Briciola: Of Antipasti and Wine
Hi Everyone! This post is about one of our new go-to restaurants in Hell's Kitchen. It's called Briciola, a tiny eatery serving small dishes and Italian wines. This place has enough seating for about 25-30 people and can get pretty packed for dinner. This is one of those places that are perfect for small group catch up meals or for dates. The space is quaint. It doesn't get too loud even though it's a small restaurant. The seating is a bit crowded but more intimate, especially with the dimmed lighting and candles that decorate the walls of wine.
Address: 370 W 51 St., New York, NY 10019
Gamberi e Aglio e Olio: Shrimp Scampi, Garlic, Olive Oil
Bruschetta Funghi e Montasio: Mushroom Bruschetta with Montasio Cheese
Pappardelle Cinghiale: Slow Braised Wild Boar
Bucatini Amitriciana: Pork Cheek Sauce, Grilled Onions, Tomato
Burrata: Mozzarella, Tomato, and Prosciutto
Pecorino e Kale: Pecorino, Organic Kale, Lemon Vinaigrette, Almonds
So, during our visit, Steph and I went with Alex (Steph's bro) and Margaret (the fiancée). We started with a few appetizers and ended with a few pastas to fill us up. To begin, we got the Camembert and Soppressata, both of which happen to be some of my favorites. The platter also came with some olives, nuts, and honey. I need to say that honey and cheese go a long way. This golden nectar of the gods is the powerful pairing that gives the cheese fruity, floral, or herbal undertones.
Anyway, Camembert is the big cheese. It's a "bloomy" cheese, which means that it ripens from the exterior and slowly makes its way inwards. The rind is firm, while the inside is smooth and melty. You can expect the flavor to be nutty, creamy, and a bit earthy from the rind. I love eating this cheese with honey. Secondly, the soppressata is an Italian dry cured pork sausage. It's like the more refined, old school big brother of pepperoni. As you can see from the picture, it has more visible chunks of fat. The taste can range from being slightly sweet and meaty to spicy depending on the type of soppressata.
We also got the Gamberi e Aglio e Olio, which was Shrimp Scampi with Garlic, and Olive Oil. This was a crowd-pleaser. It's practically the same as Gambas Al Ajillo but Briciola added some tomatoes to the dish. By the end, we were scraping the leftover sauce with warm bread, which was continuously being replenished. No lie, we probably had 5-6 baskets of bread that night split among the four of us because who doesn't like bread? No. Who doesn't love bread? If it were up to me, bread would be the 6th guardian of the galaxy.
The Bruschetta Funghi e Montasio was also a formidable appetizer. It was a Mushroom Bruschetta topped with melted Montasio Cheese. Now, I don't love mushrooms but I really enjoyed this dish. The way that the cheese caressed the mushrooms was immaculate. Montasio is an Italian cow’s milk cheese with a nice creamy texture. Given that the bruschetta was just mushrooms, cheese, and bread, they were practically little pizza bites of goodness. I’ll definitely be ordering this at my future visits.
Lastly, we ended with the Pappardelle Cinghiale (Slow Braised Wild Boar - left) and the Bucatini Amitriciana (Pork Cheek Sauce, Grilled Onions, Tomato - right) pastas (as shown above). Both were delicious dishes that I would order again. The Bucatini had a refreshing tomato sauce with a rich, pork flavor. Bucatini is a type of pasta that looks kind of like spaghetti. The main difference is that the pasta has a hollow center! The hole was made, presumably, to hold sauce within the pasta. How convenient! The Pappardelle (pronounced "PAH-PER-DEL-EY") was an equally interesting pasta. It's a large, wide, and flat pasta, perfect for long slurps of golden carbs.