Located on a quiet street between First and Second Avenues sits Dopo East perched between two beautiful apartments with rustic wooden doors for entrances. The small, quaint bar sits to your right as you enter the restaurant and leads to the back dining room where you are first greeted by a baby Grand piano and vocals by a young and talented singer. Through the 15 table setup is a beautiful back garden decorated with colorful, hanging lanterns and whimsical greenery.
As the hostess prepared our table we decided to start our evening with a glass of Prosecco. We were seated at a corner table right in front of the piano player, front and center. It was a lovely Friday evening, sipping on sparkling white wine, listening to the pianist play and of course browsing over the menu to see what our taste buds were craving. As I looked of the insalate and antipasti options, I knew I was in the mood for something wholesome and light to start our meal. We chose the Insalata Di Crescione to start ($14), which consisted of watercress, hearts of palm, Belgian endive, avocado, roasted pine nuts and dressed in a light citrus dressing. This was the perfect way to start the evening with a zesty yet light salad that paired just right with our Prosecco. The pine nuts gave just the right amount of buttery flavor with a bit of bite. We also ordered the Carpaccio di Bosco ($18). A heartier starter made up of Portobello carpaccio, wild arugula, mozzarella and drizzled with aged balsamic. The thinly sliced Portobello was super meaty without the heaviness of actual beef. And the mozzarella was fresh, creamy and paired perfectly with the sliced funghi.
As I surveyed the room I noticed lots of neighborhood regulars chatting with their servers on a first name basis and laughing with the entertainment. Although Dopo has a fine-dining feel, I could easily tell that the space is a weekly go-to for many in the neighborhood. Servers were friendly and were able to suggest a delicious glass of house Cabernet that would pair perfectly with our entree choices.
After browsing the menu, my guest and I decided to share two dishes. We started with the Bistecca Alla Griglia ($30), 28 days dry aged rib-eye steak, green scallion puree, porcini mushrooms, rosemary potatoes and aged balsamic vinegar. The steak came out perfectly prepared as medium rare and large enough for the both of us to share. The green scallion puree gave just the right amount of mild flavor to season the steak. The rosemary potatoes were cooked just right, soft on the inside, but crispy on the out. Next came out a beautiful piece of Branzino in Padella ($29), pan-seared sea bass filet, green asparagus, fresh corn, turnips and almond gremolada. The sea bass was extremely light and had a sweetness from the fresh corn and slivered almonds. We loved this dish. The sea bass melted in your mouth and was just the right amount of crisp on the outer edges. The plate presentation of the sea bass was beautiful and reminded me of traditional meals seen in Florence, Italy.
As if a delicious dinner wasn't enough, chef Patrizio D’Andrea came to our table greeting us with his bright blonde hair, thick Italian accent, fresh vibe and delectable desserts. We couldn't believe how young the man behind the food was. Maybe because all of the dishes reminded me of of home cooked food that my grandmother would prepare. From a rich tiramisu to a chocolatey display of mousse and fresh berries, both were the right choices to end our evening. I sipped on my after dinner drink of Amaro and took my last bite of tiramisu. As the piano player played his last melody, we wrapped up our evening of fresh, authentic eats and fine wine. A large party began to empty out in the back and the garden was in perfect view. It was glistening in the dark as the lanterns swung and illuminated the entire back area. We could have continued our evening out back, a truly breathtaking view!
Dopo East is opened for dinner Tuesday through Saturday. I would recommend visiting Dopo for a special occasion or for a quaint evening out on the town. In the summer the back garden is a dream, perfect for a romantic evening filled with homemade Southern Italian cooking and great entertainment.
Dopo East: 345 E 62nd St, New York, NY 10065. Tel: 646.484.6548.