I will admit that most of my dinner posts on this blog will be for Italian restaurants. I can’t help it. I am an Italian girl and if I could only eat one meal for the rest of my life, it would be some combination of my grandmom’s meatballs, my mom’s vodka sauce and my aunt’s roasted peppers. So, if you get tired of the myriad of Italian restaurant posts that will undoubtedly make up this blog, I apologize in advance — it can’t be helped because those restaurants are where my heart is.
Onto the food. Dell’Anima, located in the Village, is hands down one of my favorite restaurants in the city. I’ll have a separate post describing their superb brunch, but for now will focus on their incredible dinner options. First and foremost, all of their macaroni is homemade. That is something not many Italian places in the city can brag about. Sure, many have homemade fettuccine or perhaps gnocchi, but I have only seen two with homemade orecchietti and rigatoni. Dell’Anima is one of them.
Appetizers: unfortunately all of my Dell’Anima pictures are of the pasta, not the appetizers, but I will remedy that ASAP. I have had all of the bruschette on Dell’Anima’s current menu. Those are: avocado, cannellini bean with lemon, lily confit (shallots and garlic), roasted red peppers and ricotta with sea salt. The bruschette come out with hunks of perfectly charred bread, super crunchy on the outside and tender as you bite down. My favorite is hands down the ricotta, likely because Dell’Anima makes their own, and it is basically a cloud of slightly salty, impossibly soft cheese that gets into all the crevices of the charred bread. Second to the ricotta is the lily confit. There are whole cloves of garlic confit in oil for goodness knows how long that melt — yes, melt — across the bread like butter set out too long. The roasted red peppers and cannellini are also astounding. You can always tell when a restaurant used canned red peppers, not freshly roasted ones (not like anything at Dell’Anima would ever come from a can) and the red pepper bruschetta has an incredibly acidic yet sweet flavor. Now, I did not forget about the avocado. It’s definitely good, and I would not throw it out of bed, but I would go for the others first.
I really do need to take a picture of this next app, the charred octopus with chorizo, rice beans and chicories. For those of you who have never had charred octopus but may be apprehensive, it is incredibly meaty and not at all fishy, when done right. And Dell’Anima does it right. The char outside is perfect and gives the octopus an unbeatable smoky quality. My only warning for this dish is that the portion is big. That being said, I cleared this (by myself), a pasta dish, plus split 3 bruschette on my last visit, so it can absolutely be accomplished. Their salads, while some may think them boring are not. There is something to be said for executing a very simple dish perfectly. I love arugula, and a simple arugula salad with lemon, olive oil and parmigiano is one of my favorite things. It kills me when restaurants over-dress it, use too much lemon, or forget that even salads need salt and pepper. Dell’Anima’s arugula salad is the best I have ever had, and I do not say that lightly. If you go and are not feeling the charred octopus but want something lighter, this is a great option.
Pasta: All of their pasta is incredible. The one word of caution I will advance is beware of their pappardelle. I say this because when I took my mother and aunt to Dell’Anima for my mom’s brithday, my aunt ordered their bolognese and it was served with pappardelle. Unfortunately, the pasta soaked up a lot of the sauce, and my aunt was left with too much macaroni and not enough goodness on top. Their bolognese, however, is delicious. Sometimes, though not always they will let you substitute the pasta it is generally served with (now tagliatelle instead of pappardelle) for another. When the serving staff is feeling generous, I will sub out the tagliatelle for their orecchiette, because, as I mentioned above, it is very difficult to find homemade orecchiette. Above you will see two other orecchiette dishes: one with homemade sausage and broccoli rabe and the other with pancetta, peas and homemade breadcrumbs. Both delicious. The sausage was crisp, smoky and well-paired with the salty cheese shaved all over the top, and the peas and pancetta dish was surprisingly light and fresh tasting.
Dell’Anima is also famous for their carbonara, one of the pasta dishes that also makes an appearance on the Dell’Anima brunch menu. Unlike American-Italian carbonaras, it is made with just the right about of cheese, no cream, and the egg yolk is place on top for you to crack and swirl at your pleasure. One of the best carbonora I have had to date, and the favorite of one of my best friends who comes here even more than I do.