As I walked into the quiet oasis that is Valbella in midtown, something struck me as familiar. I wouldn't figure it out until much later, but I had dined in this location before, when Scott Conant had Alto in this same space in 2007. I was meeting my brother and cousin for dinner, but had some trepidation having dined a few times at their suburban CT outpost, where the atmosphere is pretentious and the servers very self-impressed. Absolutely not true here! The space is bright, airy and comfortable. Our servers were engaging, friendly and efficient. We started with prosecco and shortly after a small platter with excellent sopressata and small chunks of parmesan arrived at the table. Warm bread with fantastic tasting olive oil arrived a bit later. We decided to have their signature pasta, fresh fettuccine with a truffle sauce as our first course, it was ethereal. Main dishes included a fantastic veal chop, their special salad and for me the best Branzino served over wilted spinach that I've ever had. The wine steward was very knowledgeable and we ended up with a terrific bottle of wine from Sardinia, something I'd never had before. After a spectacular meal we opted to pass on dessert and coffee but the manager insisted we take a to-go piece of their incredible napoleon dessert. Even the next day it was delicious. I'm not sure how the management at this location of Valbella has achieved such a wonderful ambiance and trained a staff to be helpful and kind to diners but it's working. I highly recommend a visit to this quiet oasis on 53rd Street in noisy Midtown!
8 of us at dinner this past Saturday. Chef came out and went over the specials. He made us up a family style platter of muzz, zucchini flowers, artichokes etc. tremendous. The he gave us a trio of pasta each. Unbelievable. Then I shared a grilled veal chop with my wife. Excellent. Then the best part... Dessert. Their famous Napoleon THE BEST IN THE CITY. Crispy wafer like crust and creamy center. Beautiful decor and great service. A must visit when in midtown.
I have eaten many times in the Meatpacking District Valbella over the years, but this was my first visit to the Midtown location. I visited for dinner with a group of 20 work colleagues on a weeknight. The restaurant is a bit tucked away on 53rd street, leaving room for a patio with a few tables. We started the meal with some appetizers and drinks on the patio. It was a bit chilly on an April evening, but the apps kept coming in the best Valbella style. At Valbella, one of the biggest challenges is moderate your appetizer intake so as to leave some room for the actual entrees. We dined in the private room on the second floor. The room is big enough for maybe 25 people, with a huge table in the middle. The primi piatti dishes were shared family style, and included a couple of tasty and rich pasta dishes - something that normally would have constituted a meal for me. For the main, I had halibut with tomato sauce, which was absolutely delicious. I have rarely had as moist and fine-grained halibut. It definitely exceeded my expectations. I did not much care for my dessert, a creme brulee, as it was a bit too dry and thick for my taste - I prefer my creme brulee silky and almost a bit runny. All in all, a fantastic dining experience, but bring a thick wallet and a big appetite!
Valbella was recommended for my Valentines birthday. I've never had a good meal on my birthday, I've been to the finest restaurants only to be disappointed by the lack of taste and imagination and poor service on one of the most popular nights to eat out. I was very happy and surprised to have a wonderful experience. Starting out with the grilled Octopus, Fettuccine with truffles and then Stripped Bass. My husband enjoyed his short ribs and apps. They have an excellent wine list and choose one of our favs La Spinetta Barbaresco 2010, chilled just right. I judge a restaurant by the temp of the bread and the red wine, a deal killer for me if the red is not slightly chilled like in Europe the way it's supposed to be, not bath water temp. The staff was friendly, spot on without hovering. When we left the owner treated us to a bottle of Borolo! I guess he knew it was a special day. He made my birthday dinner to be the only one I will remember fondly and i will be back.