From the creators of the popular theater district Trattoria Dopo Teatro comes a modern Italian restaurant created and designed to suit its home—a gracious, contemporary townhouse on the Upper East Side—with a creative new Italian menu from the young and talented executive chef Patrizio D’Andrea.
Owner Emilio Barletta, an architect and restaurateur, also known for Zanzibar and Cascina, and partner Pino Manica, together with director of operations Gianni Onofri are energized by the new ideas, imagination, and excitement that chef Patrizio D’Andrea brings to this elegant and intimate space. For the dining room, they have selected soothing, warm neutrals with detailed crown moldings and crystal Venetian sconce. Through a partnership with gallery Artioli Findlay, the walls are adorned with carefully curated paintings and lithographs. (Guests will also be delighted by the outdoor space, enclosed and heated in winter, an open garden in warm weather; as well as live piano music and a private dining room downstairs).
Chef Patrizio D’Andrea, in turn, designed the menu to reflect the space and the owners’ vision. He traces his passion for cooking first to his mother’s farm kitchen in Italy. The family business was agro-tourism, catering to guests who were fed direct from the land; chickens, pigs, produce, all sourced just steps away. But he formalized his training with a degree from the highly respected Aurelio Saffi Culinary School, Firenze Italy, graduating with honors. After a stint as chef de partie at Excelsior in his hometown, D’Andrea spent a year each cooking in Spain and Switzerland, before signing on with Cipriani’s, a tour of duty that took him from Harry’s Bar in Venice as chef de cuisine, to Hong Kong, and then to New York to Cipriani’s Rainbow Room and Cipriani Downtown. Now at Dopo East, he combines the best of his experiences, creating a healthy, Italian menu that is locally inspired with produce from the Union Square market, and a selection of organically grown vegetables (frequently baby vegetables because they are more tender and have more flavor), hormone-free meats, and fresh seafood.
The difference is apparent on the plate from the first course, not only because everything is fresh and light, but also because of the way the food is presented. His caprese is prepared with peeled, organic tomatoes, basil sprouts, with fresh Buffalo mozzarella, that is kept warm to bring out the complex flavors and then re-shaped; piovra all griglia is an artistic presentation of tender grilled octopus, baby artichokes, cherry tomatoes, new potatoes, and a lemon-garlic emulsion. A beautiful selection of farm vegetables with roasted garlic and an infusion of basil and olive oil, verdure alla griglia, is always a bit different everyday, as is the chef’s crudo del giorno, inspired by the season and the market.
Primi include house made fresh pastas, whole wheat and gluten-free options, and a daily risotto. It’s hard to choose among them, but some favorites include gnocchi al sugo di agnello, homemade ricotta gnocchi with baby lamb ragout, tagliatelle paglia e fieno, with spinach and egg hand-mixed into the dough by the chef), and served with a black trumpet and chanterelle mushroom ragout that tastes rich, yet feels light; and the very simple, yet elegant spaghetti alla Checca, with fresh tomatoes, roasted garlic, basil, and shaved Parmigiano.
For the secondi, there’s poletto al forno, roasted Cornish hen with black mission figs, colorful bell peppers and Port wine reduction is sweet, savory, and inventive, and gamberoni alla primavera, jumbo head-on grilled shrimp, infused with the surprising flavor of smoked butter and served with perfectly diced vegetables.
Like the rest of the menu, dolci are light, fresh and hard to stop eating. Tiramisu is shot through with dark chocolate powder, just the right amount of bitter to offset the sweet and semifreddo contrasts the semi-frozen cream with the crunch of almonds.
Wine, of course, is a very important part of the dining experience at Dopo East. Under the direction of Gianni Onofri, the list is expected to grow to a selection of 600 bottles, predominantly Italian, but with a strong selection of wines from around the world. By the glass, Dopo East offers 6 whites including Prosecco Abati Regali and Domodimonti Deja V Passerina and 9 reds including a Super Tuscan Integolo and Cicarello’s Nero D’Avola. Stay tuned for more information about a wine bar to come and special wine dinners.