A Year In Food

From New York to Costa Rica to Europe to California: 365 Days of Dining Out

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Jul. 3.

Lunch -

Risotteria - 270 Bleecker St., West Village
Porcini, portabello and shiitake arborio risotto; Lauren's Blue Ribbon iced tea

If I were being exiled to a deserted island and had to choose between taking a toothbrush and a pot of risotto with me, I would probably choose the toothbrush. But only after hours of deliberating and plenty of pacing, vacillating and sweating. More concisely put, I love risotto. So when I learned there was a restaurant specializing in the Italian dish, I knew I’d have to pay it a visit. Following a whim on Sunday, I walked crosstown along Bleecker to finally check out Risotteria.

The small restaurant struck me as quintessentially West Village, which is to say clean, slighty hippie-ish, and health conscious. It also proudly boasted its gluten-free status, making it a prime destination for celiacs. (According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, one in 133 Americans has celiac syndrome and can’t eat gluten. Who knew?) To accommodate, its menu featured pizzas, salads and panini all made without flour, but I was far more focused on the thirty-six varieties of risotto available. Even nicer, they were divided into three categories, arborio (“creamy and butter-like”), vialone nano (“very delicate and meat-free”), carnaroli (“creamy and chewy”), helping every risotto fan match their orders to their preferences.

My decision was an obvious one when I saw the three mushroom arborio risotto. (Mushrooms are one of the things I love more than risotto and would probably opt to bring a pot of chanterelles to a deserted island, cavities be damned.) My dish was overloaded with chunks of portabellos, shiitakes and porcinis, and the rice was cooked, as the description suggested, to a creamy consistency. It was a good-sized portion and I enjoyed all of the flavors. My waiter offered to shave some fresh Parmesan on top as well, which added another delicious element. Generally, I do prefer my risottos a little drier, as I found this one to contain too much liquid, making the rice soggy. Still, it was a solid preparation and I would happily come back to try another variety.

I was also impressed by my iced tea, which came unsweetened. The waiter provided a sugar syrup for me to tailor the drink to my taste, a thoughtful move that ensured my tea would turn out just right. It was a minor detail but it seemed to underscore Risotteria’s larger commitment to getting the small stuff right. With its personable service, fresh quality ingredients and great-tasting food, Risotteria may not be desert island good, but for the isle of Manhattan, it’s worth checking out. 7/10

A gluten-free review from Celiac Chicks from August 2004


Blogger Sarah said...

It's a slow day at work and I just finished reading your entire blog. Some I admit I skimmed over, but most I read with rapture. I like how you skip all over the city, and go from funky dives in Chinatown, where few fear to dine, to suplime epicurean establishements in the upper echelon of haute cusine. I have added quite a few new restaurants to my list and will make it a point to check them off before the year is through. Thank you for sharing your experience and giving this hungry New Yorker new ideas when I'm tempted to hit the old favorites. I look forward to your future posts.

6:14 PM  

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