PÓ . . . Delivers Big Tastes In A Small Package

po ex-IMG1094v

Simply Delicious Simply PÓ

is located at 31 Cornelia Street in the heart of the West Village, and is open for dinner Monday – Thursday from 5:30 – 11 PM, Friday – Saturday from 5:30 – 11: 30 PM, and on Sunday from 5 – 11 PM. Pó is also open for lunch Wednesday – Sunday from 11:30 to 3 PM. For reservations, please call 212-645-2189 or visit www.pórestaurant.com.po mirror-e2

It may be known as the restaurant that catapulted Mario Batali into celebrity, but , the West Village neighborhood hub has become something of a star in its own right. At once the same place it’s always been and an evolved, mature, improved version of its original self, Pó is as much about a love for food and a love for the community it’s been a part of for so long.po-interior

It all started quite simply, between best friends (and then unknowns) Mario Batali and Steven Crane,po steven2 (below), who’d moved back across the country from San Francisco to be closer to family. The restaurant they’d start would lead them to a whole new family—the entirety of Crane’s staff at Pó has been with him for over a decade.

The space they fell in love with had both character and history: as Café Cino it was New York’s first off-off Broadway theater, a place that saw the early careers of Al Pacino and Sam Shephard, and whose rich history earned the spot landmark status in June 2010. What was once a stage for actors-in-the-making would become the stage for Batali’s career and a platform for modern, local Italian food, made simply with nothing but love and the best of New York’s homegrown ingredients.

Indeed, Po retains the integrity of  Batali’s original dictum, offering it in a small, warm and endearing atmosphere peppered with neat white clothed tables, a tin ceiling , large mirrors and muted lighting. Even the noise level is tolerable and everyone, from the grazers sitting at the bar to locals, celebrities and walkins are treated with respect, care and a total lack of pretention.. 

That’s why 18 years after Po opened its doors, it continues to draw chic crowds and stands for the same values—fresh, Italian fare and respect for the community—that initially led to its success. Under Crane’s solo ownership, with his Executive Chef Lee McGrath, Po is better than ever and has mellowed into a Village icon.po bar larger-IMG1102

That experience begins almost quietly, with white bean crostini (Pictured Right).po bruschetta2 It looks unassuming, but its flavors are bold, with notes of chili, garlic and rosemary. Smooth beans atop crunchy bread, it’s a fresh start of the meal that opens your eyes and palette for what’s to come. The menu might change seasonally, but some things can never go: so it is with Bob’s Steamed Clams and Mussels, named for Crane’s dad and the dish’s biggest fan. Cooked in a tomato brodetto with black olives and the gentle spice of fresh black pepper, it’s a fresh take on the classic whose leftover sauce is best soaked up by the Sullivan Street Bakery bread served alongside. Absolutely fabulous! 

An appetizer of Cured Tuna is dressed with the bright natural colors of chili oil, piled delicately over thinly sliced artichokes and red onion-speckled frisee, a blend of textures and vibrant flavors that indicate the best local ingredients in their freshest preparations. Asparagus get dressed up in melted, gooey fontina before they’re studded in thickly sliced almonds and dressed in parsley oil, the grassy, vegetal flavors taking richness from the cheese and nuts. And all salads are fresh as the farm, copious and delicious. We adored  Beets and Carrot Crudo with pistachio-crusted goat cheese and an equally delicious composite of crunchy Sugar Snap Peas, radicchio, pine nuts & caccio d’Roma. po 1_AE38045

The reputation of remarkable pasta started by Batali is taken even further by Chef McGrath, whose spin on Mario’s White Bean Ravioli comes piped into a red tomato envelope and laden with a tangy, sweet balsamic butter sauce. Locals wait for summer to arrive to enjoy his Sweet Pea Pappardelle, which makes its appearance each year and delivers an unusual freshness and robustness, in part due to a splash of fresh mint that balances the peas’ natural sweetness. Homemade tagliolini pasta, sauced with impeccable rock shrimp and red butter sauce was complex and beautifully balanced.

