I live about two blocks away from ‘inoteca, so I used to go quite often two years ago. But then I got distracted by all the shiny new restaurants opening up in NY, and I forgot about it. A shame, really, because the food at ‘inoteca is just delicious and perfect with a nice glass of wine (or in my case, a bottle). Fortunately, though, in the last two weeks, I got reacquainted with my old friend, and I’m glad I did.
The first time back, I met Ellie for a few glasses of wine at ‘inoteca. We happened to be standing outside of ‘inoteca when we were deciding where to go, and since she wanted to drink wine rather than beer, we ended up at ‘inoteca. The wine list, which is actually a thick book that lists a total of six hundred different wines, is bit daunting; so I always do the safest thing and ask the waiter what he recommends. I usually like a medium body red wine with fruit undertones, and Ellie prefers a more drier wine, so we ended up ordering the 2004 Concarosso, Poderi Foglia ($45) which was a combination of both. It started off fruity and ended on a dry tannin note. We loved it, especially Ellie who took the cork home so she could remember the name of the wine. This especially came in handy when I texted her at one in the morning to ask her if she remembered the name of the wine. Um, yeah, I have a problem, but luckily my friends seem to understand or at least tolerate my crazy behavior.
Along with the wine we had the Suppli ($12), which is fried risotto balls filled with sweet butternut squash, salty marzolina cheese, and sliced earthy black truffles. This dish is absolutely heavenly. Risotto, in general, is mouth-watering as it is, but fried and filled with butternut squash and black truffles, it is absolutely perfect. I wish I had a plate of these right now by my laptop.
We also shared the Antipasti ($13). The picture above is from a brunch a while back, but the plate doesn’t seem to have changed that much. There was a vegetable frittata, pickled cauliflower and fennel, olives, charred endive, bread sticks, pecorino, and three slices of soppressata. The only thing different was the absence of the the pickled pearl onions, which I was never a fan of, so I was glad not to see them. This is a good plate to pick at throughout the night with a bottle of wine. Of course I would have preferred less pickled vegetables and more meat and cheese, but for $13, it’s understandable.
The next day, I told David we had to go back so he could try the Suppli. Naturally I was only thinking of him. So a few days later, we ended going to ‘inoteca for brunch. I noticed that day the Suppli was less hot, and thus the cheese inside was less melty from a few nights ago. Regardless, I still enjoyed it, but I just wished it was hotter. David, who likes food on the cooler side like most people I notice (which I don’t understand), thought it was at the perfect temperature.
The restaurant’s signature dish, however, is the scrumptious Truffle Egg Toast, which is a slice of Pullman bread with a softly cooked egg in the middle, covered in fontina cheese, and drizzled with truffle oil. Roasted and sliced asparagus are served alongside the dish. You can get the toast with bottarga ($11) or without ($9). This time I had it with the bottarga, which made it taste more savory. The bottarga tasted similar to myungnanjut (명란젓), the pollack roe found in Korean cuisine, but more cured and slightly more fishy. However, it’s the truffle oil married with the still runny egg that really makes this dish. People complain truffle oil is overused now, and is the new bourgeois ketchup, but when it is used well, it’s good, and there’s no denying it. Here it works beautifully. I also like the addition of the asparagus which is also complemented by the truffle oil.
The Truffle Egg Toast is just as good though without the bottarga. Here is a picture from another day. I do notice the softness of the bread varies at ‘inoteca. Sometimes the bread can be hard as a rock, and other times it’s toasty yet still chewy. I like it somewhere in the middle.
Also good and more “breakfasty” is the Warm Farro & Roasted Fruits ($8). This is a more grown-up and probably more healthy version of warm cereal. It’s creamy enough, without being heavy, and strangely filling for a small bowl.
David always orders Basil Pesto & Egg Panino ($9) when we go for brunch, and I understand why. Eggs and pesto just belong together. I must also say the eggs taste delicious at ‘inoteca. I’m not sure why, but they always taste richer and seem to have a higher ratio of yolk to white. Combined with the pesto, the Basil Pesto & Egg Panino is very satisfying. In fact, it was so much so, David felt full after eating just half of the panino, and we took the other half to go. Unfortunately for David though, he left me at home with his leftover sandwich while he went to the bookstore, and mysteriously found it missing when he got back home. All I have to say is: you snooze, you lose.
And of course, you can’t go to ‘inoteca without having some wine. I had a lovely glass of the 2005 Torre Quarto Bottacia Puglia ($10) that day, recommended by our very serious yet knowledgeable waiter. It had a medium body and less tannins than the Concarosso from a few nights before. It was exactly what I wanted.
I can’t wait to go back to ‘inoteca. Good wine and tasty little bites, who wouldn’t love it?
98 Rivington Street (@ Ludlow)
NY, NY 10002