So there we were. After a four hour ride from D.C., we had finally arrived in Manhattan. The excitement filled the air as we off loaded our stuff from the MegaBus and began to take a bite of the Big Apple. And I use the term “bite” figuratively and literally. As I am sure many of you may know, NYC offers some of the best places to dine at, serving some of the finest cuisine you can get in the great ol’ U.S. of A. Well, I don’t know if any of you have noticed or not, but I LOVE food. I am a sucker for delicious and unique dishes that leave a long-lasting impression on me. So I was prepared to take full advantage of all the great food that NYC had to offer during our stay. With that said, here’s what we ate during our mini-vacay.
Lunch – Bettola
After arriving at our hotel and being without food for the last few hours of our trip, we needed something to eat. Since we were staying at Park79 on the Upper West side of Manhattan, we didn’t feel like taking the train all the way back down to Time Square. So we searched for places to eat near the hotel and after walking for a few minutes we walked past a very warm, cozy looking Italian restaurant named Bettola. We briefly looked over the menu and were instantly sold. The brick and stone walls combined with the amazing scent of homemade Italian food, the occasional sound of wine glasses clinking and the look and feel of a wood burning oven added to the romantic, earthy ambiance. The pretty Italian server we had, who, unlike myself, pronounced every word on the menu perfectly added to its authenticity. Her courteous attitude combined with the hospitality and polite persona of the bussers and other servers made the evening feel special and reminded me of those family owned businesses who actually value their food and their customers. Actually, the only thing better than the customer service was the food.
For a starter, or as they say in Italian, the “Antipasti,” we ordered the “Calamari Alla Griglia.” It was grilled calamari! Yes, you read me correctly, Grilled Calamari over mixed greens and tomatoes and it was De-Lic-Ious! I had never tasted calamari prepared in any other way than pan-fried or deep-fried until this point, so it was definitely a pleasant surprise to taste it grilled. The greens and tomatoes blended well with the taste of the calamari and it was seasoned perfectly. As an entree, I ordered the “Braciola Di Pollo” which was stuffed baked chicken with spinach, fontina and mushrooms with aged Marsala sauce and pureed potatoes. This dish was PHENOMENAL! The combination of the semi-sweet and salty from the Marsala sauce with the hint of salty from the spinach, the cheesy fontina with that great texture from the pureed potatoes and baked chicken made me want to savor each and every delectable bite. This was not your momma’s spinach stuffed chicken meal. This was heaven on a plate and ecstasy in food form.
My fiance ordered the “Salmone Al Forno” which was their oven roasted salmon filet with vegetables and roasted potatoes. After we sampled from each others’ plates we knew we made the right choice in dining at Bettola. The salmon was moist and flavorful and went perfectly with the vegetables and potatoes. And just as we thought the meal couldn’t get any better, we ordered their “Apple crisp with vanilla gelato” for dessert and simultaneously gave sighs of satisfaction as the warmth and sweetness of the apple crisp collided with the cold, sugary, creaminess of the vanilla gelato. Needless to say, we left the restaurant pleased, making our server the benefactor of our wonderful dining experience. So, as a word of advice: If you are ever in the Upper West Side of NYC and looking for a place that offers great food and a great atmosphere, this is what quality looks and tastes like.
Official Website of Bettola: Bettola
My NYC Spring Break To Be Continued in Part 2.2: The Manhattan Diner Experience