Scrum-diddly-umptious on the cheap

24Sep09

inoFor any NYC area foodie out there who likes good Italian food and wine on the cheap, I highly recommend visiting a little restaurant called ‘inoteca. There are actually two locations throughout the city—in addition to a sister restaurant, ‘ino— with the most recent outpost in walking distance of my office. So yesterday evening, after an over-priced glass of wine at the Campbell Apartment and a sudden increase in appetite, my friend Channing and I decided to take a stroll down 3rd Ave. for some grub. We weren’t really feeling the Murray Hill bar scene so we kept walking until coming across an unpretentious looking, fine dining Italian restaurant on 24th and Third. A quick glance inside the windows of ‘inoteca left me a little nervous about exceeding my week night dinner allowance. However, the feeling quickly subsided after sitting down and looking over the menu. For an Italian small plate restaurant with the standard menu sections of “antipasti,” “bruschette,” “Panini,” “primi,” and so on, ‘inoteca’s prices seemed quite reasonable. (Just a little heads up to those of you who haven’t been to ‘inoteca— all menu items are listed in Italian, but they provide a separate dictionary menu of sorts so you don’t order the duck hearts baked in phyllo when you thought you were getting the chicken parm. )

But as everyone knows, the prices add up quickly when you go out for ‘small plates.’ However, in terms of portion size, I wouldn’t put ‘inoteca in the same class as other small plate restaurants I’ve been to in the city. For one, the Panini could have been our entire meal (it was basically ooey, gooey goodness of melted fontina, mushroom and truffle oil between two crispy pieces of buttery toast.) And don’t even get me started on the chicken skewers, which we thought were going to come out like an app. sized chicken sate or kebabs. Um, not quite. It was more like a hearty winter time stew, or a crock-pot dinner that’s been simmering all day, with the most tender chunks of chicken that pulled apart with the touch of a fork, all covered in a massive heap of sautéed stewed tomatoes, onions and mushrooms–a true chicken cacciatore. And of course, rounding out our meal was the last-minute order of ‘inoteca’s famous Truffle Egg Toast, which to put simply, is a dinner version of your favorite breakfast French toast only the toast is baked with fontina cheese and poached eggs that are placed in a cut out portion in the center. When it’s all finished, the truffle oil is drizzled over top and the yolks ooze over the concoction, making it one heck of a presentation. Three courses and a glass of Italian wine and prosecco later, we were full—something I don’t think I’ve ever felt after an expensive tapas or small plates meal. And the best part is we got all this: fullness, wine and dinner for, that’s right, $30 each. So glad I don’t have to be a hermit this weekend to save up the money I thought I’d be throwing on the table last night.

So what it comes down to is that if you’re the type of person who likes to try a smorgasbord of menu items, if you’re an indecisive orderer because quite frankly everything on the menu sounds good, but you have no clue what it’s going to taste like, or if you regularly get diner’s remorse and always wish you ordered what the person next to you did, you’ll find a home at ‘inoteca.

And if anyone is salivating right now and on their way to ‘inoteca, call me up, I can be there in 20!

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One Response to “Scrum-diddly-umptious on the cheap”

  1. I love inoteca. Their bruschettes are amazing, mmm the pesto one! I love it. Great wine too 🙂 xo


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