Day One: All'onda Melds Italian and Japanese Flavors
For one of the hottest openings of 2014, All’onda picked a very cold day to open. The coldest day of the year in fact (thanks to the polar vortex), with temps just barely over 9 degrees at the time we rolled up to this Greenwich Village newcomer. No matter, the buzz surrounding this Venetian- and Japanese-inspired hot spot was enough to fill the place up on a frigid Tuesday night. Anticipation for the project has been great, as it's the first solo project from former Altramarea honcho Chris Cannon since he parted ways with Michael White in 2011 (for this project, he's teamed up with restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow). Chef Chris Jaeckle (Ai Fiori, Eleven Madison Park, Morimoto) helms the stoves, cleverly folding in Japanese influences to this mostly Italian menu (eg: tortellini in brodo is replaced with a dashi.) Read on for our early look inside as well as a preview on what's hitting the plates.
The Space: The real-estate choice is totally on point - the unique bi-level space with floor-to-ceiling windows is one of the most unique that we’ve seen recently. The bar area is a safe distance from the front door on the right you when you walk in, and there are a few tables immediately on the left. Upstairs, comfy upholstered booths line one wall while banquettes occupy one portion of the back wall. Doors near the back of the space can be used to create an ersatz private dining room when the occasion calls for it.
The Food: The trend of unusual cuisine pairings is one that we’ve documented recently, and All’onda is the newest of the pack. While it’s billed as “modern Venetian,” chef Chris Jaeckie cleverly works in flavors of Japan in unexpected ways. A squid ink arancini is topped with a bright, titian slice of uni; polenta and mushrooms get revamped with miso-cured egg yolk. The menu is divided into appetizers, salads and crudo, pastas, mains and sides. The requisite cumin roasted carrots, which seem to be gracing just about every menu in town lately (more on this later), are offset by fresh ricotta and a ginger vinaigrette.
As for pasta, we tried the bucatini with smoked uni and spicy breadcrumbs; the rigatoni; and the tortellini in dashi with meyer lemon and ricotta. Our favorite dish of the night was the rigatoni, which has an aged-duck ragu flecked by treviso and shaved chocolate with lots of umami flavor (plus a hint of sweetness from the wine in the ragu). Also, as you'll see below, the food here is seriously photo-ready, gorgeously plated and boasting brilliant color in every presentation.
The Wine/Cocktails: The wine list is appropriately Italian-focused, including 36 sparkling varieties and a smattering of well-priced options (under $50 a bottle). The short cocktail list runs the gamut from gin gimlets to a Venetian rum sour.
The Noise Level: Very manageable. The upstairs has high ceilings and opens into the downstairs via stairwell/balcony, which minimizes reverberation.
The Details: 22 E. 13th St.; 212-231-2236