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Dinner at Dell'Anima

*This restaurant has since closed.

  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Atmosphere: small, chef's counter, intimate, bustling
  • Attire: business-casual
  • Ideal for: trendy, outdoor dining, date night, chef's counter dining, foodies
  •  Price: moderate; all dinner menu items under $30
  • Phone: 212-366-6633
  • Location: 38 8th Avenue (at Jane St.)
  • Website: click *here*
  • Directionswww.hopstop.com/?city=newyork

    *All of my photos from this meal can be viewed on Flickr

    Having dined on multiple occasions at his second Italian venture, L'Artusi, I felt that it was high time to mark Dell'Anima, the matriarch of Joe Campanale's restaurant empire, off of my "must try" list.  Not only did I believe in his product, but I also admired Mr. Campanale's success in NYC's volatile, cut-throat restaurant industry. 

    *Check out the impressive resume that he's compiled...all before his 27th birthday (most recent accomplishments on top):

    Having previously dined at DA (a shortened version of "Dell'Anima"), Emily was not only eager to return, but insisted that we request to be seated at the restaurant's highly-coveted "chef's counter."  And, sure enough, whatever Emily wants, Emily gets.  Within minutes of our arrival to DA, we were led to, and seated at, the chef's counter.  Aside from this particular evening's sweltering heat, our propinquity to the restaurant's cooking equipment (at the chef's counter) didn't necessarily aid in cooling us off.  Regardless of how uncomfortable I was, our elevated bar-stool view of the small, bustling restaurant partnered with our proximity to the chef's station was priceless. 

    Dinner at Dell'Anima: our handsome chefAfter perusing the menu, Emily and I chose to split the following appetizers: Arugula Salad, and an order of the Bruschette, which we paired with three dips.  Shortly thereafter, we placed our entree orders.

    Dinner at Dell'Anima: le menuArugula Salad: Spicy and peppery arugula leaves were lightly tossed with lemon and shaved Parmigiano cheese.  While the salad was visually appealing, I didn't find it to be anything special or out of the ordinary, in terms of flavor.

    Dinner at Dell'Anima: Arugula SaladBruschette paired with three dips: A large plate, topped with thickly-sliced, buttery pieces of toasted bread, arrived with the following three dips: avocado, Rapini Pesto, and marinated garlic and onions.  

    • Bruschette topped with avocado (dip): this particular combination was one of Emily and my favorites.  Smashed, perfectly-ripe avocado was lightly blended with Sicilian olive oil and a whisper of sea salt. 
    • Bruschette topped with marinated garlic and onions: in addition to the above, this was our other favorite dip.  Suffocating in a shallow pool of olive oil were marinated slices of onion, garlic, and some sort of mild red pepper, or tomato.  I blended slithers of garlic and onion with a dollop of the avocado, which created explosion of flavor and texture.
    • Bruschette topped with Rapini Pesto: of all the three dips, this was my least favorite, which was particularly ironic since its ingredients, "walnuts, pecorino," stood out to me on the menu.  Truth be told, the Pesto must have been made minutes before it was served, because its components tasted too raw - too crunchy - and too earthy.  Had they (the ingredients) been allowed more time to integrate, say 24-hours, I think that this particular dip would have been the star of the trio.   

    Dinner at Dell'Anima: Bruschette with a trio of dipsFor entrees, Emily and I decided to split three pastas: Tajarin, Tagliatelle Alla Bolognese, and Risotto Alla Pilota.

    • Tajarin: while perusing the menu, this particular pasta stood out to me because of its "alla carbonara" preparation.  Tangled, handmade Tajarin noodles, similar to Fettuccine, were enveloped by ramps, speck, shredded pecorino cheese, an egg yolk, and freshly-ground black pepper.  "Ew, what are you supposed to do with that?" Emily asked, pointing to the perfectly intact egg yolk, sitting atop the pasta.  "Allow me to do the honors," I said, while piercing the creamy yolk.  As the "liquid gold" slowly trickled its way down the noodle mound, the increasingly-disgusted look on Emily's face was priceless.  "Trust me," I said, while simultaneously tossing the ingredients together, "you'll like this.  And honestly, Em, what's notto love about a pasta recipe that incorporates pork and eggs, your favorite breakfast staples?"  And for the record, I was right; Emily did, in fact, love DA's Tajarin Alla Carbonara, as did I.     

    Dinner at Dell'Anima: Tajarin Alla Carbonara

    • Tagliatelle Alla Bolognese: this particular title loosely translates to "long, flat pasta ribbons topped with meat sauce."  At DA, the matted, homemade tagliatelle noodles are enveloped in an authentic (which means "not heavily tomato-based") Bolognese sauce, made rich with a blend of the most tender ground meats (veal, pork, and beef?), and a fragrant bouquet of oregano and black pepper, among other seasonings.  Shredded pecorino cheese crowns the dish.  Trust me, this is not your mama's "spaghetti and Prego (sauce)." 

    Dinner at Dell'Anima: Tagliatelle Alla Bolognese

    • Risotto Alla Pilota: perfectly "al-dente" (cooked) risotto came bathed in a rich, olive oil-based sauce and was dotted with clusters of housemade sausage, small pieces of cubed salumi, bits of slippery roasted tomato, and shards of finely-chopped Italian parsley.  The dish was crowned with shredded pecorino cheese.

    Dinner at Dell'Anima: Risotto Alla PilotaI loved almost every aspect of my meal at DA, aside from the sweltering heat at the chef's counter.  Every item that we ordered was reasonably priced, amply portioned and, most importantly, incredibly delicious.  I can't wait to return to this Italian gem in the West Village.

    On a side note, I believe in supporting local businesses and the talented minds who conceptualized them.  I am constantly in awe of how many young New Yorkers, under the age of 30, are taking this city by storm.  What an honor it is to be surrounded by a plethora of inspirational success stories!  In the past 6 years, not a single day has passed that I don't count my lucky stars for the priveledge of living and working in the greatest, most competitive, and constantly motivating, city on earth.

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