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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Family Dinner

Since Amy is brand new to NYC, we figured now would be a great time to institute family dinner.  On Friday night, we got all the cousins together for some Italian in the West Village at Piccolo Angolo.  The main reason we picked that restaurant is because it was only steps away from a going away party we were planning to attend later that night.  On Friday afternoon, the party was cancelled, but we decided to keep our reservation after hearing heavy praise for this old school spot.

If you're looking for high quality, intimate, red-sauce Italian, this should be number one on your list.  Everything that came out of the kitchen was wonderful, the portions were ample, and the staff treated us like we were family, which was nice since family was the theme of the evening.  Speaking of family, we thought it would be cute to eat family style.  The restaurant will put together a massive family style dinner, but it sounded like it would have been more food than we could handle at a price we didn't need to pay ($78/person).  It didn't really matter that we didn't get the official family style meal because this type of food lends itself to sharing on its own.  I suggest you do what we did: order a bunch of apps to share and then share around the entrees, saving yourself $25.

For appetizers, we got prosciutto and melon with cheese, stuffed mushrooms, buffalo mozzarella, and the meatballs.  If you read this and go to Piccolo Angolo without ordering the mozzarella and meatballs, I haven't done my job.  They were outstanding.  The mozzarella may have looked simple enough but never have I had such soft and flavorful homemade cheese.  I'm pretty sure they unwrapped it from the cheesecloth moments before bringing it to the table.  It was spongy instead of solid, flavorful enough on its own, but soaked up the oil and balsamic that those flavors became a part of the cheese instead of a dressing.  The meatballs were literally the size of softballs and sitting in a pool of some amazing marinara.  I would never be able to cook anything that size without it drying out.  There is some serious magic going on in that kitchen that kept these meatballs so succulent.

There were all sorts of different entrees going on at our table.  There was a lasagna, a veal parmesan, mussels, gnocci, puttanesca, and my own lobster canneloni.  I tried the puttanesca and the gnocci and thought they were great.  Normal dishes that were just made better there.  I was originally going to order a different canneloni, one filled with meat and spinach, but the waitress told me how much she liked the lobster, so I was swayed.  I didn't think there would be such large chunks of lobster, but I found that both tubes of canneloni were entirely filled with lobster meat, no fillers.  For any of the pastas, you can choose your sauce (even if the menu says it comes with a specific one) so I went with my favorite, vodka sauce.

Piccolo Angolo may be a little more expensive than your neighborhood Italian place, but this place is what the others are trying to be.  My advice: don't go for anything that sounds too fancy because it's the ordinary that they make extraordinary here, especially when it comes to the meatballs and the mozzarella.


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