Crane often boasts about his friend Guy Jones of Blooming Hill Farm in the Hudson Valley who he’s been working with since the start; he’ll proudly say its to his credit that his vegetable dishes taste so darn good. Even still, the flavor combination is brilliant, as unusual as it is memorable.po food larger-foodshot1

Given his proximity to an array of artisanal food purveyors—Murray’s Cheese, Refetto Pasta, Florence Meat Market all make daily bike deliveries—it’s no surprise that so many dishes shine simply for the respect paid to quality ingredients. It’s especially evident with Pó’s Grilled Guinea Hen, cooked with saba (a sweetened red wine reduction) and charred, revealing a sweet depth of flavor not normally associated with the cut. (Pictured Below)po-guineahen-fregula Enjoy it with a side of fregula, an Italian spaetzle-like pasta that’s made from semolina and toasted like couscous, combined with shaved asparagus and scallions for a light, green kick. Pórcini Crusted Cod, a Pó favorite, is fall-apart tender, with the lovely funk of the mushrooms and a warm borlotti bean and broccoli rabe salad, all kissed with chive and smoked paprika oils and pepper sauce.

For dessert, an affogato parfait combines coffee gelato from Il Laboratorio del Gelato, chilled cappuccino, and a chocolate caramel sauce—an addicting addition to a classic combo. A Ricotta Cheesecake is dressed in Vermont maple syrup, sweet with an inherent savory quality that makes for a light ending to the meal. Don’t miss the house biscotti, one citrusy in flavor and studded with chocolate chips, and another in the classic pistachio: a refreshing instance of Italian indulgence.

The wine selection by the charming Sommelier-host, Fredi Romero, is easy to negotiate, well chosen and beautifully priced with lots of bargains in the $40 to $50 level. The 2006 “Morellino di Scansano Marteto” Super Tuscan is 85% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot, and spent 5-6 months in French oak barrels. A full-bodied, powerful Morellino, it offers terrific persistence in its expression of black cherries intermingled with sweet toasted oak. Anticipated maturity and is ready now and food friendly.

Service is perfect: Helpful, knowledgeable but never pushy or rushed. The bartender (there is no hard liquor served) is special. His personality radiates throughout the room and you won’t find better cappuccino anywhere. (he prepares it at the bar). 

In all, Po is a great illustration of how restaurants can evolve in the city—how they can get to a point that’s so comfortable and so right, that every diner feels it. We loved and so will you.

(Enjoy a combination of all the above with Pó’s accessible tasting menu, a $53 affair that spans six courses. For lunch, it’s even more accessible: a feast of four courses chimes in at just $35. And when you make your reservation, expect it to be documented on the same 89-cent clipboard that Crane has used for every day of Pó’s existence since 1993.)po mirror-e2

 

Copyright 2010 by Punch In International. All Rights Reserved.

Disclosure

After 18 years, Po remains one of the most relevant and current restaurants in the village, if not in the city, with its sustainable attitude towards ingredients that predates the trend and an affordable, quality-driven menu that’s as much about value and respect as it is about flavor. And although it’s known for being the restaurant where Mario Batali launched his career, Po has been left in the extremely capable hands of his best friend Steve Crane and talented chef Lee McGrath, whose cuisine has elevated Po further to an addictively good state.

The food is still local Italian—many Batali classics remain on the menu, though McGrath’s rustic touch continues to reinvigorate the menu season after season with the best produce from Crane’s longtime friends at Blooming Hill Farm in the Hudson Valley. Integration with the community has always been key to their success, from the regulars who bring their own dishes to be served take-away style to the vendors around the corner—Murray’s cheese, Florence Meat Market, Refetto pasta—that make deliveries by bicycle each day. And the food is a real product of all that love—call it mushy gushy, but there’s palpable passion in each dish. Especially, perhaps, the sweet pea pappardelle, a summer special that gets neighborhood folks counting down the days to pea season, or the balsamic brown butter topped white bean ravioli piped into a tomato pasta skin. And I’m not the only one who’s called those out as favorites: even Oprah’s with me here!

 

Restaurant Week

Restaurant Week Menu (through 9/6/10)

Lunch 24.00 / Dinner 35.00

ANTIPASTI

Goat Cheese & Black Olive Tartuffo, endive & radicchio

Cucumbers in Scapece, red onion, capers & ricotta salata cheese

White Bean Ravioli, balsamic brown butter sauce

Sugar Snap Peas, radicchio, pine nuts & cacio d’Roma

SECONDI

Grilled Guinea Hen, roasted corn, scallions, fregula & saba

Grilled Salmon, balsamic glaze & squash caponata

Spinach Tagliatelle, ragu bolognese

Grilled Pork Chop, sweet potato-red onion slaw & peach mostarda

DOLCI

Dark Chocolate Terrine, Amaretti Sorrano, Vin Santo & espresso caramel sauce

Panna Cotta, with amarena cherries

Ricotta Cheescake, with Vermont maple sauce

Chef: Lee McGrath  /  Sous: Yair Pulido

Pó accepts AMEX, VISA and MC
A 20% gratuity will be added to tables of six or more
Private Parties Available
Gift Certificates Available
Corkage $25 per bottle

