My wife Jun and I have rarely visited Italian restaurants in New York City since our trip to Italy in 2016. During that trip, we realized how the vast majority of New York’s Italian restaurants rely on an avalanche of seasoning and butter to juice up the flavor, in stark contrast to the simple yet soulful cooking we have encountered in northern Italy where the quality of ingredients with minimal seasoning was the norm. Whenever I hear about an opening of a new “modern” Italian restaurant in the city, therefore, I come up with a number of excuses not to visit that restaurant unless I hear something great is happening there. When I heard, however, that the couple behind the hit speakeasy restaurant dinnertable inside an East Village Bar I had visited several years ago is opening a new solo project, I knew I could trust that our experience at Don Angie would be at least above average. I had been meaning to book a table at the restaurant for close to a month to no avail; the restaurant’s reservation spots online were gone within minutes they opened up for the date that is one month in advance each day at 9 a.m. (save for really late dinner slots). I reached out to the restaurant to see if there is anything I can do about this, and they told me the bar area is first-come, first-serve (and it opens at 5 p.m.!), so after watching a movie with Jun in the afternoon, we headed over straight to the restaurant to be the first guests. Was all that trouble worth it? Absolutely, Don Angie is one of the most exciting restaurant openings New York City has had in the past year.
The beauty of the dishes at Don Angie is finding the right balance between putting a modern twist to Italian dishes while ensuring that the thoughtful execution stays on as the foundational philosophy. When Jun and I first looked at the chrysanthemum salad with piles of parmesan on top, we were worried that the cheese would quickly overwhelm this dish. What we had instead was a wonderful assortment of vegetables with herbs mixed in that somehow worked so harmoniously with parmesan that Jun had to marvel what kind of magic trick the kitchen pulled off. Jun is quite a skilled pasta maker (a lot of our friends who visited our home in the past year or so could attest to that), but we set a pretty high bar when it comes to pasta dishes at Italian restaurants these days, but the sopressini with smoked mussels was one of the most interesting dishes we’ve had in a while. The strangely sweet and sour aftermath of the flavor that I had experienced at first turned out to be quite addictive to my palate that if we didn’t order a large meat dish for two, I’m positive we might’ve ordered another dish of this wonderful pasta.
Now about that meat dish for two; the prime rib braciole was an absolutely sensational dish, with the beef wonderfully cooked medium rare and seasoning kept at a minimum (you can adjust the flavor by deciding how much of the tomato polenta on the side that you want to add to your meat). Jun and I have never carried leftovers from restaurants to our home (if the dishes were really good, we end up finishing and if they were bad, we just stop eating and go home), but this was the first time we asked the server to pack the leftover meat which we then savored the next day. Finish the meal with a delightful black cocoa tiramisu and you have one satisfying meal to finish your day with a smile.
As noted above, Don Angie’s reservation spots don’t come by easy unless you are willing to dine at 10 p.m. or just show up as soon as the bar area opens up at 5 p.m. (although the food order is not placed until 5:30 p.m.). The restaurant’s dining space, despite being relatively modest in size, has a very charming décor and vibe that makes it ideal for a variety of occasions like date night or dinner with parents. There is full bar with a concise cocktail and wine list (although the bartenders would be more than happy to customize your drinks for you). While Jun and I have been very selective in visiting Italian restaurants in the Big Apple, we were both impressed with the high level of cooking at Don Angie. Good luck securing what has quickly become one of the most difficult tables in the city.
KenScale: 8.5/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.5/10)
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 9.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 9.0/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
- Value: 8.0/10
Address: 103 Greenwich Avenue, New York, NY 10014
Telephone: (212) 889-8884