Centro Vinoteca

>> Tuesday, July 21, 2009

So something big happened last weekend. I ventured into a culinary zone that I have never been to before: I ate pork belly. Now before I get too far ahead of myself, let me go through the whole evening's events:

It all started with this little neighborhood Italian joint that has been on my list for a while, especially since Top Chef contestant Leah Cohen took over from Mario Batalli's right hand woman Anne Burrel. So when the proverbial question arose of "where should be eat tonight?" Centro Vinoteca came to the forefront.

Kerry and I went early on a Friday night, ya know around 8, and were promptly seated at the center bar, a place where I am comfortable. The bartender was very informative and let us (me) try a couple of wines from their extensive wine list before making my final selection.

Never ones to skip directly to the entrees, Kerry and I ordered two "piccolinis" or small plates. I
started with BLT which was pancetta, frisee, and tomato confit. It was salty from from the pancetta and sweet from the tomato. Honestly, it was the perfect bar snack. I could have eaten a couple of them and been satisfied for the whole night. Kerry ordered fried zucchini balls with a marinara dipping sauce. They were incredibly light and not greasy. I would order these over mozzarella sticks any day.

After chowing down on our appetizers, we both decided to order the specials of the night:
  • Spaghetti alla chittara with funghmisty and shaved parmigano
  • Seared pork belly served with mustard greens, onion puree, grilled pulnot and a pulnot chutney
Let's just say that once Kerry reached the end of her pasta, she replied with "I just don't want to
eat the last bite" I mean this was really, really good pasta. Our bartender/server told us that the pasta was all handmade, and the mushrooms were fresh. All ingredients that make for a delicious pasta dish. Then there was my pork belly (pictured right). It was so crispy that it was almost hard to break though the top layer. The meat was just succulent. Honestly, it was so rich that I had a hard time censoring myself. I knew I needed to slow down, but I really didn't want to. Then there was the pulnot (?)...I am still not sure that this is even the right fruit, but it was a cross between a plum and a tomato the perfect sweet/tangy contrast to the fatty pork belly. It really was so well balanced. I learned from our bartender/server that the belly is set in a brine for two days, then it's pressed, then seared as a whole, and then shaped and seared before serving...all that preparation was well worth it.

We really must have looked like we enjoyed ourselves because at one point the server started to stare at what we thought was the food and Kerry asked him: "Why do you keep staring at the food?" he replied "I just haven't seen people enjoy food like this in a long time..."

The evening ended with a deliciously light and effervecent desert wine name Brachetto and a molten chocolate cake. Can you ask for much more?!

I am actually disappointed that I have never been there before now. Hopefully I will be going back soon!!

molten chocolate cake

Centro Vinoteca
74 Seventh Ave. South
New York, NY 10014


Ilovetoeat July 21, 2009 at 9:09 AM  

Wow, just chalk up another dining experience in NYC!!

Renee Barone July 21, 2009 at 10:07 AM  

I do too - it's been there this whole time and I have never been once, but now I want to go every weekend. Truly amazing stuff. Well done Centro!

annie July 21, 2009 at 5:19 PM  

sounds like kerry has replaced Leah and I!!!! I can't say I'm not jealous..

Renee Barone July 21, 2009 at 11:32 PM  

Oh Annie never!! Although I am going to say this - one of our biggest regrets should be not going to Centro more often. I'm serious...this easily could have been the new Spotted Pig for us...Miss you!!!


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