Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Who Knew The Lower East Side Could Raise The Bar So High

I used to be scared of the Lower East Side.

I’ll admit it. I just didn’t go down there. Spooky. Dirty. Scary.

But my, my how things have changed. I won’t go as far as comparing the rebirth of the Lower East Side (or coming out I should say) to what has happened in Chelsea or even Hell’s Kitchen… but the truth is with the opening and success of The Hotel on Rivington as well as a half a dozen other outposts, well, the Lower East Side is da bomb.

If you have no reason to ever make the trip, I am about to give you one. It is simply one of the best restaurants in this city…

and it’s called ‘inoteca.

There just isn’t anything else like it… or that I have found as of yet… and on a recent Sunday, it again welcomed me in, stood me still, and knocked my socks off.

This isn’t a place that slops plates of spaghetti, lamb chops or mama’s lasagna. Think tapas. Bowls of olives. Plates of cheese (my god, the cheese). And killer panini.

Throw in a wine list that reads like an Italian best seller, and you get a spot that is just about as cool as I can handle.

It is a funky yet calm spot that sports wooden tables and chairs, including a communal table in the middle of the room. The glass doors that serve as walls on this corner eatery slide open in warm months to allow the city breeze and sidewalk chatter to infuse the space. I observed a wide range of pedestrian traffic… you name it, I saw it.

So, what to order? One who has been will tell you that the truffled egg toast isn’t to be missed, and if you a truffle person, I’d have to agree.

On my Sunday morning visit, I nibbled on hard cheeses, including fantastic hard goat, romano and ubriaco varieties… olives… grapes and almonds…. and culatello panini with noci and mozzarella.

But the killer dish?

Holy crap, try the assorted bruschette. Paired with the right wine, the lightly toasted bread included an olive spread, fresh tomatoes…. and then, the noci. Amazing ground walnuts mixed with italian olive oil.

The walnut spread on this bread has beat out the egg toast in my book. Think out of your mind peanut butter, with herbs…. on fresh french bread. Subtle, rich, salty, earthy, perfect.

I can blog my fingers off and recommend a number of dishes, but honestly, everything on this menu is a winner. So, plan a trip and block out several hours… you’re gonna need it.

‘inoteca. The restaurant LA and Chicago only wish they had.

KILLER DISH: bruschette with noci

WHY THEY RULE: open 7 days, until 3am nightly

WHEN YOU ARE DONE: walk a block to economy candy and buy a box of zotz and a pack of candy cigs