ALL’ONDA – GREENWICH VILLAGE
22 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003
Date Dined: January 2014
As a food writer there is nothing more exhilarating to me than being invited to a friends and family event for a restaurant that is new on the scene. It is so much fun to be able to taste something before anyone else has and really develop an uninfluenced opinion of my own.
I had the pleasure of being invited to one of the pre-opening nights at All’onda two weeks ago and it really blew me away. Often times restaurants can struggle in the first few weeks or months as they get their operations down and the food can suffer as a result. My experience at All’onda was one that really showcased the talents of a seasoned crew of talented restaurateurs in one of the most (if not the most) challenging and judgmental food scenes in the world. If things can only get better then All’Onda has set a high bar for itself.
Chris Jaeckle is the talented executive chef (and co-owner with Jeffrey Chodorow) at All’onda. His background includes working for Danny Meyer splitting 7 years’ time between Eleven Madison Park and Tabla before moving to Morimoto as sous chef. He then worked as Chef de Cuisine at Ai Fiori where he received glowing reviews from the New York Times. Chris Cannon, former business partner to Michael White, is the manager and has focused on building the perfect wine list to complement the menu.
The two-story restaurant is cozy with a sophisticated and clean feel. It features a bar downstairs which is ideal for people to enjoy a cocktail while waiting for a table and where the already seated patrons don’t feel as though they are being rushed through their meal. The décor includes lots of warm, dark wood, white tile and whitewashed brick with interesting metal accents and bouquets of branches. There is a bit of a ship-inspired quality to it.
The menu is creative Venetian cuisine and Chef Jaeckle uses the highest quality ingredients to make the freshest pastas, fishes and small plates. Japanese elements in some of the dishes reflect his experiences at Morimoto.
I was with three friends on a Saturday night with some nice wine in hand and we were ready to order up most of the menu.
To begin we had all three of the “snacks”. A crostino of monkfish liver with persimmon and carmelized onions was a very new take on the traditional pairing. The persimmon was a nice seasonal touch which helped to cut the richness of the liver.
The polenta with miso-cured egg yolk and wild mushrooms was a very creamy homey feeling dish elevated by the touch of miso.
The aranchini were crispy, squid ink seasoned rice balls topped with (my favorite) uni. These are flavorful and crunchy-fried with rich uni on top. Of course I loved them.
From the slightly larger appetizer section we had the tuna which was another nice play on a classic – served with cerignola, kizame wasabi and preserved tomato. (This dish is now serves more sashimi style- see picture below)
The kampachi was one of my favorites with red kuri squash, pepperoncino and soy. It was served in larger chunks for more of a bite than a normal crudo. Fresh fish at its best.
The scallop with cauliflower, olives, anchovy and lardo had the creamy texture of fresh raw scallop with the extra fattiness from the lardo. The olive and anchovy lightly seasoned the dish.
The sweetbreads were also served fried with celery root, balsamic sugo and bonito flakes. I was expecting these to be one of my favorite dishes but I thought the sweetbreads were under-seasoned before being breaded and therefore lacked depth.
The pastas at All’onda really steal the show. We had three of them and they were all excellent.
The hand rolled black garganelli with peakytoe crab, yuzu kosho and tarragon. The texture of the garganelli was perfect with the crunchy bread crumbs and soft crab. The yuzu added an interesting citrus layer which lightened up the whole dish in a very different way than lemon would.
We also had the spaghetti with manila clams, calabrian chili and Ramazzotti. The clams were sweet and tender. The ratio of clams to pasta was just right so that each bite had one. The chili gave the pasta a slight kick while the Ramazzotti worked to create a flavorful broth.
The papparedelle with aged duck ragu, Treviso and chocolate was the favorite dish of the evening. The duck was tender as if had been braising for day and had an intensified gamey flavor from the aging process and the chocolate only deepend the flavor. The Treviso (which is in the radiccio family) gave it a nice slight bitterness. (This dish is now served with rigatoni)
I do regret skipping one more pasta which has received rave reviews since my meal which gives me a great excuse to return. The Bucatini with smoked uni and spicy bread crumbs will definitely be happening at my next meal.
From the mains we ordered the Dorade with tomato olive tapenade, chick peas, pickled chilies and salsa verde was beautifully cooked. Maybe it was the freezing cold weather that night, or maybe it was the fish, but the bright sauce transported me to some seaside village in Italy.
On the side we had the Brussels sprouts which were flavored with cider vinegar, honey, pistachios and a touch of curry. Again, an interesting interpretation of the ever-popular vegetable.
We had a few of the desserts to share as but the real highlight here is the selection of house made sorbetti and gelati. My favorite was the soy sauce gelato which is both unusual and delicious. Definitely a must order.
This new gem is a very welcome addition to the slightly stale restaurant scene around Union Square and will absolutely become a go-to spot for me and my friends. I highly recommend All’onda for a great upscale casual meal for date night, dinner with friends or even taking your parents to dinner.