Friday, January 23, 2009

I "Heart" NYC Restaurant Week

I can't get that pumpkin mousse with butterscotch sauce out of my brain -- oh please, somebody give me the recipe.

It's the dessert I ate last night at what was the sweet ending to a fantastic meal in New York City - and it was on sale to boot.

Well, not exactly on sale, but during restaurant week, which takes place twice a year in New York City, scores of restaurants offer a three-course lunch for $24 and a three-course dinner for $35. That can be a real bargain at places where just the entree can cost that much.

Restaurant week is also my excuse for arranging to meet a friend for dinner, as I did last night, at F.Illi Ponte, an Italian restaurant in Tribeca, bordering on Soho.

Neither the company, nor the food disappointed. The Italian restaurant, whose abbreviated name "F.Illi" stands for "fratelli," or "brother" has been around for a long time, and I've passed it many times, but I never managed to eat there. It's a little bit out of the way in a kind of desolate neighborhood by the waterfront, but the schlep was well worth it.

Right away, good vibes came our way along with the freebie munchies at our table, which by the way, overlooked the Hudson River. This wasn't just a plate of olive oil and a bread basket. Noooo - it was a small plate with chunks of parmigiano cheese and another plate heaped with the best caponata I've ever eaten - sweet and savory at the same time and oh so delicious.

My friend Lynn, and I ordered the same first course - funghi ripiene - (actually make that a fungo not funghi - the singular for mushroom - since there was only one. But hey, you're allowed a grammar error on the menu when the food is so good.) The roasted portobello mushroom was stuffed with crabmeat and breadcrumbs and served over whipped polenta and a shellfish sauce. A well-executed combination of flavors, textures and colors.

Lynn ordered strozzapreti in a duck ragout as her main course, topped with a dollop of fresh ricotta. I chose veal scalloppine in a traditional lemon, capers and parsley sauce, accompanied by mashed potatoes and stewed escarole. We were on a roll, with both dishes cooked to perfection.

The piece de resistance however, was the dessert - a "Sapori D'Autunno," or "flavors of Fall." If this is Fall, I want to stay there forever. Imagine a velvety pumpkin mousse resting on a slice of spiced pumpkin cake, surrounded by dribbles of butterscotch sauce, poached figs and other dried fruits. Oh, I forgot the chocolate sauce over the mousse. OK, wipe that drool off your chin.

Somebody in that kitchen really knows how to cook. And in the off-chance the chef is reading this, would you mind emailing me the recipe? Please? And maybe the caponata too? Pretty please?

Stay tuned next week for part two of Restaurant Week, when "Le Cirque" is on tap.


  1. Linda, I have been to F.Illi Ponte many times yrs ago and never knew that F.Illi meant "brother!". duh!

    Can't wait to hear about Le Cirque.
    I just watched the HBO special on Sirio and his sons and have always wanted to try the original restaurant!

    Great post!

  2. I just gained 6 pounds looking at your photos!

    Not sure why the email link didn't work. My email is

    "Talk" to you soon!

  3. I want a restaurant week too ! That was certainly a bargain and for an exceptional meal too! For a family of six like mine, restaurants are few and far between...