Saturday, December 27, 2008
Review: Ristorante Il Melograno
Alberto Tartari, chef and owner of Il Melograno, has recreated a little corner of Italy in his restaurant on West 5lst Street and 10th Avenue in Manhattan. Named for the pomegranate which adorns most dishes on the menu, this neighborhood spot is just large enough to seat about 50 or so lucky visitors. Dishes are prepared in the Northern Italian tradition and feature imported Italian ingredients and homemade pasta. They are made to order, fresh and hot.
Americans familiar with southern Italian cuisine might be surprised that the menu offers fish and meat dishes with potatoes, but Tartari's recipes are drawn from the Lombardy region, which encompasses Milano and is close to the border with Germany. Pasta does appear on the menu, but it's often paired with savory meat and cream sauces, also typical of northern cuisine.
As we studied the menu, one item after another caught my attention. For a while, I lingered over the veal ravioli with butter, sage, and Parmegiana sauce, but in the end I opted for a lighter dish, pictured in the photo. This luscious blend of San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and pasta melted in my mouth. If you look closely, you'll see the fresh basil and pomegranates adorning the dish. Rich and Sue tried the eggplant and penne special, Alex had the fresh pappardelle with sweet sausage sauce, peas and truffle oil, and Paul had the osso buco with roasted potatoes. Everyone declared that their dish was delicious.
Somehow we fended off the tempting offers of homemade desserts, such as tiramisu and chocolate souffle cake, and simply sipped some cappuccino. Even after paying the bill, I wanted to linger in this cozy spot with its open kitchen and winking white lights outlining the front window. But as we reluctantly stepped outside, we promised ourselves that we'd return. In fact it happened sooner than even we expected, for a few days later, we met our nephew and his girlfriend for dinner and settled into the now familiar wooden seats and ate another delicious meal. If you go, buon appetito!
501 West 51st Street
(corner of 51st and 10th)
New York, NY 10019