Il Punto

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507 9th Ave (at W. 38th Street)

212-244-0088

http://www.ilpuntoristorante.com/

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By Nancy Walman

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RED SNAPPER FILET IN PARCHMENT PAPER As Presented at Il Punto

Il Punto is a very high-end Italian restaurant on a very “happening” strip of  Ninth Avenue at West 38th Street. Owned by Tony Pecora  who has many businesses in the city, the executive chef is Michaela Orsini. Orsini  is one of the most versatile Italian chefs in New York. He makes everything in-house from the puffy focaccia  to his glorious desserts for which he is known.  

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Tuna Crudo with Ginger-Mustard Sauce

The name means “destination” and a destination it should be. You might walk by the unassuming facade, but  in good weather, the restaurant’s French doors open to sidewalk dining. Inside await three cozy, attractive rooms with terracotta floors, a burgundy color scheme and walls flanked with wine racks and hung with colorful pictures. The rooms are cleverly separated by silk-strands of curtains and the lighting is warm and inviting.

Start with an excellent  house cocktail or cool glass of wine at the welcoming bar with its large urn of flowers guarding one end and a Sicilian wine cart guarding the other. Food is authentically Italian. Many of the ingredients are imported from Italy. But what’s unique about this amazing ristorante is the chef’s range of culinary execution .

Orsini may have a strong presence in the restaurant, but you’ll know his heart is in the kitchen when he dazzles you with three versions of the incredibly delicious Crudo  (the Italian version of Sashimi}: Tuna with Ginger-Mustard Sauce, Raw Baby Squid with Frisse and Lemon Dressing and the star, Sliced Baby Octopus with Roasted Peppers and Marinated Eggplant.

Setting the tone with such a trendy beginning, chef Orsini then bows to a staple of Italian home cooking: SPONGY AND TENDER STRIPS OF HONEY COMB TRIPE, simmered in CARROTS, CELERY, ROSEMARY, SAGE, ONION, DICED TOMATO AND FRESH GREEN PEAS, a dish so pure that only a gentle sprinkling of Peperoncini (Italian peppers) is needed to bring you as close to Italian-heaven as you’ll get in a Manhattan Italian restaurant. DSC_0064

Pasta Perfect

Of course, what’s an Italian restaurant without pasta. You won’t be disappointed with TIMBALLO,  LAYERS OF WIDE RIBBONS PASTA, BECHAMEL SAUCE, MEAT RAGU, AND PARMIGIANO REGGIANO. A sort of fancy Lasagna, our table couldn’t get enough. Also marvelous, with one caveat (request it to the right of al dente, ours was a tad undercooked), PACCHERI AL SUGO DI GUANCIALE or LARGE RIGATONI WITH BEEF CHEEKS, FRESH GROUND TOMATOE AND SPICES was better than any pasta we sampled at  many venues that received accolades from the media.

There are other unusual pasta options including two we didn’t sample: CONCHIGLIE CON CAVOLFIORI, GAMBERI E BROCCOLI, TINY PASTA SHELLS, CAULIFLOWER, RED ONION, GARLIC, CAPERS, ANCHOVIES, OLIVES, SHRIMP AND BROCCOLI and SPAGHETTI AL PEPERONCINO E PESTO DI CARCIOFI, RED SPAGHETTI WITH ARTICHOKE OLIVE PESTO .

Italian restaurants to us mean antipasti, pasta or risotto, entree and cheese and/or dessert, so you can’t miss such main courses as the much abused  POLLO ASSUT ASSUT: CHICKEN PIECES ON THE BONE SAUTEED WITH GARLIC, ROSEMARY, LEMON JUICE AND A SPLASH OF WHITE WINE. Normally dubbed Chicken Scarpiello (perhaps he was the brother-in-law of Sr. Rossini), and prepared incorrectly (off the bone and bludgeoned with sauce),  chef Orsini gets it right. His LOMBATINA AL VINCOTTO or GILLED TENDER RIB VEAL CHOP, RED WINE REDUCTION, DRIZZELED WITH VINCOTTO, SPINKLED BLACK TRUFFLES, MASHED POTATOES AND SPINACH is elegant, while ORGANIC FED TURKEY OSSOBUCO, BRAISED IN FRESH TOMATOES, WHITE WINE AND HERBS SERVED WITH OLIVE LEAF SHAPED PASTA  is a deliciously healthy alternative.

Seafood lovers will enjoy both DENTICE AL CARTOCCIO, RED SNAPPER FILET IN PARCHMENT PAPER WITH FRESH HERBS, SNOW PEAS, ZUCCHINI, ROSEMARY, MUSHROOMS AND CHERRY TOMATOES and DSC_0139 CIOPPINO, a creation whose roots lie closer to San Francisco than Italy, but is fresh and delicious just the same with its mélange of RED SNAPPER, STRIPED BASS, MONK FISH,SHRIMPS, MUSSELS, CLAMS, SCALLOPS AND CALAMARI IN AN AROMATIC FISH BROTH.

Finish with the best Tiramisu in town, each layer distinct and light, an outstanding Tartufo Gelato, Italian Cheese cake with strawberries culis, the luscious Miniature Cannolis  or the fabulous home-made ice creams.

