It would seem New York doesn’t need more Italian restaurants. Whether gourmet havens, mom and pop alley spots or big chain joints, cuisine Italia is as identified with the five boroughs as easily as Rome or Tuscany.
Still, there’s a difference between need and want. Any diner who wants another great Italian meal in New York will find a welcoming table at Asellina and a surprisingly friendly and wholesome menu.
Nestled in along Park Avenue alongside the Gansevoort Hotel, Asellina is a warm, modern space that betrays very little of its cuisine’s identity. From the front door, Asellina could be a fusion restaurant or just a large metropolitan bar (which is included in the front of the restaurant complete with its own cocktail menu).
But, once presented with the menu, the diner encounters an extensive collection of Italian specialties, including pizza, pasta, charcuterie and vini dolci. As appetizer, this reporter chose the Polpette (beef meatballs, tomato sugo, fresh ricotta, rosemary polenta grits and basil). For the main, I dove into the hearty Tagliatelle Bolognese (beef and pork ragu, parmigiano reggiano and basil).
It was that heartiness — that bold wholesomeness of the preparation — that caught this diner off guard. Outwardly, Asellina could serve the haute cuisine of tiny portions on fancy plates assembled via recipes from around the world. Instead, the restaurant offers rich, textured comfort food made with great care and authenticity.
No, New York didn’t need another Italian restaurant. But, on my next trip through New York, I think I might need another helping from Asellina.