_______________________________________________________________

Sample Dinner Menu (Subject To Change)

Dinner

Summer 2010

White Bean Bruschetta
2

ANTIPASTI

Goat Cheese & Black Olive Tartufo, endive & radicchio
10

Fresh Marinated Anchovies, dried tomato tabbouleh
11

Polpetta di Carne, meatballs with tomato sauce & caciocavallo
12

Pó Cured Tuna, white beans, artichokes, chili-mint vinaigrette
13

Bob’s Steamed Clams & Mussels, green chilies, tomato, fresh mint & olive crostino
13

INSALATA

Organic Mixed Greens, fresh lemon thyme vinaigrette
9

Beets and Carrot Crudo, pistachio-crusted goat cheese
11

Grilled Portobello, arugula & shaved parmigiano-reggiano
12

Cucumbers in Scapece, red onion, capers & ricoitta salata cheese
12

Sugar Snap Peas, radicchio, pine nuts & caccio d’Roma
12

PRIMI

White Bean Ravioli, balsamic brown butter sauce
15

Cavatelli, fresh broccoli, toasted garlic, & bread crumbs
16

Spaghetti All’ Amatriciana, red onion, guanciale, tomato & red chile
17

Orecchiette, sweet sausage ragu & broccoli rabe
17

Spinach Tagliatelle, ragu bolognese
17

Pappardelle, sweet corn & chorizo
17

Black Fettuccine, fresh mussels, sun dried tomatoes, scallions & green chilies
17

Gnocchi della Casa, (all’ Telefono) tomato, basil, mozzarella cheese
18

Linguine Vongole, fresh clams, pancetta, red chilie & white wine
18

SECONDI

Grilled Guinea Hen, roasted corn, scallions, fregula & saba
20

Grilled Salmon, balsamic glaze & squash caponata
19

Sautéed Veal Sweetbreads, chorizo, cauliflower & potato
21

Porcini Crusted Cod, borlotti beans, dandelion greens and sweet red pepper vinaigrette
22

Grilled Pork Chop, sweet potato, red onion slaw & peach mostarda
22

Grilled Lamb Paillard, cherry tomato, red onion, cumin yogurt & mint pesto
23

Veal Milanese, tricolore, caper & lemon butter
23

Grilled Skirt Steak, green beans, roasted peppers & gorgonzola butter
23

CONTORNI

Braised Escarole, lemon zest
8

Sautéed Dandelion, red chile & balsamic vinaigrette
8

Borlotti Beans, sautéed onions & sage
8

Pan Fried Potatoes, lemon & chopped escarole
8

Fregula, sweet corn & scallions
8

Sautéed Broccoli Rabe, toasted garlic, bread crumbs
8

CHEF McGRATH’S SIX COURSE TASTING MENU (entire table only)
Includes: Insalata, 2 Primi, Secondi, Formaggio & Dolce

52/pp

Chef: Lee McGrath     Sous: Yair Pulido                                                                                 

Pó accepts AMEX, VISA and MC
A 20% gratuity will be added to tables of six or more
Private Parties Available
Gift Certificates Available
Corkage $25 per bottle

