Rezdôra – New York, NY
I am bad at making reservations. I tend to wait to book trips until only a few weeks before, and at that point it's too late to get the toughest-to-score tables (compounded by the unfortunate realities of being a solo diner). Worse still, I am so indecisive that it takes me days to figure out where I want to eat, so even more reservations slip away.
I have a list of places I've not yet visited at which I always try to land a table when I go to New York City. After finally getting to eat at Contra and Atoboy, the next spot on my list was Rezdôra, an Italian spot getting heaps of hype for its pasta recipes from the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna (north of Florence and south of Milan). Chef Stefano Secchi worked in the kitchen at Osteria Francescana, the most highly acclaimed restaurant in Italy, which is right in the heart of Emilia-Romagna. The night before I left for New York, fresh off the podium conducting my first Mozart Requiem, I got an email from Resy offering me a table for one just fifteen hours later. What a way to begin a celebratory day of culinary delights!
A little bonus, too––I happened to have a voucher with Blade to take a helicopter transfer from EWR to Manhattan that morning, and was whisked from the terminal curb to the helipad only to realize I was the only person on the flight. What a spectacular experience on a beautiful day! I also enjoyed some morning Macallan in their lounge afterwards.
From the Blade lounge I took a very windy 40 minute walk to the Flatiron district to find Rezdôra. The dining room is basement-level and decorated in modern but classic old-world charm, including exposed brick and wooden beams. At the back of the dining room is a set of stairs that leads to two little smaller, elevated dining areas. It was here I would feast on Chef's famous pastas.
I had heard all over that the $90 pasta tasting menu was the move here, so I was dismayed when my server told me that it wasn't available for lunch. He cheerfully suggested, however, that I "make [my] own pasta tasting!" and order several of their pastas for myself. Twist my arm!
I began the lunch with an oh-so-Italian take on a gin martini, with gin from parma that had been washed with parmesan cheese (!), a bit of vodka, and Cocchi Americano that was marinated with basil. It was tangy, bright, and super delicious, and served as a wonderful drink to sip throughout the meal.
Many reviewers wrote wonderful things about the gnoccho frito appetizer, so I certainly had to try it. Hollow fried pastry was topped with three quintessential Italian cold cuts––mortadella, prosciutto, and coppa. The meat was excellent and the coppa was my favorite, with a luscious marbling and hint of heat, but the gnoccho themselves, while tasty in a way that fried dough is always tasty, weren't particularly interesting.
My server steered me toward three "essential" pastas on the menu, so that's what formed the remainder of the meal. The first was strozzapretti in a bright, fragrant Emilia-Romagna-style tomato sauce served with basil breadcrumbs and a few scant bits of lobster meat. The sauce was brilliantly tangy and flavorful, and the lobster, while not abundant, was perfect with the sauce. The breadcrumbs atop the pasta added a lovely textural contrast as well. Tipica!
Not wanting to miss out on their stellar cellar of Italian wines, I ordered a glass of non-village nebbiolo from Langhe. A bit young, but not super tannic, it had all the earth, red fruit, and brightness I expect from the grape, and because they offer it in "quartini" portions, I had two glasses for a reasonable price. My companion for the rest of the pasta dishes.
The second pasta highly recommended by the server was a white and green coiled bucatini called gamigna served with a "white sauce" ragu of slow braised pork sausage. As you might imagine with any meat-based sauce, the depth of flavor was spectacular, though the pasta was sauced so delicately that it never felt too heavy. Fantastic.
Their signature pasta is a single raviolo, much like the signature pasta dish at Cotogna in San Francisco, filled with ricotta and egg yolk. Atop is a sage brown butter and some perfect little chanterelles. The prize, however, was the generously portioned, tableside-grated Alba white truffle on top, my first of the season! Absolutely decadent and fantastic, but again not so heavy that it felt like a gut bomb. And true to form, "what grows together pairs together"––the nebbiolo was a dynamite pairing with the truffle.
Not quite feeling satisfied, I added one more pasta for good measure. Anolini is a smaller stuffed pasta similar to ravioli from Parma. This one was stuffed with a traditional meat filling made with all manner of wonderful pork products and served in a tangy and rich but feather-light parmesan cream sauce. Just divine.
My lack of sleep from the previous night and my decision to drink scotch in the Blade lounge at 10:30am were catching up with me, so I had a fantastic cappuccino with a thyme and fennel biscotti for dessert. Just as good as everything that came before.
While I was bummed that the pasta tasting wasn't available, I think I got a good sense of what Rezdôra offers, and I must say that it certainly lived up to expectations. The pastas are rustic and traditional, perfectly cooked and sauced, and monumentally flavorful. I will have to make another visit during a different menu rotation to get my fill of these wonderful pastas again!
As you can tell, the Maestro is traveling again! Two weeks of culinary wonders are to follow. Where might I end up next?? Stay tuned to find out! So much forthcoming!