Emporio: 231 Mott Street
New York, NY
November is flying by, which means Christmas is just around the corner. If you’re exhausted from Thanksgiving and can’t possibly think about hosting another holiday dinner, let Emporio take care of the cooking for you. Celebrate your Christmas Eve with its decadent prix fixe menu as you gaze into the winter sky through the restaurant’s custom glass atrium. Choices like the braised beef and prosciutto tortellini and the roasted sunchoke soup will leave you feeling festive. Each meal also comes with a glass of Champagne with burrata and winter truffle crostino, a perfect drink to toast the holidays with.
Emporio’s Christmas menu is available on Christmas Eve for $55 per person.
NATALE DA EMPORIO
$55 per person
Complementary glass of Champagne
with burrata and winter truffle crostino
choice of one
Roasted sunchoke soup
with robiola la tur and truffle oil
Jumbo shrimp with white bean puree,
roasted trevisano radicchio
Bollito misto terrina
with lentil vinaigrette and mostarda di Cremona
Braised beef and prosciutto tortellini,
(vegetarian option available)
choice of one
Moist roasted Colorado lamb with rosemary potatoes
Halibut with soft polenta and wild mushrooms
Butternut squash sformato
with taleggio fondue, roasted brussel sprout
choice of one
Home made cantucci and vinsanto
From the Owners of Aurora, Emporio
When Aurora owners Gaspare Villa, Elena Fabiani, and chef/partner Riccardo Buitoni set out to transform their once-tented Payard space on Mott Street, they envisioned a local hangout for the attractive young crowd they knew they were nesting up against. What they wound up with was something much greater—Emporio, a chic but rustic-looking restaurant with an atrium that looks to the stars and a complete menu of affordable yet quality-driven food that strongly holds its own against the slew of Italian competition in the nabe.
At its core, Emporio is a crowd-pleaser, and it succeeds greatly in that goal by offering a wide range of options for its patrons: Its refined Italian offerings make it a culinary destination, its aperitivo menu makes it the perfect after-work hangout, and the late-night spuntino menu rounds up the hip out-and-about crowd. All these diverse groups converge seamlessly in great part due to Emporio’s décor, which was thoughtfully crafted to evoke a signature European sense of vintage warmth and comfort. In the front dining room, hand-painted wallpaper, artfully decayed ceiling tiles, and rope-bound poles provide a worn-in look that gives new meaning to the phrase “vintage urban chic,” while shelves of wine bottles and dried salumis over the bar assert the restaurant’s main aims. In the larger dining room behind it is the real showstopper: a custom-made atrium that delivers the feeling of outdoor summer dining all year long. It’s no wonder such a mélange of patrons become regulars here.
Of course, none of this would matter if the food didn’t match the ambiance. Diners can mix-and-match between a selection of small dishes by Chef Buitoni—antipasti, formaggi, salumi, fritti, assaggini, and crudo that rotate daily as per market availability—or take a more traditional three-course route. However they like to order, it would be wise to begin with Emporio’s signature squash blossoms (available whenever in season), filled with a creamy blend of sweet mozzarella and salty anchovies before being gently fried. In their absence, the arancini make a perfect substitute. Each steaming bite reveals a savory blend of risotto, prosciutto and tomato with the perfect ooze of cheese.
Emporio strives to use as many organic ingredients as possible, and many of the rest are imported directly from the most prestigious producers in Italy. The results can be seen throughout much of the menu, including a favorite antipasto of baked shrimp with Calabrian hot peppers, whose subtly smoky, distinctly spicy heat infuses into a generous rub of olive oil and garlic. Grilled octopus benefits from an earthy char, which is delicately balanced against a potato, tomato, and eggplant salad in a mild yet bright balsamic.
Buitoni is quick to say that, despite the strength of his menu overall, his pizza has developed many steadfast fans. It’s quite special, baked in one of the city’s only genuine brick ovens—a custom designed feature for the restaurant that overlooks its very own bar where patrons can sit, eat, and watch their meals baked in front of them. The oven alone doesn’t make the pizza—indeed, Emporio’s emphasis on quality ingredients is what completes the equation. San Marzano DOP tomatoes for the sauce, imported buffala mozzarella, and the freshest basil make the margherita a classic you’ll go back for time and time again, and the perfect thin crust—chewy but not soggy—only adds to the allure. The variety ensures that all tastes will find what they’re looking for, be it Italian sausage, unconventional cheeses like gorgonzola or ricotta salata, or spicy sopressata.
As for the pastas, all of Emporio’s are house-made using all organic eggs. The paccheri, dressed with an unusual combination of eggplant, grape tomatoes, pesto, and mozzarella shows that each of the flavors that go into individual sauces can work as a team, too—and rather well, at that. Hand-rolled orecchiette are laden with shrimp, roasted cauliflower, and the speckled generously with bottarga for a luxurious spectrum of sea-filled flavors. Entrees are just as strong, as evidenced by the whole grilled Mediterranean branzino, which receives a delicate treatment of olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs that keep things simple, clean, and healthy.
It’s worth staying a little longer for dessert, if you have the space to spare. A bittersweet chocolate tart with sea salt and homemade caramel will sate a chocoholic’s ultimate craving without being too sweet or heavy, while panna cotta is welcomingly paired with poached figs for a market-fresh flavor. Like many things in life, one of the simplest desserts is Emporio’s best—the affogato. Made with Capogiro vanilla ice cream from a local Amish farm, the affogato gets its unique twist from a heavy “dusting” of chocolate crunch. It may be worth the trip on its own.
A more recent addition, Emporio now boasts a comprehensive wine list whose focus is on regional Italian specialties. A wide range is available by the glass, making the bar a popular place to grab a drink and appetizers, especially during happy hour, when the aperitivo menu provides buy-one-get-one deals alongside free bar snacks.
Moreover, Emporio’s cocktail list is one of the most interesting in the city—especially considering their proximity to a church. Due to strict liquor laws, Emporio’s cocktails cannot contain hard liquor, which has led them to start their own style of wine-based cocktails including the cucumber martini, which blends soju, a strong Korean wine, with cucumber puree and mint. Also on the list are the cosmopolitan champagne (a blend of sparkling white wine, non-alcoholic triple sec, cranberry, and lime), and the guava frizzante (made with prosecco and guava puree).
Emporio is located at 231 Mott St. in Manhattan’s Nolita neighborhood. Dinner is offered from 5PM to 11PM on Monday-Thursday, from 5PM to Midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and from 5PM to 10PM on Sundays. They are also open for lunch on Monday through Friday from 11AM to 5PM, brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11AM to 5PM, and late-night spuntino daily until 2AM. For reservations or private parties, please contact the restaurant directly at 212-966-1234.