Beverages & Desserts

BEVANDE

Spumanti
Glass
Bottle

Prosecco “Jeio” (nv) Bisol (Veneto)
12
47

Vini Dolci

Brachetto d’ Acqui, Ca’ dei Mandori
12
44
500ml

Vin Santo del Chianti di Caratelle ‘00 Riccardo Falchini
11
56
500ml

Recioto di Soave “Vigna la Broia” ‘01, Riccolo Grassi
14
63
375ml

Moscato Passito di Pantelleria “Bukkuram”
105

Porto

Ruby Heredias (Special Reserve)
10

Tawny (10 yr), Quinta das Heredias
12

Marsala / Sherry

Marsala Superiore, 5 anni, “Vigna la Miccia,”De Bartoli
12

Deluxe Cream Sherry “Capataz Andrés,” Lustau
8

Moscatel Superior Sherry “Emilin”, Lustau
9

Caffè

Assorted Teas
3

Caffè Americano
3

Espresso
3

Cappuccino
4

Latte
4

DOLCI

Dark Chocolate Terrine, Amaretti Sorrano
Vin Santo & espresso caramel sauce
7

"Pó Sundae" fresh mint gelato, cinnamon
spiced pine nuts & chocolate sauce
7

Panna Cotta, with amarena cherries
7

Ricotta Cheese Cake, with Vermont maple sauce
7

"Affogato" coffee gelato, chilled cappuccino &
chocolate caramel sauce
7

Formaggi, selection of cheeses
10

__________________________________________________________________

Lista Dei Vini

Glass
Bottle

SPUMANTE

Prosecco “Jeio” (nv) Bisol (Veneto)
12
47

Franciacorta (Brut) Cuvee Prestige (nv) Ca’ del Bosco (Veneto)
76

BIANCO

Pino Grigio ’08 “Santi” Sortesele (Vento)
11
42

Veltliner ’07, Abbazia d’Novacella (Trentino)
45

Muller Thurgau ’07, San Michele All’ Adige (Trentino)
49

Pino Bianco ’07, San Michele All’ Adige (Trentino)
46

Sauvignon ’07, Torre di Luna (Trentino)
9
35

Roero Aneis ’07, “Deltetto” San Michele (Piedmont)
51

Gavi d’ Gavi ’08, La Meirana “Broglia” (Piedmont)
51

Vernaccia d’ San Gimignano ’07, “Le Grillaie” Fattoria Melini (Tuscany)
54

Vermentino ’08, “Cecilia” Zeta del Tucano (Tuscany)
52

Chardonnay ’07, Tormaresca (Puglia)
10
38

Ribolla Gialla ’08, “Jermann” Vinnae (Friuli)
52

Rapitala ’07, (Catarrato, Grillo) Piano Maltese (Sicily)
36

Salina Bianco (Inzolia, Cataratto) Hauner Carlo (Sicily)
32

Mantonico ’07, Statti (Calabria)
57

Greco d’ Tufo ’07, Villa Maltilde (Campania)
42

Fiano d’ Avellino ’06, “Campore” Terre Dipaolo (Campania)
37

ROSSO

Lacryma Christi (Piedirosso) ’06, Terredora Dipaolo (Campania)
49

Naima (Aglianico) ’04, Viticoltori de Conciliis (Campania)
112

Aglianico del Vulture ’06, “Sasso” (Basilicata)
34

Primitivo ’06, Cantele (Puglia)
12
44

Syrah ’06, Nadir, Tenuta Rapitala (Sicily)
38

Nero d’ Avola ’07, Messapicus (Sicily)
34

Ramione ’04, (Merlot, Nero d’ Avola) Baglio d’ Pianetto (Sicily)
47

Carignano del Sulcis ’06, “Buio” Mesa (Sardegna)
46

Cannonau d’ Sardegna ’07, Le Bombarde, Cantina Santa Maria La Palma (Sardegna)
11
42

Rosso Piceno ’05, Vigna d’ Gino, San Lorenzo (Marche)
35

Cesanese del Piglio ’08, Colle Ticchio, Corte dei Papi (Lazio)
34

Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo ’07, Capestrano (Abruzzo)
10
39

Ciliegiolo ’08, “Principo” Poggioargentiera (Tuscany)
41

Morellino d’ Scansano ’06, Marteto “Bruni” (Tuscany)
42

Rosso Toscana ’06, (Sangiovese, Merlot) Mazzoni (Tuscany)
47

Rosso Maniero ’05, Casaloste (Tucsany)
39

Chianti Classico ’07, Gagliole “Rubiolo” (Tuscany)
52

Vino Nobile d’ Montepulciano ‘05, Pietra del Diavolo, Il Faggeto (Tuscany)
63

Brunello di Montalcino ’03, Camigliano (Tuscany)
94

Brunello di Montalcino ’03, Collemattoni (Tuscany)
132

Valpolicella Classico Superiore ’06 “Ripasso” Santi (Veneto)
35

Amarone della Vapolicella ’04, Santi (Vento)
78

Lagrein ’07, Castelfeder (Alto Adige)
36

Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) ’07, Abazia d’Novacella (Alto Adige)
54

Dolcetto d’ Dogliana ’07, San Luigi “Pecchenino” (Piedmont)
42

Barbera d’ Asti ’05, “Ante” Tenimenti Ca’Bianca (Piedmont)
48

Nebbiolo Langhe ’06, Scarzello (Piedmont)
58

Barbaresco ’05, Produttori del Barbaresco (Piedmont)
72

Barolo ’04, “Damilano” (Piedmont)
89

Barolo ’99, (Riserva) “Damilano” (Piedmont)
105

Sommelier Fredi Romero                                 Corkage fee; 25$

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