After working a full week of Christmas parties, last Saturday my wife decided I needed a break, along with some lunch. Meaning, she thought we should go out! The weather was dismally cold and I wasn’t quite in the mood for the schlep, but…when we reached an almost empty Academia DI Vino that late afternoon, it offered me a delightful surprise. Not to jump the gun, but believe me, that long walk had been worth braving winter in the city.
The restaurant’s wine cellar, robust with over 500 bottles, surrounds their subterranean dining room. It’s a great space. Alan Garcia the chef is an alumn of Del Posto, Prime Steak House and Al Forno. The menu is filled with all sorts of delicious offering, from crudo’s to thin crisp pizza’s and of course pasta. My starter was a carpaccio of Manzo (beef) perfumed with truffle vinaigrette,fennel, mint and shaved parmigiano, delicious. Not deterred by the fact that the pizza I ordered was just taken off the menu due to seasonal issues (pumpkin, pancetta and caramelized onions – only apparently, pumpkins were out of season), I succumbed to the Spaghetti Carbonara. Studded with guanciale, it cried out to me, wooing with its comfort-food ingredients.
My wife had a salad of escarole and toasted hazelnuts, mint and pecorino. It was wonderful. She followed the salad with a linguine Pescatore with a shellfish ragu, also good. I actually was forced into finishing it off for her, it was too much after all the bread from Sullivan Street Bakery slathered with virgin olive oil.. We polished off the pasta and ordered a ricotta cheesecake as the coup de grace, covered with concord grapes. Not too difficult too finish especially with café macciato.
Garcia’s restaurant was the site of many previously failed business’s. All to say, we’re rooting for you, Alan. Hopefully if they keep making the food friendly and wine list full, this restaurant will be around serving delicious food for a long time to come.Service is particularly friendly and also professional.