A Little Adventure
by Sydney Sherman
At the top of the narrow stairs at the Ristorante Illando you are met with a small room, light pouring in from the windows on every wall. It is a nice arrangement: space between the wooden tables, vintage bulbs hanging from above, black and white memories framed about the room, and best of all, the view of Little Italy draped with the leaves from a nearby tree.
Immediately, a host arrives to bring us to our table of choice, in front of the main window of course. A small art store, Blick, faces us from across the way. The host, and the rest of the staff, is Italian, which is comforting to see in an Italian restaurant.
After a refreshing glass of S. Pellegrino, a warm basket of assorted breads arrive along with a classic plate of oil and vinegar. The crunchy and soft rolls of flour never disappoint.
Within minutes, a mouthwatering plate of red white and green is presented on the table. Thick slices of mozzarella lean against fresh tomatoes, all on top of a fragrant bed of basil and drizzled with a sweet “balsamico”. The four simple, yet delectable, flavors dance together like a sweet and savory waltz on your tongue. It is a perfect appetizer to start the Italian experience.
It isn’t long before the main course arrives. A plate of ricotta and spinach stuffed raviolis, drenched in pink sauce awaits consumption. There aren’t many ravioli pastas, but the sauce is rich and the cheesy pouches are exceptionally filling. To top it off, a woman comes by with a bowl of Parmesan and piles it on like snow on a Christmas day.
Overall, this restaurant deserves 5/5 stars. The set up was elegant, the view was stunning, the waiters were attentive, and the food was remarkable.
If you leave the restaurant and walk a few streets over, a small café, Pappalecco, hides on the corner. It’s a stereotypical café in its appearance, but it has a few specialties of its own.
For starters, it has a gelato bar next to the register. You can keep it original and get a few scoops alone, or you could do what I did and get a scoop of gelato, surrounded by a small bath of espresso. The sweet stracciatella with the strong taste of coffee creates a beautiful combination of flavors that compliment each other.
The best item of the menu though is the “Marocchino”. This so-called coffee consists of one shot of espresso, lots of milk, cinnamon, frothy crème, and globs of Nutella covering the side and the bottom. It is less of a coffee and more of a sugar rush. But if you are in the mood for sweet, this is it. No coffee has ever compared and the calories are worth it.
The service was not noteworthy, but it wasn’t bad, and the product was outstanding, so the Pappalecco deserves a 5/5 as well.