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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Peachy Picks Il Cortile, Encore Review Our Coverage Sponsored by Fresh Origins

Owner Sal Esposito
Order the Octopus!

Befriend the Ricotta Special Meatball!

Fresh Origins is America’s leading producer of Microgreens and Edible Flowers. Combining the benefits of an ideal climate with a deep passion for quality and innovation, Fresh Origins products are sought after by the finest restaurants and top chefs. The farm is located in the picturesque rolling hills of San Diego County, where the near perfect weather allows for production and harvest all year. Fresh Origins produces almost 400 Microgreens, Petitegreens, Edible Flowers, Shoots, Tiny Veggies™ and related items. Many are not available anywhere else, with new introductions nearly every month. Fresh Origins products are on top of the finest cuisine in the world! Fresh Origins supplies distributors of specialty produce who serve fine dining restaurants and resorts nationwide. There are also a few online sources of their products available to private chefs and home cooks. Read our first Culinary Queen interview with Kelly Sasuga:
For more information about Fresh Origins, visit their website at 
 There are so many restaurants in Manhattan, one can feel like the Old Lady in a shoe, there are so many of them you don't know what to do.  Until you become an avid reader of Peachy's Picks, that is.  Peachy's Picks is our official restaurant recommendation column (Terrific Takeout is a warm-up: if you see something there that did not make it to Peachy's Picks you should wonder.) We discern by qualitative (not quantitative) measures, and have featured around 275 different Manhattan restaurants in Peachy's Picks over the years once. The Best Restaurants are featured more than once, and we are delighted to present the first encore feature for Sal Esposito's Il Cortile in Little Italy.  Read the first review from March of 2013 here.   What separates places we think are great from places we want to go to every season of every year because we love love love them?  We will discuss, so read on please.  Look at how gorgeous the courtyard is, above.  We suggest eating in the courtyard.  A phenomenal setting does help!
Everyone knows the story of The Temple of Dendur at The Met.  If you don't the short version is that Jackie Kennedy and others brought it over from Egypt and it was reassembled in the stunning space it is now (read the story of it on the south wall of The Met in this space when you visit).  At Il Cortile, Sal has his own Temple of Dendur story: the beautiful wall of Il Cortile was brought over from Rome in the mid 1980's and reassembled in the courtyard of the restaurant.  You must check out this historical aspect.

In the first review, Sal gave us a full tour of the property.  Clearly he's enthusiastic as evidenced by the picture and Sal possesses a great personality.  Believe it or not, not everyone is this happy owning a restaurant (maybe because they don't own Il Cortile).  Chances are if the owner is this happy, you will be too.  We were happy:
Happy is contagious.  No one wants a sad dinner!
 We are more about the whole dining experience than the food alone, although of course the food has got to be tremendous.  At Il Cortile, Sal pays attention to details.  Don't customers love to hear they are always right?  Some customers (like the super picky Peachy) like to design what they are eating and you can do that at Il Cortile when it comes to the pasta shape and the pasta sauce. 
 Superb red wine from Italy that tantalizes our tastebuds is found at Il Cortile.  In the first review we brought an avid wine collector with us and he verified that the wines at Il Cortile are excellent, and there are beaucoup de choices.
 Longevity impresses us as well; Il Cortile is older than Peachy is.  If a venue has proved the test of time, more often than not it will prove our tests too.  Il Cortile has been around for 40 years, and it was started by Sal's Uncle Carmine Esposito; Sal joined the party in 1986!
 Peachy Deegan began with the exquisite Schiacciata di Salasicce e Carciofi: a unique pie of sausage, artichokes and mozzarella that was simply delectable.  Peachy tries to find items she hasn't had before and this is an example.  The contrasting textures of the components blended together beautifully.   
 We also tried the Eggplant Rollatine with Ricotta and Fresh Tomatoes which is similar to Eggplant Parm but much richer.  Pure quality is to be found in each and every bite. 
 The Caprese Salad of Il Cortile announces simplicity at its best.  Imported Buffalo Mozzarella is a total dream with Tomatoes and Basil, dancing in balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Our taste buds were ignited!
 You should thank your lucky stars if the day you go to Il Cortile you find out the Ricotta Special Meatballs are on the specials menu!  They are truly the Godzilla of meatballs and one of the best we've had, ever.  Though it is gigantic, it's not quantity, it's all quality here from the superb beef to the smashing sauce to the darling ricotta. 
 You will be silenced!  You will be one with your meatball.  Only share with very good friends. 
 Please meet the Linguine Alla Pescatora!  Wide linguine with lobster, shrimp, scallops, clams, calamari, and mussels will entice you during the pasta course.  You have the choice of tomatoes or garlic and oil and tomatoes was chosen.  Unlike lesser venues, at Il Cortile the sauce doesn't overpower the flavors of the tender bites of seafood that grace the plate.  A perfect balance is achieved of complimentary tastes. 
 You will fall in love with the homemade cheese tortellini with lobster meat and cream sauce if it's a special the night you go.  
The pasta is all super fresh at Il Cortile and this savory sauce was to-die-for!  The sauces are perfectly flavored and not too overbearing or cloying with fillers.
 Peachy tried the Capellini (Angel Hair pasta) Alfredo and when you have a bite, you'd swear the Angels sent it down.
 Naturally, it's even better with cheese!  See the above-referenced mention of how you can design your own any pasta with any sauce...
 We would definitely encourage you to order some green vegetables during your visit.  The Broccoli Rabe is tremendous!
 As an entree, Peachy Deegan chose the Pollo Champange.  When you're not drinking Champagne, don't you want to be eating it?  Breast of chicken with grapes in a champagne cream sauce proved to be decadent and fabulous!  The chicken was fresh and succulent: a generous proportion as well.  We think this menu item is underrated in general in dining-try it at Il Cortile.
 Another entree that sets Il Cortile apart is the Coda di Rospo con Carciofi in Brodetto.  Medallinos of monkfish have a party in fresh artichokes, white wine, seafood broth, garlic and oil.  Super tender, this fish is further enhanced by basil and parsley.  
 Definitely the piece de resistance at Il Cortile is the Grilled Octopus special.  This eight-legged creature is in a class by itself at Il Cortile.  
The panelist that ordered this has extensive worldwide knowledge of cuisine professionally, and he told us it's the most tender octopus he's ever tasted minerally.  It boasted an ocean flavor freshness and was marinated and steamed,  which we found to be superior to grilled. 
 Definitely go to Il Cortile on the very hungry side, because you will adore the dessert selection. 
 Zabione with blueberries was high on Peachy's list and every scoop of creaminess was intoxicating!  Served cold, this is ideal in the summer.  
You can't go wrong with the amazing Tiramisu!  It's homemade with a decadent coffee flavor stealing the show.
 Ricotta cheesecake is further enhancec by triple sec, lemon & orange rind!
  Peachy Picks Il Cortile!
Il Cortile is Highly Recommended by Whom You Know.

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