I love Tom Colicchio’s food and would travel to the ends of the earth to feast upon it, if necessary, which is lucky, because Colicchio & Sons is basically located there. Is it going to be the sort of place I visit so often that the waiters recognize me? Not a chance, if not for the location, then for the douchebags who eat there. Is it the sort of place I’ll want to visit every time the menu changes? For sure.
I know it’s supposed to be insignificant, but I make a lot of judgements about a restaurant based on its bread basket*, and the super-crunchy breadsticks at one of Tom’s other restaurants, Craftbar, have always been such a crumby, the-least-they-could-do-is-make-them-taste-like-pretzels disappointment to me.
But Colicchio & Sons has rolls! Soft, buttery rolls that glistened under the tungsten bulbs above our table! After pretending like I was just going to have a taste of one and then actually slamming three of them, I was ready for some fungus and bone butter.
gnocchi, chestnuts, bone marrow, black truffle
I had bone marrow for the first time on one of my earliest dates with my adventurously-palated boyfriend at Blue Ribbon Brasserie, and at the time, it freeeeeaked me out; I scooped the tiniest bit of it possible onto my bread and tried my hardest to act like I felt fine about eating the insides of a cow bone. Years later, I was excited to try it again, especially when accompanied by gnocchi, one of my favourite foods in the entire world, and of course, black truffle.
I thought I’d had good gnocchi before, but this was different. I understand now why people talk about the little balls of dough being too dense sometimes; it’s not that heavy gnocchi is bad, but it’s that this light, airy gnocchi seemed to absorb more flavor, to complement rather than overpower the rest of the dish, and was just all-around more pleasant to chew on. The bone marrow melted like butter, the black truffle was so rich and earthy, and the chestnuts were sweet and hardy.
roasted foie gras, lady apples, sassafras root
My boyfriend thought the foie gras had “a nice melt-in-your mouth texture, with a nice thin crispiness to the seared top”. It was more gristle-y than other foie gras he’s had, like it hadn’t been perfectly trimmed, but he still thought it was “a nice hunk”. The sauce was deeply-flavored, sweet, and aromatic, and he thought the apples were a nice complement, but the sassafrass was basically just there for color.
spice-roasted lola duck, cabbage, chanterelles, kumquat chutney
I was really torn between this dish and just about every other red meat dish on the menu. I like duck when it’s done right, but I think it can get really gamey and really tough really fast. But of course Tom wouldn’t do me wrong. The top layer was a breast piece with a crust of spices, and underneath was a roast of even more tender, more flavorful pieces. I liked the sweetness of the kumquat, but the rest of the dish was a throwaway for me. Still, it was worth the price for the duck.
roasted sirloin, salsify, bacon, black garlic
My boyfriend called this rich, deep, and musty and said it had a nice sear but was soft and buttery on the inside. I thought the salsify had the taste and texture of more-flavorful French fries, so I was surprised to read that salsify is known as “oyster plant” because it supposedly tastes like bivalves. Surely there’s no chance I’d actually like eating oysters, right?
coconut cream doughnuts, Meyer lemon marmalade, macadamia nuts, caramel ice cream
No joke–we’re still talking about this dessert almost a month later. The sugar-drenched dough sticks were bursting with coconut cream that glooped out all over the plate when I cut into them. The lemon marmalade was so sour on its own but so complementary to the sweet dough and savory nuts, and I loved its gel texture. The current menu says the marmalade is now being made of the fake-sounding limequat, which gives me a great excuse to go back.
Cinnamon-raisin pain perdu, pinenuts, grapefruit, rosemary ice cream
I basically talked my boyfriend into getting this so I could relieve the last experience I had with Tom’s rosemary ice cream, and it was still the best part of the dish. My boyfriend thought the bread was “a little dense in a bad way”. He found it too hard and didn’t like the way it stuck to the plate, but he did think it was “cinnamony and sweet, like a really good cinnamon roll”. The rosemary and grapefruit surprised him with how complementary they were.
chocolate-covered peanut brittle, red velvet cake
The kitchen sent out these complementary bites to end our meal and also sent us home with carrot cake muffins for the next morning’s breakfast. Which, you know, is the kind of thing that totally steals my heart.
The service was impeccable, of course, and the decor was sleek without being unapproachable. We were disappointed to not see Tom roving around the restaurant, as I’d read other reviews that said he could be seen everywhere from the kitchen to the hostess stand. I’m going to assume that since it was Valentine’s Day, he just didn’t want to distract me from my boyfriend.
Colicchio & Sons
85 Tenth Avenue (at 15th Street)
New York, NY 10011 (map)
*The best bread basket in NYC, in my opinion, are the buttery, salty, herby rolls served at Quality Meats.