Now THAT’s Italian!
My first post on this blog was about what to eat when in Rome, Italy. I mentioned a dish called Cacio e Pepe. But let’s face it, how often are most of us in Rome? For me it’s about every other year and I recognize that’s more than most. So, I’ve been promising to post about a place in NYC where you can get this yummo pasta dish so, here it is: Ristorante Rafele
Rafele is in the village. It is just off Morton Street on 7th Ave., but you can take the 2 or 3 and walk down a block or two and it’s right there. It’s a cute, warm, rustic little place, relatively inexpensive for NYC, but the food is authentic Italian cuisine. The chef, Raffaele Ronca, is from Naples, is extremely talented and always greets with a smile.
The first time I visited was for a work dinner and we had a tasting menu for something like $45 per person. That is UNHEARD OF in NYC. Each course was better than the previous. The first of the two dishes that stood out on my dinner visit was the zucchini blossom (fried zucchini flower stuffed with mozzarella or some yummy cheese) Yes, the flower of the squash. It’s pretty common in Itlay, but you don’t see it here much. On my second visit, I asked for it at lunch, but he didn’t have them prepared yet so I don’t have a photo. However, he did say he bought them that morning at the farmer’s market and was going down to the prep kitchen to prepare them. That’s how fresh they are. SO, I don’t have a photo, and they are really only around in the summer. Seasonal is the way to go anyway, but I highly suggest you try it, if you happen to be in NYC in the summer!
The second dish that was so memorable for me on my first visit was the Cacio e Pepe. I already told you this is one of my favorite pasta dishes and I’ve only ever had it in Italy! When I saw it on this menu in NYC, I HAD to have it. So I made sure it was served as one of the courses on my first visit. On my second, we ordered it so I could snap a picture for YOU.
And it really is as creamy, cheesy and peppery as it gets. Perfection.
At lunch, since the zucchini blossom wasn’t available, we tried some other things we didn’t get the first time. I had the Melanzana (eggplant parmesan) which is one of my favorite red sauce Italian dishes
Yeah it was as good as it looks. My friend had the Carciofi (artichokes fried with Pecorino cheese)
These were crunchy little pieces of yum. And because I didn’t want to carb out too much, I ordered Pollo alla Milanese which is just chicken cutlet essentially served with a salad. This chicken was moist and very flavorful. I like to eat the salad with lemon juice on top of the chicken. My Italian hubby, says no, you eat it separately, but what do I know? Either way, you can’t go wrong.
There’s a drink there that everyone raved about. I think it’s called the Neopolitan. It’s vodka, fresh basil and ginger ale. Very different and everyone loved it.
This is a great place to visit. Rafele is reasonable, authentic Italian cuisine in the village. So far, everything on the menu has been tops, but definitely get the Cacio e Pepe. Go Here! Eat This! Now I’m hungry.