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Sfoglia

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Sfoglia

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Address: 1402 Lexington Ave (92nd St)
City: New York, NY
Zip: 10128
Phone: (212) 831-1402
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Map: Map
Cuisine: Italian
Area: East 90s & Up
Entree Price: $20-25
Payment: Cash only

Review:

After dining at Sfoglia, I realized that it is possible to be picked up while eating dinner at a restaurant. I had no idea this sort of thing happened—get picked up at a bar, sure, but at your table? Rare, right? But yes, it happened the other night while I was having dinner at Sfoglia. It was a lot of fun actually. But let me back up a bit. I had dinner at Sfoglia with two incredibly interesting women in the meat business, interviewing them for a story I hope to write. They suggested we have dinner at Sfoglia, a place they have come to love. I had never heard of it, but hearing them rave—despite the 92nd and Lex location—I decided to give it a whirl. I cannot make this point clearly enough: Sfoglia is a gem of a restaurant, with honest food and that warm, genuine neighborhood hospitality that turns customers into family. I would consider a move Uptown for this restaurant. The vibe at Sfoglia is soft and sexy—tres trattoria chic. The modest room is wrapped in earthen clay walls and filled with long weathered farmhouse tables topped with oversized bowls of fat red onions, colanders of oversized spuds, and cast-iron pans of juicy lemons. The restaurant’s floor to ceiling windows are hung with willowy gauzy curtains, and the banquettes are tossed with gem-toned throw pillows. The room is low lit with antique rose crystal chandeliers. The place feels like a farmhouse in some dusty sunburned hillside village in Umbria. Sfoglia is owned by Ron and Colleen Suhanosky, a husband (chef) and wife (pastry chef) team who also own a restaurant in Nantucket of the same name. Their hallmark is simple food—Italian in style, substance, and sensibility. Their sous chef is Molly Smith, a young woman who worked with Katy Sparks at Quilty’s and Matt Weingarten at Porcupine. She was in charge of the kitchen the night I was there. She’s got the goods. The menu changes every few days according to what’s best at the markets. The night I was there we began with a great riff on the classic Caesar salad ($9)—this one made not of ribs of romaine, but of ribs of celery, julienned into thin crunchy strips, dressed lightly but assertively—lemon up front, anchovy on the bass. House-cured sardines, while way to salty, reminded me of a (most divine) peasant’s lunch. They are topped with hard-boiled eggs, fat fingerling potatoes, and diced smoky pancetta ($10). If they can take the salt down a notch, the dish will work. Fava beans ($10) arrive unceremoniously but perfectly. It’s a dish that says: You know what? Fava beans are pretty amazing on their own. There’s no need for more than a bit of olive oil, some sea salt, a squeeze of lemon and a shard of Pecorino, so why bother with anything more? Indeed. How refreshing. Pastas are also just plain old wonderful—they are truly al dente, firmer than most pastas in town. Capers are the high note in a glorious ragu of Apuglian lamb and tossed with chickpeas that coats pinky-finger sized ricotta cavatelli ($9/18). The pappardelle alla Bolognese ($10/20) tastes of hours and hours of simmering on the stove, an honest gravy for ruffled ribbons of beautiful house made pasta. But the star for me was a simple plate of spaghetti al limone ($8/16): long silky strands twisted up with loads of lemon and grated ricotta salata. It is like a warm bright splash of sunshine. Entrees take a similar minimalist but exceptional path. Filet of Sole ($22) is served in roll ups, each wrap topped with a sassy Alfonso tapenade. The only issue with the sole was that it was baked in a clay dish that was scorching hot, and it continued to cook the fish as it sat on the table, turning it from glossy and moist to a bit rubbery. No complaints on the chicken al mattone ($21) though, a gorgeous half a chicken, seared and roasted so its well-seasoned skin was crispy, and the meat beneath it so moist and tender it squirted under the weight of my fork’s prongs. Desserts were simple—the correct end to a fantastic meal: a plate of homemade cookies, and a scoop of chocolate mint gelato. And then he showed up. We were seated at a table close to the bathrooms, and as he walked passed us, I felt him give me a look. I thought he was looking at someone behind me, but I was seated against a wall, so I guessed he might have been checking me out. How fun (and rare). A few moments later, he walked out of the bathroom, and as he passed our table he looked right at me and smiled. I was now blushing. Did I know him? I didn’t think so. He looked like Chris O’Donnell—light brown hair, blue eyes, great smile: all in all, fairly hot. Hmmm. Nope, I didn’t know him, but I thought I probably wanted to. So, I smiled too. He stopped and said hello. “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” he asked and flashed that smile again. Okay, I was now effectively 15 years old all over again (but with better skin). “Yes, I think we’ve met before,” I said. (A bold-faced lie, but necessary at the time to continue conversation.) And so he stopped and chatted with all of us, mostly small talk about how much we loved the restaurant. He told us that he goes to the one in Nantucket and has been a fan of Sfoglia since it opened a few months ago. We shared the rest of our bottle of wine with him and the friend he was having dinner with. When we all left, he asked if I wanted to walk with him. Sure, why not? We did for a few blocks. Then he asked for my number, kissed me, and put me in a cab. No, he hasn’t called, but it was a great little moment, and a nice surprise—almost as nice as finding Sfoglia.

Review By: Andrea Strong


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