Home Cooking from the Italian Islands of Sicily and Sardinia – Review of Acqua

BY CLAIRE McCURDY

ACQUA
718 Amsterdam Avenue @95th Street
Upper West Side
212-222-2752 /acquanyc.com

The interior at Acqua

Image courtesy of acquanyc.com

An exterior of cerulean blue,  very appealing on an otherwise somewhat dreary block, “sails” hanging in swags from the ceilings, so that you are meant to feel you’re on a ship under full sail; undulating  walls at the entryway with teak and brass portholes; mellow sconce lights; wooden ceiling fan and walls of a warm cinnabar—it’s clear from the outset that Acqua ‘s décor is meant to evoke the sea and the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia.  It is very attractive and calming, setting the diner at rest.  As they say themselves, it’s a comfortable neighborhood setting.

Servers are warm and friendly, and just as attentive as you might want them to be. They are ready to deal with small groups, large groups, or parties.  We were two for lunch, but a large family group was having a riotous time of it  just a few feet away. There is a very full bar.

The restaurant has a huge red brick chimney oven in which they bake their own bread and pizzas. The air is fragrant.    The home-baked bread is wonderful—it s is difficult to refrain from devouring the equivalent of a loaf with rosemary olive oil, before the main menu arrives.   We ordered the Penne alla Siciliana, a smoky and delicious mixture of braised eggplant, tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella which melted in the mouth; and an amazingly voluminous chicken panini with spinach, tomatoes, and a spicy sauce which was so hearty that we had half of it wrapped for tomorrow’s lunch.  Thereby making the already reasonable prices even more so.

Local reviews echo our opinion—this place is a find!  We’ll be back for dinner.

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