Saturday, February 21, 2009
Little Italy - La Mela on Mulberry
Here's the gang that ate it all (minus Karl's friends Jay and Andy who met us inside the restaurant). Apparently it is cheaper for 7 people to hop in a stretch limo to ride from Midtown up on 53rd down to Mulberry via West Avenue. So that's how we rolled. Stretch style.
167 Mulberry Street in Little Italy. Your choice of dozens of cafes, ristorantes, trattorias, and just plain pasta companies. Karl chose this one on the recommendation of his Italian/Venezuelan neighbor who said it was the best tasting real Italian food she'd had in New York.
They also serve family style, bringing out heaping plates of caprese salad with massive wheels of fresh mozzarella; antipasti with asparagus, roasted red peppers with whole roasted garlic cloves, crab and cheese stuffed mushroom caps, and polenta crusted fried mozzarella; three types of pasta including rigatoni with a fresh marinara, cheese tortellini with a mushroom cream sauce, and gnocchi smothered in cheese and baked off in the salamander, and a dessert plate we turned down but saw pass us by that sported cannoli, pound cake, strawberries, and other goodies.
The kitchen was cranking out plate after plate of family-style love for the folks enjoying a Friday night in Little Italy.
The mozzarella was thick and fresh and perfect in every basil/tomato way possible.
Pair the caprese up with a slice of the dense country-style bread passed at the table.
Antipast-i-normous (there were two of these for our nine-top. The polenta-crusted cheese was GONE quickly.
Of the three pastas, the rigatoni may have won out at the table. Perfectly al dente with an unbelievably simple fresh marinara dressed over it. The tortellini with its earthy mushroom cream was my number two. The gnocchi, usually high on my list at any Italian restaurant, were overcooked enough to be mushy potato with delicious cheese on top (and don't think I didn't eat that cheese!).