Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sweet endings at Mia Dona

On Sunday evening, I ventured with WH to Mia Dona in Midtown East. The latest creation of Michael Psilakis and Donataella Arpaia, Mia Dona had gotten good reviews, so I was eager to check it out.

We were seated in the bar area, which had an open, fresh feel. Farther back into the restaurant were two dining rooms, both of which were louder and a bit more homey. The whole restaurant, including the individual bathroom closets, felt like being in somebody's home. Inviting.

When I joined WH at our table, there was already a basket of bread on the table. The bread included bits of crusty white bread along with hunks of their semi-famous focaccia. The focaccia was good-- the tomato-y crust especially-- although its deliciousness was definitely lessened for me by the fennel seeds dotting the top. NOT cool on foccacia. The bread was also accompanied by olive oil and a whole head of roasted garlic, which was a very nice touch. I dug right into that roasted garlic, and I think I've just about now (several days later) purged the scent of garlic from my skin, hair, and pores.

That garlic was LETHAL

After placing our order, we chatted and ate some bread until a set of dishes landed on our table. Unfortunately, they weren't our dishes-- an issue that was quickly rectified as our cheerful waitress artfully instructed the runner that this wasn't, indeed, table 13. Soon after, though, our actual plates did arrive.

WH ordered the salmon, which came with some green beans and a few clams in a tomato-based sauce. I tried the beans, which were very good, and the sauce added a lot to the dish. WH approved of the salmon as well.

The portion of salmon was substantial as well

My dish was the simple salad. It came as tiny pieces of various veggies, including celery, fennel, radishes, and tiny tomatoes, in a light dressing. Delicate diamond-cut stacks of sliced provolone cheese also dotted the dish. The salad was certainly well-prepared, but the problem was about 95% of it was vegetables that I don't like (specifically celery, fennel, and radishes). If you like those veggies, you'd probably like this salad. Oh well.

Well done, just...not good

With one hit and one miss, it was on to desserts. There were several options on the VERY reasonably-priced dessert menu that appealed to me; after much agonizing and some consultation with the waitress, we placed our order.

WH went with the chocolate semifreddo with homemade nutella. It was a slightly coffee-tinged chocolate masterpiece drizzled with an almond-based nutella concoction and sprinkled with toasted almonds. Very, very chocolatey and very delicious. As we shooed away the runner attempting to take the plate with a few almonds still remaining, we contemplated whether it was socially acceptable to lick the plate clean. Probably not.

Nutella heaven--but almonds!

My own selection was the maple panna cotta. This came beautifully plated with a starburst of maple surrounding the very jiggly panna cotta. The texture of the panna cotta was very custardy and almost meltaway-- it slipped elusively right through the tines of a fork. With the help of a spoon, though, I savored the light, sweet, and creamy flavor, expertly complemented by the scoop of maple walnut ice cream. Oh yes.

A halo of deliciousness

Both plates clean, we paid the very reasonable bill and headed off into the night. While my appetizer wasn't a huge hit, that's mainly because it ended up being the wrong veggies for me-- and I take that as an "it's not you, it's me" issue. Everything was well-prepared and well done. The desserts, especially, were standouts, especially because they were so inexpensive (the panna cotta was only $6! That's just a dollar more than a dessert from the Dessert Truck). The only real issue I had with the place, and this is an issue I have with a lot of restaurants (including Zoe), is that the runners seemed desperate to grab our plates and glassware before we were finished. One even swooped in, swirled WH's wine glass (actually grabbed the stem and swirled it), saw that there were a few sips left, and disappeared. Um, that's a bit intrusive. But that aside, the rest of the service was friendly and competent, making for a very pleasant meal. I'd love to return to Mia Dona and try a few more dishes... and a few more desserts. I award this friendly and relaxing restaurant four Offset Spatulas.

Mia Dona
206 E. 58th Street, at 3rd Ave

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