Service is guiding and solicitous and the wine list is user-friendly and well priced.with inexpensive carafes countered by such winners as Cerreto’s sprightly Albarino (priced in the mid-$40s). Don’t expect an empty restaurant.  Il Punto, has a loyal local clientele peppered with knowledgeable out-of-towners,in search of a good deal near the theater and Madison Square Garden.(There is a “$30+”  Pre and Post Theater Dinner Menu.) Il Punto also happens to be one of Manhattan’s most gratifying Italian restaurants! 

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The Succulent Veal Chop

Copyright 2010 By Punch In International. All Rights Reserved.

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New Year’s Travel Bytes

Technorati Tags: travel,American,hotels Take a moment to enjoy the good life in 2010. Peruse Cartier jewelry from Liz and Princess Grace at Taj Campton Place, sit fireside for the big game in Taj Boston tailgate suites, celebrate the high-art lifestyle of Beijing at the Opposite House, and venture behind the Golden Door for Naples Grande’s […]

Marfa’s BBQ Renaissance: Take Home a West Texas BBQ

The Jets may be out of the Super Bowl, but that wont stop New Yorkers from watching the big game.  As you eagerly prepare for the big game, Marfa NYC is preparing to keep you fed with a feast to enjoy right in your living room!  Available Sunday February 7th (Super Bowl Sunday), Marfa is offering its “Take Home a West Texas BBQ” to go special.  This titanic special is complete with mounds of chef Tony Cruz’s West Texas BBQ options, including:

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Consistently Sweet and Delicious Wines From Quady

A Sweeter Valentine’s DayElysium07

Consistently Sweet and Delicious Wines –

Without the Guesswork

Along with chocolates and flowers, the upcoming Valentine’s Day is worthy of something special – perhaps a delicious dessert, perhaps delicious, sweet wines to go with that dessert.

Quady Winery (www.quadywinery.com) has been making delightful, very creative, award-winning sweet wines in Madera, CA since 1975, shipping their wines to connoisseurs in the U.S. and worldwide.

Quady wines are available at retail in all major markets in the U.S. In addition, Quady ships direct to many states; see www.quadywinery.com for more details.

 

Something Different – and Predictable – for a Change

And, unlike the uncertainly and guesswork we have all experienced opening a bottle of wine – only to find it has gone bad – these wines are consistently delicious and predictable.

Sweetness comes in many forms, perhaps as an aperitif before a great meal, wonderful as a sweet wine pairing with many desserts – and many people have not tasted excellent sweet wines.Essensia

There is Essensia, made from delicious Orange Muscat grapes (known in Italy as Orange Blossom Muscat), a delicious accompaniment to desserts, especially chocolate and those containing almonds, peaches, apples or apricots. With sparkling water, Essensia makes a refreshing spritzer; with sparking wine you have an Essensia Royale. Delicious.

Suggested retail price: $12 – $14 (375 ml), $24 (750 ml).

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THE RUSSIAN TEA ROOM THROWS OPEN ITS DOORS

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TREASURES FOR RESTAURANT WEEK

For Limited Time, Iconic New York Restaurant Will

Offer Guided Tours of Storied Facility

The Russian Tea Room, one of New York City’s most iconic and storied eating establishments, today announced that, for the first time ever, it will be offering exclusive guided tours of its celebrated four-story facility for dining guests and visitors during New York City Restaurant Week.

The floors on display will include the whimsical second-floor "Bear Lounge", which offers guests an enchanting visual experience, featuring a spectacular tree of Fabergé-inspired Venetian glass eggs and a 15-foot revolving bear aquarium replete with large, glimmering goldfish; the third floor "Bear Ballroom" with a stunning 25-ft ceiling decorated with etched mirrors of frolicking bears and three imperial bronze chandeliers adorned by playful brass bears; and on the top floor, "The Hearth Room" which features walls of inlaid decorative wood paneling, a fireplace and an active diorama of the Kremlin in every season.

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AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR JOANNA PRUESS AT EMPIRE CITY CASINO

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AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR JOANNA PRUESS AT EMPIRE CITY CASINO AT YONKERS RACEWAY FOR A TASTE OF MARDI GRAS ON THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11, AT 7:00 PM; “CARNIVAL IN THE KITCHEN” FEATURES CHEF DEMONSTRATION, TASTING AND BOOK SIGNING FOR ELITE CLUB MEMBERS

RECIPES FROM “CAST IRON COOKING: DELICIOUS AND SIMPLE COMFORT FOOD” WILL BE DELIVERED IN EMPIRE CITY’S GOOD TIME ROOM; PRUESS WILL BE JOINED BY HER HUSBAND, FOOD COMMENTATOR BOB LAPEJOANNA PRUESS HEADSHOT

Call  February 11th “Fat Thursday” at Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway. As a prelude to the Mardi Gras celebration and “Fat Tuesday,” Joanna Pruess, the award-winning author of nine cookbooks, will prepare a Mardi Gras smorgasbord with recipes from her latest publication Cast Iron Cooking: Delicious and Simple Comfort Food” and deliver a chef demonstration exclusively for Elite Empire Club Members. “Carnival in the Kitchen” gets underway at 7:00 pm in Empire City’s “Good Time Room.”

Pruess, whose popular books also include Mod Mex and Seduced by Bacon, has had articles and recipes published in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, the Washington Post, Saveur, Food & Wine, and the Associated Press syndicate. A former Westchester County resident in Katonah and Mt. Kisco, Pruess now lives in the Bronx, New York with her husband, restaurant critic Bob Lape, who will join her for the 7:00 pm dinner, demo and book-signing.

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