When we heard that a second ‘inoteca would be opening within a few blocks of us, we knew it would have to be number one on our list of places to try. I have never actually been to the one on Rivington, but I’ve always been told its a must try. Not to mention, ‘inoteca would be replacing the bane of my walk home from work. Bar Milano (although the same ownership) existed in the same space with a noticeable attitude difference. There was nothing welcoming about Bar Milano; unless your enjoy being welcomed by a bunch of obnoxious young professionals who would love nothing more than to show you, through the large window that separates you, that they know how to order a martini and you probably can’t afford it. Shocking, Bar Milano no longer exists….
‘inoteca, despite having little noticeable renovations from the outside has an extremely different feel. After all, with so many restaurants in New York City, we start our judging process before we even step foot in the restaurant so in that regard ‘inoteca was an immediate upgrade. Once we made it inside, our first interaction was with the hostess. Having worked in the restaurant world, I have a great appreciation for the hard work that goes into a busy Friday night. I had called the day before attempting to make reservations but there were none. However, the woman suggested we try and come anyway because she expected to be taking a large number of walk ins. When we showed up, we were assessed our wait time…45 minutes and as we left to enter the bar, the hostess stopped us and said “Its really busy in there so if you don’t hear from me in a bit, come find me and check in”. Beyond the food, there is nothing more important about a dining experience than feeling welcome and important. And as we went in to order our drinks, we knew we wouldn’t be overlooked as soon as our table was available.
Once we sat down, and I started to glance over the menu, I was a bit overwhelmed. The menu is divided into a number of sections all sounding more delicious than the last. Salads, bruschette, panini, and all sorts of small Italian plates that I wasn’t sure how much of each we should be ordering. Luckily for us our waitress (Miley Cyrus in three years if the music and tv career doesn’t work out) was able to help us in our ordering. We ended up with six plates brought out over two courses.
Our first course consisted of a deliciously fresh calamari salad, a trio of bruschette (pesto, ricotta, and rabe), and chickpea fries. The standout was the chickpea fries which had a crispy fried exterior with a creamy inside packed with tons of flavor. Chickpea fries can be quite dull, but these were really exceptional. For the second course we ordered polpette, a fontina and spinach with truffle oil panini and the Gamberoni w/ Pancetta Agre Dolce. The panini wasn’t anything special. Although I love truffles and truffle oil adds another dimension of flavor, this panini was just a bit boring. However, the meatballs and the jumbo prawns were amazing. The meatballs were dense with flavor without being at all dry. And how could you not like what is basically a Italian version of shrimp wrapped in bacon smothered in bbq sauce. Although none of these plates were all that large, I was just about full with a bit of room for dessert. We finished our second bottle of delicious Cannanou (I’ll have to go back and write down the label) that came from an extremely impressive wine list and with that our meal was done.
Overall I’d give the new Inoteca a 7.5/10. The decor was welcoming, the hostess was awesome, our waitress was a bit iffy, the food was mostly great and the prices were pretty reasonable. I will definitely go back, although not until I tackle a few more places on The List…
Pictures taken from eater.com