Manzo Ristorante is in the center of the bustling, authentic Italian market Eataly, right next to Madison Square Park in New York City. Last summer, I had the opportunity to eat lunch there on a hot Friday afternoon with long-time family friend chef Vikram Garg of Halekulani Hotel, who was in town on business. Since I was dining with a professional chef, I of course let him order for us (and just a side note: since the menu changes, I cannot look up exactly what was in these dishes).
Manzo is a fine-dining restaurant that “celebrates meat,” so of course we started out with cocktails (Italian themed here too: Campari and sodas) and a plate of beef Carpaccio with ferns. The meat looks ever-so-slightly cooked; since I had never tried Carpaccio before, I wasn’t quite sure what I was eating, but it was delicious. The ferns were also new to me; they tasted cooked, and reminded me texturally of cooked vegetable stalks, such as broccoli.
Of course, we also enjoyed soft, warm freshly-baked bread with fantastic olive oil, and a few glasses of wine. The next course was a salad, which was of shaved asparagus, rhubarb, and radish (the almost translucent items in the picture above). It was drizzled in olive oil and a white, slightly creamy dressing. This was truly a summer dish that hit the spot while giving the pleasant impression of being healthy despite the oil and dressing.
For my main course, Vikram convinced me to try the veal chop (which has more of a distinct winter rather than summer vibe) when he heard I’d never had one before. It came with a gigante bean puree and speck, which is a salt-cured, smoked Italian ham, similar to prosciutto or bacon. The meat was delicious and less fatty than I expected. The sheer size of the chop left me feeling feeble (especially after two starters!) and I found that trying to control my knife and fork was difficult. Vikram taught me how to cut it, which I did clumsily, dipping each bite into the puree and oil and vinegar. This lunch was full of ingredients that I’d either never tasted or didn’t eat often, and it was a surprisingly refreshing to eat an Italian meal that wasn’t the same old tired plate of pasta drenched in marinara sauce and Parmesan cheese.
Open (for lunch): Monday – Friday, 11:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Location: 200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010 Phone: (212) 229-2560