To say Sapori d’Ischia is in the middle-of-nowhere is an understatement. Off the 61st Street subway station, one must walk several blocks north and several blocks east to find this restaurant. Is it worth the walk? Sure, the food’s good, but the service could be better.
Last time we went to Sapori d’Ischia, we had a Groupon. This time, we also had a Groupon. I had made a reservation for our table earlier in the day. When we arrived, the waiter referred to us as “regolare” but the owner (I think) offered us a non-regolare table fit for four. I put the Groupon on the booth next to me, buried next to my purse.
“Is that a coupon of some kind that you have there?” he asked, peering into my business.
“Oh, yes, it is,” handing him the Groupon.
He looked me dead in the eye. “You have to present this when you come in, before you are seated,” he informed me.
“Okay, we’ll do that next time,” I said, stunned by his reprimand.
Does the Groupon negate the reservation? I wondered.
Once the Groupon inquisition was put to rest, we ordered our food and had a fine time, though the waiter was brusque, at best, for the remainder of the evening.
For an appetizer, we got the Budino al Carciofi: pureed artichoke meat with roasted red peppers and chopped bits of pancetta. It was delicious. The green, very-artichoke flavor nicely complemented the texture of the roasted red peppers.
On the table, the waiter put bread and olive oil with olives. The olive oil was thick and flavorful. The bread was crusty on the outside and delicate on the inside–exactly as it should be.
For entrees, we ordered the Fettuccine al’Antonio and the Nonna Maria Gnocchi. Sapori d’Ischia is known for the fettuccine dish: a bowl full of noodles tossed in a light white sauce that are then smothered in a parmigiano-reggiano wheel. The result is creamy, cheesy, and divine. The gnocchi, small in portion, were accompanied by lobster and truffles. The cream base made the dish rich, but there could have been a few more gnocchi to absorb the sauce.
Dessert was extremely delicious, as well. We ordered the banana caramelized Nutella bruschetta. My dining partner and I envisioned bread as the base of this dish, but we were both wrong. A whole banana lay on a smudge of Nutella with caramelized sugar and chocolate sauce on top, paired with a dollop of vanilla gelato. Mmm.
During the day, Sapori d’Ischia is a wholesale market, purveying fine Italian goods. Once, we bought bread, cheese, and olive oil–all three delighted our senses.
55-15 37th Avenue (near 56th Street)
Take the 7 to 61st Street, then walk.