December 13, 2019, 8:36

Rezdôra Brings Northern Italy to New York City

Rezdôra Brings Northern Italy to New York City

At Rezdôra, a new northern-Italian restaurant in the Flatiron district, some dishes have a reputation that precedes them. On a recent Tuesday evening, a woman thrust her phone in a host’s face and asked if she could order a dessert she’d seen in a Grub Street guide: La Dolcezza d’Estate, a visually arresting heap of fresh strawberries, strawberry sorbet, meringue, and milk mousse. It’s not Rezdôra’s only dish with a lyrical name (it means “the sweetness of summer”) or its own social-media presence. Unfortunately, the host explained, the woman would need a reservation to experience it IRL, and they were booking a month out.

Rezdôra’s chef, Stefano Secchi, grew up cooking at his parents’ Italian chophouse, in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas. (His father has said that he chose Dallas because the weather reminded him of his native Sardinia.) Secchi later worked in Modena, at Osteria Francescana and Hosteria Giusti, two of the most beloved restaurants in the world. Rezdôra, his début as head chef, pays homage to this training by showcasing the cuisine of Emilia-Romagna, a region known for its wealth, its legacy of anti-Fascism, and its cheese, cured meats, and balsamic vinegar.

Though all the handmade pastas are worth sampling, the stuffed versions—such as the uovo raviolo, pictured in progress—have ­particular flair.

Photograph by Krista Schlueter for The New Yorker

Pasta, ma certo, will be the main attraction for many diners, with good reason. Though all are worth sampling, the stuffed versions have particular flair. The most memorably named, Grandma Walking Through Forest in Emilia (rezdôra means “grandmother” in Modenese dialect), pairs bright-green leek-filled cappelletti (“little hats”) with an earthy mushroom purée. The anolini—large, flat sunbursts—are stuffed with beef, pork, and salumi, and covered in a glossy Parmigiano cream. The Aperitivo in Reggio, tortelli that resemble striped green boats, contains salty prosciutto and bitter chard.

The highlight among the secondi is the coniglio e animelle, rabbit three ways: tender legs, sausage, and sweetbreads. The braise sauce is sweetened with mostarda, made with apricot, pear, orange, and mustard.

Photograph by Krista Schlueter for The New Yorker

But to order only pasta—for example, the five-course tasting menu—would be to miss the secondi, which include a beautiful veal cheek in gremolata and a charred sirloin with herb salad. (One diner remarked that she hadn’t eaten this much parsley since Passover.) The highlight is the coniglio e animelle, rabbit three ways: tender legs, sausage, and sweetbreads, topped with giant capers, crunchy snap peas, and a braise sauce sweetened with mostarda, made with apricot, pear, orange, and mustard. If you’re lucky, you might also catch a special of ground-rabbit ragù with wide, wavy reginelle noodles.

The menu is admirably flexible, changing to feature ingredients at their seasonal peak. Clockwise from left: coniglio e animelle; Aperitivo in Reggio, or tortelli with prosciutto; anolini with beef, pork, and salumi; reginelle with ground-rabbit ragù; Grandma Walking Through Forest in Emilia, or cappelletti with mushrooms and leeks; uovo raviolo with black truffles; and gnocco fritto with prosciutto, mortadella, and finocchiona.

Photograph by Krista Schlueter for The New Yorker

The menu is admirably flexible, changing to feature ingredients at their seasonal peak. Mozzarella came with anchovies on one visit and with a delicate fried squash blossom the next; stracciatella was paired first with white asparagus, then with plump dark cherries. The cipollini onions—roasted in so much balsamic vinegar that they were barely edible—were a rare misstep among the many delicious vegetables. But friggione, a simple dish of tomatoes and sweet onions, was just right with fett’unta, grilled toast smothered with olive oil and sea salt. And gnocco fritto—airy pillows of fried dough topped with prosciutto, mortadella, and finocchiona, a fennel salami—is always in season.

The housemade gelato, in a generous portion, with an oversized waffle cookie thrown down like a gauntlet, is the perfect farewell.

Photograph by Krista Schlueter for The New Yorker

Even with a reservation, you may end up waiting outside for a table to free up. But, once you’re seated, the servers are warm and touchingly enthusiastic. “For me, this is a really special moment,” a waiter confessed as he cut open the uovo raviolo, set beneath a thick veil of black truffles, to reveal an ooze of corn purée. From the brick-lined dining room, the kitchen, down a short ramp, is partially visible; maybe it’s just the cinematic golden light, but Secchi and his staff seem to be enjoying themselves tremendously.

Those coveted strawberries are wonderful for dessert, but you could also try a flourless chocolate cake known as torta Barozzi, or a creamy, unstructured tiramisu. Still, the housemade gelato, in a generous portion, with an oversized waffle cookie thrown down like a gauntlet, is an obvious choice. The ricotta, with chunks of honeycomb, is especially creamy and subtle—the perfect farewell, and an invitation to return. (Dishes $5-$31. Pasta tasting $90.) ♦

Sourse: newyorker.com

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