I get really excited about Restaurant Week in NYC. This is the time to discover new restaurants, or to try expensive restaurants that I usually stay away from. As I was doing research on the participating restaurants, I found very interesting restaurant called all’onda. It is a modern Italian restaurant with a focus on Venetian and Japanese accents. They offer unique dishes including house-made pastas, all-Northern Italian wine list and an extensive cocktail menu.
I love Japanese food and Italian food, so fusion of the two would be something I would be very interested in. On top of that, it is Venetian cuisine mixed with Japanese food, which I can’t say if I ever had the opportunity to try them. I had great experience at another Japanese-Italian fusion restaurant, Basta Pasta (you can read more about it here: http://www.foodlovergirl.com/basta-pasta/), so I was excited to try all’onda’s creations. The exterior of the restaurant was rather simple, no big sign or neon lights, but very clean look.
There is a bar when you walk in, long bar counter with bar seats. On the other side of the bar was a small communal table, with the same bar stool. Only about 10 seats at the table, but they did have lots of seats at the bar counter. Modern design throughout, from the floor to chairs to the stairs.
Second floor is the dining area, and it had simple design as well, with brass and dark wood. The brass light fixtures by the tables were really interesting in shape and design. You can see it is not a “family” friendly restaurant, but more for adults only, providing that calm, relaxing atmosphere.
I liked that no-fuss design, nothing they don’t need, keeping it clean and elegant. It almost felt like the entire place was a work of art. Even the view of the first floor through the staircase was beautiful
A very nice and friendly hostess took us to the table we were presented with Restaurant Week dinner menu. They also brought the complimentary bread quickly, with a side of olive oil. The bread was nice, soft, moist, and the olive oil had deep olive flavor.
So, for the appetizer, we ordered Fluke and Meatballs. We were excited about the Fluke, since we have seen some photos of it. It came with beets, trout roe, and crispy farro on top, decorated like a bright rainbow. I have to say, it was much, much smaller than I thought. You can never tell how big or small the dish is on a photo, until you get it yourself. It was basically the size of the palm of your hand. Yes, that small. One thing we WERE prepared for was that this restaurant is NOT about quantity, but about the quality. So, even though we were a bit disappointed with the size, we still had high expectation. There were about 4 pieces of fluke sashimi, and slightly layered on top of each other. The fluke was fresh, plump, and tasty. The “toppings” added different flavor such and texture, contrasting from the fluke. The trout roe was like the miniature version of salmon roe, and was great.
The Meatballs consisted of veal, tomato & bonito flakes. When it arrived, we couldn’t really see the meatballs, but it sure smelled and looked great, and it was bigger than the fluke dish. Underneath all the sauce and bonito flakes and such are two nice sized meatballs.
As you can see, it has more than just “tomato & bonito flakes” on it. It had some shredded cabbage which added that crunchy texture and fresh flavor to the meatball. I a,m glad to see that it was not drenched in some kind of sauce, allowing the patrons to really taste the meatball. It was very juicy, flavorful, and went great with the toppings and the cheesy tomato sauce.
For the main course, we chose Eggplant Parmesan and Porgy. The Eggplant Parmesan came with Japanese eggplant, miso, panko, and parmesan. It came super hot to the table, still sizzling. I honestly don’t know what I was expecting this dish to be like, but I gotta say it was great! The Japanese eggplant was cooked to perfection, and the sauce was packed with flavor. Softness of the eggplant, gooey sauce, and crunchy breadcrumbs, all working together in harmony. You can only see 2 eggplant in the photo, but there were about 4 -5 thick slices of eggplants there, placed on top of each other. Japanese eggplant is much smaller than American eggplant, so this was not a huge portion either, but again, the quality speaks loud here. It was soooo delicious, I couldn’t get enough!
The Porgy is a white fish, and it came with brussel sprouts, fennel, and citrus. The fish was cooked just right, crunchy skin and juicy fish. The citrus foam had great, refreshing flavor of almost powerful cistrus taste, not overwhelming the fish but complimenting the fish, making the whole dish to be refreshing. The veggies were cooked until soft, without them being too soft or mushy. It was a really nice dish as well, we enjoyed it very much.
For dessert, we ordered Olive Oil Cake. It came with ricotta gelato, lemon and basil seeds. I have never been a huge fan of olive oil cake in the past, since most of them that I tried came out very, very dry. But this one was not as dry, and had really great flavor. Having the gelato also help with any kind of dry cake, and even thought this cake was not too dry, it was still nice to have gelato with it. I could really taste the ricotta in the gelato, very creamy and rich, melt in you mouth… I never had basil seeds before, so I was curious. The soaked basil seeds looked like some type of caviar, and interestingly enough, the texture was almost like a caviar too. It added fun texture to the cake and gelato. Although the seeds didn’t have strong flavor on their own, having them with the cake and gelato really brought out the flavor of each ingredients.
Oh, one interesting thing (to me) about the restaurant was their restroom. They only had one upstairs (unisex), and it was all black, with white counter top. I mean, it was all black, from the door, wall, floor, mirror (tinted black), and even the toilet itself was black!!! I was super modern and very clean. They also have bathroom downstairs, but I didn’t check that one out.
Overall, we enjoyed the experience, and for $38 per person for the three-course dinner, I think it was totally worth it. The service was ok, not too friendly but very efficient. Other staff (not our waiter) kept our table clean, and make sure our water glasses were filled. Towards the end, one of the managerial staff (?) came around asking everyone if everything was ok. That is always a nice touch, even if it was super quick check on customers (he seemed like he was in a hurry to cover all the table). Yes I do prefer them to actually “stop” at each table and have a short conversation…I think they will get more useful feedback in that way. But that’s just me. I don’t think we will be going back for a casual dining here, but more for a special occasion in the future.
all’onda – 22 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003