152 W 51st / 777 7th Avenue (In the Michel Angelo Hotel)
Web Site: http://www.restaurantinsieme.com/
Menu (Click for PDF File)
I don’t frequently do a lot of high-end restaurant meals — I’m more of the ethnic restaurant type or in the mid-range when I choose to dine out. But that doesn’t stop me from appreciating them, or at least following the high-end restaurant scene. One restaurant that has gotten my attention recently is Insieme, the brainchild of the very talented restaurant team of Marco Canora (formerly of Craft and Gramercy Tavern) and Paul Grieco (also of Gramercy Tavern) who also own another of my favorite restaurants, Hearth.
So when I heard that it was going to be opening up, I jumped at the chance to eat there, even if it was going to be rough around the edges its first several weeks or months of operation. Rachel, Spamwise and I headed over there last night and had an exceptional meal.
Look out Babbo and L’Impero… There’s a new kid in town. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.
The decor at Insieme is highly reminiscent of that at THE MODERN at MOMA, which is to say it has a minimalistic modernistic atmosphere. This was done as to not distract diners from the main star of the show, the food.
The concept behind Insieme (which means “Together” in Italian) is a restaurant built on two menus — one on the left (shown above) that reflects classic Italian dishes from all across the country, and one on the right hand side which reflects Marco Canora’s creative interpretations of those types of ingredients.
The right hand side of the menu.
Our first amuse, baby radishes filled with bagna cauda.
These are mini crostini with a goat cheese mixture.
The first wine I ordered was a glass of Gruner Veltliner, which had the perfect level of acidity for the fish dish I ordered as my appetizer.
Another amuse, a stracciatella (egg drop) soup in an intense beef and chicken broth.
This is a fish amuse which I’m calling “butterflies”. Essentially very thin slices of raw fish (crudo, the Italian analogue to sushi) decorated with microgreens.
FISH CRUDO. Salmon belly, Yellow Tail, Barron Point oyster and
Big Eye Tuna in three variations, which was my appetizer. I loved it.
VITELLONE CRUDO. Pasture-fed baby beef tartare with porcini mushrooms and lemon. Spamwise’s appetizer, I had a small taste of it and it was quite nice.
BEEF IN BRODO. Beef broth, wagyu beef, asparagus, star anise and La Tur raviolini. Rachel’s appetizer.
BLACK OLIVE FETTUCINE. Duck ragu and Fiore di Sardo. Spamwise’s middle course.
LASAGNE VERDI BOLOGNESE. Spinach pasta with béchamel and meat ragu. Rachel and I shared a main dish sized plate of this, I thought it was one of the knockout dishes of the evening. A traditional bolognese sauce takes several hours to make because it has to be low simmered in order to get the meat flavors to meld, as this one was.
While the restaurant had some noticeable service quirks (being the first two weeks of service its to be expected) our server was very friendly and attentive, and knowledgeable.
This is a pasta dish from the table next to us.
ARISTA di MAIALE ARROSTO con FAGIOLI. Roasted pork loin and tiny pork meatballs with Rancho Gordo beans, sage and garlic. My main dish, which I loved.
CHICKEN “FINOCCHIETTI ”. Organic breast, wing, liver and dumpling and fennel with crispy skin. Rachel’s main.
CACCIUCCO alla VIAREGGINA. Shellfish and fish stew with tomato, lemon and peperoncini, Spamwise’s main. I had a little dip of the sauce at the end with some bread, it had a very intense shellfish flavor.
A side of asparagus with parmigiano cheese. Blanched and then grilled, it was a very nice accompaniment to the meal.
This is the salmon dish from the couple next to us. Tasmanian king salmon with Spring salad, tarragon and salmon caviar.
BAMBOLINI. Small cream-filled yeast donuts with (intense) chocolate dipping sauce
HONEY YOGURT CREAM. With black olive-almond biscuits
and almond ice cream
GIANDUJA BAR. Chocolate with pistachio-hazelnut crust and orange sauce
Various petit fours.
