Last Friday marked another memorable culinary experience downtown. Barring slices from just about every pizza joint in the city, I don’t usually go for Italian food because I feel that it has to be really good or somewhat original to make it really good. I have suffered too many times through tasteless canned marinara dumped on boring spaghetti with an inedible garlic roll thrown in for fun. I basically just described every dinner I had in college. Classico sauce on spaghetti has totally replaced ramen noodles for the new sad, poor college student diet.
So that’s why it is still a revelation when I have a remarkable pasta dish, like the spinach and ricotta dumplings with a brown butter sage sauce that I devilishly consumed at Caffe Falai. It appeared to me as a small plate of smooth morsels of cheese with a savory foam delicately poured on top. Heavenly. I also got to taste a mouthful of pici (a thicker spaghetti noodle) with a sweet potato puree, a flavorful sampling just as delightful. In fact, the veal off Rob’s plate was perfection and my sister’s potato-stuffed tortelli was super hearty and satisfying as well. I do think I made the best choice with the chef’s signature dish, though.
Unfortunately, it was too dark to take pictures of these landmark dishes (promise to go back for lunch soon to get some shots), so I hopped into Bottega Falai, Caffe Falai’s small Italian market/cafe around the corner to show you a smattering of the sweet options the celebrated pastry chef churns out daily. I knew before dinner to make room for dessert, as my first experience at the Italian eatery was with the pastry menu. I had only been in New York for a week and half and I was having a meeting with a Daily Candy editor who covers all of the dining and lifestyle features for the site and she took me here and told me that they had the best desserts in the city. That’s a tough title to place on any kitchen, but it is in the top five for me so far. We both ordered the crepe cake, per her suggestion, and it tasted like whipped clouds carefully placed in between layers of thin crepe with a crème brûlée caramelized sugar top. Yum.
It’s tough to admit, but it trumps Lady M’s version. I could only make this distinction after indulging myself in its sweetness again this weekend ;) Good news is that even if you can’t make it to Caffe Falai for a sit-down meal, you can now pop into Bottega Falai to snatch up slices and teeny versions of their famed confections. And while you’re at it, scoop up a panino, a loaf of fresh bread, and some special jams and other unique Italian specialities. Mi piace tantissimo!