122 E 27th St (between S Park Ave & Lexington Ave)
New York 10016
It’s quickly becoming quite of a theme now – us visiting restaurants featured in TV shows. This next restaurant we went to in New York City was featured in the Food Network’s show ‘Best Thing I Ever Ate’, in their ‘Filled with envy’ episode. The dish featured was the Orecchiette, which is an ear-shaped pasta typical of Apulia, a region of South Italy. In I Trulli, their Orecchiette is handmade fresh everyday by Dora, the mother of the owner. Their entire family moved from Apulia to New York City in 1970, and they have strived to keep the food at I Trulli authentically Italian. Service at I Trulli is unfortunately not the full Italian experience that we love, and there’s little of the loud, friendly, macho banter that we’ve had at other good Italian places, since the servers at I Trulli are (all, it seems,) not Italian. Nevertheless, service is excellent – very professional, attentive, and accommodating.
We were sat in the garden, and it was a lovely not-too-warm, not-too-cool summer evening, so it was really nice being able to get some (relatively) fresh air, away from the noise of the traffic and the hustle bustle of the city.
A little bread ‘basket’ was brought to us, with some very nice focaccia bread with sun-dried tomatoes, and a little side dish of a cheese dip which we didn’t care very much about – the bread was very good by itself.
Our starter of lightly sautéed calamari with garlic and chilies was a very light, clean dish. The slice of toasted bread was a little too overly toasted, and was too hard to bite, but the calamari was very nicely cooked, with a nice subtle heat from the chilies to finish off each bite.
We had a main of Wild Striped Bass with Manila Clams, and this was also a very nicely composed dish. The fish was nicely cooked and the clams brought a ton of flavor to the dish. The only gripe would be that it was a rather small portion for a main dish – where are those famously large American-sized portions? You’re not in Italy anymore – your customers don’t watch their waist-lines so double those portions!
The dish we came all the way to try was their famous Dora’s handmade Orecchiette in a rabbit ragu. The pasta was clearly handmade – each piece different from the one before it, lovingly pinched and moulded by dear old Dora. This is one handmade pasta that definitely elevates the dish. As with some restaurants which do their own pastas or noodles, very often the attempt falls flat, and they would have been better off using store bought pasta instead (Tasty Hand Pulled Noodle Inc, we’re referring to you here). With I Trulli, the handmade pasta makes the dish. It is the dish. The rabbit ragu is also very tasty, but the star is well and truly the handmade Orecchiette.