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Editor's Note: From time to time, our critics do get "out of the house" and travel. When they experience something notable--from the well-known to the well-hidden--we'll let you know about it here. Recently. while in NYC, Joe and Ann Pollack stopped in at Colicchio & Sons.
Folks who follow food in print and on television know Tom Colicchio's name and face; he now has multiple restaurants in multiple cities, and is a permanent judge on Bravo's "Top Chef” series. Neither of these, however, is as fine a recommendation as the fact that he was a partner with Danny Meyer and a chef at Gramercy Tavern, though he's no longer affiliated. Colicchio & Sons, in Manhattan's Meatpacking District is now his flagship. A beautiful re-do of the old National Biscuit Company building, it houses a dining room and a tap room/bar, each with its own menu. Unusual for a New York restaurant, there's also a reasonable space between tables.
We opted for the Tap Room, because the menu appealed more, but it's also less expensive. Many places are doing something like this, and with Manhattan's restaurant prices, it's a good idea. It was also a good idea because we were part of a group of six, and our gabbling would better fit the more casual area. By chance, we ended up with more or less a seafood dinner, simply because we all succumbed to the lure of the deep. Six Wellfleet oysters, of course, briny and cold, and then a flatbread pizza topped with taleggio cheese and bits of prosciutto ham, all crisp and chewy and salty.
One of their signature dishes is the bone marrow with anchovies (above left). Two long halves of roasted beef bone arrive with a few anchovies draped over them, the sharp anchovy a delicious balance to the deep richness of the bone marrow, which is dug out and spread on grilled bread. A huge serving, easily enough to share, or to serve as a main course. But if it's a main course, we might miss things like the skate, tender white fish in brown butter with capers and some roasted cauliflower. For something never seen in St. Louis restaurants, there's blowfish (above right), looking like huge butterflied shrimp in a light, crisp breading, its flesh sweet and tender. (Understand that some blowfish species are poisonous, but more are not, and we felt confident in a restaurant with Colicchio's stellar reputation.) A more cautious eater at the far end of the table opted for striped bass and smiled widely with each bite.
The main-course portions allow one to save room for dessert, at least a bite or two. Colicchio's pastry chef, Stephen Colucci, turns out the consistently fabulous ice cream that is a highlight of the kitchen are known for, but the star turn of our desserts was gingerbread bread pudding with a toffee sauce and a rummy, nutmeggy eggnog ice cream. Meant to serve two, it arrived on a rectangular cast-iron dish with squares of the bread pudding stacked up like building blocks and resting in a bubbling pool of the sauce.Service was excellent, not surprising when you think about Colicchio's partnership with Meyer, whose standards are consistently the highest in the city. Attentive but not hovering, patient with a slow decision, and knowledgeable about a wine list with considerable depth and a large and interesting by-the-glass selection.
Currently, the Tap Room is serving its entire menu, save desserts, for $35 for a two-course prix fixe, especially notable in a high-end house. A first-rate meal at a bargain price.
Coliccho & Sons
85 Tenth Ave
New York City
by Joe and Ann Pollack