Heading downstairs to the kitchen
Executive Chef/Owner Marco Canora
Pastry Chef Amadou Ly, who originates from Senegal in West Africa and was trained as a classical patissier in Paris.
Chef Amadou and his team prepping desserts in the pastry area.
A Baba Au Rhum dessert awaiting final preparations.
An incredible meal!! Was it wonderful or did you get filled up and need “breathing room” for dessert?? I love the photos and thank you for the menu closeups …
How was the wine? Never had Gruner Veltliner before.. am curious :)
Make your reservations now.
They’ll be opening for lunch in a few weeks. I would say by the middle of May, if not sooner.
i have a birthday coming up…it’s a date!
Had a mostly good experience at Insieme earlier this week, and very good for early days. Red mullet and vitello crudo were excellent, although I don’t think the raw sliced porcini work at all. How about porcini crisps?? (and maybe a side scoop of duxelles??)
The uni risotto was a disappointment. Gummy risotto without much flavor and no integration with the uni which was insufficient…. I hope they will return to, rather than abandon, the excellent concept.
While I think the food holds great promise, I didn’t like the room and am not sure how much scope there is for improvement. A cramped bar has no seating area at present (no standing area either) and while I was told that it would eventually be possible to order food there, I couldn’t see how that would ever be comfortable much less inviting. Our server was professional but buss staff were irregular and uncertain, appearing repeatedly to clear plates when we were in the middle of our meal.
I like Hearth a lot, but have always felt they aimed too high with the prices for what they deliver. Front of the house has a lot to do with that. I have had excellent waiters and bar staff, but have also experienced clumsy hosts and misplaced coats on a more regular basis than a restaurant of Hearth’s calibre, aspirations and prices should tolerate.
It’s on my list for the next time I’m in NY!
Must be nice…
A great, nice gourmets’ band… (Grande, simpatica banda di buongustai…)
Thanks so much for the sincere appreciation of traditional and (really) creative Italian cuisine. (Grazie mille per il sincero apprezzamento della cucina italiana tradizionale e (davvero) creativa.)
Alberto L. Beretta,
near Milan, Italy.
(If you want to start, revise, better Italian for free, I’m here, babies…)
Wow, that really looks like a great meal! My family and I have liked Hearth very much, so I hope to go to Insieme when my brother’s in town. Thanks for the writeup and great photos!
Two small points:
“Tamanian king salmon”
Should that be “Tasmanian”?
“crostinis with a goat cheese mixture”
“Crostini” is already plural (one is “un crostino” in Italian).
[…] The first look at Insiemme, the new Midtown restaurant from Marco Canora of Hearth [Off the Broiler] […]
Jason, excellent report, as always. Wonderfully timely, nice complete photos (I love the borrowed shots from the table over) and nice insight into the kitchen. Looking forward to reading more about Insieme.
Question: was the radish amuse difficult to eat? it looks like the bagna cauda might leak out if you don’t pop the whole radish in one take.
Yes, the pictures are nice, but the food left a lot to be desired. The stuffed calamari was fine but unremarkable. It was barely warm, and the filling was too homogenous, both in flavor and texture. The seafood risotto was insipid. Note to anyone: Cucumber should not go in risotto…ever. The “famous” lasagna was ok, but the ragu was bland and lacked enough acidity to counter the bechamel. The pork loin with beans was cooked well, the pork was soft, but the whole dish just swam in a bowl of jus and beans. Not thought out.
Desserts were the high point. The Gianduja was elegant and had nice contrasts in texture. The bitter orange sauce was a nice counterpoint. The Bambolini were warm and comforting.
Honestly, the place is a one star. It aspires to be a l’Impero or A Voce, but needs a lot more thought in order to reach those levels. I wish them luck, because that spot has been unkind to all of its previous tenants.
[…] combines the very best of casual dining with a cuisine that often exceeds its 3-star cousins. Many well-known chefs from all over the city — and all over the country — have sharpened and perfected their cooking and hospitality […]
not surprising, this place debuts months later on zagat with a 26 food rating. i ate there a few months ago and found it simply amazing. definately up there with babbo, il mulino, etc. as one of the best italian restaurants in the city.