Acapella is my second off-the-radar Italian place this week. The restaurant claims on its website to be “home of the finest Northern Italian Cuisine on the planet.” It also says that the first episode of The Sopranos was shot there. Acapella has a 24 food rating on Zagat, but it has never garnered so much as a mention in The New York Times.
My dinner there last night demonstrated that you can eat very well at Acapella, but they are not without missteps. To start, we were given plates of cured ham, marinated egglpant, and freshly shaved mozarella to go with bread for the table. A captain then recited in a thick Italian accent a list of specials that was longer than the printed menu. It’s a quaint custom, but ordinary mortals naturally have trouble keeping it all straight. At these prices, can’t they print a new menu every day?
I started with scallops, which came with a covering of hot diced tomatos. Unfortunately, the presence of scallops on the plate was only a rumor. All the flavor had been cooked out of them, so the dish was just tomatos accompanying something with no taste at all.
Rack of lamb was an altogether happier experience. I was not expecting a full half-rack to be presented table-side. It was certainly a spectacular show. They carried the rack away to a prep station in full view, where it was put into a pan and spectacularly set on fire. Moments later, it was brought back to the table, freshly carved with a peppercorn sauce and mashed potatoes. The lamb was tender and rare, in a generous portion that I was only too happy to finish. One of my companions ordered a veal chop that was massive.
After our entrées were finished, they brought out dessert glasses, and we had a serving of excellent homemade peach grappa. Throughout the meal, service was highly attentive, but also very rapid. Although we didn’t get the sense they were trying to get rid of us, I can’t remember a meal of this quality when the courses came out so quickly.
Our wine was an excellent Barolo. As a vendor was paying, and everything we ordered was off of the recited specials, I didn’t see what anything cost, but I am certain it didn’t come cheap.
Acapella (1 Hudson Street at Chambers Street, TriBeCa)