Torrisi Italian Specialties – by day, a sandwich shop that is anything but regular and by night, a distinctive restaurant. You would think Superman was behind this creative concept. This 18-seat restaurant is located in Nolita. The shop turns from an Italian deli into a restaurant at 5:00 pm, which is when you can come in and put your name down for a table for one of three seatings: 6:00, 7:45 or 9:30 pm. They don’t take reservations by phone, but I promise it’s worth the extra effort.
Torrisi has a pre-fixed menu that changes daily. You get 4 antipasti, a pasta course, a main dish, and a tray of house desserts. At $50, it is a great deal. The warm mozzarella is an antipasti staple, and for good reason. This grapefruit sized sphere of deliciousness is drizzled in olive oil and dusted with fleur de sel. It is breathtaking. Forget a diamond, just put this work of art on a ring for me and I’ll be a happy girl. The cheese is served with garlic toasts. They are heavily dusted with tomato powder and then covered in herbs. Good thing this cheese can stand on its own because I did not enjoy the toast. The tomato powder resembles cheddar cheese powder for popcorn. And, I was afraid to smile for 20 minutes for fear of all the herbs being stuck in my teeth. The garlic toast was, however, the only disappointment of the night.
The second antipasti was a scallop dish. The scallops were thinly sliced and then drizzled with the braised broccoli. The braised broccoli had such a deep, concentrated flavor, which accented the light scallops perfectly. It was unexpected, and you know how this Bite-Sized Blonde likes to be kept on her toes. The scallops were followed by a homemade pepperoni – topped with a lightly cooked egg yolk and served next to an herb salad. The second my fork touched the egg, it exploded onto the plate. The pepperoni, looked like a meatball, and at first, tasted like a meatball. And then bam! There’s a pop of pepperoni flavor to wake up your palate. Fried spring onions, served in with a chive yogurt sauce, were the last of the four antipasti. This lightly fried nibble was like a sophisticated bloomin’ onion. Need I say more? After antipasti, we got a small cup of grapefruit sorbet as a palette cleanser. It’s all in the details baby, and this is an important detail that cannot be overlooked.
There is usually only one pasta dish of the night, but this Bite-Sized Blonde was lucky enough to sample two of the incredible pasta dishes Torrisi has to offer. The first was the Dirty Duck Ragout. I saw the Dirty Duck Ragout on an episode of Unique Eats and knew I had to try this dish. The Dirty Duck Ragout is smoky and rich. It is balanced by perfectly cooked Germelli pasta. The second pasta dish, which was not on the menu, was Chicken Liver Ravioli. Now, before you think I’m nuts for loving this, hear me out. Chopped liver is made from chicken liver, which is exactly what the ravioli filling tasted like. It took on a hint of carmelization to bring the liver to another level. The ravioli were complimented by a light and sweet tomato sauce.
Your main is a choice of surf or turf, and we went with the turf. We got the Bone-In Short Rib and the BBQ Lamb in a Molasses Vinaigrette. The Bone-In Short Rib looked like a piece of meat for Fred Flintstone. You know what they say about big meat, big…flavor. The rib was intensely flavorful from the grill. The BBQ Lamb was also delectable. It was smoky yet light. The molasses vinaigrette was a bright addition to the dish.
The dessert at Torrisi is a sampling of house pastries, including rainbow cookies and cannoli. They’re good, really good. But this Bite-Sized Blondes likes something I can dig my fork into. Of course, I ate every single cookie anyway.
Torrisi Italian Specialties
250 Mulberry Street at Prince
New York, NY