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White Truffle Festival at Sapori D’Ischia – Italian – Woodside
November 22nd, 2011 by donuts4dinner

Sapori D’Ischia is so out in the middle of nowhere that when my boyfriend and I approached–after getting lost no less than twice–and I said, “I’m not sure this is the right place,” the owner, who happened to be standing outside, said, “Trust me; it’s the right place. There’s nothing else around here.”

You always hear about people who haven’t been to one of the outer boroughs in ten years because they think everything worth seeing is in Manhattan. Well, I actually live in Brooklyn and get annoyed at the prospect of having to leave Manhattan, so if I’m telling you that it’s worth it to trek out to Sapori D’Ischia’s truffle festival, you know it’s something special.

The four-course, $60 prix-fixe menu seems to change weekly, but here’s an idea of what you’ll be served:

Sapori D'Ischia White Truffle Festival
ricottina di bufala, Speck Alto Adige D.O.P. smoked prosciutto, peasant bread, white Alba truffles

I know that everyone’s all, “Truffle oil?! For shame!” (Especially if you’re watching an episode of “Chopped“, where the judges famously chop almost any contestant who dares insult them with truffle oil.) The idea is that truffles are real and expensive and delicate, while truffle oil is synthetic and cheap and kind of knocks you out with how odorous it is. But I like my food to smell like food, so I don’t have a problem with it. I also loved the additional texture of it in this dish, which otherwise would have been much less creamy. All of the flavors were so rich, smoky, and earthy, perfectly-suited for complimenting the truffle shavings.

Sapori D'Ischia White Truffle Festival
Vialone Nano slow-cooked risotto, white Alba truffles

My good friends over at Wikipedia tell me that Vialone Nano is one of the two best and most expensive varieties of risotto rice. I’m not sure I’m versed enough in risotto to know the difference, but I thought this dish was about as good as it could have been for what it was, which was risotto and truffles. Again, this was heavy on the truffle oil, but I didn’t find it overpowering, and the dish probably would have been bland without it. I wouldn’t have complained about the addition of some sort of meat, but the plain risotto was the perfect vehicle for highlighting the truffle.

Sapori D'Ischia White Truffle Festival

Sapori D'Ischia White Truffle Festival
grilled filet mignon, rustic potato fontina tortina, Barbaresco red wine reduction, white Alba truffles

When I think of a juicy steak, I picture a piece three inches high and squishy in the center, so I was a little skeptical about this thinly-sliced version, but all of our filets were nice and red in the center. The creamy sauce only made it that much more melt-in-your-mouth, while the red wine sauce cut some of the richness. The potato cake actually tasted very vegetal to me–like it was made of something actually healthy–so I was surprised to re-read the menu and see it was just potato. It was a hearty cross of crunchy and creamy that added to the rustic feel of the dish.

Sapori D'Ischia White Truffle Festival

The people at the table next to us were celebrating a birthday, and I loved the sparkler the birthday girl was given. I’m trying to figure out if the guy across from her is whistling or licking ice cream off his fingers.

Sapori D'Ischia White Truffle Festival
Brachetto-poached Bosc pear, mascarpone white chocolate gelato, white truffle honey

This dish looks deceptively simple but managed to leave us satisfied, likely due to the richness of the truffle honey drizzled over the gelato. The pear was spicy and tender and not overly sweet, which was perfect for the savoriness of the truffle and mascarpone. This seemed to be everyone’s favourite dish of the night, if the utter silence of our group of six (including newcomer Lucy!) after we dug in is any indication.

Rating One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarBlank Star

I have to rate this meal purely by the quality of the food, because the restaurant is not only way, way out there but also partly a grocery store, so the decor mostly consists of jumbo cans of peeled tomatoes. Considering, though, that my meal was not only delicious but also cost less in its entirety than a single truffle course at any Manhattan restaurant I can think of, I’d say it’s well worth the train ride and having to stare at the canned goods. The truffle festival ends when the truffle supply does, and the menu changes often, so go quickly and frequently.

Sapori D’Ischia
5515 37th Avenue
Queens, NY 11377 (map)


5 Responses  
  • Cassie writes:
    November 22nd, 20113:16 pmat

    Mmmm. Looks fantastic!

    Personally, I think the guy is eating his own fingers in an attempt at not stealing the dessert. Because, it looks fantastic.

  • kimz writes:
    November 22nd, 20113:33 pmat

    I LOVE CHOPPED!

    But even more than Chopped, I love Next Iron Chef: SUPER CHEFS!

  • FreeSpiritEater writes:
    November 26th, 20112:06 pmat

    Great review! My grandparents live in Woodside so I’ve been to quite a few places in town but have never tried this place, especially during their truffle festival. I will definitely have to check this place out next time I visit my grandparents. Thanks for sharing, now I know where to find another gem in Queens =]

  • Mrs. Bachelor Girl writes:
    December 6th, 20116:06 pmat

    I love white truffle, and a whole menu incorporating them sounds, quite frankly, like heaven.

  • Jose M writes:
    December 9th, 201110:27 pmat

    Great and funny review as always, you should have gone to the Um Segredo truffle dinner, it was a little bit more sophisticated that this!
    It seems this was the last year this type of dinner is happening! Too bad


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