This past Saturday night, AC was in town from India, so the five of us girls finally reconvened for a catch-up dinner. Realizing I had't been to Aroma, one of my favorite wine bar/restaurants, in a while, I booked us a 7:30 reservation there.
We were squeezed into the large table by the door, which had been spruced up since the last time I'd been with back and butt pads on the bench. Well played. The ladies chose a bottle of red wine (I abstained) and we snacked on the delicious chewy bread and succulent olives while we waited for the appetizers.
Since my salad was coming with the entrees, the other ladies dove in to the two apps. One was a baby octopus salad; the other, meatballs stuffed with cheese. Both were enjoyed heartily, so I was told.
And on to the entrees. KS got the gnocchi with rock shrimp, English peas, fava bean jus, and pancetta. She noted that the gnocchi were lighter than gnocchi usually are-- nice!
SY got one of the specials, an order of polenta with sausage. It looked creamy and warm, and she enjoyed it.
SL and AC shared two pastas: one special pasta & ragu, which they raved about, and one orecchiette with fennel, sausage, pesto, broccoli rabe, and pecorino. Each of the other ladies took a bite of the orecchiette and came to a consensus that the dish was just weird, and not in a good way. When it came time to clear, the manager inquired about the nearly-untouched dish, and when SL and AC reluctantly revealed that it wasn't their favorite, she quickly and graciously offered to remove it from the bill (which she did).
My choice was delicious: an arugula salad in a light vinaigrette with walnuts, grana padano, and large thin slices of green apple. It was filling and tasty and full of goodness, especially with lots of walnuts, which I appreciated.
On to the desserts! AC, SL, and KS decided to split the molten chocolate cake. SY went for the affogato (with whipped cream on the side so I could eat it....). I chose the gelato and sorbet sampler, which involved a peach and melon sorbet, a fig & something gelato, and a mascarpone & something gelato. My memory is a bit foggy... but it was all quite good. They also brought us a complimentary gianduja panna cotta for the table, which we devoured eagerly.
Overall, it was a delightful night, filled with great company and good food and wine. I have a soft spot for Aroma, which is equally great for a date or a girls' night. Though not everything was a hit this time around, the management's responses to any missteps more than made up for any problems. Aroma keeps both its four Offset Spatula designation and my unequivocal recommendation.
36 East 4th Street (Between Bowery and Lafayette)