In a very dodgy attempt to get ahead of the curve on my 12 reviews in 12 months pledge I have taken to posting reviews that appeared on the origianl iteration of Traveler Bill.com. To that end I am posting my review of Da Ciro from November of ’05. While cursing my sloth, remember that I am walking in the American Heart Association’s 2009 Wall Street Heart Walk. If you want to support this fine cause by sponsoring Bill you can do click on the link to the left which will take you to the American Heart Associations secure donation site.
November 20,2005 – Da Ciro Ristorante – 229 Lexington Ave (212) 532-1636
All over this town there are little storefront restaurants that come and go. Some are barely noticed as the bustling hordes of Metropolis pass by daily. So it’s a delight to come across one of these establishments that admirably acquits itself .
I came across Da Ciro Ristorante walking around the city this past Saturday. My first choice was not open so I headed South on Lexington, briefly considering a fancy city-fied burger joint called Rare. It was the plasma TV on the wall that sealed Rare’s fate and I continued Southward to Da Ciro.
The ambiance is relatively stark. The walls have the obligatory black and white photographs of the Old Country and what I would describe as Tuscan-y sconces on the wall. I arranged to have a perfect vantage point to observe the wood fire oven at the end of the bar.
My server Carlo seemed to struggle with his second, maybe third, language of English (the entire staff sounded Italian) nevertheless he was attentive and capable with the possible exception of his ham handed method of dispensing a bottle of beer. The restaurant has a decent wine list, but I found no indication that they served it by the glass. As I has a yen for a beer anyhoo, I asked Carlo what was on tap. Which was, unfortunately, nothing. While the majority of the beers in bottles were the usual domestic brews they also stocked an Italian beer, Peroni.
Wanting to see the wood oven in action I ordered the Tegamino di Vitello. Meatballs with tomato sauce baked in the oven. For an entrée, while their menu had plenty of pasta, panini and customary entrées, I opted to try something off their Le Pizze menu, specifically the Pizza Soppressata: fresh mozzerella, tomato, spicy salami, sliced fresh mushroom and prosciutto.
Now one of the few complaints I have is that I had to wait too long for the bread. I was about to say something to Carlo when the busboy brought a basket to my table with a small plate of olive oil for dipping. Fortunately, it was really good bread. The basket included generous cube shaped slice of tomato foccacia that was especially tasty and part of a crusty Italian bread. The loaf came to the table warm and tasting fresh baked. It took all my strength not to scarf it all down waiting for my appetizer.
The meatballs came in a small casserole with two pieces of toast and a warning of extreme heat which I knew was coming having espied it’s removal from the oven mere moments before. The chunky tomato sauce was tasty and not overly acidic. I sit at my computer hours later and without even the slightest hint of reflux that succeeds so many substandard sauces. The four meatballs in the appetizer were good, and matched nicely with the sauce.
As I sat at my table waiting for my pizza, observing those around me, I thought of a line from an old commercial…”Eat where the truckers eat.” This trite truism seemed particularly apt because of the five tables that had patrons, including mine, three of them had Italians…FROM ITALY!
The pizza came, again, straight from the oven. It was far thinner than I expected, delightfully so. As I lit into my second slice I noticed that the couple in front of me were staring at my pie. He was one of the Italians and I really didn’t catch what he said, but he was obviously impressed with the restaurant’s pizza construction. He knew of what he spoke as the pizza was as tasty as it looked.
Of course I ordered from the dessert menu. I eschewed the Tiramisu for a dish called Schiaccaitina di Nutella, also ordering a cappuccino. As I waited I was entertained by the Eurotrash at the next table who was trying to convince his girlfriend’s father to invest a line of “Natural Facelift” products manufactured in Mexico out of such ingredients as Cacao and Ginseng. Luckily he seemed to be awarding his daughter’s beau a Heisman Trophy. Unluckily, his daughter is dating this European version of a Boiler Room shill.
The dessert was a pizza shell filled with Nutella and baked in the oven. Words fail me when I try to describe this dish it was so very good. Complimenting this treat was the expertly prepared coffee.
I have no problem recommending this restaurant. The staff was great as was the food. I never felt rushed but was welcomed warmly. I walked in off the street and was seated, but that was at 2:30 in the afternoon. I would recommend calling for reservations.
Da Ciro is awarded a three Traggi rating.
Da Ciro is still open as of the republishing date, though it is possible there won’t be a table of Italians.