BY BECKA WOOLF
Walk into dell’anima on a Monday night and you will swear it’s a weekend, or at least a celebration. And what a celebration it is. Chic crowds at the bar drinking shimmering reds, hungry hopefuls waiting for tables outside with fingers crossed, a group of vibrant women at a banquette near the open kitchen having ladies’ night out.
Dell’anima, which means “of the soul” in Italian, is exactly that – Italian food for the soul. Opened in 2007 by Gabriel Thompson, who has worked with culinary heavy-hitters such as Mario Batali, Eric Ripert and Joe Bastianich, and Joe Campanale, former Babbo sommelier, this West Village foodie hangout has an intimate, yet lively feel, and features traditional, updated Italian classics, and a selection of over 150 wines.
Start with the bruschette, one of each (they offer 5 different spreads, ranging from creamy ricotta and honey to rapini pesto, perfectly flecked with walnuts and pecorino), served with warm, crusty bread. The salads are memorable as well, especially the endive, dressed with a simple anchovy citrus vinaigrette, and the charred octopus with rice beans and chorizo.
Let’s talk about the pastas. The beautiful, homemade daily, melt-in-your-mouth pastas. Dell’anima makes an exquisite Bolognese, with ribbons of tagliatelle pasta and fresh Parmigiano Reggiano, and arguably the best Carbonara I have had anywhere, with deliciously salty speck and a sunny orb of egg yolk in the center, dying to be broken. Stick to your ribs good. The menu also features well executed proteins such as orata, hanger steak and pollo al diavolo. And of course, don’t forget to order the Anston mills polenta and their sweet take on brussels sprouts with pumpkin seeds and cherries.
Most entrees fall within the $15-$25 range, but for those looking to save, the “Meatness Monday” prix fixe menu is a fantastic deal – 3 courses for $40. Not too bad if you ask me!
Don’t come here expecting heaping bowls of pasta and enormous, gluttonous portions, that’s not the point. The food is seasonal, traditional, hearty and inspired. You will leave dell’anima with that “I just went to an amazing restaurant” feeling, already planning your next visit. Maybe next time you be lucky enough to be among the chosen 6 who get to dine at the open kitchen’s counter, watching the magic happen. And yes, I used the “M” word.