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« Dinner at Ca Va | Main | An interview with Dannelle from "GoodGoodies" + I taste (and love) my first vegan/gluten-free dessert »
Tuesday
Aug102010

Dinner at Armani Ristorante 5th Avenue

  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Atmosphere: spacious, handsome, sophisticated, modern elegance
  • Attire: business-casual
  • Ideal for: small groups, post/pre-shopping lunch, foodies
  • Price: expensive 
  • Phone: 212-207-1902
  • Location: 717 5th Avenue (at 56th Street)
  • Website: click *here*
  • Directionswww.hopstop.com/?city=newyork
  •  

    *All photos from this meal can be viewed on Flickr

    In honor of our birthdays-and their birthday party-Shelley, Robin and I decided to treat ourselves to a nice meal on Saturday night.  Our original reservation was for Alto, but due to time constraints, we chose to take an earlier seating at Armani Ristorante 5th Avenue.

    Hugging the prime corner of 5th Avenue and 56th Street, Armani Ristorante takes full advantage of the vivacious urban art constantly taking shape in the form of traffic and a what seems to be a never-ending crowd of people just beyond its picturesque floor-to-ceiling windows.  The handsome restaurant encompasses quite a vast amount of space - so much so, that the dining room almost appeared empty, as occupied tables were dispersed.  The bar area, on the other hand, was at a rowdy capacity.  "What's going on at the bar?" I asked the hostess as she led me to a table located way too close to the alcohol-induced chaos.  She explained that there was an Armani employee party and that I need not worry, as "they'll be sitting down to dinner very soon."  With the obvious acoustic issues, I asked to be moved further from the madness.  The hostess could not have been more accommodating.  As she was leading me to the new table, an employee who would soon be my server approached, "What seems to be the problem?"  After I explained that I would be dining with friends whom I had not seen in a while - thus the reason I wanted to be seated in a quieter area - he raised his left eyebrow, pursed his lips, and exclaimed, "It's a p a r t y...of course it's going to be loud."  I looked him square in the eye and told him to screw off that "a loud party is not my problem, but it will be if I have to sit close enough to have a Cosmo spilled on my white summer dress."

    Armani Ristorante 5th AvenueArmani Ristorante 5th Avenue: a sophisticated interior space overlooking 5th AvenueTrue to form, Shelley and Robin were running approximately 15-minutes late.  Since the hostess was kind enough to seat my incomplete party, their tardiness gave me enough solo time to take a couple of deep breaths and peruse the wine/cocktail list.  "I'd like a glass of the pink prosecco, please," I responded after Mr. McSnobby (our server) asked what I'd like to drink.  "We're out of the pink prosecco," he said, "but instead, may I suggest the Veuve Cliquot Rose?"  Please, and spend at least 10-more dollars?  Psssh, all of that crap tastes the exact same, anyways.  In the end, I settled for a flute of non-pink prosecco (which happened to be the cheapest glass on the wine list). 

    Armani Ristorante 5th Avenue: table setting/view from my seatHalf-way through my Italian bubbly, my dinner guests and a basket filled with a gorgeous assortment of homemade breads and crisps arrived, simultaneously.  Between sips of wine, bites of bread, and bouts of gossip, we managed to peruse the dinner menu.  When our server returned to fill our water glasses, we alerted him that we were ready to place our entree orders.  "I was curious," Robin asked, "can I order the gnocchi with a different sauce?  I don't eat shellfish."  Despite the fact that the dining room was near empty, we were informed that the kitchen did not make any substitutions/alterations.  Interesting.

    Armani Ristorante 5th Avenue: without question, NYC's best bread basketArmani Ristorante 5th Avenue: le menuWithin moments after ordering our entrees, each of us received an amuse bouche of chilled tomato gazpacho.  A stark-white soup bowl was amply filled with a chilled, chunky "soup" of freshly pureed tomato, delicately seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic.  A mound of creamy ricotta cheese, two garden-fresh basil leaves, and a drizzle of basil-infused olive oil crowned the gazpacho.  This proved to be a deliciously refreshing, perfectly-portioned palette cleanser.

    Armani Ristorante 5th Avenue: chilled tomato gazpachoRoughly ten-minutes after our gazpacho bowls were nearly licked clean, and only 1/16 of the contents remained in our second bread basket, our entrees made their debut.  I chose the evening's pasta special; a tangled mound of homemade spinach tagliolini noodles and a plethora of bite-sized chunks of sweet lobster meat were tossed in a creamy sauce that was spiked with, what I recall being, sherry.  I can honestly say that this was one of the better pasta dishes that I've had in recent memory: the noodles were perfectly cooked, twirling seamlessly around my fork; the generous amount of lobster meat was ocean-fresh and firm, but not chewy; and the indulgent sauce had the perfect balance of sweet and savory.

    Armani Ristorante 5th Avenue: homemade tagliolini noodles with fresh lobster meat and creamConclusion: aside from near-deafening acoustics in some areas of the dining room coupled with our server's pompous, holier-than-thou attitude, I did enjoy my overall experience at Armani.  From the restaurant's lovely space overlooking the glitz of 5th Avenue - to the excellent food - I will definitely return to Armani in the future.     

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