Monday, October 12, 2009
Last weekend I was lucky enough to go to New York, and among the outstanding food I had (as always), was dinner at Max. Ari had heard about the place from his friend, and we decided to see what all the talk was about. It ended up being one of my favorite meals so far this year. The restaurant itself is pretty small, and the kitchen is right in the middle, so immediately you are bombarded with delicious smells. We waited for a little while to be seated, but considering it was the Lower East Side on a Saturday night, I didn't think it was too bad.
They had some excellent specials that night, so we opted to split the figs, prosciutto, and pecorino to start off with. This was served very simply, with no sauce and only black pepper as a garnish, but the figs were juicy and succulent, the prosciutto was lean and sliced perfectly, and the pecorino was deliciously salty. Figs are hard to get in Minnesota, and usually slightly outside the budget of the college student, so I eat them whenever I can. For an entrée, I had the special of house-made goat cheese and sundried tomato ravioli, finished with a cherry tomato and cream sauce. The sauce was seasoned perfectly and made the most of the late-season tomatoes, while being light enough to not overwhelm the taste of the pasta. Ari got the lamb ragù with hand-made spaghetti from the regular menu, which was also fantastic. The ragù reminded me of the one we learned how to make in Bologna, its subltle flavors combining and yet not overwhelming each other. By the end, we were both completely full, so we decided to save dessert for another time and got a black and white cookie instead (perfect).
To drink, Ari decided on the old favorite of Bologna, where we both studied, Lambrusco. If you haven't had this before, it is a sparkling red wine that is usually served chilled, and has a slightly sweeter ant tangier taste than many other reds. We used to buy it for about 3 euros, but it is harder to find here and usually runs around $11 a bottle. It is great with pretty much all Italian food, but of course especially with the specialties of the region.
I decided to try the Nero di Troia, I wine I had never had before, but which sounded similar to Nero d'Avola, one of my favorite grapes from Sicily. This was from Puglia, in the south of Italy, a region not neccessarily known for its wine. However, I was pleasantly surprised, and found it smooth and a wonderful accompaniment to the ravioli. The vintage I had was from 2005, and while I don't know that this is a very common wine in the U.S., it is definitely possible to find bottles under $15. I'll be keeping my eye out.
All in all, it was a fantastic dinner and I will absolutely be returning. For more information about Max, you can go to their website: max-ny.com.