Alto is one of Chef Michael White’s NYC restaurants, and was recently awarded two Michelin stars. I know, before I was food-obsessed, when I hear “Michelin” I immediately think of the Michelin Man, the company mascot that was made up of white tires. But yes, the same company issues what is called the “Michelin Guide” which is known to operate on the principle that the reviews are done anonymously by professionally-trained experts to assess the restaurant’s food and service. Michelin’s highest accolade is three stars.
The restaurant has a very romantic ambiance, I feel like I should get a marriage proposal by the end of the meal… Or not... Okay, just let me use my cellular phone, that’s romantic enough for me. The wine selection is unbelievable, on one side of the room; the entire wall was filled with bottles of wine, from floor to ceiling. Alto is known to feature a selection of over 2,000 different wines. When they brought the wine menu, it was a book, with tabs for different wine regions. I was overwhelmed. I ordered a glass of Chianti.We opted for the “Menu Prezzo Fisso”, a 4-course tasting menu priced at $84.00. The menu has 7 selections of Antipasti, 7 selections for the 2nd course (6 Le paste and I risotti), 6 selections for the main course (3 I Pesci, 3 Le Carni), and 7 selections for Desserts.
The first set of Menu Prezzo Fisso, we ordered:
Terrina di Coda di Bue e Fegato Grasso – country-style oxtail and foie gras terrine,pear mostarda, pickled chanterelles
Pappardelle con Agnello e Santoreggia – hand-made pasta ribbons, roast baby lamb, savory, pecorino
Astice con Bagna Caoda e Caviale – poached lobster, trout roe, roasted cauliflower, piemontese anchovy sauceTorrone – piemontese nougat semifredo, hazelnut cake, warm chocolate sauce
The second set of Menu Prezzo Fisso, we ordered:
Capesante Dorate e Agrodolce di Uva, which is seared scallops, grappa-soaked raisins, toasted marcona almonds
Tortelloni Tartufati con Talleggio Fonduta - braised veal and truffle ravioli, veal reduction, talleggio fonduta
Tagliata di Manzo con Funghi e Midollo – creekstone farms sirloin, hen of the woods, parsnip puree, roasted fingeling potatoes, red wine-bone marrow saucePanna Cotta al Cocco – coconut panna cotta, passion fruit foam, hibiscus gelee, coconut shortbread
The seared scallops were delightfully delicious, a must to order at this restaurant. The country style oxtail and foie gras is interesting, definitely fit for foodie, not a typical menu item anywhere else.
The roast baby lamb was cooked well, very tender; the sauce was aptly called savory. I’ll pick this over the veal and truffle ravioli, which was also a good dish.
O.M.G. The poached lobster was a triple D in my book: delicious, delightful and devilishly mouth-watering good. The lobster meat was substantial, soft, tender and juicy. The trout roe provides the dish with that perfect saltiness as you bite into them, the sauce is perfect (not too thick, not too watery). I could have another serving of this.
The Panna Cotta al Cocco, not a big fan of the passion fruit which was put on top of the panna cotta. Ended up eating from the bottom up. The hazelnut cake was decadent, and made even richer by the warm chocolate sauce that was drizzled on top.
Overall, an enjoyable dining experience, the staff is very attentive (there were so many wait staff that were attending to us, we stopped counting after 7), the menu was delicious (definitely pick the seafood over meat on all courses), and the crowd was a mix of young and old, couples and groups (mostly group of men not women though). It’s a great destination for special occasions or romantic evenings, with that special someone, even I won’t need to be told on paper to “Kindly refrain from the use of cellular phones while in the dining room”.