Great Food, So-So Wine Choices (By Me) at Colicchio & Sons

We had been trying to get to Colicchio & Sons since last summer, but didn’t get our chance until this week, on Valentine’s Day, of all days.  We – along with friends who had recently adopted a greyhound – were in town for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and headed out to Colicchio’s for a pre-dog show celebratory dinner.

Our first view of the restaurant was a dramatic one – a sleek and modern glass construction, on the corner of 10th Avenue and 15th Street.  There looked to be a several stories tall wine cellar, a fire, open kitchen and terrific lighting in the high-ceiling space.

Dining room at Colicchio & Sons

We ruled out the tasting menu – which looked very tempting – but only after some discussion.  Instead, we opted for four different starters and four different entrees, so we had a good sampling of the menu.  No one was disappointed.

I started with risotto with garlic, razor clams and parsley.  G reminded me that Tom Colicchio has savaged a contestant on Top Chef All-Stars for the risotto and wanted to know if Colicchio’s lived up to his description of all that risotto should be.  In a word, yes.  Wonderful texture – chewy, with some bite, but creamy.  Subtle bits of thinly sliced garlic (previously roasted?), tads of razor clams, and a fresh parsley flavor that also tinted the dish green.  Flavors integrated into the dish, not put on top of it.

Risotto with razor clams, garlic and parsley

grilled octopus appetizer

My entree of spice-roasted duck was equally delicious.  I generally don’t like duck, actively avoiding it.  However, I had a terrific duck at Marcel’s as part of the tasting menu a few years back and since then, I have been more open to trying the duck.  This was terrific.  Not sweet at all, subtle flavors, perfectly cooked – meaning barely.  The best part though, was something that at first glance looked to be a piece of roasted eggplant (yuck), but was in fact a piece of roasted until it was falling off my fork duck topped with a carmelized skin.  Melt in your mouth delicious.

Spice-roasted duck, rare

So now, the only disappointment.  The wine.  And it wasn’t the restaurant’s fault.  I think part of it was trying to pick something for four people – always tough to take into consideration everyone’s tastes and selections.  Also, I wasn’t sure of our friends E&I’s preferences for wine – extra pressure!!!  My first inclination was a pinot noir for the first course and a cabernet sauvignon for the second.

After talking to the wine expert, we decided to go white on the first course.  We talked around several white Burgundies – not as flinty as a Chablis (okay, sounds good), more full-bodied than a Meursault (great!).  What we got was … not what I expected.  I took one sip – very citrusy.  In fact, I can’t quite think of what else it tasted of, except that it was so unexpected. I asked G to take a sip.

What I wanted to do was send it back.  However, the wine hadn’t gone bad.  It just was “bad” to me.  To be fair, it was better with food and once it opened up, it was fine.

So when it came time for me to taste the red, described as a Barbera meets Chateauneuf du Pape, I was apprehensive.  Turns out that was a much better choice – and it went very nicely with my duck.

So that left only dessert as the perfect finish to a wonderful dinner – carmelized red velvet cake to celebrate Valentine’s Day, of course.

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