1410 3rd Ave (80th & 81st St)
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 988-9780
Fax: (212) 988-9780
2nd Cuisine: Pizza
Area: East 80s
Entree Price: $15-20
For my money, the UES' TiramiSu is one of the better Italian-American spots along Third Avenue. Nothing fancy but decent, straightforward food in a no frills but cloth napkin setting. The staff is pleasant, the service efficient. Prices are reasonable(ish) for this stretch of town where it's easy to burn through a lot of dough for mediocre food--happily, the food here is a cut above.
There is a full bar with the usual offerings including a more than decent Montepulciano that wasn't a drop in the bucket as is so often the case but a decent-sized glass. Sangria and beer are available.
The Insalata Mista is as ordinary as can be but the house dressing elevates it. If you like panzanella, that classic with greens, cukes and tomatoes, skip it here as it features "Italian croutons" rather than torn bread which is what the dish is theoretically about. There's a rather nice pear "carpaccio" with asiago cheese that makes a good starter. I don't understand the heading "tapas" for items such as bruschetta, Tuscan meatballs ($7.50) or Italian rice balls ( aka arancini) since tapas hail from Spain and these are classic Italian dishes. Not bad, just not tapas. Something billed as Spicy Cajun Shrimp turns out to be a small crock filled with hot (as in temperature) shrimp and cannelli beans served with garlic bread. It's not particularly spicy but, at $13.50, makes a perfect small meal especially after an appetizer. As to bread, the basket presented as water is poured includes squares of foccacia as well as Italian-esque slices.
Lots of eaters opt for pastas (mostly in the $13.50 to $17.50 range with decent-sized portions.) The orechetti has Italian sausage and broccoli; spaghetti with clam sauce can be red or white always with plenty of garlic and the gnocchi filled with ricotta and spinach is tasty. Others insist on pizza that hovers in the $16 per pie range although the Margherita classic is$15 and can be had in a whole wheat version, probably targeting those with kids of which there can be plenty especially early in the evening. The "Tiramisu" loads on homemade meatballs. The wood burning oven yields pies with a crispy, thin crust that mostly wins raves.
The pork chop is wrapped in bacon for a super-pork experience and "roasted" (why not just "roast?), served with apples in a port reduction sauce. Chicken saltimbocca brings a breast topped with prosciutto, Fontana cheese and sage, served with broccoli and mashed for $18. The namesake dessert, never my fave, is overly sweet and gloppy.
In warm weather there is rather tightly-packed outdoor seating. Credit cards are accepted but no AMEX. TiramiSu does delivery and takeout and is wheelchair accessible; it's open Mondays through Thursdays from noon for lunch (sparse crowd but fine) through 11 PM and from 11 Am through 11:30 PM on weekends. Weekend brunch is served with a limited menu. For straightforward Italian fare, this is a decent choice especially if you come late enough to skip kiddie time.
Review By: Mari Gold