Thursday, November 12, 2009

Back to Beppe

Last year, before my firm's holiday party, the girls, our dates, and I had a prom-style quintuple-double-date dinner at Beppe, a cute Italian place in the Flatiron district. During that dinner, I consumed a salad (shocker!). And ever since my consumption of that salad, I have been thinking about it... and craving it. Well, since Beppe is seasonally-driven, the autumn salad left the menu and I felt I was out of luck. But lo! Once again it's fall, and so I checked the menu online, only daring to wish... and hope... and there it was! My salad! Well, Saturday evening, AV and I made our way there to slay my white whale.

Last time, our large group was seated in the tiny, quaint upstairs area. But this time, AV and I were given an expansive, four-person table in the main dining room, which is anchored by a large fireplace and several interesting decorative chandeliers.

Things happened incredibly efficiently at Beppe. Our orders were taken, and I barely had time to make a quick trip to the bathroom (delightfully warm due to baseboard heating) before bread was delivered. Two kinds this time: a light sage focaccia (mild but mercifully ungreasy, needed a bit of salt on the crust) and a plain white bread. The olive oil was flavorful and was poured with a flourish by the exuberant runner.

Basic bread

In a blink of an eye, our entrees were upon us, descending in capable hands down the staircase leading from the kitchen upstairs. AV had chosen the "Norcino," described as "'butcher's spaghetti' with crumbled pork, garlic, Chianti, rosemary, and tomato." It was a small portion, but with the requisite coating of fresh grated parmesan, AV was incredibly happy.

Strands 'n' shavings

And while AV enjoyed his pasta, I savored-- yes, savored-- my salad. It came on a clear plate, which was oddly distracting, but was just as filling and delicious as I had remembered. Anchored by roasted squash and littered with scraps of radicchio and a handful of pumpkin seeds, the salad's starring ingredient was the stracchino cheese, like a creamier, stretchier, more comforting mozzarella. Put all the ingredients together and you have one hell of a salad.

THE salad

And that was it. I will confidently say that I do love that salad, and I'd happily eat it every night if I could. I'd recommend you seek it out, and even if you're not a salad devotee, give Beppe a try if you like Italian. It's a great date place, good for groups, and just a welcoming, warm, four Offset Spatula port in this long storm we call winter.

45 E. 22nd Street, between Broadway and Park Avenue South

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