Due to pure fullness, it’s a struggle to recount my meals so soon after eating them, but I have too much to catch up on to afford another missed write-up. Tonight, I FINALLY sat down for the 7 course meal at Torrisi Italian’s Specialties, an experience highly praised by Sam Sifton, Frank Bruni, and the dozens of critically acclaimed food writers in the city. Torrisi now takes reservations, so about a month back I booked a table for 2 at the only time (ever) available: 5:45pm. I was lucky to get anything later than 5:30.
In anticipation of my early bird special meal, I monitored my lunch carefully and stopped all snacking by 2pm ET. As a result, I arrived hungry and ready for a glass of wine with my fellow food-lover friend (ok, any friend of mine is a food lover, admittedly or not) and a feast. Unfortunately, Torrisi only has two white wines by the glass – one very sweet, and one incredibly dry, but my waiter was kind enough to open a vintage bottle of chardonnay at my request for something a little bolder. Service remained attentive throughout the night.
As you may know, guests are served whatever the chef has decided to prepare for the night, with a main course choice of meat or fish. I of course chose fish. The start of the meal was my favorite – homemade mozzarella with Da Vero olive oil, salt, and tomato-garlic bread. Then came a mediocre fennel salad drenched in rich olive oil with amaretti cookie crumble. The grilled octopus with black olive wasn’t remarkable either, but was well seasoned and seared to a crisp. Meat lovers would have raved over the liver and onions course, a small scoop of liver mousse with homemade pretzel bread, but I was more concerned with finishing the warm, milky cheese.
The gemelli pasta with dirty duck ragu was delicious. I rarely gravitate toward duck, but this was subtly rich and flavorful, and the noodles had just enough bite to stand up to the intensity of the tomato-less ragu sauce.
The fish was described as a roasted skate with fulton chowder, but arrived as a small, simply seared filet with mussels and squid in a bath of light tomato sauce poured by our waiter. It was, like all the food, simple and tasty, but nothing extraordinary.
I happened to love the dessert course – a plate of small cookies ranging from ricotta cannoli to an never before seen “beet strudel.” They were all, in typical italian fashion, not too sweet nor rich. After taking little bites of the little cookies, Emily threatened to punch me in the face if I didn’t eat the whole thing, so I was forced to consume my entire half of the cookie plate while she left two untouched.
I’m not sure if I am more satisfied with the meal at Torrisi or the fact that I finally accomplished my goal of completing its highly acclaimed dining experience. Either way, this place became viral not necessarily for the inspiring food (which it is, don’t get me wrong), but more so for the creative, no-choice menu concept and frankly, the homemade mozzarella. I don’t think I’ll be rushing back there when there are far better italian restaurants without a three hour wait in my neighborhood
Location: 250 Mulberry Street @ Spring Street