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FOOD + DRINK

dinnertable: A 20-Seat Speakeasy-Style Restaurant

Their unique chocolate taco is only one facet of a superb Italian-meets-New American menu

by David Graver
on 11 April 2016

The sign beside the interior door reads "Press for Food." If you're in front of it, you've just walked through the bustling East Village cocktail bar The Garret East, beyond a curtain, into a petite corridor. A push of the analog button sends a chime to the inside and you're promptly greeted. This is how an experience at dinnertable commences. Just beyond that final door, a smattering of tables rest on the opposite wall and a 10-person dining room table (which couples or groups share with one another) extends forth from the left. The open kitchen is visible directly to the right. And while NYC has plenty of speakeasies, this is one of only a handful of hidden restaurants. The vibe is cozy, there are signature cocktails on offer and it also happens to be the home of a famous new chocolate taco.

Chocolate tacos aside, the entire menu—envisioned by a husband and wife duo, Scott Tacinelli and Angie Rito—is worth exploring. The duo (who have worked at Quality Italian, Quality Meats and Torrisi Italian Specialities between the two of them) can also both be found in the kitchen, making the Italian-inspired, new American fare. Most of the menu is made for sharing: a large, buttery garlic pretzel comes with homemade cheese; chrysanthemum salad is served both crisp and buoyant, coupled with garlic and parmesan. The standout though is a smoked shortrib tartare that's served on a stiff marbled rye with just the right amount of horseradish.

As for the heartier dishes, their anchor dish tends to be a lasagna bolo for two. Also worth trying (and our favorite) are the potato-filled dumplings, which are reminiscent of a potato ravioli, and come served in a rich cream and pecorino cheese sauce. dinnertable also serves a Sixth Guy's Burger which does not disappoint. Served on a fresh kaiser roll, it's accompanied by capocollo, straccino, deli peppers, and an avocado potato salad. The burger is fresh, fun and a substantial size—without putting you in a meat coma.

Now onto the all-important chocolate taco. For anyone who nibbled on the dessert treat in their childhood, this is certainly a more sophisticated version. Developed by pastry chef Adam Richardson, this adult iteration—known as the Taco Cioccolato—features a shell of cookie dough baked in a pizzelle machine. The inside is a mix of homemade Nutella brownies and gelato espresso. Topped with dark chocolate and salted hazelnuts, this is a rather special treat that does more than maximize nostalgia.

dinnertable (206 Avenue A, New York) does take reservations, but only a few per night—leaving much of the floor open for walk-ins.

Images by Vanessa Granda

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