Monday, July 11, 2011

Ai Fiori - Review

Ai Fiori - Dude Grade: B (for lunch)
400 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10018
Phone: (212) 613-8660

Michael White is the pasta king in NYC hands down. This is his third restaurant I've been to and as usual the pasta is spectacular. Although this was the weakest compared to Marea and Convivio, it was still pretty damn fun.

Our Menu

Torchon *
foie gras au naturel, spiced fig, ormeasco mostarda, pistachio, brioche toasté

The foie was lacking in a bit of texture and flavor, but it was still a pretty fun dish especially with the mostarda - a surprisingly brilliant combo.

Minestrone **
vegetable soup, ricotta tortellini, basil pesto, ligurian olive oil

Big vegetable flavors in the soup and a nice touch with the pesto.
Spaghetti **
Lump crab, bottarga, chiles, and lemon

As usual, a Michael White pasta dish has perfect texture - a nice al dente chew even though this is hand rolled pasta. The combo of the salty/meaty bottarga, sweet crab, and the brightness of the chiles and lemon knocks it out of the park.

Gelato *
Hazelnut, stracciatella, ginger
Oddly enough the gelato here is good, but not great. Texture was either way too melted or even a bit icy. Flavor is pretty awesome though.
Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way | (no stars - poor to average) | * Good | ** Great | *** What the F – in a good way

Overall Restaurant Experience
  • Food (B) – Pasta was phenomenal. Dessert and Foie were good, but not great.
  • Service (A) – Service was outstanding with multiple people checking on us. Also, we found 3 very small pieces of shell in the pasta dish. It was so delicious I didn't care, but the manager came over and apologized immediately and offered free desserts and coffee for us. They were definitely on top of their game.
  • Atmosphere (B) – A definitely serene environment with lots of good lighting - kinda reminded me of a cross between the French Laundy and a nice steakhouse. This is located in the Setai Hotel and you get a different feel entering a nice hotel - people opening doors and welcoming you...pretty nice. We got there at 12 on a Wednesday and it was completely empty, but around 12:30 it was maybe 3/4 full of suits.
  • Price (N/A) - We had some free dishes due to the crab shell mishap, so it was totally worth it. Normally, the lunch prix fixe was two courses for $38.
Closing Comments
If I wanted some pasta and didn't want to spend the beaucoup bux at Marea, I would think about going to Ai Fiori. However, it seems to be pretty damn pricey at Ai Fiori, so I think I gotta check his new joint Osteria Morini to fulfill my Michael White pasta fix.

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