April 03, 2006

Inoteca - New York, NY

Yesterday my friend Julia called me to go to brunch and insisted that we must go somewhere that we could sit outside (it was New York’s first Spring-like day that actually fell on a weekend). A friend of hers had highly recommended Inoteca so that is what we decided on.

Inoteca is an Italian cafe located in the up and coming Lower East Village on the corner of Rivington and Ludlow Streets. Although the outside seating is limited to the sidewalk, the windows span the façade and open wide allowing those sitting inside the feel of being outside.

We arrived at 2:30 and were told we had a half hour wait—not too bad for a popular place during Sunday brunch time. We were then seated at one of the coveted outside tables, which made Julia especially happy! Our waiter soon greeted us and handed us an array of menus. No kidding, we each had a regular menu plus menus for brunch, wines, and cheeses! We narrowed our search to the brunch menu.

The brunch menu was all in Italian, but rather than being annoyed, I actually liked this aspect. Most items were close enough to the American spelling that I was able to figure them out, and our waiter was very knowledgeable and explained the remaining items. Now, I am by no means an expert of Italian food, but I was definitely under the impression that the menu was quite authentic.

Rather than serve the normal omelets and waffles you find at other cafes for brunch, even if they are Italian, Inoteca’s menu is not at all conventional. The brunch menu included a selection of panini sandwiches such as mortadella and egg ($7), pancetta with fontina cheese and egg ($7), culatello with mozzarella and noci ($9), and basil pesto with egg ($7). It also offered egg porchetta ($10), which is what Julia and I both ordered.
I learned from this meal that porchetta is a roast suckling pork that is stuff with seasonings. This dish served the porchetta on top of a very, very thin slice of toast with a poached egg on top. I really enjoyed it, especially since it is a bit different from the ordinary eggs. With my meal, I also had a freshly squeezed blood orange juice and a latte—both were great.

Julia and I were enjoying our table so much that we wanted to extend our stay by ordering a dessert. I ordered the affogato ($5). This was a glass filled with vanilla gelato topped with a shot of espresso. Just as the waitress explained, it was so simple yet sooo good.

Julia ordered the biscotti with passito. Did you know that traditionally biscotti is actually meant to be dipped in wine? Passito is a sweet wine that biscotti goes with very nicely. I didn’t have a taste of the wine, but I did have a taste of the biscotti, which was very tasty and freshly baked.
Overall, the food was fun and different and also just good. Furthermore, I loved the atmosphere as it reminded me of being in Italy leisurely hanging out at the cafés for hours with out being rushed out. Julia and I took our time and the waiter not once made us feel guilty for doing so.

Since I have been feeling sick, I was not in the mood to drink, but this would be a fabulous place to end your meal with a glass of wine and take advantage of Inoteca’s extensive cheese list. Their wine list was extensive but not overwhelming, and I was very impressed by the variety of cheeses. I can not wait to come back here to take advantage of them!

Oh the luxury of hanging out at an Italian café for the afternoon enjoying a friend’s company while sipping on wine and tasting fabulous cheeses—seriously, can it get any better than that?

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Anonymous Alison H said...

I have eaten dinner here as well and it is fantastic! It's a real authentic Italian experience... I felt like I was in a little cafe in Rome. Thankfully I no longer have to go to the Olive Garden in Times Square to get real Italian food!
Thanks for the brunch review Kristin. I am always looking for something that is more than just your typical omelette-with-cheddar-cheese-and-ham brunch.

10:01 PM  

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