rosato and Sauvignon Blanc as well as the La Mozza I Perazzi are some of few standard labels of our ever revolving inventory. We drink them often and recommend them frequently as we've sold close to 800 bottles of their wines since we opened.

We also are huge fans of Lidia's show on PBS, Lidia's Italy, that takes you on a journey with Lidia to her ten favorite regions around Italy as she introduces you to friends and family and takes you to food markets, fishing villages and farms as you haggle over the price of fish and forage for the perfect truffle. Then, return back to Lidia’s familiar kitchen to prepare a sumptuous meal using the regional recipes and ingredients. We also own a few of her cookbooks and have loved everything we've made.

So, needless to say, we had high expectations, especially after all of the great food we had eaten over the last few days! We were greeted by an incredibly friendly staff who gave us Lidia's regards and said she was sorry she couldn't be there to greet us. True or not, it was a very nice gesture on their part! We were led past a beautiful mahogany bar to a wonderful table near the kitchen in the second dining room. It's a very warm, kind of cozy atmosphere; beautiful hardwood floors, amber textured walls with a stained wood wainscoting, all washed in great ambient lighting from the sconces on the wall.

As soon as we sat down, we were brought complimentary bubbly, a sparkling wine in the Bastianch line that I've never seen before. A very crisp, clean sparkling that was mainly Chardonnay and had a beautifully dry finish. The wine list was incredible with every region of Italy represented in both red and white wines as well as nearly every other wine producing country from Croatia, Greece and Hungary to the European powerhouses of France, Spain, Austria and Germany to the new world players of the US, South American, Australia and New Zealand. The menu had to be close to 40 pages long and the prices ranged from a $25 of Croatian Katunar Žlahtina to a $2250 bottle of a 1955 Biondi Santi Brunello and truly everything in between.

To start our evening, I chose a 2000 Bastianich Vespa Bianco, the flagship wine of the estate created to showcase the power and evolution that a great Friulian white can have. Consisting of equal parts Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay with a touch of Picolit, Vespa Bianco becomes a sum of its parts, a wine of amazing complexity. A five time winner of the prestigious Gambero Rosso Three Glasses award, the Vespa Bianco is incredible in any vintage! I was debating between the 2000 and the 2006 and the very unpretentious sommelier steered me toward the 2000 to see how well the wine ages. With creamy layers of stone fruit intertwined with smoke, earthiness and French oak, this medium-bodied white shows outstanding harmony and tons of style and was fabulous with the food! I'm really glad I ordered it because it reminded me of how special this wine is and that I need to get it back in the shop, especially at the incredible price of $30 retail!

The second wine of the evening came from my new favorite wine region, the eastern area of Sicily near Mt. Etna. These wines are incredibly elegant yet powerful, more reminiscent of burgundy than the dark reds of the island. I chose the Palari Rosso di Soprano, a blend of local grape varieties, Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, Nocera, Acitana, and Jacche. The blend is based on a wine known in antiquity as Mamertino, which comes from the native nerello mascalese, nerello cappuccio, nocera. Medium ruby with a striking garnet tinge, this wine is immediately approachable, even with its grippy tannins. An alluring nose of baked earth and raspberry fruit. The medium-full body is filled with flavors of cherry, blackberry, raspberry and leather with a silky mouth feel.

Now came the arduous task of trying to chose what to eat from the menu of food and specials we were given! Since there were 4 of us, we decided to get lots of dishes and eat family style, and between what we ordered and the fabulous complimentary items they sent out, it would be hard to write about everything, so here are the highlights!

Antipasti: Il Polipo all Griglia- sliced mosaic and grilled octopus with burrata stracciatella and black olives. Burrata is a typical cheese produced in the province of Bari, in the south of Italy. It has the shape of a small “sack” made of soft cheese which contains a generous quantity of stracciatella, a delicate mixture of fresh cream and mozzarella frayed in thin threads. The octopus was sliced super thin and the mixture of flavors with the divine sweet creamy burrata and the salty olives was nothing short of amazing. Hands down the best octopus I've ever eaten!

Primi Piatti: Il Cacio e Pere - Pear and fresh pecorino-filled ravioli, aged pecorino, crushed black pepper. Creamy and rich with an incredible mix of textures filling the melt in your mouth fresh pasta sacks.

Secondi Piatti: Il Manzo, Flat Iron braised in Goulash sauce, or the Il Branzino, Whole grilled Mediterranean bass. Both were delicious, but by this time we had a cocktail, sparkling wine, a bottle of white and a bottle of red. The details of the dishes are a bit blurry, but the feeling of gastronomic satiation lives on!

I Dolci: Panna Cotta di Mandorle - the creamiest, smoothest panna cotta, somehow delicate and rich at the same time with a subtle almond flavor. The perfect end to the perfect meal!

All in all, it was an incredible experience that exceeded our expectations. The service was impeccable, attentive but not intrusive; the environment and physical space were beautiful without any pretense or snobbishness which was surprising in a restaurant with the reputation of Felidia. And the food was spectacular, with each palate pleasing dish presenting a incredible array of flavors, textures and individuality. Delizioso!!

Check out this great video of Lidia talking about her restaurant:

Felidia Restaurant New York, NY - Click here for more free videos