Saturday, March 3, 2012

Zampa

306 West 13th Street
New York, NY  10014
212.206.0601
www.zampanyc.com
Zampa Winebar & Kitchen on Urbanspoon
This place is proof positive that the enjoyment of food & drink is not solely based on the enjoyment of the food & drink alone.  This is a bit eye-opening not only for how this blog will go forward (since you don't eat in a vacuum) but also how my perspective changes when I think about food.  Sometimes a meal may actually be better than it is because of the company but I think I would take that trade-off any day of the week....and twice on Sundays.


On this particular night, some of us had just come from a performance by the Tiffany Mills Company and while I'd like to think I enjoy fine arts (I've been to the opera and ballet and those seemed to be nice...I think), I just don't think I enjoy modern dance.  There were a few segments that I think were completely over my head.  The paper airplanes were a mystery, the heat-rubbing segment was baffling, the boa, the dude taking forever to tuck in his dress shirt, and when the feathers started tumbling from the ceiling, I think I  realized that I'd probably never understand it.  Overall, though, the audience seemed to be receptive and enjoyed it very much.

So, we arrived at Zampa around 9:10 and I don't think we sat down until 10:30.  There was some discussion that while we had all decided that we should go to Zampa and eat there after the show that no one actually did anything about it like...I don't know...make a reservation.  None of us particularly minded since we ordered a bottle of Barbera D’Alba 2008, Oddero(Piemonte) which, since it was rainy & cold, had the deep, rich & warm flavors we craved trying to warm up.

When we finally sat down, we decided to order some small dishes to share and each of us got a main course.  For small plates we got the special salad with shaved fennel and parmigiano reggiano which while tasty doesn't seem to be something that I would call memorable.  We could probably say the same thing for the tomato, garlic and olive oil bruschette and roast shrimp & garlic crostini which had some sort of bean but no one seemed intent on exploring what kind.  The same could be said for two of the three crostinis we ordered.  The chicken liver and malvasia pate; and sautéed mushrooms and thyme were delicious but the flavors were as expected and did not urge you to ask for more.  The highlights of the small plates came with the ricotta and honey crostini.  It seems such a natural pairing but the fresh ricotta was incredibly light and sweet but did not get over powered by the honey which, while sweet, did not put the bite overboard.  The next was the fresh burrata with baby tomatoes in olive oil.  The acidity and tang of the tomatoes perfectly balanced the lightness and the light sweetness of the burrata.

When the main courses arrived we order a new bottle of red (Barbaresco Riserva 2004, Produttori del Barbaresco (Piemonte)) which was a little more bold and richer than the first bottle and paired up with our entrees.  For the table, orders of the polenta special, a braised short rib with polenta and the scallops wrapped in pancetta with lentils.  The short ribs were soft and tender as expected, however the polenta seemed too rigid and slightly over cooked but nevertheless delicious.  Wrapping scallops in pancetta is naturally good and pancetta was crisped to perfection.  The lentils, though, seemed disconnected to the dish and may have added some character to the plate if there were not so many of them.

There were desserts ordered but I have given them up for lent (gasp!) so can't properly comment on them and probably refused to even look at them.  I did top off my night with a glass of Aglianico Del Vulture 2008, Grifalco (Basilicata) which as bit heavier than I wanted to finish off a meal but still in line with all the wine we drank that night.  Overall, I think I would've been disappointed at the meal we had at Zampa but it was a gathering of old friends with discussions of modern dance, swimming with the sharks and safaris in Africa thrown in which would make me glad overlook the food anytime.

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