So, this story begins back in December, when it was my mother’s birthday. Having had so much fun, we decided to do the exact same thing all over again for my older sister’s birthday. This time, the little one was in tow as well, so it was that much better. Both times, the kiddies decided to head over to AOC Bistro around the corner for a couple drinks beforehand (and me as many oysters as I could fit in my stomach), only to be there for about half the time until the parents decided to track us down and join (and pay the bill!).
I can’t do a full-on review for AOC, because I’ve only sat at the bar there; but the service (at both their front and back bars) is all-around wonderful, the drinks are pretty reasonably-priced and the oysters (dollar oysters at happy hour), are fresh and really good, el beit not Blue Point. We were told exactly what they were, French terminology quickly rattled off by a busy French bartender; only to stare back like, “wait, what?” So, he says, “…they’re from Canada…” Alrighty then.
Anyways, off to Po; a restaurant formerly owned by Mario Batali in his early days, but now an independent (and thriving) Italian restaurant that sits right at the intersection of gourmet and home-style. I’ve stated so many times before that expensive Italian is a bit of a paradox, and that it’s hard to fully endorse high prices for a historically peasant cuisine. This is, case in point, a testament that the quality of your ingredients is what makes your dishes. Every single thing they serve there is absolutely decadent. The prices are high, but not unaffordable, and certainly worth the amazing service, delicious food, and huge portions.
While I’d say that every single thing they have there is their specialty, it is their appetizers which they’re particularly credited for. Personally, I could make a meal of their amuse-bouche (there’s a term we don’t hear on Munch too often), and a bottle of their Chianti alone. It’s a white bean salad (insalata cannellini for voi italiani) bruschetta, heavy on the vinegar, with a good oil and some basic salt and pepper on amazing bread; simple yet incredible. If you’re lucky, they’ll have their prosciutto appetizer on their specials as well. The mussels and clams appetizer was just cosi cosi, but the meatballs they serve are amazing, just downright fantastic.
And so was the case for each thing we continued to order. From the gnocchi with shredded pork and tomato to the apple-glazed bone-in pork chops with butternut squash (the best thing and the definite choice, if you ask me) right through dessert; affogato and a well-done espresso, everything is incredible. They’ve got fairly reasonably priced wines as well; although their Masciarelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ($39 in-house) is the same wine I buy at my local Bottle Shoppe for about $10. The best part is that you’ll have leftovers for days, as I did, and made two more meals out of (lucky me). Head to Whitehorse Tavern afterwards for a couple beers… or in our case, tequila shots.
Where: Cornelia Street, between West 4th & Bleeker | How Much: $$$
- Grano Trattoria (Another incredible WV Italian spot)
- PT (My favorite, and very affordable Italian restaurant)
- Shredded Carciofi with Pesto & Bacon (my favorite Italian recipe)