If there’s one staple food that most New Yorkers can agree on it has to be pasta. Meat lovers and vegetarians alike can appreciate a delicious Italian style pasta entrée rich with flavor and enhanced by the addition of various herbs and spices to complement the meat and vegetables. With an endless number of Italian restaurants in Manhattan, you will rejoice when you discover Spina, Alphabet City’s hidden gem that strictly focuses on fresh home made pasta not to mention a great wine list.
Spina takes pasta very seriously as indicated by the pasta bar located right inside its cozy, rustic dining room. Add an eclectic selection of wines from near and far and you are in for a delightful dining experience. Chef Joe Marcus (Picholine, Café Boulud) who recently came onboard showcases his expertise with the introduction of several new pasta dishes, while pasta creator Blanca Rincon (i Trulli) brings them to life daily with diners overseeing her at work.
A proper pasta meal would be incomplete without wine, but you would be mistaken to think that Italian wines are your only option. General Manager and wine guru Matthew Harrell has created quite the cellar of wines featuring international selections from traditional wine regions, as well as local choices from more unassuming regions including the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. When it comes to figuring out what to order, Mr. Harrell is quite knowledgeable and will guide you in putting together the best pairings for your meal.
As you peruse through the pasta menu enjoy a glass of Greece’s Domaine Zafeirakis Rosé 2011 ($9 per glass, $32 per bottle)—a refreshing blend of Syrah and Limniona that extracts fresh rhubarb, white pepper, and hints of blueberry—or New York’s own Fox Run Reserve Riesling 2011 ($15 per glass, $58 per bottle)—a blend of mango, gooseberry, and lime zest—for a crisp, thirst quenching taste.
Spina tackles the remaining days of cold weather with the Winter salad ($11)—a colorful combination of shaved Brussels sprouts, diced avocado and apple, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and parmigiano reggiano complemented by a lemon dressing. With so many ingredients, this salad proves to be quite refreshing without being heavy—a perfect starter to whet your appetite.
Meat lovers will appreciate Spina’s meatballs ($8)—a nice combination of veal, beef, and pork served with a light tomato sauce and shaved parmigiano reggiano.
Surprisingly, the highlight is the wild mushroom polenta appetizer ($11)—a nicely seasoned goat cheese polenta with three types of wild mushroom and chicken jus. Spina’s interpretation certainly challenges the tendency of underrating polenta.
Prior to the arrival of the main course, consider ordering a glass of red wine. For something subtle yet bold order a glass of Damiani Wine Cellars Pinot Noir 2010 from the Finger Lakes ($15 per glass, $59 per bottle)—an earthy wine that resembles Burgundy with it hints of black currants and ripe raspberries. Deviate from what’s familiar and consider a glass of Austria’s Strehn Blaufrankish 2011 ($11 per glass, $38 per bottle). This wine offers a taste of the Old World with a hint of cedar mixed with spicy plums and orange zest.
With pasta being the star of the menu, it’s great to see that Spina offers a nice array of innovative choices that will please everyone.
For something light and subtle, consider the basil malfatti ($16). Don’t let the Italian translation— “poorly made”—discourage you from trying this delicious basil flavored pasta combined with eggplant, garlic confit, and fresh ricotta served in a house smoked tomato sauce. For a heartier option, take a look at the black pepper pappardelle ($18)—a hearty wild boar ragú mixed with a sprinkle of rosemary and barberries.
Spina also offers several signature pasta entrées including the sweet potato gnocchi ($18) which features braised oxtail and star anise broth complemented by an amaretto cookie crumble. Hands down, pasta aficionados will certainly declare the malloreddus ($17)—saffron infused Sardinian gnocchetti with a veal and pork tomato ragú—the winning dish of the night. The pasta is tender with just the right amount of sauce.
Sure, there is an abundant number of Italian restaurants in Manhattan serving up delicious pasta, but if you want to fresh homemade pasta dishes and have them made before your eyes head to the Spina.
175 Avenue B
New York, New York 10009
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