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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Peachy Picks Da Nico Our Coverage Sponsored by Fresh Origins

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Twenty years going strong and counting, Da Nico is the latest Littly Italy sensation we've got to rave about, and it was a delightful experience from the minute we walked in and Nicky the owner promptly and graciously greeted us.  Open since August 1993, Da Nico is a spot that boasts quality cuisine that clearly becomes a good habit for their loyal clientele who come back again and again.  Everything was tremendously fresh that we encountered and unlike some Italian food, we were highly impressed with how many wonderful menu items we found that were not at all overwhelmingly heavy, like some Italian food can be.  And you know Peachy has eaten A LOT of Italian food, quite happily.  I
n the middle of the Mulberry Street atmosphere, Da Nico is a family-run business with ties to other restaurants in the neighborhood. Ensconced in a red-brick grotto, the restaurant has two floors, and an outdoor garden. 
Da Nico was first featured in Tasty Tidbits:
and we are pleased to announce it has joined the ranks of Peachy's Picks.
Once we were seated, Da Nico brought us a lovely Bruscetta highlighted by fresh tomatoes, basil, onion and made even better with cheese (picture snapped prior to cheese joining the party.)
Oooooh you know we dream of rich Italian full-bodied reds, and this bottle of Chianti was absolutely terrific!  Cantina de Montalcino's 2007 Chianti from Italy of course brought out the best flavors in everything we paired it with.
As you peruse the menu, it is impressed upon you that both Nicky and his mom, Annette, are sincerely interested in making their clientele happy.  They have printed right on the menu that if you have a favorite dish that is not on the menu, they will make it for you.  Server Adem Sahiti from Albania was on the ball the entire night and the service was splendid. We were entirely in love with the menu however, and did not feel that it needed to be improved upon.  Peachy Deegan started with a special, the Buffalo Caprese imported from Italy with pimento, tomato, basil in vingegar and olive oil.
Smartly presented, this fresh starter was a firecracker of a start at Da Nico.  The size was perfect and the luscious creaminess of the Buffalo Mozzarella absolutely melted in our mouths.
We've had Fettuccine Alfredo before, however, we have had few that are of the quality that we found at Da Nico.  The pasta was perfectly al dente and the sauce was rich, creamy and simply superlative.  Peachy dreamed of this dish...the pecorino cheese was entirely decadent.  The Da Nico Fettuccine Alfredo emphatically reigns over the menu and we would go back for more without hesitation.
If you have read closely you know Peachy has had an obsession with many things of the parmigiani persuasion since the days at Boston College, where the dining hall food was tops.  We were so pleased to meet the Veal Parmigiana of Da Nico and it met all of our standards.  It was baked to perfection and was of the proper thinness.  The cheese was in the right proportion as well as the sauce.  And the grilled vegetables?  Brilliant!  Especially the cauliflower sauteed in garlic which we loved the most.  Da Nico is so clever at getting in your nutrition.
Absolutely leave room for the dessert, and the classic tiramisu combined with a cappuccino will punctuate your Da Nico experience in a luxurious manner!  A marvelous ending.
And, if you are one that is into after dinner drinks, the Port is wonderful.

Our esteemed panelist adds:
With the streets filled with restaurants on every block, Little Italy has long been a destination for New Yorkers, and tourists alike. The sights and sounds reverberate with lights, outdoor cafes and Italian names everywhere. It's an exciting neighborhood, one filled with the history of New York City and its myth. Knowing where to eat sometimes becomes a guessing game, but with a little guidance, and a good recommendation, Da Nico's should be on your list to visit. Tender and light is the watchword of this cuisine, with the element of air in every dish we tried. The bruschetta that comes to the table as you sit down is a wonderful thin crust, covered in chopped fresh tomato, onion, and basil. Take the time to enjoy this, and savor the mood with a bottle of Chianti. Be ready for a great meal, as you progress into the appetizer selection. 
Try the calamari, fried, but barely, in a light crust and flavorful , it's a boat of inch-long sections of the tenderest part of the animal, with a side serving of a creamy tomato sauce that adds a delicate finish to the dish. Have it with the Chianti, and enjoy. The parmesan chess is a reggiano, with a light bite that lends a sense of the flavor in each dish. The waiter will bring it and serve it to your taste: to enhance. The day we were there, it was 7:30, and there was only one table available. Feel free to request your own combinations, changes, additions, to any of the menu selections. To quote: "If you have a favorite dish that is not on the menu, please ask the waiter for assistance". Re-iterated by our friendly waiter, this simply means, that the kitchen is open to suggestions and the house is most happy to accommodate. Nico's Mother sits in regal state as a friendly welcome committee to all who enter these doors, and they want you to be happy. The clients may be tourists who come when they visit New York City, or local regulars, back for a quick pasta or salad. 
Next up for me was the gnocchi, again, light. With a tomato, mozzarella, garlic and olive oil, the "Gnocchi Napoletana" serving is large. All of the dishes are generous, indeed, and you're happy to eat your way through a selection of deliciousness. But because of the lightness each dish imparts, there is no overly stuffed feeling. Even the home-made bread is light, and savory. The pink and brown table linens lend an air of the outdoors, with rushes in the ceiling, and garden statuary all around. It all feels as if you were at home, with home-made everything on board. 
My entree, the grilled salmon, came on a bed of grilled vegetables. Usually I'm leery of "grilled vegetables" because they can be oily, heavy and unpalatable. This is definitely not the case at Da Nico. The grilled vegetables are slices of thin carrot, zucchini, wedges of endive, potato, and a sprig of rosemary. Accented with a glorious orchid, the colorful plate hosts a generous slice of perfectly cooked salmon. Again, light is the operative word. How do they do it? There's more to come, when you taste the house cheesecake. 
Made with ricotta, it's a small round of well-balanced flavors, just enough to satisfy the cheesecake addict, but light enough to let you have a bite of your friend's dessert. Did I mention the cannoli? 
It's the constant search in NYC: the hunt for the perfect cannoli. This crust is crisp, and yes, light!, with the cream filling pudding-like. As a matter of course, the waiter brings a plate of just cooked zeppoli to the table with a plate of fresh fruit. Dessert, for the non-dessert eaters. 
Have an after dinner drink, and a coffee. Enjoy and live in the moment. This is a European vacation that you are on, not just a dinner. The waiter brought me something I have never tried, but loved: Cynar. As a digestif, it is made from artichokes. 

Can you imagine? Love Italian food, and now I know where to go, and where to take my opera loving friends when they next come to town.

Peachy Picks Da Nico!
Da Nico is Recommended by Whom You Know.

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